Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Don’t Understand The Logic

When a non board member fires the CEO of a publicly traded corporation and stipulates the merger of another corporation within a certain time frame, then proclaims that he is not taking over the two companies. What’s worse, Obama’s decrees just removed most of the bargaining chips that Chrysler held in negotiations with Fiat. Also, is it saving the American automobile industry when you demand that one of the big three merge with a specific foreign company? All of this comes as icing on the government-made cake that continually demands retooling in order to meet ever changing standards imposed by politicians with no engineering or business experience. Although Obama called for “sacrifice” he did not fire or even chastise union leaders nor did he mention crippling legacy costs.

The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions

Those who want to “fix” things no doubt believe they are improving the situation, but too often, as each of us knows from personal experience, the “helpers” just end up making things worse.

Think about the adage when contemplating our national problems. Do not activists and politicians try to “fix” too many of them? While their intentions may be benevolent, their actions not only worsen the situation at hand, but also create new crises.

It reminds me of my class in 20th century Russian history. Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky began by trying to help the oppressed peasants and were dismayed when the peasants didn’t seem to want or appreciate their help. So, they forced their way into power, believing it was for the good of the people. But the end result was the gulags for dissenters and suffering for the whole population. Eventually the People’s Paradise collapsed from its own weight.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Georgia Jokester

I heard that Tom Price (R GA) asked Timothy Geithner, whether the treasury could possibly print up the money as fast as the administration wanted to spend it.

The New Villain: Black Cars

A friend sent news about a California legislator's proposal to make black cars illegal in California. This latest attempt at state control of private choices,which would infringe on the principle of subsidiarity, claims that black cars contribute to global warming. But I thought black tends to absorb heat from the sun, while white or silver cars reflect it back. So, wouldn’t black cars help remove heat from the atmosphere? And, if black cars go, will maroon, forest green, and marine blue be far behind?

But the real question is whether global warming is the problem the control freaks say it is. Al Gore hasn't changed his lifestyle yet, so why should I?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Is the term Catholic theologians coined for the common sense understanding that all situations should be managed by the most local authority possible. For example an individual decides what kind of toothpaste to use, but the federal government defends a nation; a city determines zoning for business and residences, but the state decides on the number and boundaries of counties; and a city issues business licenses, but the federal government rules on interstate commerce issues.

The US Founders carefully applied this same principle, calling it federalism by establishing a union of independent states that united only in common concerns such as defense and currency. They insured it with the ratification of the Tenth Amendment.

Although lip service has been paid to the concept by many countries, the 20th century is full of examples that illustrate the point that as more and more power flows to a central government, the wealth of the nation and the well being of individual citizens decline. Most notable is USSR. At its demise, people readily admitted, “They pretended to take care of us and we pretended to work for them.” At the other end of the spectrum was the explosion of the wealth, power, and status of the United States.

When solutions are left to individuals or local authorities, results sometimes appear to be uneven, which often encourages larger government entities to assume control “for the good of the people.” However, as central government takes over more and more functions formerly left to individuals and local authorities, the services provided decline in real terms. At first the situation improves, then costs increase and new guidelines are imposed in an attempt to eliminate waste, but eventually service declines even while costs and regulations continually rise.

For proof, look at any country that has adopted any form of universal health care. It has never worked well because the very premise defies common sense, subsidiarity, federalism or whatever name you choose to assign.

Or consider the recent law that forces all Americans to use fluorescent bulbs by 2012, taking control from the individual and giving it to the federal government, a huge violation of the subsidiarity concept. Since that law passed, more and more deficiencies in fluorescent bulbs have appeared, from transportation issues, timing, toxic mercury, to contamination of landfills. Mandating CFL bulbs also tends to squash entrepreneurial ingenuity that would probably find a better, cheaper solution if the marketplace were allowed to remain neutral, instead of controlled by Congress.

Will our choice of toothpaste become the next federal law?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Laughing All The Way to The Bank

From Money News: As stocks fell in half, pension funds collapsed and millions of savers watched their 401(k)s founder, Soros made $1.1 billion last year.

“It is, in a way, the culminating point of my life’s work,” Soros told The Australian.

The Micro Managers Are Here!

The natives are restless, joblessness soars, and opposing groups of citizen activists pop up in every county, while Washington continues to demand more power – to help people, of course. The moves range from the ridiculous to the frightening.

The august Senate Judiciary Committee has solved so many problems that they have nothing better to do than try to change the way college football bowl contenders are chosen.

In his Internet Town Hall meeting, Obama gaily told a questioner from Georgia that he will provide more jobs for Americans by having people come into our homes to regulate our thermostats. He really seems to have a thing about thermostats since he warned us during the campaign that we should not wantonly demand to keep our houses at 72°. Of course he chooses to keep the White House so much warmer that men working there had to remove their suit jackets during a frigid winter storm.

The same administration that reneged on contractual bonuses decided to cap salaries for all companies that accept money from the government bailout system. And then they “mentioned” that all executive salaries should be capped during the economic crisis. Hmmm, did we ask for this?

Yesterday the best-known cabinet member, Timothy Geithner, suggested that he “needed” the power to take over more companies. He didn’t even consider that to be a radical move when questioned by Rep. Manzullo (R. IL). Let’s see: the primary purpose of the federal government is to protect our country. At the moment, our borders are porous, foreign drug war lords brazenly make Phoenix, Arizona the kidnap capital of the world, and who knows what radical terrorists are planning, but the feds believe they have enough savvy to run our businesses too.

Geithner also airily agreed to consider dropping the dollar in favor of another currency, as China has requested. Of course leaders in nearly every other country on earth had heart attacks at the mere suggestion, not the mention the increased anxiety in America. On the other hand, a UN economic panel praised the concept.

Although, Obama can’t seem to find worthy candidates to fill his cabinet and sub-cabinet posts, he has appointed a slew of czars who do not need confirmation by the Senate or oversight by Congress. They include Energy Czar, Tech Czar, Intelligence Czar, Climate Change Czar, Urban Affairs Czar, Economic Czar, Health Czar, and Chief Performance Czar. Even the venerable Democrat, Sen. Byrd, got upset over that power grab for the executive branch.

But not to worry, Obama also has time to “reform” our education and our health care systems whether we want it or not. Not surprisingly, his “reform” always means more federal involvement and less individual freedom.

Obama vs Vatican

Not content to run every facet of life in the US, Obama plans to help run the Vatican. According to C-Fam, his administration will pressure the Papal Nuncio to the US to “do something” about Archbishop Raymond Burke, who has publicly chastised Kathleen Sibelius (Health and Human Services) regarding the gulf between the tenets of her faith and her actions as a public official.

Anyone want to take odds on the battle between a man with 65 days of executive experience and a 2,000 year old church?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Should These Clowns Run Businesses?

Obama has proposed the federal government take control of any business they judge to be “in trouble.” This violates so many laws and concepts that Americans believe in and defend that one can hardly understand why masses of people are not marching on Washington with pitchforks in hand. I have yet to see much reaction to his pronouncement even among conservatives.

But, even if you put all constitutional questions aside, do you really think that any arm of the federal government can run a business? Just look at what’s happened to AIG.
1. Most, if not all of their problems were caused by laws passed by Congress (Community Reinvestment Act, for example) and enforced by federal agencies that encouraged/demanded bad loans to avoid the so called “red lining” of neighborhoods.
2. The federal government took over AIG, but either did not supervise the expenditure of money or else feigned ignorance of the way money was spent, even when it was sent to shore up overseas banks.
3. To insure that the contractual agreements made with AIG were kept, the federal government hid protection for the AIG bonuses in the “Stimulus” bill, even reinserting it at the last minute with the Dodd Amendment.
4. When the public became upset with the bonus program, members of Congress pretended ignorance and fanned the flames of outrage. Dodd, author of the Dodd Amendment, became one of the most outspoken proponents of breaking the contracts. Shumer threatened to get the money back one way or another.
5. The House of Representatives went even farther: encouraged by Barney Frank, they enacted a law retroactively making a legal contract illegal and those who benefited from it into criminals.

It is beyond comprehension that anyone would willingly work for or do business with any company that was run with such blatant dishonesty and such lack of direction. Leadership like this automatically dooms the enterprise to abject failure. And yet, the Obama administration proposes to improve the economic situation by selecting other businesses to take over.

It’s Pretty Bad

When the European Union (far to the left of most American beliefs) tells the United States to quit trying to spend your way out of a recession. In fact, the current president of the EU called Obama’s plan a road to hell. Maybe all of us should forward the following information from Sweetness and Light to our Congressional Clowns BEFORE they stupidly approve of Obama’s 2010 budget or any more spending bills.

In a somewhat similar vein, Danial Hannan recently excoriated PM Gordon Brown for bankrupting the UK by spending and taxing. There is a video clip at The Anchoress.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FOCA Piece by Piece

The huge outcry against FOCA has encouraged the death crowd to slip in its provisions piece meal. The new Health and Human Services is now threatening to rescind Bush's executive order protecting health care providers if they refused to participate in abortion or euthanasia to protect their conscience.

You have until April 9 to register your protest against recission of this important safeguard. One place to go is the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. Another is led by some Catholic bishops. Each site has a letter for you to send, either as prewritten or in your own words. Please go to one or the other and register your protest, then send the link on to everyone you know. They will take away this precious freedom unless we overwhelm them with negative reactions.

Don't Faint; I'm Sending You to the NY Times

Today, the NY Times printed a letter from one of the AIG bonus recipients that makes the Congressional Clowns look even sillier. Jake De Santis suffered financially when the company went south through no fault of his own and he turned down better offers from viable companies to help the ailing AIG anyway. Yet no one presented the whole story about the bonuses during Congressional hearings. He will donate his after tax bonus to charities of his choice rather than hand it back to the federal government to waste.

So We Were Correct

Earlier we mentioned that the brouhaha over AIG's $165,000,000 in bonuses covered up something worse. Now we know that money appropriated to help the ailing insurance company actually went to Goldman Sachs and foreign banks:
1. Goldman Sachs: $12,900,000,000

2. Société Générale (France) $11,900,000,000

3. Deutsche Bank (Germany) $11,800,000,000

4. Barclays (United Kingdom) $7,900,000,000

Adding insult to injury, Goldman Sachs now says they didn't really need it.

As I said before, it's our blood, sweat, and tears, but it's just Monopoly money to them.

Must See Graphic about Federal Deficit

Hearing numbers is one thing, but seeing a graphic correctly illustrating the point is ever better. So today, I'm sending you to Powerline to see the projected deficits under Obama. No matter how they try to spin it, these deficits will be greater than any in our history.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ominous Signs Re: Money

Do not ignore the following signals since the Obama administration evidently strongly believes in central planning. Drudge headlines China’s call for a global currency this morning. Last week Bruce Wiseman warned of coming international monetary regulations. The London Summit will convene April 2 as world leaders meet to discuss ways out of the current financial crisis. Michael Camdessus of the IMF, has already suggested that "the global village" should "urgently and radically" implement international regulations. The US will send Timothy Geithner, who has recently called for a Global Monetary Authority, to this meeting.

There have been many steps, or rather, missteps to put us in this financial crisis, but in my mind, the most egregious is the mark to market accounting rule* imposed on financial institutions in late 2007. It exaggerates bank assets in good times, encouraging market bubbles and exaggerates bank losses when the bubbles begin to burst. Despite numerous calls for the easy rescission of this arbitrary rule, no one in either administration has considered changing it. Instead, both Bush and Obama have demanded money, and lots of it, to throw at the problem. And with government money, comes more government regulation.

*As I explained in frantic emails begging Congress not to pass the TARP bill, mark to market means that a bank’s assets are controlled or marked by the last sale of a similar asset. Thus, one distress sale, for whatever reason, can devalue all similar assets immediately and severely limit the amount of money a bank can lend.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Same Song, Second Verse Same As The First

Tim Geithner, the only man in the US who could solve the banking crisis despite being a tax cheat, announced his plan to solve the banking crisis today. He proposed that the toxic assets be purchased. How novel! Wasn't that the original plan back in September when Paulson convinced the Senate and House to pass the Toxic Assset Relief Program to the tune of $700,000,000,000?

Of course, Paulson and Geithner didn't actually spend that money the way they had promised to. But with more time to tinker with the details, Geithner has now come up with new flourishes and bigger expenditures. In fact, he admitted the costs would eventually come up to $1,000,000,000,000. (And remember that initial costs are always lower than reality when it comes to government programs.)

He expects a coalition of federal and private "investment" will take care of the toxic assets. But after Congress reneged on the AIG bonuses which they themselves wrote into the "Stimulus" bill, and after Geithner insisted on the bonuses, then claimed to know nothing about them, who would want to go into partnership with the government?

Tea Parties vs Pledge Cards

Opposing grass roots movements are rapidly growing in the US. One involves tax protests called Tea Parties; the other is a group gathering pledges to support Obama and his programs.

Inspired by Rick Santelli’s impromptu rant on CNBC, tax protests have been springing up spontaneously all across the country. Families, young singles, and retirees have shown up in large numbers with homemade signs indicating anger about one or more of the Obama spending programs. The news media has either treated them dismissively, or not covered the events at all despite the large turn outs, even during adverse weather. Yet more are planned, especially on tax day, April 15. The amateur organizers “meet, plan, and advertise” on the Internet.

Focus on the Family is also sponsoring and encouraging over one thousand protests, called Taxed Enough Already, on April 15. Their symbol is a red circle with a teakettle proclaiming, “We Are TEA’D!” There is some overlap with the Santelli inspired demonstrations. For example, in Atlanta the TEA’D protest will be at noon, while the other one begins at 6:30 on the Capitol Steps.

In contrast to the spontaneity of tax protests, Obama’s group is organized under the aegis of the Democrat party, with a group called Organizing for America. The grass roots supporters who helped sweep him into office are signing pledge cards promising to campaign for his education and health care reforms, as well as renewable energy projects in Operation Canvass. They pledge to support his “bold approach” and to encourage family and neighbors to do the same. Gathering new email addresses is as important as getting new pledge cards signed.

The all out push began last Monday, March, 16 when Obama announced his $3,550,000,000,000 budget for 2010 and instructed David Plouffe to send out email instructions to the 13,000,000 volunteers. This weekend a group of 30 in Birmingham were out on the streets and in the malls to promote Obama’s plans. According to Anna Velasco of The Birmingham News, they were instructed to work with friends and stay away from those who oppose Obama. "We're looking for supporters," said DeHaven of Hoover, one of the event's organizers. "We're not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army."

The battle lines are drawn.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rubbing Our Noses in ACORN(s) Updated

Americans have watched ACORN with growing concern in the last number of years due to continued malfeasance in registering new voters and other questionable election activities. In several states they have faced lawsuits and investigations because of illegal acts such as turning in 75 registration forms from one person. But Obama defended and trained ACORN members during his days as a community organizer, so they grow more audacious every week.

As we reported earlier, ACORN turned up as a beneficiary of $1,000,000,000 in the hastily passed “Stimulus” Bill. Obama’s administration then sweetened the pot even more in the “emergency” funding of the federal government (Omnibus Bill) for the rest of the year with an additional $3,900,000,000. Taxpayers get the privilege of footing their expenses whether or not we agree with their goals.

Because Obama so graciously allowed the Census to stay with the Commerce Department, thereby avoiding his direct supervision, he has arranged for ACORN to become a major player in the 2010 census. This would give the group access to even more money, i.e., some of the $1,000,000,000 additional funds allotted to the Census in the “Stimulus” and some of the extra $3,100,000,000 in the Omnibus bill.

The bigger, more frightening problem is that the census must remain politically neutral if we are to have a chance at honest government since it will determine districts for the House of Representatives. Yet, ACORN only seems to turn in Democrat vote registrations and apparently only drives Democrat voters to the polls. To believe that they will be neutral during the Census is almost laughable.

This week we discovered that the people who have threatened AIG executives and demonstrated in front of their homes are from a group sharing office space with ACORN. The group is named Working Families for Connecticut, but one wonders how working people find so much time for bus trips and daylong demonstrations. And who pays for their printed placards proclaiming that “Capitalism Is Organized Crime"? Apparently, ACORN can also function as a handy “Rent A Mob” when needed for political theatre.

Sweetness and Light has even more information about this organization,

Friday, March 20, 2009

If It Moves, Tax It

That was a great line in one of Reagan's speeches. But apparently the ever greedy tax-and-spenders decided it's a great idea and proposed the mileage tax. They aren't getting enough money from the gas tax because we're driving more fuel efficient cars and driving less because of the cost of gas. Never mind that both state and federal governments have pushed these concepts relentlessly for years. So now, they want to track how much you drive and tax you by mileage. I'm fairly certain that the gas tax will remain in place also.

First Obama's transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, brought it up to howls of protest from consumers. He relented, at least temporarily, but now Republican Governor Pawlenty is studying the possibility for Minnesota. He is even considering tracking drivers by satellite to avoid the possibility of turning odometers backward.

Warning: Danger Ahead

The Federal Reserve quietly slipped $1,200,000,000,000 into the economy this week. The only trouble, it was just printed money, not increased wealth. That move, officially known as Quantitative Easing is sort of like a college student drinking a triple latte to keep going after an all night party. It appears to solve the problem for awhile, but eventually the lack of sleep catches up and there is an inevitable crash, even in strong, healthy 18 year olds.

Printing money seems to help the economy because it does stimulate spending in many quarters at first. However, it will eventually backfire because the currency in devalued and inflation becomes a problem. Within hours of this change in US monetary policy, the price of gold shot up to $960 an ounce, indicating a loss of confidence in the dollar. Let us hope that we can muddle through the current economic problems without trying that again.

GIVE Is Worse Than I Thought

We have additional reason to fear consequences if the GIVE Act (HR1388) continues to roll down the pike toward becoming law. It passed the House this week by 321 to 105.
1. Funding, which is ALWAYS underestimated in the voting stage, will cost $6,000,000,000 during the next 5 years.
2. It includes provisions for 250,000 people in Obama’s National Civilian Security Task Force. (Note that Security implies “armed.”) What about the police, sheriff's posse, and National Guard that we already have?
3. It explores the possibility of every one working for the country in some form of “voluntary” service. If you have to serve, it’s not voluntary. And Americans of their own accord already do more volunteer work than people of any other country.
4. It mentions people living on centralized campuses while serving, carefully avoiding the negative term “camps.”
5. It even mentions uniforms for the “volunteers.”

See Call about HR 1388 Today for additional information. Now it's time to call your Senators.

What Else are They Lying About?

Okay, so now we know Geithner, Obama, and Chris Dodd blatantly lied about the bonuses, even while they pretended self righteous indignation. They not only knew about them, they made sure they were protected by hiding the Dodd Amendment in the “Stimulus” Bill. So what do our leaders in Congress do? Rush to pass a bill taxing the bonuses they insisted on giving to AIG at 90% so they can get the money back. Not only is the bill illogical, in view of the circumstances, but it’s probably also unconstitutional. What a way to run a company and a country! Imagine how wonderful everything will be when these clowns have more control our health care.

Now, let’s get back to work with our Rule Number One. Exactly why was money funneled through AIG to bail out foreign banks? Let’s talk about that, not a measly (by comparison) $165,000,000.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where Is The Outrage?

Five Planned Parenthood Clinics have now been implicated in ignoring statutory rape to pursue abortion dollars. Pro-life students have secretly taped five different instances when girls, posing as fourteen year olds who have had sexual relations with adult men, come in for “counseling.” In each instance, the counselor ignored the obvious malfeasance, showed little concern for possible trauma to the young girl, and promoted abortion as an easy solution. None fulfilled the legal obligation to report a possible crime. How many tapes do we need before officials at Planned Parenthood, a recipient of taxpayer dollars, face prosecution?

The Real Bonus Scandal

Congress is frothing at the mouth over the $165, 000,000 given to executives at AIG, yet has ignored the $90,000,000 in bonuses Franklin Raines received while presiding over the rape of Fannie Mae between 1998-2003. After he pocketed the money, it was discovered that an “accounting error” had mistakenly stated there was a $9,000,000,000 profit when there was none. Later, he did pay a fine, but the media circus such as we’ve witnessed this week never developed and few citizens even remember his name. Sweetness and Light has more background information.

Mr. Teleprompter Backs Off

President Obama has dropped his plan to insist that combat wounded veterans use their own private insurance to pay for medical care. Veterans and the American public praise this decision, but it still rankles that his administration even considered it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More on Rule One

The hypocrisy and out right lies by government officials about AIG bonuses astonishes even the most cynical political observer. While their proposed “remedies” make good theater for the 24 hour news circuit, they also cross the line into unconstitutional. But then the whole government ownership of private enterprises is unconstitutional. Read Larry Kudlow today to get a realistic perspective; he may even have the real story tucked away in that column – AIG secretly funneling money to dozens of derivatives including both American and foreign banks.

Guns, But No Ammo

For weeks news has been leaking out that Obama intended to limit civilians’ “clinging to their guns” by making ammunition expensive. Now Commentary Magazine explains how it’s going to work. The new regulations will eliminate the common practice of selling spent casings from military bullets to private companies that used the casing to make bullets for police departments and private citizens. The government will lose 80% of income they have been receiving from selling the casings and the cost of ammunition on the civilian market will skyrocket. So, not only will hunters and sportsmen hardly be able to afford ammunition, but neither will your local police department. Plus, the department of Defense will require more tax money to stay at the same level of preparedness. In other words, everyone loses, but the gun control freaks will get to feel self-righteous.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Call about HR 1388 Today

The GIVE or the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act will eliminate community based learn and serve programs. Instead it establishes a college level service-learning agenda and another research program that studies and implements similar plans in the primary and secondary levels of education. It makes the federal government the locus for service and organizes our children into a corps of “volunteers.”

There are many things wrong with this approach, not the least of which is that coerced service is not volunteerism. There is the question of expense and effectiveness. Then there is the big problem of its constitutionality, like, does it force citizens into involuntary servitude?

This act will come up for vote tomorrow, so today is the day to let your representative know how you stand.

On a personal note, this is but the latest fad to emerge from “academentia.” The university where I once taught jumped on the bandwagon and insisted that all freshmen participate in a community workday. Even on that level, the program was grossly mismanaged. They assigned an assisted living center to my group, but would not allow anyone tell the students what to expect or give specific instructions beforehand. So most kids stood around in uncomfortable clusters, watching the patients instead of interacting with them. I hate to think of the silly rules and restrictions coming down the pike when the planners are even further removed from the place of action.

Remember Major Rule One

Please do not pay any more attention to the faux outrage stories about the AIG bonuses. It’s another magician’s trick to get your mind off what the performer is actually doing onstage. Look around for stories that barely get mentioned. See Major Rule for Informed Citizens to refresh your memory.

Was St. Patrick Irish?

That was a question I used to ask my communication students each year. If anyone answered that he was British or Roman, he received extra credit for that day’s assignment. And I got to tell the rest of the class about St. Patrick’s Day since most Americans confuse him with a drunken leprechaun.

Until I read How The Irish Saved Civilization, I never thought about St. Patrick except to remember that I was descended from English and Irish immigrants. But Dr. Tom Cahill’s book opened my eyes to what an outstanding person he was and how his life has made a difference in the way we live today.

You see, it was the Irish who kidnapped the wealthy teenaged Patrick and sold him to a brutal slave master, Milchu, a Druid priest. For six long years, Patrick tended Milchu’s flocks, learned the Celtic language, studied the Druid religion, and developed in his own Christian faith.

He eventually escaped, studied for the priesthood, and then willingly returned to Ireland to pay Milchu the money for his own ransom. He did not demand apologies or reparations for the cruelties he had suffered in Ireland. Instead, he brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to an entire nation, saving the people from the barbarism of their pagan religion.

As he converted the Irish to the Christian faith, he created the atmosphere that fostered learning and literature. Later Irish monks carefully copied manuscripts of the Bible, Christian doctrine, and philosophy in both Greek and Latin. They preserved for all future generations the body of knowledge that would have otherwise been lost when barbarian hordes were burning and looting Europe.

May you be blessed with
warmth in your home,
love in your heart,
peace in your soul
and joy in your life.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rate Your Employees

Let’s face it folks, we have been too lax with our employees, the people we send to Washington to conduct our national affairs for us. How about a uniform annual review?

I suggest we use the standards for non commissioned officers in the US Army. These are simple values, applicable to a wide spectrum of American citizens. As the Dept. of Defense instructions explain,
“Values tell us what we need to be, every day in every action we take. Army values form the identity of America’s Army, the solid rock upon which everything else stands. They are the glue that binds us together as members of a noble profession. They make the whole much greater than the sum of the parts. They are non negotiable: they apply to everyone all the time and in every situation.”

1. Loyalty: bears true faith and allegiance to the US Constitution, the Army, the unit, and other soldiers
2. Duty: Fulfills their obligations
3. Respect: Treats people as they should be treated
4. Selfless Service: Puts the welfare of the Nation, the Army and subordinates before their own
5. Honor: Lives up to all the Army values
6. Integrity: Does what is right, legally and morally
7. Personal Courage: Faces fear, danger, or adversity (physical and moral)

This is what we demand of the people who risk their lives for fairly low pay and few perks in order to protect us. Why not expect at least as much as the ones in Washington, who take cushy jobs, employ large staffs, enjoy lots of perks, and earn around $174,000 a year?

For example, how many Congressmen and Senators would fail at bearing true faith in the Constitution? According to legal experts at Powerline, the recently passed Omnibus bill has at least one blatantly unconstitutional provision in it. Does that suggest that the 245 Representatives and 62 Senators who for voted for it should be put out of office?

How do your senators and your representative score in this rating form for corporals? Not many would stay in office if we got serious about expecting good government from our government employees. I say it’s time to quit shrugging our shoulders, raise a ruckus, and kick all the moral pygmies out of office. We’ve got about a year and a half to find and elect some replacements.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Craziest Health Care System in The World

The US, without doubt, has the most illogical way possible of paying for health care. Also without doubt, it has the best health care possible.

Since I belong to a listserve for ocular melanoma patients from around the world, I regularly get first hand reports from international patients lusting for a chance to get the treatment for this rare disease that we Americans take for granted. Our emails to the group are about new trials available or angel flights for free travel to receive treatment. One of our member has lived a good life for 25 years since diagnosis and 14 years since the first metastasis. Their emails are about lack of treatment possibilities, waiting for treatment, or sad goodbyes as metastasis to the liver overtakes them.

The US system is a direct result of politicians tinkering over the years, changing a law here and modifying a regulation there. Like changing architects in the middle of construction, the result is a grotesque conglomeration architectural features instead of a well planned building. It started with the 1945 freeze on wages. Employers could not reward workers with raises, so they opted for rewarding them with “free” insurance. The employees received a benefit and the business received a tax deduction. Then politicians stepped in and ruled that while businesses could deduct health care insurance, individuals could not.

Gradually more and more families began relying on their employers’ insurance, rather than buying their own. At the same time, more and more people took advantage of this “free” service and demanded more and more medical treatments. Insurance companies tried to hold down costs with more restrictions and higher deductibles. The physicians had to hire more staff just to process the required paperwork, so they had to increase their costs.

Then the emerging realities of the marketplace dictated that employees readily change jobs instead of staying with one employer long enough to enjoy a retirement party and a gold watch. The employer, of course only paid for insurance on current, not former, employees. So people in between jobs, people who became independent contractors, or people who started their own businesses had to do without insurance or pay higher, non-deductible insurance premiums.

Both costs and services have spiraled upward for the last 64 years with our mish-mash of payment systems and medical services. Yet, no one in America is denied primary medical care and many receive the most expensive treatment options possible because of charitable donations and the willingness of treatment providers to write off debts for uninsured patients.

A rational solution could be to offer insurance that stayed with the person, not the employer and to allow everyone to deduct insurance premiums as part of their medical expenses. An irrational solution would be to force everyone into government controlled health care. That has not worked well anywhere that it has been tried. The inevitable results are less health care available to individuals or more costs to individuals if they choose to pay to get to the head of the line.

If you detest arguing with a desk bound insurance company employee who refuses to cover your anesthesia when a portion of your lung is removed, just wait until you get to argue with a government bureaucrat about whether you get to have the surgery at all.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Obama Thanks Wounded Vets

He is planning to ask them to pay for their war related wounds with private insurance, according to Hot Air. What a way to show appreciation for those who risk their lives to protect us!

Unions Change Their Tune

In the early 20th century, unions demanded that all union votes reflect the situation in US elections and be by secret ballot. They pictured the company hierarchy as vengeful thugs who would retaliate against employees who voted for union shops, if they knew how the workers voted.

So union membership rose for awhile and then fell to the current number of somewhere around 12% of the work force, including the government employees who are unionized.

In the early 21st century, union leaders now demand that the secret ballot be eliminated and votes become public. Does that mean they have become the vengeful thugs who would retaliate against employees who vote against them?

To sweeten the publicity, the proposed legislation has been misnamed Employee Free Choice Act. It’s more popularly called Card Check which doesn’t reveal much about its contents either. However, it will force workers to vote, or sign the card, in front of one or more union leaders and few will be willing to cross them for fear of personal retaliation. It's anything but "free choice."

Lacking news of wide spread abuse of employees, there hardly seems to be a need for more unions. Numerous laws and regulations protect workers’ rights. Now we have trial lawyers who are eager to win money for plaintiffs in any semi-plausible case. If there were a need for more union representation, they would be expanding across the land without assistive legislation.

Passing the card check law, which is reputedly going up for vote next week, will raise prices on many goods made and/or sold in the US so the union officials can get their cut. Citigroup has lowered its recommendation for Walmart stock from buy to hold. Others lament it will stifle hiring by small businesses which usually provides more jobs than the larger companies. It certainly will do nothing to help the current economic problems.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recommended Reading

Actually, I highly recommend Randall Hoven's article, "Here's What's Happening on the Economy," at American Thinker. It provides an explanatory timeline for those of us who are suffering from the constant battering of bad news, bad decisions, and bad political moves of the last few months.

The Score Card

In the last 18 months, twelve years of gains have been lost in the stock market. That adds up to trillions of dollars of personal wealth. Sadly, this is happening to the bedrock of our society, the people who save money, invest for retirement, and plan ahead. So the ones who provide for their own retirement, who usually give to charity so they can help the less fortunate, and who pay higher taxes have been hurt the most.
The bureaucrats in Washington are going to miss their contributions into our tax system. And our deficits will end up being much higher than any predictions because no one is considering the inevitable loss of tax revenue.

Unions Are the New Trump Card

Obama’s last massive spending bill included a provision that stopped funding the scholarships which allowed some children in the Washington, DC area to attend private schools. The program was an outstanding success according to students, parents, and the professionals who were charting its results; it cost about $7,000 for each child. Since the outlay per public school pupil in that district hovers around $14,000, it not only saved money but also improved education. For despite the high expenditure per student, educational test scores in DC consistently appear near the bottom of the chart. But, Obama ranks loyalty to union donors above both children and educational results.

The next program coming down the pike is Card Check. Is there any hope that it can be stopped?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Major Rules for All Informed Citizens, II

Never blindly trust statistical information given by the media. Sometimes members of the media shade the truth to further their own viewpoint; sometimes they gullibly accept bogus figures from public relations flacks without any attempt at verification.

Let me give you just two examples. Back in 1968 NARAL (National Abortion Rights League) told the eager media that 10,000 women died from botched abortions every year. The actual number was between 200 and 250, but they repeated the 10,000 number so frequently that the people accepted that as fact. Many who had previously opposed abortion began to change their minds because of the supposed loss of so many young women each year. Since the early nineties, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the founders of NARAL, has repeatedly exposed his own deception, but hardly anyone pays attention. The public believes that since Roe vs Wade about 10,000 lives have been saved each year.

Yesterday James Taranto, in his “Best of the Web” column, exposed a more recent example. This time the National Center on Family Homelessness reported that in 2005-2006 (Bush administration) one in fifty American children experienced homelessness. Read the whole article to get the details, but needless to say, the actual figure is far, far lower than that.

Now, you have two rules to consider every day:
1. Pay attention to what’s not being covered when silly stories continue day after day.
2. "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Mark Twain

Vitter Amendment Lost

The motion to repeal the law creating automatic pay raises for Congress lost yesterday in a 52 to 45 vote.

Twitter to The Rescue

The Feds have just finished a thorough study of the errors made during Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts. Yesterday Janet Napolitano, the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, announced that they might use text messages and Twitter to help with preparedness in the future, according to The Congressional Quarterly.

Too bad no one sent Obama a text message about the ice storm in the Midwest last January. He didn’t notice the hundreds of thousands without electricity, heat, or water for two whole weeks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Support Vitter’s Amendment

If Vitter’s amendment to the gigantic Omnibus Bill (also known as HR 1105) passes in the Senate today, then Congressional pay raises will have to be voted on in separate measures each year. They will no longer be automatic, without vote, discussion, or becoming public knowledge. The rest of us are losing jobs and retirement funds, or, if we’re lucky, merely taking pay cuts. Let’s see if the clowns in Congress care about our plight or if it’s going to be business as usual.

Harry Reid has also fashioned a bill nearly identical to Vitter’s (S 542). He wants to pass the Omnibus Bill today with no amendments from the Republicans, so it won’t be diminished in any way. His promise is that the Senate vote can vote on it later as a separate measure.

I say, a penny saved from the Omnibus Bill is a penny earned. And the sooner the automatic pay raises are expunged from the law, the better. Call your Senators now!

Can’t “Do It My Way” Anymore

I have decided that the urge to control others is the most dangerous addiction of the 21st century. In fact, the illustration of the Lilliputians imprisoning Gulliver when he traveled to to their country, perfectly illustrates the way we Americans are being immobilized as tiny people with tiny ropes tie us down. One or two minuscule ropes would mean nothing, but the ever-growing number of little laws, small regulations, and teeny rules have bound us to the ground unable to move.

I came across the latest example this weekend when I read "Philanthropy And Its Enemies." The self righteous “do-gooders” of our era have decided that even the independent foundations must be politically correct from the make up of their boards to the places they distribute money. Such meddling ignores the true diversity resulting from individuals voluntarily donating money to achieve innumerable goals as a result of individual freedom. Instead, organizations such as the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Greenlining, and the Council on Foundations, are trying to force the rest of us to provide for their current ideals and causes, not our own. Never mind that we are spending our own after tax money to fund and support our own foundations and should be allowed to make our own decisions.

I Beg Your Pardon

Mr. President, but you’re mixing ideology with science yourself. Using human life and discarding it in the laboratory is always a moral or ideological decision. At this point, no promising applications of embryonic stem cell research have actually been made. There has been a lot of hype, but I have not heard of any experiments that showed potential. If there were a lot of promise in them, medical companies all over the world would be eagerly plowing money into the research. The people who back embryonic stem cell research and demand tax dollars to fund it are the same people who show disregard for the sanctity of life in other areas.

On the other hand, research from adult stem cell research has shown amazing results, primarily because adult stem cells have a built in immunity that embryonic stem cells do not have. Scientists have been able to harvest and use stem cells from umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, and even skin without destroying human life in the process. This research has shown potential or real cures in at least 73 areas from cancers to spinal cord injuries. And, would someone please inform poor Michael J. Fox that they’ve even helped Parkinson’s disease. (For more information, go to Stem Cell Research Cures.)

For the record, embryonic stem cell research has never been forbidden in the United States. Scientists have been free to pursue their experiments by using the stem cell lines approved by President Bush, as long as some private entity funded the research, not reluctant taxpayers.

PS: Apparently even the Wall St. Journal has also published a rebuttal to Obama’s pronouncement yesterday. They must have read my mind. ;-)

On another front, today the Canada Free Press has taken up my battle for States Rights and against the proposed Connecticut legislation regarding Catholic bishops. I didn’t even know they were reading my blog. ;-)

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Siren Call of Earmarks

Congress has made it easy to include earmarks in bills; its members consider them vital to re-election. Despite righteous sounding denunciations by members of both parties, they continue unabated. Almost 9,000 of them are included in the Omnibus Bill, now being voted on in the Senate. Obama, who once promised to eliminate all earmarks, is prepared to approve the measure no matter how many are in it.

Why are they so popular? Most of them fund civic projects back home with federal dollars. Probably many of these projects are desirable, although we never know since the money is appropriated without any discussion or anyone’s knowledge other than the supporting legislator. They are the natural result of the growing federalism in our country as more and more people look to the federal government to solve national, local, and personal problems. After all, it is the “Feds” who have the deep pockets; state and local governments are less wealthy, since they’re subject to more scrutiny by the taxpayers.

At this point in our political climate, referring to states’ rights or state autonomy is to invite ridicule. But these state and local projects are best handled by state and local authorities and best funded by state and local taxes. If that were to happen, more discussion and more refinement of each project would take place, eliminating at least some waste in the process, not to mention the inevitable loss of money as it travels from the taxpayer to the federal government, then back to the states.

There is a “novel concept” that would save us all a ton of money – pay attention to Tenth Amendment and quit jeering at states’ rights. Continued morphing into centralized power will only lead to further loss of freedoms, as well as increased government waste.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Prohibiting The Free Exercise Thereof

A Connecticut legislator has introduced a bill, #1098, that will prevent Catholic Bishops from having the right to direct the financial, legal, or administrative decisions of their dioceses.

Our nation’s First Amendment includes the phrase, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I understand that the Connecticut Constitution has similar wording.


Hat tip to Fr. Z

They Truly Do Represent Us

I’ve been fretting lately about the number of political appointees who are tax cheats. And I grow apoplexic about the politicians who ought to be in jail, instead of roaming the halls of Congress voting on bad bills we don’t need. Graft and corruption abound at all levels of government with hardly a murmur.

On the other hand, I can remember living in Dallas, TX during the fifties when we never locked our doors, not even when we left for a weekend trip. We kept the car keys in the ignition, so they wouldn’t get lost. Now people lock up their cars in their own drives, install burglar bars on their windows, and pay for electronic surveillance of their home to avoid thievery.

So maybe our dishonest politicians merely reflect the society they serve.

It’s Not My Brother, Not My Sister, But It’s Me, O Lord Standing in The Need of Prayer

If “they,” the elected government officials, truly reflect the people they represent, then it’s time for “us,” the voters, to start examining our consciences and changing our ways.

If America needs improving, the place to begin is with “us.” Christianity started in the middle of a permissive, pagan society. It thrived when those pagans observed the every day lives of Christians in their midst. Are we honest? Do we bring love and mercy to the hurting, broken people we live, work, and socialize with every single day? Do our lives reflect virtues worthy of emulating? Can we show love in every social interaction without condemning others or condoning sinful choices? Let’s change politics by changing ourselves.

Start at Home

I’ve never heard of any therapist who said his patients complained about how poor their parents were. But I’ve heard a lot about patients who wrestled with the lack of love their parents had shown them forty years earlier.

A man approached Mother Teresa and said,

"Mother, I want to do something great for God, but I don't know what. Should I start a school, be a missionary in a foreign land, build up a charitable agency?" He had great visions.

Mother Teresa looked at him closely, with kindness, and responded:

"What you need to do is make sure that no one in your family goes unloved."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Health Care Rationing, Not Reform

The terribly expensive health care in the United States is still considered the best in the world. Yes, there are problems. There is room for improvement.

But, to give health care over to the government is to trade a diamond with a *G, VSI rating for a polished granite stone. Especially when the new plan is crafted by a focus group meeting at the White House for three or four hours.

I have successfully battled cancer four times, both with and without insurance. It took me three years to pay all hospital and medical bills for cancer and reconstruction surgery. When I had cancer with insurance, I still had to brawl with some flunky over why Blue Cross Blue Shield would not pay for the anesthesia when part of my lung was removed.

Neither situation was fun, but I prefer them to getting my health care through the same government that runs the TSA. There is a reason why victims of socialized medicine come to the US for treatment if they can possibly afford it. Back at home they have watched friends die while waiting to get to see the doctor.

*G means near colorless and VSI refers to very slight inclusions or flaws in the stone, not visible to the naked eye.

So Much for Helping The Little People

In a recession, Obama has simultaneously increased the costs of all federal contracts awarded and eliminated most small businesses from consideration. He signed an executive order returning to the favorite Democrat position of limiting all federal contracts to companies with a union employees. This event has been largely ignored, but it will have a profound effect during a recession. Few small or minority businesses are union businesses, so they are immediately eliminated from consideration even though they usually underbid the larger, unionized companies with a more expensive work force.

Coincidentally, since each union worker pays approximately $400 to the union yearly, it will bring in an estimated *$2,400,000,000 for the unions who have been losing membership at a rapid rate in the last 20 years.

*Union spokesmen question this total, but I have seen nothing to disprove it.

Things Will Get Worse in July

Unless Congress has the courage to change in the minimum wage law that it passed in 2007, the minimum wage will increase in July from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour. When that happens, especially during a recession, people on the bottom of the economic ladder will lose jobs or never get hired for them. It happens every time. Yet the Democrats seem to be wedded to the notion that increasing the minimum wage will help the “poor.”

The biggest impact will be on the small business owner, the very entity that tends to hire more new workers than large concerns. So many new workers will never get the chance to earn money and learn job skills, so they can move up the career ladder. Instead, many of them will end up staying home playing video games waiting for someone to help them.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Major Rule for Informed Citizens

I have been delighted to hear commentators mention an axiom that I used to teach my communication students about the influence of the media on society. Always pay attention to the news that is not being covered.

At first my students responded with, “How can you know what you don’t know?”

The answer is when the media obsesses over trivial “human interest” stories, important events, decisions, actions, or unflattering information are not getting covered, often purposefully. The latest non-story that keeps on going long after everything has been said at least three times is about Rush Limbaugh. It has effectively deflected reaction to the abysmal stock market (read wealth of the country) decline and the president’s abysmal lack of understanding about it. To prove my point, yesterday The Politico revealed that the whole brouhaha was part of a defined strategy by Rahm Emmanuel, James Carville, and Paul Begala.

Then think back to the space and time committed to the Octo-Mom story while colossal spending bills were being passed without study or debate even though the bills also included wording that changes our governing style, to say the least. As you remember the events and the media coverage during the last few years, you will find multitudinous examples of this same distressing phenomenon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Democrats Double Dip While Economy Slips

The "Stimulus" Bill and the Omnibus Spending Bill have 122 cases of appropriations to the same entities, according to Sen. Mitch McConnell. Below are a few examples:
Stimulus $1,000,000,000
Omnibus $3,900,000,000
ACORN TOTAL $4,900,000,000

Stimulus $1,000,000,000
Omnibus $3,100,000,000
Census TOTAL $4,100,000,000

Fish & Wildlife
Stimulus $165,000,000
Omnibus $1,140,000,000
Fish and Wildlife TOTAL $1,305,000,000

Bureau of Land Management
Stimulus $125,000,000
Omnibus $890,000,000
Land Management TOTAL $1,015,000,000

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
Stimulus $220,000,000
Omnibus $472,000,000
NIST TOTAL $692,000,000

Arts Endowment
Stimulus $50,000,000
Omnibus $155,000,000
Arts Endowment TOTAL $205,000,000

Do they really believe that they're buying enough votes to stay in office, forever supported in style by the taxpayers? What they are doing to the economy will seriously hinder the flow of tax money into their coffers, so they will eventually suffer too. Then there's the backlash they will face when enough taxpayers lose money and jobs.

Maybe it's time to start paying attention to the daily tracking poll called the stock market, Mr. President. It represents the real wealth of this country. When that goes down, so does tax revenue.

Sippican Cottage: My Father Asks For Nothing

The entry at Sippican Cottage tells a charming story about a WWII vet revisiting a
B-24 like the one he flew over the Pacific. I hope everyone reads it, then personally thanks every veteran they know for keeping us safe. Sippican Cottage: My Father Asks For Nothing

The story reminds me of my Uncle Sparky and Aunt Della who both served in WWII. My uncle recently told me that in the last 60 years only four people had bothered to ever thank either of them. My brother was in the Special Forces during Vietnam and I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who has ever said thanks. I've posted a few pictures of my Uncle and a few stories about his experiences at my family website, if you would like more WWII stories.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pity the Global Warming Activists

Their eagerly anticipated “largest act of civil disobedience” was snowed out in Washington D.C. yesterday. Since many could not even get to work in the capitol because of the rare snowstorm, no one was there to observe the few protesters who showed up in their parkas and gloves.

It reminds one of Al Gore’s 2004 address on one of the coldest days in New York City.

As one who has survived the hype of dire predictions first about an endless winter and then about over population, I tend to view all doomsday predictions with a jaundiced eye.

Apparently I'm not alone. Check these out and decide for yourself.
The Warm List, a collection of 598 problems that have been blamed on global warming or a page devoted to Global Warming Lies.

Obama Has Discovered Another Tax Cheat. . . .

To appoint for office in his administration. This time it's Ron Kirk who has been asked to serve as U.S. Trade Representative. But the good news is that another $10,000 has been paid into the always needy IRS coffers.

I wonder how many taxpayers are going to use the excuse of "I will gladly pay all taxes due. I was just waiting until the week before I got a cushy appointment from the president."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Apparently, It's Not Just The Catholics

The Dow Jones seems to oppose the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius for Secretary of Health and Human Services also. The average has fallen more, even while Obama introduced her to the country. Governor Sebelius has been publicly reprimanded by Archbishop Naumann until she recants her vigorous support of abortion and abortion providers. She is also the governor who refused to honor refund checks for her constituents who had overpaid their taxes until the Republicans in her legislature agreed with her budget.

I tend to believe a drop of $239.10 by 1:41 pm to be a vote of No Confidence in both appointer and appointee.

Thou Shalt Not Covet, II

The proposed loss of tax deductions on home mortgages for the “rich” will affect everyone’s home values, whether rich or poor. The million dollar homes will lose value as they become more difficult to own, causing all the homes down the line to decrease in value also. So, the ailing housing industry whose woes started the current economic difficulties, will be hit with another deathblow by Obama’s proposals to eliminate tax deductions for all above a set level of income. While the “rich” will lose a tax deduction, every family will lose value in their biggest asset, their home. And the economy will constrict further.

Governing by Stealth

In the six weeks that Obama has been governing, a pattern of trickery has evolved.

• Last week, several official spokesmen clearly announced that there would be no nationalization of banks. But on Friday, the statement was made that the US government was trading their Citibank Preferred Stock (usually non voting stock) for common stock (voting stock). Now the federal government, as a single entity with almost 40% of the votes in each corporate decision, will control the actions of the large bank. It’s not officially nationalization, but it’s darn close to it.
• Facing growing criticism about the possibility of the FOCA bill, apparently the decision has been made to do it piecemeal. Last week, Obama rescinded the Bush executive order that had allowed health care providers to opt out of certain practices like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, or euthanasia, if the actions conflicted with their conscience. No enforcement has yet taken place, but the foundation is in place.
• Also, facing criticism about the Fairness Doctrine from free speech advocates, an amendment to the DC voting rights bill was passed (87-11) last week that stated that the Fairness Doctrine would not be resurrected. The media presented the news with great fanfare, disdainfully telling conservatives that it had never been an issue anyway. Many sighed with relief. But the same bill also carries the Durbin amendment (57-41) that attacks syndicated talk radio shows by forcing the FCC to take actions to promote diversity of communication ownership. When implemented, it will hurt many small radio stations that depend on syndicated programs for revenue and will pave the way for ACORN or similar groups to get their own stations at bargain basement prices.
• I have already written about some of the provisions of the “Stimulus Bill” that effectively encourage, if not establish, socialized medicine. That has passed and has been signed into law. See Health Care for Me, But Not for Thee and Now We Know.