Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Newest New Deal

Never waste a crisis. Isn't that the first rule? I don't know who the first person was to put that rule into words -- most recently, however, it was Rahm Emanuel from the Obama administration who voiced the creed.

Historically speaking, leaders have always put this idea to use - some more than others. With every crisis comes opportunity. Some people have the vision to see what can be gained from a seemingly negative situation... this is what makes them leaders. Of course, a person's worldview will dictate what kind of "gain" they find in the crisis. Adolf Hitler had that quality of leadership - he simply put it to use for evil rather than for good.

Franklin D. Roosevelt also saw opportunity in the crisis of the Great Depression. He ushered in the New Deal which brought sweeping changes to the way our nation operates. Many of these changes are still in existence today... and some of them arguably could have contributed to the "crisis" we find ourselves in today. (Federal Housing Administration, Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Fannie Mae...) To this day, the federal government pays farmers NOT to grow food - another bright idea brought forward as part of the New Deal.

There's another New Deal arising from the crisis of "global warming," now being referred to as "climate change" since the globe is no longer "warming." You would have to be living under a rock to not know about what's going on in Copenhagen these days... a bunch of weasels representing politicians negotiating "programs."

One of the programs under negotiation involves financial compensation for countries preserving forests... and sometimes compensating for the preservation of peat soils, swamps and fields. The program is being touted as a boon for poor countries because it's a total cash cow for them. They can sit back and collect money -- for doing nothing. It's kind of like your local government coming to you and telling you they'll give you $100 a month to NOT mow your grass.

Of course, the news is reporting this program as a good thing - after all, not ONLY the poor countries will benefit. More wealthy nations will not be benefited by an influx of cash, but they will obtain carbon credits which can be used to reduce their carbon footprint under a global "carbon trading system." According to Peg Putt from the Wilderness Society, "Forests have become a pot of money or a get out of jail free card. Either way, there's the prospect of financial benefit now, as opposed to just being told, 'Do the right thing,' like it was two years ago."

Sweet! Everybody gets to financially benefit from this Newest of the New Deals. That is SO COOL. Apparently, in this case, money does grow on trees. Who knew? ...what? It doesn't? So then, from where will this money appear?? Oh!!!! From companies. Yes, the big, bad companies which exceed their greenhouse gas pollution limit will be required to "buy" extra permits by "investing" in --- ah, never mind. They're going to have to pay off the people sitting around doing nothing.

Fred Krupp, who is the head of the Environmental Defense Fund, says that the forest program "offers the opportunities for U.S. companies to reduce emissions at lower cost." All this talk of investing and offering opportunities certainly sounds nice, but it's really closer to the neighborhood hoodlums offering you the opportunity to pay them a weekly fee to not burn your place down. Not to put too fine a point on it -- or to keep beating the same tired drum -- but it's extortion.

So now environmentalists the world over are looking for ways to collect. Dan Lafolley is - get this - the "marine vice chairman for the World Commission on Protected Areas of the Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature." I certainly hope that man won't need to look for a new job anytime soon -- you'd need to cut down a forest just to write his title out on a résumé... Anyway, good ole' Dan wants to know why everybody is just focused on forest and peat land... what about the oceans?? Who is gonna pay for the oceans? Actually, his words were, "It would be a travesty if Copenhagen addressed forests but not other carbon stocks." Translation: It would be a travesty if the marine vice chairman were not able to make a profit for the marine department of the WCPA of the SIU for the CN.

Professional tree huggers have even begun fighting amongst themselves in a "my forest is more important than your forest" way.

Goofballs from all over the world are flocking to Copenhagen to ensure that their issues are deemed legitimate money-makers. For example, did you know that there is such a thing as the Global Crop Diversity Trust? They're there! (Wangari Maathai of the Global Crop Diversity Trust was inducted as a Messenger of Peace at a ceremony in Copenhagen on December 15th. No, I'm not kidding. A Messenger of Peace. With capital letters.) According to their website, you can't fight hunger without them... and silly me, I would think a good start to "fighting hunger" would be to stop paying people not to grow food. But apparently my simplistic thinking just won't work... we need the people at Crop Diversity to regulate things. They are, after all, a bunch of Nobel Peace Prize and World Food Prize people. (Did you even know there was a Word Food Prize?)

And, of course, former Vice President Al Gore has a dog in this fight. I'm still trying to decide if he's a complete goober who was propelled to the top (or close to the top, anyway) by a powerful Daddy or if he's a smart man who is trying to make a lot of money off this deal. Either way, he has been working up a sweat trying to push negotiators as well as pushing our nation's leaders to pass a climate and energy bill.

For me, this is almost like watching one of those movies where you want to yell at the screen in spite of the fact that you know darned well your action won't change the plot. I don't foresee a happy ending. Part drama, part conspiracy, part tragedy, part comedy... but not a happy ending.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Global Extortion

From the New York Times today:

If negotiators reach an accord at the climate talks in Copenhagen it will entail profound shifts in energy production, dislocations in how and where people live, sweeping changes in agriculture and forestry and the creation of complex new markets in global warming pollution credits.

So what's all this going to cost?

The short answer is trillions of dollars over the next few decades.

Oh, sure... no problem. We've got that. We'll just print some more.

Seriously, does is scare anybody else that there are "negotiators" engaging in "talks" with the consequences including changing how and where people are able to live?? We're going to pay a price not only in dollars, but in freedom as well. Where is the public outrage? Have people so swallowed the bunk that says the polar ice caps are melting that they're willing to give up everything?

The International Energy Agency (it kills me that there IS such a thing) estimates that it's going to cost more than $10 trillion from 2010 to 2030 to pay for the energy infrastructure alone. That's an estimate. And we all know how well governmental agencies estimate... they're habitually on the low side. But they follow that up by saying that we shouldn't worry... the costs are going to ramp up slowly and be "largely offset by economic benefits in new jobs, improved lives, more secure energy supplies..." not to mention the peace of mind that will come from knowing the polar ice caps are now secure. OH - and not to worry. Most of the investment is going to come from private funds, not public funds. Whew!! I'm so glad to hear... wait. What? What does that even mean? Which private funds? How do they know that they're going to get this money invested privately? OR -- are they considering the new market in "pollution credits" to be private funding? YES!! At least half of the "fund" that's supposed to be set up to help developing countries is supposed to come from the carbon emissions credits in cap-and-trade. So... "private funding" is actually extortion.

But it's good to know that we have reasonable people working on this. I mean, Kevin Parker is the global head of Deutsche Bank Asset Management and is responsible for tracking climate policy for the bank, and he says, "People often ask about the costs. But the figures people tend to cite don't take into account conservation and efficiency measures that are easily available. And they don't look at the cost of inaction, which is the extinction of the human race. Period." So... the sky is falling, you say?

We can rest assured that Obama intends to sell us out. After all, Obama assured folks that the United States will pay "its fair share." I believe that "fair share" can accurately be translated to "lion's share." But that's okay, because - see - it's an investment. Don't you love the magic in that word? As long as you use the word investment, nobody can get upset at what you're doing. According to the White House, "Providing this assistance is not only a humanitarian imperative - it's an investment in our common security, as no climate change accord can succeed if it does not help all countries reduce their emissions."

I'm beginning to see how the Obama worldview infects ever facet of his thinking. Truly, the United States as a nation cannot succeed until everybody's wealth has been spread out evenly, like soft butter... and it only makes sense then that the world as a whole cannot succeed unless the wealth of the world is spread out in the same way.

Don't worry, though. Our money -- your money -- will be going for a good cause. It will be used to "help developing nations reduce emissions by switching to renewable energy sources like wind and solar and by compensating landowners for not cutting down or burning forests." Say wha-?? Seriously - we're going to pay some dude in Timbuktu to not burn his place down?? Yes, apparently so. But other funds might be used to relocate people who live in dangerous places. You know, moving folks to higher ground. (And one has to wonder if New Orleans will be first.)

So the big question that is supposed to be answered in Copenhagen is how much money do nations such as the United States have to pay to get the developing countries on board with this lunacy?

Robert Stavins is the director of the environmental economics program at Harvard University. Apparently, this particular line of work gives him some high-level status because the New York Times quoted him extensively, and, according to him, the US is setting aside around eight billion dollars per year to assist developing countries by 2030 and that's about our limit. And thus begins the negotiations because the leader of Costa Rica's climate delegation has said that it's important to them to have "early resources and a predictable flow of long-term financing." Apparently, they're looking for for a quick rise to about $150 billion annually by 2020.

Huh. Global extortion via the hoax called "climate change."

Friday, December 4, 2009


The Democrats out there have grown concerned that Obama isn't focusing on the issue of joblessness enough. We can all feel a measure of relief now, because Obama has finally addressed the issue and has put forth a plan to take care of the problem. His plan is two-fold:

1. He will entertain every good idea for creating jobs while keeping in mind that our resources are limited.

2. He's going to encourage a program of weatherization incentives for homeowners and small businesses modeled on the "cash for clunkers" program. Yes, we're thinking (and I'm not kidding here) of calling this program "cash for caulkers." I'm sorry... did you just eat? You're looking a little green... maybe this should wait for later. No, really... the "plan" would enlist contractors and home-improvement companies to advertise the benefits -- just like the car dealerships had to deal with the cash for clunkers fiasco.

Whew! And we were worried that he didn't have anything up his sleeve to solve the woes of America. But wait... historically speaking, hasn't solving our problems been OUR job? Isn't government's best plan of action to move the heck out of the way so that we can get busy and get something started? When did the American people become a bunch of crib-layers and whiners, just waiting for somebody to bring us a bottle and start up the entertainment?

And another thing... is anybody questioning how weatherizing our homes is going to actually create jobs? Granted, if we make sure the warm air stays in and the cold air stays out, we will have an easier time staying warm this winter... but how that's going to put food on anybody's table sort of escapes my understanding. But maybe this is all just above my pay grade.

The Democrats are beginning to sweat because their jobs are on the line -- and that sort of joblessness really does scare them. However, their solution to the issue of joblessness is to, yet again, extend the expiring federal unemployment benefits to ensure that people will be (at the very least) comfortable enough to go to the polls in 2010 and put them back in office. Then, that crisis averted, they will go on their merry way of standing in the way of job creation some more.

Case in point: Obama acknowledged at the jobs forum that the government doesn't have the ability to create true economic recovery. This is going to need to come from the private sector. He then asked the chief executives in attendance, "What's holding back business investment and how can we increase confidence and spur hiring? And if there are things that we're doing here in Washington that are inhibiting you, then we want to know about it."

When he got an answer from a Mr. Lampropoulos that said, in effect, "your aggressive agenda is killing initiative," Obama acknowledged the "legitimate concern" and said that he and his advisers had actually discussed this concern before he even took office... and disregarded it because "if we keep putting off tough decisions about health care, about energy, about education, we'll never get to the point where there's a lot of appetite for that."

Let's pause here for a lively rendition of "Jimmy Cracked Corn And I Don't Care."

One last thing before I'm finished ranting for today. I've never been accused of being diplomatic. Nobody has ever said to me, "Wow. You're so good at communicating in a non-threatening way... you should go into foreign relations." And I obviously need a lesson or two -- but I'm wondering one thing. How is it "diplomatic" to "listen" to somebody's concern, "acknowledge" that it's "legitimate" and then to say you don't give a hoot?

Basically, what I hear the "great diplomat" saying is that he wants to know if the government is doing anything to stand in the way of economic recovery... that yes, he knows they are, but that his agenda is more important and he wants the private sector to get over it and recover anyway.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to Elementary School -- For All of Us

Do you remember being in your elementary school years? "Susie, if you can't bring enough candy for everyone, please don't bring the candy at all." Do you remember saying to your mom or dad, "How come so-and-so gets that if I didn't get it? That's not FAIR!!!" How we feel about what's going on in health care and our government right now might just depend on what you were told in elementary school at that critical moment. Did someone say, "Life's not fair -- buck up and take it?" Or did they say, "Ohhhh... did so-and-so get some? We'll have to get you some, too... So-and-so, give some of that to your brother!"

The House and the Senate are "working hard" to make sure our health care system gets some reform. The Senate is generally in favor of paying for legislation through a "Cadillac" tax -- where people with really good health insurance have to pay, not only their insurance company, but also the government for the privilege of having it. The supporters of this tax are saying that it's a necessary tax for "tamping down medical spending." I was reading this article and trying to figure out how taxing the wealthy on top of having them already pay for their own health insurance was going to reduce medical spending...

The tax, a provision of the bill to be voted on Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee, is one of the few remaining proposals under consideration by Congress that budget experts say could lead directly to a reduction in health care spending over the long term, by prompting employers and employees to buy cheaper insurance.*

What?!? Let me make sure I get this straight... our illustrious government is wanting to make sure that people don't buy the really good insurance programs? They want people to buy the cheaper programs which won't offer as much coverage in order to reduce how much gets spent in our country on health care? Somebody out there, please explain to me where this insanity is coming from!! It gets better --

Under the Finance Committee bill, the tax would be imposed beginning in 2013 on employer-sponsored health plans with total premiums exceeding $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families, regardless of whether the coverage was paid for by the employer, the individual or both. The tax would be paid by insurers, who would be expected to pass along the cost to customers... Supporters say... employers would bargain-hunt or take other steps to avoid the tax, putting pressure on insurers to offer cheaper coverage and slowing the rise in medical costs for everyone.*

Such stupidity running things right now... What about all the garbage being spewed about the poor underinsured folks - just one medical bill away from bankruptcy? These buffoons in charge cannot believe that it's possible for them to impose a tax, intentionally leading employers to choose cheaper coverage, and have that be the solution to poor insurance coverage!

Max Baucus loves the idea of this tax, and:

Mr. Obama embraced it in his speech to Congress on Sept. 9. "This reform will charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies, which will encourage them to provide greater value for the money," the president said then. "This modest change could help hold down the cost of health care for all of us in the long run."*

I do not believe that the president is that stupid. And it angers me that he thinks we are. One does not have to be a professor of economics to know that when the government charges a fee for something, it does not make things cheaper -- unless the product is changed for the worse.

Don't worry, though. Nancy Pelosi is not in favor of this tax because it would affect too many union members (and isn't that just a little bit funny?). Her idea? She wants to tax insurers' "windfall profits" as a supplement to the House's main money grab, which would be "an income tax surcharge on the nation's highest earners." You know, you can only bleed the rich for so long... and then they're not rich anymore. The idea that there's a certain class of people who have an endless supply of money with which to care for the entire country is ludicrous.

I find it interesting, though, that the Democrats' plan for lowering spending on health care is to make sure that people with really good insurance don't keep it. If they think that charging a government "fee" for great health insurance will lead insurance companies to lower the cost for everyone else, they're smokin' something.

*Article quoted - New York Times, "Congress Is Split on Effort to Tax Costly Health Plans" Published Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 and written by David M. Herszenhorn and Robert Pear.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What A Joke

Are you freakin' kidding me? No, apparently you're not. Obama really has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. NOT that the Nobel has any real significance anymore, but still. At least up until now people had to do something that the committee deemed worth the effort (even if it was something as stupid as making a movie spreading disinformation about global warming).

Obama's accomplishment? His very existence -- I kid you not.

The Norwegian committee said, "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

They might better have awarded him the prize based on his pectorals. After all, the news has written about them as well. And really, considering the picture posted on the White House website titled "hero_weeklyaddress_9-26-09.jpg," I hardly think the man needed another ego boost:

What a joke.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We ALL Need Health Coverage - To Control the Nausea

That's it. It's official. We're being governed by a bunch of nimrods and morons. It's a sad state of affairs, but there it is.

See, the Democrats are taking up health care legislation on the floor of the Senate and the House - but they're not quite ready because they haven't been able to bring together their "competing priorities." What would those priorities be?? "Affordable prices for insurance policies" and "comprehensive health benefits." I guess the wicked way of it is that you still can't get something for nothing, no matter how long you debate the issue.

Their legislation, no matter which version you're looking at, is going to require insurance companies to "provide coverage more generous than many policies sold in the individual market today." The kicker is that you can't require something like this and then say "and make it cheap!" So the government is going to be saddling itself with a hefty bill to provide insurance coverage for TONS of people.

Here's a way to make the cost of health coverage skyrocket. You ready? First, you insist that insurers have to accept anybody who applies. Then, you tell them they have to provide a specific level of coverage -- you've got to cover everything, basically. What's going to happen? Hmmm... let me think, let me think... I know the answer! Price increases, right? Yet this is what they're putting forward as legislation (and I'm still scouring my copy of the Constitution to find the federal government's role here, but that 10th amendment keeps getting in my way).

The Senate Finance Committee is working on a bill in which "there would be four levels of benefits - bronze, silver, gold and platinum - and all insurers would be required to offer, at a minimum, coverage in the silver and gold categories." I'm scratching my head here, wondering why there would be a bronze category if it's not allowed... but maybe I'm just too dense to understand politics very well.

They say the problem is that even those people who are "being responsible" and purchasing health insurance for themselves and/or their families aren't doing it right. They have purchased insurance, but it's not good enough insurance. According to the NYT, "there are about 17 million people who buy insurance on their own." And even they're not doing it right. I guess it's true - we really do need the government to step in and fix things for these poor stupid people.

Senator Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming is having some trouble with the concept, though. He says, "We are about to tell the nation, every person in the nation, what the minimum insurance is that they can have. And then we will institute a penalty if they don't buy the minimum insurance we say they ought to have. If they want less, we say no."

But the Democrats (and Olympia Snowe, who should be a Democrat) have a concern about people who might be stupid enough to purchase insurance in the bronze category if it's allowed. Snowe says if you choose a plan that requires you to pay a larger percentage of your medical expenses, "you could be consumed by cost sharing unless you were very healthy." Oy - which is why the very healthy choose to purchase this type of insurance.

Trying to bring about a utopia in which everyone is cared for is unreasonable and unsustainable (to use a favorite word of the left). In order to ensure that the very sick can obtain wonderful coverage for all their woes and ills, the government is going to require healthy citizens to purchase plans they don't need. They try to disguise their plans as a way to protect us from our own decisions, but... their meddling is only going to cause more problems. And once those problems come to fruition they will simply claim that it's a free-market issue and they need more regulation.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Closing Gitmo

One of President Obama's big promises was that he was going to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. But, as has been the case with many things, this is not as easy as he thought it would be. 117 Saudis and 197 Afghans have been released from the prison, but the big question has been "What to do with those Yemenis?"

It appears that the government in Yemen isn't too great at its job as 23 terrorism suspects "escaped" in 2006, which "shook confidence in Yemen's counterterrorism capabilities." I'll bet... So our government doesn't want to send the Yemenis back to Yemen. We sure don't want them living here, and Europe isn't exactly salivating to take any of them, either. Well, I take that back. I think the president of France said they would take ONE as a gesture of goodwill many moons ago.

Our government's solution to this Yemeni problem has thus far been to try and get the Saudis to take them into their "rehabilitation program." Saudi officials aren't too interested in taking them because they're worried about more negative publicity to their program (like last February when almost a dozen of their "graduates" turned up on a list of most-wanted terrorists). Apparently they only have faith that their program will work if the people enrolled are not already terrorists, but one has to wonder what they're rehabilitating if that's the case.

The New York Times highlighted these issues and others when writing about the case of Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed (also known as Internee Security No. 692 - probably because it was easier to say). He finally left Gitmo last week after being a resident there for seven years. A federal judge ruled that holding him had never been justified and ordered the government to release him back in May.

You wonder what took them so long to follow the judge's orders, right? I mean, these are the people, after all, who were so vocal about how wrong it was that Gitmo was even in existence! Perhaps it was because they couldn't get over the detainee's name? Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed IS quite a mouthful, I'll grant you that. But no - this was not the issue. The Obama administration was worried because "Even if Mr. Ahmed was not dangerous in 2002, Guantanamo itself might have radicalized him, exposing him to militants and embittering him against the United States." (This is code for: if this comes back to bite us in the a**, it's Bush's fault.) Supposedly, if they returned him to his home country of Yemen, he would run the risk of falling into the hands of Al Qaeda there.

See, Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed was simply attending a university in Pakistan, innocently studying religion and science while living in a guesthouse that was being used by terrorist operatives. (It's interesting to note that the NYT was capable of putting "religion and science" together as long as the guy was studying Islam.) Four of his fellow prisoners reported having seen him fighting or undergoing training in Afghanistan, but these accounts were found to be flawed by the judge and thrown out. Our government had a theory on terrorist activists and their patterns... their theory is called a "mosaic theory" in which "the pattern of indications of terrorist ties added up to a strong case." Basically, this is saying that if someone consistently hangs out with terrorists, funds their activities, fights with them, and lives with them, they just might be a terrorist.

**Of course, after this last presidential election, we all know this theory to be completely false because a man can hang out with radicals, train ACORN workers, hire communists, and have as mentors the likes of Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and various other communist thinkers -- but this does not make him a radical or mean that he has any ties to ACORN whatsoever.**

So Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed has been sent back to Yemen. He was greeted by his family at the capital and all appears to be... well, what it is. One down, 97 to go. Yes, 97 more Yemenis to put somewhere... somehow.

So now the American government is considering cooperating with the Yemeni government to build a rehabilitation program in Yemen much like the Saudis have. Christopher Boucek is cited in the NYT column as an "expert," and is quoted as saying, "It won't be quick and it will cost some money, but I think it may be the best choice among a bunch of not very good alternatives."

Christopher Boucek is an "expert" on Yemen because that is his job at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I am not altogether unimpressed with his writings and his conclusions, but I must admit I fail to see how his studying and coming to said conclusions will actually help in achieving "International Peace."

What I find fascinating is the fact that the NYT has found this gentleman now -- when Obama is in office -- to explain why it's so difficult to close Gitmo. Because when Bush was in office he kept Gitmo open because he was just a heartless bastard who enjoyed torturing people.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

International Success At Last!!

"Obama Makes Gains at U.N. on Iran and Proliferation" screams the front page headline at the New York Times. Wow... really? He made some gains? He made progress? The United States, after years and decades of not getting along with other countries is finally tasting sweet success? Tell me - does the world love us now? Well, let's just see what they all have to say about this:

President Obama, in his first visit to the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, made progress Wednesday on two key issues, wringing a concession from Russia to consider tough new sanctions against Iran and securing support from Moscow and Beijing for a Security Council resolution to curb nuclear weapons.

Okay, I have to admit - that sounds pretty good. One speech to the UN and Obama has all the countries tingling to the point of submission to The One. But wait -

Dmitri A. Medvedev agreed to "consider" the new sanctions after Obama "decided to replace Mr. Bush's missile defense program in Eastern Europe with a version less threatening to Moscow." Poland and the Czech Republic had based a lot of their security policy on this missile defense program from the United States. Their chief concern? Russia. On September 17th, after it was announced that the U.S. would no longer be providing this security, a spokeswoman at the Polish Ministry of Defense said, "This is catastrophic for Poland."

One might wonder why we would care so much about Poland... I mean, what are they to us, right? Remember back when we were leading up to the invasion of Iraq? Tensions were high around the world, and then-president Bush was traveling the globe, meeting with leaders and mounting a "coalition of the willing." This coalition referred to any country who was supportive of the United States' efforts, whether their support consisted of just "go get 'em, tiger" or actually adding their troops to ours. There were, when all was said and done, 49 countries willing to add their names to the coalition, but only four decided to join us with their own blood. Those four? The United Kingdom, Australia, Poland, and Denmark. I would say this action makes them our friend -- and that helping them out might be something we could do.

Of course, now our mainstream press (which is becoming less and less "mainstream" the more of this garbage they pull out of their collective derrieres) is trying to make the case that "Poland and the Czech Republic never really wanted the missile defense installations." For real?

Last February, Obama sent Medvedev a "secret" letter offering the Kremlin a deal. The Obama administration would scrap their plan to deploy antimissile capabilities in Europe in exchange for Russian cooperation on Iran. And now we get to read:

With a beaming Mr. Obama standing next to him, Mr. Medvedev signaled for the first time that Russia would be amenable to longstanding American requests to toughen sanctions against Iran significantly if, as expected, nuclear talks scheduled for next month failed to make progress. "I told His Excellency Mr. President that we believe we need to help Iran to take a right decision," Mr. Medvedev said, adding that "sanctions rarely lead to productive results, but in some cases, sanctions are inevitable."

White House officials could barely hide their glee. "I couldn't have said it any better myself," a delighted Michael McFaul, Mr. Obama's senior adviser for democracy and Russia, told reporters after the meeting. He insisted nonetheless that the administration had not tried to buy Russia's cooperation with its decision to scrap the missile shield in Europe in favor of a reconfigured system.

Uh-huh. And the emperor has a beautiful and fine robe... nothing to see here, folks. And really, even if we did sell out Poland in order to gain ground with Russia -- look at what we gained! Their word (whoopee) that they would back sanctions - while saying at the very same time that sanctions don't work. Oh, I'm so glad we got this done!

But that's not all His Excellency Mr. President accomplished, remember. The rest? Well, that stuff had REALLY sounded good, right? I mean, he broke serious ground in strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty!! This means we are well on our way to a nukeless world, right? Can you hear the angels singing? ... no? You can't? Well, maybe that's because this "tougher" treaty is a new "resolution" that "urges" countries to put conditions on their nuclear exports. Ooooo... sounds - well, largely non-effective and irrelevant to me. But what do I know? Apparently it's a "significant step forward," right?

The Obama administration hailed the pending resolution as a significant step forward. But it would not be binding and would become so only if the Security Council required countries to make their nuclear exports subject to such restrictions. Many countries balked at that requirement...


So - basically, the headline screaming "Obama Makes Gains" is disingenuous at best. Downright deceitful at worst. He didn't make any gains -- and instead he has appeared in recent days to take significant steps backwards in supporting our friends and has attempted to make friends with enemies. Or... maybe my enemies are his friends.

One thing Obama did manage to accomplish while speaking at the UN, however, is something he manages to do quite well everywhere he goes. He said things he didn't mean and meant things he didn't say. For example, "if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards; if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people; if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East -- then they must be held accountable."

Sounds strong -- sounds good. Sounds almost great. Until you realize that Obama's advisers are telling him to shoot down Israeli jets if they fly over Iraq to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

What a bunch of garbage.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

"ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities."

Sounds lovely... sounds - - GOOD. Right? Social justice... stronger communities. 

Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online wrote an article detailing much of ACORN's actions and policies. In this article, he states, "Acorn's tactics are famously 'in your face.' Just think of Code Pink's well-known operations (threatening to occupy congressional offices, interrupting the testimony of General David Petraeus) and you'll get the idea. ACORN protesters have disrupted Federal Reserve hearings, but mostly deploy their aggressive tactics locally. Chicago is home to one of its strongest chapters, and ACORN has burst into a closed city council meeting there. ACORN protesters in Baltimore disrupted a bankers' dinner and sent four busloads of profanity-screaming protesters against the mayor's home, terrifying his wife and kids. Even a Baltimore city council member who generally supports ACORN said their intimidation tactics had crossed the line."

ACORN is huge. Actually, huge doesn't even begin to describe them. People think of WalMart as a big business... WalMart is an ant next to ACORN. They have offices in 42 states - which could appear to be a just a large social justice, community organizing foundation. But ACORN is the foundation for numerous other ventures. According to NPR, "The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has dozens of affiliated entities, from a home-buying assistance corporation to community radio stations to liberal research and training institutes. The giant web of ACORN organizations, primarily based in Louisiana, has been funded by a mix of labor union money, government grants (which really drive conservatives crazy) and charitable contributions from large foundations."

The Washington Examiner says, "While the organization's complicated structure makes it difficult to determine how many affiliates and subsidiaries are tied in with ACORN's vast apparatus, its connection with organized labor, especially the Service Employees International Union, is well-established, Vadum observed. SEIU Locals 100 and 880 are identified as allied organizations on ACORN's web site. U.S. Department of Labor LM-2's (financial disclosure forms) point to over $600,000 in transactions between these same SEIU locals and other ACORN operations. A 2007 LM-2 form shows SEIU Local 880, which is active in Illinois and Minnesota, donated $60,118 to ACORN for "membership services." Organized labor has kicked it back in the form of gifts and grants to ACORN totaling $2.4 million, the LM-2's reveal."

It becomes impossible for little old me to figure out where ACORN starts and ends... or if it ends at all. But it clearly does NOT end before it hits the White House. One would think we could at least relax a little bit at the news that the U.S. Census Bureau has "cancelled its agreement calling for ACORN to work on the 2010 census." This, of course, "in the wake of devastating video reports revealing corruption at local offices..." But don't relax too soon -- because ACORN has been, for months, working to change their name to COI (Community Organizations International). I would take this to mean not that they are stepping out of the program, but look for them to grow bigger... and be involved even more heavily in our government under an international banner.

In speaking with a friend last night, I realized that there are plenty of people out there who know nothing of what's going on with ACORN. The story is brilliant. It's just... so much fun. And it only keeps getting better. But I'll start at the beginning... 

James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, two young adults (aged 25 and 20, I believe) have managed to pull off quite the sting operation on ACORN. They went from office to office, posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend -- or pimp, if you will. Their story continued to escalate as they spoke with employees of ACORN to the point where they were not only a pimp and his hooker looking to buy a house, but they were also planning to "ship in" thirteen under-age girls from El Salvador and force them to work the streets as well. Never batting an eye, these ACORN employees assured the couple that at ACORN they don't discriminate... and that the prostitute should be "proud" of what she does. 

Every time O'Keefe and Giles stepped up their program, the ACORN employees were right on it. Educating the pimp and prostitute as to how to file her taxes as a "performing artist," how to shelter income, how to avoid paying taxes, how to deal with her incoming shipment of girls, how to avoid an ex-pimp... you name it, they covered it. They ended their time together with hugs all around, and fully expected O'Keefe and Giles to return the next business day with cash for membership into ACORN and a fee for filing the fraudulent tax returns. (Tax returns were necessary to purchase the house to be used as a brothel.) OH - and part of the story was that O'Keefe was in law school and was planning a political career - and the ACORN staffers were more than happy to advise him on how to get ahead politically without being tarnished by his imperfect associations as well. 

O'Keefe and Giles released tapes obtained from the Baltimore offices of ACORN. And ACORN responded by saying this was a hatchet job done by their opposition and the offending employees were acting on their own... against ACORN policy. The offenders were canned, it was a one-shot deal, etc... at which point O'keefe and Giles released tape number two from the Washington D.C. offices of ACORN. 

Then comes the following release (in part) from ACORN on September 12:

Statement from Bertha Lewis, Chief Organizer, ACORN Regarding Recent News Reports

The relentless attacks on ACORN's members, its staff and the policies and positions we promote are unprecedented... if ACORN did not exist, the right-wing would have needed to create us in order to achieve their agenda, their missions, their ideal, retrograde America... This recent scam, which was attempted in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia to name a few places, had failed for months before the results we've all recently seen... I am appalled and angry; I cannot and I will not defend the actions of the workers depicted in the video, who have since been terminated. But it is clear that the videos are doctored, edited, and in no way the result of the fabricated story being portrayed by conservative activist "filmmaker" O'Keefe and his partner in crime. And, in fact, a crime it was - our lawyers believe a felony - and we will be taking legal action against FOX and their co-conspirators..." 

Baaaaad FOX News, to report on a story such as this! None of the other networks have reported it -- with the exception of CNN, but they at least reported the ACORN talking points! And yes, the videos are edited - you can go see for yourself at this location. But they also have posted full audio for your listening pleasure, unedited -- and a full transcript so you can read along.

But it gets better. Because today - after Bertha's indignant response - the co-conspirators of FOX News have released yet another tape... from ACORN's New York office. I guess Bertha was misinformed about a "failed attempt" there, huh? And don't you just want to know if the New York employees butts have been puckered up, waiting for their fall? And don't you wonder how many other offices have people going to work with puckered butts -- wondering when their tape will emerge? 

Inquiring minds want to know, though... where is the MSM in all this???

Monday, September 7, 2009

Listen To What They Say...

Well, Van Jones is no longer the "czar" he once was. (A moment of silence, anyone?) According to his resignation, "On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide... I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for our future." 

Hmmm... well, it's quite sad that people are able to mount a "vicious smear campaign" against him that requires using only his own words... one would think if there were lies and distortions, those might be directly noted in one's resignation. After accusing the people who simply brought to light Jones' own statements and past of "lies and distortions," one has to wonder if Van Jones is capable of doing anything "in good conscience." 

Glenn Beck, on both his radio and television shows, called Van Jones a "communist-anarchist radical." BUT, he didn't simply make the statement and then walk away, he played large segments of speeches made by Jones to back up his label. I think it helped, too, that Van Jones himself said he was a communist. 

Of course, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean are big supporters of Van. Howard Dean was so unfortunate as to be included in a panel on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He chose to weigh in on the issue by saying:

"This guy's a Yale educated lawyer, he's a best selling author about his specialty, I think he was brought down. I think it's too bad. Washington's a tough place, uh, that way, and I think it's a loss to the country." When asked about Jones' signing the 9/11 truther's petition to investigate whether or not the Bush administration had caused 9/11 to occur, Dean's response was, "Well, he was told by the people waving those clipboards around that he was signing something else, so I think that's too bad. Look, all of us campaigning for office have had people throw clipboards in front of our face and ask us to sign, and he learned the hard way you ought not to do that but I don't think he really thinks the government had anything to do with the cause of 9/11."

I guess this can just go to show that Napoleon was correct in his assessment that "In politics stupidity is not a handicap." How can anyone say, with a straight face, that America has suffered a loss because Van Jones was a Yale educated lawyer on one hand, and then immediately following, suggest that this Yale education didn't even serve Jones so well as to inform him not to sign something he hasn't read? Even I, lacking a Yale education, know better than that! And further, for Dean to suggest that Van Jones ever campaigned for anything is a bit deceptive. Jones was appointed by the president without even a senate hearing... 

Given all this, one has to assume one of two things... either Howard Dean is a moron, or he thinks we are. 

I guess good riddance to Van Jones, although I, too, think it would have been better had he stayed in his position. It was helping to bring to light some of Obama's greater sympathies. Oh well... the mainstream media wasn't really covering it anyway. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Battle of the Beliefs

From everything I can gather, I am a rather unique homeschooling parent. I guess that makes sense, considering the fact that I'm unique enough to not fit in pretty much everywhere I go. Finding my "clique," so to speak, has never been something I could do. 

I am a homeschooling parent for one reason and one reason only. My children need me to be one at this time. Were our educational choices different in the area in which we live, I would happily send them off each and every day for a well rounded education elsewhere. My passion lies not in cracking the books each and every day, trying to shape and mold everything which enters my children's heads -- but in making sure that they are thriving and learning. A rabid homeschooler I am not.

There is a case in New Hampshire in which the courts have ordered a mother to enroll her daughter in public school. The daughter is ten years old and the mother has been homeschooling her since first grade. The mother appears to be doing a fine job in covering the academics (and even has her enrolled in certain classes at the public school)... but she's divorced, and the father does not share the mother's religious beliefs. The father has requested the court send the daughter to public school and the court agreed. According to the court order, " Education is by its nature an exploration and examination of new things. A child requires academic, social, cultural, and physical interaction with a variety of experiences, people, concepts, and surroundings in order to grow to an adult who can make intelligent decisions about how to achieve a productive and satisfying life." 

In all honesty, I can see why this would be a sticky situation. When two parents have vastly different views on life principles and religious values, who gets to decide? Does common sense dictate that the person with primary custody gets the final say? 

Apparently the guardian ad litem had some profound influence on the case. The court order also said, "According to the guardian ad litem's further report and testimony, the counselor found Amanda (the ten year old) to lack some youthful characteristics. She appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith." 

Question for you... how many ten year olds do you know who run to explore different faiths from their parents? How many do you know who voice a different political viewpoint? Not many, I'm sure. They're TEN. They're still trying to figure out how things work, and they often parrot the views of their primary caregiver. Yes, even those children who are in the bowels of the public education system tend to be little parrots. 

The interesting thing about this case is the point on which the court focused. Religion. That little girl was ruled "too Christian." The court decided the father was right - the little girl "would be best served by exposure to a public school setting... and different points of view at a time when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief... in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs."  Fascinating reasoning, really, when you consider the fact that one of the girl's own parents is obviously exposing her to a different point of view already. 

Apparently, the court system in New Hampshire thinks that the best way to teach a child to think for themselves is to expose them to the biggest "group think" racket ever. Public school. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Insanity... pure insanity

Van Jones - the Green Jobs guy for the Obama administration - is kind of an interesting dude. For starters, he's kind of "pinko commie." Just a LITTLE (said with dripping sarcasm). Remember when Barack Obama said something about "transforming America?" Yeah... I think that pinko commie is sort of what he had in mind, and Jones is one of his helpers. 

Am I over the edge here? Well, I don't know... you tell me... 

Jones' job is to create "green jobs." Really, who wants to fight against clean energy and new jobs? I say, if you can create a business that is good for our environment and create jobs right along with it, more power to you! Of course, the fact that the government has to do the job creation leads me to believe that it's a money-losing proposition, but I digress. 

Based on some of the things Jones has said, I have to question his mental capacity. And I quote, "You cannot beat global warming unless you understand that 40% of greenhouse gases are nout coming from cars they're coming from buildings and 75% of greenhouse gases are coming from the cities and you cannot green the cities unless you green the ghetto, and you cannot green the ghetto in 2009 without giving Pookie a job. So... that's a new environmental movement... Give Pookie a job! Beat this recession and global warming at the same time. Beat pollution and poverty at the same time. And recognize the true genius of Barack Obama is that the first black president is the first green president. He's not just trying to save you - he's going to save the whole wide world!"

Ooookaaaay. Not sure just who Pookie is, but I'm thinking give him a job if it will shut this guy up. What the --? Anyway, there's more. That first quote was just to get you in a happier mood. 

Jones sees his job in a very important light. He's not just some grunt who is going to find clean jobs for Pookie, no siree... He says, "This is deeper than a solar panel. I want you to have a clean energy revolution... but if you stop there, if all you do is have a clean energy revolution, you wouldn't have done anything. I'm going to tell you why. If all we do is take out the dirty power in a system and just replace it with some clean stuff, put a solar panel on top of this system, but we don't deal with how we are consuming water, we don't deal with how we are treating our brother and sister species, we don't deal with the way we treat each other, if that's not a part of this movement, let me tell you what you'll have. This is all you'll have: you'll have solar powered bulldozers; you'll have solar powered buzz saws; and biofueled bombers and we'll be fighting wars over lithium for the batteries instead of oil for the engines. And we'll still have a dead planet! This movement is deeper than the solar panel! Don't stop there! Don't stop there! No, we are going to change the whole system! We're going to change the whole thing! We're not going to put a battery in a broken system! We want a new system!"

Huh. A new system, eh? A new system as to how we treat each other, how we treat our "brother and sister species..." What IS that, anyway? Clearly, this is an angry gentleman. He doesn't like our system, that much is certain. He has made comments about how we have the "wrong agricultural system," too. What did he mean by that? Well... here's what he said, "White polluters and the white environmentalists are essentially scaring poison into the people of color." Ah!!!! I see now. It's all about skin color. But don't worry -- he's not ONLY concerned with the black people... He also said, "And our Native American sisters and brothers who were pushed and bullied and mistreated and shoved into all the land we didn't want, where it was all hot and windy, well guess what! Renewable energy. Guess what! Solar industry. Guess what! Wind industry. They now own and control 80% of the renewable energy resources. No more broken treaties. No more broken treaties. Give them the wealth. Give them the wealth. Give them the dignity. Give them the respect that they deserve. No justice on stolen land. We owe them a debt."

Yes, he likes to repeat himself. But it seems that the "new system" they want is one which redistributes the wealth. Who could have known that this was what Barack Obama had in mind? It would have been impossible to say before the election, right? I mean, of course he SAID he wanted to redistribute the wealth to Joe the plumber, but... who knew he meant it?

On August 31, the New York Times ran an article titled, "Justice Department to Recharge Civil Rights Enforcement." According to the article: 

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is reshaping the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division by pushing it back into some of the most important areas of American political life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices and redistricting after the 2010 census. 

As part of this shift, the Obama administration is planning a major revival of high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies, in areas ranging from housing to hiring, where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly. President George W. Bush's appointees had discouraged such tactics, preferring to focus on individual cases in which there is evidence of intentional discrimination.

So - we have a green jobs dude who who is dedicated to making sure the white folks don't achieve - after all, they're just busy scaring poison into everybody, so they don't deserve to have any wealth. The minorities, though -- and especially those Native Americans -- THEY will finally be getting what they deserve after having been bullied and shoved and pushed... wait. How old ARE these folks? They must be nearing 150! And here I thought that the old people were going to be getting the ax in the new health care system. Guess they're planning to give them all the wealth instead. Who knew?

And then we have Eric Holder, who is going to make sure that people are playing nice -- even when there's no evidence that there was any not nice... I guess it's important to just breathe down people's necks a bit, just for purposes of job creation? 

To quote the finest man I know, "Pinko Commie Bastards!!"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy...

Enough already!! I've heard it said that we're not to speak ill of the dead (although I must admit that I've never understood why death shrouds one in perpetual protection), but can we at least stop fawning over the death of Ted Kennedy? I logged into my google homepage today and CNN's google politics headlines were ALL about him. Each and every one. I kid you not. 

Headline #1, "A nation mourns as Kennedy family says goodbye"
Headline #2, "Kennedy seen as a champion for disability rights"
Headline #3, "Kennedy remembered as an advocate for all" (except for those who love freedom and capitalism, of course...)

And CNN's main headline included him as well with "Commentary: When Ted Kennedy spoke." I'm almost afraid to read that one.

Seriously though... enough is enough. The man has passed away, everybody in the country who follows politics at all knows that his death is going to be used to push health care "reform," his family and friends are very sad, and there's a vacant Senate seat. I suppose it is fair to report on all these things - and even to go into some detail without getting nasty and bringing up ugly history. But can we just be finished now? I'm almost waiting for the notice of a new national holiday in his honor...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Making A Living Out of Nothing At All

On August 1st, the NYT published an article titled “Prolonged Aid to Unemployed Is Running Out.” The article begins by saying, “Over the coming months, as many as 1.5 million jobless Americans will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits, ending what for some has been a last bulwark against foreclosures and destitution.” 

These 1.5 million workers are coming up on 79 -- count them, 79 weeks of unemployment benefits. Keeping in mind that there are only 52 weeks in a year, the number 79 is astounding. I refuse, however, to call all the unemployed “job seekers” as the NYT does in their article as I know some who are simply sitting back and enjoying the ride. 

According to the article there are now nine million Americans collecting unemployment benefits, at an average of $300/wk. By my calculations, then, when all is said and done - and if benefits are not yet again extended - the outflow of money to unemployment benefits will have been $213,300,000,000. Yes, that’s two hundred thirteen billion, three hundred million dollars. 

However, there is talk now of congress passing another extension, adding thirteen more weeks. Don’t worry, though... that only adds another $35,100,000,000 to the tab. No biggie, right? 

Maurice Emsellem of the employment law project (whatever that is) is quoted in the article as saying, “If more help is not on the way, by September a huge wave of workers will start running out of their critical extended benefits, and many will have nothing left to get by on even as work keeps getting harder to find.” I am not going to discount that this may be a true statement for some—it’s quite possible that there are a few people out there who have exhausted even their local McDonalds and WalMart for employment and have come up completely dry. However, I highly doubt that situations like that are common. But then get this:

For many desperate job seekers, any extension will seem a blessing. Pamela C. Lampley of Dillon, S.C., said she sat outside the post office last month and cried because “it was the first Wednesday in quite some time that I’ve gone to the mailbox and left without an unemployment check.” The jobless rate in her state is 12.1 percent.

Ms. Lampley, 40, who is married with three children, lost her job as a human resources officer in January 2008 and had been receiving $351 a week, which covered the groceries and gas. Even so, she and her husband, who still has work as a machinist, were sinking into debt. Now, still poorer, she feels devastated because they cannot buy their son a laptop to take to college and she cannot give her 9-year-old son money for the movies.

Somehow I am supposed to feel so bad as to support extending unemployment benefits to a Ms. Lampley because she now cannot purchase a laptop for her son and send her other son to the movies? Oh, by all means... extend that check!! We cannot have a nine year old boy unable to be influenced by Hollywood! And, for crying out loud, I’m 37 years old and I still have never owned a laptop in my life. I’m sure the college son can survive. 

But it goes on... Ms. Nixon’s children have had to forgo summer camp and baseball. She’s already fighting foreclosure and when her checks run out she fears that they will be homeless. But, I have to say, going from living in a house with a mortgage to downsizing to an apartment or rental home in a lesser neighborhood makes one uncomfortable, not homeless. And a person who assumes that because their government stipend has run out there is no other option available to them needs a wake-up call.

Raymond Crouse is 72 - yes, 72. He has been receiving $190 a month in unemployment benefits which enable them to keep their house. Social security alone isn’t enough. His past job? Operating heavy construction machinery. Methinks Mr. Crouse is hoping to have his unemployment benefits extended in perpetuity. 

Jim McDermott (D) is going to introduce a bill in September to extend benefits again in any state with an unemployment rate of 9% or higher. He knows that the representatives will quickly support the bill when their constituents start calling them, feeling desperate. Yes, he’s probably right. He said that “the cost would be $40 billion to $70 billion, but the expense would be temporary.” Well, duh. The expense would be thirteen weeks long, for each person on the dole. But what happens when that runs out? Because it will.  

The article goes on to point out:

Traditionally, many economists have been leery of prolonged unemployment benefits because they can reduce the incentive to seek work.

Upon reading the above statement, I started to hear the Hallelujah Chorus in my head. As I have said, I know some of those people! But, unfortunately, the chorus quickly died out when I read on:

But that should not be a concern now because jobs remain so scarce, said Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard. 

For every job that becomes available, about six people are looking, Dr. Katz said. “Unemployment insurance gives income to families who are really suffering and can’t find work even if they are hustling to look,” he said. 

Funny... according to this dude, we should continue to pay these people for not working as long as jobs remain scarce. Does he not realize that if we do that, most likely jobs will remain scarce for some time to come and people will be happy to continue receiving something for nothing? (And no, I am not accusing everybody on unemployment as being this type of person. Just some of them.)

But back to our earlier examples... Lampley (Remember her? The one who was crying over her inability to purchase a laptop for her college bound son?) has unsuccessfully sought clerical work at $8 an hour, though she used to make $15 an hour. No mention that she has tried to branch into doing something different to pay for that coveted laptop.

Crouse... Mr. 72 year old “said that even if new building projects were planned, construction slows in the winter cold.” Never mind that a 72 year old would be welcomed with open arms at the local Wal Mart. His job would consist of saying hello to people, putting stickers on the items they wished to return to the store, and giving out smiley face stickers to children. I’ll bet a job like that, worked part time, would just bring in more than the required $190 a month, too. Now, I might sound heartless here, seeing as he’s old—but I’m thinking if the man is spry enough to operate heavy construction machinery, he can stand at the entrance of Wal Mart for a bit. 

Nixon - the one who cannot afford summer camp for her little sweetums - has interviews for jobs in real estate and office work “endlessly” and has been unable to find employment that way. Well, blow me down! Really? Somebody can’t find work in real estate?? What a shock!! How about looking for something in the industries that are still alive, honey? But she said, “I can’t find a job, and you can’t survive if you don’t work.”

Well, apparently now you can.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why I Love Israel

I started to write about Israel and her neighbors... I wrote of statistics in the surrounding countries, including literacy rates, infant mortality rates, etc... all of which point to Israel as a beacon of light in an area that is insufferably dark. Then I realized that it was just too boring to read - and so I start again.

Israel is a tiny country (smaller than the state of New Jersey) surrounded by countries and people who hate her. Israel has normalized relations with only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan. As of January of this year, those normalized relations with Jordan were under some pretty severe fire. 

Syria is a real threat to Israel. They have been spending billions of dollars on weapons - and even while engaging Israel in "peace talks," the "Syrian Defense Minister was in Iran discussing Strengthening military ties." Hassan Turkmani was reported as saying, "Iran and Syria share the same viewpoint regarding regional issues and efforts will be made to strenthen our shared interests and bilateral relations."

Iran's leadership has a hatred for Israel that cannot be overstated. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly made the following statements:

"Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury."

"No doubt the new wave [of attacks] in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world."

"They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets."

"We ask the West to remove what they created sixty years ago and if they do not listen to our recommendations, then the Palestinian nation and other nations will eventually do this for them."

"Remove Israel before it is too late and save yourself from the fury of regional nations."

"Israel is a tyrannical regime that will one day be destroyed."

"Israel is a rotten, dried tree that will be annihilated in one storm."

Israel is a true democracy. She is a strong supporter of human rights. She is the kind of country that values her people to the point of making concessions with an enemy in order to retrieve the body of a murdered soldier. She is a country which desires peace. She has been attacked from all sides, both militarily and psychologically... and when struck militarily she has proven that she can kick some serious butt. She stands for freedom in a region where the word barely exists.

Israel is surrounded by Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Sudan, Libya, Chad, Algeria, Niger, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Somalia - as well as a number of smaller countries in Africa. These are all Muslim countries. Grab a copy of the Koran and see what the Muslim religion has to say about Jews. 

And yet - in spite of all this - Israel stands. And that is why I love her.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Israel, Iran, and Biden

There's been some measure of speculation over Joe Biden's performance on "This Week" with Stephanopoulos. A number of people have said that he gave Israel the "green light" to go ahead and attack Iran. I, not being one to regularly watch "This Week," had to go watch him on the internet, but I have to say I disagree with the general speculation as to his intent.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has, I guess, said that he'll give Iran until the end of the year to work with the United States and eliminate their nuclear program. Generous of him, I think, given the fact that Iran is showing no signs of stopping and our president is publicly saying Iran has every right to be a nuclear nation (while making deals with Russia to eliminate vast amounts of our nuclear weapons). Anyway, when Stephanopoulos brought up Netanyahu's position, Biden responded immediately by saying, "Look, Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else." 

People heard this and started flapping their arms and running in circles saying, "Biden gave the green light! Biden gave the green light!" But you have to listen to everything Biden said in order to determine whether he was really doing that or not. And I have determined that he was talking out both sides of his mouth. He went on to say, "Whether we agree or not. They're entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that. But there is no pressure from any nation that's going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed." Which, to me, says that Israel has the right to attack Iran just as much as Iran has the right to attack Israel and it doesn't matter whether or not we agree -- but that doesn't mean we're going to back them on it. 

Biden was also very clear that the administration will continue to engage Iran in talks whenever and if ever possible, and that they don't care what Israel thinks about it. 

I'm not an expert on foreign affairs. I'm sure I have no clue as to what all goes on behind the scenes... but from what I can see, the United States has little to no influence in what happens in Iran. Granted, inviting them to come celebrate the birth and independence of The Great Satan might not have been the best way to get them to talk to us, but I don't think there's too much that will convince them we're okay and their ambitions are not. 

Is it possible that Israel will go ahead and attack after the year is out? Sure. Is it possible that Iran could develop their weapons before then? Sure. Does Israel really need our help in order to survive and thrive in their region? I think past history would dictate "no." Frankly, though, I love Israel and it makes me sad to see our country's leadership so at odds with them.

Obama is looking for "progress" with his diplomacy by the end of the year. And he has indicated that he will consider "tougher sanctions" if they continue their quest to go nuclear. But, it seems to me, that sanctions say to them, "You're being bad." Oh, NO! What will tougher sanctions say to them? "You're being really bad." That'll get 'em. 

Anyway, these next twelve months should be interesting on many fronts.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

As If I Needed Another Reason

It's been said, "If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, and if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain." Clearly, this statement is referring to modern liberalism, not classic liberalism. And it's referring to conservatism in the United States, not conservatism in... say, Iran. 

I would guess that most people, between their college years and their thirties or forties, have rethought their views to a certain extent. I have met people who were "conservative" in their college years and describe themselves as becoming "enlightened" since then, progressing them to their more liberal view of things today. And I have met people who were "liberals" in their college years and describe themselves as "coming to their senses" and being far more conservative today. I, personally, was raised in a conservative household - complete Reagan fans, my parents were - and in my early twenties I questioned all I had been taught. I went through a phase of wandering, then eventually ended up close to where I started, with a few tweaks here and there.

Today's edition of the NYT has a prominently featured story on Barak Obama (no surprise, that) titled "Obama's Youthful Ideals Shaped the Long Arc of His Nuclear-Free Vision." It's a must-read... As usual, an article which is supposed to be delivering the world news gives us insight both into Barack Obama AND the author of the article.

Back when Obama was a senior in college, he wrote of his vision of a "nuclear free world." His article, titled "Breaking the War Mentality," is indicative of his vision yet today. He writes,

"The more sensitive among us struggle to extrapolate experiences of war from our everyday experience, discussing the latest mortality statistics from Guatemala, sensitizing ourselves to our parents' wartime memories, or incorporating into our framework of reality as depicted by a Mailer or a Coppola... We know that wars have occurred, will occur, are occurring, but bringing such experience down into our hearts, and taking continual, tangible steps to prevent war, becomes a difficult task.

"Two groups on campus, Arms Race Alternatives (ARA) and Students Against Militarism (SAM), work within these mental limits to foster awareness and practical action necessary to counter the growing threat of war."

He goes on to talk about the two groups and how they approach the subject. The ARA leader is quoted as saying "People don't like having their intelligence insulted, so we try to disseminate information and allow the individual to make his or her own decision." A gentleman (Mark Bigelow) who worked closely with the leader of ARA is quoted in the article as saying, "We do focus primarily on catastrophic weapons. Look, we say, here's the worst part, let's work on that. You're not going to get rid of the military in the near future, so let's at least work on this."

One of the students involved in SAM said, "At the heart of our organization is an anti-war focus. From there, a lot of issues shoot forth - nukes, racism, the draft and South Africa." Apparently, the main focus of the group SAM at the time had to do with registration for the draft. There was a new law that required from male students proof of registration in order to receive government aid for schooling. This upset the students who wanted to be educated with public dollars while having no desire to protect and defend the public.

Barack Obama then went on to say,

"Perhaps the essential goodness of humanity is an arguable proposition, but by observing the SAM meeting last Thursday night, with its solid turnout and enthusiasm, one might be persuaded that the manifestations of our better instincts can at least match the bad ones."

And this,

"The Reagan administration's stalling at the Geneva talks on nuclear weapons has thus already caused severe tension and could ultimately bring about a dangerous rift between the United States and Western Europe. By being intransigent, Reagan is playing directly into the Russians' hands."

And this, 

"In 1933 the German establishment thought it could use Hitler to restore a modicum of order to the confused and confusing Weimar Republic. In fact, Hitler did strengthen the German establishment, but not exactly in the way the bankers and businessmen had wanted; and now, fifty years later, it is clear who was using whom. 

"Nevertheless, the Western World did not complain in 1933 because Hitler, though a fascist and a totalitarian, was seen, like countless American puppet dictators today, as someone who leaves the established order in place."

"If a group [Green Party] of young, anti-establishment pacifists with unusual ideas and uncomfortable answers to hard questions terrifies us more today than Hitler, Himmler, Goering and Goebbels did back in 1933, our terror says more about us than it does about the Greens or the Germans. It indicates that we have failed to comprehend the meaning of Nazism and blind obedience to authority in their full horror, and that we, unlike the Greens, have yet ourselves to learn the democratic lesson that we have taught the Germans so well....

"... It is at once a warning to us that the old solutions of more weapons and again more weapons will no longer be accepted in a Europe that is already a powderkeg waiting to go off; and it is an invitation to work towards a peace that is genuine, lasting and non-nuclear."

Bravo, really... for a good piece of writing by a college student. Although infused with personal opinions and not exactly a news piece, he wrote rather well. I'll give him some major kudos for that. Unfortunately, hindsight being 20/20, we can't exactly give him kudos for content. Reagan's ideas paid off, the cold war was won without any nuclear fallout, and it can be reasonably stated that Obama was wrong in his statement about Reagan playing into the Russians' hands. It's also fair to say Obama was a wee bit off in saying Reagan was an "American puppet dictator." 

These writings - of a college student - and the views they represent could easily be overlooked and forgiven were the writer to grow up and renounce them, saying that history has proven him wrong. However, the college student grew up to be elected president of the United States and has not renounced his views. Twenty six years later, the college student is "pushing for new global rules, treaties and alliances that he insists can establish a nuclear-free world." In Prague, Obama said "I'm not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly - perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence." Note to self: if someone feels they need to tell you they're not naive, they just might be naive. 

Obama has laid out a step by step plan to reduce the arsenals of the world's nuclear superpowers to 1,500 warheads each, as a beginning. He is reducing arsenals in order to "remake the nuclear world" with a goal of "halting weapons programs in North Korea and Iran." But he's not naive - don't worry. Perhaps his next step will be to halt criminal activity within the borders of the United States by disarming the police officers and the FBI. 

What's to learn from all this? What I've learned about our current sitting president:

1. He's a man who appears to have not changed his views between college and today.
2. He despises the military, perhaps even more than Bill Clinton did.
3. He's a man who seems to be incapable of learning even from the history which transpired during his own lifetime.
4. He is determined to weaken the United States through both our economy and our military.
5. His views and actions make no sense to me whatsoever.

As if I needed more reasons not to like him.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Moochers, Looters, and Producers

"So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor - your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?" -Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I am more an unapologetic capitalist today than I was a week ago... and a week ago, I would have told you I was as staunch a capitalist as they come. What is the difference in me today? I suppose I shall just be louder. Goodness knows, somebody needs to be out there in favor of capitalism... the capitalist crowd appears to be dwindling at a rapid rate. Honestly, I blame this sad fact on a pathetically poor education system. 

What is capitalism but the best among imperfect systems? I will admit that capitalism is not without its faults... free markets are not perfect, nor will they ever be. Human nature dictates that life on earth can never be utopian. This is one essential fact of which everyone needs to be constantly aware. This fact needs to inform us first - before we begin thinking of systems and what needs to be done about them. This is my bias and will inform everything I write from here on.

There are states "in crisis" financially - if you were not already aware of this, you've probably been living under a rock somewhere. But as of Thursday, even the rock dwellers will have an inkling that all is not well in the state of California. There, the state's controller started printing "i.o.u.'s" instead of checks to pay those they owe. To quote a line from my favorite movie, "Humiliations galore!" But I have to hand it to Arnold... the pressure has been on for quite some time and he just won't cave. He is calling for "changes in policy as part of any budget deal." What changes is he looking for?

1. He refuses to sign on to anything that is a temporary fix. 
2. He refuses to sign on to tax increases for the people of California.
3. He insists on the fingerprinting of recipients for certain state services.
4. He insists on checks on the job status of welfare recipients.
5. He insists on changes to the state pension program.

My personal opinion is that the state should probably stop spending money to save the seals right now, too... but maybe that's just me. 

Charges leveled against the governor?

1. "The governor is playing brinksmanship in the middle of the most serious economic crisis since the '30s with possible consequences for the nation's recovery as a whole." I had to look up "brinksmanship." It means, "pursuing dangerous policy to the brink of calamity before stopping." Call me crazy, but I don't see anything in 1-5 above that would qualify as "dangerous policy" except insofar as he doesn't go far enough.

2. "We did everything in our power to avert the i.o.u.'s. This was a strategic move by the governor and the Senate Republicans." This juicy bite was from Darrell Steinberg of the State Senate. He also accused the governor of "stale rhetoric." 

Huh. It's interesting, isn't it? The state of California is in a glorious mess -- and states are required to run on a balanced budget. I really wish the federal government had the same requirement! Think of what might change if that were the case... but I digress.

The national mood is somber, at best. The June report of jobs lost was more dismal than that of May. Of course, the fact that the press was out rejoicing in the streets at May's numbers simply because the number of jobs lost was lower than the previous month was a bit pathetic, and one had to expect that the party was going to be over soon. 

In June, almost half a million jobs were lost again. It's not looking good for the economic recovery cheerleaders right now... not to mention the fact that it's not looking good for quite a few Americans. But that's okay, because the New York Times has advice for President Obama in their editorial section... wanna hear it? "President Obama and his advisers must start preparing now for what is sure to be a tough legislative fight over more stimulus." No, I'm not kidding. 

They also go on to say that the unemployed will need more help. Want to know why? "The jobless rate ticked up to 9.5 percent in June... and it appears headed inexorably higher. For adult men, the rate is already 10 percent. The numbers are even worse for teenagers (24 percent), African-Americans (14.7 percent) and Hispanics (12.2 percent). The most alarming subset, however, is made up of the long-term unemployed. Of the 14.7 million jobless workers, 4.4 million - nearly 30 percent - have been out of work for 27 weeks or more." Naturally, the NYT is calling for another extension of unemployment benefits. But puhleeze tell me that we're not extending unemployment benefits to teenagers?? Please?!? How in the heck and why are we tracking the employment statistics of teenagers?

Not to appear too one-sided, the NYT advised Obama to address a deeper anxiety... and this is where I have to just laugh at these people because they make no sense whatsoever. After telling him to start pushing yet another stimulus, they tell him to address the deeper anxiety of "how will the economy be rebuilt so that growth is not dependent on excessive borrowing, by the government or by households?" They want him to have "a vision - and an agenda - for creating good jobs with good pay." 

And for that, I have to circle back to the beginning of this particular piece of writing -- the answer is CAPITALISM. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Government Healthcare = Healthy Economy?

Joseph Goebbels was born in 1897 and was "Reich Minister of Propaganda" in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was an immoral, abhorrent creature who did his job well. He understood how people think. "It is not propaganda's task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success," he said. Like I said, immoral - abhorrent -- but good at his job.

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." -Joseph Goebbels

Hmmm... propaganda, lies... kind of makes me think of the "national debate on healthcare." Fascinating, really, in a sick and twisted sort of way. 

Barack Obama took his message to Virginia yesterday, in a "town hall" meeting. He again repeated the obvious lie that a government health care program will save money rather than cost money. But he's now taking things a step further and saying that the national economy isn't going to come back unless we reverse "the crushing cost of health care." Talk about taking a cue from good old German Joe! 

But what to do with those pesky little mosquito-like people who keep buzzing the truth in the public's ear?? What do we do with them? EASY! Barack Obama simply says, "So when you hear the naysayers claim that I'm trying to bring about government-run health care, know this: They're not telling the truth." OH!!! So they're not telling the truth -- you are. I suppose the easiest way to deflect attention away from your lie is to accuse your accuser of lying himself. This puts people into a complete fuddle, not knowing which direction is up anymore... and accomplishes one thing: they no longer care to pay attention. And the propagandist can do whatever he pleases.

Obama's "town hall" meeting was hardly a town hall meeting... it was a propaganda moment set up to appear as a town hall meeting. Do you think that I'm being hard on him? Am I going over the top with this one? In your mind, do I now belong with the black helicopter crowd? I suppose it's possible... but it doesn't take a mental giant to spot out a bit of propaganda, and there's nothing wrong with seeing black helicopters in the sky if they're really there.

Obama, in this meeting, took seven questions, all of which were fairly friendly to his cause and only one from a Republican (who asked about medical malpractice).

Then we have Debbie - who was "spontaneously" allowed to ask a question. According to the New York Times, this was when "the policy and politics was interrupted." 

"Good afternoon, Mr. President... I'll try not to cry. I'm trying to figure out what I can do currently - um - my situation is - um - I had renal cell carcinoma in '98 that was radiated because my dad was dying of colon cancer at the time and I was his (unintelligible). So I could not be tied up having my kidney removed. So they did radiation procedures to kill the tumor then. And I had insurance and everything was paid for that. But basically, because of the damage that the radiation did and things, I'm no longer able to work, and I have no health insurance. Now I have a new tumor. I have no way to pay for it. Doctors will not see you without paying $100 or $150 to come to their office. I can, um, get checked into a hospital and with their (unintelligible) program they will run tests and release me, but that costs a lot of money. So currently, I basically... social security will not give me disability because renal failure is no longer a qualifying (unintelligible) for social security, currently. Um, I cannot get medicaid from the state of Virginia because you have to be considered disabled through Social Security to qualify for Medicaid in the state of Virginia because I have no dependent children at home - it's just me. I get food stamps, but that's it. And I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to make it nine years until I'm qualified to get my regular Social Security. Now that I have a new tumor, I have nowhere to turn."

Of course, Obama calls her over and she gets a hug. He will take her information and find out how they can help her, yada, yada... Then he launches into his spiel: "Debbie is a perfect example of somebody who we should, in a country this wealthy, be able to provide coverage for her health care problems. And what we don't want is a situation where Debbie gets worse and worse because she's not getting treatment, and then ends up having to go to the emergency room - as I said before - all of you will pay for it anyway, it's just you'll pay for it in terms of a hidden subsidy, and she's not getting the best care and we're actually paying more than we would have if Debbie right now was getting treated, uh, on a regular basis, by, uh, a physician who knew her history. Debbie, you are Exhibit A and we appreciate you sharing your story."

Spontaneous? I don't think so... after Obama is done making his speech, Debbie puts in a plug for some program for free medical care July 24th, 25th, and 26th... then talks about the good its doing, says that it would be a great place for Obama to "showcase why there's a need," then points to the governor and says how he can tell Obama the actual statistics, etc... this woman is politically active and is pushing for a government health care plan herself in an active way. Not only is this evident in her speaking, but reporters found out that she is active in "Organizing for America," which is a Democrat group that "grew out of the Obama campaign." When asked, the White House responded that Obama calling on Debbie was "coincidence." Yeah...

So... the big lies here? 

1. Obama is not for government-run health care. 
2. The townhall meeting "audience questions" were spontaneous.
3. Government health care will actually save the taxpayers money.
4. If we don't pass this - and quickly - the economy will never bounce back. 

4 pieces of propaganda being thrown to the public by the White House and aided by the press in order to take over yet another sector of the economy and our freedoms. 

I guess we'll have to see how effective the current administration is at Joseph Goebbel's job. Because, you know, your propaganda doesn't have to be intelligent. It just has to succeed.