Saturday, December 11, 2010

Racial Profiling and Rubber Duckies

Much has been said lately about the TSA and their methods of keeping air travel safe. I fly quite regularly and frankly I don't care if someone sees my quite unremarkable body naked or if they give me a loving vertical massage. I really think this is an excellent method of making the travelling public feel better about their safety.

Of course this is merely illusion but if the people feel safe, they are happy, even if it means tolerating the screams of the offended as they are touched by and looked at naked by, strangers. A small price to pay indeed, for the accompanying peace of mind.

When I flew to Cincinnati last week, after checking the handgun concealed carry reciprocity laws, I decided to take my favorite noisemaker with me on this trip. I checked all the requirements and locked it in a metal box that was cabled securely to the suitcase it was travelling in, then dutifully informed the airline employee that was checking my bag.

The girl that checked my luggage on the way out of town clearly misunderstood what she was supposed to do. She had me unlock and open the gun case, revealing my .45 for all to see IN AN AIRPORT. She had me sign an orange card stating that the gun was unloaded, then placed the card in the gun case and had me close and re-lock it.

Really? So I'm standing in an airport with a handgun, not in a holster. That, all by itself seems more than a little dangerous. I'm glad there were no armed police or TSA officers nearby. Then to lock the orange card IN the case? That pretty much ensures that it won't be seen again until I get to my hotel room. We'll chalk that little fiasco up to inexperience and I hope that particular young lady gets some remedial training.

I went through the normal scanner and went on my merry way. On the return trip, I again declared my unloaded weapon locked in it's metal case. This time, the agent immediately called for a TSA officer on her radio, again had me fill out the orange card, but this time placed the card inside the luggage right on top of my clothes. That made a little more sense. The TSA officer arrived and rummaged through my bag and did his explosives swab, all the while maintaining his very grave demeanor. Good job, Mr TSA guy.

While waiting to board my flight home, I pondered this "security" scenario. A 2nd grade teacher with no previous life contact with guns would reasonably say that this was exactly as it should have been. That guy with the gun Should bear extra scrutiny! You know where this is going, don't you?

Yes, I would contend that perhaps the guy that declares the weapon, is probably the absolute last guy in the world to have evil intent for that flight. Well, me and the 87 year old woman wobbling along on her cane that really should be 5 or 6" taller. The cheerleaders are probably OK too. Nope. Body scans for every 5th cheerleader. Random. Granny got snagged too. (That had to be a rude surprise for the TSA guy in the booth). Cheerleader, cheerleader, cheerleader, granny.

But this post isn't about that. This post is about basic precepts and profiling. If people wearing rubber ducky earrings were responsible for the vast majority of terrorist acts by packing explosives in their butt cheek implants, then I think it would be reasonable to pay special attention to the butt cheeks of all people wearing rubber ducky earrings. If people that declare their weapons at baggage check-in Never commit terrorist acts, then I think it would also be reasonable for them to receive somewhat less scrutiny.

But what if the rubber ducky earring people have Other rubber ducky people do their bidding by carrying poisonous gas in their catheter bags? One or two incidents such as this and we will surely adapt and pay particular attention to rubber ducky earring people with catheters.

Of course this is silliness but it is serious silliness. Our current system, due to its political correctness, doesn't allow us to scrutinize any group more thoroughly than another. (Although you and I would Surely cast an extra glance or two at people wearing that particularly obvious jewelry.)

I would suggest that maybe reacting to technique is not the best way to truly protect our travellers. Political correctness needs to be thrown out the window, people need to put on their big boy and big girl panties and allow those entrusted to protect us, to protect us. They should be allowed to, nay, required to scrutinize every single person wearing rubber ducky earrings more closely than those that are not.

The rubber ducky people can only change technique. They cannot just convince anyone to commit suicide for their cause. That requires rubber ducky people. They will always self-identify by wearing rubber ducky earrings. I don't give a darn whether the Must-Be-A-Ducky-lim religion or CAIR, or whoever, objects or not. Maybe it's time for the non-violent ducky people to exert some peer pressure on those ruining it for all the other ducky people.

Quack.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Poor Are NOT Getting Poorer

I love it when I hear the argument that, "The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer." Actually, I hate it because it means that someone believes something that is patently false. Our economy is NOT a zero sum game. A person can gain wealth without someone else gaining poverty.

Here are some interesting facts to mull over. (I will call people at or below the poverty level "poor".) In 1971, only 32% of all Americans had air conditioning in their homes. By 2001, 76% of poor people had A/C. In 1971, only 43% of Americans owned a color TV; in 2001, 97% of poor people owned at least one. In 1971, 1% of American homes had a microwave oven; in 2001, 73% of poor people had one. 46% of poor households own their homes. Only about 6% of poor households are overcrowded. The average poor American has more living space than the average non-poor individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and many other European cities.

Nearly 3/4 of poor households own a car; 30% own two or more cars. 78% of the poor have a VCR or DVD player; 62% have cable or satellite TV; and 1/3 have a dishwasher. (Statistics from The Heritage Foundation)

Here's something else that every liberal politician knows but won't talk about. (Could it be because if he were to remedy the problem, he would effectively eliminate most of the people who will vote for him?) Long-term poverty today is self-inflicted. It's not difficult at all to see this.

According to the Census Bureau's 2004 Current Population Survey, there's one segment of the black population that suffers only a 9.9% poverty rate. There's another segment of the black population that suffers a 39.5% poverty rate.

Among whites, one population segment suffers a 6% poverty rate. Another segment of the white population suffers a 26.4% poverty rate.

Guess what distinguishes the high and low poverty populations? The only statistical distinction between both the black and white populations is marriage. There is far less poverty in married-couple families, where presumably at least one of the spouses is employed. Fully 85% of black children living in poverty reside in a female-headed, one parent household.

Now look at a cool 3D red/blue map. Do you see what I see? The dense population centers (inner city areas) are blue. Just about everywhere else in the nation, the map is red. If the liberal politicians fix the problem (through education), they eliminate their voters. Oops. I'll bet THIS blog entry won't find it's way to many liberal politician's Facebook statuses.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wealth Accumulation And GOD

I love my brother. He truly is a beautiful soul. It saddens me to see him not walking with God and it saddens me to see him believe in the poverty perpetuating left. His challenge to me was to do a Bible Study on the accumulation of wealth. I accepted that challenge and am prepared to present this study to my BS group on Monday night.

At first blush, the unstudied Bible, without thorough context, appears to condemn the accumulation of wealth. Oft cited passages of Scripture such as “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 18:25) and “blessed are the poor” (Luke 6:20) suggest that possession of wealth is suspect while poverty is virtuous. These verses, of course, should be balanced by others that present wealth differently. In the Old Testament, it says that wealth is to be regarded as God’s blessing to be enjoyed (Eccl. 5:18-20) and a result of one’s diligence (Prov. 10:4-5).

In the New Testament, Paul advises Timothy to keep wealth in proper perspective (1 Tim. 6:6-19), and Paul acknowledges that God gives generously to his people for their enjoyment (1 Tim. 6:17). This acknowledgment is balanced by warnings not to trust in your wealth because of the temptation to become arrogant and of the uncertainty involved in keeping wealth (Eccl. 5:8-6:12), and on the flip side, to be content with one’s economic station in life.

The Bible distinguishes between possession of wealth and love of wealth. This is important because only the love of wealth is condemned (1 Tim. 6:10). The love of wealth and desire to become rich bring many temptations and have the potential to destroy your spiritual life (1 Tim. 6:9). The members of the early church and the crowds who followed Jesus were both rich and poor. From what is known of Jesus’ background and his trade as a carpenter, it appears that he lived a middle class lifestyle in contrast to many portrayals of him in poverty. It doesn't seem that being rich is a problem in Scripture, but hoarding your wealth when surrounded by poverty is a sign of selfishness and greed.

Throughout Scripture, the rich are condemned for their callousness to the needs of the poor (Amos 4:1-4; James 2:1-7). The early days of the church were characterized by an extraordinary generosity toward the poor, many of whom constituted the majority of the membership in the early church (Acts 2:43-47). Though the pattern of the early church did not involve a socialistic style of holding property in common, it did involve more awareness of the needs of the poor.

Though the Bible says you may own private property, this right isn't absolute. It's tempered by the reality that all property belongs to God and that we are all stewards of God’s property. God has entrusted his property to us both for our personal needs and enjoyment and for use to achieve God’s purposes (such as meeting the needs of the poor). (Having a large government step in and be virtuous for us is never suggested in the Bible, by the way.)

The gathering of wealth 2,000 years ago was full of potential problems which made it easy to view those who had wealth with a moral and spiritual raised eyebrow. Though the temptations facing the pursuit of wealth today shouldn't be minimized, some important differences exist between the modern and ancient economic systems that at least partially account for the strong cautions about wealth.

Back then, as a general rule, people became wealthy differently than today. The economic system back then was centered around subsistence farming with limited commerce and trade. Real estate was the primary hard asset. The economy was a “zero sum game.” Economic resources were mostly fixed, so when one person got rich, someone else became poor. Or, to a pie guy, the economy was like a pie. When someone took a larger piece, someone else received a smaller piece.

Taking advantage of the poor occurred very regularly and is one of the reasons why the Bible so often condemns exploitation of the poor. There were very few morally legitimate ways to acquire great wealth back then. In most cases, the rich became richer at the expense of the poor, and when someone was rich, they had usually acquired it through some immoral means. As a result, the rich were viewed with suspicion and great emphasis was placed on the potential temptations of becoming wealthy.

The poor certainly continue to be exploited today, but the zero-sum game type of economic system no longer exists. In fact, the economy today is nothing like a zero-sum game. In modern economies, the economic pie is constantly growing. Wealth is created instead of just transferred. Every time a company makes a profit, wealth is created and the size of the pie gets bigger. This is why the rich can become richer while at the same time the poor can also be better off.

The incomes of the poor can and have increased at the same time that the rich get richer. If you get rich, it is not a fair assumption today, that someone else is worse off because of it. In today's modern market economy, wealth is always being created, so it's possible for you to become rich without succumbing to the temptations that the Bible warns against. Today’s market economy makes it far easier to be rich and virtuous than the economic system of old did.

Don't get me wrong; warnings not to give in to the temptations associated with the pursuit of wealth still apply today, as do the commands to share generously with those in need. Your attitude toward and generosity with your money are matters of the heart that haven't changed since the days of Jesus. No matter how much money you have, you are still expected to depend on God, not on money, to share a loving Godly heart for the poor, and to be generous toward those in need.

Having gone through this exercise, I am afraid I have to maintain my original point of view. I have not skewed any facts to defend a political stance, nor have I closed my mind to opposing points of view. If you would like to discuss this further, dear brother, I would be honored to further explore an opposing point of view. I will always speak from the heart when discussing God. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to present this topic in a manner that might result in you someday realizing that to attain Heaven, all you need do is believe that Jesus died for your sins (because NONE of us are good enough to get there on our own). I love you, brother. I eagerly await your comments.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Immediate Execution Upon Conviction For Treason

This isn't little, this thing with WikiLeaks.com, run by Julian Assange. In case you aren't aware of WikiLeaks, it is a website famous on the margins for leaking stuff that isn't supposed to be famous. Ostensibly a "whistle blower" site, lately it has become a portal to the world for stolen top secret documents. In today's case, it was top secret government documents that were leaked after they were allegedly stolen by PFC Bradley Manning, a military intelligence (oxymoron, eh?) analyst who was previously arrested for releasing the "Collateral Murder" video, which, shall we say, reflected poorly on our side.


The United States Government, of the people and for the people (it Will be again, my friends!) knew that this disclosure of classified documents was to be published against their will. How is this possible? A PFC is a "new guy" by military career standards, usually someone in their teens or early twenties. Manning is 22 and sent emails to his friends bragging about having leaked massive quantities of classified military information. Why did he have unfettered access to hundreds of thousands of pages of classified material without direct supervision?


Why, once Barack Obama was made aware of this upcoming leak (yes, he knew days in advance), didn't he do more than simply tell Assange not to do it? Understand the gravity here. People's lives are immediately endangered. International relationships and world peace and world cooperation, fragile as that is, are all immediately endangered. Global financial markets are immediately endangered. Our government will shut down a child pornography site (as well they should) in a second! Why not a known, previously proven traitorous site?!


Mr President, you do not get months to act when the emergency is now. Didn't the Gulf oil spill teach you anything??


People go to jail for a very long time for far lesser crimes than treason. When a person knows that documents are stolen (Assange was told) and when the United States of America notifies you to cease and desist and then you go ahead and release classified material during wartime, you have pretty clearly crossed the line into treasonous activity.


The penalty for treason during wartime is death.


PFC Bradley Manning traded the security of our nation for personal gain. Julian Assange traded the security of our nation for personal gain. Let's even toss in Michael Moore, yes, that's right, Michael Moore. That fruitcake hanging way out there on the left fringes has offered to pay for Assange's criminal defense. If Michael Moore can see the criminality from his vantage point, before an arrest has even been made, I think the state has a pretty obvious case.


If one single American life is lost due to this self-aggrandizing disgrace of a soldier or his accomplice, Julian Assange, the rule of law should dictate their immediate execution. I am speaking to you, directly, Senator. Yes. You.

This face is a treasonous disgrace to every soldier that ever carried a pack on their back and a rifle in their arms.

p.s. Yes I know WikiLeaks in in England. Doesn't matter. Also, The New York Times should be held just as accountable as any other entity that knowingly disseminates stolen, classified material.

And Here Is The Very Ungodly Obama Version

Oh dear. When I posted George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, I had no idea that our very own Barack Husein Obama would be the first President EVER to not directly acknowledge the existence of God. I also had the misfortune of wasting a minute and 13 seconds of my life watching Barry and what's-her-name telling BabaWawa what a wonderful prayer life they have. In fact they pray before dinner. Wow. I have a very accurate ACME BS Detector and it was beep beep beeping to beat the band as I watched that clip.

Maybe he thought because he referred to George Washington mentioning and thanking God for all that He has bestowed upon us, that that was somehow the same thing as him, Barack Obama, city planner extraordinaire, mentioning and praising God. Obama actually said that the spirit that binds us is our tradition of Thanksgiving. Wow again. Thank you for clarifying that for me. I always attributed that to something... well, other than Thanksgiving Day.

Oh My Goodness.
"I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others."

No. Let me rephrase my prior exclamation. Oh My God.
President Barack Obama, the correct thing in this nation, on this day, would be to say, "Oh My God, We Thank You!"
or if you prefer the teleprompter;

"I encourage all the people of the United States to come together in prayer, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather in His name, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to thank God for those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our God-given bounty with others."
Yeah. That's what he should have said. But he didn't.

The whole of Obama's abomination of a Presidential Proclamation can be found here. I am thoroughly disgusted and repulsed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

General Thanksgiving By the PRESIDENT of the United States of America

"Almighty God"
"Virtue"
"rendering unto Him"
Today's politicians should not fear using such language. When someone objects, they need merely stare the whiner in the eye and give a multitude of examples of what our founding fathers truly intended for America. George Washington could not have made himself any more clear than when he uttered the Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789.

A PROCLAMATION
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) G. Washington
Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why I Am Not an Environmentalist

The "environment" has long been an issue fraught with angst for me. Everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment. If you are an environmentalist you can hang with the cool crowd, you get to feel self righteous, and you can yell at other people because you are not out for yourself! You're only thinking of the children!

I used to be an environmentalist. I remember meeting at the home of a woman I didn't know (this was when I lived in Plant City, Florida), gathered with a group of women who were concerned about the planet. We were kicking around ideas for projects that we could start at a grassroots level. I felt pretty good as I sat there. Surrounded by women who were obviously very savvy, very aware, very concerned. Exactly the way I wanted to be (the way I saw myself, if I'm being honest). Heck, I love trees. I'm grateful for clean air, for safe water, for the birds in my backyard. Who isn't?

The first chink in my environmentalist armor came when I went to work for a recycling company. Our focus was on fluorescent light bulbs. You know -- those things that we're all going to be forced to have in our homes thanks to Congress essentially outlawing the beautiful incandescent bulbs that we all grew up with? Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury which is dangerous if it gets inside of you or seeps into drinking water (where it can get inside of you). We went around to businesses (like grocery stores) and picked up the bulbs that they were required by law to recycle. We had a HUGE room that contained a HUGE machine into which a worker would feed the spent bulbs. The machine would crush the bulbs in a contained unit, extract the mercury, and magically separate the other components. If you worked in the back by the machine you had to have blood tests regularly because even though the machine kept the mercury separate things have a way of not working exactly as advertised. If the blood test showed unacceptable levels of mercury, you had to work in the office until your body could get all of that nastiness out of your system.

(Now, of course, we will all be using fluorescent bulbs and almost none of them will be recycled. So the mercury will be free to settle into landfills (or to be in the air you breathe if a bulb breaks in your house). Smart move, Congress.)

We also picked up paper for recycling. Truckloads of undeliverable junk mail from the post office. Business trash. Old newspapers. You name it, we had it. Our intent was to sell paper to manufacturers where they would recycle it into new paper. Only...sometimes it would rain and the rain would make the paper wet and nobody will buy wet paper. Not because it's wet, exactly (the recycling process involves plenty of water), but because paper is sold by the pound and wet paper is HEAVY. So the "recycled" paper would end up in the dump.

Over the years so many cracks have appeared in the environmental movement that any pretense I ever had about being an environmentalist is completely gone. I love creation. It's one of God's great gifts to us and I firmly believe that we are to honor this gift and husband it wisely. But I will not call myself an environmentalist because I believe the term has been corrupted by politics.

I'm not going to rehash the global warming insanity here. There's plenty to rehash, though, as I'm sure you know. Today's rant is being sponsored by ethanol subsidies.

The whole ethanol business was a scam from the get-go. Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline and takes more energy to create (by a lot). Al Gore has come out against ethanol subsidies, but here is the point which reinforces my anti-environmentalist stance: he admits that he was for them in the first place because he wanted to pander to farmers when he was running for office.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what is wrong with the environmental movement. It's NOT selfless, it's NOT scientific, it's NOT about what is best for the planet. It's about getting a piece of the pie, about profits, about power, and in extreme cases it's about pushing an anti-human agenda.

I'm not going to bother explaining all of this when Ed Morrissey does a dandy job of it. Click on this link and read all about it.

The bottom line is that I don't trust anybody who cloaks himself in the mantle of environmentalism. Gore won a Nobel prize based on "science" that has been debunked up one side and down the other. I would absolutely LOVE for someone to rise up and speak truthfully and reasonably, but I don't know who that is. Until I do, I'm not an environmentalist.

More later...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad Guys

Remember how the whole left side of the universe was all up in arms about how awful the terrorists were treated in Guantanamo? Even though they're treated really WELL down there? Remember that?

Well, since September 3 the United States has killed at least 220 people in drone strikes in Pakistan and Waziristan and I haven't heard a peep out of anybody. Apparently if a liberal just goes ahead and KILLS someone without a trial it's fine, but if Bush treats terrorists with respect it's evil. (I have no problem with drone strikes, fwiw.)

It's so hard to keep the rules straight in my head.

More later...

Monday, November 15, 2010

America - Still A Beacon To The World

I have a friend who currently lives overseas but who grew up in America. She has almost totally opposite views of America, world politics, and social obligations than I do, but I like her very much and respect her points of view, regardless of how off the mark I might think she is (almost all the time). I think she feels the same way toward me. She posted a piece in her blog the other day, that I have hijacked and reposted here, along with my response to it. I hope she approves of my reposting of her blog entry. If she does not, she will surely let me know and I will remove it. I hope she, instead, smiles and sticks out her tongue at me. Without further ado, I present my friend, Molly.

"For my 200th post, I'd like to write a few thoughts on my home. I have spent most of my life in protest of the things America represents and the things the American government does in our name with our money. But something has been sticking in my brain over the weekend. On Friday, I interviewed a Sri Lankan family for an in-depth I am working on. The parents, three daughters and aunt are recognized refugees seeking to be resettled. When the 17-year-old daughter asked Stan (name changed) and me where we are from, I responded "America."

She gave a smile and repeated what I said with excitement. I moved on to my first question and forgot about the moment, but I keep thinking about it. I thought people stopped romanticizing the United States back in the Ellis Island days. I was puzzled to think this bright, young woman would think anything special about my country. If I read the situation correctly, she may have some drastically exaggerated ideas about the US, but she may also have a point.

Perhaps America really is to be admired. At least, in comparison to the region I now find myself. I just can't think of why at the moment. All America has going for it my mind is that it's not here. I'll keep pondering."

Being considerably older, having served our country for 6 years, having lived for years at a time in different cultures, and having advanced myself from true poverty to success in America through toil and sacrifice and long hours, my perspective is quite different than that of my young friend. My response to her blog post follows.

"Your Sri Lankan friend has a drastically different perspective than you do, my idealistic but (unknowingly spoiled) young friend. She hears "America" and remembers the letters she got from her mother's brother talking about his trip to America where he ended up staying and now owns a chain of small retail stores and to this day sends her mother enough money every month, to feed the entire family. Or perhaps she hears stories that in America, she can sleep in her own soft bed off the floor, or that she can actually own her own car and be allowed to drive it wherever she wants. Maybe she just sees on her 1965 black and white television that it seems that most of the roads in America are paved and that the poor people are fat instead of bony with distended bellies.

Maybe she is educated and knows that the per capita GDP (with purchasing power parity) in Sri Lanka is $4,764 and that approximately 43% of household consumption was spent on food versus in America the average GDP is $45,934. My eyes would get big too if I knew there was a magical land where I could move to and my children had the opportunity to make 10 times what I make and that I won't ever again have to worry about hunger. Growing up in a wealthy nation, very few of today's youth have the perspective to truly grasp the dichotomy between the greatly varied worlds found on our planet. I can get on a plane and fly to an earthquake devastated land and build houses out of the rubble for two weeks; houses that are cherished despite their lack of running water or electricity. That experience is vastly different than living there. Living in a place where the women do all the work and the men dress well but have no concept of going to work. Instead they sit around all day and do nothing, all the while dressed to the nines.

There is only the perspective of the lifestyle we grow up in, the one that is most indelibly stamped on our identity. Some of us were blessed to have been born in America. Born in a country where the vast majority of us are kept warm when it snows and have cool air in the house in the summer. Where food is on the table and someone loves us. Yes, you mention "America" and I smile too."

I truly like the author of the above blog, despite her naivete. Maybe she will stick to her guns and insist that America is evil. I think it more likely that she will one day wake up and realize that despite her faults, America is the best country in the world to be born in, to live in, and to defend.

America. To want to eliminate her flaws is noble. To correctly identify her flaws is difficult. To actually effect the necessary change to make her better is extremely difficult and dangerous because the risk of lessening her is so great. A steady hand at the tiller is required at all times. Hold accountable those men and women elected to stand on her bridge.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Scary Virtue (Count the Metaphors)

There is one thing I am careful never to pray for: patience. I am afraid, you see, that God will teach it to me. Patience is something that everyone says they want, but very few demonstrate consistently. I am patient about some things, but I-want-it-yesterday about others. In other words, I'm pretty normal.

Anyone who hopes to be successful in politics must develop patience. If politics is the art of the possible, then it is also a dance: knowing when to wait, when to give in, when to move ahead. I think the greatest politicians are born to it the way great musicians or dancers must be; they have a sixth sense that tells them when to hold back and when to press forward. Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan -- all truly great politicians.

The last election has placed us in a position to do some ruminating on these very things. We'll have a majority in the House of Representatives. All of the races are not yet finalized, but as of right now there will be 189 Democrats and 240 Republicans in the upcoming Congress (there are currently 255 Dems, 178 Repubs, and two seats are vacant). We've picked up six seats in the Senate, but at 47 we do not have a majority. (In the Senate, we would need 51 seats for a majority because if we had fifty seats the Vice President would cast a tie-breaking vote. Also, you really need sixty votes in the Senate in order to invoke cloture and make a bill filibuster proof. To be veto-proof requires 67 votes.) And lest we forget, the White House will be Democratic for another two years (see how optimistic I am?).

We have reason for great joy and optimism, but let us not forget that we are still a minority party. And that the agenda is set by the chief executive.

We must hold our elected representatives to the promises they made when they were campaigning, but we must not expect them to walk on water or to feed 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes. Legislation is like an aircraft carrier; it takes a long time to get it to change directions. Some of the things that we most want will no doubt need to wait until after the 2012 election. Patience, patience.

Another phrase often bandied about in political circles is "we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good." I am a very pragmatic person when it comes to politics. I think principles are important, of course (the current White House seems to poll all the big special interest groups before it negotiates trade settlements, for example, because they do not have a set of ingrained principles to guide them). But sometimes we simply cannot get everything we want. I believe it is better to have something than nothing and I will never fault a politician who gets the most that he can even if it's not all that one might wish.

This argument was very much in evidence during the primary season, when some candidates widely considered to be unelectable won the Republican primaries in their states. Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada, for instance. They both had challenges during the primary process from candidates who were not as far to the right as they were and the argument was made that they were not going to be able to win in a general election. That was certainly proven on November 2. I would rather have had a moderate Republican in those seats than "the bearded socialist" and Harry Reid. Others argue for standing fast to principle; I believe they are very misguided. Politics is not religion where it makes (eternal) sense to be dogmatic. But this argument will not end any time soon; it's been going on ever since free men have nominated candidates to office.

My point is that we must all learn to dance for the next two years. Or if we cannot learn ourselves, we must be wise enough to watch the other dancers. Draw lines in the sand when they make sense. Don't try to fight every war on every front. Realize that some things are not possible -- yet. Pray for patience. ;)

More later...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where Should I Go?

Al Gore's innerwebs is a grand place, a mysterious place, a place for education, for dummification (yes, I just made up that word), a place in which one can lose hours of productivity. It is also the place from which I get every single tidbit of news. I do not watch a single news show, neither cable nor local. The only time I see anything from television news is if someone posts a YouTube video of something from one of the shows. And I DO watch them on special occasions: the rescue of the miners and election night coverage are the last two events that come to mind. I do not subscribe to any newspapers. I do read assorted newspapers often, however -- but only online.

When I am searching for a reliable story about something, I know where to go and which sites to avoid. Some sites are too partisan and will broadcast anything that helps their side, accuracy be damned. The most recent widespread example of this was all the stories about Obama's "$200-million-a-day trip overseas." If you THINK about this figure for any length of time you can see that it's almost impossible that such a thing could be true. And that is, of course, because it is NOT true. This little detail did not bother many right-wing web sites, however, and it irked me to no end. We just won a smashing victory; we don't need to promote lies. The truth will do nicely.

There are sites that I read and know that I will have to find another source to back up their claims. And there are sites that I avoid like the plague because absolutely nothing is worth wading through the fever swamp.

Here are some sites that are always worth reading. They are written by human beings, however, so one must realize that mistakes will be made. These sites, though, are honest and will correct errors when they do slip through. And take steps to insure that those errors are made infrequently.

National Review Online is always my first stop. I read every single post on The Corner every single day. They have many other blogs, too, that are worth reading if their niche is also your niche. There is The Campaign Spot written by the incomparable Jim Geraghty; if you are not receiving his daily email, shame on you. Sign up for his Morning Jolt here. Immediately. I'll wait. Okay -- The Campaign Spot is about campaigns (I didn't really need to tell you that, did I?).

There is Media Blog, written mostly by Greg Pollowitz about what's happening in various media. (You have noticed, perhaps, that National Review does not go in for a lot of creativity when naming its blogs.) There's Phi Beta Cons, which is a conservative perspective on higher education. The Agenda, written by Reihan Salam, about domestic policy. Exchequer -- Kevin Williamson's take on fiscal issues. And there are others -- on health care, on the courts, individual blogs, weekly video segments, etc. All of the highest quality from reputable journalists and pundits.

You could read National Review's content all day, so I really don't read anything else EVERY DAY. There are sites, however, that I turn to with regularity and know that they are reliable.

There is Power Line -- a smallish blog that was started by a couple of Minneapolis-area attorneys and now includes a DC attorney and a business guy. These are thoughtful men, not given to signing up for the latest fad or conspiracy, and since I have the Power Line app on my iPhone I look at them pretty much daily.

The Weekly Standard is an invaluable site. As content rich as National Review, there is too much here for me to read all of it daily. If I have an interest in a topic, however, I always come here and check out what the guys and gals have to add. They are sober, serious, reliable.

Real Clear Politics was a daily source of information for me leading up to the election (they do a great summary of polls). It is not a conservative site like the others that I have mentioned -- they post links to articles from folks on both sides of the aisle. I have their iPhone app, too, and that's where I do most of my RCP reading. So far today I have read Maureen Dowd's NY Times column (usually she is, of course, quite liberal, but today she posted a letter from her conservative brother), Ruth Marcus' Washington Post column about what Democrats (especially the leadership) are missing about the last election (Marcus is a liberal), and Tim Rutten's LA Times column about Keith Olbermann. RCP is a one-stop shop for headlines from both conservatives and liberals and they tend to pick from reliable sources.

I still go to Townhall now and then, although I mostly go there if I am looking for a specific columnist. They make me uneasy now and then -- they used to be reliably smart but they have posted articles by idiots on occasion and I dislike the authority that their imprimatur implies with regard to these wackos. So be warned. If something sounds like a conspiracy, it probably is. Run. Run away fast. Do NOT be caught up in it. Nothing will ever be proved and if you go to Thanksgiving dinner and only talk about how Obama was born in Indonesia you will be consigned either to the kids table or they will make you sit next to your alcoholic Uncle George who won't be listening to a word you say. Conspiracies NEVER help your team and if they have any effect at all, it is negative.

And really -- that's it. Oh, I will wander over to Michelle Malkin's page or to the Drudge Report or elsewhere from time to time. But I am usually there for a specific reason and I don't rely on them necessarily (Malkin was off on the $200-million-a-day nonsense like a stray dog on a pork chop bone). There are other sites that are excellent -- The Volokh Conspiracy comes to mind -- but I don't go there daily (it's not about conspiracies; Eugene Volokh is a genius legal libertarian guy). If you confine yourself to the sites to which I have linked, you will stay safe. And there is way more than enough information here to keep you going.

There are liberal sites worth checking out as well -- The New Republic, Slate, the editorial pages of most national newspapers. Good to see how the other side lives, you know.

So be smart. Don't let anybody fool you. Get your news from reliable sources and if something sounds strange, get confirmation.

More later...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wow. November, Huh?

I wonder if anybody ever pops on over here to see if the gnomes have left new offerings? Ward gamely carried on for a while, but his annual October madness struck and he was otherwise engaged until the wee, small hours every night. I just abandoned ship with no excuse other than that of being unable to form coherent thoughts. Yes, yes, I know that this does not usually stop me, but there you have it. I'm back and think that I will stick around, so if anyone reads this thing (and even if no one does), I shall muse here from time to time.

The election just passed was a good one, yes? Any disappointment or sense of letdown was only because our expectations were too high (The Onion ran an article that said something like, "Democrats poised to lose 19,000 seats in upcoming election"). A year ago the numbers that we saw last Tuesday would have made me weep for joy. And so, I am relentless in my determination to be completely positive about the results. You don't win them all -- you just don't -- and so we shall have to rejoice at our pick ups and examine our losses to see how we can do better next time and march forward to get the work done that the election has laid before us.

Mostly, of course, we will be focused on January. There is this ridiculous lame duck session coming upon us, but I don't think anyone will have the stomach to do anything too dreadful, so I am not really worried. I am excited about a Speaker Boehner and cautiously optimistic, while trying to remain realistic. I want to see votes on Obamacare and if they are vetoed, I want them to starve the damn beast where they can. I want someone -- an adult, I hope -- to start paying attention to what we are handing over to Turkey, which is looking more Muslim and radical by the hour. I want a coherent Iran policy (which must come from the executive, I know, but Congress can holler about it). I want a sound fiscal policy to allow businesses to operate in an environment of certainty (with regard to government policies). I want a return to environmental sanity (I am going to stock up on incandescent bulbs in case sanity does not return quickly enough). I want statesmen who will grab the third rail and not let go until we have made the necessary adjustments to Social Security. The American people consider Israel a significant ally and I'd like the government to start acting like it again.

I know it's a lot -- too much, maybe. I'll be happy with just a few of these things (the fiscal policy and Obamacare, I guess). What do you want?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Malia and Sasha Will Not Be Attending Public School

Obama got his mug on the Today Show the other day and an audience member asked whether his daughters could receive the same high-quality education at a D.C. public school that they currently enjoy at their elite private school, Sidwell Friends. Obama, apparently forgetting that he is in the process of allowing Congress to phase out the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, answered, “I’ll be blunt with you. The answer’s ‘No’ right now.”

"I’ll be very honest with you. Given my position, if I wanted to find a great public school for Malia and Sasha to be in, we could probably maneuver to do it. But the broader problem is: For a mom or a dad who are working hard but don’t have a bunch of connections, don’t have a choice in terms of where they live, they should be getting the same quality education as anybody else, and they don’t have that yet."

Wow. What a douche. Thousands of D.C. kids are stuck in dangerous and substandard schools with no hope and no future and Obama and his cronies are eliminating one of the few chances they have of getting out, of getting into a private school. This is being done in the quest for, yes, you guessed it, money. As an added bonus, there will be thousands more poor minority children to grow up poorly educated, voting for the same scum that condemn them to poverty.

What's that? You're wondering how I came to that conclusion? That's not a difficult leap. Unions. Yep, unions. Didja know that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) make 95% of their donations to Democrats? Didja know that NEA spends more on campaign contributions than ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Walmart, and the AFL-CIO combined? Didja know that the NEA's budget is $355 million? Didja know that's enough to buy a guy?

With private schools churning out well educated kids on a fraction of the money spent on public education, a thinking person would surely question what the heck is going on with the big bucks being thrown around by the NEA and the Department of Education for that matter. Would they really truly be sandbagging? Letting the poor and uneducated stay that way for power and votes and money?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Principles and Perspectives

In politics, the usual scenario is for the party in power to bicker and self destruct while the party in the minority unites in a single-minded focus to regain power. This is not what is going on today in Delaware and in the conservative blogosphere.

If you are a political junkie like I am, you might know that there is a Republican primary for the Senate candidate from Delaware that is going on as I type. The contenders are Mike Castle, a popular and long-time politician, and Christine O'Donnell, a newcomer attempting to win her first election.

Here is the problem. Castle is a liberal Republican. A RINO, in popular parlance. He will make conservatives angry just as often as he'll make them happy. He would be very likely to win the election to the Senate running against the self-identified socialist who will oppose him under the Democrat banner.

O'Donnell is a conservative. She has staked out positions that have gotten her the endorsement of folks like Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint. Thing is, though, she trails the socialist by over twenty points. Delaware isn't red enough to elect her.

(There are other problems with O'Donnell; questions of character, actually, but this post is not really about Delaware or this election so I won't go into them.)

And so the battle lines are drawn. Palin, DeMint are on the side also taken by Rush and Mark Levin, who has been as nasty in his trashing of Castle supporters as anything I'd ever hope to read by a fellow conservative. On the Castle side you will find such venerable institutions as National Review, Weekly Standard -- even Charles Krauthammer.

Almost everyone invokes William F. Buckley's rule. You vote for the most conservative electable candidate. Krauthammer goes one step further and says that any other vote (in this case a vote for O'Donnell) is self indulgence.

I won't go that far, although I'm sure he's right sometimes. It's a question most of us face at one time or another, though. Do we vote based on principle or do we vote for the candidate with the best shot at winning in the general election?

The most obvious and self-destructive example of this is when a third-party candidate jumps into the fray. If Nader had not run for president it is likely that Al Gore would have won. Were the Nader voters (who presumably voted based on principle, knowing their candidate could not win) happier with Bush than they would have been with Gore? I'm sure some would say that from their perspective there was not enough of a difference between the two to matter. More rational folks would probably disagree.

I am a pragmatic voter. I understand voting on principle because I think most people (at least most people who attempt to get informed) start out this way. Our vote is sacred to us; we will not cast it for a compromise candidate.

Over time, however, my perspective has changed. I look at politics as a long (never ending) struggle. It is important to win the war, even if particular battles must be lost along the way. I would cast my vote for Castle because even though he will annoy me, a Castle in the Senate could mean the difference between a Harry Reid as the Majority Leader or a Mitch McConnell. Castle could be the difference between which party controls Senate committees, which party controls the legislation that is brought to the floor, etc. The election is about more than Delaware (although I'd ask my Nader question to Delaware conservatives: will they really be happier with a socialist in the Senate than with a RINO?).

I have also noticed that pragmatic voters seem to be more tolerant of principle voters than the other way around. I've been told that I am "perverting the voting process" (which, of course, is absurd -- the "voting process" does not include a litmus test about why someone votes the way they do; I could make it a habit of always voting for the tallest candidate and that would be perfectly within my rights and perfectly within the bounds of our voting process). Mark Levin, as I mentioned above, has been unbelievably rude to folks who disagree with him (he's a radio guy so I suppose that comes with the territory).

And back to Delaware: the battle has been so ugly that it seems impossible to imagine the losers backing the winning candidate. This means that an O'Donnell candidacy, already a long shot, becomes a fantasy. And a Castle victory, which should have been a walk in the park, will become challenging.

More later...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Voters Than Living Human Beings

Once again, a corrupt Obama team member is hankying the panky. Playing fast and loose with the rules. Dealing off the bottom of the deck. Sucker punching the legal system. Surprise. Not.

Attorney General Eric Holder won’t do his job enforcing the integrity protections in the “Motor Voter” law passed in 1993. If you remember, the Motor Voter law was supposed to increase voter registration (section 7 - Welfare Office registration provisions) and at the same time increase voter integrity (section 8 - list integrity provisions).

By increasing integrity of voter rolls and increasing the number of registered voters, Motor Voter struck an important balance. Welfare offices and motor vehicle offices became voter registration centers. The law also mandates that states conduct list maintenance to ensure ineligible names don’t pollute the voting rolls. Dead people, ineligible felons, and people who moved away are required to be removed from the rolls by state election officials. No problem. Except there's a problem.

During the Bush administration, the Justice Department enforced both Section 7 and Section 8. In November 2009, political appointee Julie Fernandes, part of Holder's DOJ, told the entire assembled DOJ Voting Section that the Obama administration would not enforce the list maintenance provisions of Section 8. Section 8 “doesn’t have anything to do with increasing minority turnout,” Fernandes said. “We don’t have any interest in enforcing that part of the law.”

At the same time, Fernandes stressed that the DOJ would vigorously enforce the welfare agency registration provisions of Section 7. She gave these lawless instructions in front of dozens of shocked Voting Section lawyers. The DOJ has never once denied that Fernandes gave these instructions, nor has the DOJ countermanded them. The decision of the Holder DOJ to ignore the integrity provisions of Section 8 is deliberate and corrupt.

According to an article by J. Christian Adams, an election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, South Dakota, Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky and Indiana report in excess of a dozen counties with more registered voters than living people old enough to vote. I'll be darned. Having more voters than living humans tells you something may be wrong in the Punkin' Patch. In West Virginia, one county reported 113% of the voting age population was registered to vote. Baltimore, Maryland, reported 104% of voting age citizens on the rolls. Iowa and North Carolina also reported counties with more voters than living citizens of voting age.

A few states, Maryland, Arkansas, Rhode Island, Alabama, Virginia, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Tennessee didn’t remove a single dead voter from 2006 to 2008. Some of the dead registered voters rose from their graves on election day and cast ballots. They really need to move election day away from Halloween. *shiver*

When he dismissed the case against the New Black Panthers, Mr Holder set the bar pretty low for voter intimidation. It looks like you can pretty much do what you want to intimidate potential voters outside the polling station. Combine that with allowing voter fraud (people voting by pretending to be dead people), the cheaters could very well swing an election in a close (or not so close) race.

Folks, we cannot accept the corruption of our election process. If confidence is lost in the fairness of our election process, we have seen in other countries what replaces it. This is not a pretty option. Demand that Attorney General Eric Holder do his job. You can call, email, or contact him via facebook through his webpage.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Obama Owes Me Fungicide and To Stop Fibbing

It boggles my mind, the frequency with which our president, Barack Hussein Obama, blatantly lies and tries to blame others for his, and the Democrats' failures. My mother taught me at a very young age to cover my mouth before passing gas. She also taught me to take responsibility for my actions and if necessary, those of my team. Sometimes her advice was good, sometimes not so much. Mr BHO would do well to heed my mothers advice. By not doing so, he appears to be an odious liar.

Obama's official website is misleading from the very first sentence. I simply cannot abide a liar. It begins, "President Obama inherited a terrible mess: a $1.3 trillion deficit, two wars, rising unemployment and unprecedented crises in our banking system."

This infuriates me. Mr Obama, your party created, then continuously championed Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC). These programs were vigorously defended by Democrats through the Bush years despite calls for investigation and rehabilitation. What these programs did was to REQUIRE banks to make mortgage loans to people that had no business receiving loans for any reason due to their inability to repay. Obama's actions upon taking office escalated the deficit exponentially and seriously worsened the problem.

These bad loans that the banks knew were bad, were repackaged and sold off as derivatives because they were terrible liabilities to the lending banks. When the loans (surprise!) defaulted, the unlucky sap who purchased the derivatives (often-times hedge funds and individual investors), lost all their money. The banks whose names were on the loans were also on the hook for the default. Despite long loud cries from the banking community, Democrat backed FNMA and FHLMC continued to force banks to issue bad loans. That's like brushing your teeth with Preparation H! What were these people thinking?

When the banking crisis unfolded, there was great gnashing of teeth and wailing in the night. When all the resulting foreclosures caused a housing market crash, the moaning and wailing reached a crescendo. The financial turmoil that followed, the great recession, the loss of jobs, and all the other Democrat created disasters, were indeed inherited by Barack Obama.

His response was to further the financial disaster by spending Hundreds of Billions of dollars of taxpayer money on frequently dubious projects and "job creation" programs that have not created private sector jobs. The only jobs created so far during this time of financial hardship have been the 250,000 plus government jobs that add zero dollars to the economy but require more taxpayer money to pay for. Meanwhile, unemployment has risen to almost 10%.

Obama promised "shovel ready" jobs when he spent $800,000,000,000 of our money. Where are they? Why is unemployment at record highs? Now Obama is trying to pass another $50,000,000,000 of unfunded spending, ostensibly for more jobs (remember all the jobs that failed to appear last time?) The fungus between my toes is growing thick as peat as I sit, unemployed, waiting for one of these magical jobs to appear and offer me free fungicide.

Again, from Obama's website:
President Obama signed legislation to jump start our economy, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, less than a month after his inauguration. The plan will save or create 3.5 million new jobs, make critical investments in our infrastructure and give 95 percent of working Americans a tax cut.

Uh, right. Where are the jobs, Barry? Where are the investments in our infrastructure? And where are our tax cuts? The last I heard, we are about to have the largest tax increase in history.

Barry Obama had the audacity to say, "Republicans are betting that between now and the Nov. 2 elections, Americans will forget the Republican economic policies that led to the recession." This at a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee.

This revisionism, the blatant untruths, the intentional misrepresentations should be a slap to the face of every American. For this man to have the arrogance to think we are so stupid as to accept his words as truth when we clearly know better, is beyond my comprehension. The few that still approve of Mr Obama are either not paying attention at all, or are approving of him strictly based on his race, or they are just not that bright. Those are the only conclusions I can come to. If you are reading this and approve of Obama and consider yourself intelligent, I suggest you research these things yourself.

For the rest of you, VOTE on November 2nd. Take back Congress and repeal these ridiculous policies that are holding our great nation in financial disarray. Stop this runaway spending and this soaking of the job providers in the hopes of spreading their money to others through socialist programs.

VOTE.

...has anyone seen my Preparation H?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Copied My Homework

Remember the newsletter I told you about? Morning Jolt? Well, it was so good today that I am just going to lift some pieces out of it to share with those of you who have not gotten on the bandwagon and subscribed yourself (it's free!!!).

First, Geraghty shares chunks of the acceptance speech that Marco Rubio made last night. For those of you who don't know, Marco Rubio was elected to be Florida's Republican nominee for the US Senate for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Mel Martinez. He'll face the incumbent governor who, in a dazzling display of courage and integrity, became an independent when it was obvious that he would lose the Republican nomination to Rubio, and Kendrick Meek, the Democrat. Here is some of what he said last night:

"My parents grew up in a place like almost anywhere else in the world, where what you are going to accomplish in life and how far you can go is decided for you before you are even born. . . . In almost every other society in all of human history, how far you can go in life is not up to you. It's decided for you. And that's the way it still is almost everywhere else on this planet. Except for one place: the United State of America. A place where anyone from anywhere can accomplish almost anything. A place where it doesn't matter if you weren't born into a connected family. It doesn't matter if you don't run in the right social circles. If you have a good idea and the willingness to work in pursuit of it, you can accomplish anything.

"Sadly, I think sometimes those of us that are born in this country take that for granted. And we believe that that's the way it is almost everywhere else in the world. It's not. Now, maybe that's a lesson I learned young because I've been raised in a community of exiles, of men and women who know it is possible to lose your country, and everything you hold dear, a people who understand that this place, this nation is unique, that there has never been anything like this in the history of all of mankind. And even now, even today, with the challenges that we face, there is still no place on Earth that you would rather be, no country on Earth that you would trade places with. But what we must always remember is that this exceptional country of ours -- it didn't happen by accident. This extraordinary country we have didn't just happen 'because.' It happened because the people who were here before us did what they had to do to ensure that their children inherited a better life."

Pretty good, huh?

Next, Geraghty complains about an NPR story:

"Their headline? 'Rancor Over Mosque Could Fuel Islamic Extremists.' You know what else fuels Islamic extremists? Everything, it seems. We've been told extremists are motivated by the secular nature of our society; our notions of the rights of women; our belief in democracy and the idea that laws are written by elected representatives with the consent of the governed, not handed down on high from a religious authority; our foreign policy; our libertine pop culture; our 1980s support and assistance in Afghanistan; our late-80s abandonment of Afghanistan; our embrace of the Saudi rulers; our disrespect for Saudi customs; the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia; the departure of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia via Iraq; poverty; globalization; anti-Semitism; conspiracy theories; envy; sexual frustration; and Faisal Shahzad's inability to make his mortgage payments. Apparently al-Qaeda is motivated by everything except the Koran's more incendiary passages.

"Hey, you know what? Maybe they're just [bad word of your choice here]s. Abu Zarqawi always seemed like a guy who was just into it for the killing; having somebody tell him he was doing God's work was just a nice bonus."

If you'd like to get Jim Geraghty's newsletter sent to your mailbox (Monday through Friday; why he needs two days off is beyond me), go here.

And while I am just quoting other people, let me recommend this article by Christopher Hitchens. For those of you who don't know him, Hitchens is a positively loathsome man who has spent considerable time flaunting his atheism and explaining why those of us who believe in God are idiots. He is now dying of esophageal cancer, which is not a good way to go. He is brilliant and caustic and can sling words with the best of 'em. He was a darling of the liberals until he endorsed the Iraq war and more than anything else he wants this country to be safe. When he's not writing about God, he's worth reading.

More later...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

PROOF That He Lied To You

This is the first article in a five-part series that my large (over 30,000 employees) employer sent to me to help prepare for the fall Open Enrollment period. The letter is italicized. I have added emphasis to certain parts of the letter. This isn't speculation. This is black and white proof that President Obama lied to us. If we like our existing plan, we will NOT, in fact, be able to keep it as it was.

Healthcare Reform WILL Affect Applejack Prophylactics' (AP) Medical Plan.
You have probably heard many different opinions and arguments related to healthcare reform. One thing that is hard to argue with is that more people will have access to healthcare. And, covering more people costs more money.

Those additional costs will affect everyone paying for healthcare coverage, and that includes our firm and our associates. The cost of the AP medical plan is shared by the firm and associates. The end result of healthcare reform provisions is simple: Both associates and the firm can expect higher healthcare-related costs in 2011 and beyond.

Here are just four examples of how healthcare reform will directly impact the AP plan:

Dependent Coverage for Adult Children: We anticipate several thousand additional dependents will be enrolled in our Plan due to the healthcare reform provision that extends coverage to children until age 26. More enrollees in the plan means more claims. We estimate that these new enrollees will raise plan costs by almost $3 million. This cost will be shared between the firm and associates in the form of higher premium contributions for those in family coverage. Our plan is self-insured which means the firm - not an insurance company - pays for the cost of all services covered by the plan. The firm will pick up $2.2 million of the additional expense.

Plan Flexibility: In prior years, the firm could make design changes to the medical plan that would help control expenses. As a result, we were able to identify efficiencies and trade-offs, manage costs and pass those savings along to associates by maintaining associate contribution rates that are significantly less than what other firms charge their associates.

The mandates associated with healthcare reform severely limit our ability to continue to find and share these efficiencies. Our costs will rise as our flexibility is reduced, and that impacts all of us.

Provider Taxes: There are literally billions of dollars in new taxes that will be levied on doctors, hospitals, and medical device and drug manufacturers. Those taxes will be passed onto consumers in the form of increased rates for medical products and services.

AP Plan claim costs could increase approximately $172 per associate per year as a result of this pass-through, according to estimates from the HR Policy Association. This would be on top of the ongoing inflation for medical professional, facility and prescription costs the nation is expected to experience.

Cost Shift from Medicare: With healthcare reform comes a dramatic cut in the Medicare budget. Historically, doctors and hospitals have made up for any Medicare payment shortfalls by raising prices to private payers. And it’s anticipated they will do so again but to a much larger degree. We estimate our plan could incur additional expenses of $219 per associate per year as a result of this cost shifting.

The Bottom Line:
Healthcare reform will increase the costs to our plan. And that impacts both the firm and associates. We'll all need to do all that we can to help manage costs.
The firm invests significantly in managing our health care plans and costs. This includes reviewing our plans every year, intensive data analysis of claims and usage by our associates, and working with our health plans to ensure we are getting the most value.

Did you catch that? Did you see what I highlighted? This wonderful universal coverage that limits our ability to be efficient and will cause prices to skyrocket is supposed to represent progress? Well, Nancy, you passed the bill and now we see what's in it. It's rotten and full of crap. Now what? Will you be just as forceful in repealing it as you were in cramming it down our throats before you knew the extent of the rot? Of course you won't admit the colossal error you made. We'll remind you in November, sugar-hiney.

A Harley Guy I Ain't. Not Yet Anyway.

I've put over 60,000 miles on my beloved Goldwing over the last 5 years or so and I must say, she'll be a tough old gal to replace. I am accustomed to hugging the road tightly as we lean hard into the curves, the surge of power just a slight twist of the grip away. Never a maintenance problem and as reliable as rain at a picnic.

Tonight, I put a good solid 40 miles on the conformists machine. The one that advertises "real good". My initial twist of the throttle gave me only two thirds of the horsies I am accustomed to but the power was still adequate to get me moving down the road and I must admit, the throaty growl was quite satisfying especially when I was getting on it pretty good. When I stopped for gas, I quickly found out you want to leave this puppy in gear when pointing even the slightest bit downhill because they have this unnerving propensity to roll forward off the side stand.

When I climbed back on, I found myself again slouched back in the "cool guy" stance and after just a few miles, realized I'd need a backrest if I were ever to own one of these scoots that everyone who doesn't ride thinks is the epitome of motorcycles. I also smelled oil several times. I have been assured that they don't mark territory like they used to, but my confidence level isn't all that high, cuz this old rider has a pretty loyal and accurate sniffer.

Cutting the windshield down a good three inches would also be a must on this Ultra bike I rode tonight because having the top of the windshield right in my line of site just won't cut it.

Now as for her handling, I was impressed. Of course it doesn't have nearly the lean angle of a Wing, so slower cornering is mandatory, but overall it was a much smoother ride than I had remembered. Riding hot into a corner is a little more thrilling on the Ultra than on the Wing when you hit a bumpy patch. The Wing confidently glides through such curves with a little laugh, but the Ultra got pretty twitchy. I really felt like I had to hang on to the front end to keep it from steering wherever the heck it wanted to.

Overall I finished my ride totally relaxed, as I am supposed to be after a nice peaceful night ride by myself. The thing that keeps nagging at me though, is that oil smell. And, that if someone I know sees me on one of these things they will know I've sold myself out. No friends, I haven't. But I will be test riding this one for a few more days to see if someday I want one as an amusing backup to my daily ride.

Oh! And why the heck would they put the horn button right where the high beam switch is supposed to be? I have no idea how many people I honked at tonight because I had my high beams on. That'll teach 'em. Oy yoy yoy. As I tucked this little gem in for the night, I was reminded of the pleasures of an air cooled engine, as my legs were quickly cooked to medium well by the oddly placed and searing hot pipes. Good night my conforming friend. Until tomorrow...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Non-Crisis In The Gulf

Oil rig explodes! Oil is gushing uncontrollably from the ocean floor! It is speculated that the oil will completely fill the Gulf of Mexico, displacing all the water. In fact, the oil is likely to cross completely over Florida and then begin making it's way up the east coast, not stopping until it reaches Nova Scotia. This is quite reminiscent of "The Blob" writ large. The scary part is that this is real. This is no horror movie, this is our reality. There are scientists that are speculating that the oil spill could be so severe that it could blot out the moon. We are hoping against hope that these predictions are premature.

The Obama administration has wisely chosen to reject all foreign aid in this matter. The last thing we want are foreigners snooping around in our oil. It's bad enough that they are snooping around our oil in Iraq. No ferners allowed. When this thing gets big enough that the Mexican Democrats can just walk across the Gulf into Louisiana, victory in 2010 will be assured. This thing might have a silver lining after all!

But wait. What's that? The oil seems to be dissipating. The massive underwater plumes of oil are simply gone. Only a few miles of beach are affected after all? What about all the fishermen who were put out of work? All the tourists that were scared away by the press? All the hotels now being foreclosed on? The mom and pop shops permanently out of business? It seems a quart of oil per square mile doesn't have quite the devastating effect Obama's scientists originally projected.

Hold the phone. Underwater Plumes of oil? Mr Obama, I am no whiz kid, but underwater oil plumes? I have seen what happens when you mix oil with water. In all scenarios the oil rises to the surface. Huh. The scientists seem to have forgotten that when they were projecting. In fact, the scientists have missed a few other details.

Details like the fact that the Gulf is well-known to have the ability to break down oil. The Gulf has, for all recorded time, been a warm, rich ecological soup of natural oil seeps, oil-eating bacteria, and marine life that depends on that bacteria for food. This spill represents fully four times as much oil as leaks into the Gulf naturally in a year. Wow. Four whole times more than usual. Hey, Mr Scientist, hey, Mr Obama, this doesn't exactly leave me quaking in my boots. In fact, WHAT IN THE HELL HAVE YOU MISMANAGING, MISREPORTING MORONS DONE?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why We Need To Let States Go Broke

This post is from Dick Morris. I don't always agree with everything he says but in this case, he is right on the money (no pun intended). We need to wake up, America! This unfunded spending CAN NOT CONTINUE. If you have the tiniest understanding of economics, you know this is a true statement. Here's Dick:

Federal Band-Aids won't cover the fiscal problems of such states as New York, California, Michigan and Connecticut forever. State bankruptcy and fundamental restructuring of state and local finance -- and labor relations -- is at hand.

Take Connecticut. In the current fiscal year, $2 billion in federal subsidies have helped tide it over the recession -- a hefty share of its $15 billion budget. But these infusions are one-shot grants, renewed only if Congress acts affirmatively to do so. Other states depend on similar manifestations of federal largess.

In Washington, the House is set to pass a $26 billion aid package this week -- fresh federal aid amounting to about 2 percent of state and local spending. But if the Republicans win control of Congress this fall, it is hard to see any legislative willingness to renew these subsidies.

Instead, GOP lawmakers will point to the examples of New Jersey, Virginia and Indiana -- where conservative governors have slashed spending to avoid tax hikes. In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell has reduced spending to pre-2006 levels.

If Congress fails to renew its subsidies, the more profligate states will face cash shortfalls in the current fiscal year. They'll threaten school closures, prison releases and all manner of mayhem if their subsidies aren't renewed. But the Republicans in Washington are likely to refuse -- asking why the responsible states should bail out the spendthrifts in Albany, Sacramento, Lansing and Hartford.

At that point, the bond markets will start eyeing state (and local) balance sheets more critically -- demanding higher rates or even refusing to lend. California won't be the only one trying to get by on IOUs.

But beyond this tale of woe lies a golden opportunity to reform state governments and redress the imbalance of power between elected officials and public-employee unions.

Absent endless federal subsidies, states will simply no longer be able to afford to give the unions everything that they want. And governors -- many of them newly elected Republicans -- will realize that they can't even afford to honor agreements their big-spending predecessors OK'd.

The GOP Congress should then amend the federal bankruptcy law to provide for a way -- now absent -- for states to declare bankruptcy. (Municipalities can do so under current law, but states have no such relief.)

Here's the key: The reforms must require that states abrogate their public-employee union agreements in the bankruptcy process, just as private corporations like Delta and Chrysler have done. The wage hikes, the work rules, the pension plans all go out the window.

Few states will have the starch to cut benefits for those now receiving them. But most will cut pensions for current workers and all will slice them for future employees. Even the threat will be a powerful bargaining tool.

And beyond the fiscal adjustments, the power of the municipal- and public-employee unions will be broken.

Voters throughout America will loudly applaud if Congress tells the profligate states, "Work it out on your own. Don't look to us for a bailout.

"President Obama could veto the bankruptcy reforms -- but a Republican Congress need do nothing to assist states in their plight until he relents. All of the political and financial leverage will be on Congress' side.

The result could be the greatest revolution in state and local governance since public-employee unions came on the scene. The public and the voters would get their local governments back, and the grip of public unions will be weakened. It would be the state and local equivalent of President Ronald Reagan's tough stand against the air-traffic controllers' strike.

Politically, the unions that fund and fuel the Democratic Party would be emasculated, dramatically shifting the national balance of power.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's prediction about socialism will have come true for America's states: "Sooner or later, they run out of other peoples' money."

Hat tip to DickMorris.com.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

John Kerry's Taxes

Have you heard about the tempest in a teapot regarding John Kerry and the taxes on his yacht? (Yeah, I know -- tough times, tough times.) Apparently he recently bought a $7 million yacht (manufactured in Europe; New England shipbuilders are complaining that it could have been produced domestically, but that's another story), and instead of docking it in his home state of Massachusetts he's leaving it in Newport, Rhode Island.

The reason? Well, that all depends on who you ask. Kerry says it's better for its maintenance and upkeep to be in Newport. Others point out that if he keeps the boat in Massachusetts he'll owe about $500,000 in taxes (yikes!). That's a one-time sales tax of about $437,000 and annual excise taxes of about 70 grand. Rhode Island apparently has discovered a niche market and doesn't apply these taxes to yacht owners in its waters (or at least not to this extent), thereby benefiting its citizens who operate businesses that take care of these luxury launches.

Today Kerry has announced that he will "voluntarily" pay $500,000 in taxes to Massachusetts.

Okay, here's the surprise: I think Kerry should keep his boat in Rhode Island and not pay any taxes on it at all to Massachusetts (unless it's determined that he owes them, of course).

Taxes are necessary evils, taking money from those who earn it (well, Kerry didn't, but I'm talking in generalities) and distributing it to those who don't. Oh, sure, some things are important -- national defense and such. But I could slice and dice government down real fast and our debt problem would be a thing of the past and our tax rates would go down, too.

A $437,000 sales tax on a boat purchased overseas is piracy (ha ha). If one state has a ridiculous tax system, it should pay for it. Kerry did the smart thing (or tried to) financially, if not politically. If enough folks do what Kerry did, maybe Massachusetts would look at its tax system and decide that it's overly burdensome. Competition is good for consumers and competition between state tax systems is good for citizens.

High-tax states like California are paying dearly for their tax systems, as businesses decide in ever-increasing numbers that it is more economical to operate in lower-tax environments (like Texas). I'm not sure when we decided that no one should experience any consequences for their actions. Government today seems to be all about keeping people as insulated as possible from the results of what they do. If states have been spending at levels that are not sustainable, well, they need to deal with that. Cut programs, for crying out loud.

Anyway, I think Massachusetts should be punished for its punitive tax system. John Kerry is caving (for political reasons; I'm not really blaming him here), but he has my sympathies. I'm going to dock my yacht in Rhode Island.

More later...

[Update: I should mention that John Kerry can easily afford to pay this tax; according to this he's worth about a quarter of a billion dollars. So while I sympathize with him, it's more of a theoretical sympathy. I'm not sending him a contribution or anything.]

[Update II: I should also mention that Kerry has no problem voting for new taxes on the rest of us who are somewhat less able to pay them (or to avoid them). And for that reason I do feel a little schadenfreude. :) ]

Friday, July 23, 2010

Consequences

All I'm going to do here is post a link to a column written by Bill Kristol. It's not long and you'll be glad you read it.

Yes, A Period of Consequences

More later...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cap and Trade

Have you heard those words? "Cap and trade"? Do you know what they mean? Maybe you know they're something bad, but you don't quite have a handle on exactly why. And maybe you've even heard that Congress is probably not going to get around to doing anything about cap and trade this year.

In quick-and-dirty layman's terms, cap and trade refers to emissions trading.

Here is how it works. The government allows everybody to pollute a certain amount. If your business pollutes the air/water/land more than the amount the government has allowed, you have to buy the allowance that is owned by someone else. (See -- the government "caps" the amount you can pollute and if you go over the cap you have to "trade" with someone else.) Companies that operate in industries that pollute very little will have extra pollution credits and they can sell them to big, bad polluters.

Before we go on, let's remember that since the EPA began measuring such things, our air, water, and land have never been cleaner. We live in about as pristine an environment as it is possible to live in and still enjoy civilized inventions like electricity and automobiles.

Okay. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Big, bad polluters. Well, unluckily for us, many of the companies who will run afoul of the pollution police are energy companies. Since we're not big on nuclear power over here, most of our energy comes from fossil fuels. In a bizarre twist, a court has decided that carbon dioxide (you know -- the stuff you're exhaling right now!...and right now!...and right now!) is a pollutant. Fossil fuels emit CO2 (you know -- Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth, drowning polar bears), so the companies that create your electricity and your gasoline "pollute" more than the government says they should. They will have to buy the carbon credits that belong to someone else. And guess who will ultimately pay for this?

If you guessed "The Consumer" you may stop holding your breath and exhale.

But wait! Didn't I just say that Harry Reid & Co. are probably not going to pass any cap-and-trade legislation this year? Well, yes. Yes, I did. But that's okay. Because the courts have decided that the EPA doesn't have to wait for Congress. They can start regulating CO2 just as soon as they see fit.

Just the other day I was thinking, "Boy, my electric bill is just way too low. I think I will send an extra hundred bucks along to Alabama Power next month to show my support for their fine work!"

Okay, I wasn't saying anything like that. In fact, I was kind of shocked when I saw our power bill (Bruce and Alex, who walk around in sweaters and can be heard muttering things about meat lockers will be less surprised). Our federal government, however, is going to let allow suggest force me to do that very thing. When gas bills rise precipitously and when your power bill goes up (the average family will see increases of as much as $1800 annually), just remember to thank President Obama. When he was campaigning he admitted that his plan would make electricity bills "necessarily skyrocket." This is one campaign promise that it looks like he'll be keeping.

More later...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Post-racial President My Giggy

Barack Hussein Obama was supposed to be our post-racial President. The guy that would show us that skin color doesn't matter. I think that perhaps he has turned a corner and is now rushing our nation headlong into a period of racial disharmony that will take decades to undo.

By imposing unpopular and draconian social programs on America and exhibiting a fiscal irresponsibility unheard of by a national leader, Obama has not exactly endeared himself to the American psyche.

He had the Justice Department dismiss the case of voter intimidation against The New Black Panthers despite their outrageous behavior caught on tape And despite the fact that they had already been found guilty. What non-racial motivation could there possibly have been for this dismissal? This case was described as the most blatant case of voter intimidation ever caught on tape.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organization whose name screams racism, is crying racism every time a leaf blows by. The NAACP released a video allegedly showing racism within the Tea Party movement. They omitted the part of the video that shows the offending person being ousted from the rally by true Tea Party members.

Obama's expansion of social programs at the expense of working America is also likely to cause further tension as more and more of our paychecks are diverted to those permanently on the dole, generation after generation. The elimination of this class should be a priority but has not even been addressed.

Anyone who opposes Obama or his policies is automatically labeled racist. This abuse of the race card is inflammatory and will escalate racial tension. As Obama scrambles to preserve Democratic votes for the November elections, he is turning to the Hispanic and black votes and abandoning the white liberal left. He seems to think that the Hispanic and black vote are all he needs. Well go for it Mr Obama. Just beware the consequences of igniting a race war. It will be very ugly.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Giggles

I find it interesting that my computer is smart enough to know that it is in Europe but stupid enough not to know that English is still my native tongue. I'm glad I remember a little Deutsch from when I served in Germany over half my life ago (and that I remembered that the link for a new post is in the upper right corner).

Since I've been gone, I've picked up little odds and ends that are interesting, at least to me. It has been said that Europe is still in love with Obama, but I am getting more mixed reviews. I certainly am not feeling the love. I think maybe the news just travels to remote regions more slowly.

I see the racist crap continues from the New African American Panthers and Mel Gibson. I also see BP may have slowed down the tarball creation that Barry is going to have a ridiculously hard time getting through his digestive system before November 2nd. I see that Obama is blaming Bush for George Steinbrenner's death. I see Obamacare is using my money to pay for abortions in Pennsylvania except in cases of sex selection abortion.

I see a lot of ugly still happening back there. Here, on the other hand, I have not heard a siren, have not seen a policeman since I left the airport, have not seen an ambulance, have not heard any racist comments, have had no tarballs wash up on my balcony, have not heard Bush blamed for a thing.

I do miss my motorcycle, I miss my work (isn't that odd?), and most importantly, I miss my people a lot. I decided not to do a lot of in depth research tonight because, well, I'm on vacation. I hope all is well in your specific square yard of the Earth. I'll talk to you some more when I get back. Until then, ring and run Sharon's house a few times just for giggles.

:-)

HAHA! If there are spelling errors, then you'll just have to deal with them. My computer thinks every word not shared with the mostly German speaking Swiss is spelled incorrectly. I am fairly certain I have never had a spell checker go this insane on me before.

Be well my friends!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are You A Christian? ARE YOU?

It's Freedom of Religion, Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton. The First Amendment of the Constitution of The United States of America is very clear on this point. It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The word used is "Religion". Before you accuse me of splitting hairs (Ronco makes a wonderfully sharp hair splitter), words matter. There is an ocean of difference between "religion" and "worship". An oily, stinky, gulfy-like ocean, but an ocean, nevertheless.

Freedom of religion is used to refer to the tolerance of different theological systems of belief, while freedom of worship is defined as freedom of individual action. Last November at the memorial service for the Fort Hood shooting victims, Obama used the term “freedom of worship” instead of "freedom of religion". He did it again just days later in speeches in Japan and China. In December Hillary Clinton also used "freedom of worship" three times in a speech at Georgetown University. Not once did she say “freedom of religion”. In January while addressing senators, Clinton used the phrase “freedom of worship” four times.

This is not accidental. This is a deliberate distortion of the language of our Constitution by the President of the United States of America and a former first lady and sitting Senator who well know the correct verbiage.

Freedom of worship might allow church services, but leaves out protection for Christian schools, publications, and Christian ministries. Freedom of religion means that ministries designed to help the homeless or felons change their lives, or to help those less fortunate or from blighted areas train for jobs, can teach what the Bible teaches. Under freedom of worship, these ministries could become illegal, as they are in many parts of the world.

Do not believe for a second that these two professional politicians have accidentally juxtaposed words. You must ask WHY are they intentionally changing the wording of our Constitution from Freedom of Religion to Freedom of Worship. They are deliberately presenting to the world a change of a fundamental right of U.S. citizens. We enjoy the fundamental right to Freedom of Religion.

This President is no longer even being subtle about his agenda to change the United States to a Socialist state with substantially less individual freedom. This treasonous behavior must be stopped. Most Americans claim to be Christians. November 2nd we Must take back the House of Representatives and the Senate. If you vote for a liberal, a democrat, you will be complicit in the destruction of this nation and the disintegration of our fundamental right to Freedom of Religion. As a Christian man that believes that Jesus died for my sins (aplenty), I will not sacrifice my right to Religion. I will not deny my God. I will die rather than have a power-hungry government tell me I cannot worship and do all the other things God calls me to do.

Are you a Christian?

Are you a Christian?

Are you really a Christian?