Saturday, December 19, 2009

If I were a senator on the floor, here is what I would say

If I were a senator debating the health care bill on the floor, here is what I would say prior to the vote:

I thank the gentleman for yielding. Mr. Chairman, I weep and lament that this sorry excuse of legislation will be passed, then reconciled with the House and then sent to the President for signature and thus became the law of the land. I weep and lament that we as United States Senators are both scrapping our oaths as defenders of the Constitution as well as being so arrogant as to willfully ignore the demands of the people whom we represent that this legislation, this bill is not in the interests of our country. I weep and lament that rather than be home worshipping the Incarnate Son of God, incarnate for us and for our salvation (and I do not expect anyone else to subscribe to my belief of Nativity) I am kept here to do what the majority leader has routinely called the "people's business." This is not the people's business since the people do not want it. The Democrats, whose very name implies that the power of the people dictate their votes, are abnegating the people's wishes for the mere sake of handing our president a victory, just because he needs one. Make no mistake, we are not here to debate health care. This debate has never been about health care. This legislation exists to punish the innovators and wealthy of our society, to nationalize 1/6 of the economy and GDP, to expand the welfare state and thus make the people dependent on the government rather than trusting the people to make decisions they feel are in their best interests using the money and talents they have been given or earned, and to give our narcissistic and egocentric president a boost because everything else this man has proposed and signed into law has been an abysmal failure.

Since facts are not of any interest to the Democrats and since this is not about health care, the reminder of several important facts is perhaps an exercise in futility but I shall read it for the record so that posterity may judge fairly. The proponents of this legislation claim that there are some 47 million uninsured who cannot get it in this country and thus this will help them to get that insurance. Such a figure has been debunked continuously. There may be 47 million who don't have insurance in this country according to a 2006 report from the Census Bureau. But if we break down those numbers we see that 9.5 million are not even United States Citizens, i.e. they are illegal immigrants, people who have gotten into this country, probably for noble reasons, but are still guilty of breaking the laws of this land which this Congress and the President are reluctant to enforce. More on that at another time. Another 17 million without insurance are people or families who make in excess of $50,000 a year and thus can afford health insurance but choose not to because they feel that their money can be best spent elsewhere. Another 18 million were between the ages of 18 and 34 whose health was robust and who determined, whether wisely or not, that their money could be spent for other things such as completing a college education, paying off student loans, buying their first car, etc. Of the elderly who were uninsured, only 30% were uninsured for more than 12 months and 50% regained their insurance within 4 months. Thus the 47 million uninsured is a number twisted for political points.

We are repeatedly told by the majority leader and the President that 14,000 people lose their health insurance every day. If that number were true (and I don't believe it is), let us examine the reason for it. These are the people who have lost their job who had health insurance as part of their compensation. The reason that they lack health insurance now is because these are people who are being laid off because of the sorry state of the economy. As much as our president cannot fathom that his policies have only dug us deeper into the worse recession since what Jimmy Carter left us (and whose playbook he is using to supposedly "rescue" us from this deback), the increased taxes and penalties levied on people in this bill which start immediately as opposed to the so-called "benefits" which will not be implemented for four years down the line will only exacerbate the economic perils that many Americans find themselves in. Make no mistake that I believe that the President's and Democrat's handling of this economy is deliberate and is being done in concert with the passage of this health care bill for precisely one purpose: to make government more intrusive into our daily lives. Health care decisions, we are told by the President, are personal decisions. Then why not leave them up to the people themsleves rather than telling them what they ought to do?

We are also lectured that 50% of all bankruptices in this country are due to families or individuals who are paying for health care to save them or beloved family members from life threatening illnesses. First, the vast majority of those who do go bankrupt do so not because they were denied coverage but because they were a substantial part of that 35 million who could afford insurance and did not wish to purchase it or because they were young and healthy and a catastrophe happened which they did not foresee. The percentage of bankruptcies from health care costs is closer
to 9% not half.

The proponents of this bill will not even touch or even discuss measures that will actually allow for more people to be insured AND save them money. Two immediately come to mind. The first is tort reform. Lawyers are making billions, I repeat, billions of dollars off of class action lawsuits against doctors and hospitals and insurance companies for malpractice. Indeed, malpractice does occur, but the sums sought to remedy injuries or death are beyond what is commodious, it goes on to the exorbitant and extravagant. Doctors are so afraid of being sued in this increasing litigious society of ours that they order tests which may not be even necessary for diagnosis of the displayed symptoms, but do so anyway just to "cover their bases" to avoid any possiblity that there was malfeisance on his part. Those unnecessary tests are then passed over to the consumer in general. But we have not heard a word of tort reform. In fact, former DNC chairman, Howard Dean, himself an internist said at a health care town-hall over this past summer that the bill wouldn't pass with tort reform because no lawyer would support such provisions. So, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, hospitals are demonized but where is the outrage leveled at lawyers from the proponents of this bill? It is not to be found. The proponents, particularly President Obama have even demonized the doctors themselves saying that they amputate legs and remove tonsils just for extra reimbursement, when such a thing never happens! But where is the demonization of lawyers who won't sacrifice? It is not to be found. President Obama said that we all had to sacrifice in this trying time. I guess lawyers are to be exempt from sacrifice. Such is the hyocrisy of the President and members of this Congress--Sacrifice for thee, but not for me.

Another reform that would generate savings for the American people is lifting the ban to buy insurance across state lines. Why is it that there is a law in place which prohibits a person living in Kansas from purchasing insurance for himself or for his family from a company that operates in California? Repeatedly, we have heard rhetoric in this body about how insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are monopolies. If insurance companies are monopolies, it has occurred because of government fiat, in other words we have made them monopolies. Competition which has always, always, brought down prices regardless of whether you are selling TVs or snow shovels, is not being allowed to happen. Why? Because the state knows better.

The proponents of this bill are not liberals. A liberal person is someone like myself who believes in freedom, not as some abstract thought for discussion in philosophical fashion, but believes in it as a reality, as something that can be exercised and used at a person's own discretion. Where is the faith that we have in the common man to make his own mistakes and create his own success? Yes, many people are foolish and do stupid things. But such is the price of freedom. It is obviously lost on the proponents since they are not liberals. They are Statists, people who glorify the state and see it as the means of salvation. They care not for the common man. They believe in equality but the difference between the Statist and the liberal when it comes to equality is that the former impose equality by restrictions whereas the latter promotes that equality is a natural right to live freely under self-government. It is not perfection since human beings are not perfect. The Statist proponents believe fervently that they know what is better for people because of their intentions. Such was the belief of the Bolsheviks, the Nazis and the Maoists. In Communist Russia, we see that the belief in equality was only a belief as the majority of citizens had barely enough to eat while those who imposed that "equality" on them were free to shop at special stores which were stocked with food while the ordinary citizen was forced to wait in lines for days often just for the basic necessities.

Thus, let us return to the Constitution. Where, I pray, tell me, where in the Constitution do you see anything remotely where the government can tell an individual what he must acquire for himself? It is not there. The frequent retort of the Statist is to bring up auto insurance as a comparison. Such a comparison is dishonest, disingenous and specious. Auto insurance is purchased primarily for the damage you may inflict on someone else while driving. Though it may have some personal perks attached to it (like towing, rental cars, etc.), the need for auto insurance is to protect a person you may potentially harm. Also, the need for federal backround checks or the purchase of permits to buy firearms is also a specious comparison because the firearm could be potentially used against someone else. There is nothing in the Constituion, not even the oft-cited "commerce clause" to warrant such a dangerous meddling of government into the private affairs of citizens. Nothing.

The Statist has been demeaning, excoriating and demolishing the U.S. Constitution piecemeal since the start of the 20th century. We have all seen the results. Government is in record debts, in the trillions, due to the expansion of the welfare state, done in the name of charity, in such programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Great Society, welfare, all of which have spent more than what was forecasted because the Statist uses these as means to increase his own power and influence. Today, the recession is still with us because of a lack of incentive and innovation, two things which are absolutely necessary to bring a country out of recession, are nonexistent. The Statist must take credit for these and be responsible for the development of creativity since for an individual to take credit is anathema to him.

The Statists will say that even conservatives in Europe support the socialized medicine that is present over there. Only because of the fact that once the nanny state is in place, it is difficult if not impossible to remove it. I can only believe that such is the reason for the haste that surrounds this bill. This is about imposing a nanny state, because the Statists fear the individual, they fear self-reliance because their success is not dependent and exists in spite of governmental interference. So, let us oppose this now and forever for once it is set in stone, there is no going back.

I must single out a few people before I close. Senator Nelson, you are nothing more than an expensive man whore. At the last minute you announced that you would support the bill for benefits to Nebraska such as the completing of a hospital and assurance that Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, home of the Strategic Air Command and employer of 10,000 Nebraskans would not be on the short list of closings beginning in 2013. You sold your vote, but I think you held out only for fame. You know that supporting this bill would cost you your senate seat in 2012, but you didn't care because you were probably promised some board of directors job where you could amass more private fortune. Senator Landrieu, you are also an expensive call girl, selling out Louisiana for a few million dollars to rebuild damage done from Katrina. What does that have to do with health care?

Again, we are not debating health care here. If we were, then we would be talking about insurance reform and tort reform. Instead, this health care bill is nothing more than a backdoor method for the Statist to take over private decisions for his own self. The people do not want this, but they are dismissed because they don't know what is good for them. I notice that none of the proponents are or have been doctors or worked in the health care industry. There are many doctors and health care professionals opposed to this bill and yet their criticism is summarily dismissed by a bunch of glorified lawyers, lobbyists and social studies majors who now have the title of Senator.

I lament that I am spending this time here instead of home with my family worshipping at the Nativity Vigil, my Lord and God who came in the flesh to save us from the corruption brought to us by our sin. Unlike the proponents, I am actually here on the people's business. The people want this bill destroyed and so I will do nothing but vote no and I will show no quarter and will not lack vituperation to those of you who vote for it. This is not about health care reform. It is about the control of the individual by the state and to give President Obama a victory because he has done nothing well. I yield back the rest of this time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zweifalten (from my Germany trip in 2008)

Many people keep pressing me to get back to my journal about my trip to Germany in July of 2008. And I know that I should. Everything that I saw and took in should be written down, if only for my own edification.

Going through my pictures of the trip, I decided to put together a little film that I made on Microsoft Movie Maker of my pictures of the Church at Zweifalten. Zweifalten is a city that is located south of Mehrstetten along the Loter river. It has a magnificent church which is attached to a cloister that makes a great beer. If you want to try and get it, it's called Zweifalter Kloisterbraue. I thought it was the best beer I had ever tasted and I'm not much of a beer drinker, mind you.

I'm not going to get into much of the history of my excursion to this beautiful little city and its church (I'll do that later, I promise), but I thought I would share with you some of the pictures I took. It also has some good German music, Heinrich Schuetz' "Der Herr sprach zu meinem Herren" to accompany your visual tour. So enjoy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is it any wonder that no one trusts the media anymore?

Consider the headline: Unexpected drop in jobless rate sparks optimism. This is the headline on Yahoo! Finance. This is just more proof that the media simply doesn't get it and is again participating in the 24-7 fluffing session for Obama.

Two things immediately come to mind when reading this. First, even doing a simple google search, you will find this same basic headline for the past year all talking about how fewer people filing for jobless benefits seems to indicate that the recession is turning around. And then, the next week, the figures go back up. The media has been saying this since unemployment was 7% and look where we are now: over 10%! It may be down from 10.2%, but that's hardly worth getting into a sexual frenzy over!

Second, jobless claims are going to go down because of the fact that more people are employed at this time of year, but only temporarily and/or for part-time. Why? Because it's the Christmas season and a number of businesses, mainly retailers and also companies involved with delivery, like UPS and Fed-Ex, need to keep up with the increased demand, diminished as it is this year.

The media is so in bed with Obama they may as well make an X-rated movie out of it and try to sell it, although I think they would be the only ones buying. The fact that the media tries to push this every time and expect the American public to buy into it, hook-line-sinker, really only proves and exascerbates just how out of touch and blatantly partisan the media is.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Words do mean things

As a teacher of langauges, I am very concerned about how language is used. I, of course, prefer that language be used within the standards and correctly. At the same time, I realize that langauge is fluid and does, in fact, change. Vocabulary is added to through neologisms, of which some 200 are "unofficially" created each day, and also can undergo a process known as semantic shift. Let me provide a few examples.

Semantic shift can occur in a variety ways. One way is called pejoration where a word with a neutral or positive meaning becomes associated with a negative sense. The opposite of this process, amelioration, is when a word acquires a positive meaning when originally that word was negative. I'll provide two illustrations.

For pejoration, consider the word fair. Originally, this word connoted beauty and/or respectability. Ever heard "My fair lady?" But today, the word fair is used to express mediocrity or something that is middle of the road. For instance, if a kid brought home a report card with a lot of Cs on it, the parent might say that it was a "fair" report card, meaning "OK." Fair is also used to indicate impartiality. As far as amelioration, consider what has happened to the derogatory term, "bitch", for women. It has now become a positive term, in some circles.

What is the point of this? Genuine semantic shift in langauge happens organically; it's not just something that occurs. Groups may come together and develop their own "Secret language" but that has no bearing on the rest of the world. Remember when President Clinton in his deposition before the Grand Jury went to great lengths to change the meaning of the word "is." I've always taught my students that the linking verb "to be" should be regarded as an equal sign (=). Bill Clinton thought otherwise.

Well, this past week, a hacker got into files at the University of East Anglia (UEA) which has a research facility devoted exclusively to studying the phenomenon of global warning. UEA has also been at the front lines to provide the scientific evidence of global warning which would then be used to justify various types of legislation to stop the culmination of greenhouse gasses which, supposedly, warm the earth in an unnatural way because man is the cause. The emails and other information downloaded by the hacker were then spread throughout the world. One of the emails between a professor at UEA and another at the University of Pennsylvania had this interesting tidbit:

Among his e-mails, Mr. Jones talked to Mr. Mann about the "trick of adding in the real temps to each series ... to hide the decline [in temperature]."

Now, if anyone were to read this, one would see the word "trick" and come to the conclusion that there is deceit at work, that there is some malfeasance going on with the reporting of certain climate data. And that is a resaonable conclusion.

However, Mr. Mann says to the New York Times that the word trick means something in scientific circles. He says:

scientists often used the word 'trick' to refer to a good way to solve a problem 'and not something secret.'

Again, semantic shift must happen organically and over time. Now, he does not say that such a definition is being used by society at large (I've never heard trick being used in a positive sense in regular conversation) but that this is a jargon that is located exclusively in the scientific community. I'm very curious to see how widespread the term "trick" is used in this exact manner amongst members of the scientific community. But, I'm willing to bet that it is not used this way at all.

The hoax that is globabl warming has been dealt a very serious blow and now the only way that the defenders of this hoax can continue to justify it is based solely on changing the definition of words. Unfortunately, many of the same people who are teaching this hoax that is global warming are also the same type of people who are teaching languages to our kids. Soon, no one will mean what they say. That's chaos.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One thing (among many) that concerns me about health legislation

The Senate today unveiled its version of legisilation for health care reform. Reid, the Majority Leader from Nevada, wants a vote by this Saturday which will not pass the bill, but allow for weeks of debate, amendments and then final passage. He may have problems getting even that, but we'll wait and see. There are indeed way too many controversial things in this bill, but one thing that I've yet to hear anyone talk about is for those who cannot get coverage.

Now, hear me out on this one. There is a public option in this bill but you will still have to pay into it like you would a premium through any private insurer. Now, if you cannot pay that, a government subsidy will be given to you which can cover a lot of the expense, but not all of it. The cost of not having insurance, whether private or through the public option, can result in fines or, assuming you do not have the funds to pay, jail time which can go up to five years. My question: what will happen to the homeless?

In this country, there are approximately 100,000 homeless families according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness not including veterans, abandoned chilren and other individuals. According to the HUD report for 2008 on homelessness, some 600,000 people were recorded as staying in homeless shelters. So, let's call the number at 1,000,000 people who are homeless right now. I'm sure it's probably even more with the number of people who have been adversely affected by the Obama wrecking of the economy.

These people have pretty much next to nothing. They don't have any assets. Is the government then going to provide them totally free health coverage at no expense? The homeless have medical needs just like the regular population and are more at risk due to lack of shelter, lack of nutrition, lack of adequate clothing, etc. Many of them, when they acquire money of any kind, buy drugs to feed a recurring habit. So, what's going to happen to these homeless?

If they cannot afford premiums for private insurance and even if they are given a subsidy from a public option which will not cover the entire expense, what's going to happen? They can't be fined since they have no money. So, are we going to put all of these homeless in our already overcrowded jails? Are we going to imprison the poor?

I can't believe that this question has not been asked especially by the Democrats who continually believe themselves to be champtions and the guardians of the homeless in this country. Is this a first step towards criminalizing poverty?

My questioning reminds me of an episode of Star Trek I saw. (Yes, I'm a Star Trek nerd). In season 3 of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, there was an episode where Commander Sisko and Dr. Bashir, in a transporter accident (yeah, I know, it's an old plot line) end up in mid-21st century America where things are very different. It's a depressed time economically and those who are unemployed are taken to "sanctuary districts" where they can be out of the way of people who work and our relatively successful. Dr. Bashir and Captain Sisko find themselves in one of these sanctuaries as they have no identification nor any money. I won't give away more of the episode, but the people that are put in there are not criminals, they are people just down on their luck. I know homelessness is not just about being "down on your luck."

Science fiction has always been a great medium to draw attention to the ills we as a society face. Star Trek has done this repeatedly since its inception as it was broadcast during the Vietnam War, Red Scare, Civil Rights movement, etc. I wonder if that particular episode of Deep Space 9 will turn out to be prophetic. I surely hope not.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zack Greinke wins the Cy Young Award

Congratulations to Zack Greinke upon winning the Cy Young Award. One of the most coveted awards and most esteemed in baseball or in any sport, this gives some hope to those of us who are still, although reluctantly, Royals Fans.

It's not easy being a Royals fan. It really isn't.

When I moved to the Kanas City area back in 1985, Kansas City had just won the AL Central and was on its way to defeating St. Louis in a very dramatic seven game World Series, dubbed the I-70 series. This was uplifting for me since I came from Chicago and neither the Cubs nor the White Sox had been able to do much in terms of contending for the penant, although the Cubs had a promising run in 1984 only to fail, which is par for the course. Since 1985, Kanas City fans haven't had much to cheer for. Sure, we still had George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Dan Quisenberry, Kevin Seitzer, Frank White, etc. But with the demise of Royals' owner and all-around-good-guy Ewing Kauffman in the early 90s which left the financial future of the Royals in serious doubt, even though it was managed through the Kauffman Foundation and only one playoff appearance since 1985, which was 1992, the fans have really been let down. A new owner game in the form of David Glass who really is more concerned with lining his pockets (nothing wrong with that per se) but not caring a lick about baseball only prolonged the agony. Incompetent managers, more incompetent general managers (I think Allard Baird is a greeter at a local Wal-Mart now), players and perspective players never seemed to develop and went to teams where they blossomed, bad picks in the draft, huge gaffs in free agent signing, which persist to this day (Guillen, hello?) are all good reasons why Royals fans have been in misery for a long time. A lone bright spot did occur back in 2003 when the Royals started playing great, but petered out at the end of the season, going .500 (which was better than many previous years) and the Royals missed the playoffs yet again.

But this year, Royals fans flocked to Kauffman Stadium (I'm sorry, but I cannot call it "The K." It's a stupid moniker for this beautiful stadium. Yes, Kauffman is a beautiful place to play a game. The fountains in the outfield make it worth the trip) to see this young pitcher. At the beginning of the year, Greinke was touted as the Royals premier franchise player. He had a huge and lucrative contract and a larger fan base He became the face of the Kansas City Royals.

And why shouldn't he have been? After 6 starts, this Greinke had an ERA of less than 0.5. That's only been done by three other pitchers, including LA Dodgers Fernando Venezuela back in the 1980s. His end of season record was 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and 242 strike outs. Now you might balk at the wins, but in half of those games, he was let down by the Royals lack of offense. In those games, Greinke gave up maybe only one run with other runs generated by errors from pretty bad fielding (Callaspo, you reading this?). Nevertheless, Kansas City has a real ace in this guy and the Cy Young puts Greinke in very elite company. David Cone won the Cy Young for the Royals back in 1994 and before him, Bret Saberhagen in 1989. Saberhagen retired as a Royal. We all know what happened to David Cone. That's right--he became a Yankee! I can't think of anything more treacherous. That's why Johnny Damon better watch his back the next time he comes back to Kanas City. He has a huge target on his back, head, wherever.

The challenge is now to keep Greinke. We don't want to lose him to any other team, especially the Yankees. He's a bright spot for Kansas City. In the past, when the Royals were doing lousy, we always had the Chiefs to brighten our fall and winter months. We don't have that anymore either since the Chiefs are the equivalent to a high school football team and are so disappointing right now. I hope that the new management in the Royals front office does everything possible to keep Greinke here and give him the support he needes. There's no way we're going to be able to support a lineup that has as many dollar signs as the Yankees, but the Royals could be sure to keep some good players and recruit new ones so that Greinke isn't recording losses when he gave up only one earned run! However, the Royals General Manager has already done some stupid things. They've kept Guillen, they traded Teahen (who was a good hitter) and released Olivia, they should have let go of C John Buck, but for some idiotic reason, kept him. I don't have much faith in the general managers of either Kansas City professional team right now. But the Royals have some good pitching. Soria is an excellent closer and Meache has his bright spots. Royals just need some offense. And Greinke wants to win. According to the Kansas City star,
Greinke has made it clear that he enjoys Kansas City, but also that winning is his priority. He won fans locally when he told the New York media he wanted to pitch for the Royals, and not the Yankees, but has been open about his disappointment in last year’s 97-loss team.
Like all stars, Greinke wants to win and I'm not sure how willing or shrewd Royals GM, Dayton Moore, will be to arrange for this to happen.

For now, I'm going to congratulate Greinke and hope that this might be the beginning of light in a long, dark tunnel.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Now he cares about the deficit?

President Obama is now concerned over deficits in the federal budget? Really? After we have seen, in 11 short months, an expansive government which has spent money on wasted projects such as the $787 billion stimulus, purchased controlling stock in both GM and Chrysler as well as any number of other insurance and banking industries, printed more money than ever before to come up with the cash to pay for this, thus monetizing our debt, extended unemployment benefits (because it is causing the surge in unemployment to 10.2%), subsidized car buyers with "cash for clunkers" which cost taxpayers $24,000 per car sold, devalued the dollar and is pushing for legislation to increase taxes on everything under the sunwhich will not only cause tax wells to run dry and thus hurt government revenue, President Obama now pretends to care about deficits? How is that? In short, Obama has spent more money on new programs in 11 short months than Clinton ever did in eight years! And now, he claims he's a deficit hawk?!

Whatever side of the political spectrum you come from, can you really trust anything this guy says? His actions always repudiate his words. During the campaign, he made himself a centrist, but has governed from the left. But he has now alienated a good part of his leftist basin. He has failed to move on gay rights, frequently reiterating that he believes marriage is a state between one man and one woman and has not yet repealed "Don't ask, don't tell." He has alienated his anti-war leftist buddies with his yet unannounced, but expected, commitment of more troops to the Afghan theatre and has yet to close down GITMO, though his Attorney General, Eric Holder, did announce that those at GITMO would be tried in civilian courts in New York. Notice how he's letting Holder fall on the sword for what will be perceived, by the majority of Americans, as a very ill-considered move. Still, Obama doesn't seem to know what he's doing. He frequently champions the flavor of the week cause and when he sees his poll numbers consistently fall, he reverses course and tries something else. Trying something else doesn't really seem to help him.

But what are we to make out of his sudden caring for the deficit? Could it be that he is now in Asia about to go to China? Very possible. Remember how a few months ago, the US Treasury put up for sale its debt, hoping that China would buy up a lot of it? Well, it turns out that the Chinese didn't go for it and passed. Why? Because the Chinese could see that the dollar was steadily losing value and that all the spending our government was doing with various social plans under our imperious leader were not going to work. Even the communists realized that Obama's plans were not going to work. It's pretty bad when the communists actually make better economic sense than the so-called "leader of the free world." A few months back, Secretary of Treasury "Tiny" Tim Geithner was laughed at by the Chi-coms because they thought his pitch of being fiscally responsible was so disingenous that it was a joke! So, now, to make nice and to convince the Chinese that the dollar is stabilized so that they will buy our debt, Obama's cause of the week is...becoming a fiscal conservative. He's now coming out to support stabilization of the dollar and to combat growing deficits which his administration has caused so that the Chinese will buy American debt again. God forbid, we should actually strengthen our dollar with robust economic growth outside of government spending.

I'm sure this will peter out in about two weeks so he can focus on health care again which, if passed, will (Gasp!) destabilize the dollar and the economy even more. I'm sure the Chi-coms will appreciate that.

When will people wake up to see how economically ignorant this man is? Here's hoping.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Arguing with idiots

Glenn Beck has this contest for people to submit videos which (shamelessly) plug his new book, Arguing with Idiots. Now, I've not read it, but I can bet that a lot of the material contained in that book parallels much with what I have written here. There were 10 finalists and this one, I thought was the very best. It characterizes those self-righteous liberals so well. Have a look!

Jobs summit?

Another one from the "what the hell are they thinking or not thinking" file. President Obama, in the face of continued unemployment (now at 10.2%) with no growth in the private sector (GDP did increase in the thrid quarter but only because the growth was in government spending without any consumer spending and no business investment; again CIG=GDP) and the looming threat of increased taxes on businesses, both small and large, which will then be passed down to the consumers (i.e. you and me), has announced that he will have a jobs summit at the White House in December.

Of course Mr. Obama while announcing this initiative has already taken credit for saving the economy. He points to "jobs, created and saved" (which is bogus), a slowing of layoffs (but they're still happening), an increased GDP (which is bogus as explained above) as how he has already saved the economy. This jobs summit is just to continue what he has already done to further the recession.

Remember one tenet about liberalism: It's always about feelings and good intentions, not about what works. President Obama is doing his own version of Clinton's "I feel your pain." As long as they show they have compassion and your well-being at the forefront of their pea-sized brains, liberals are successful and thus better than their evil conservative libertarian colleagues who will wail and screech and lament that conservatives and libertarians actually believe that if the government lays off and you work hard enough, then you will be fine. But that's too much.

This jobs summit is all about talk. Even if business leaders do suggest that the new taxes are crushing their means and their incentives to create new jobs, Obama will give in to the labor unions (like when he did when he took over Chrysler and GM) but at least he listened. Good intentions is the hallmark resume item of any liberal politician. It is why Ted Kennedy was hailed as such a great statesman, despite the fact that 94.7% of his agenda was never, ever even brought to a vote! He failed! Good intentions get you in the door, but failure ensures you lifetime membership in the liberal country club.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

These people are responsible for "educating"?

On my way to the library today to get some more reserach done, I heard on the news that a school in North Carolina held a fundraiser where students could "purchase" points to use on a test. So, if a student had $20, he could then acquire points to use on an exam on which he did poorly. As an educator, I was not surprised by this but only shook my head in dismay that not only are we educating young skulls full of mush that buying grades is OK, but that studying and vigilance in the classroom is really not worth the time nor the effort. Fortunately, that decision was rescinded by the school board of that particular district. It just goes to show that in the war against ignorance, not only parents and students have given up, but also entire districts. Is it a wonder that the teaching profession is one of the most stressful professions along with being one of the worst compensated? Is it a wonder that the average life of a teacher is now five years? Is it a wonder that so many districts are hamstrung to find teachers and so close programs?

I've been in education for a long time now (over 10 years). I am currently on hiatus but I am more and more hesitant to go back. I know that I am good at what I do and that I love to teach. But reading about incidents like this make me want to seriously reconsider. Itis just another proverbial nail in the equally proverbial coffin. Why should I go back to try and educate students? A great many of them do not want to learn. Those that do are equally frustrated that teachers have to spend 80% of their time dealing with discipline issues that a fraction of the class dishes out day in and day out. And even those students that aren't discipline problems, most of them just want to learn the bare minimum so they can get their grade for the sake of their transcripts and get out. No one wants to be a life learner anymore. No one wants to learn for the sake of learning. Students frequently complain that they are never going to use "such and such" information in their lives. No, you probably won't need to know the significance of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 to land that mareketing job at a Fortune 500 company. Who came up with the idea that education had only to be practical for your job? It certainly is a modern innovation. At the same time, I believe that those students who only learn for the sake of their job make their life their job and are very empty people. These are the same people who might see a wonder of architecture and art, read a fantastic work of literature and have only the insight of "It was OK."

But getting back to the issue at hand, it can be no small wonder that kids today are very unenthusiastic about education. The school districts themselves are enabling this whole attitude. It's not about what kind of education standards the district has and expects its students to meet and surpass, it's about facilities and money. The superintendent of the school district I was recently part of loved to boast of what great facilities we have such as a new football stadium, new track, excellent grounds, a weight room that rivalled a lot of gyms, etc. Assemblies to celebrate accomplishments in athletics were routine. Sure, we had great students and I was very fortunate to teach a lot of them who will go on to do very great things. But that was always put on the backburner for those things which could make money, i.e. sporting events.

It is pretty sad that everything is now about money even in education. And it's not just at the secondary level, it's happening at the college level. Schools are becoming businesses rather than educational institutions. And with the education that we are giving, we are giving less and less at the secondary level. Students do not understand basic principles of writing, sentence structure or even what a direct object is! It really is quite frightening. But as long as the school is well funded especially for sports activities, then it's all good. I have a feeling that if I were to do an advanced search that I would find that this one school district is probably not alone in such an asinine proposal.

If, however, the proposal was about increasing test scores as well, here's a novel idea. Whenever I gave students an exam, regardless of what grade they earned, if they corrected their exam, I would give them 1/2 point back for each thing missed. However, this option would only be available for those who actually did homework and came to class. And it worked well, at least for those who did it. I don't believe in extra credit--I figure that if you cannot do the work I assign, why should I give you something extra to do? Why not have students actually earn their grades? I've seen teachers give students extra credit for sharpening pencils! So, really, I'm not surprised by the initial action of this school district in North Carolina. I'm glad, however, that they came to their senses, eventually. But, I foresee that nothing is going to stop the open buying and selling of grades in classrooms. Why learn anything at all? Why even have school? I frequently remarked at my last school that for many things I was required to do was nothing more than babysitting...and babysitters make more money than I doing this!

How sad!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Too much PC

Last Thursday, 13 people were killed and over 30 were wounded at Ft. Hood, a military base in Texas by one Major Hasan. This is one of the worst incidents of mass murder in U.S. History. Of course, the media was all abuzz with speculation about why Major Hasan would do such a thing. There was speculation that it was due to the fact that, as a psychiatrist, he was subject to a lot of strain and stress that would only result in some drastic action. There was speculation also that his upcoming deployment to the Middle East was also a tipping point as many soldiers are increasingly strained by going off to distant lands. There are many other reasons attributed as well.

For days, though, the mainstream media has failed or has been extremely reluctant to point out the elephant in the room with regards to motive--Hasan was an Islamic extremist who hated the United States. Only through conservative media have we learned that, as a psychiatrist, he was censured for trying to convert his patients to Islam, that he was frequently critical of U.S. policy (which in itself does not suggest anything; many people I know, including myself are critical of U.S. foreign policy), that he posted on radical [read, Islamic] websites, etc. All of this was ignored by the mainstream media, probably at President Obama's request, after giving a shout-out to his friend in the audience (really sensitive, by the way, Mr. President; I'm sure the grieving families were more than touched that their suffering should be moved to second tier for your attempts to look hip) and saying that we should not jump to conclusions. Really? Pot, meet kettle. Isn't this the same president who immediately leaped to the conclusion that the Cambridge Police "acted stupidly" with regards to the arrest of Professor Gates before he knew all the facts?

Well, it looks like the mainstream media has finally decided to look at the radical Islamic angle. A story from ABC online relates that officials knew for months that Hasan was trying to contact with Al Qaida. So they're finally starting to see what has been apparent after all.

I admit that I don't want to unfairly criticize Muslims, though it is easy to do. I should know better. At the same time, this idea that we have to do everything we can to go out of our way and not criticize them for what they do because they are Muslim is asinine. Whether or not these Islamic terrorists practice true Islam is immaterial. Calling an Islamic terrorist an Islamic terrorist is no more insulting than calling a dead man dead. It's what they are. But any negative portrayal of Islam has been squashed especially since 9/11. I can guarantee that if Christians had pulled off 9/11, I'm sure there would be an effort to set up detention centers for them.

Political correctness has gone too far and it makes us blind to the real issues which confront us each and every day. Whatever this guy's motive was, as much as I hate capital punishment, I hope they throw the book at him and give him the chair.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bring back this wall

Barack Obama has snubbed Chancellor Angela Merkel's request that he be present at the celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Apparently he is too busy playing some pick up basketball, or maybe finally getting around to a decision to deploy more troops to Afghanistan or, most likely, rewatching the HBO documentary about himself (Disclaimer: He probably didn't do this on election night when his candidates were trounced, but it sounds like it could be true so therefore I'll go ahead and assume it is. Is that a problem? Then why did all the news media report that Rush Limbaugh, in his bid to buy the St. Louis Rams, said racist comments which were never said by him? But they reported it as fact anyway just because it's Rush Limbaugh and he has to be a racist even if there is no supporting evidence). Either way, Obama has other things to do.

Obama really has written off the Europeans in recent months. He essentially said "Screw You" to the Czech Republic and to Poland when he backed out of plans to construct a missile defense shield that would help protect them from nuclear attack from Iran or, more likely, a new aggressive Soviet Union under Putin and Medvedev. And now, he's telling the Germans that the destruction of the symbol which divided Germans for 40 years between the democratic West and the totalitarian East isn't important enough even though it was American tough foreign policy which allowed this to happen. But perhaps, there is another reason. Here is what I would imagine Obama's speech would have been like had he actually gone. Please note: THIS IS SATIRE.[At Berlin Wall] Applause

"Thank me! Thank me, Germany! You fired up? Ready to go? Fired up? Ready to go? [Laughter and coughing]. Thank me for having me here. Before I begin my speech about this momentous anniversary commemorating the reunification of a divided Germany, I'd like to give a personal shout-out to my friend, Mikhail Gorbachev (good to see you) and his body guards who played me and my secret service in a full court game of basketball yesterday. We won but it was only through my unstoppable jump shots, at the end, that allowed us to prevail. I saved the day. It was me.

"This is a momentous occasion, one that should be reflected upon with great solemnity and lamentation. 20 years ago, while I was still young, I heard many stories from my mom who used to read me news from the paper before bedtime about the division between East and West Germany and how the United States was responsible for causing and sowing seeds of distrust between the peaceful eastern Germans and the war mongering capitalist west Germans. It was at that moment that I decided that I should go on to become a United States Senator and then President to ensure that this wall would bring the same level of contentment and prosperity to West Berlin as it did to East Berlin. Unfortunately, I arrived too late and the wall came down. I am very sad that only rubble stands in its place.

"The tearing down of this wall should never have happened. Don't all of you East Berliners long for the days of standing in line for bread and other essentials? Didn't you revel in how equal you were with all of your neighbors save for the communist party officials, who were while working on your behalf to ensure your equality, got preferential treatment in health care? Don't all of you East Berliners prefer a government where your interests are represented by unelected officials? Don't you want a wall patrolled by armed guards who will shoot you on sight for wanting to go over to the west? Don't you want those things again? Those were your glory years.

"Communism failed that day. And its failure should be lamented by all of us because we need more Berlin Walls not just here in Germany but in all of western Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan and especially in the United States. Communism cannot be allowed to fail. Equality, true equality, where you have nothing more than your neighbor, must be strived for at all times. If you have nothing, then there is no reason to be sad since you will treasure your day to day lives for the gifts that they are. Back home in the United States, the American people are learning to be happy with less and less each day, all thanks to me and the great example this wall set.

"Mr. Gorbachev, I'm glad you are here. I want to personally take this time to call you out for being soft towards capitalism and freedom. You had nothing to fear from that old, alzheimer's ridden President Reagan. You were my hero back then and you let me down. Thanks to you, I had to learn to emulate other world leaders who espoused the revolutionary spirit I wished to inflict in America. Thank me, I found Mao Tse-Tung.

"I promise you, people of a united Germany, that on this day in which you celebrate, I will do everything in my power to make sure that America is weak so that you can be dominated once again and have your Berlin Wall back. I know that is what you want and I will work for it as I am working for the same back in the United States.

"I want to thank me for coming to this event. Without me, this event would have had no legitimacy and would have spent too much time celebration really when the participants should be in mourning, singinging funeral dirges for the glory that is communism. I also want to thank my wife, Michelle, for suggesting that I wear this read tie as well as this hammer and sickle lapel pin. Thanks, honey, they look great. So, thank me, thank me, thank me. Good night."

It's a well known fact...

that for Democrats to be elected to office in most parts of this country, they have to go to great lengths to hide or outright lie about just how left of center they are. Of course, in places like Massachusettes, New York city, San Francisco or Chicago, you can be as liberal as you like and people will still line up to vote for you. But, overwhelmingly, people prefer a center-right candidate. Now our current alignment of the White House as well as Congress does not bear that out, but every poll put out in recent months reflects otherwise. Of course, the party that was to be the bastion and standard bearer of center-right beliefs, the GOP, was clearly not as advertised. Their own stupidity and their desire to be liked, especially by the mainstream press, was more important than doing the right thing. Which brings us to New York.

Last Tuesday, there was a three party race between a so-called "Blue Dog" Democrat, Mr. Owens, a RINO (Republican in name only) Dede Scazzafova and a conservative, Mr. Hoffman. Hoffman was endorsed by a number of big names from the conservative movement, while Scazzafova got the backing of the RNC simply because she had an "R" after her name though her positions were clearly contrary to basic party principles, such as limited government. Scazzafova ended up taking away votes from Hoffman who would have won. However, even Mr. Owens ran as not a "Rank-in-file" Democrat but as someone who especially was hostile to the HR 3296, the health care legislation, which passed 220-215 in the U.S. House of Representatives. But since he was sworn in at noon yesterday, Mr. Owens broke four of his campaign promises, all related to the health care bill that was being voted on. Mr. Owens, who said during his campaign that he would not vote for a public option nor for higher taxes nor for taxes on "cadillac" plans nor for cutting Medicare did exactly the opposite and voted for HR 3296. It can be argued that it was his reluctance to vote for these things that gave him that congressional seat. Well, his promises are out the window now. And it will be a little while before he will be held accountable and hopefully so, regardless of whether this fiasco makes it through the Senate and conference committee.

Democrats never show their true colours because they know they will never win.

Other sources:
Fox news nation

Debate politics

Free Republic

All these sites reference the Gouvernour Times, but at last check, the site was down for maintenance.

Friday, November 6, 2009

People are surprised by this?

The US economy now has a jobless rate of 10.2%. Bad as that is, and it is bad, what is worse is that there are some, according to the article, who apparently "surprised" by this turn in events. All I have to ask is this: You're joking right? You're surprised? You're surprised that a government administration which is waging all out war on capitalism behind the scenes with pork-laden "stimulus" packages which are perks for everything under the sun except for real assistance to the economy, a "cap and tax" bill which does nothing to stem climate change (which is a natural phenomenon, but that is an argument for another time) but tax individuals and family more and reward Wall Street investment firms (held by Democratic partisans)who will sell the "carbon credits" to make them richer, try to pass a health care bill which, though it won't take effect until 2013, will pass immediate tax hikes and see insurance premiums be raised, declare that the commerce department's endorsement of the free market system as misguided, will raise taxes, actually didn't work? You're surprised?!

The White House will point out that things are getting better. Recently, they've pointed to two things: first, the increase in GDP of 3.5% and second, the millions of jobs the've created and/or saved. Both are bogus. Though it is possible to have a recovery from recession without job creation (and it is rare) the increase in GDP is mainly the result of the government injecting money into the economy for people to buy new cars under the "Cash for Clunkers" deal. People spent money, yes, but this only benefitted ONE industry (in what is clearly Obama preferring unions) and it ended up costing taxpayers $24,000 per car bought. Some people got a good deal, I am sure, but it cost the taxpayers even more. The "Cash for Clunkers" program maybe saw an increase in consumer spending (GDP is determined by government spending, consumer spending and investment growth, which is abbreviated CIG) and also government spending. But it was nothing more than drinking an energy drink. Sure, it gets you going but what happens after a few hours? You crash. You are tired and can't do anything. You go from a state of hyperactivity (thanks to the sugar) to a state of lethargy. "Cash for Clunkers" did the exact same thing. We're back to lethargy now. Also note that consumer spending in other retail industries continued to fall. Of course, this was unexpected to. This was not and is never real stimulus.

Here is an analogy. Let's say I wanted to help window repairmen get back to work so what I do is get a bunch of rocks and start throwing them at windows of homes and businesses because then the owners of said businesses and homes will have to call the repairmen to fix the broken windows. That's not stimulus. That is necessity. Stimulus is achieved by supply and demand. When you increase the demand on something and the supply is short (especially in these economic times), the price for fixing them will go up. What will happen is that the people who are forced to fix the windows will need to do it for a more costly price and thus will have less income for other things. But we stimulated the window repair industry, right? So, that's good. Stimulus of only one sector of the economy is a caffeine or sugar high that wears off pretty soon.

The second sign of recovery offered by the white house is that all these jobs were created or saved. First of all, the press have bought into this ridiculous notion that there is an economic statistic for a "saved" job. There is NONE. And there has been none. It is a phony number. It is a lie. Obama is lieing. Is it really that hard to understand?

The fact of the matter is that there is no incentivizing going on. The Obama administration is waging war against capitalism. Jobs are not going to be created because there is no incentive to do so. Adding more jobs, especially with possible forthcoming fees and taxes (payroll taxes, health care mandates) is in no business owner's interest right now. Either the administration fails to understand this, which makes them stupid or this is very deliberate, which I believe.

Why do I believe this? Because Obama and his cadres believe that the only ones who should be rich are themselves. They belive it is their god-given right to be rich and no one else should be allowed to penetrate that echelon. They want to create a society of dependence where everyone else waits in line for food while they shop at stores which are well supplied. I think this happened before in history somewhere. Oh yeah, the Soviet Union!

If you were a communist party official or someone of importance, you were given permission to shop at stores which were well stocked with necessities while the rest was rationed out to people who would stand in long lines, often, for days. So much for that equality and egalitarianism which could only be accomplished there.

The unemployment number will continue to rise. As a result people will become despearte and despondent and reliant on others to help them out. Charities used to be able to do this, but even they are now under increasing burdens to provide services they once could. Why? Because we are so overtaxed now so that the government is the only one to provide these services. The government is eliminating the competition in the charity industry! Would someone please show me where in the Constitution that the government is entrusted with the power to dispense charity? It's not there and it shouldn't be. That is our responsibility as good citizens, as good people without coercion from the powers that be.

People will become more dependant on the government and, as a result, we will hear and see more scenes like this. If it weren't so sad, I'd be laughing. I'd better make an appointment to stand in line for my "Obama money."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some creative jack-o-lanterns, courtesy of my sister

My sister definitely has more of an artistic proclivity than I. Check out her creations for the scariest day of the year. Nicely done, Steph!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

When free speech can really, really cost you

"I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it." Such was the dictum of the enlightenment philosopher Voltaire and I agree with it. The right to say such things however is not a shield from criticism. Whenever people state an opinion and then are faced with a backlash of hostile counteropinions, they will often, mistakenly, retort "What about my right to free speech?" I can only shake my head when peole revert back to that excuse. Once you open your mouth, you have to be prepared to take as much as you just gave, even if the criticism comes from genuine idiots and fools.

Free speech though isn't just about what comes out of the mouth. In this regard, I do not support such things as amendments to the constitution as burning or desecrating flags. Although I am appalled by it, such is the right of people. If the symbol becomes more powerful than what it actually stands for, then the symbol stands for nothing.

The DNC is sponsoring a contest where people can submit ads that will run on TV in support of the Obama/Democratic health care proposals that are afloat. There are 20 finalists and one of them, if chosen, will do more harm than good. In this video, a flag is painted upon a mural and then graffitied with various "political" messages related to the health care debate. Now, the person who submitted it is free to do so. But he should not be alarmed by the backlash that it could cause. If the DNC chose this particular add, it will probably very likely turn off the independents who have yet to formally weigh in on the health care debate. Is vandalizing a flag the best way to get the point across? Without doubt a lot of people will ignore the message and focus on the graffiti on the flag.

Yes, have your free speech, but don't cry foul when you not everyone lines up to agree with you. You can watch the video and see if it passes your own litmus test for good taste.

If only we heeded these words after Kennedy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wanna win an academy award?

Dear Alec Baldwin,

For years now you have complained bitterly about not winning an academy award. Despite such passionate and unequalled in acting in such blockbuster films like "Beetlejuice", "The Hunt for Red October", "The Chase" and "Fun with Dick and Jane" not to mention how such great performances certainly make you a credible co-anchor to Robert Osbourne on TCM's show, "The Essentials" where he and you geniusly appraise what movies are absolutely essential for any movie-lover to know, also considering the success of the show "30 Rock" and last, but certainly not least, the fact that you were once married to Kim Basinger who did win an academy award for Best Actress for her work in one of the great movies of the 1990s, "LA Confidential", I can understand your frustration. Also, I'm sure that the screen actors guild's and the academy's constant overlooking of your natural and god-given talent which seems to have bypassed the other Baldwin brothers (yes, especially Steven) only brings out more frustration to the point that you threatened to leave the country on numerous occasions if Bush became President of the US (we're still waiting on that one) and that you call your daughter a " fat pig" which was then broadcast on every infamous celebrity show on E! and tabloid. How can a man clearly cast in the mould of Welles, Burton and Hanks be passed over so many times? I sympathize; I truly do.

But I have wonderful news for you, Alec. You can win an academy award. Granted you need to star in a movie first, but I've got the perfect way to guarantee you an Oscar: you need to die, preferably horribly and tragically. The movie doesn't have to be great, but it should be better than mediocre and you should try to do it before it's released to audiences around the world. That will help immensely.

I wish you well in that pursuit.


Excelsior blog

OK, I'm no big fan of Alec Baldwin. Granted, I liked "Beetlejuice" and "The Hunt for Red October" but I own neither and can just as easily have done without them.

But it does seem that if you are an aspiring actor that you should naturally want to win an academy award for your efforts. I'm sure more than one actor has said that they would die to win an academy award. And there is precedent!

Heath Ledger won a postumous academy award for his role of the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Now, I don't think he was that great. He was convincing but he was a caricature trying to blend in so many different facets that it look contrived. Still, it was a good movie.

Now, after one day of showing, Michael Jackson's postumous documentary "This is it" is apparently getting some attention from the academy. I kid you not. Though I am not enthralled by Elizabeth Taylor's film critiquing abilities (considering that she is not a good actress either; anyone seen "Cleopatra?" I don't care if she won an academy award twice. So did Marisa Tomei. A great actress does not an Oscar make. But I digress) who remarked (paraphrasing) that it was the single greatest bit of filmmaking ever. Clearly over the top, but then again so is Elizabeth Taylor. Nevertheless, it seems that some in the academy are spurred by Dame Elizabeth's appraisal and are suggesting that this documentary deserves some consideration for an academy award.

Will he win? Too soon to tell since nomination won't even come out until January 2010. But if he does, maybe Alec will threaten to leave the country again. Maybe this time, he'll finally put his money where his mouth is.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zombies compared to...

School Choice works and is demanded especially by the poorest of the poor

We are told, mainly by Democrats, the self-appointed bulwarks of freechoice, that school choice is not an option for kids whose parents simply cannot afford a private school, whether that school is parochial or secular. Vouchers are always decried because they could be used at a private religious school. The constitutional claim they use to buttress this idea is that taxpayer money should not be funding religious institutions in accordance with the first amendment. Such claims are flimsy. The politicians who see kids going to a religious school on a voucher are hard pressed to see how this passes the Constitutional litmus test of the state "establishing" a state religion, which is what the founders were especially concerned with. If you want the "real" reason though, you must simply follow the money trail. It always comes back to that.

Despite Barack Obama's pledge (which has been broken countless times since he took office) to be bipartisan and to go with what works rather than be dictated to by ideology, such is not the case here. In Washington D.C., the public school system is a catastrophe and that's being nice. The DC scholarship program which allowed for over 1700 students from D.C. to go to better private schools at almost half the cost it would take to educate them in a public school in the district ($7500 compared to $15,000) has had great success. Students are not only learning but they are safer and more discipline. But, despite the fact that it works, Barack Obama decided to cancel the program. Why? It works. It works well. It gives opportunity. But I suppose that whenever the state is proven to be lacking (and make no mistake; Obama is a statist) and the private sector does better, the government must be vindictive so that no one upstages it again.

Here's a video about it. I encourage you to watch.

What do the following have in common?

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge T ax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Sales Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Ser vice FeeTax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge=2 0Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Don't know? These taxes are less than 100 years old, many of them less than 40 years old and many of them aren't even necessary any more but are still kept on the books simply to collect more money. Before these taxes were in place was there any question around the world about who the strongest nation was even after we had just finished rebuilding the South after a bloody civil war? No. And yet, we are told that we need these taxes to be considered a civil and compassionate country. It just goes to show you that we have idiots in control. And we keep putting them there.

It's not my fault

I've come to the conclusion that people who run for Congress or the Executive Branch campaign on one issue: It's not my fault. Think about it. Regardless of what party holds your allegiance, if any, any career politician makes this simple childlike excuse his mantra for his career. It's not my fault the deficit is skyrocketing, it's not my fault there is record unemployment, it's not my fault the dollar is not stable and will soon be replaced. If we hear kids giving this excuse for such infractions as hitting a playmate on the playground or breaking a vase or lamp in the living room or getting all dirty from rolling around in the mud, no good parent (emphasis on good) would tolerate it and would punish the child according to the enormity of the transgression.

So, why do we continually endure this inane excuse from politicians? They give a childlike and childish excuse for wrongs infintisimally worse than breaking a lamp or rolling in dirt. Yet, we keep voting these guys into office. It makes no logical sense, but as Captain Kirk once remarked that Spock's homeworld of Vulcan was the only planet in the universe which could claim logic as its guiding principle. And Kirk remarked also that human problems are so unpredictable that not even logic can solve them. Wisdom in Star Trek.

These politicians who also give us the excuse that the fault lies not with them are also the ones who tell us that they are so much smarter than the rest of us. Intellectualism, by itself, does not solve problems. When you consider that the vast majority of Congressmen and Presidents (such as Obama) are lawyers and glorified social studies majors and that only a fraction of them have real experience with real problems that the people of this country face (like jobs, for one), maybe we should buy that excuse. It's not their fault because they've never taken the time to actually learn about the nuances about real life. So, maybe we should give them that.

But, that should not be a reason for returning them to office two times, three or more so that they can repeatedly campaign on the "It's not my fault" mantra. Children have to grow up; politicians can learn from kids in that respect.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is it the shoes?

A dream of many ballers on the courts of high schools is to play for a great college and then, hopefully, move up to the NBA. God love them for it. I'm sure that such was and is the dream of Marcus Jordan, son of Chicago Bulls Hall-of-Famer and all around great player, Michael Jordan. Marcus is a freshman at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and is eager to play. But there's a problem. As Nike advertisements back in the 1980s and 1990s consistetly asked "Is it the shoes?" trying to determine what made Michael Jordan so great, for Marcus Jordan, it is clearly about the shoes.

Marcus Jordan refuses, absolutely refuses, to wear Addidas brand sneakers which has a contract with UCF. His reason? The Nike shoes he wears, which his dad endorsed, are special to him. They are so special that he cannot wear anything else. I'm sure that the school will gladly sacrifice the $3 million contract it has with Addidas through 2010 just to appease this scion of the great Jordan family. UCF is also in talks with Addidas for another $3 million deal to go for another six years. Here is the source.

I'm sure that the school will not sacrifice such a lucrative deal just because of the whinings of a freshman basketball player regardless of his lineage, but they may just do that. A few thoughts: I wonder how good Marcus Jordan is. I mean it would be one thing if this guy was the next incarnation of his father or the next LeBron James or Shaq, but he's not. He's playing for a bottom dwelling team in the Conference USA which, save for Louisville and Memphis, is not a power conference by any stretch of the imagination. And considering that he is not even playing for a school of the caliber that his dad played for tells me he's not that great to begin with. So, why is there even negotiation over this? What if Marcus Jordan had a problem with the school colors and wanted instead to wear the blue and white of his dad's alma mater, the Univeristy of North Carolina? Will UCF negotiate that too? The shoes are part of the uniform just as the colors. Shut up and wear them.

But, like a lot of other people, Marcus Jordan is invoking his last name to mean that he deserves special treatment. I'm sure that his father did nothing to stop this character flaw from developing because Michael Jordan is an egotist as well. Have you listened to his speech when he was inducted into the NBA hall of fame? It's all about "me, me, me." He puts down other players, other coaches, people whom he thought "got in his way." I don't know if his dad is encouraging this, but I'll bet he's not stopping him from complaining either.

In the end, it's all about the shoes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How much should you be paid?

There's controversy today when the White House announced that through its "pay czar" it will limit the financial compensation of CEOs of major companies that receive federal bail out money from the TARP fund or the stimulus or any other packages. Now, most people think that this is only fair. After all, these companies are getting help from the government so why shouldn't the government dictate how that money should be spent? To me, that's a fair argument. I am opposed to the bailouts in the first place, especially as this money is going to big business, which is ironic since that is the traditional iconic enemy of the Democrat problem, and not to the little people who are the ones getting screwed in this economy.

But here's the thing that disturbs me. This sets a dangerous precedent. If the pay czar through the White House can establish what an executive should get in terms of financial compensation, how long is it before that same person dictates how much the underlings of that same company which received taxpayer money receive for doing their job? And how does a government official, who probably knows nothing about running businesses and who had some sort of social studies major in college, know what is fair and what is not?

Now, it is a fact that most millionaires in this country are first generation millionaires. In other words, they didn't inherit their money but worked hard and produced and managed to become successful. Do you suppose, then, that this person should receive the same amount of money for working 40 hours a week as a person who manages a McDonald's restaurant in Iowa or a janitor at a school or a waitress? If you do, then please discontinue reading because you are obviously a Marxist/Communist and reality has no place in your thinking. But if you do believe that people who have worked hard and have managed to climb the ladder out of their own merit should earn whatever they feel like, then this move by the white house should concern you. How long will it be before all other professions are dictated to about how much a teacher, a construction worker, a plumber, a doctor, etc. should make? By the way, Hollywood received stimulus money. How come the pay czar isn't targeting movie executives for big cuts? Is it because they are major contributors to Democrats? No, couldn't be that.

During the Clinton years, during their health care debates, there were proposals put in the legislation that would tell prospective medical students where they could go to medical school, that would tell med schools how many they can take, what field of medicine students should be assigned to, etc.. The government was going to dictate everything. In this health care legislation, there is serious talk about putting in provisions that would actually put a financial limit on how much certain procedures would cost and thus regulate how much money doctors could make. (But let's not put limits on sueing doctors; an argument for another time).

Soon, the government is going to start stepping in to various industries and dictating to them how much compensation should be for every employee and executive. That's where we're headed.

Now, let us consider a couple of scenarios. Let us say a computer company, like Dell, is going to sell to the government 10,000 laptops for the government employees at $1200 each. Total amount owed to Dell would be $12,000,000 plus tax, I'm sure. Now, let's say that Dell would use 1% of that money, and it is tax money by the way that is paying for this purchase, would go to a CEO's retirement package. He then would get $120,000 from that sale. But, since taxpayer money is being used, would the government have the right to say that since Dell did business with the government, the executive's compensation should be half of that? I think we would all say "no". But, some would say, this is different. Really? How? If the purpose of the bailouts was to ensure that these companies could continue in business for the government's and people's sake, then their business is still being maintained. If this were to happen, how many companies would do business with the government? I'd venture to say none.

Let's consider this, too. The rank and file member of congress earns an annual salary of $174,000 each year. The speaker of the house, majority and minority leaders earn more. Now, considering how screwed up this economy is which they have played a large part in and conisdering how stupidly they are handling things now, why doesn't the pay czar also target them for salary cuts? This congress has dismal approval ratings (30%). Why stop there? The President is constantly going down in the polls. Let's slash his salary by half. But what makes this worse is that a great many of these members of Congress who have been there for their whole lives, have income from other ventures such as investments and being members of the board. Why can't we dictate to them how much they earn? Whenever they want a pay raise, they can certainly vote for one. But, we can terminate their salary when we vote them out. How often does that happen? If anyone has screwed up this economy, it's those idiots in government and yet they are the ones dictating how much one should fairly earn. Most of these people in Congress were social studies majors and have never spent one day managing a budget or directing a business, but we are lead to believe that they are so enlightened that they can dictate what is right for business?

Soon, there are going to be federal guidelines on how much you can earn, no matter what your profession is. What's worse is all of this is being handled by a czar, an appointee of Obama who does not have to be confirmed by Congress and is not even regulated by Congress. It's an extra-constitutional position and this guy has the authority of a dictator!

If you think that this will never happen, let me fill you in on a few things that HAVE happend that I never thought would:

1)monetizing the debt
2)government takeover of banks, insurance companies and car companies
3)unemployment reaching 10%
4)exponential growth of government
5)dollar is the 50th most stable in the world (we're behind Albania folks!)
6)government deficit ceiling is going to be raised to $13 trillion
7)government using NEA for propaganda purposes
8)net neutrality and regulation of content (I'm sure my blog will be outlawed)

The list can go on. The point is, we can no longer just be satisfied with the old expression of "that will never happen." A lot of things have happened that shouldn't have and I'm sure more are on the way. Freedom is a precious thing, especially when it's lost.

Friday, October 9, 2009

By merit or by popularity?

One of the things that separates us Americans from specifically the European world, whence our cultural heritage mainly derives, is that we have held that advancement and recognition in society was to be determined by merits, by one's own efforts as opposed to the family that one was born into or whatever connections that family may have.

Today, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. His win was considered quite stunning; you could hear the gasps from the audience when his name was read. Even the odds were against him. The chances that either he or Bill Clinton would win the award were 1/14 which is not insurmountable, but, still, almost very unlikely. Nonetheless, Barack Obama is the winner of the prize. But the question is whether he actually has done anything, whether as President or even as a U.S. Senator to merit such a distinction. Considering that the nominations for the 2009 prize were closed as of the last week of January, which was only the second week of his presidency and had not even begun work on the stimulus bill and that the duration of his time in the Senate amounted to only 110 days or so and the other time was spent running for president, what has President Obama actually achieved to be considered for such a distinctive honour? I believe he has done nothing. Now, that does not preclude him from any possible future success. But to honor him now is extremely premature. Even Lech Walesa, the leader of the Polish movement Soidarity even acknowledged that.

So, what has this to do with a meritocracy? It seems to me that the only reason Obama won the award was because of his good intentions and because of his standing as a celebrity among the world's leftist intellectuals. Even Obama himself mentioned in his speech that his award was more of a "call to action" than a recognition of anything actually done. But that is not why you receive a reward. A player on a soccer team doesn't get a trophy as a "call to action" to win the championship.

A little while ago, I wrote a piece about how far we have drifted from a society that values actual achievement and merit to a society that rewards those who have the connections or the name. To recap a little of what I wrote about in that blog, I offered the example of the Republic of Rome.

The Roman Republic had as its highest and most revered office, the consulship. Two men would serve for one year terms. Each had veto power, presumably to keep one from exerting too much power over the other or over the senate. The Romans created this system because, according to legend, the son of the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, raped the noble woman Lucretia who killed herself because of shame but not before she asked her husband, Collatinus and her brother-in-law Lucius Junius Brutus (the ancestor of the assassin of Caesar) to avenge her dishonour. The Romans rose up in rebellion against the tyrants and drove them out, abolishing the monarchy and setting up a Republican system of government where no one man would be able to exert supreme and abusive authority. Theoretically, two men each year would allow for a lot of different people to rise to the consulship. This was unfortunately not what happened. Over the course of the Republic's existence, the consular chairs were held continuously by 35 different families. On rare occasion, new men, novi homines as they were called in Latin, were able to climb up the rigorous steps to become consuls. Such men included some of Rome's finest generals, Gnaeus Pompey, Julius Caesar, Caius Marius as well as revered statesmen and orators such as Marcus Tullius Cicero. None of these men had ancestors who were consuls, though they often had ancestors who rose up highly enough. The term, novi homines, though has distinctive negative overtones. In Latin, the adjective novus not only means "new" but also "strange", even "revolutionary." The Romans were a conservative people: Better to go with the devil you know. Though the Romans theoretically had a society that valued merit, ultimately it came down to which family you belonged to.

Have we gone that way now? Is accomplishment, achievement, merit, whatever you want to call it no longer the mark of a man? Is it now just good intentions and vision? We all have visions and dreams but to confuse those for genuine work that creates change is quite another thing altogether. Most people, unfortunately, in this life do not accomplish their dreams and visions but go to their grave unfulfilled.

Now good people can disagree whether Barack Obama has actually accomplished anything. But in reality, he hasn't. Both on the foreign stage and on the domestic front, Obama has given plenty of great, eloquent speeches and seems to be perpetually locked into campaign mode where he comes off as a rock star. We can also disagree as to whether his winning a U.S. Senate seat, meritorious in itself, should be counted as experience to be commander-in-chief and President of the U.S. I would say it does not. But for even the most ardent admirers of President Obama to say that he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize is nothing more than checking reason at the door and being blinded by cult of personality.

To win an award should require work and some degree of success. At the same time, considering some of the other recent winners of this award, perhaps I should not be incensed at all. The terrorist, Yasser Arafat, the incompetent and blundering fool, Jimmy Carter, the hypocritical and scientifically uneducated Al Gore have all won Nobel Peace Prizes. Perhaps the committe simply doesn't understand its own criteria, hence its choosing of other less than deserving winners.

Merit has gone out the door and has been replaced by good intentions and cult of personality.

Personally, though, I think that the choice was done for no more reason than to shout a final "Fuck you" to George W. Bush. How's that for enlightened thinking?

If I am ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize...

I hope I don't win. How can I ever even think to be in the same glorious company of such peacemakers as Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Al Gore and now, Barack Obama? I'm totally undeserving and have done nothing, but then again neither has Barack Obama.

Let's summarize Obama's accomplishments that clearly make him a peacemaker in the world.

1) Has let Iran continued to build a nuclear facility and even when he had the attention of the world at the UN security council, which he chaired, to enforce sanctions against Iran and the power to do it, he, instead, didn't want to be diverted by that issue from talking about his dreams of a nuclear-free world.

2) Has chided the Israelis and placated the Palestinians.

3) Has sold out our stalwart allies in Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic and Poland by abandoning the implementation of a missile shield to protect against Russian and Iranian missiles and did so on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of these countries. He has only emboldened adversaries such as Russia and Iran.

4) He has not ended any war. In fact, he's planning to escalate military efforts against the Taliban and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

5) He refused to back the dissidents in Iran who were rightfully protesting the rigged election in Iran.

6) He continues to openly support deposed wannabe dictator Zelaya of Honduras who was expelled from Honduras for violating the Constitution.

So, it's all about good intentions, then? I guess actual accomplishments don't matter anymore. So now I need to reward students who merely intend to get good grades rather than actually do it for themselves. That is essentially what the Nobel Committee did--they awarded good intentions. Obama has done nothing. Now, he may very well do something eventually that should be worthy of a prize. But he hasn't. It's that simple. Even Lech Walensa, the leader of Solidarity in Communist Poland in the 1980s against the Soviet puppet government and who won the award himself said Obama was undeserving.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Be on the lookout

With my current situation, I just wanted to let my readers know (especially you, Uncle Emil) that I will be finishing my journals on my trip to Europe and Germany. I had only through day 5 so now I will be able to give my impressions of Neuschwanstein, Schloss Linderhof, Zweifalten, Mehrstetten, my family, Salzburg, etc. I have the time to do it, so be prepared for more of my scintillating observations (sarcasm implied)!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What I shall miss, what I shall not

I am leaving Omaha tomorrow. I was planning on leaving it anyway but circumstances didn't quite allow me to leave in the way I had wished, but such is life, I suppose. Although I do plan to return in January at the latest or sooner if I can find a place with a room to rent that won't milk for more than maybe $300, it is a bittersweet farewell. I've been here for five years and I'm spending my last night in my apartment, much the same way I spent my first night--in a sleeping bag with hardly any of my possessions. I thought I would take these last few hours of my being here to reflect on what I will miss most about Nebraska and what I shall not miss. Let's start with the "not miss."

10) Drivers who cannot drive 45 mph on Cornhusker between Fort Crook and the Highway 75 interchange, especially in the passing lane! People, some of us have things to do and don't have the luxury of being lazy, bored or just sheer incompetent.

9) Drivers who do not know they have the right of way at a stop sign. This happened so much outside on the street out of my apartment complex. It was a two way stop with crossing traffic having not to. When it was clearly the driver opposite me to go, they would just sit there and motion for me to do so. It's not about being nice; it's about doing what the law requires.

8) Streets. Omaha is so ridiculously laid out. Streets end and begin with no discernible reason as to why. I thought I could take 60th street all the way to Dodge. Apparently not!

7) Nebraska wine. Yeah, right.

6) Two license plates. WHy isn't one on the back of your car sufficient? It is for most states!

5) Construction. Always construction on Highway 75. Never and in sight.

4) Anti-intellectualism. There is a fierce strain of anti-intellectualism in this part of the country, but I've never seen it so focussed other than here. Being smart and thinking is regarded as so east coast or the domain of the rich. I even had parents tell me, at parent-teacher conferences, that they couldn't understand why their son/daugther would ever take Latin because that was only for the rich kids.

3) The idea of fun always has to involve drinking. I don't think that this is necessarily a Nebraskan thing, but I've never encountered it more than here. Why, at any social event, especially when going out, does it always have to involve going to bars and drinking. Why?

2) Nebraska Football. If it were not for UNL and its football program this place would have nothing. I liken Nebraska to Hannibal, MO. The only thing that keeps Hannibal, MO alive is Mark Twain. That whole city is built upon the myth that he helped create. Nebraska is much the same. Everyone is into the Cornhuskers up here. It's been good to be up here when they've been in a down cycle so that they can see what it's like on the other side. Nebraska fans are obnoxious and their whole Saturday schedule revolves around that game.

1) Corn. I've seen enough to last me 10 lifetimes.

The things I will miss the most.

10) The trails. There are so many great trails around here where you can run, walk, bike, rollerblade or whatever. They extend for so many miles around the metro area along beautiful waterways and forests and even get into the city. I wish I could have spent more time on them.

9) Amarillo's BBQ. This is a Bellevue staple. This restaurant has awesome BBQ. I wonder when Guy Fieri will come to this place for his show on Food Network. It's a hole in the wall, very dark inside and the seats are not comfortable and the table is built for people whose height has to be 5'5" or smaller. But what great BBQ. I will never eat at famous dave's again.

8) The Holland and the Orpheum. What great places to see a concert or a show! The Holland is a modern building where the Omaha Symphony plays and let me tell you, the Omaha Symphony is one of the finest I have heard and the acoustics in the Holland are magnificent. My only complaint is that the conductor for the Omaha Symphony takes things way too fast. It is unfortunate that most Omahans and Nebraskans do not know what a great treasure they have in this symphony. I suppose that it goes with my complaint (see #4 above). And the Orpheum just has that classic appeal. The monstrous chandelier that hangs from the ceiling is breathtaking. My only complaint is that the seats were intended for people who were no taller than 5'8". I've seen several great shows there including "Spamalot" and "Mamma Mia" and the opera, "Aida."

7) The Old Market. THere are so many great restaurants and shops down there featuring every type of cuisine you can imagine. There's O! which is Asian Fusion, Ahmad's, a restaurant featuring Persian Cuisine, La Bouvette, a French restaurant and several others (I'm sick to death of the Upstream. Way too expensive and way over-hyped and way overcrowded). THere's also great stores. My favorite was a bookstore called the Antiquariam. I loved this place. I would get books in my field that were so old and so good for pennies of what they were worth. I found a lot of magnificent stuff there.

6) Speeding on I-80. Though I had little reason to drive past Lincoln, I always liked how you could really go fast on I-80, pushing even 90 mph legally.

5) My job. THough I parted from my job for reasons that were not ultimately pleasing, I did enjoy what I did. Teaching is both a blessing and a frustration at the same time. But for five years, I got to teach what I wanted and how I wanted. I don't know if I'll ever have that autonomy again. The pay was low and many of my students were corrupted because of # 4 from the previous list.

4) My students. I had so many great students and I'm pleased that I can still keep in touch with them. I always am beside myself with pride when I hear that they are succeeding and doing well. They will be missed.

3) Taxes are reasonable. The sales tax rate in Nebraska is 7%. Even in Columbia it was 7.335% Property taxes, though are a different story.

2) St. Mary Orthodox Church. This is where I was received into the Holy Orthodox Church on Pascha of 2006 after a spiritual journey that lasted many years. Since that time I became a very active member in the church and the people became my spiritual family. It will be very difficult to leave them.

1) My friends. I have been so fortunate to make and keep some great friends here, both from my job and from the church. When I first came here, I did everything I could to isolate myself simply because I just wanted to be left alone, do my job and do what I wanted. But the people at work wouldn't allow that to happen. So, thanks to people like Bogatz, Bossman, Campbell, Manchester, Shari, Tracy and Justin and a whole lot of others, I broke out of my shell and realized what treasures they are. They have helped me through thick and thin and I can only hope that I am 1/4 of importance to them as they are to me. I shall miss them most of all.