Sunday, May 31, 2009

National Healthcare: Why Another Trillion Dollars? Something Doesn't Add Up!

  • Fact: No one in this nation can be refused healthcare at any one of our hospitals. It is the law and it the reason why most of our hospital emergency rooms are clogged with colds, flu, and broken arms that need medical care but would have been better treated --- at an extremely lower cost --- by a family practitioner or at some clinic.
  • Fact: In a country of 300 million people, about 16 percent of our population -- 46 million people -- don't have medical/healthcare insurance.
  • Fact: The cost to cover the medical cost of the uninsured is already in the healthcare system. That is why the majority of hospitals, clinics, and doctors remain profitable. The majority of the uninsured's expenses are being picked up the medically "insured" of this country in their own family insurance programs (See Full Story). The remainder of the costs are covered by our Federal government and by the individual states in various assistance programs; by out of pocket expenses; and, by charitable organizations.
Just focusing on the fact that uninsured healthcare costs are already being absorbed by the "system" in various fashions and assuming that Obama is claiming that he will reduce healthcare costs in America; then, why is Obama asking for $634 billion over the next decade (See Full Story) as a down payment on his Nationalized Health Care system. Some experts actually expect that cost to be double that number because of government waste and fraud that will result in higher costs for nationalized heath care.

However, any of this additional expense makes absolutely no sense. If the costs already are in the system and Obama is promising to reduce healthcare expenses across the board, the cost of a nationalized healthcare system should be, in theory and at the very worst, a zero-sum game. This is especially true if you assume that a lot of uninsured medical care is being doled out at emergency room rates; and those rates can be as much as 10 times the cost of a normal doctor's office or clinic visit.

As I have vehemently stressed before in this blog, the elephant in the room that everyone is ignoring when it comes to health care is litigation (See my May 17 blog entry). Beyond this, we need to get people out of the hospital emergency rooms and into less expensive care. Maybe state or federally supported clinics might do the trick? But, the bottom line is that health care is already 16% of our Gross Domestic Product and Obama wants to up that ante with billions of dollars more in federal expense. Does that sound like a cost savings to you? All the money we need for national health care is already out there. We just need to find a way to better utilize it. This means that some thought must go into the formulation of a national health care system for America... It must be outside the political arena and not involve the Federal government and all the waste that usually goes along with that type of program. As a country, we should not be rushing, as with the stimulus program that still has yet to be spent, to just spend money and to get "any" nationalized healthcare system, good or bad, because it was this President's campaign promise! Let's get all the healthcare service suppliers and the government together to put a real plan together that doesn't have all the pitfalls of those in Canada and Europe. For once, can we use the best and brightest and not the dumbest and dimmest of Washington, D.C. to decide the fate of America!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Chaos of Obama's Supreme Court Philosophy & Sonia Sotomayor

By now, most everyone knows that Sonia Sotomayor is Obama's pick to replace Justice Souter on the Supreme Court. Prior to making that decision, he had gone on record as saying that he wanted someone with "life experience" and "empathy." Sotomayor, herself, is on record as saying that see believes that, in the appeals court, policy is made from the bench (See Video).

Now, I realize that Obama hold's a law degree with an emphasis on constitutional law and, by all educational measures, is supposed to be a smart guy. However, this "empathy" and "life experience" qualification flies in the face of what the Supreme Court is all about; and, for that matter, what any judge in any court in our legal system is all about.

Obama preaches to us about the "Rule of Law" whenever he talks about torture. But, with his Supreme Court pick, he literally intends to leave the "Rule of Law" at the Supreme Court's door. That's because he believes and wants a legal system that isn't just based on the law but, now, should be muddied up with personal "empathy" and "life experiences"; and, in doing so, he is literally advocating a law practice that isn't being based on any actual "written" laws at all. His philosophy would be legal chaos with each judge making up their own "Rule of Law" as they go.

It means that the laws of this country would all be subject to personal opinion and not "to" the actual legislative construction and intent that went into the passage of that law. In essence, this philosophy means that the very same law could be "twisted" or "shaped" to conform to a Justice's personal opinion or desires. From one court room to another, as each judge individually decides to insert their empathy or their past into each of their decisions, people would absolutely "not" receive equal protection under the law. Again, the chaos would be the "unequal" protection of your rights. In theory, a white person in a Hispanic judge's courtroom could be unfairly disadvantaged. A black in a white judge's court similarly hurt. This is why our symbol of American justice is the goddess Themis, the goddess of justice, who is blindfolded holding a set of scales. Where "empathy" and "life experience" have actually been injected in a court decision, the results have been disastrous. In case after case where the judge has overridden the law with his own "empathy" or personal opinion, we have had killers, rapists, pedophiles etc. who have been let go; only to commit the same crimes over again.

No one should ever go to a court in this country feeling that -- because of their ethnicity, gender, or their station in life -- they will be treated differently under the law; depending on the judge. If this twisted philosophy of Obama's is promulgated, complete legal anarchy would ensue. You might as well have a "kangaroo" sitting on every bench. For a sitting President -- for that matter any President -- to condone this kind of biased judicial activism is, in my opinion, a violation of their oath to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." For any new Supreme Court Justice to take their oath of office, knowing full well that they will violate the words of that oath that say "I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God" is, too, a disgrace to our Constitution. But this is to be expected from Obama and his collective gang. This is an Administration that has literally backdoored and undermined the Constitution by dictating executive pay; overriding our own bankruptcy laws in the case of GM and Chrysler; the government ownership of private business; new mileage standards without Congressional approval; and, so much more.

Cases rise to the level of the Supreme Court because they have some direct bearing on the settlement of the law as it pertains to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Fights over money owed for a box of donuts or because of some property line dispute (as two examples) would never achieve the level of a Supreme Court decision unless the Constitution was being challenged in some way.

Nowhere else in our court system should justice be more "blind" than in the Supreme Court. All too often, the lower courts make decisions on the basis of "empathy" or with a bias based on their own "life experiences" and, all too often, in favor of the well connected or wealthy or in favor of the downtrodden over the wealthy. There is no place for these kinds of decisions at the Supreme Court level. The decisions of the highest court of this land are the most critical decisions affecting our country because they can have an effect on "all" the people. It is truly the last bastion where "equal justice under the law" exists. The Supreme Court is no place for "empathetic" justice under the law or justice based upon some Judge's own beliefs or one that is being swayed by their own personal or "life experience" because their life experience and their empathy many not coincide with those who are actually being affected by their decision.

Sonia Sotomayor's biggest fault, as shown in the video (above), is her apparent belief that the appeals court sets "policy" or should override the law by changing the law from the bench. Her statement is in direct contradiction to the "balance of power" as defined by our Constitution. In terms of Federal law, the Congress makes the law. The President can either agree with it (by signing it) or send it back to Congress with a veto. The Congress can override a veto with a 2/3 majority vote. Once passed into law, it is the Court System and, ultimately, the Supreme Court who makes the decision if that law, the law that was enacted by the Congress, is Constitutional. If not, the courts only choice is to give an opinion and negate the law. This, then, will force the Congress to modify that law or policy to conform to the Constitution. It is not the responsibility, under the limits of the Constitution, for the Supreme Court to rewrite that law from the bench.

Make no mistake, the selection of Sonia Sotomayor is an ideological pick on the part of Obama. Don't ever think that Obama -- being the farthest left President we've ever had in this country -- is making some kind of "centrist" decision in order to elevate a Hispanic woman to the Supreme Court. In terms of Sotomayor's past decisions as being ultimately weighed by the Supreme Court, she has, in 60% of the cases forwarded to the Supreme Court, been reversed by that top court (See Full Story). As a result, she has proven herself to be out of step with the Constitution in too many of her lower court decisions. Her latest decision, a case of reverse discrimination known as the New Haven Firefighter's Case (See this commentary) is now pending in the Supreme Court and, it too, is another Sotomayer decision that is expected to be reversed. From every appearance, the New Haven case looks as if Ms. Sotomayor was very much "empathetic" towards race and not judicial fairness in her decision. Even a liberal colleague, Judge Cabranes, on the 2nd Court of Appeals (where Sotomayor currently sits) was critical of her handling of this case.

Those on the left are thwarting any criticism of Sotomayor by the conservative right by implying that any objections will be seen as the "usual" racism and anti-Hispanic posturing by Republicans. They also want Sotomayor to be elevated to this country's highest court because of her "compelling life story" -- as if that, and that alone, is the sole criteria for sitting on the Supreme Court. Additionally, the "first" Hispanic is being tossed around as the rationale for automatic approval. That may work fine for the Guinness book of records -- but not for deciding on a Supreme Court justice.

When it is all said and done, Obama will get this pick. The Democratic dominated Congress and our left wing national media will bury any facts that might say otherwise. The Republicans have been emasculated in this process by Obama smartly picking a female Hispanic; thus throwing water, beforehand, on any real criticism of Sotomayor for the job. But, strategically, the Republican members of Congress should keep their powder dry and allow the right wing groups and talk radio to take Sotomayor to task. The Republican Senators that will decide on her fate should expose her weakness as a justice and not ever as a Hispanic woman. If bad decisions were made while sitting on the bench, then those faults should be exposed. If, after sitting on the high court, she continues to make faulty decisions, those decisions can be used in the 2010 and 2012 elections against Obama and the Democrats.

The real issue isn't about Sotomayor, herself. Sotomayor is who she is. More importantly, it is all about who picked her and who put her on the bench. Do you think a orchard owner would look at a basket of bad fruit and, then, blame the fruit for being bad? Not hardly. Rather, he would appropriately blame the person that picked that basket of fruit. Sotomayer is just the bad fruit and the real blame for her appointment lies with Obama and the Democrats who voted for her.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What Is Obama Up To?

I don't know what Obama is up to but, on two separate occasions he has, in effect, criticized his own outrageous spending habits. On May 14th, he said that the current deficit spending is "unsustainable" and could result in skyrocketing interest rates for money being borrowed from other countries (See Full Story). Then, two days ago, in an interview with C-Span, the Drudge Report is quoting Obama as saying that "we are out of money" (See Full Story).

This guy is a sly politician; too sly to have slipped his tongue twice about his own excessive spending and the huge new deficits that he, himself, is largely responsible for. My guess is this is a "setup" for new taxes coming down the pike. For sure, he will probably "not" want to wait until 2010 to allow much of the Bush tax cuts to expire. Instead, expect him to call for a repeal of those cuts this year. These statements could also be a forewarning that all taxes, even those on the middle class, will have to be raised. If so, the Obama promise to not raise taxes on the middle class will just go down the toilet; just like so many other broken promises that he has made. Mark my words!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The New Fuel Mileage Standards: At What Price?

Last Tuesday, Obama announced his plans for new CO2 emission reduction rates and increased mileage capabilities for all new cars to be sold in the U.S. as of 2016 (See Full Story). As usual, Obama has put ideology above true costs and we will all have to pay for that decision. While Obama touts the fact that it was his "auto industry" team that fought hard to come up with these new standards, it was, in effect, his succumbing to the mandates of California and 12 other extremely liberal state legislatures who had mandated the most severe gas mileage increases. Further, he seems to think that these new "2016 cars" will offset their higher costs and pay for themselves in just 3 years. A cost that Obama thinks will be only $1300 more than normal. But, like everything that Team Obama says and does, these are extremely rosy numbers and more science fiction than actual fact.

In order to meet these new standards, the car companies are going to have to employ all or most of the following strategies:
1. Lighter Body Weights. If the same materials are to be used in 2016 as are in use today; then, the only way to lighten cars in order to increase gas mileage is to use less of those materials. That means that cars will have to be smaller; and, generally, this means that they will be less safe. The issue of safety would be especially true in a collision between a subcompact or compact and a heavier vehicle like pre-2016 SUV's or standard sized vehicles or trucks. Because safety could keep buyers away from buying the tiny new cars, expect the auto companies to utilize more exotic materials like carbon fiber to reduce a car's weight. But, in doing so, the cost will go up substantially. If carbon fiber were used to replace half of the steel in an automobile's frame, the weight savings would be about 60% and the fuel economy increased by 30%. However, steel costs less than 40 cents per pound as compared to a cost for carbon fiber at eight to ten dollars per pound. In other words, carbon fiber is about 16 to 20 times more expensive than steel. That means that the cost of an automobile using 50% carbon fiber will probably go up by at least $3,000 and that, alone, is substantially higher than Obama's predicted cost increase of $1300 for the average new car being sold in 2016. Lastly, the auto companies may try to overcome safety issues with increased airbag protection. But, each airbag that is added to a car can cost upwards of $900. Once again, the cost will be high.

2. More Economical Engine Technology. Right now, hybrid technology is readily available but hasn't been easily applied to all vehicles because of the extra space requirements for batteries and the electric components needed for each vehicle. A Toyota Prius, as of today, can easily beat Obama's 35.5 mpg by 2016. As a true dual use, an electric vs. gasoline hybrid it gets mileage levels about a good as you can get with that technology at 51 mpg city for their latest, soon-to-be introduced new model. But there is a downside with all hybrids and that is that you are literally paying for two types of engines for the same car; and, one of those engines needs an expensive set of batteries to operate. Battery life is now estimated to be about 5 to 8 years. So, when those batteries do die, the owner will have to pay about $3,000 to replace them. Recognizing this, Toyota now warranties its batteries for 10 years. One of the few SUV dual use hybrids, the Ford Escape, is being produced by a U.S. auto manufacturer. The following is a screen shot from which clearly shows the cost differential between a conventional, gasoline powered vehicle and it's hybrid brother:

As you can see, the costs difference from the cheapest Ford Escape and the Escape Hybrid is over $9,000. To be fair, though, the hybrid versions of the Ford Escape are upscale models of within the Escape model series. Therefore, the true cost differential is really only about $5,400 if you compare a truly comparable hybrid Escape to its gasoline-only brother. Even so, this is a hefty upfront price to have to paid to save the planet. Gasoline prices are going to be very high in order to offset this high cost. Also, the hybrid version of the Ford Escape only gets 32 mpg; which falls below Obama's 35.5 mpg target. That means that this vehicle will have to undergo some weight savings or technology improvements to up the mileage. This will either mean less safety or additional premium costs. Furthermore, hybrid technology may not be applicable to light trucks because the space required for batteries and the rest of the electrical components would seriously impinge on load space and weights.

Lastly on the subject of batteries, anyone who owns a cell phone knows that the amount of talk-time of the original batteries keeps slipping with every month of usage and recharging. The same is true with Lithium Ion batteries in a hybrid vehicle. As the battery efficiency comes down over time, the fuel efficiency also suffers because the vehicle is forced to use more of its "gasoline power" to offset the reduced electrical mode of operation. This means that the 51 mpg Prius that rolled off the showroom floor might have only 30 mpg after 5 years of operation. Eventually, the batteries will be totally unable to be charged and the car will run solely off gasoline. Does anyone think that some future Prius owners, faced with a $3000 expense to replace the batteries, won't just run straight gasoline, instead? My guess is yes. If so, the supposed savings in foreign oil that Obama espoused in his speech might not fully materialize.

3. Alternative Energy Vehicles. Other than electric cars, there are hardly any other non-gasoline technologies that could be implemented by 2016. So, expect the automakers to introduce small urban-only cars that are all electric to insure that their fleet average is well within the 35.5 mpg mandate. These will be commuter vehicles, a step up from golf carts, that will have limited range, limited storage space, and will have to be charged overnight. Like the lighter weight hybrids and gasoline powered cars, the weight and size of these vehicles may also jeopardize occupant safety. The full size electric cars like the Chevy Volt may also appear. These are reverse hybrids with an electric motor as primary and a 4 cylinder gasoline engine that will charge the batteries when power is low. The range of this vehicle is still too limited for long trips. Further, the drive components and batteries will eat up a lot of the car's trunk space. For sure, I don't see a lot of "common people" demand for a car that is projected to be upwards of $40,000. As with the hybrids, the Volt and other electric cars will all have battery life and battery replacement cost issues.
Anyway you shake it, the cars that will be made in 2016 to meet these new standards will be more expensive and, at the lower priced end of the market, less safe. I'm with those who believe that these new standards will add $6,000 to every car being sold in America. Right now, the average sticker price of all cars sold in America is a little over $28,000. With normal inflation and without applying the new mileage rules, the average sticker price should go over $34,000 in 2016. I'm betting that inflation coupled with Obama's mandated standards, the average sticker price is probably going to zoom upwards of $40,000. I would expect the American consumer to totally reject these new vehicles on the basis of price alone. Right now, the average car on the road is a little over 9 years old. Expect that number to rise significantly in the future as people try to extend the life of their pre-2016 cars, SUV's and light trucks. All of these things will mean that those rosy projections of less imported oil and higher gas mileage will fail at the cash register. Obama is completely clueless to this and to what sells automobiles in America. Since oil/gasoline prices have fallen, hybrid sales are down by half. As it was, only the green rich guys were buying them anyway. Believe me, Toyota and Honda didn't avoid bankruptcy like GM and Chrysler because a small part of their market was made up of hybrids. They avoided bankruptcy because of good resale values, a minimal amount of vehicle models and national dealerships, and competitive labor costs. But, Obama, not ever having run a business of his own, doesn't seem to understand that.

Please note: I used a nominal inflation rate of 3 percent to calculate the average price of a car, today, rising to $34,000 in 2016. With Obama's excessive spending, I expect inflation rates in the next 2 or 3 years to start moving into the realm of double digit hyperinflation. If that becomes the case, the average auto price in 2016 could actually be as high as $50,000 or more. Salaries will lag so far behind that kind of pricing that no one, except the very rich, will be able to buy one of these new cars and save the planet -- if it even needs saving.

Two last comments.

I find it interesting that Obama moved the mileage standards up from the year 2020 to 2016. Assuming Obama gets two terms in office, any new President that follows him will assume office with these new standards just taking effect. Obama has literally created a situation where his successor cannot reverse what he has done. If the new standards had been left in place to take full effect in 2020, as George Bush originally planned, two successive Presidents would have had a chance to reverse this mandate, if necessary.

Secondly, it was also very interesting that Arnold Schwarzenegger scrambled to go to Washington to witness the imposition of these new standards on the very same day that California voters went to the polls to soundly reject any new taxes to bailout his State from massive deficits. California is a State that has dug a hole for itself because of rules like these new mileage regulations and because of high taxation. California is no shining example of good governance. It is an example of governance run amok. Now, Obama has decided to follow California's stupidity of over regulation and spread that same disease across all of America.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

So Easily We Forget

Since Obama came to office, there has been much discussion about the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and their rights. From the left's viewpoint, these people are being totally deprived of their rights for criminal justice. But, what about our rights. Because of the events of 9/11, each and everyone of us is unable to live as freely as we did before that date. You know this to be true every time you or I try to board an an airplane. Just look at the fear that was created in New York City, nearly eight years after 9/11, when Air Force One, flanked by two F-16's, flew over the Statue Of Liberty for an Obama Administration authorized photo op.

Al Qaeda existed long before Guantanamo Bay and it will exist long after it is closed. The concept that Guantanamo is a reason that would-be terrorists are joining up with Al Qaeda is like saying that someone joined the Army because they liked those tan jump boots. I would think that the reasons for hooking up with Al Qaeda are quite a bit deeper than that prison in Cuba housing a handful of people. In his speech on National Security, Obama made the statement that Guantanamo Bay was probably responsible for recruiting more terrorists than it was created to house. That may sound good in a speech but it is only his opinion with no real facts to support it and he knows it. It is not provable. It is no more provable than his pledge to save or create 2 to 2.5 million jobs with the passage of his Stimulus Package. At its peak, Guantanamo only held 780 detainees. Today, it is estimated that there is something between .7 and 1.1 billion Muslims in the world. It is also estimated that as much of 7% of that number, about 91 million, are radicalized. If true, an extra 800 or more terrorists being created by Guantanamo is absolutely an insignificant number. Anyway, no self respecting terrorist would ever want to wind up in a prison facility like Guantanamo and be deprived of sacrificing themselves in some extremely violent act. Certainly, if Guantanamo is the only reason people become terrorists, we should see a mass exodus from Al Qaeda as soon as Gitmo is closed. But, my guess is that won't happen. Anyway, how do we know Guantanamo was the reason that anyone joined Al Qaeda? Did Rasmussen or Gallup call up 1500 Al Qaeda terrorists one night and take a poll and ask that question? The left loves to use this "recruiting" argument for closing Gitmo because they like to point back to the story about a Koran being flushed down the toilet as part of the Guantanamo interrogation of terrorists. However, the left seems to ignore the fact that this story was proven false (See Full Story). But those on the left, as many of them always do, love to proliferate a lie for political gain.

Somehow, with Obama now in office, the Democrats are attempting to erase the history and anxiety after 9/11. They seem to want to ignore the reasons behind everything that was done in the short time following 9/11. The people of this country and our Congress demanded that the Bush Administration make us safe from another attack. Gitmo and harsh interrogation resulted out of those demands and out of that fear. Let's not forget that most of these detainees weren't on some kind of Sandals or Beaches vacation; laying out in the sun in their monokinis while sucking down pina coladas. Rather, they came their from other countries to join in the Jihad; to kill Americans and their allies; and, to die to reap the rewards of Allah. These people are so distasteful to their own citizens that their own home countries won't take them so that we can close Gitmo. To this date, the oh-so-smart Obama has been only able to convince two countries to take two of these detainees.

I hear other Democrats and Obama's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, say that Guantanamo presents a bad image to the rest of the world. If it has a bad image, that's because our left-wing press in "this country" spent the last 5 years demonizing Gitmo as a way to destroy George Bush and his Administration. Papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post and magazines like Time and Newsweek (owned by the Washington Post) spared no ink in trashing Gitmo as a means to get Democrats back in office. As mentioned previously, the left-wing Newsweek caused international riots and deaths as a result of their false story about a Koran being flushed down a toilet. All throughout the Bush Administration, the left-wing, Fifth Estate worked feverishly to undermine our National Security so that they could dethrone Bush and the Republicans and install their own, left-wing, ideology.

But, so easily do the national media and the Democrats forget. If we ever get attacked again, there will be all these people on the left who will once again squirm out of the fact that it was their policies -- their softness on national security --- that put us at more risk for that attack than any harboring of less than 800 prisoners at Guantanamo ever did. This is exactly what happened because of the emasculation of this nation's security; starting with the Democrat's Church commission and ending with the softness of the Clinton Administration to take out Bin Laden before the 9/11 events unfolded.

Lastly, the national media seemed not to connect the dots on the 4 terrorists that were caught this week before they were able to blow up synagogues and take down a military jet with a stinger missile. These people were Americans that converted to Islam and were radicalized while in prison. Radical Islam is like a virus and it strikes those who harbor ills against this country; like the majority of inmates in our prisons that operate outside of normal society. If we do close Gitmo and move those detainees into U.S. prisons, it isn't their escape we need worry about. It is the radicalization of the disenchanted in those prisons that should concern us. That's the real risk that the mainstream media and the Democrats are too ignorant to understand. Furthermore, it is highly possible that some activist liberal judge or judges will ultimately rule to release these people and, because their home countries won't take them back, they will wind up on our own city streets. What then? To say that won't happen is pure idiocy. All you have to do is look at the number of harden criminals, pedophiles, and rapists that liberal judges have sent back onto our streets with very disastrous results.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama's Speech On National Security

I just couldn't let this one pass by waiting to comment on it this weekend.

In another one of his "I'll make it all better with another one my patented B.S. speeches," Obama decided to give a near-impromptu speech on national security that everybody knew was an attempt to try and stomp on Cheney's speech that was already scheduled and that was to be given at that very time on the very same topic. But, Cheney smartly held his speech so that he could precisely counter everything that Obama was expected to say. Obama felt that he had to give this speech because, in the public forum, he was losing ground on the issue of national security to Cheney. Yesterday, Democrats and Republicans, alike, handed Obama a stunning defeat by not funding the closure of Guantanamo Bay. With Obama's national security policies looking pretty tarnished, Obama's only remaining tactic was to give a speech that would basically say that the previous Administration had made security decisions that were done in "haste" and without "forethought" and that had made this country less safe.

My only comment to that statement are these few examples of Obama missteps.

Obama, without any logic or forethought, was prepared to release interrogation photos that everybody in the world, except Obama, knew would result in a backlash that could jeopardize the lives and the safety of our soldiers, our diplomats, and our citizens around the world. Days before the release, he finally put some thought into his previous decision and decided to backtrack and not release those photos. Thank God he figured it out before his prior hasty decision became a disaster.

While on the campaign trail last year, Obama said he would abandon military tribunals to bring Guantanamo detainees to justice. After three months in office and, finally, with some actual and intelligent thought, he decided to proceed with the policy of the Bush Administration to try those detainees with military tribunals. Once again, it appears that Obama's mouth was running faster than his brain!

Two days after being in office, he declared that he would close Guantanamo Bay (a.k.a. Gitmo ) in one year. Now, a third of the way into that promise, he and his people are still clueless as to the "how" of closing that facility. That's why the United States Senate, yesterday, with a vote of 90 to 6, voted "no" to any funding without seeing a plan. If asking for money without a plan isn't haste and a lack of forethought then, I don't know what is. How much do you want to bet, that a year from now, Guantanamo will still be open and Obama will be giving another one of his speeches to make it "seem" like it was a good thing that we, not he, didn't close Gitmo?

To me, this blog survives because everything Obama does has been done, in my opinion, without any forethought. Haste? Well, you be the judge? He's only been in office for four months and he has made major decisions that may absolutely kill the economic and national security future of this country. Is that forethought? For this guy to criticize the Bush Administration for its haste and a lack of forethought is just laughable. Before Obama can claim that we are any more secure with his policies, he will have to back that statement up with time; not just four months of saying that it's so. For the last 7 years, we have been safe under the policies of Bush. Let's see how safe we are in the next three and three-quarters years that are still remaining in this guy's term in office!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Heathcare and the High Cost of Perfection

Many say that we Americans have the best healthcare in the world. Certainly, hundreds of wealthy non-Americans travel here to get the care they couldn't get in their own countries like Canada and Britain that have socialized medical care systems. At the same time, our healthcare is admittedly the most expensive in the world.

Years ago, I attended a company-sponsored seminar on the concept of quality. The primary thing that I took away from that seminar was that, with every increased level of perfection, costs will go up dramatically. In other words, to build the absolutely perfect anything, the cost would be so high that only the richest in our society could afford to buy it. The other thing that I took from that seminar was that true quality is matching people's expectations of a product's performance and not trying to exceed that expectation.

In large part, our healthcare system is being forced by constant litigation to meet perfection; and, with that perfection, comes a very high cost. For this, I blame the medical malpractice lawyers. A doctor, hospital, medical or drug company may have saved thousands of lives without a hitch. But if they injure or kill a single person, the cost of that one mistake can be extremely significant. Lawyers don't care about how many times you get it right. When they are in the process of suing a doctor or a hospital, they only look for the missteps or the imperfections that occurred in the treatment of a patient. Then, they magnify any imperfection to make a jury believe that the doctor or hospital was totally negligent. The result could be damages that are awarded in the millions of dollars.

As a result, all doctors, hospitals and all medical related corporations have been "conditioned" by our legal system towards perfection. Costs are rising faster than inflation because nobody in the industry wants to be wrong or make a mistake that could injure or kill someone and suffer the high costs of being sued. Also, the rates for malpractice insurance, especially in some specialties like OB/GYN, are rising twice as fast as the overall healthcare costs in America; which might give you a hint as to where the true high cost of healthcare lies . No longer is a simple sore throat a simple sore throat. The doctor, as a result of widespread litigation, must now look at every patient as possibly having the widest ranges of illnesses when he/she walks into their office; even including the rarest of diseases. To insure that the doctor doesn't screw up by missing something, they will, at the very least, order up a wide range of expensive diagnostic tests. Those tests may even include extremely expensive MRI's or CAT scans. Further, he or she will probably refer their patient to a specialist to make sure they aren't missing something else and, in effect, give that patient a second opinion that they never asked for. In essence, the doctor has developed a "CYA" mentality; and, with this, costs are skyrocketing.

The same applies to drug companies. When a lawyer sues a drug company or medical equipment manufacturer, they come after the company as if they expected that company to have tested for every conceivable human variance and/or combinations of human conditions before a drug or piece of medical equipment was put on the market. But, those companies can't do that because it would be just too costly for them to develop a supposedly perfect and totally safe drug or piece of equipment. In reality, the lawyers know this and take full advantage of this limitation. So, whenever a drug company decides to manufacture and sell a product, they do cost/benefit analysis and, as a result, they price in any anticipated law suits. That's why new, lifesaving drugs are so extremely expensive. Sometimes the drugs that could save many lives never come to market because the market is too small and the risk of lawsuits are too high and the product can't be priced low enough to make it marketable. When that happens, the sick and dying with rare diseases are the ultimate losers.

Obama's healthcare program completely ignores the primary driver for high healthcare costs in this country - those lawsuits that are forcing medical perfection. Instead, he appears to be going the route of withholding expensive forms of medical care in order to avoid high costs. All indications are that the Federal Government will ultimately play God and decide what care Americans are able to get; especially for the elderly. Remember, it is the elderly who cost the government the most amount of money because they are the ones receiving social security, prescription drug coverage, and Medicare assistance. That means that some people will unnecessarily die when they didn't have to because the government might view them as a financial liability.

Obama, as a lawyer himself, doesn't want to upset all those lawyers who helped get him into office. Don't forget, we have half of the world's attorneys with only 5 percent of the world's population. Most of those lawyers probably voted for Obama and contributed to his Presidential campaign. Their intention in doing so was to absolutely insure that they could happily litigate over medical malpractice and continue to reap very high settlements and, subsequently, their high and getting higher incomes; settlements that are now doubling in the amount of damages at a rate of every 5 to 7 years.

For years, the Republicans have been trying to effect tort reforms to try and stall the rising costs of healthcare. But, at every turn, the Democrats and their cozy relationship with the lawyers in this country have blocked every attempt. Now, again, with Obama in charge and with complete control over Congress, we will be instituting a government healthcare system in America that protects the lawyers and limits that amount of care that we can get; especially in our later years.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Little Green Ache-ER

Just because I've stopped writing a daily blog doesn't mean that I am not constantly scanning the news headlines for interesting stories that have hidden gems of political nonsense in them. That's what "Cutting Through The Fog" is all about.

One story that caught my attention, yesterday, was a story about a city-built house in Troy Michigan that was supposed to be a shining example of green technology. The writer of the story seems to be focused on the failure of this house to get up and running; now, 7 months after being built (See Full Story). But, to me, that story is a perfect example of the road that Mr. Obama seems to be walking us down with his "green technology" spiel and the billions, if not trillions, of dollars that are being planned to make America green.

The first thing that popped out at me was the "cost" of this little green house in Troy. To me, having a showboat home that is the size of a 20'x40' room and that costs nearly a million dollars to build is not a shining example of anything but sheer economic stupidity and nothing but an embarrassment.

Anywhere in America -- except in the most affluent of neighborhoods -- you can build a house for under $100 per square foot. This Troy house cost about $1125 a square foot and that is at least 11 times more expensive than any average home in this country. In actuality, you could probably build an 800 square foot home in Troy Michigan for less than $60,000 -- a fact that is supported by the house values for all the small square footage homes that are currently for sale in Troy Michigan and as verified by Therefore, this little green house is easily $840,000 more expensive than it should be.

So? Are we supposed to assume that the $840,000 premium to "go green" on this house will somehow pay for itself over time by avoiding conventional gas and electric energy costs? If so, how many years?

At 30 years, that $840,000 premium is over $2300 a month. At 50 years, $1400 a month. At 100 years, it would average about $700. To put this absurd cost into perspective, I did some checking. An 20'x40' building in Michigan, using conventional electric power and gas heating, would cost about $280 a month to run. That's about 35 cents per-month per-square-foot. At 30 years, the per-square-foot-per-month cost of that green technology house in Troy is about $3.

What is more shocking is the fact that this $840,000 premium for this tiny energy-free house is totally "upfront"; just like all those wind turbines and solar panels that Al Gore and Barack Obama have in store for us. If you put that money in the bank and let it earn a measly 1 percent interest rate per year, that money would generate $700 a month. With that $700 dollars, you could pay for the $280 a month in conventional energy costs and still have $420 left over. And, that's just at checking-account interest rates. Think how much you save by getting bond rates in excess of 4 percent!

Secondly, as I have shown, there's really no return on that investment within a reasonable amount of time. In fact the technology will probably be obsolete before it pays itself off. If not, all the "green" stuff in that house will probably breakdown or wear out and have to be replaced at least one time; further pushing the costs up and making the return on investment a total impossibility.

Lastly, as that news article points out, the technology isn't reliable. Wind and Solar can have serious problems on the power grid because of the inconsistency of their power output. Just take note of this multi-European country power outage that was blamed on German Wind Turbines (See Full Story). While the German-caused wind turbine outage was due to too much outputted power, the more typical problems with wind power generation is the lack of wind. Here's a story that was conveniently ignored by all the liberal, pro-green, mainstream news media in this country: "Loss of wind causes Texas power grid emergency".

Make no mistake about it, Obama's plans to go green will be both very expensive and highly unreliable. All Americans will be paying a high premium to fight a global warming emergency that many think may not really exist! That little house in Troy portends our future. Once we have spent our billions or even trillions of dollars to go green, we might just be stuck with an expensive little house that's broken!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

AP's Bush Hating Continues

The above is a sampling of headlines from most of the major news outlets on the Internet with regard to Nancy Pelosi's latest iteration on her ignorance of the CIA interrogation techniques. Only the Associated Press (AP) has sought fit to twist Nancy Pelosi's comments by blaming George W. Bush in its headline -- something that no other agency sought fit to do! Even the far left, always-Bush-hating New York Times and MSNBC legitimately and appropriately left Bush out of their headlines.

In my blog, I have consistently caught AP in their attempts to smear George W. Bush -- a habit that it seems they still can't break!

UPDATE: As of this evening, AP has dropped "Bush" from the headlines and now is in line with all the other news agencies.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Change In This Blog...

For quite a few years, I was a day trader in the stock market. In the last few weeks I have tested the waters to see if I could return to that profession. Based on what I have able to do so far, I have made the decision to return to it on a full time basis.

Because this requires that I review literally thousands of stocks per day and pay close attention to the incessant daily business news headlines, politics and this blog will have to take a back seat. I will continue to write but only on Sundays; occasionally on Saturdays, too.

To my dedicated readers, I thank you for your daily support.

My decision to do this is one of survival because I believe that serious inflation is ahead of us. If so, I must grow my current retirement savings to offset what I think will be a seriously sinking dollar and very expensive country to live in. I expect the tax burden on anyone who works in this country to be very high in the future because the rich -- the people that this government is aiming to bleed completely dry --- won't be as rich in the future and won't be able to pay all the taxes to keep this country afloat. Many of our wealthy may just leave the country and leave behind all of its punitive taxes. Then, too, major corporations may leave, also, or face a slow overtaxed extinction.

As always, this is just my opinion.

Still No Credit!

Last week, there was a very important release of data that the national news media either overlooked or intentionally failed to report on because it shows that all the bailout monies and all the work and threats by the Obama Administration are not working to free up credit in this country. That important piece of data was the monthly Consumer Credit Report which, for the 6 out of the last 8 months, showed that the consumer is saving and not really spending; and, that banks aren't lending either (See Full Story)

More than any other piece of data, the Consumer Credit is a peek at what the average person in this country is really doing. Sure, the news media is all happy because the mortgage activity is up for the month. However, that is a comparative number from a rock bottom. It's sort of like saying that a penniless bum found a dollar in the street and, then, saying he is now flushed with cash.

Consumer Credit has to stabilize before anyone can truly say that this recession is at an end. It's a statistic that reflects both consumer attitudes and the day-to-day lending activity in this country. Only when consumer credit finds itself out of the woods can you expect our automobile and housing markets to substantially improve with jobs creation to follow.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Democrats Tortured Torture Explanations

Besides being a brutal form of punishment or interrogation, torture also means to twist, pervert, or distort the facts. Certainly, over the last 4 or 5 weeks, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Eric Holder are all guilty of 'torturing' a lot of the facts about torture.

At his last prime time press conference, Barack Obama tried to hold Britain up to the light as a shining example of a country that doesn't torture. To make that point, he referenced the written works of Winston Churchill. But, as I have shown in this blog (See my blog entry: "What Obama Is Missing On Torture"), Barack's comments are blatantly false because, from World War II and even up until the most recent years, Britain has been pretty active in all forms of torture.

Then, there's Obama's AG, Eric Holder. His 'holier than thou' attitude towards torture seems to be somewhat misplaced when, in fact, he was the deputy AG during the Clinton Administration when rendition and the subsequent torture of Al Qaeda captives was practiced quite often. Obviously, from a hearing yesterday (See Full Story), Mr. Holder was quite involved in the rendition process. This is apparently something that this top cop of our country has conveniently forgotten while he's been pushing to go after lawyers in the Bush Administration that gave legal opinions on harsh interrogation techniques.

Finally, let me introduce you to the Democrat who's the best piece of work when it comes to torturing the torture issue: Ms. Nancy Pelosi; Speaker of the House. Over the last few weeks, she's gone from completely knowing nothing to admitting that she knew of the techniques but didn't think they would use them; even though in a briefing in 2002, she was told that EIT (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) had already been used (See Full Story). This is the same Pelosi who claimed that the Catholic Church was uncertain about abortion. A point that the Pope, himself, had to give her a dressing down on.

Whether Obama likes it or not, torture has been a practice going back to the Clinton years. To the best of anyone's knowledge, it stopped in 2006 under Bush. It is obvious that a lot of people, including a lot of Democrats, knew of the practice but didn't raise the red flag about what was being done until Obama got in office. I think that Obama made a large and very naive mistake by opening this can of worms. Now, if punishment of Bush people is pursued, then there are going to be a lot of Democrats who should also be punished. But, with that possibility looming, I think we will find that the Obama gang and the the Democrats in Congress will just quietly let this whole topic fade away without any investigations and, certainly, without any previously planned show trials and prosecutions. That's how politics works.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The 2010 Census Workers: A Distortion of the Unemployment Numbers

This morning, last month's national rate of unemployment was released and it was just shy of 9 percent (See Full Story). The news is reporting a "surprise" and a "slower than expected loss of jobs" but, there is a significant hidden fact in all this hoopla.

Right now the Federal government is in the process of hiring in excess of 1 million workers for the 2010 Census. In just the last month, they hired 66,000 census workers and, that fact alone, probably kept this unemployment report below 9 percent.

Let's put this census worker hiring into perspective. This is like sweeping dirt under the rug; and, eventually that dirt will see the light of day. These census workers are really delaying the inevitable and distorting the true rate of unemployment because, when the census is all over, this country will see an almost immediate jump in the unemployment rate when these million workers come back into the real world; without jobs; and, back on the streets. When that happens, I would hope to hell that this economy is healthy enough, once again, to absorb the shock of this many workers being unemployed. Further, I would hope that the Obama Administration is both upfront (Transparent!) with the effect of these census workers on the job situation and not try to use them in the touted "save and create" 2 to 2-1/2 million jobs. The addition of these workers has nothing to do with the effects planned as part of his nearly $800 billion stimulus package and Obama should not be playing games by taking credit for their reduction of the unemployment scene.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Will Obama Take Credit For A Recovery He Didn't Create?

Since March 10, the Stock Market has gone from 6547 to above 8500; up almost 30 percent. The start of the rally, in early March, was triggered by some data that looked backward to the month of February. In that month, there were some small indications that the economy was starting to turnaround. Since then, there have been consistent month after month indications that things are in a turnaround.

But, lets put that original February data into perspective.

First, Obama hadn't even been in office for a week before the statistics for that month began being formulated. For the most part, the positive signs for that month were already cast in stone before Obama got into office.

Second, Obama's stimulus package wasn't signed into law until February 17; and, the bulk of the bill, even as of today, has yet to have been implemented. In fact, only 27 percent of it will be implemented this year; once started. So, therefore, that stimulus bill had nothing to do with the Stock Market rally that began almost a month after signing the stimulus package into law. If the stock market had thought that the Stimulus Bill would have helped the economy, the Stock Market would have rallied the day it was signed into law. But, it didn't.

Third, February was the month that Obama was painting a worst-case/gloom-and-doom prediction if his stimulus bill wasn't signed. Literally, he was scaring the American consumer. But, despite him, the seeds of the recovery were sprouting in the background.

Most every recovery from a recession occurs, on its own, within 14 to 18 months after it starts. It now appears that this might be the case with this one. If so, that means all those billions of dollars upon billions of dollars in stimulus spending over the next 3 years might well be totally unnecessary. In fact, all that spending probably will create future problems like inflation and massive deficits that may actually hurt our economy.

You should also be mindful of this. Even if the economy has turned around, unemployment will continue to rise until companies actually see a rise in orders and sales. Unemployment is always a lagging indicator and it is often watched by the "public" as their indicator that a recession is over. However, the recession will end long before people start getting hired again. GM, for example, will directly let 20,000 people go when they shut down Pontiac this year and when they effect other cost reductions. There will probably be another 20,000 people hitting the unemployment lines when GM cuts its 6600 dealerships in half by the end of 2009. Beyond GM, there are a whole host of companies that have announced additional layoffs in just the last month.

I get the distinct feeling that Obama is preparing for his victory lap; even though he had nothing to do with it. But, whenever something happens on a President's watch, that President takes credit or blame for it. Sadly, the American public doesn't understand this reality; they only understand what is happening now. Because of this, Obama will get the credit for this recovery. But, he should watch out. Many of the other things that he has set in motion with his stimulus plan and budget could put this country back on its heals in a year's time. That's just my opinion.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Danger of Closing Tax Loopholes

When you have a U.S. tax code that is over 60,000 pages long, you know you've got an "extremely tinkered with" tax system in this country. The fact is that the tax code is the favorite toy for Washington politicians to play with to garner votes. For a century or more, tax loopholes have been created to help farmers, steel companies, minority businesses, etc. For decades, businesses have looked at the tax codes and have developed their operational plans by taking advantage of those Democrat/Republican inserted loopholes with the intention of keeping their tax burden to a minimum and allowing their companies to grow and become both profitable and competitive. In many cases, those tax loopholes helped create jobs.

Now, Mr. Obama wants to totally overturn this apple cart by closing those loopholes that he feels are hurting tax revenues and causing job loss. (See Full Story). Supposedly, he plans to go after those companies who are parking profits overseas in order to avoid paying taxes in the U.S. Secondly, he plans to begin taxing companies for their overseas profits; despite their having already paid taxes in the country where those profits were made. He seems to think by double-taxing companies, it will force them to rethink moving any operations and jobs overseas. I'm also sure he thinks companies might even move their overseas operations back to this county. This is an extremely flawed assumption.

First, let me say, it was high taxes, high labor costs, and the resulting lack of competitiveness that drove many of those company's manufacturing operations overseas in the first place. Now, by punishing them even further, with additional taxes, they might well be finally forced to take the last big step and completely move their corporate operations and manufacturing overseas; no longer being an American company. In doing so, they would avoid all those double U.S. taxes; now some of the highest in the world and going even higher. For a company like GM, Exxon, Kodak, Microsoft, and IBM, this could be a substantial drop in tax expenses. At the same time, those tax revenues that Obama thought he would be gaining would be completely gone; contributing to the expansion of the deficit. Similarly, all those American jobs and the resulting taxes they would have paid will be gone.

Secondly, this plan of Obama's will be inflationary. When a company prices it's products, it takes into consideration all the costs involved in producing that product. Then, they assume some level of profit and the product is finally priced. If the pricing is competitive, they will so ahead and manufacture and sell the product.

What Obama doesn't seem to understand is that taxes are just another cost of doing business. If taxes are raised, the price of products has to be raised in order to achieve a profit. If the costs are too high, due to taxes, the product will be either taken off the market or the manufacturer will produce it overseas to remain competitive. But, with Obama's double tax, the incentive to produce that product overseas has been eliminated. Liberals would applaud this as a good thing. But, at the very least, Americans will pay higher prices for those things that cannot be produced overseas. Worst case, some aspects of American manufacturing could be shut down completely for non-competitive pricing problems. This would mean the loss of jobs in this country.

Any way you shake it, Obama's overseas tax plan is all wrong. It will serious hurt American companies so that he can pay for all these big spending plans he has. This is insane and it, along with his other big tax plans, will cripple our economy over the long haul. More than that, we could lose some of our largest companies as they decide to move their operations out of America.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jack Kemp - The Original Compassionate Conservative

Jack French Kemp died May 2, 2009....

Before Jack Kemp came to the forefront of national politics, I had just left the Democrats for the Republican party. But, it was Jack Kemp, along with some others, that made me feel that I had made the right decision.

Jack Kemp was truly a compassionate conservative; long before George W. Bush labeled himself as such, though, Jack Kemp adorned himself with that label by his actions and not by declaring it. He firmly believed in creating jobs; and, by doing so, this entire ship, the one that we call the United States, would rise in the water and all Americans would benefit from the wealth that was created. He believed and knew that tax cuts could achieve this goal of his. He was key in developing Reagan's plan for tax cuts. He knew that if you created wealth, all people of this country could get the homes they always wanted. They could improve their lives. They could afford education. However, unlike our current government, he believed that Washington D.C. should be a guiding light in achieving those goals; and, not the holder of some leash that is around every American's neck making us all conform to some socialist ideals.

In my opinion, the most important, but never implemented, plan of his was that of the Enterprise Zones. The concept behind Enterprise Zones was to give corporate tax breaks to companies who would set up new operations in depressed areas; like our inner cities. He firmly believed this would benefit the poorest of our society and rebuild parts of our cities that had fallen into decay. I concur.

To some conservatives, Jack Kemp might have been too compassionate. To others, he was just what this country needed. I will certainly miss him. But, he his not completely gone. His principles will live on; and, I would hope, move from merely ideals to actual fact in some future government(s) of this country.

Image is from WikiMedia Commons -- a freely licensed media repository.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Obama's WAG

In the introductory speech at last week's prime-time press conference, Obama made this comment: "We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs...." (See Full Text Of News Conference)

To the many who watched that news conference, this number appeared to go right over their heads and simply taken as fact. But to people of reason, that number is totally ridiculous!

For the last 13 weeks or 90 days, this country has consistently seen 600,000 or more workers "per week" file for unemployment insurance because they've lost their jobs. For Obama to claim 150,000 jobs being saved or created (Apparently, he's not sure which!) is just plain folly. Based on a 5-day work week, the claims offices around this country are averaging more than 130,000 claims-per-day. So, in essence, Obama's claim that he helped reduce unemployment by 150k is to say that he has affected a little more than 1 day's worth of unemployment claims in the last 3 months! That's sort of like saying: "The good news is that we've saved or created 2500 jobs per workday in the last 90 days. The bad news is that, at the same time, we lost 140,000 jobs per workday in the process!"

But the 600,000 plus jobs being lost per week is just part of the unemployment story. That number is "only" made up of those who are eligible for unemployment. Recently hired employees who have lost there jobs and haven't worked long enough to qualify for unemployment compensation are not in that number. Independent contractors without employees and who are not getting any work are not included either, because they are not eligible for any comp. Further, people who have completely exhausted their unemployment compensation rights and who have still not found a job are not in that number.

Obama knows he can't quantify that number of 150,000 jobs. It seems that he and team Obama are just "Wagging" it!

When I was in high school and in college, we used to have an acronym "WAG" when talking about answering questions on a test that you had no idea as to what the answer was. WAG stood for "Wild Ass Guess" and it sometimes helped those get a passing grade on a true/false or multiple choice test for those who didn't quite study hard enough. To me, Obama was pulling a WAG at that new conference.

For the most part, I have been critical of the Associated Press for turning a "blind eye" towards the Democrats when it came to investigative journalism; and, especially towards Barack Obama. This week, however, I have to give them kudos for their return to their old days of professional journalism with this piece: "FACT CHECK: Obama's job, deficit claims are iffy". If I have one criticism, the article isn't quite as hard hitting as it could be. But, it's nice to see that others, besides me, seem to think that Obama is playing fast and loose with the facts.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What Obama Is Missing On Torture

At this week's news conference, Barack Obama said: "I think waterboarding is torture." "I think" is not a definitive statement. It's an opinion. There is a reason for Obama's conditioning of this declaration because not everyone in the world believes that waterboarding is a pure form of torture. Certainly, not in the strictest sense. Beyond that, Obama also discounted the results of waterboarding by stating that he isn't sure that the information that was obtained through waterboarding couldn't have been obtained by some other, non-torturous means.

When Obama talks about "other means," I think he's referring to the civilian law enforcement interrogation technique of using "plea bargaining" to extract valuable information or a confession. Simply speaking, plea bargaining involves trading either jail time or something of value in exchange for information. But, plea bargaining only works with people that have "something to live for." Most terrorist beliefs are the antithesis of that concept. They generally have "something to die for" and, that something is their fanatical religious beliefs and their willingness to die while adhering to them. They feel that dying is the ultimate goal in their journey to the afterlife. So, rewarding them with lesser punishment or saving their lives by avoiding capital punishment is as silly as offering meat as a reward to a vegan.

I don't think that Obama and most liberals understand this new kind of enemy and their type of warfare and their belief system. This is not your father's World War II or Vietnam-like enemy. The traditional "war" mindsets are not going to work. These people are not beholding to any given country. They are the standard bearers of their god and not of any particular country. The traditional forms of "spying" become totally useless.

Unlike spying on state-sponsored military buildups, you just can't use satellite images to see weapons buildups and troop movements. These terrorists live and hide within the general populations of many countries; including our own. That's why the Bush Administration put so much emphasis on eavesdropping and internet "chatter" because it was the only way to "hear" what this enemy was up to. But the liberals balked at eavesdropping on the basis that it violated privacy rights. Now, too, they are balking at enhanced interrogation techniques.

Even the Clinton Administration clearly understood that this enemy was a different kind of enemy. To avoid claims of torturing captured terrorists and suspected terrorists, the Clinton Administration practiced "rendition" by sending those who were captured and suspected of terrorism to other countries that had no qualms about torturing people to get information. In those countries, there were no limits as to the methods of torture. There were no paper trails created by a bunch of justice department attorneys giving legal opinions on what is or isn't torture and the extent to which those methods could be applied. There were no doctors in attendance to insure that no permanent physical or mental damage was being inflicted. But, in the world of the liberal mindset, Bush and his people should be tried for war crimes and Clinton people who ruthlessly practiced rendition should get a pass.

Furthermore, Obama was dead wrong on Churchill and torture. While Churchill may have, in public, detested torture, it sure went on out of the sight of any public scrutiny (See Full Story). It probably goes on to this very day as noted in this news article: Revealed: Torture Centre Linked to MI5. Here's another article on the same subject that was just written in March of 2009: MI5 'torture' probe launched.

The problem with torture is that in open societies, like ours, the NGO's like Amnesty International have open access and are able to easily uncover these practices. However, in closed societies, like Cuba or Iran or North Korea, these practices remain hidden. Amnesty International has, in the past, stated that they think 91 countries practice torture. However, that estimate is based on those countries that they have been able to gain access to. The number is probably greater if closed societies were placed under scrutiny.

Obama is playing games with the facts to suit his ideological beliefs on torture and to satisfy the left's hatred of George W. Bush. He quotes Churchill and assumes that the general dummies within our population won't contest what he says. Most people will do anything to protect themselves and to ensure survival. But, Obama, in trying to be judgmental for ideological reasons, just doesn't understand that.

Many on the left detest Harry Truman's dropping of the two atomic bombs. But, that is a revisionist viewpoint; much like today with 9/11 and torture. To end World War II, Harry Truman weighed the estimated time it would take to bring the war in the Pacific to an end by conventional means and how many American and ally's lives would be lost in the process. His decision to use the bomb was based on the continued loss of thousands of American soldiers and the additional loss of thousands of Japanese civilians by the conventional bombing raids. But, even with that in mind, Truman ordered days of leaflet dropping over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the hopes that the Japanese would heed the plea for surrender. However, even after Hiroshima, the Japanese monarchy ignored this reality and allowed the Nagasaki bombing to happen.

The problem with most of the politically-correct left of our generation is the practice of revisionist history. Conveniently, they ignore Clinton's rendition activities. They condemn Christopher Columbus for his brutality when he existed at a time in world history where the concept of human rights was barely embryonic. Slavery is another example. Many of our founding fathers practiced it. Should we now remove their names from our history books? Now, they want to remove the realities surrounding 9/11 and what the Bush Administration felt they had to do to keep this country safe.

All acts in history have to be put into the context of the time that they took place. The practices of "in hindsight" and "in retrospect" are judgmental actions done by people who seem to think they are morally superior to the people of a different time, place, and circumstance. Generally speaking, not one of those moral critics has ever had to protect or save a life or has been in mortal fear of an enemy that would kill them. I would ask these "pseudo gods" to step down from their soap boxes and try, for once, to step into the actual shoes of the ones they are criticizing.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Obama Overexposed

If you're like me, you probably feel like Obama has been our President for a year or more. But, in reality, it's only been 102 days. That's because it has been a non-stop, two, three, or even four speeches a day timetable for this guy since he began running in 2007. To a large extent, he still acts like he's running and not like he actually got the job. You've got to wonder! When does he have any time to do all those leadership things that we expect our President to do? I would personally like to know how many broken teleprompters he went through to achieve a pace of that many 20 to 30 minute speeches per day; every day .

For over a year, the national media has drooled and hung on his every word. Since being in office, he has garnered more press coverage than both the Clinton and Bush Presidencies combined (See Full Story). When he's getting on Air Force One, there's a speech and the news media covers it. When he get's off the plane, he's there, and the press is there to hear what he has to say. All the time, the cable new stations are glued to the guy.

For sure, Obama's biggest fan is Obama. He loves all the attention and it shows. I truly believe that getting in front of the cameras is a form of "meth" for Obama and he's figuratively got a multi-rock habit. But, the "rock star" image is finally starting to fade. The legit daily polls like Gallup and Rasmussen are showing a constant decline in his favorable numbers and a more dramatic increase in his unfavorability ratings.

This week, George Will wrote an excellent article titled the "Unsilent Barack" in which he outlined his belief that Obama is becoming too ever-present; and, I agree. To me, Obama is like the uncle that came to visit for just a week, a year ago, and he's still here. I think a good indicator of that fact was this week's prime time news conference; the third in just so many months. This week's conference only got 29 million viewers. Previously, he had two evening news conferences that garnered 40 million viewers, last month, and 49 million viewers in the month prior (See Full Story).

In the link above, about the falling viewership for Obama's news conference, the writer noted that Fox elected not to show the President's new conference. The writer also implied that Fox, in doing so, thought that they might get more viewers for it's hit show "Lie To Me." However, as the writer states, they had the same amount of viewers as they did the week before. I think the writer is missing a big point here. The point is that, in maintaining it's ratings, no body left that "Lie To Me" show to view this President's newser. That shows a complete disinterest in what Obama had to say. This is despite the fact that we are in the midst of both an economic and a medical crisis.

I think that a lot of people are starting to see that Obama's news conferences are as staged and orchestrated as everything else that he does. With an Obama news conference, everything is controlled to insure that no tough questions are thrown at him and that he is never blindsided. He has a specific list of people that he will call on and the questions are almost too softball to believe that they are not being pre-screened. There are never any followup questions. With Obama, gone are the days where the Press Corps is constantly raising their hands to get called on and the President would randomly point to someone for a question.

If Obama keeps up his constant "in your face" practice and does no more than hype himself in doing so, people are going to be turned off. Most people can't stand someone who only talks constantly about themselves or is always blaming someone else for any problems. Clearly, this President spends all of his time trying to convince you that he is what he says he is. But, in reality, great Presidents are great, not because of what they say, but because the people of this country think so based on performance. I think Obama is making a big mistake with his constant exposure. In the end, I believe people will just get tired of him and think less of him. But, that's just my opinion.