Friday, August 28, 2009

The Conservative Myth About a "Civilian National Security Force"

Glenn Beck has recently made accusations that Obama plans to establish a Civilian National Security Force.  What is this security force that he mentions?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Much like everything else that Beck commentates on, he has taken out of context and blown out of proportion a comment Obama had made on July 2nd, 2008 (four months before he was elected president and six before he would take office), in which Obama had said the following:
We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded
Beck typically mentions that the reason why you may not have heard alarming news like this is because the media simply does not report it, either because they are in the president's back pocket, or because they are not simply aware of it, but fear not, Glenn Beck will let you know the truth.

What exactly was Obama suggesting?  Some conservatives interpret this security force to be on par with Hitler's Shutzstaffel, commonly referred to as the "SS", or along the lines of what Saddam Hussein had done in Iraq.  In brief, to understand why the conservatives like Beck are frightened, it is because the SS were responsible for implementing the Nazi's "Final Solution", which was responsible for the atrocities during the Holocaust.  Is Obama suggesting the extermination of inferiors, or the creation of a master race?  No.  Glenn Beck would like you to believe that Obama wants to solidify power by establishing a separate force, under his control, and separate from the military, yet "just as strong" and "well-funded", so he can get rid of the opposition, and establish a communist regime.  This sounds like material that makes a good conspiracy theory.  The story outlined by Beck and his fellow commentators reminds me of a book that I had read, The Secret Terrorist, by Bill Hughes.

According to The Secret Terrorist, the Jesuits have a secret plot to take over the United States, and the conspiracy includes the Federal Reserve, the papacy, and even the JFK and RFK assassinations, as well as September 11th.  Conspiracy theories such as this one are ridiculous, and come out everyday, but rarely get an audience.  During the last several years, people had even believed that the Bush administration orchestrated September 11th to solidify power and expand the authority of the Federal government, but that has been dismissed as pure trash, so why have Fox News shows picked up on such crap and try to pass it off as real news, and what exactly does Obama mean by his comment?

Despite what Bill O'Reilly claims to be the "No Spin Zone", which one would believe only applies to his show and not the station, neither his show nor the others featured offer completely bipartisan news.  I do not have a problem with that, except when they attempt to pass it off as the truth, especially such ridiculous exaggerations.  We all learn in high school at some point about yellow journalism, which according to wikipedia "a type of journalism that downplays legitimate news in favor of eye-catching headlines that sell more newspapers", or in this case, ratings.  Subjects commonly include scandals and use unnamed sources (sound familiar), and according to journalist and historian Frank Luther Mott, was defined by characteristics such as scare headlines, often of minor news (like a year old campaign speech), "faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudo-science, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts", and dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system (a Republican minority).  Essentially all that Fox News broadcasts.  I would not be surprised if the blame the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine on Barack Obama, with Fox News personally delivering the apology to Spain regarding the issue.  Since Glenn Beck has gotten free publicity from his "racist" comment, he had lost advertisers but gained viewership.  It also does not help that Obama had received a considerable amount of votes during the previous election and Democrats had won enough seats allowing them a filibuster proof majority, which backs Republicans into a corner.  Rather than be defensive, Republican strategy has involved constant misdirections and stall tactics to get their way, with pundits allied with the party spreading to millions of viewers numerous falsehoods.

What exactly did Obama mean?  The simplest way to find out , atleast for a rational person, would be to ask Obama himself, but I doubt that would happen and I doubt that would help.  To address the situation is a problem in itself, and the Republicans know that.  Also remaining quiet has its downfalls.  To critics, silence can be an admission of guilt.  If the administration were to discuss these accusations, the right would have effectively diverted the President's message, gaining control of the forum.  They also benefit from his response to such lies because those firmly entrenched in the party's rhetoric will not believe any comment made by the president.  To understand more of what Obama was talking about, you would have to understand what the context was.

You can find the entire speech, as intended to have been spoken, here.  During the speech, Obama had deviated from the teleprompter, making the statement above.  When considering the subject matter of the speech, that took place two days before Independence Day, 2008, it is clear that Obama was discussing increased civil service, doubling the size of the Peace Corps by 2011, and involvement in such community organizations like AmeriCorps, which he was involved with in Chicago and President Bush supported.  He had also proposed a Social Fund Investment Network, that would combine the efforts of the "grass roots, the foundations, the faith-based organizations, the private sector and the government".  His mention of a civilian security force was not implying the creation of an American SS, but simply creating a network to improve America, although a bit idealistic in scope, but nevertheless quite the opposite of the group responsible for decimating Europe's Jewish population.

What is also funny is that Glenn Beck is scaring people with a comment Obama had made on the campaign trail last year, and he coincidentally raises these questions during one of the most spirited and political debates in recent history.  He is purposefully trying to distract the media, as well as the administration, from accomplishing their goals of health care reform, and people like Beck and Limbaugh, have no interest in helping anyone but themselves, otherwise they would be advocating bipartisanship or focusing on the parts of the legislation that everyone agrees upon and that everyone believes will create a positive and meaningful impact on society.  For Glenn Beck to dig up a speech from 2008, given in Colorado Springs, where the then campaigning senator was proposing Americans take a more active and responsible role in shaping not only the nation, but the world, with such organizations like the Peace Corps, is just downright despicable.  I recall this particular speech and at the time, I had found it to be inspirational, opening up a dialogue not heard in the political realm for years.  A politician was actually calling upon Americans to do something.

The conservative interpretation is skewed in the wrong direction, and is creating a more divisive nation then ever.  Dig deep enough and you can find comments supporting your beliefs.  In 2007, Obama had announced in Springfield, Illinois, his intention to run for president, and during that speech, he had praised the founders of this nation for designing "a system of government that can be changed".  Was Obama alluding to the establishment of a Communist or Socialist system?  What do these pundits wish to accomplish with their deceptive practices?  Glenn Beck says it best in his book Common Sense in his section titled "Enemies Within: Tread Carefully":
Being honest about your principles means that there can be a real debate on the issues, with the chance of real progress being made.  It's not just the political class who has mastered the art of deception.  There are other potentially deadly masters who will seek to exploit your frustration and sense of desperation.  Many will warn you of government tyranny; they'll talk of secret societies, vast conspiracies, shadow governments, and the need for violent action.  I urge you to stay away from these individuals and those ideas.  There is no "star chamber" that needs to be found and destroyed, and there is no global conspiracy playing out.  The individuals and groups that propagate those lies have their own agendas, but, like all radicals and revolutionaries, they will eventually seek to impose their rules and lifestyle on all of us.
Is Mr. Beck including himself as a "radical" who is exploiting our frustrations, like over health care reform?  He spends a lot of time talking about conspiracy theories (liberal media, sterilants in the water, etc.), secret societies (like STORM, the Apollo Group, Weather Underground, etc.), and tyranny (Fairness Doctrine, Civilian Security Forces, "Death Panels", etc.).  He states that the people spreading the lies have their own agendas, and will seek to impose their rules and lifestyle on all of us (the call from the religious right to ban homosexual marriage comes to mind).  He even states that no real debate or progress can be made, and he specifically uses the term "deception" when describing these actions.  He even warns people about the thought of "shadow governments", yet on his show, he advertised the book Shadow Government: What Obama Doesn't Want You To Know About His Czars from the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee.  Those who have read Glenn Beck's book love him, but really, I read the same book, and I agree with Mr. Beck in his evaluation of the situation, although I believe it to be inclusive of Beck and his cronies, and based on this statement, my position of distrust for the man is further cemented.  

In my opinion, the administration has been taking the high road, and have been fighting emotion with logic, and the Democratic response to Beck's accusations is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.  I am also reminded by the other phrase "speak softly and carry a big stick".  Commonly used when discussing foreign policy, the principles can translate into the national political scene as well.  The Democrats had a big stick in the form of senate seats, political capital, and a popular president.  Republicans have chipped away at that big stick by using their fear-mongering, and somewhat renewed McCarthyism by reviving the proverbial bogeyman, Communism, and evoking the sins of the Third Reich, which the Obama administration is by no way means comparable to.  If anything, the personal freedoms widdled away, and expanded role Dick Cheney had given himself during the previous administration would be more cause for alarm.

I am not calling for the conservative's complete capitulation to the "liberal agenda", but I would like to see more constructive discourse between the two parties.  Both parties have their favorite presidents to reference, whether it is the Democrats with FDR or JFK (they love those acronyms), or the Republicans with Reagan or Lincoln, I am reminded by George Washington, our first president, who had warned in his Farewell Address on 1796, in a  "most solemn manner... against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally", and although I am right now inclined to direct this comment more towards the Republicans, it appears that the wisdom of our first president may have been lost with time.  As always, we do not have the luxury of hindsight with our current events, but history, as well as the philosophies of those who came before us, can be insightful.

For the meantime, Democrats need to be more aware, and be better prepared to combat the lies spread by these pundits.  The Republicans are masters at strategy and propaganda, and so I would like to remind the Democrats of The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, who wrote "知彼知己,百戰不殆;不知彼而知己,一勝一負;不知彼,不知己,每戰必殆", which can be translated as the following, as mentioned on wikiquote:
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.  
This is commonly translated as "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer".

HOAs Try To Reduce Investment Risk By Imposing Restrictions On Properties

A common goal of homeowners associations is to maintain and protect property values, and in essence, acting as insurance for a owner's property value.  Unfortunately, this view is very problematic, inciting discontent between neighbors, because one person's belief in what is aesthetically pleasing or profitable may be another's nightmare.  It is also flawed because it is not a democratic system, but closer to a communist authoritarian rule, run by a volunteer army.  This army cites their covenants and restrictions, and fine, assess, lien, or foreclose on those who do not fall in line. 

My main problem with homeowners associations is that they are corporations that try and govern your rights, and generally do so at the whim of the minority.  Participation in private association government is only a fraction of involvement in our real government.  Associations claim that their system is democratic because you can vote people in and out, but what commonly occurs is a few homeowners decide to be board members, and typically they are the type that want to enforce covenants and protect home values.  Understandably, covenants run with the land, and allow for the existence of HOAs.  They also allow for the homeowners to ammend or abolish them, but homeowners tend to be to apathetic to do so, fearing any cost associated with doing so.  This is the same reason why HOAs have poor attendance and participation. 

Because HOAs claim to be democratic, one would believe that majority rule would be the rule, but in reality, it is not.  Because of the lack of interest in HOAs, they are not capable of getting a majority of homeowners to do anything, and so they establish quorums, which only requires a fraction of the membership to be present, so business can be conducted.  This process can also be used to make changes in the articles of incorporation or by-laws, as well as budgets and expenditures.  Board of directors can even use this process to create rules in charging the homeownership.  As opposed to actually achieving a majority, associations use this process to do the things they want to do with only a small percentage, like in some neighborhoods I am familiar with, where they attempt to do business with less then 20% of the people present.

During the board's meetings, they discuss important things that effect property values and determine the best way to make people's investments better.  Apparently every board member has a business degree, and they must have taken courses that determine risk assessment in home ownership, with chapters in their text including landscaping, external paint colors, trash can placement, and pet limitations.  I view the HOA's involvement as reducing possible returns on investments.

If I sold a car, but told the person buying it that they must only drive 20 miles per hour, I doubt anybody would buy my car.  The same goes for a home.  HOAs limit investment into properties because they try to create a neighborhood standard.   I can't paint my home neon colors because someone on the HOA has considered that spectrum of colors to be a risk, and if I were to, my neighbor's property values would potentially lower.  Why should I care about my neighbor's property values?  If I believe a neon home would sell for more, then I would want my house neon. 

What makes this situation worse is not only unprofessionals joining what legally is a corporation's executive branch, it is when ignorant people rise to power.  They misinterpret statutes annd governing documents, and cause problems for the membership, or even worse, the non-members, who then have to pay to protect their property rights, while the board members can act anyway they want without accepting liability for their actions, especially if they have insurance, and what compiles the problem even more is that HOA's are funded and can raise funds from your neighbors, making an uphill battle for the poor homeowner.

Homeowners should do themselves a favor and legally abolish any covenants tied to their land.  I am certain property values would be better.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When is a Czar a Czar?

To call members of Obama's admistration a czar does not matter.  Conservative pundits latched onto the term and use it to label those whom they dislike.

I'm sure the next member of the Obama administration to gain conservative attention will also be a czar, regardless of actual position or job function. 

Like the terms "death panels", Republicans have found a term that sticks and have applied a negative connotation to that term. 

Bush's War Czar, Katrina Czar, Privacy Czar, and Abstinence Czar did stand up jobs.  As we all know, the war is still on, New Orleans is still a mess, the Patriot Act infringed on our privacy, and Bristol Palin is no longer abstinent...

Should I even talk about Bush's Intelligence Czar, Corruption Czar, Latin American Czar, AIDs Czar, and Copyright Czar?

The GOP Wants to Define Ted Kennedy's Funeral

This is interesting. The Republicans seem to get more hypocritical every day, and are attempting to establish a set of double standards, one for them, and one for the rest of us.

I assume that it was okay for the Republicans to hold their national convention in New York City in 2004, highly politicizing the event and exploiting the deaths of 2,819 Americans.

Although I disagree with the carnival that surrounded Senator Wellstone's death in 2002, and I hope the same does not occur with Senator Kennedy's funeral, to try and discount the funeral as nothing but a pulpit for health reform is ridiculous. Kennedy was known for advocating gender equality, civil rights, and yes, health care reform, and to try and exclude mention of such only because there is continuing national debate, would be wrong.

This would be the same as if President Bush were to pass away today, and Democrats cried that people could not eulogize about his commitment to this nation and national defense.

You may not always agree with the person or the message, but in my opinion, Republicans have to show a bit of respect.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The U.S. Postal Service: A Winning Model For Health Care?

It seems that a common argument against health care seems to be pointing out the inefficiencies of existing systems; it is taking too long for dealers to receive their cash for their clunkers, Medicare is going bankrupt, the post office raised stamp prices...

But when it comes time to fixing the problem, everyone looks the other way. Congressmen don't want changes that may negatively effect their district, but they support these programs. Republicans say they want to reform health care, but they do nothing to change it, and then fight by claiming they are the defenders of Medicare, a system they traditionally hated, but because the elderly are a large voting bloc, they tuck their tails between their legs, like a subservient dog, only to go back to Washington once elected to again act like the alpha male.

The administration needs to consider tough love, and when the time comes, renegotiate contracts with the post office to reduce costs and supply Americans with better services, and Republicans need to do the same and step up to the table to work out some meaningful health care.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

McCain Evicts Angry Woman From Town Hall

McCain had only stuck to his talking points during his town hall, and he stressed certain reforms, but he has not given specifics into what those reforms may be (he had introduced a bill in the senate to import drugs that failed). He had not done anything over his time in the senate to fix health care, even when Republicans had a majority... in fact, Republicans tried to cut Medicare in the past when they had a majority, and we all see how their deregulation had worked with the banking industry.

If the Republicans wanted to avoid the Democrat's reform, why didn't they draft a competing health care bill? Is it because Obama wants reform, and by giving him any kind of reform may be viewed as defeat in the Republican's eyes?

When yelled at outside his town hall about campaign contributions from the drug companies, McCain's response was "really? I didn't know that." Since 2005, McCain had collected over $5 million dollars in campaign contributions from health professionals, but to his defense, over 50% of the top contributors are financial businesses, the remainder being law firms and the government, so maybe the health care is not his top priority.

I do not see any real reform coming anytime soon from the Republicans.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Senator of 47 Years, Dead at 77.

Timely passing of Senator Ted Kennedy overtakes day's news coverage; puts health care reform criticism on back burner.  Dems expect to get bump from Kennedy funeral.  

Fox News claims "death panels" played significant role in death; Republicans call for Congressional investigation, more town halls.

Son and Rhode Island representative announces Camelot still alive.

This specific blog is meant to be satirical and by no means meant to be disrespectful to the Kennedy family.  Condolences are offered on behalf of the author. 

First "Gang Of Six" Member Backs Reconciliation For Health Care

The use of reconciliation is a dangerous move that can haunt Democrats next election. I find it peculiar for a procedural action to make its way into the debates, but it appears the conservatives have jumped on this newest headline, much like the infamous "death panels" and recent "death books", in their fight against reform.
Conceptually, majority rule sounds appropriate, but considering the opposition facing the legislation, I believe that the Democrats should avoid this option at all costs. Fox News is already telling Americans that Obama's approval is below 30% (using 'Strongly Agree/Strongly Oppose' numbers rather then overall approval), and they are telling their viewership that they represent the majority. For the Democrats to resort to a simple majority supports the belief that they lack support for their legislation, even though they may be able to get more than 50 votes.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where Are Washington's Mavericks?

During the election, we heard the word "maverick" thrown around a lot by presidential and vice-presidential candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin, but now that the election is over, where is the reaching across the aisle?  Palin toots her own horn about how she acted as a bipartisan governor, but now she tweets and facebooks about how her baby named Trig, with Downs Syndrome would be put in front of "death panels" under the Obama health care proposal.  McCain's suggestion was that the Democrats drop a government option... but what else have the Republicans done that is real mavericky recently? 

What exactly are some of the Republican legislative health care proposals?

John McCain's proposal during the election focused on a shift to consumer based insurance, increasing individual choice and responsibility.  One issue that McCain had mentioned was allowing the purchase of health care policies from insurance companies nationwide, instead of being restricted to in-state companies.  This would surely help increase competition in the marketplace and breakup regional monopolies.  He had also referenced during his campaign the reduction of certain regulations, both federal and state, to help streamline the process and reduce costs.

These ideas were mentioned a year ago, but where have the Republicans been since then?  I have seen an occasional Republican legislator talk about tort reform, but then they shift back to the scare tactics of "death panels" and ballooning national debt.  They have gotten the average American upset, with claims that health care would be rationed and you would lose your current  insurance plan under the administration's new policies, and now the republican National Committee has shifted gears, trying to court the most powerful lobbying group, the AARP (whom by the way the AARP are frustrated with, but I will address that later), which boasts 38 million members, and voter demographic, senior citizens, with their new Republican Healthcare Bill of Rights for Seniors.  The RNC website states the following:
America’s senior citizens deserve access to quality health care and coverage that will not bankrupt them. Republicans believe that reforms to America’s health care system are necessary, but that reform should first do no harm, especially to our seniors.
  This sounds oddly like what Democrats have been saying, since health care is a leading cause of bankruptcies.  The Republicans are sure to point out that although reform is necessary, their reform should not harm those (especially seniors), which implies that the current reform is harming those it is intended to help, especially seniors. It seems a bit hypocritical that Republicans, who claim health care reform is socialist in nature and will lead this nation into communism, argue for defending socialized care for the elderly, in the form of Medicare and Social Security.  If you look at the sentence above, which is simply a introductory statement to their health care plan, then you would see how they subtly differentiate socialized medicine for the elderly and for the rest of us.  They recognize the status quo is not working by the statement that reform is "necessary", however they do not want to cause any harm to seniors, who already collect socialized benefits.  Is it safe to say Republicans prefer Medicare for the elderly, but reform for the rest of us?  Considering figures state that 47 million people are uninsured while the seniors in America, according to the census, is roughly 37 million, so it would be reasonable to question why one group of citizens (of lesser size) are getting preferential treatment, especially from the Republicans (considering they used the word "especially" when discussing senior benefits?

The intended results of the Republican's Bill of Rights is to "protect medicare", "prohibit government from getting in between seniors and their doctors", "prohibit efforts to ration health care based on age" (which I believe is effectively done with Medicare), "prevent government from interfering with end-of-life care discussions", "ensure seniors can keep their current coverage", and "protect veterans by preserving Tricare and other benefits programs for military families".  Not only is it a complete contradiction with conservative beliefs, the Republicans are pandering to not only seniors, but veterans, using exaggerations of interpretations, while offering little or no alternative to the plan they attack.  It makes sense to try to indulge lobbyists and their membership, considering how much money is spent on lobbying each year.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, spending on lobbying has more than doubled in the last ten years, which makes the prospect of winning over an important group that much more lucrative, both politically and economically (especially considering elections are approaching and campaign donations are a legal form of bribery).  So you also have a better idea of who else your elected officials represent, here is a graphic (too large for me to include on this site) of the various lobbyists linked to the Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee, and in all fairness, another interactive graphic for the Democrats can be found in this article from The Huffington Post.  The Republicans offer the Bill of Rights, but what are they doing to ensure the Bill of Rights?  Nothing, and that is the complaint that the AARP has with it.

Although the AARP welcomed the Republican statement, they dismissed it as nothing more than misleading and alarmist.  According to John Rother, the AARP's executive vice-president, "The debate as I see it doesn't even focus on health care, it is all about the role of government and the importance of the federal deficit" and he is correct.  The focus has been on the budget, with the dissenting Democratic voices being those of the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs.  The AARP is frustrated that the Republicans have not put forth any proposals of their own, and considering their opinion of the legislation supported by Obama, where the Rother had stated that that they the AARP has analyzed the legislation and that "the proposed Medicare savings do not limit benefits, they do not impose rationing and they do not put the government between patients and their doctors", so this raises the question, why are the Republicans dead set against this reform?

The divisions within the Democratic party are evident, otherwise Obama would have had this bill on his desk before his vacation, but the Democrats are divided as usual, but so are the Republicans.  Some are willing to make proposals, but the majority of the party has decided on a strategy of inaction, opposing the Democrats, and attempt to build momentum, presumably to help dethrone the Democrats during next years elections, and why not?  It appears to be a worthwhile strategy.  If they can maintain public dissatisfaction through their manipulation of the media, they may be able to influence a couple elections, where Democratic legislators seek reelection in conservative districts.  The only problem with that is in the meantime, nothing gets accomplished, and the only positive talking point the Republicans maintain is that they were against it from the start, eliminating any kind of flip flopping.  For those who have taken that stance, they are locked in, and any deviation will give them the appearance of being weak, although the base would spin it as they usually do.  For those who are "mavericks", they face the possibility of being roped in with the naysayers, and as for the Democrats, either liberal, regular, or blue Dog, they have to answer to their constituency regardless, solely because they are the party of the sitting president.

What confuses me more than the Republican's opposition to reform, without any conservative proposal of their own, is how they are attempting to become the party that represents the interests of Medicare recipients.  The spiritual lead of the Republican party, Ronald Reagan, had proposed cuts in Medicare totaling $1 billion dollars back in 1981, out of a total budget of $40 billion ($2,339,344,300 in 2008 dollars).  Even as recent as the nineties, Republicans have tried to slash funding for Medicare, while simultaneously pushing their "Contract With America", and in some regards, the Bill Of Rights proposed by the RNC is remarkably similar to the Contract, except the Bill Of Rights lacks any corresponding legislation to back it up, so essentially the RNC is relying on tough rhetoric.  One other major difference is back in the nineties, the Republicans were able to gain a majority in congress (one that they would keep until 2006).  The Republicans now face the same dilemma, except this time they are offering Americans nothing more than lip service, and it seems to be having an effect, at least for now.  With claims that the Republicans are resorting to scare tactics to get their way, the RNC essentially agrees, stating that Obama had done so in the campaign against John McCain, and what comes around goes around.

Considering the bill opposed by Republicans, H.R. 3200, better known as America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,  it is curious as to see what the Republicans have been doing with their spare time, other than mangling the true meaning of this 1017 page bill, and even using the length of the bill as a negative talking point, with conservatives claiming the horrible things enclosed, regardless of whether or not they had actually read the bill themselves.  Legislation has been proposed by Republican congressman, such as The Patient's Choice Act by Senator Burr (R-NC), Senator Coburn (R-OK), Representative Ryan (R-WI), and Representative Nunes (R-CA), which is similar to the Republican Study Committee's Empowering Patients First Act, which provides refundable tax credits to patients who wish to buy a private plan, with Medicaid continuing to cover the disabled.  Another proposal by Democratic Senator Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Bennett (R-UT) is The Healthy Americans Act, which guarantees health care for all, with the freedom of choice over individual health insurance plans, make medical care portable inbetween jobs, provide incentives for prevention and wellness and healthy lifestyles, establish cost containment, and allow the average American to have the same level of coverage as their members of congress.   

Although the bipartisan Healthy American bill sounds too good to be true, one interesting figure mentioned in The Patient's Choice Act is that $60 billion is wasted annually due to Medicare fraud.  It seems obvious to me that the potential for savings from fraud prevention, coupled with the increased taxes (on those making upwards of $350,000 per year) and the spending cuts, as well as Obama's deal with the pharmaceutical industry to cut costs for the elderly, the projected annual costs for the reformed health plan would be like music to any fiscally conservative's ears.  It would also make sense to me that the Republicans would want to support cost cuts to medicare, if the costs are the result of increased efficiency and adjusting payment schedules.  Essentially Medicare is the same as private insurance, with the costs of medical care being offset by customers who purchase insurance premiums, or in Medicare's case, a pay-roll tax levied on all workers.  Simplistically, a healthier, and in Medicare's case, a younger generation pays into a system for future coverage, while the elderly benefit immediately.  Because the Republicans are against the reform bill, but for Medicare, you could pretty much argue that they are for taxing the majority of Americans, particularly the middle class, in the form of a payroll tax (this is the same argument they had used recently raise in cigarette tax), and I would equate any reduction in the cost of Medicare as a reduction in taxes, although I doubt the government would be willing to put that money back into our pockets, but if spent wisely, and a greater system can be established to benefit the whole society, I would think the investment would be worth it.

One other argument I dare to make, although I worry I shouldn't because it indulges the conservative fancy, is the hypothetical question of "What if seniors lose their Medicare?"  In theory, they would be picked up by the universal coverage, so really, what is the gamble for the elderly?  In reality, there is none (unless you believe in "Death Panels"), but if the truth were to be told, it may discredit the RNC's Bill of Rights that much more.  The end result has seniors insured, so why are the Republicans trying to court them, and in essence, the largest lobbying group for a single interest, other than to try and spread the appearance that they are the party to trust in, because the Democrats obviously don't care about the elderly, especially if you consider the much misquoted comment made by Obama, suggesting Grandma merely takes a pain pill and prepares to die, rather then endure a pointless surgery.
I would also like to consider the belief that Republicans, being free market thinkers and champions of the entrepreneurial spirit, represent the interests of not only people, but small businesses (owned by people).  A concern addressed is that by creating a so-called public option, businesses will opt to shift from the current employer-employee relationship, essentially dropping insurance policies, causing more people to enter into the government system, but is that necesarily bad?  In order to make any government system work, you would need more people paying into the system then those accessing the system (which could be viewed as a simplified reason why medicare is not working).  Maybe this is why most small businesses support a government option (refer to graphic I found online).  Also considering the reality that small businesses, which make up roughly 50% of the gross domestic product, freeing up costs associated with not only with insuring employees, but maintaining healthy employees in a future system, such reform may be a tremendous gain.  Also considering the percentage of small businesses that make up health, finance, and insurance industries, entrepreneurs may find the new system to better promote competition.  To illustrate that point a little better, I offer another pie chart, but this time in color:

With Health Services around provided by small businesses accounting for 9% of that industry's GDP, and Finance and Insurance at 8% (granted that this figure includes services not associated with the health care industry), even a slight increase would infuse more money into smaller, regional businesses, and as famously associated with Reaganomics, the flow of money would trickle down back to the people.  Currently, America's health care system is controlled not by the government, but by a select few corporations, that essentially dictate who is "eligible" for coverage, and who is not, either by definitions of a network or by other clauses such as a pre-existing condition, and for those found to have a pre-existing condition, finding coverage is near impossible and if a situation arose regarding that condition, the person denied coverage would shoulder the exorbitant costs.  Is this fair?  No, but it is the corporation's prerogative to turn a profit for it's shareholders, so any person with a conditioned deemed a liability would simply be denied, and forget about making a claim, or you may fear being dropped, and as we are all familiar with the story of Humpty Dumpty, even his insurance couldn't put him back together again.

Considering the vitriolic debate that has been occurring throughout the nation regarding health care reform, with conservative pundits stoking the fire while Republican candidates just sit back and watch, it makes you wonder where that "maverick" attitude went.  John McCain had overused that term during his campaign, and I had begun to believe that it was true, that he would work along side political opponents to get the job done, and not to say that he has not, but it increasingly appears as if the attack ads played last year, that described McCain's voting record to be more in tune with the views of President Bush, held more truth.  One thing to consider is that McCain is also up for reelection in 2010, and he just may be one of those Republicans caught in the middle, but considering his recent mention in the news, McCain seems to be playing the politician, smartly distancing himself from the ridiculous claims, such as "death panels", but at the same time lending credence to the concerns of the misinformed.  Look at his interview with George Stephanopoulos, when asked if he believed in Palin's "death panels", McCain responded:
Well, I think that what we are talking about here is do -- are we going to have groups that actually advise people as these decisions are made later in life and ...
And when told that it is not in the bill, McCain defended his position, claiming that the bill does not explicitly mention "death panels", but the vocabulary is "a little bit ambiguous".  Ambiguous?  McCain referenced a provision that called for a board to study the most effective measures to provide health care to people, but he feels that allowing for such studies to be done is a slippery slope into rationed health care because the bill did not specifically state that the board's jurisdiction was limited, and would have no impact on individual interaction between a patient and their doctor, and would only serve merely to provide statistical data.  McCain also supports Palin's claims, halfheartedly, by stating that Republicans proposed an amendment that would clarify what role these "death panels" would have, and the Democrats rejected inclusion of the amendments, supporting arguments against the bill.

Although John McCain lost, he still raked in over 58 million votes, which would equal a good amount of political capital, but unfortunately he was pushed out of the way when the Republicans scrambled to find leadership.  President Bush had intelligently decided to stay out of the public eye for a while and refuse to criticize President Obama.  Dick Cheney, who was widely unpopular also remained out of the light for the while, leaving policy to be interpreted by conservative pundits, who tend to lean farther right then the actual right, and with Republican base ralliers like Sarah Palin scratching at the national headlines, it is only natural that a progressive Republican would be pushed aside.

Even Republican leadership has it backwards.  House Republican Leader John Boehner states on his website that veterans, seniors, doctors, and small businesses do not like the proposed bill.  The veterans are worried that they would lose their government benefits (in exchange for universal coverage?). The seniors are worried access to health care would diminish, even though the AARP has dispelled those rumors as nothing but scare tactics.  The doctors are worried about regulation of the market and government mandates, and small businesses are concerned that they wil be shouldered with a large portion of the bill, that will cause them to reduce the size of their businesses, costing jobs.  He stresses that the proposal aims to cut over $300 billion from Medicare, which will result in lower health care quality for America's seniors.  I thought Republicans were for less government interference with the free market, but to maintain high opperating costs for Medicare would only increase the government's involvement in the industry.  I understand the veteran's fears because they had gotten the short end of the stick before, with wounds from Vietnam still open, and I also understand the concerns of small businesses, who are trying to make their mark in the free market.  According to the World Health Organization, there are 1.5 million physicians in America, and Representative John Boehner mentions that several medical societies and associations representing 43,000 doctors wrote to House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Waxman that they opposed the bill.  This number represents less than 3% of all physicians, with the amount of American physicians in support of the legislation actually increasing.  As for small businesses, they have much to gain through tax credits, and with studies point to the smallest of businesses that offer insurance saving $3,500 per worker, and according to the Joint Tax Committee, 96% of taxpayers with any business income would not see an increase in their taxes.

When will a Republican take the reigns of their party, and fight back?  When will we have one of these self proclaimed mavericks hammer out a deal with Democrats to help make meaningful legislation that would benefit America?  When will they fight corporate interests and reduce waste and fraud within the existing bureaucracy?  When will our elected officials accept responsibility?

All these questions are important, but when will anyone listen?  Inaction is not the best policy, because in the long run, the public is getting screwed.  Politicians need to do what is right and allow the results to speak for themselves at the election booths, and if the Democrats really cared about the electorate, more so than their own political career, then they would push through this legislation, and not let irrational fear (both their's and the public's) take over.

Glorious Basterds

Presumably most people are familiar with Quentin Tarantino's newest film, Inglorious Basterds.  Obviously by the title of this review, my opinion of the film will be for the most part favorable.  The movie has two main intersecting story lines; that of the "basterds", a group of Jewish-American soldiers who kill Nazis in France, and one that follows Shosanna Dreyfus, a Jewish girl who escapes execution, who later runs a theater where her story intersects with that of the "basterds".

In my opinion, the characters were played beautifully.  My typical complaint with Quentin Tarantino is his poor dialogue and somewhat redundant diatribes, but it seems that he had grown in this latest film.  Each character expressed themselves believably.  The Nazis were believably Nazis, the Americans were believably Americans, the British British, and so on.  Surprisingly, the movie was filmed in various languages as well.  Characters spoke German, French, English, and a little Italian, and when they were not speaking their native languages, they spoke with an accent, and when not speaking their native tongue, a reasonable explanation was given.  This movie was not filmed with a bunch of Shakesperean actors creating the next great masterpiece, but a multicultural cast, with the actors and actresses hailing from their character's respective countries.

I had only a couple complaints about the movie, but they are not really complaints, rather things I did not enjoy as much, but when edited in my mind, the movie would be perfect.  My complaint is with Tarantino's typical flourishes.  When the character Hugo Stiglitz is introduced, the movie cuts away, displaying in a huge font his name.  Although only a second of time, I found that this type of camp more akin to his movies such as the Kill Bills or Deathproof, but for this film, it seemed to diminish the quality of the film.  Minus the introduction text, this might have enhanced the movie, considering it was the only instance so it seems to stand out in my memory.

The second complaint I have is the separation of the movie into "chapters".  Unlike other films that seem to play out of sequence, this movie follows a coherent time line, but each section is titled, much like in Kill Bill, and is separated into five chapters.  Although it seems as though the chapters are independent of each other, with each building on the last, it seems as though the definition of the chapters become blurred further into the movie.  A simple "four years later" would have sufficed.

My last complaint would be the choice of using David Bowie's Cat People (Putting Out Fire).  I do not mind that the song is not a period song.  The majority of the music from the soundtrack consisted of spaghetti-western genre music, with the exception of a couple, and David Bowie's song being one of them.  Maybe it is a preference; I do not like that particular Bowie song, but I think another song would have been better suited.  To give you an idea, the song is played during a montage involving Shosanna preparing for the film premier that would be held at her theater.  Lyrically, the song somewhat captures the moment, although I am certain Tarantino would argue differently, but for me I just did not get it.

Minus my faultfinding, I had found the movie to be excellent, with perfectly timed, action, drama, suspense, and comedy, and would place this at the top alongside Pulp Fiction (not a big Reservoir Dogs fan, although I appreciate the film).

Friday, August 21, 2009

An Analysis of Palin's Writing's From Her Political Action Committee Website

I have decided to visit, Sarah Palins official political action committee. Reading the contents of the page, I found them to be interesting and thought I would share my opinions.

I would like to analyze her Latest News section first, starting with her article "Palin Announces No Second Term", which is presumable written by none other than Sarah herself.

It begins with Sarah Palin saying hello, and then giving a brief history of Alaska.
We were purchased as a territory because a member of President Abe Lincoln's cabinet, William Seward, providentially saw in this great land, vast riches, beauty, strategic placement on the globe, and opportunity. He boldly looked "North to the Future". But he endured such ridicule and mocking for his vision for Alaska, remember the adversaries scoffed, calling this "Seward's Folly". Seward withstood such disdain as he chose the uncomfortable, unconventional, but RIGHT path to secure Alaska, so Alaska could help secure the United States.
I love the use of the word "providentially". This paragraph sets us up for the next Palin statement.
We're strategic IN the world as the air crossroads OF the world, as a gatekeeper of the continent.
She has now defined Alaska as a strategic geographic location, which reminds me of Ukraine, the buffer state, in Risk. Doing a simple search on Google about the strategic importance of Alaska yielded many positive results, and I would come to the conclusion that Sarah Palin is correct; Alaska is strategic. According to the long dead General Billy Mitchell, regarded as father of the "Air Force", "whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world." I believe Sarah Palin may be onto something.

I decided to look into the strategic importance of Alaska, and how it relates to the "air crossroads OF the world", as well as "gatekeeper of the continent". Considering the latter, Alaska is a giant land mass consisting of a multitude of terrains that sits in the northern hemisphere bordering Canada to the east. From some parts of the west, you could actually see Russia. As for the "air crossroads", Palin is right again. Alaska sits on top the polar axis of three continents, which gives America air accessibility to those continents, and vice versa, which means Alaska can potentially play a defensive role in protecting the remaining lower 47.
Bold visionaries knew this - Alaska would be part of America's great destiny.
Apparently, Sarah Palin visited the same website I had when I Googled Alaska's strategic importance. According to that website, General Mitchell testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives about the importance of air power in Alaska, and he held the belief that although the technology at that time made Alaska seem in significant in the global scheme of things, eventually technology would catch up to the geography of Alaska, and the vast distances would be overcame. This must be what Palin was alluding to during her interview back when she was hot on the campaign trail. For those who forgot, I will cut and paste it below (I can't get enough of this quote):
It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.
Now that we have national security out of the way, lets see what else is in store for us as we make are way through Palin's Latest News.
Our destiny to be reached by responsibly developing our natural resources. This land, blessed with clean air, water, wildlife, minerals, AND oil and gas. It's energy! God gave us energy.
I love the above statement. Palin calls for "responsibly developing our natural resources". I assume she refers to Alaska when she says "this land", and so I assume that she means that Alaska is filled with abundant resources, such as wildlife and minerals. This is a far cry from the Palin popularized by, um, Palin, with the shrill cries of "Drill baby, drill!", and by utilizing all of Alaska's natural resources, those wolves that are hunted from helicopter must be going to some great use, like upholstering furniture, or feeding Alaska's poor.

Doing a quick Google again, I was able to find some of Alaska's resources in an article. While Palin seems to stress oil and gas with her capitalized "and", and her evocation of God and his gift of energy, the mineral resources offered by Alaska are great, including nickel, zinc, lead, gold and silver. Alaska seems like the greatest, richest place to live, but when we look at the entire statement made by Palin, we must consider the clean air and water. Mining the wilderness would sully the landscape with not only unsightly facilities, but numerous pollutants, but I forgot, Palin does not believe in global warming, and so pollution must be a liberal myth, used to scare the average Joe into submission.

Done with the environment, Palin now shifts to a good pat on the back with this next statement:
So to serve the state is a humbling responsibility, because I know in my soul that Alaska is of such import, for America's security, in our very volatile world. And you know me by now, I promised even four years ago to show MY independence... no more conventional "politics as usual"
Should I even mention the infamous Gravina Island Bridge, more commonly known as the "Bridge to Nowhere", connecting Ketchikan, Alaska to Gravina Island. We all remember the corrupt Republican Senator Ted Stevens vehement support of this bridge, protesting the consideration of diverting funds from this bridge (that would be as long as the Golden Gate Bridge and taller than the Brooklyn Bridge) to disaster aid for areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. When asked if she would continue funding of the proposed bridge, Palin responded "Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now – while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." I am also reminded of her blatant cronyism, appointing high school friends to government posts, as well as her unethical pressuring of the termination of her former brother-in-law, as well as her numerous other ethical violations, like having the state pay for her to live in her own home or for the travel of her brood. I guess she did not mean that when she said she would be independent, and no more "politics as usual".

In relation to the above, skipping ahead on her website, Palin goes on to say "We cleaned up previously accepted unethical actions; we ushered in bi-partisan Ethics Reform." Really?
We also slowed the rate of government growth, we worked with the Legislature to save billions of dollars for the future, and I made no lobbyist friends with my hundreds of millions of dollars in budget vetoes... but living beyond our means today is irresponsible for tomorrow.
Let's discuss her lobbyist friends. As mayor of Wasilla, she employed a lobbyist firm, Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, with close ties to Representative Don Young and Senator Ted Stevens, to secure almost $27 million dollars in federal earmarks for her small town of 6,700. The account was managed by Steven W. Silver, who was a partner in the firm. Silver also listed as a client Jack Abramoff's firm, and Silver was involved in lobbying the federal government on various matters, such as 'issues relating to Indian/Native American policy,' and 'exploration for oil and gas'. Silver had also donated to both Steven's and Young's political and reelection committees. Palin had appointed Cora Crome as her fisheries-policy adviser (fishing is Alaska's largest single-industry). Crome had previously worked for United Fishermen of Alaska, an industry lobbying group. Her appointed Lieutenant Governor was a former Oil Lobbyist and legislator, and during her campaign, she had collected over $13,000 in her 2006 campaign for governor from lobbyists representing the oil industry. That does not sound like she made any lobbyist friends.

I would also like to look at the last sentence of the above paragraph, "but living beyond our means today is irresponsible for tomorrow." Not only does this sentence seem misplaced, this seems contradictory considering her statement regarding the Bridge to Nowhere, where she had wanted to continue appropriating money for a bridge that would cost nearly half a billion dollars to transport 50 people back and forth, simply because the political climate was right to get her that money... this does not seem responsible, but rather opportunistic and "politics as usual".
And we made common sense conservative choices to eliminate personal luxuries like the jet, the chef, the junkets... the entourage.

And the Lt. Governor and I said "no" to our pay raises.
Apparently, a pay raise would have been bad, but wastefully spending money is good. Palin had used a government "per diem" allowance to charge the state for residing in her own home for more than 300 nights. She had also spent another $43,490 on travel for her family. I guess these are not "personal luxuries", but business as usual for Palin.
We are doing well! I wish you'd hear MORE from the media of your state's progress and how we tackle Outside interests - daily - SPECIAL interests that would stymie our state. Even those debt-ridden stimulus dollars that would force the heavy hand of federal government into our communities with an "all-knowing attitude" - I have taken the slings and arrows with that unpopular move to veto because I know being right is better than being popular. Some of those dollars would harm Alaska and harm America - I resisted those dollars because of the obscene national debt we're forcing our children to pay, because of today's Big Government spending; it's immoral and doesn't even make economic sense!
Apparently the elected officials of Alaska thought otherwise, and had decided to accept all those "debt-ridden stimulus dollars" that Palin believed would allow "Outside" interest to take control of the state... does she mean the Federal Government? She praises herself for looking out in the best interest of the people of Alaska, but she refuses money that is just sitting out there. The stimulus package was already passed. They don't put that money back in a vault... they give it to someone else, and if Palin is too stupid to realize that, and trying to play politics at the expense of her constituents, then that is her prerogative, as wrong as it may be. I also find it arrogant that she takes the stance that she is "right" and would rather be "right" than "popular". As an elected official of a Republic, you represent the citizens that put you in office, so to believe that you are "right" implies that everyone else is "wrong".
Another accomplishment - our Law Department protected states' rights - TWO huge U.S. Supreme Court reversals came down against that liberal Ninth Circuit, deciding in OUR state's favor over the last two weeks. We're protectors of our Constitution - federalists protect states' rights as mandated in 10th amendment.
Reviewing U.S. Supreme Court cases, I had found two reversals made. In June decision, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling, throwing out a tax imposed by an Alaskan city on oil-carrying cargo ships using its port, deciding it was unconstitutional. In another case, the court reversed the decision in the case in which a convicted rapist was denied the right to test the DNA from crime samples against his own, and at his own expense. The first ruling hardly looks like a decision in "favor" of Alaska's state's rights, and the second relates only to Alaska because the supposed rapist is from Alaska. Should I quote the 10th amendment for Palin? According to, the 10th amendment "restates the Constitution's principle of federalism by providing that powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states are reserved to the states or the people." Considering her affirmation of the amendment by citing two judicial victories, it would appear that the first case involved the state overstepping its boundaries by imposing a tax, which the U.S. Supreme court deemed unconstitutional, and the second seems to overturn a traditionally conservative viewpoint, which denied a person DNA testing, who was found guilty by a jury of their own peers. The only decision I found that would be consistent with Sarah Palin's beliefs is the Supreme Court ruling that a mining company can dump slurry, a mixture of wateral and solid materials, into a lake, which will effectively kill all marine life, and this matter dealt with permitting and jurisdiction issues (between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers), not state's rights.
Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I've been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations - such as holding a fish in a photograph, wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters' questions.
She was found to have violated state ethics laws last year in the "troopergate" scandal, and considering the most recent ethics complaints, although some may be baseless, Sarah Palin was forced to pay back taxes on her "per diem" income in one case and to reimburse the state for charging up her children's travel expenses in another case. She aso effectively attacks the public by calling people who have investigated her has "political operatives". Palin has a journalism degree, and she should realize that "digging for dirt" as she so puts it is also known as investigative journalism. What ever happened to the Republican mantra, used when defending the Patriot Act, that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear. Palin played her political cards poorly, filing a costly ethics complaint against herself, and since the hand did not play out in her favor, she has decided to rewrite history, making herself the victim in a series of wrongful accusations regarding her performance as governor. Apparently these complaints have yielded some results, or Palin would not have paid her taxes and reimbursed the state.
And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn't run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks... travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade - as so many politicians do. And then I thought - that's what's wrong - many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and "milk it". I'm not putting Alaska through that - I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! ? That's not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old "politics as usual." I promised that four years ago - and I meant it.
I assume Palin has had her fill of traveling "around the state", and to the "Lower 48", or overseas, especially during her time as a vice presidential candidate... Does she not realize the costs associated with her resignation, calling special sessions of the legislature?
Some Alaskans don't mind wasting public dollars and state time. I do. I cannot stand here as your Governor and allow millions upon millions of our dollars go to waste just so I can hold the title of Governor. And my children won't allow it either. ? Some will question the timing. ? Let's just say, this decision has been in the works for awhile...
I think Palin has this statement backwards. She and her children had wasted so much public dollars.
My decision was also fortified during this most recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl, to visit our wounded soldiers overseas, those who sacrifice themselves in war for OUR freedom and security... we can ALL learn from our selfless Troops... they're bold, they don't give up, they take a stand and know that LIFE is short so they choose to NOT waste time. They choose to be productive and to serve something greater than SELF... and to build up their families, their states, our country. These Troops and their important missions - those are truly the worthy causes in this world and should be the public priority with time and resources and NOT this local / superficial wasteful political bloodsport.
It wouldn't be a political message if there was no mention of the troops... and there is some of that "overseas" travel she mentioned, unless she means Kosovo and Landstuhl, Alaska!

This was an interesting exercise. My final conclusion from reading through Sarah Palin's Latest News is that she has no capability of establishing relevant relationships between world events and her life. If fact does not conform to her ideas, she is willing to force it to fit, without consideration for those whom her decisions may affect.

Fair Taxes, Please

I believe the Fair Tax should be actively explored by our elected officials as an alternative to the Federal income tax.

The positive aspects of adopting such plan would truly be fair, allowing people to control the amount of taxes they pay, and increasing family's disposable income. With all Federal income taxes repealed, including such taxes as estate, gift, and capital gains taxes, the IRS would be rendered useless, and the cost of such operation would be dramatically reduced from its current $12 billion dollar budget. By creating a Fair Tax, you also give people responsibility and a voice. The poor and middle class can exercise their spending wisely to reduce their own taxes and if their is a possible dissatisfaction with the government, people can help shape public policy by reducing consumption, and in essence, reducing the taxes. The creation of such a system would also eliminate loop holes, that are typically exploited by the wealthy. Having such a tax could also help the government collect greater taxes from illegal aliens and foreign travelers.

Unfortunately, the negative aspects are daunting to elected officials, with the high percentage rate typically scaring off the weakhearted. It appears to me through reading on the subject that the pros outweigh the cons. Unfortunately, I don't see such a tax being passed anytime soon, but one can hope.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Obama's Radicals and Subversives Gain Government Posts

A lot of conservative opposition has voiced their opinions since Obama was elected, ranging from the insulting Limbaugh, the rude O'Reilly, and the idiotic Palin. We have heard of "death panels" and the move towards communism, so I figure I will dig through the internet to see what exactly conservatives consider to be Obama's communist death squad.

I had found a perfect start. Through my research, I had come across an article by Bob Ellis of the Dakota Voice, who had already cataloged the radicals and subversives Obama had appointed to positions. These people now have high ranking government posts to promote death, the homosexual agenda, and the undermining of the military. I figure I can name a few of them from his articles and see what I can find.

First he mentions Thomas J. Perrelli, who was nominated for Associate Attorney General. In case you were unaware, he represented Terri Schiavo's husband, eventually manipulating the courts to murder Terri by starvation back in 2005. He was also co-captain of the Fairfax All-County Math Team in high school.

Mr. Ellis then lists Elena Kagan for Solicitor General, a reported "lesbian and a radical proponent of homosexual rights" who supports gays in the military.

Thirdly, Dawn Johnson was nominated for Office of Legal Council. She apparently worked for one of the most radical, liberal groups out there, the American Civil Liberties Union. I never realized that protecting the rights of Americans was a radical idea. By that logic, our founding forefathers were radicals for fighting for all that was outlined in the Bill of Rights. I forgot, she also does not define a fetus as a person, and differentiates between fetal rights and the rights enjoyed by people. I actually disagree with Johnson on this matter, and believe that the fetus should be protected, considering it is genetically a human that is developing through a symbiotic relationship with a pregnant woman, but everything else Mr. Ellis believes to be a radical view is just preposterous.

Mr. Ellis had a lot to say about David Ogden, who was nominated for Deputy Attorney General. Apparently he is also for abortion, the sexual and medical rights of adolescents, sodomy (based on his involvement of the case Lawrence v. Texas, where he filed a brief supporting the homosexual defendants) as well as homosexuals in the military, access of pornography for children, the protection of pornography producers to shoot material without verifying their actors and actresses are 18, restriction of capital punishment on minors, and in the acceptance of foreign judicial opinions in American courts.

There are also the countless other subversives, such as Harold Koh, who currently serves as Legal Adviser for the Department of the State, who believes what he calls "transnational jurisprudence", and like Ogden, believes America does not have a monopoly on liberty, equality, and privacy, and should incorporate lessons learned from the international community, and Rosa Brooks, adviser to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Fluornoy. Rosa Brooks was an ardent critic of President Bush, as well as American military action, such as the surge in Iraq. Did I forget to mention that she is a "crony"of George Soros? I also forgot to mention Soros, who according to the drawing I found outside my polling place depicting Obama being lynched by a couple people, who claim Soros controls the Democrats and Obama is only a "puppet".

Most recently, I have been told that Obama had nominated a Weather Underground communist buddy as the green czar. He is also an un-American environmentalist extremist and his name is Van Jones. Jones admits that he was a communist, and reports have shown that former Weather Underground supporters have contributed to Jone's groups such as the Apollo Alliance, Green for All, and Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM). Because he had connections with such radical groups, and because of his environmentalism, he is an enemy of our capitalist system, and his appointment is just a display of Obama's true colors, much like the placement of activist judge Sotomayor on the bench.

Basically, the only good nominee must be a god-fearing free market capitalist conservative who hates gays and foreigners, pornographers, communists, women, Earth, minorities, economists, pregnant women, math, and anything else that does not conform with the right wing of the right wing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is Glenn Beck Lying About

I had recently come across video from Glenn Beck's program where he discusses the website, and in particular, the security statement posted when a dealer submits a transaction to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to Glenn Beck, once you agree to the Privacy Act and Security statement, a warning pops up onto your screen. Beck prepares to give an online demonstration of the warning, having a camera pan onto the laptop screen while he waits for the warning message. Coincidentally, the website does not load the page and Beck has the producers pull up a quote of what is said on the pop up message. According to Fox News, the warning states the following:
This application provides access to the DoT cars system. When logged onto the CARS system, your computer is considered a Federal computer and is the property of the U.S. Government. Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized CARS, DoT, and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.
Glenn Beck had advised his viewers to not perform this test while he did it for you on television. Out of curiosity, I had decided to visit the website. It took me a while, but I had finally found it, after realizing that this link was only for dealers who were submitting the paperwork for an acceptable car.

I had read through the privacy and security statement and clicked on the "I agree" button to see what Mr. Beck was warning me not to do. The following screen appeared on my computer, and I have included a screen shot for those who wish to follow Glenn Beck's advice. You can even visit the page here.

In case you can't read the screen shot, I have copied the text from the "warning" for all to read:
You are accessing a U.S. Government information system. This information system, including all related equipment, networks, and network devices, is provided for U.S. Government-authorized use only. Unauthorized or improper use of this system is prohibited, and may result in civil and criminal penalties, or administrative disciplinary action. The communications and data stored or transiting this system may be, for any lawful Government purpose, monitored, recorded, and subject to audit or investigation. By using this system, you understand and consent to such terms.
This warning is far different from the one that Fox News displayed on their screen, so this makes me question as to why, conveniently, Glenn Beck could not load the real screen, when it loaded on my computer rather quickly. I guess this can also feed into conspiracy theorists absurd beliefs regarding the Obama administration...

Here is the program of Glenn Beck, as found on YouTube, in case you missed it:

The Republican Party Is Turning Into A Cult

I feel that I am a reasonable, rational Republican, but I have been pushed out my own party. I have been told by "true Republicans" that I am not a Republican at all, but instead a "Conservative Democrat". My positions have not changed but apparently I have moved farther to the left.

From what I have observed and read over the past few years, the Republicans believe that they represent a majority of Americans, and they lost because they compromised their beliefs and moved closer to the center during the previous election, and now it is time for their pendulum to swing back to the right, but this time stay there. This delusional mindset is manipulating those with "faith" in the party, and those same people are acting against their best interests unbeknownst to them.

Why is it they believe they must retreat to the base to win elections when, year after year, it is the rational moderate voter that determines elections? I was registered Republican, but I voted for Obama. In the right's eyes, I simply do not exist. Must they forget "Reagan Democrats" and "Clinton Conservatives" helped decide the fate of two presidents, one being their equivalent to the conservative messiah, who must be invoked in any speech they give?

I am reminded of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, and believe the recent criticisms are just another example of GOP swiftboating. When will the "moderates" stand up against demanding truth and civility?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Town Hall Gun Show

Obama had stated the following back in April of 2008,
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
I think this is interesting because now you have reports of Americans showing up to town hall meetings brandishing firearms. Although it is their constitutional right, I think it is increasingly alarming, considering the level of emotions at these meetings, where people are crying, yelling, and causing disruptions, not to say that that is horrible, but just alarming. Obviously these people are bringing out the guns as a form of protest, because the right wing interpreted Obama's above quote as an assault on the Second Amendment (remember the Homeland Security report on home grown terrorists too), as well as recent claims that he is looking to socialize medicine, and in turn, the nation. I also find it interesting when pundits call the United States a "Christian" nation...

Did Obama call it?

I feel that the GOP propaganda machine has been working overtime, introducing its newest props... Americans. Much like the famed flip-flops of 2004, the GOP is pushing the buttons of working Americans. The plan is simple. Upset the people. The people go to the polls. The people elect good conservative Americans to office. Now that they are upset, they are doing what the GOP has told them to do... cling to their guns and religion and they are bitter against people who are not like them. Granted this quote is more about isolationist sentiment, I think it bears some relevance to the recent events.

What confuses me is what I hear about Obama. I hear he is a communist, his "czars" are registered communists, he wants to control my life, he is going to take away my right to bear arms, my free speach, etc. etc. etc. It sounds more like "Demolition Man" with Sylvester Stallone except Obama plays the role of Dr. Raymond Cocteau. Why must Republicans paint this impressionist picture the administration? They are acting like a bunch of rabble rousers.

Back to guns. When I think of the second amendment, I think of two things. First, I consider the times when the constitution was drafted, and secondly, I think of the language used in the amendment itself and how it relates to the average American. Given the technology of the military today, do you really believe a well-armed militia can defeat the army, navy, air force, or marines? Times have changed from the colonial era. You could also look at the language of the amendment. Does it protect militias, or everybody? My understanding and interpretation is that everybody is to be protected, and considering the recent Supreme Court ruling that determined the District of Columbia's handgun ban to be unconstitutional, they had also found that the amendment was not "unlimited". I agree with the saying that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws would have guns, but to a certain extent. This brings to mind the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, allowed to expire by President Bush. So what is the point of all this?

What are these protesters, who choose to tote their guns, trying to say? Do they want to carry machine guns on the streets to protect themselves from danger? Do they want to rise up against a tyrannical form of government by use of force? Do they simply want to hold onto their handgun for protecting their family? Do they even know what they are standing for?

I believe they are concerned about this nation, just as much as anybody else, but are being misled (mostly by right wing pundits) to believe their rights are slowly being chiseled away... but not like they were under the Patriot Act, but I'm sure these same people would feel the Patriot Act is, well, patriotic.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Really... What is a Majority?

What is a majority?

It seems I hear from a lot of conservatives that they are the majority. Considering last year's election, a conservative majority must mean 46%, because that is exactly what the McCain/Palin ticket got. To believe that represents the majority would be delusional.

I have even heard that Obama's approval ratings have consistently dropped, with the newest figures I heard from the majority being 43% and 37%... and they told me it was true because it was on the news. Curious, I turned on my computer and typed away to every pollster's website to see the newest numbers and to my surprise, they hovered around 50%... maybe conservatives don't know how to read a poll, considering the only numbers I see are in regards to those who "Strongly Agree" and "Strongly Opposed", with those numbers being 31% and 40%, respectively. According to the Rasmussen Reports, overall, people somewhat approved of Obama's job performance by 49%, and Gallup polls over the weekend had that number at 54%. I am sure you can get a greater disparity in approval ratings if you focus on a particular issue (Health Care, Iraq, etc.), and I am sure that this is exactly what conservatives are doing.

Essentially, the conservatives have taken a course of action, engaging in perverse electioneering, playing with the numbers, blaming the liberal conspiracy, spreading misinformation or reporting incorrect data, and claiming they represent the public... and they do this while not offering any alternatives, so they appear to be not part of the problem, but the solution, but really they are the problem (I should state they are taking a course of inaction). To bad there are no God Samaritan laws in Washington to prevent our elected officials from not representing their constituents by playing political games that are downright damaging to not only the truth, but to our nation. Maybe then politicians would do something instead of being bullied by the conservative pundits that mislead the ignorant.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sarah Palin Claims Victory On Death Panels: "Gratified"

This is just another instance of Palin indulging in her Orwellian interpretations (shall we remember her "vindication" after her ethics investigation and her views on the First Amendment during the campaign).

I too at first thought it be best that Sarah Palin leave the national scene, but keeping her around does more harm to the GOP than good, although they see it the other way around. She is throwing out falsehood after falsehood, and the media is constantly shooting them down, like wolves being hunted from a helicopter, with only the GOP base as a positive sounding board.

Sure, she would convert some independent voters to her warped ideology, although the "I" word better associated with those people is "ignorant", but she would solidify the intelligentsia... you know, that group of people that were ostracized during the last 8 years, such as the scientists spreading hocus pocus disguised as global warming and evolution "theories", or god forbid, an alternative to the Patriot Act or No Child Left Behind (with both being aptly named).

The one problem with that is the GOP develops superior bullies, and they will stop at nothing to knock the taped-up glasses of the American public off into the mud.

Lets just hope Palin continues to tote around, and exploit, baby Trig with her, although there is a great possibility that Trig will grow up to say something of far greater substance than his mother ever would... wait... now that she is no longer governor of Alaska, who will pay for her to bring her spawn around with her? Maybe one of her slush funds.
About Sarah Palin
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Condo Vs. Cemetery... Condo Wants Property AND Ability To Dictate Other's Land Usage

An article by Ben Rubin at discusses a cemetery that plans to extend the usage of their land to make room for more plots, but unfortunately a condominium complex that shares a property line is upset by this decision because the residents do not want to look at gravestones. The condominium owners were happy looking at the planted trees that the cemetery owners have planted as a buffer.

The condominium's solution is simple... sue the cemetery, claiming rightful ownership of the property, due to a concept in common law called "adverse possession". This is when the title of another's property is acquired without compensation. In this particular situation, the land in question is owned by the cemetery, but the condominium is claiming that they should be the rightful owner.

Apparently, after conducting a survey, the condominium had discovered that they had constructed part of their parking lot on cemetery land, in addition to maintaining a plot located on the border of the property, measuring 60' by 400'. The cemetery trustee, David Mcleod, had stated that the cemetery plans on using "every inch of land that's usable," while a resident from the condominium had absurdly stated that that they don't "think that they need to build out so much and have so much space". Imagine someone telling you that you cannot build on your property because you don't need "so much space"... A comment on the article by a homeowner even goes on to state that the "small strip of land was on the original site plan approved with the county. At no time was it apparent that Oakhill was right next to us. Our common property is separated from the cemetary by the large Nyack Hospital parking lot and a strip of protected woodlands." They also go on to state that the "cemetary has not been in contact with us about a fence as the article implies"... apparently someone had made a mistake somewhere in their drawings, but as I have learned, you can file anything with the county, regardless of whether it is correct. I also think it to be humorous that they feel the cemetery should talk to the condo about erecting a fence on the cemetery's property!

There is the classic argument made by residents of HOAs and condominiums and that is "if you don't like it, move." I have heard this comment made by many of my neighbors when I have raised a couple issues, but unfortunately, those same people feel that any change around them is also theirs to control. The cemetery by all rights should have the condominium's parking lot removed from their property, or make some arrangement for the association to buy or rent the property, instead of the condo dictating to the cemetery what they can do with their own property. If they are afraid of property values declining, maybe they should pack their bags before some gravestones start heading their way towards the border, and had anybody considered the thoughts of the recently deceased? Do they really want to spend eternity looking up at a condo?