Archive for February, 2010

Eat It or Bomb It!

Remember that joke about “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” We have an elephant in Congress called “Health Care Reform” and the present administration is trying to force America to swallow it whole. This massive takeover of our health care system will create a slew of unintended consequences and costs. The millions of citizens who realize this are routinely disparaged and dismissed by elected officials and the media.

President Obama and his Congressional leaders should back off immediately from their threats to force this bill through on reconciliation. 2600+/- pages of legislation written behind closed doors by lawyers, legislators, unions, and special interests can only be contaminated with perks, payoffs, distortions, and destructive mandates. Obama is in the last stages of desperation – fearing a political loss – and is reacting by pulling every string he can to ram the bill through Congress and sign it into law. He does not care about, and is oblivious to, the wishes of the majority of Americans. This entire situation is all about him. He will decide what is best for the rest of us 306 million other Americans.

The best cure for this headless monster grinding its way toward potential passage is a good explosion.* All versions of the bill should be stacked on the street in front of the Capitol and detonated by the DC bomb squad. The resulting confetti should then be reviewed, piece by piece.  Each piece should be debated on the merits of:  “How much will this cost”?  “Are we raiding Medicare to pay for this new entitlement”? “Will the patient have any say in their treatment”?

Health care costs more today because we get better care than ever before.  Health care costs have risen dramatically for several reasons. First is the amazing development of technology and wonder drugs which have accelerated exponentially since penicillin became available in the early ‘40s. Does anyone want to go back to when life expectancy was 63? Our present life expectancy is now 78 and such progress costs money.

Second, the true cost is hidden from the consumer. The massive handoffs of medical costs to HMOs and insurance companies that occur in our present system create a negative insulating effect. Back when people paid their GP doctor directly, it was a payment for services rendered between two individuals. Now the doctor bills the insurance company for whatever amount the HMO will pay. The patients do not care about the true cost because their only cost was  a small co-pay. The involvement of the insurance company separates the doctor and the patient from a true arms-length transaction. Health savings accounts and catastrophic insurance coverage go a long way toward redressing these market distortions, but are disfavored in this bill.

Third, Trial lawyers pick apart even a good doctor’s care and make health care costs rise for everyone.  Lawyers delight in gathering up “victims” of medical malpractice and bringing lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, and medical suppliers. They cherry pick venues and jury shop for the best jackpot potentials and then either force an expensive settlement or brazenly convince a jury that there is some connection between a procedure or medicine and the adverse effects on their clients. These trends have led to huge liability insurance burdens for all providers in the industry. Thousands of specialist physicians have discontinued certain procedures completely.

The flip side is that billions are spent on redundant and unnecessary tests for the sole reason to escape the potential of a damaging lawsuit if and when a patient does not recover satisfactorily. The costs of the huge liability insurance premiums and superfluous tests are passed along to patients, HMOs and health insurance firms. Any attempt to redress this situation is totally missing in the legislation proposed.

Government interference in the insurance market increases costs. State insurance commissioners tell insurance firms which services and procedures they must cover. As a result, consumers are left with poor choices of insurance policies. A policy available in Colorado usually cannot be purchased in Washington. Therefore, people cannot select among a wide variety of plans and are strictly limited to plans approved by their state government. This unduly restricts interstate competition among insurance companies who; being in business to gain customers and make a profit would quickly fill the gaps if allowed to and increase consumer choice dramatically. The health care bill makes no attempt to resolve this impediment,  either.

These are just a few of the situations that are adversely affecting health care costs and insurance availability. Each issue should be dealt with honestly if Obama truly wishes to reform care and reduce costs for the good of the entire country. President Obama should stand before the American people and pull the pin on these massive and dangerous schemes he has supported for so long. He should stop his arrogant, obstinate refusal to embrace reality and demand Congress start from a clean sheet of paper. His popularity will skyrocket if he is man enough to admit a mistake before it metastasizes into a national disaster.

Here is a great clip which took place during a recent Congressional committee hearing:

Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers really hits the nail on the head.

* I do not advocate any violence or mischief towards people or buildings.  When I say “bomb it,” I am merely referring to the 2,600+ pieces of paper that contain the printed words of the health care takeover bill.  I am suggesting a symbolic and safe demonstration of our distaste for these proposed new laws.

Fastest Rubber Stamp in the West

Is Patty Murray really “The Dimmest Bulb in the Senate”? The origin of that dubious honor seems to be lost in urban legend, but accusing the Senator of some sort of wattage challenge may be unfair. Murray is a liberal – it’s that simple. Many liberals are intelligent, brilliant even, but their outlook on life is severely limited to the emotion of the here and now. As such she identifies closely with the modern Democratic Party positions on issues. There is not a bipartisan bone in Murray’s body. She lives, breathes, and votes the party line.

Senator Murray rose from a faculty position, fully baked in the hothouse of liberal politically correct groupthink, to Washington State Senator in a few short years. She was swept into the US Senate on Clinton’s coattails in “the year of the woman”, 1992. Her sad sack opponent in the race only provided her a tailwind with his inept performance on the stump. She has been reelected twice since by a constituency from what FDR used to call “The Soviet of Washington”. She means well and has a heart of gold, but her voting record does not resemble anything in the long term interest of America’s future.

Our nation is plunging toward national bankruptcy. The ballooning costs of Social Security and Medicare loom as the destroyer of future generations. Families, especially among blacks have been disrupted and destroyed by the corrosive degradation of liberal anti poverty programs. Billions are wasted on 19th century technology like light rail while billions more are squandered on loopy alternative energy schemes. Public education, rotting for decades, is controlled not by administrators, but the teachers’ unions. Affirmative action, minimum wage, and protected classes laws have begat the unintended consequences of employers avoiding hiring subject individuals.

The Democratic Party and its sincere belief in big government solutions to every problem has led the way on legislation that has proven counterproductive, expensive, harmful, and unsustainable for 77 years. Patty Murray has been a myopic cheerleader for such buffoonery all her adult life. During the 110th Congress, her voting record was 97.5% along party lines; a tie for the very top spot with Richard Durban of Illinois. That is not legislating – it is rubber stamping anything the party tells her to vote for.

Recently President Obama had his much heralded “health care summit” and fortunately Patty was there to demonstrate her limited and uninspired grasp of the subject. The performance was so pathetic, absolutely oblivious of the long term consequences and costs, we should examine it here.

Murray’s banal monologue focused only on emotion with a sad story about a little kid who had lost his mother because she had no health care. It was entirely one-dimensional, never considering the aspects of costs, possibility, efficiency, or reality. All Murray could think about was one unhappy situation occurring at a fixed point in time. Her only vacuous point was that the government has to “do something”. The country, its long term fiscal health and the consequences to be borne by our descendants never entered her mind.

Murray blindly ignores the fact that as the future unfolds, far too many have  claims upon the earnings of far too few. The massive and unpaid for entitlement programs we already have helped ourselves to are presently approaching bankruptcy. Her knee jerk support for yet more government control and spending on an unfathomable 2600 page health care bill can only be explained by her typical liberal preoccupation with the present time. She knows not about history, cares not about reality, and sees not the future. Her only vision is limited to her slavish devotion to yet more big government solutions she mistakenly “feels” would make things better. “Reasoning” out the costs and unintended consequences is obviously beyond her capacity.

The entire future of our nation depends on whether the march of the nanny state can be arrested and rolled back before it destroys liberty as we have known it and condemns our children to serfdom. Murray is part and parcel an enabler of our potential future under Big Brother, and leaving her in office for 6 more years only exacerbates the possibility of the day when it will be too late to stop it. We in Washington have to elect a different senator.

Murray went to the Senate touting her moniker “The Mom in Tennis Shoes” but immediately melted them down and cast them into a rubber stamp. Her hardwired support base will back her forever since they pay no more attention to history and future consequences than she does. It is up to those of us who can see the long term damage of liberal policies, spending, entitlements, and social engineering to send Murray back to a college classroom. There she can damage only a few young minds at a time instead of continuing to help push America off the precipice of dependency, indebtedness and international impotence.

Dear Media

Less than half the country wants more government and more than half want less. This may be a good moment to inform the “mainstream media” enablers as to exactly why so many are so angry at so few.

Joe Klein of Time recently wrote that we are a “nation of dodos.” Bill Maher just told Larry King that  Americans are “not bright enough” to understand what is good for them. John Cassidy in The New Yorker impugns Tea Party types as possessing “self-identity that is historically inaccurate and potentially dangerous” along with implying that many are motivated by racism. Similar accusations have become common throughout news and commentary outlets over several months. Here is a reply from an independent voter and formal member of no political party or group:

Referring to us as racists, Neanderthals, dodos, misguided, dangerous, close minded, frightened, ignorant of history, or similar pejoratives does not make us so. It just demonstrates your inability to counter our beliefs with reasoned responses. The continuous laments on the major network Sunday shows, daily newscasts and liberal editorial pages are a pathetic deprecation of us who sincerely believe that our country is in dire need of a new direction. You have a right to your beliefs as do we. However this country is not, nor ever will become the dysfunctional utopian socialist mediocrity you so wish it to be. There are too many of us to let you make it happen.

You believe that rewarding failure by punishing success is compassion, and you are willing to sell the futures of our descendants down the river to fund such activity in the present time. You think that since most of us never attended some Ivy League university, that we are too uninformed to make our own choices in life. To assuage that shortcoming you wish to promote the imposition of layer upon layer of government control over us; eroding our birthright of freedom as a consequence. You support a public education bureaucracy that has been rotting for decades, cheating our young out of a quality K-12 education. You believe the federal government is the best operator of health care – 1/6 of our entire economy – when it has proven multiple times it cannot efficiently run the Postal Service, Indian Affairs, Park Service, Medicare, Social Security, or Amtrak.

It is obvious you are the ones who avoid the lessons of history, ignore the failures of socialism, and close your eyes to the looming entitlement catastrophe about to engulf those yet unborn. We however understand where this country came from, what principles were enshrined in its founding, and cherish those God given rights specified in the Declaration and the Constitution. We see the unsustainable growth of handouts, aid, loan guarantees, subsidies, entitlement programs, earmark spending, borrowing, and government in general and seek to reverse course before it is way too late. We feel the daily encroachment on our liberty as free men and women and strive to halt that erosion. We care deeply that our country not follow the path of failing states and default on its debts.

In the ‘60s many of you rose up in protest against our government at war in Viet Nam. Who are you to object when we band together, storm the Bastille of the ballot box, and broom your favorite leaches, hacks, and malfeasants, along with a few of our own mistakes, from office? We are every bit as concerned about the eventual ruination of our country through excessive government as you were about avoiding serving it in a hot war.

In any large group of like minded citizens, true beliefs and opinions vary along a bell curve. Our curve is centered on the right and yours; the left. In the far tails of each live the few very antisocial and disturbed members of each side. Your reporting and commenting always seeks out and embellishes the fringes of our movement purposely ignoring the center where the great bulk of the group resides. You had the Weather Underground while we have a few paranoid militia types. We have everything from Mensans to morons and so do you.

Your studios and newsrooms are populated with like minded people; products of similar journalism schools. You have spent your adult lives in the hothouse of diversity and political correctness while we meet, work, and exchange ideas with people of all races, religions, and on different sides of many issues. We are the folks you consider the great unwashed of flyover country. Your continuous disparagement of our intelligence and motives is nothing but the revelation of your fears of our strength. Your hatred of talk radio and FOX News only demonstrates your angst that your monopoly on communication is evaporating.

Rest your souls that we intend no physical harm to you or our government and its representatives. We will demonstrate in strength and leave the square tidy and untrashed. We won’t be tipping over cars and busses or burning tires in the streets. We will not be planting pipe bombs, igniting buildings, or smashing windows in Starbucks. We will organize, select candidates, and vote our way into power in a peaceful, legal transfer.

Once there, we will never impugn or restrict your rights to print, speak, or believe any way you wish. That’s a promise.

It’s a Decoy

Most Americans have great respect for men of principle who stand their ground in the face of strong opposition. This writer, although firmly against many of our President’s policies, up till now had to admit grudging admiration. Obama’s determination and perseverance in pushing Health Care no matter what the polls are saying appeared somewhat courageous for a period of time, but has now taken on different aspects.

Obama is obviously continuing to beat a huge square peg into a small round hole and has been doing so for a year. It reminds one of a housefly trying to get through a window on a sunny afternoon – continuously banging into an immovable object not realizing it is an impassible barrier. How can an intelligent Harvard educated President purposely continue to prove Einstein’s definition of “insanity”? Let’s suppose the entire fiasco has morphed into nothing but a decoy.

Obama came to office with an agenda to accelerate and further enable the transfer of wealth from those who produce it to those who do not. This is exactly what he told Joe the Plumber he was planning. He has managed to triple the federal deficit in his first year in office and project similar levels of spending and borrowing out for at least the next 10 years – even before the health care costs are potentially added to it. This has alarmed taxpayers and set off reactions across the entire country, but the disastrous spending continues unabated. The main reason it appears that spending is now on auto pilot is that the opponents are completely involved fending off the health care legislation. They have neither time nor energy to address the spending fight.

The health care debate is the perfect foil which is blocking effective opposition to the stimulus, omnibus, TARP, and “jobs” money incinerators. This administration knows that the American people are strongly against the idea of government running 1/6 of the entire economy. They know that health care cannot pass Congress on a bipartisan vote. The value of continuing to push it is to keep the fiscal hawks diverted away from spending programs presently running amuck.

Republicans are fighting a small holding action on the parapet of health care. Meanwhile the ground in front, around, and behind them is being overrun with the unsustainable spending and borrowing that is endangering the financial future of the entire nation. As Scott brown gets elected to the Senate, Obama is scheming to spend the TARP funds repaid by the banks on make work, vote buying pork in swing states. As proof that the stimulus has actually worsened unemployment surfaces, voices calling for the termination of the program are drowned out by the cacophony of the health care battle. Fannie, Freddie, GM, Chrysler, and AIG among others enjoy the status of zombie companies which should have been used as organ donors and buried long ago, but instead continue to dine on taxpayers.

The health care takeover started out as a genuine goal for the Obama administration. Sometime in the past several months, they realized that it had no chance of passing along conventional lines. At that point, the prudent thing would have appeared to have been to abandon it and concentrate instead on the economy. Since prolonging it seems so counterproductive in the face of all the evidence, it must have been continued precisely to create the perfect smoke screen to obscure and protect the ongoing catastrophic spending of the administration’s other programs.

Twilight of a Promising Youth

He lies at death’s door, a spent man at the age of 63. As boys we attended the same schools. His father was a WW II veteran and self made business man who prospered in banking and property development. Our parents were business and social friends, and we got along fine but traveled in different circles sharing few common interests. Now he is about to pass on; way too young and leaving little if any mark in the world he will depart.

He was tall, handsome, got good grades and joined all the right groups. His friends were the smart ones that kept their noses clean and were destined for 4 years in a good college back when universities were expensive, community colleges were just an idea, and there were no student loans to pay the freight. We on the other side of the social and academic spectrum were headed for a hitch in the military – drafted or enlisted – followed by a blue collar career riveting wings at Boeing or driving a logging truck.

He spent 4 years at a great university on dad’s dime; avoiding military service on a student deferment, and married soon after graduation. A good first job followed and he was headed toward long term success. Everybody knew that he would end up comfortably well off in the interim and eventually inherit a large part of the fortune his father had produced.

We never crossed paths again but occasionally word got back that things were not quite what we had expected. Rumors of drinking problems, job terminations, and domestic quarrels surfaced from time to time. His first marriage ended in divorce. Apparently another failed marriage followed in his 30s or 40s, but since we had little communication with his family, details were never very clear.

A few years ago, some social contacts were made with his parents and the situation was not encouraging. The man was living in an old home in a rural area and running a second hand store in the small town nearby. The house was in need of repair and his father had helped financially to make the place livable. His mother told of a short stay there and described the atmosphere as somewhat toxic. The evening activities in the home between the man and his wife were primarily “They drink and smoke and fight.” I had never imagined the man would ever take up smoking. That was reserved for my deadbeat circle of friends and for which we were always disparaged by his.

My friend had the great misfortune to be born into a fortune. In school, those of us from families of lesser means envied kids like him. It was preordained that their birthright was a ticket to lifetime comfort and success. What we did not realize at that age was that such an advantage combined with compassionate parents breeds a corrosive, self destructive dependency. We “less fortunate” did our time in the service of our country and went to work doing hard repetitive labor. We had to grasp the fact that the only way up was to improve ourselves by ourselves; one night class, one minor promotion, or one little savings account at a time. We never got a handout and had to invent or earn any hand up we were ever to experience.

America is a land of liberty. We are born with equal opportunity under the law, but the starting blocks of life are in different locations for each of us. Those who start toward the back of the pack must run faster and farther to reach the finish line or drop out and fail along the way. Others like my friend got to start out with the finish line so close and so apparently easy to reach, they never realized that there were hills, hollows, and hurdles on the track to be overcome. When things got tough, they quickly got into the habit of drawing upon family money and support instead of having to work through the difficulties with wits, sweat, and pain.

My friend will be gone at any moment now, his body spent through slow self destruction. His spirit – never tempered, honed, and strengthened by the setbacks and adversity of a normal life – exhausted.

Let this be a tragic warning to those “helicopter parents” even now guiding their children through the early years of life in a protective bubble. They will enter adulthood bereft of the abilities necessary to excel if they are not allowed and required to learn self reliance at a young age. Children must be sent out into the world with skills to work, cope, survive, and prevail on their own. They must have self discipline and a solid work ethic to succeed without outside help. Lifetime success and self esteem must be accomplished and earned by the individual. Neither can be bequeathed by overly generous and protective parents.

Each child’s future depends on what that kid can learn to do without assistance. Those who grow up expecting a helping hand, a $100 bill, or an over involved parent at every minor crises will end up as a beach bum  on public support, or a purple haired Goth doing drugs on family handouts. The ones who learn to fight life’s battles early and alone will be the future leaders and entrepreneurs of America.

My friend’s mother will soon be burying her firstborn. Don’t raise your child in a way that will potentially find you enduring the same experience in the future.

Our Sworn Enemy

There is a small minority of Muslims in the world that have made it clear that they wish to return the world to the 7th century and destroy western civilization as we know it. We try to avoid tarring all Muslims with this vile brush, but we have to wake up and realize that we are at war with a couple million savages. These are barbaric beings that lust for the blood of those they hate and will stop at nothing, stoop to any depth of depravity, and glorify the act of personal suicide to murder and maim innocents of all ages.

What sort of monster sends a woman wrapped in explosives into a religious procession so she can blow herself to bits and kill 40 additional innocents – many of them children? What kind of vitiation drives these subhumans to mutilate the genitals of their women, force them to dress in tarps, treat them as barnyard animals, and stone them to death for having been raped? How can “soldiers of Allah” justify holding women and children at gunpoint to use as shields against enemy assaults? What demented interpretation of their Quran could advocate hijacking loaded airliners and crashing them into buildings snuffing out the lives of nearly 3000 people innocently going about their business?

In World War II the world was astounded and appalled when Japan sent bombs with human pilots on suicide missions to destroy enemy ships. Now with political correctness tying one arm behind our backs, we ignore or worse yet make excuses for such acts directed against innocent civilians at weddings, markets, mosques, and churches. What excuses will be made when an explosive vest makes a visit to a crowded Starbuck’s near you?

Our government tries to destroy the lives of 3 heroic Navy Seals for punching the perpetrator of a ruthless mass murder and threatens to prosecute CIA interrogators who saved American lives extracting valuable intelligence. The masterminds of 9/11 are promised a federal trial with all the rights of an American Citizen in a public courtroom. Doesn’t anyone remember the Moussaoui trial fiasco? A fanatical mole in a major’s uniform murders 13 fellow soldiers while yelling “Allah Akbar” and an Army investigation does not even mention his religion. A fresh out of the oven Muslim terrorist is caught trying to destroy another airliner and he is Mirandized and given a lawyer instead of being professionally questioned and squeezed for who and how many more are in the pipeline. Heaven forbid a future successful act of terrorism from Yemen, but should it happen; the blood of the innocents shall be on the present administration in Washington.

Our sworn enemies are as evil as any we have faced since the inception of our nation. Pandering to their better nature and appealing for an unclenched fist is dreaming in color. The only thing they understand is a bloody nose. We must continue to take the fight to them and make it hurt at any cost, keep them off balance, and prevent them from finding sanctuary in failed states. The price they have already extracted from this country in lives lost, travel disrupted, and products banned from sale is already exorbitant. If they are allowed to plot, train and infiltrate our open society, we will be held hostage and in fear in our own country. We will be prisoners in our own land.

Defeating these inhuman butchers is the most important priority. It is not health care, carbon legislation, gays in the military, more failed stimulus, or additional federal fingers in education. If this administration does not awaken to that fact soon, their days in office are numbered.

The Road to Hell

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. America’s highway to Hades was built on liberal emotions with no consideration of history or future consequences. FDR surveyed and graded it with huge government make work projects and Social Security. Harry Truman added the base rock expanding eligibility. LBJ widened and paved it with Medicare, Medicaid, and Great Society anti Poverty programs. Bill Clinton striped it with AmeriCorps. George W. Bush raised the speed limit with the prescription drug benefit.

When Obama came into office all he had to do was load the American people into a huge imported bus, fill it with diesel from Saudi Arabia, and head off full throttle to our final destination. Whether the wheels come off and it crashes, or it finally finishes the journey, one thing is for certain. Our children and grandchildren will enter adulthood in a world of want and deeply in debt.

We adults must not continue to burn through our descendants’ future by generously granting ourselves layer upon layer of “entitlements” to see us through our later years. The Greatest and Boomer generations have set themselves up as the beginning investors in a series of massive Ponzi schemes with follow-on generations as the patsies. Had they done so as private citizens; they would be keeping company with Bernie Madoff right now. Just because Congress and past presidents made these things “law” doesn’t make them “right”. This writer considers them criminal intergenerational theft. These “entitlement” programs must be effectively reformed into entities that are sustainable long term.

The huge uptick in discretionary spending is also damaging this nation. Keynesian theory posits that governments must run surpluses in good times and spend heavily through tougher times. The intent was to use the surplus and borrowing to finance spending increases when needed to stabilize employment. The deficits were to be repaid in times of surplus. Keynes, like Marx, ignored human nature. We now know politicians will spend every dime and more in good times and then borrow to sustain the spending in difficult years. Elected officials of both parties have proven this throughout the past 80 years. They repeatedly buy their way into office promising “something for nothing” and eventually depart leaving the general public holding the sack of unfunded promises.

Congress just voted to increase the national debt limit. The Washington State legislature arrogantly trashed a publicly voted measure that required a 2/3 majority to raise taxes. Oregonians went to the polls and slammed businesses and high earners with additional taxes. California has spent itself into bankruptcy.

DeTocqueville warned of this in the 1830s, and now it is upon us. It is up to the American people to put a stop to it and the longer we ignore the gathering storm, the worse our nation, our youngsters, and those yet unborn will suffer. It is 5 minutes to High Noon. Who is coming with me?