Thursday, December 31, 2009
Check this out.
O.K., something any of us of a mind can do: Head on over to Tango TV and click "On TV" and from the sub-menu click "TV Listings: Past & Present."
You can go back and check TV schedules going all the way back to 1950!
So... let's see... what was on the day I was born?
Monday May 14, 1962 --
Not much was on that night. In primetime that night the only show I recognize is "The Price Is Right."
(Hell... might as well go through the listings for the first full week of life of your beloved bloghost, William R. Barker.) (*WINK*)
Tuesday May 15, 1962 --
Aahh... another game show on in prime time: "Password." (Oh, wow... Olivia De Havilland and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. were the guests! (Hey... did you folks know that Olivia De Havilland is still alive? She is!)
Aahh... "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
Wednesday May 16, 1962 --
"Wagon Train" 8:00 p.m. on NBC.
"The Bob Newhart (Variety) Show" 10:00 p.m. on NBC.
Thursday May 17, 1962 --
"My Three Sons" 9:00 p.m. on CBS.
"Hazel" 9:30 p.m. on NBC.
"The Untouchables" 10:00 p.m. on ABC.
Friday May 18, 1962
Oooohhh! "The Twilight Zone" 10:00 p.m. on CBS.
Saturday May 19, 1962 --
"Perry Mason" 8:00 p.m. on CBS. (To this day the theme music gives me the creeps...)
"Leave It To Beaver" 8:30 p.m. on ABC. (Wow... I always think of Leave It To Beaver as a '50's show...)
"Have Gun Will Travel" 9:30 p.m. on CBS. (Basically I'm listing programs I'm familiar with and have seen on re-runs which I would have watched "live" had I had the opportunity...)
"Gunsmoke" 10:00 p.m. on CBS.
Sunday May 20, 1962 --
"Lassie" 7:00 p.m. on CBS followed by "Dennis The Menace" at 7:30 p.m. and "What's My Line" at 10:00 p.m.
"The Bullwinkle Show" over at NBC competing against "Lassie" at 7:00 p.m.
"Bonanza" 9:00 p.m. on NBC.
Pretty cool, huh...?!
No doubt I'll do further exploring on Tango TV. No doubt it'll be fun to relive childhood television view memories by browsing through key years... when I was five - off to kindergarten; the middle school years... the high school years...
Feel free to share your favorite TV shows - past and present - with me via the Comments Section of this thread.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Men don't cry...
I cry. In fact, I'm a big softy. I actually get choked up quite easily!
Earlier this morning my friend and mentor John Hicks, who is presently managing the political campaign of "Nan Hayworth for Congress," called me up to ask if I would do him a favor and research and pass on to him some Reagan quotes suitable for the candidate - who like John and I is a huge Reagan fan - to refer to on the campaign trail.
"No problem," I told John; consider it done!
Well, I've since emailed him a selection of Reagan homilies. Mission accomplished!
No... not quite.
You guys know me; I'm not the "bare minimum effort" type. In for a penny, in for a pound - that's my motto! If you're gonna do something... do it right.
Well, I've been browsing various Reagan source material for the past hour or so and while perusing the archives of The Public Papers of President Ronald W. Reagan I found myself sobbing while reading President Reagan's Farewell Address to the Nation, delivered from the Oval Office commencing at 9:02 p.m. eastern standard time, the night of Wednesday, January 11, 1989.
Allow me to highlight the excerpt which "got to me."
Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in Presidential farewells, and I've got one that's been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I'm proudest of in the past eight years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national feeling is good, but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.
An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn't get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.
But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection.
So, we've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important - why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, four years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who'd fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, ``We will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did.'' Well, let's help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.
And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.
My God... the Wisdom... the Insight... the Idealism.
What President Reagan saw as a threat in 1989 we know as the reality of 2009.
We reside in The Age of Obama... American Exceptionalism is an ideal scorned by the Left and publicly rejected by the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Can America ever return to The Age of Reagan? I don't know. Honestly... I'm extremely pessimistic.
Almost 21 years ago Ronald Reagan was correctly pointing out that those who at the time were in their childhood years, their teens, their 20's, their early 30's were being raised in a "different America" than the one of earlier generations.
Now... almost 21 years later... those of us who came of age during The Age of Reagan can hardly recognize the present reality and as for our children...
Whether you call it socialism... paternalism... even a "softer, gentler," more benevolent" brand of fascism... the reality is that this nation is turning away from our roots and ideals and the shift is being purposefully driven by those in control of the Democratic Party, of academia, and of course their message is carried and advanced by much of the press and entertainment industry.
Some of you reading this have children, others of you "only" have nieces... nephews... the children of close friends. To those of you who agree with me and share my values... heed the words of President Reagan. Do not be afraid to fulfill your duty as an adult to pass on your knowledge, wisdom, and values to our nation's youth.
I see the Legacy of our Founders slipping away from us. Perhaps we can reverse the tide; perhaps not.
Remember the words of Ronald Reagan when you sit down to dinner tonight.
Live the words of Ronald Reagan wherever and however you can.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
So... I click on Drudge.
From Drudge I click on the following: Federal Government in Washington to be Closed Monday.
Now... I'm in New York. I live about 50 minutes northwest of the GW Bridge.
This morning I had an airport run to do - Newburgh, NY to JFK. The roads were completely clear from my home in Harriman, NY, to Newburgh, and then from Newburgh all the way to JFK - which is in Queens, NY.
Roads clear; bridges clear - the trip from Orange County, NY into Rockland County, NY into Bergen County, NJ, over the GW Bridge into Manhattan, across the East River to the Deegan, down the Deegan to and over the Triborough (now officially the RFK Bridge), down the Grand Central, down the Van Wyck took us... umm... an hour and twenty five minutes maybe... and that was with me taking local NY Route 32 to local NY & NJ Routes 17 as opposed to taking the Palisades Parkway, a major highway.
(Which was clear too by the way - I took it on my way back from the airport because I was heading to a friend's to watch football rather than heading straight home.)
So... as I read our dedicated Washington DC civil servants preparing to enjoy a taxpayer paid snow day tomorrow... as I thought about how insubstantial the storm had amounted to here... I said to myself, "Self! It must be BAD in Washington DC... MUCH worse than here!"
So... I decided to google "live video washington dc" and HERE'S what I came up with:
The Washington D.C. 14th Street Bridge camera.
Black pavement. Lots of black pavement. Follow the links - there are twelve distinct Washington D.C. live traffic camera locations to pick from. All of them have one thing in common: Black Pavement.
Folks... in the great scheme of things giving a few tens of thousands of federal workers a paid snow day isn't going to be the straw that breaks the back of our nation's economy. But isn't it typical of government... snow days when the snow is gone from the roads?
To those of you who will be WORKING for your pay tomorrow - Monday, Dec. 21, 2009 - think happy thoughts.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Short answer: We may end up saving a great deal of money!
As best I understand it, the various Democratic healthcare "reform" plans have two main premises in common:
1) Insurance companies will not be able to deny individuals coverage based on pre-existing conditions;
2) Premiums will be largely "normed" so that your actual medical care needs will be largely irrelevant in terms of the amount of premiums you'll pay.
Do I have this right...??? Is this the basic concept...???
When supporters laud the recently passed House Plan and commend the supposed virtues of the proposed Senate Plan these are the two "selling points" that are most often cited.
Correct...??? Are these not two of the key pro-"reform" talking points advanced by adherents...???
Hey, it gets better! (Or so proponents claim...) Democrats insist that the "reform" proposals will "bend the cost curve" on health insurance/ health care in the public's favor. Just this morning, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod stated in no uncertain terms while debating with critics...
“To defeat a bill that will bend the curve on this inexorable rise in health-care costs is insane,” Axelrod said. "I think that would be a tragic, tragic outcome. I don’t think that you want this moment to pass. It will not come back."
Hmm... so let's see... according to the Democrats, their Plan (in final form at least) will cover insurance seekers with pre-existing conditions - at an affordable price not too far out of line with what their perfectly healthy peers will be paying in premiums - and in tandem with this the nation as a whole will experience positive "cost bending" limiting the previously inexorable rise in health care costs.
Now I don't know about the rest of you... but I don't buy it.
That said, if the Democrats are successful in their push for legislation banning exclusions for pre-existing conditions while also requiring that the insurance companies provide policies upon demand at basically the same premium rate that people without pre-existing conditions are being charged, then William R. and Mary T. Barker will be canceling our existing insurance, going, without; we'll pay the proposed $750 fine, pay out of pocket for our yearly exams and necessary "normal" medical tests, and if (when?) we run into a situation where "they've found something" and expensive tests and hugely expensive treatments are required... well... that's when we'll again sign up for health insurance and receive "coverage" and thus treatment!
Folks... understand the math.
Mary and I presently pay - out of pocket - approximately $800/mo. (add to this our yearly and per visit or per prescription deductibles) in order to "insure" that we're "covered" and thus able to get the best care possible when we require medical treatment.
So... $800 x 12 = $9,600/yr. plus let's low ball deductibles (say $400) = $10,000/yr.
Now... if I understand the Democrat's healthcare "reform" plan - what the House has already passed and what's presently before the Senate - the option they're apparently "offering" (allowing) my wife and I is to simply jettison our present $10,000 yearly health insurance/health care expenses in favor of going without insurance, paying a $750 fine (or if per person fines totaling $1,500) for not having insurance, spending a few hundred dollars (hell... let's "high ball" the estimate - let's say $1,250) for out of pocket routine yearly medicare exams and care, and if at some point in the future an exam turns up a problem... at that point we "opt back in" and purchase an insurance policy at the same premium rate we would have been paying all along!
Sounds like a heck of a deal... for Mary and I!
Under the scenario I've just laid out, we'd be saving thousand of dollars a year! Depending upon whether the fine would be $750 for the two of us (as husband and wife) or $1,500 (each fined separately as individuals) and figuring on out of pocket yearly routine medical expenses of $1,250, we'd be saving at least $7,250 on up to $8,000 (and even more if we don't spend $1,250 on out of pocket routine medical care expenses in a year).
Yes, you can look at it as "scamming the system." That's exactly what Mary and I would both call it! Yet that's what we'll do if the Democrats are stupid and irresponsible to pass legislation that would allow such "gaming the system."
Hey... we'd be stupid not to.
My advice to those of you who don't believe Congress should pass legislation that would allow the sort of scheme I've outlined... well... the first thing I'd suggest you do is call your Member of Congress and ask if such a scenario is possible according to the bill the House passed.
Just for the heck of it I just spent ten minutes on the phone talking to not one, but two staffers of my own Congressman, John Hall (D-NY 19th). Just to let you folks know, neither staffer was willing or able to tell me that my understanding of the House bill allowing such a scenario was incorrect.
If you can get through to the Washington DC or local state office of each of your two United States Senators you might wanna ask the staffers you speak to whether the "Barker Scenario" as outlined is viable. And if they tell you it's not... insist that they cite the specific language in the passed House bill and the specific language in the proposed Senate bill which would disallow individuals from "gaming the system" in the manner I've proposed.
Folks... this is the Age of Obama... the Age of Pelosi and Reid... the Age of Liberal Ascendancy... if you don't believe the Democratic Party is capable of passing legislation with a loophole such as that I've based the premise of this post on...
Make the calls. If you don't get a straight answer from the politicians, call up your local/regional newspaper and suggest that they take a crack at getting to the bottom of this question.
Folks... this is a biggie!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
An op-ed in this weekend's WSJ lays out the case for violent revolut... er... for a peaceful realignment of the political balance of power via the democratic process next November:
When it comes to spending, the Democrats who run Washington can't decide on their message. On the one hand, as President Obama said this week, they claim we have to "spend our way out of this recession." On the other, they keep telling us the deficit is too large and isn't "sustainable." In this tug of political spin, watch what they spend, not what they say.
And recall, folks... the Democrats won control of not just the House, not just the Senate, but BOTH Houses of Congress back in November 2006.
Today is December 13, 2009.
It's now been more than three years since the day the American People kicked out the RINOs
and put in their place to run our national agenda the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, John Murtha...
(God help this once great nation; I can't bear to continue listing the rogue's gallery.)
Continuing to excerpt:
And that means watching this weekend's expected Senate vote on a 1,088-page $445 billion "omnibus" package of spending bills to fund the government for fiscal 2010. The House passed a similar elephant earlier this week, allowing federal agency budgets to increase spending by some $48 billion, or about 12% from 2009. That increase—when inflation is negligible—is in addition to the $311 billion in stimulus already authorized or out the door for these programs. Adding this new stash means that federal agencies will have received a nearly 70% increase in the last two years.
Folks...??? You're reading this, right...??? The WSJ isn't making this up; this is America's fiscal reality in the Age of Obama. This is what you get with a Democratic House, Democratic Senate, and a Democrat in the Oval Office.
Returning to the op-ed...
Oh, and that's not all. The President and Congress also want to spend as much as $200 billion more from the Troubled Asset Relief Program on still another stimulus, though this time we are supposed to call it a "jobs" program, because stimulus now has a dirty political name.
After the spending bill, Congress will then turn to passing a $1.8 trillion increase in the national debt ceiling...
In other words, folks, imagine your spouse or your kid is egregiously abusing the credit card you gave them - the one with your name on the account; you're legally responsible for all the spending taking place, you and you alone are legally responsible for the debt and the interest - and instead of taking the credit card away or at least decreasing the credit limit in response to the irresponsible spending you call your credit card company and tell them to INCREASE the spending limit.
Sound nuts...? Crazy? Something you'd never do...
Folks. Congress is taking it upon itself to increase the "national credit limit" in order to further increase spending and debt whether you like it or not.
Oh... and by the way...
Not that the press corps cares anymore, but the omnibus also continues the earmark explosion that Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to end when she was trying to oust Republicans in 2006. The Heritage Foundation counts 5,224 earmarks, bringing the total for the year to about 10,000, or about 23 for every Congressional district. There is money for bike paths, skate board parks, museums, water-taxis to resort towns...
(*CLENCHING MY TEETH*)
(*SHAKING MY HEAD IN DESPAIR*)
Folks. Washington is the enemy. Under Bush and the RINOs Congress was screwing us. Under Obama and the Democrats things have gotten worse - much worse.
Just to buttress the point...
$8,677,214,255,313.07 -- This was the national debt on January 3, 2007 - the day before Democrats officially took over control of both Houses of Congress.
$12,115,000,000,000.00 -- And rising...
Folks... math ain't partisan. It just... is.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The Headline: For Feds, More Get Six-Figure Salaries
The sub-headline: Average Pay $30,000 Over Private Sector
Yep. So reports Dennis Cauchon in today's USA Today.
Cauchon's opening salvo --
The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.
Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months - and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.
Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time - in pay and hiring - during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.
Super, huh?! Hey... it's only money! Salaries... benefits... future pension liabilities... pile 'em on!
The article continues --
The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.
Hey... (*SNORT*)... that's only what... a five and a half fold increase? A mere bag of shells!
Here, folks... you'll like this one --
When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.
Now that's what I call a stimulus! From one to 1,690... wow. And to think... some folks say there's no Santa...
The trend to six-figure salaries is occurring throughout the federal government, in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech.
To anyone reading this who hasn't yet gotten me a Christmas present...
Booze. Just booze. Lots and lots of booze...
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I was never much enamored in the first place with Minister Huckabee, but the former pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church of Pine Bluff, Arkansas has recently outdone himself in terms of attracting my scorn and derision.
Here. Read this. The man's own words!
The nation was stunned by the senseless and savage cold-blooded murders of four young police officers in Lakewood, Wash., over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Whenever a police officer or soldier is killed, the loss is even more profound, for they are the ones who stand between our way of life and total anarchy.
Nine years ago, the name Maurice Clemmons crossed my desk. I commuted his sentence from 108 years to 47 years. I take full responsibility for my actions of nine years ago. I acted on the facts presented to me in 2000. If I could have possibly known what Clemmons would do nine years later, I obviously would have made a different decision. If I only had the same information I had then, I would make the same decision.
"IF I ONLY HAD THE SAME INFORMATION I HAD THEN, I WOULD MAKE THE SAME DECISION...?!?!
Is this guy nuts...?!?! To borrow a line from the immortal silver screen character United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant Hartman...
WHAT IS YOUR MALFUNCTION, HUCKABEE...?!?!
My God... he would have made the same decision...?!?! (Yes... I've checked... the op-ed is real - it's actually Huckabee - it's not a spoof from The Onion.)
Ever hear of Wayne DuMond? Check out the link provided.
What makes a trend? How about the fact that as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee took it upon himself to issue over 1,000 pardons and commutations - more than his three predecessors combined!
In his non-mea culpa Huckabee reiterates the same empty sentiments I heard him recite on The O'Reilly Factor the other night...
I take full responsibility for my actions of nine years ago.
No... he doesn't! Not by a long shot! Taking responsibility would entail spending the rest of his life making concrete amends to the families of each and every one of those four police officers who career criminal Maurice Clemmons gunned down on November 29, 2009 - a day the friends, family, and colleagues of these murdered police officers will never again recall as "just another day."
You take "full responsibility" Governor Huckabee...? Tell it to the loved ones of
Allow me to ask, are the following the words of a man taking full responsibility?
...I commuted his sentence to the term of 47 years (still a long sentence in comparison to others for the type of crime he had committed), making him parole-eligible. It did not parole him, as governors do not have that power in Arkansas. He would have to separately apply for parole and meet the criteria for it.
Three months after the commutation, Clemmons met the criteria for parole and was paroled to supervision in late 2000.
I can't explain why he wasn't prosecuted properly for the parole violations, or why he was allowed to make bail in Washington and was not incarcerated earlier for crimes committed there. I take responsibility for my actions, but not for the actions of others...
Mike Huckabee makes me sick.
There's simply no other way to put it.
Mike Huckabee wouldn't get my handshake - let alone my vote - if Jesus Himself were to embark upon His Second Coming and announce... as an aside... His support for a Huckabee candidacy!
Certain self-described conservatives and "traditionalists" have and continue to offer Huckabee a pass on his actions. I don't. I won't.
What do you do with a problem named Huckabee? Well... if you're a Republican I'd strongly advise you to draw your own personal line in the political sand: No Huckabee! No way... no how.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Mark Sullivan, Directer, United States Secret Service, should be fired. The fact he hasn't been fired as of yet tells you all you need to know about the present state of our Union.
Whoever is in direct day to day charge of White House Security should be fired as well.
As for Mr. and Mrs. Salahis... they should have been taken into custody immediately and in fact they should still be in custody - charged with every offense it's possible to charge them on - awaiting trial. Instead, though, they're free as birds, not even charged yet; they're "shopping" interviews - hoping for a big payday - and as for the U.S. Secret Service... well... the New York Times reported yesterday that beyond not yet having charged the Salahis' with any crimes, the boys and girls with the earpieces are treating the Salahis' with kid gloves to the extent that these scam artists have only been interviewed on "neutral turf," not at the couple's home, not at Secret Service headquarters.
The inmates are running the asylum, folks - from the White House on down the line.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their Joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness, Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation; for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the National One now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations - especially such as have shewn kindness unto us - and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789
Saturday, November 21, 2009
From page, "The Photo News," Friday, November 20, 2009: "North Main's Family ESL Program Filled To Capacity With Participants."
Hmm... first thought: How much is this costing me?
Second thought: How many illegal aliens are receiving "services" paid for out of my pocket and the pockets of my fellow citizens?
No doubt the reporter, Nancy Kriz, and her editor, Bob Quinn, view the story as a heartwarming "human interest" piece. Me...? I immediately think of my taxes being squandered and additional debts being piled upon the backs of our children and grandchildren.
Yeah... that's the thing... New York State is in fiscal crisis. Here's the immediate problem:
New York is presently set to run out of money in December when a huge chunk of the $3.2 billion deficit is due.
According to my state's Democratic Governor, David Paterson, "If lawmakers [Democrats control both Houses of New York State's Legislature by the way] don't act now on a deficit reduction plan, then tough actions will have to be made: Furloughs, layoffs, borrowing, downgraded credit rating, delayed payment to schools, delayed payments to local governments, delayed payments to service providers, delayed payments to workforce..."
And yet... this weekend's edition of my local weekly reports, "Funded through a federal grant, the Family ESL Program provides dinner, instruction and class materials to adult students and their children. The evening ends at 8 p.m. so parents can get their kids home for bedtime."
DINNER...??? DINNER...!!! There's no end to the insanity...!!!
Call me "mean." Call me "cruel, harsh, unsympathetic." Oh... and while you're at it, why not label me "racist" or perhaps simply "xenophobic?"
Or... just to leave the politically correct talking points aside so as to allow one uninterrupted moment of sanity... why not simply acknowledge that with New York State, most other states, and of course the federal government itself operating in perpetual deficit mode, borrowing money from abroad to finance these deficits, increasing taxes, fees, and surcharges yet still spending more than is raised via taxes, fees and surcharges...
(*BLOOD PRESSURE SHOOTING THROUGH THE ROOF*)
(*TEARS OF ANGER AND FRUSTRATION WELLING UP*)
Are there no priorities? No hierarchy of needs? No recognition of reality...?!?!
People. In case you missed it... a few days ago the news was announced that our National Debt has surpassed $12 trillion...
In just the first nine months of Barak Obama's presidency, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the Democratic House and Democratic Senate of the United States have added $1.6 trillion to our National Debt.
The White House itself issued an analysis in August - based upon their own budget desires and projections - estimating that at the conclusion of fiscal year 2010 (September 30, 2010) the National Debt could top $14 trillion...
Friends. Readers. This same White House "preview of things to come" predicts that by the end of the decade - 2019 - the National Debt will hit $24.5 trillion - exceeding the nation's expected GDP for that year!
My God... the people in power are destroying our nation's economy! And when I read that while all this is going on the federal government (in cooperation with New York State and my own Monroe-Woodbury School District) is not only directing my hard earned tax dollars towards while simultaneously borrowing additional funds to finance FREE DINNERS on top of the basic cost of running an ELS program that no doubt counts illegal aliens as "clients"...
No. Strike that word "counts." Because I'd bet anything that no id's are required... but even if I'm wrong and some form of identification is requested, I submit that there's no way in hell any effective "verification of citizenship" is taking place.
But listen... even if we're talking legal residents - even citizens - the bottom line remains that we're spending money we don't have; spending money that government borrows and we and our children and future generations are on the hook to pay.
Hey... I want these people (the ones who are here legally) to speak English. In fact, speaking English should be one of the requirements up front in order to gain lawful residency status in this country, let alone citizenship. But this is all besides the point. Once again... the point is that we're spending money we don't have and I look upon this particular instance of government largess as representing the problem in microcosm.
Folks... this expenditure is one grain of sand in the sand dune of irresponsible fiscal policy we know as government. But, folks... it's the sand grains that make up the sand dune.
The politicians are destroying this nation. They're destroying our nation... they're dooming our Posterity.
To those of you who live within the political boundaries of the Monroe-Woodbury School District I urge you...
Contact your New York State Assembly Member.
Contact your Member of the New York State Senate.
Contact Governor Paterson.
Contact John Hall, our United States Congressman.
Contact U.S. Senators (supposedly) representing New York Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Or... continue to do nothing... stay silent... sit back and watch the politicians bankrupt America and one day when your grandchildren and great grandchildren ask you how and why you allowed their birthrights to be stolen you can respond...
Folks. I'm begging you. GIVE A DAMN!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Peoples representatives can't seem to help themselves from from attempting to ingratiate themselves with the voters - adding injury to insult... using the voters own money and "credit line" to do so!
Perfect example... H.R. 3548 - the so-called "Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act.
Basically, the bill extends unemployment insurance benefits for up to 20 weeks - extending jobless benefits in all states by 14 weeks and allowing beneficiaries residing in states where the official unemployment rate is above 8.5% an additional six weeks of unemployment checks - thus coverage for another 20 weeks in total.
(And of course nothing stands in the way of the House, Senate and President Obama "providing" additional add-on benefits - perhaps an additional additional 14 or 20 weeks worth of payments - once the current add-on benefits expire. According to the news article I'm relying upon, our free spending politicians have already twice lengthened the time people can receive checks to as much as 79 weeks, depending upon the state.)
In addition to the new unemployment spending (at a time when the national debt stands at more than $12 trillion dollars with the 2009 national deficit alone weighing in at $1.4 trillion), H.R. 3548 also extends the "emergency economic stimulus" $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers into the middle of next year and creates a brand new $6,500 tax credit for those who buy a home after living in their previous home for at least five years.
Oh yeah... and by "home" the President, Nancy Pelosi and 402 of her fellow House Members and Harry Reid and 97 of his fellow Senators mean not just that small starter house or roomier family home; nope, our elected representatives in Washington were "kind" enough to legislate that if you have the kind of money it takes to move into a McMansion (as the owner, not the cleaning lady or nanny) - say a $799,999.99 Westchester NY "estate" - you too get a kickback courtesy of... well... the rest of us.
Proposed Bumper Sticker: Schmucks Unite!
Folks... we're the schmucks.
Just as with the ill thought out and ultimately regressive "Cash For Clunkers" program, the "have nots" and even those one might refer to as the "have less" silent majority are being forced to subsidize "the haves" and the just plain "right place, right time" contingent with their personal spending and lifestyle choices.
To everyone who isn't planning on "taking advantage" of the government's "free money" - tough noogies.
To those of you who scrimped and saved to buy a home prior to this latest example of fiscal irresponsibility coming out of Washington - too bad; you lose! (But, hey... the government will happily raise your taxes to fund someone else's McMansion tax break!)
As to the unemployment payments extension...
I've been unemployed. It sucks.
I've collected unemployment insurance - which I paid premiums towards - in the past. I was happy to get the money.
In fact... if memory serves... I was once unemployed during a time where my benefits were extended.
And you know what... full disclosure: Those benefits acted as a cushion for me to avoid considering the more unpalatable employment options which are always open to people when and if they're truly desperate for work - any work.
Listen. Long story short, political reality acknowledged, Republicans couldn't have stood in the way of this legislation had they wanted to. There aren't enough Republicans and there certainly aren't enough conservatives. That said, here's the proposal I would have made:
If Congress is going to borrow the money (and ultimately as long as the federal government runs deficits and as long as there's a federal debt we'll always be referring to borrowed money) to extend unemployment benefits for up to 20 weeks, they should do so in such a way as to discourage beneficiaries from being either too "picky" or too sanguine concerning the possibility of further extensions.
Let's say you've been receiving $500/week in unemployment. You've now exhausted your 20 weeks worth of benefits; you've received $10,000 in cash benefits total.
Now let's say the government decides to extend your benefits for another 20 weeks. Should we be talking another $10,000? I say no.
What I propose in this situation is that your first "new" check - drawn on "extension funding" - should remain $500. However... your next check would be for only $475.
The check after that... $450.
The check after that... $425.
Do you see what I'm doing; what I'm getting at?
After the first week, each additional week you lose 5% of your original unemployment "compensation." The extension itself is the carrot; this weekly diminishment is the stick.
Cruel? Well... if you believe my proposal is "cruel" then certainly - logically - you must believe in unlimited unemployment eligibility. I mean... if it's "cruel" to ween recipients slowly off of what our British cousins call "the dole" then how much crueler is it to envision ultimately removing the "safety net" of unemployment compensation cold turkey?!
Folks... our elected representatives are spending us into oblivion. It must stop! But as I've just demonstrated... it's not stopping. Deficits spending has been accelerating. Debt is increasing at previously unheard of rates! And folks... whether the politicians voting for these irresponsible and destructive policies are turned out of office at the next election or the one after than or whether they retire years from now at a time of their choosing, they will proper and live happily ever after in luxury. Their pensions will be secure - secure and generous.
Are you as confident that your golden years will be lived out in similar comfort..???
Anyway... something to think about.
Here's one more thing - a shout out to the twelve courageous and principled Members of the House who dared to vote "no" on H.R. 3548:
John Shadegg (R-AR); Steve Scalise (R-LA); George Radanovich (R-CA); Tom Price (R-GA); Ron Paul (R-TX); Tom McClintock (R-CA); John Linder (R-GA); Scott Garrrett (R-NJ); Trent Franks (R-AZ); Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Michael Burgess (R-TX); and finally - last but not least - Paul Broun (R-GA).
What I want to know is where were the rest of the self-described "conservatives?"
Michelle Bachmann...??? I'm very disappointed in you.
* Note --
I just called Congresswoman Bachmann's office to try and get a straight answer as to why she voted "yea" on the final bill - the bill as passed by both Senate and House and signed into law by President Obama on November 6, 2009. I was told by a staffer (sorry, I didn't get the young lady's name) that Ms. Bachmann hadn't voted "aye," that in fact she had voted "nay."
Unfortunately... that young staffer was a bit... umm... confused.
While Bachmann did in fact vote against the House bill on September 22, which is all well and good, (82 of her House colleagues joined her in fact) as the young staffer should have known, the vote that mattered was the vote on November 6, 2009 on the House-Senate conference "melded" bill which passed 403-12. Bachmann's was not one of the "nay" votes.
Members of the RSC...
I expect you to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Sorry, folks, but those of you insisting that the Ft. Hood murders (13 killed, at least 29 wounded) qualify as a "terrorist attack" against America on U.S. soil are wrong.
9/11 was a terrorist attack...
The first bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993 was a terrorist attack...
October 12, 2000 - the attack on the USS Cole - that was a terrorist attack...
Nidal Makik Hasan is a criminal, a murderer, a traitor... but as far as I can tell he doesn't fit the definition (my definition) of a "terrorist."
Was he part of a domestic terrorist cell - a "home grown" extremist group? Not that we know of.
Was he working under the control or guidance of a foreign terrorist organization or foreign government? Again... not that we know of.
If further investigation points to either of the two above scenarios turning out to be the case then yes, I'll withdraw my assertion, admit I was wrong, and label Hasan a terrorist. But until then...
Is Hasan a Muslim? Yes. Self-described.
Is Hasan the type of individual we refer to as a fanatical Muslim Fundamentalist, an "Islamic Jihadist?" Yes. No doubt. Again... from what we know it appears beyond any doubt that Hasan thought of himself - thinks of himself - as a "Jihadist."
Basically Hasan is a criminal. His crimes were hate crimes - violent, murderous, treasonous hate crimes. They were political in the sense of being in the service of his religious and political ideology. Still, this doesn't make him a "terrorist" in the sense of the word as I've always used it.
Does a bank robbery create "terror?" A mugging? A rape? Are these "terrorist" crimes simply because they create terror in the victim? How about a non-violent economic crime such as a scam that steals every red cent out of a senior citizen's nest egg? Certainly even those of us nowhere near retirement react in horror - in "terror" - to the thought of our life's savings suddenly disappearing... and what that would mean.
I'm not playing word games here. I'm trying to use real world examples which explain and hopefully buttress my point.
Was Timothy McVeigh a terrorist? Yes. I believe he was. What makes McVeigh a terrorist in my eyes and Hasan simply a nut... a murderous nut, but still just a nut?
Recall... McVeigh worked with others - Terry Nichols, James Nichols, Michael Fortier and Lori Fortier - in the conception, planning, and ultimately the execution of the bombing of the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. McVeigh was involved in a conspiracy... an anti-government conspiracy.
A self-describe Catholic/Christian fundamentalist assassinating an abortion doctor... is that terrorism? Does it matter if the killer works alone or whether he is part of a conspiracy? How about if the motive is personal - say the doctor has performed an abortion on the killer's wife without his, the husband's, the father's, knowledge or approval? What if religious tenets have no bearing on the decision to murder the doctor?
Oh... and of course there's this: What if "anti-government" sentiment has nothing to do with the "terror inducing" crime of murdering an abortion doctor or even bombing an abortion clinic...??? Can terrorism be defined separately from its component as a political act?
See where I'm coming from? Again, I'm not playing word games. Is all arson "terrorism?" No. Is some arson terrorism? Yes. How about assassinations of political figures? Is Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme a "terrorist?" Sarah Jane Moore? John Hinchley Jr.?
Listen... I could go on like this all day and so could most of you reading this. My point is...
While I can see where people are coming from when they refer to Hasan as a terrorist, those same people should bear in mind that others of us don't believe Hasan's murderous rampage was "the first successful act of terror on American soil since 9/11."
Those of us in the "it's not terrorism" camp aren't trying to downplay the horror of what Hasan did; at least I'm not.
We're not - at least I'm not - trying to "ignore" that Hasan considered himself a practicing Muslim and viewed his act a religious act of Jihad.
What I'm saying is that Hasan was a nut...
What I'm saying is that Hasan was a Muslim nut...
What I'm saying is that I expect Hasan to be tried, convicted, and executed and in my view this is exactly what he deserves.
All this said... while I certainly see Hasan's crimes as treasonous - thus marking Hasan as a traitor by definition - I view it as a mistake to label his criminal behavior "terrorism."
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
For Christ's sake... it's Veterans' Day - November 11, 2009.
Halloween is less than two weeks past!
Thanksgiving is slightly more than two weeks away...
ENOUGH WITH THE EARLY CHRISTMAS MARKETING...!!!
Santa was at the mall this weekend. He SHOULD be at the North Pole supervising toy production!
Listen... I love Christmas...
I love the Christmas season...
The Christmas season starts not after Halloween... not days before Veterans' Day... not on so-called "Black Friday"...
Nope. No way. The Christmas season commences on the First Sunday of Advent; this year - 2009 - the First Sunday of Advent falls on November 29th. Period!
Rather than "get me in the mood," the only thing that merchants achieve by bombarding me with "Christmas Spirit" prior to Advent is to piss me off.
Listen. I'm a capitalist. I understand commercialization... marketing... trying to get a jump on competitors and grab market share early... but this is getting ridiculous!
There's such a thing as RESPECT!
I want Jesus shown respect. I want Santa - jolly old Saint Nick - shown respect. I want our kids - and my fellow adults - to view the Christmas season as more than a race for trinkets. I want Halloween and Veterans' Day and Thanksgiving to be shown respect for what they represent and not to be seen as simply preludes - part of the countdown - to Black Friday.
That's how I feel.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Anyone who has ever been mattress shopping knows what a pain in the neck it is.
First of all, the mattress manufacturers create lines of mattresses and within these lines are distinct models.
Sounds reasonable, right...?
The thing is, these models are named differently depending upon the retailer. Thus, it's almost impossible to compare apples to apples - or in this case mattresses to mattresses.
Anyway... as friends and regular readers know, I'm a "best bang for the buck" kinda guy and my focus is on comparative value rather than straight price per se.
So... as of now I'm deciding between the King Koil XL-100 and the Serta St. Charles Extra Firm, part of the Perfect Sleeper line and sold exclusively at Macy's.
Folks... you may at this point be asking yourselves, "What the heck...? Why is Bill telling me about his mattress buying adventures...???"
Fair question! Short answer... why not...?!?! It's my blog! At this particular moment in time my focus is not on national or world events, but locked like a laser beam on replacing my worn out old mattress. For those who would rather focus on more... er... important issues... head on over to Drudge. There you'll find stories such as:
New York State Will Be Broke Before Christmas...
Gold Price Hits Record High As Dollar Wanes...
Freddie Mac Posts $5 billion Loss...
Banks In GA., MI., MN., MO., CA., Closed...
...and so on and so forth.
Nope! Me... my concern is getting the best new mattress I can at the best price!
Hey... final comment: For anyone else who is in the market - or soon will be - for a new mattress, here's a great website I found which I'd term "must reading" for the perspective mattress buyer.
Good luck... and God Bless American...!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Well... don't expect a great deal of cheer from me.
The good news: Virginia. As Liz Sidoti of the AP put it, "Independents who swept Barack Obama to a historic 2008 victory broke big for Republicans on Tuesday as the GOP wrested political control from Democrats in Virginia..."
Yes, the GOP swept Virginia last night; conservative Republicans as far as I can tell. That's good news. As Bob Rayner of the Richmond Times Dispatch wrote, "It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Bob McDonnell's comfortable win in the race for governor of Virginia; not because it necessarily portends a GOP sweep in the 2010 midterms, but because it serves as a model for conservative and Republican victories in battleground states across the country."
Rayner continued, "there's no doubt that McDonnell ran as a clear-cut conservative -- as did his running mates for lieutenant governor and attorney general, who both won..."
Well hip-hip hooray - based on the campaign rhetoric at least. Now let's see how McDonnell governs.
As to Chris Christie of New Jersey...
Yeah, yeah... he won; the Republican challenger won big in one of the bluest of the blue states. Cause for celebration...? Not really.
Christie is just another Jersey pol. He's "conservative" in the same way Al D'Amato was "conservative" - meaning more emphasis on the label than the underlying reality as measured by legislative action. Christie reminds me a bit of Trent Lott - or Tom DeLay without the brains. Christie is a guy who - IMHO - will say or do anything if he thinks it'll help him in the short term. Christie is a guy - again, IMHO - lacking intellectual firepower... especially as it relates to formulating economic policy.
We'll see. I hope I'm wrong. Time will tell.
Which leads us to... the bad news:
We can debate the reasons he lost; we can blame Gingrich, blame Scozzafava, blame Hoffman himself... but in the end the only thing that matters is that Hoffman lost. The Democrat, Owens, won with approximately 49% of the vote - 49% of the vote in a district that is registered Republican (and therefore you'd hope would lean conservative) 174,221 to 123,299.
Well... Owens has a year in office till Election 2010. We'll see how he does. We'll see what happens next year.
Final thought... Newt Gingrich is dead to me.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
If you're going to finance government through income taxes, then it seems to me only just that all citizens earning income contribute to the governmental tax coffers.
Unfortunately... that's not how the current federal income tax code works. Google the phrase "percentage of Americans paying no federal income tax" and you'll get approximately 13,900,000 hits. Cutting to the chase... the answer... depending upon which news organization is reporting the facts and which analysis they're relying on... somewhere between 43% and 49% of the American population pays no income tax and a substantial number actually receive "negative income tax" federal payouts.
According to the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, in 2009 approximately 47% of single filers, 38% of joint filers, and a whopping 72% of heads of households will pay no federal income taxes.
This is unacceptable. This is blatantly unfair! This is policy madness which subverts our very democracy, endangers our beloved Republic by deliberately separating Rights from Responsibilities.
Yes. We must all "pay our fair share." Generations have been raised on this simple dictate. But how can paying NOTHING in federal income taxes while others pay 35% of their adjusted gross incomes in federal income taxes alone be seen as "fair?" In my view... it can't be.
If we're going to stick with the concept of a federal income tax, I say we throw out 99% of the existing IRS code and move towards a flat tax - or at least a flatter tax.
In the following paragraphs I will outline my concept of a fair income tax. When I insert numbers - tax rates - these are just for illustration; no firm numbers are set in stone. In short, I'm simply attempting to set up a model for discussion.
First... what is income? Is a $20 check to your nephew on his birthday or at Christmas "income?" No.
What happens when a wealthy father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, or anyone else gives "baby Joey" a birth gift of $13,000 and each year from then on another birthday gift representing the then maximum allowable "gift" amount? Well... it seems to me that each check should be taxable "income" to "Joey."
I could dedicate this entire post to just this facet of taxation, but I won't. You folks get the point, right? We need to draw the line in the sand somewhere when it comes to "gifts" vs. "income," but bottom line, in the real world, we can and must do a better job in separating the two distinct concepts than the present legal equivalency between a $20 bill and thirteen grand.
In theory I'm for a plain, simple, one all encompassing flat rate. In the real word... that just ain't gonna happen. So... Plan B:
The 2009 federal poverty threshold for a individual American is roughly $11,000.
Now... two points prior to continuing --
1) I purposefully focus on the INDIVIDUAL because I believe all rights - and all responsibilities - rest ultimately upon the shoulders of the individual.
2) In line with my philosophical beliefs regarding individual freedom and responsibility, my upcoming tax proposals will focus upon the individual. How individuals choose to relate to one another - group together as families, bring children into the world, live with a lover or lovers, live alone, live with roommates, choose not to bring children into the world... whatever - is each individual's own business and in my view the government should neither subsidize nor penalize personal choices via the tax code.
(So... where was I...??? Oh, yes...)
Reality being what it is, let's create twelve tax rates:
Taking the federal poverty level of approximately $11K as our baseline, I propose that those earning $1.00 thru $550.00/yr. pay a one percent (1%) federal income tax rate and additional earnings beyond $550.01 thru $16,500/yr. be accessed at two percent (2%).
From $16,500.01/yr. thru $22,000... let's make it a three and a half percent (3.5%) federal income tax bite.
$22,000.01 thru $27,500... five percent (5%).
$27,500.01 thru $33,000... seven percent (7%).
$33,000.01 thru $44,000... ten percent (10%).
Interestingly enough, $44,000 is not simply the approximate national poverty threshold times four ($11,00 X 4); it's also approximately median male income nationwide.
Hey... if a "tithe" has historically worked out for God... then it should do for the U.S. government based upon middle class wages.
$44,000.01 thru $66,000... seventeen and a half percent (17.5%).
$66,000.01 thru $88,000... twenty percent (20%).
$88,000.01 thru $132,000... twenty-seven and a half percent (27.5%).
$132,000.01 thru $440,000... thirty-two and a half percent (32.5%).
$440,000.01 thru $1,760,000... thirty five percent (35%).
For every dollar over $1,760,000.01 ... federal income taxes accessed at thirty-seven and a half percent (37.5%).
Now if you think twelve separate rate "ledges" are too many... fine; it's the concept that I'm highlighting. The proposed rate "ledges" are for illustration; they're not meant to be set in stone absolutes.
As to how I apportion these "ledges," these rates...
Again. Fine. You have quibbles? Take it up with the accountants. President Obama and the Democrats who control the House and Senate have given set the 2010 federal budget at $3.6 TRILLION.
Operating under the "concept" I've just outlined... what rates at what "ledges" will it take to bring in $3.6 TRILLION?
Listen. Understand. I'm for cutting spending. Unfortunately the politicians in Washington aren't. So... if "The People" in their supposed wisdom refuse to throw the bums out and install Representatives and Senators who will cut the spending... well... then the tab is on us, folks.
Right now we're foisting that tab on - in the form of debt requiring repayment with interest - to our children, grandchildren, and the way things are going... our great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.
But, hey... I digress...
Back to my philosophy on taxation:
No write offs. No loopholes. If we're gonna stick with an income tax then stick to the income tax - period. You pay based on your income, not on how you choose to spend it.
My nieces and nephews model. They get paid. They should pay taxes.
The parents of these nieces and nephews - my brother and sister in law - they're married. Good for them! I remember enjoying their wedding! That said... this status of "married" should neither add nor subtract from their tax responsibility; nor should their status as parents.
You wanna buy a house...? Buy a house! But no write-off for mortgage interest. That's your business. If people wanna buy houses that's their business. If people wanna rent apartments that's their business. No tax breaks, no tax penalties. That's my housing tax policy.
Give to charity? GREAT! I do too. That's your business. That's my business. Our only "reward" should be the good feeling we get by doing good.
Are you getting the picture, folks...? I'm an American. I'm for individual rights, responsibilities, and freedoms. I'm for fiscal sanity and TRUE economic justice, which isn't socialism, but rather, is a reflection of the fairness of opportunity, not outcome.
I'll make my lifestyle choices; you make yours. I'm not asking you to subsidize mine; don't ask me to subsidize yours.
Unfortunately, as already mentioned, our government "of the People, by the People, and for the People" keeps on irresponsibly over-spending money collected from those of us who pay federal income taxes and irrationally borrowing (and simply printing) money in our names and that of future federal income tax payers. I don't like it... I don't support their decisions... but these are the folks our democratic process put in power.
This being the case... we all need to have... umm... "some skin in the game."
Monday, November 2, 2009
...is for folks to gift each other AMERICAN MADE products and services.
Each year I travel far and wide - both via cyberspace and concrete highway - looking for American made products to purchase as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.
Forget the cheap Chinese made crap that the big box stores, malls, and department stores try to foster on you. Why stimulate the economy of a nation which wishes us no good when instead our hard earned dollars can buttress local, state, and nationwide businesses owned, run, and staffed by our fellow citizens?
Support a local restaurant - buy a gift certificate for someone!
Booze...? Always appreciated! Wine, whiskey, beer... even vodka... our nation's vintners, distillers and brewers - and their employees - deserve our support! (And, hell... bottles are always good for re-gifting... as a housewarming present... as something to bring along to a party! Bottom line... the gift of booze won't go to waste!)
How'bout gourmet food products? You know, the choices range far beyond Omaha Steaks...
Seriously! Check this out... I want one of those pies...!!!
(And, hey... what's pie without coffee? I get New Mexico Pinon Coffee at Trader Joe's for $6.49 a can! Anyone out there still want to help our fellow citizens in New Orleans? I know I'd be thrilled to receive some honest to goodness Cafe du Monde coffee with chicory; why not stimulate the economy of the Big Easy as opposed to financing expansion of the Great Wall? Finally... a Hawaiian vacation - pricey; some Hawaiian coffee... priceless!)
You're getting the idea, right folks?
Clothing...??? Check out the All American Clothing Company and Union House Apparel.
Folks... com'on... we can do this; we can stick together as a nation!
Utilize the internet. Plug in search terms such as "American Made" and "Made in USA." Throw in qualifiers such as "toys," "games," "tools," etc. They're out there... you just have to put a little effort into looking for them.
Call up our "friends" at Walmart at 1-800-925-6278 and tell the customer service representative who answers that you're a customer and if Walmart wants to retain your business they'll start stocking and selling more American made products. Low prices at the cost of American jobs is anything but a bargain folks.
Call up Sears... 1-800-349-4358
People! You get the idea! We all have our favorite stores - both independent stores and chain stores. Speak to store management the next time you're out shopping. Contact their customer service departments from the comfort of home or from your office. It'll take you but a moment to hunt down a phone number and making a call so as to let America's retailers know that you want their stores to stock and sell American made goods and that those who do will get your business - those who don't will lose it.
Anyway... that's my Christmas message. I hope you take it to heart.
God Bless American and... Merry Christmas... Happy Hanukkah...
Friday, October 30, 2009
Hmm... I suppose with a title such as "Why I Have No Faith In The GOP" some of you may suspect that this post will be perhaps 1,000 times longer than even my recent Key West travelogue!
Nope! I'll keep it brief - focused on a particular exchange I had with a GOP "insider" yesterday.
Read this op-ed by Bill Pascoe.
The following was my response to Mr. Pascoe:
Just read your piece in CQ.
From your typing fingers to God's roving eyes!
(Seriously... has Gingrich lost his mind...??? Is it his wife...??? What's the inside dope?)
Why won't the GOP use the January 2007-Present economic record to indict the Democrats?
I just don't get it. I've brought this up far and wide, emailing the staffers at the RSC, reaching out to anyone and everyone within GOP conservative circles and no response.
Why are not charts ubiquitous showing the rise in deficits and debt month by month throughout the years the Democrats have controlled the House and Senate and since January of this year the White House...???
I don't get it!
In other words, we all know the Republicans - the RINOs - sucked. But the numbers are clear and unambiguous about the Dems sucking WORSE!
My God... a chart such as I describe should be the "front" page of the RNC website and indeed run on all Republican/conservative websites.
Along the same lines we should have charts following price rises of everyday items like Hellmann's mayo that AVERAGE AMERICANS PURCHASE REGULARLY and charts outlining the shrinking size of said products (ice cream used to be sold in half gallon containers, now it's 1.75... tuna used to be 7 oz. cans, then 6 oz., now 5 oz. Whether it's the Democrats "fault" or not shouldn't we be portraying it as their fault...?!?! Shouldn't we be linking Democratic control of Congress and the White House to falling living standards...???
Your getting the concept, right?
Anyway... if you believe what I'm bringing up has merit, for God's sake push the movers and shakers to put my suggests into effect. November '10 is right around the corner.
Well...??? What do you think, folks? Reasonable? On target?
This guy Pascoe is a Republican political operative, a former spokesman for the RNC; you'd think that the logic of the partisan message would get through to him. But no...
Here's Pascoe's response:
Dear Mr. Barker,
Thanks so much for reading, and for taking the time to write.
Re: your question, you answer it yourself -- in order to draw up charts and graphs showing rising deficits and rising inflation in the prices of every day good since January 2007, we'd have to include two years of GOP rule (the last two years of the Bush White House) with less than one year of Democratic rule (the Obama Administration to date).
The country isn't sophisticated enough, in my humble opinion, to understand that "ruling" the country is something done more by the Congress with its taxing and spending decisions than is done by the White House.
So, since your project would require the GOP to call itself out for its behavior less than three years ago, it's going to languish.
That's not to say, however, that your idea has no merit -- just that it's easy to see why the GOP hasn't taken you up on it yet.
This is good material for the conservative movement, and will be forwarded appropriately.
Well, well... there you have it! Allow me to highlight the paragraph that just floored me:
The country isn't sophisticated enough, in my humble opinion, to understand that "ruling" the country is something done more by the Congress with its taxing and spending decisions than is done by the White House.
Can you believe that crap...?!?!
Bad enough that a guy who runs a supposedly "educational organization dedicated to defending and promoting economic economic and political liberty" is apparently uninterested in EDUCATING the American public, but worse, Pascoe apparently believes that it's a viable political strategy for the GOP to turn a blind eye to its own past missteps even if by doing so this serves to provide cover for the Democrats past and present fiscal irresponsibility!
Folks... God help us all... this guy has worked for the Heritage Foundation and the American Conservative Union! You'd think... you'd hope... he'd know better!
In any case, here are the highlights of my response to Mr. Pascoe:
Well, with all due respect, if that's the general consensus of the movers and shakers of the GOP than the GOP is doomed and deserves to be doomed.
Again... with all due respect... such thinking is itself beyond unsophisticated - it's the root cause of the GOP's problem. My God, man... following your "sophisticated" logic the "unsophisticated" public - particularly true conservatives and reasonable independents - would never have realized and reacted to what Bush and the RINO Congress pulled from January 2001 thru November 2006. Following your logic McCain is President because the "unsophisticated" conservatives and independents who the GOP (via simple math, Party registration vs. Party registration) depends upon to win national elections. No, Bill, with respect the American People NOTICED Bush was Bush and RINOs were RINOs and they NOTICED that McCain was McCain.
And that's that, folks; as of yet... no further response from Pascoe.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
It ain't rocket science, folks.
You want some "talking points" regarding what true health insurance/health care "reform" would look like? Fine. Here ya go:
1) Restore the concept of "insurance" to... er... insurance. By this I mean we need to link insurance costs to actuarial reality. As for subsidies, "safety nets," these need to be balanced against fiscal and economic reality. At some point the books need to balance, the math needs to "proof."
2) In line with Point 1, America needs to jettison the concept of "bumper-to-bumper" health insurance providing coverage for routine, usual, and otherwise to be expected medical expenses. The only medical insurance Americans should have - and must have - is catastrophic insurance.
3) Catastrophic insurance from birth till death must be a mandate. Period. The premium costs for minors will be the responsibility of the parents.
4) Insurance must be decoupled from employment and refocused as an individual responsibility. "Employer provided" insurance must be stricken from the American lexicon.
5) Actuarial realities will be and must be "smoothed out" to a certain extent; a social safety net must and will continue to exist. This said... we must as a society recognize that for most there can be no "free lunch" and that medical care must be paid for just as we pay for food, shelter, housing, transportation, entertainment, clothing, and all other human wants and needs.
So... to tie these "talking points" into a (hopefully) more coherent whole...
We're all going to die. Most of us will be hospitalized at some point during our lives. There's a good chance that end of life care - the last weeks, months, or even years of one's life depending upon individual circumstances - will result in extensive health expenditures.
As a general rule of thumb, with age comes illness - at least comparatively. At the same time, reality is that the young are particularly prone to broken bones, woman in their 20's and 30's are likely to have babies, men tend to come down with a variety of "middle age" health complaints in their 40's.
All of this is normal! It's to be expected! It's the cost of life! Americans must accept all this and accept that "insurance" is not for protection against common occurrences, but rather a protection - one funded via premiums, premiums that make economic sense according to the best actuarial science available - against economic catastrophe in the face of extraordinary calls upon normal individual and family economic resources.
There's a reason we don't buy "gas insurance" to keep our cars tanks full.
There's a reason we don't buy "food insurance" to keep the fridge stocked.
There's a reason why when your boiler craps out or your roof needs replacing that you're expected to either tap your savings or borrow in order to deal with the situation.
Americans need to grow up. Grown men and women need to wake up to reality!
One thing President Obama and the Democrats say which is absolutely correct is that the present system is unsustainable. The problem with their arguments is... they're right... but they don't understand why they're right. They don't understand that their proposed "solution" of more socialism and less personal responsibility is the wrong solution, one which builds on the mistaken policies of the past rather than reverses them as is necessary if we're to get out of the mess government policies have steered us into.
It started back during WW-2. With wage and price controls shackling employers with regard to using pay incentives to keep and attract the best workers, employers instead used "benefits" as the carrot with not only the full approval of the federal government, but the subsidization of the federal government. You see, these "health insurance/health care" benefits, unlike case wages, were non-taxable to the employee and a write-off to the employer.
After the War... for political reasons the government stuck to this subsidy policy and today, more than half a century later, we're still sticking to this system that almost everyone of all political and ideological stripes sees as unsustainable in the long term.
My God, think how unfair it is to tie tax free health insurance benefits not only to employment, but worse yet, only certain employment - employment which provides such benefits in the first place. Think about it... such a system creates circumstances where you may have a single mom working three separate part time jobs - none offering paid benefits - to support herself and her children. Let's say this woman's total yearly salary compensation for her 70-hour weeks is $60,000/yr. With no tax free company provided health insurance she pays out of pocket for health insurance - let's say $8,000/yr. Sure, she gets a partial benefit of being able to pay for her out of pocket health insurance premiums with "pre-tax" dollars, but that's a far cry from situation faced by a corporate executive. Consider... you're an executive at a Fortune 50 Company. Let's say you make ten times the single mom's salary - so you're pulling in $600,000/yr. On top of this the company provides you with top of the line family health insurance - the finest money can buy - at say... oh... $25,000/yr. This means that in truth your total compensation is $625,000/yr., but because the health insurance "benefit" is tax free... that additional $25,000 health insurance compensation is tax free to you - to you... the guy making over half a million dollars a year. That's insane! That's irrational on the face of it!
Bottom line... we need less government involvement in health care and particularly health insurance. President Obama and the Democrats will tell you that we need more government regulation of health insurance and health care. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have too much regulation as it is! Think about it... 50 states... each with it's own insurance department... each with it's own insurance commissioner... each with it's own insurance regulations and onerous mandated micromanagement of coverage requirements. Here in New York State I can't even purchase a true catastrophic plan and link it effectively to an MSA/HSA. New York State government denies me this option - this choice! (And folks... New York is not alone...)
Sure. State regulation to ensure transparent, understandable contracts between the insurer and the insured, but that's it. That's where state regulation should begin and end. As for federal regulation...
The federal government should do two things:
1) Mandate catastrophic coverage for all Americans with adults being allowed to opt out only if they are willing to sign away any and all "rights" to government paid for heath care as long as they remain uninsured. (And for those adults who opt out and then choose to opt back in... sure... but this gap would be addressed in higher premiums when they do opt back in - and they could only opt back in after a physical that they paid for showed that they had no pre-existing conditions; pre-existing conditions would not be covered unless they were pre-existing conditions that originally existed prior to the opt-out.)
2) The government subsidized employer provided bumper-to-bumper employer provided insurance must give way to individual and family Medical Savings Accounts/Health Savings Accounts that are coupled with catastrophic care policies which kick in once a certain threshold of yearly or periodic medical spending has been covered out of pocket by the individual and/or family.
Now as much as I may believe in the philosophical case against using the tax code for social engineering purposes, this being the real world and not just "Bill's World" I'm willing to concede that in order to switch from the present dysfunctional system to a MSA/HSA system coupled with catastrophic coverage it might be incumbent to provide for favorable tax treatment of such health care payment and catastrophic health care insurance vehicles. Fine. My basic thrust... we need to create a self-sustaining system to finance health care as opposed to the insurance focused debate presently at the forefront of political discourse.