Monday, August 31, 2009

Not For A Political Agenda?

(see note below on this video's usage)

Please excuse me while I try to stop laughing!

On ABC's This Week (Click to See Full Story and the complete video of John Kerry's appearance on ABC's This Week), John Kerry seems to believe that Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to pursue the "investigation and trial" of CIA interrogators is being done for the rule of law and "not" political reasons. First, career people in the justice department have already reviewed the interrogation techniques and an have already come to the conclusion that what they did was not illegal. Simply, Eric Holder (and this President) are doing this because the far left of their party wants a pound of flesh from the Bush-led CIA; a group they have always hated and have always attempted to emasculate.

What is really laughable the Kerry comment about Holder's adherence to the law and not to politics.

Eric Holder is the same person who advised the then-President, Bill Clinton, to give a pardon to Marc Rich because of his campaign contributions and because of his wife's Democratic party activities. Marc Rich was a fugitive who completely avoided going to trial. Normally, pardons are given to people who have been brought to justice, have been found gilty, and, typically, served some jail time. But, not in this case. Instead, Marc Rich is Scott-free without even having to face trial for his offenses. All for politics and not-hardly for the rule of law. (Click to See Wikipedia Story on Marc Rich)

With stupidity like this, it is obvious why Kerry didn't win the Presidency; and, that's despite George W. Bush being so unpopular in the polls!

Note: This video is being presented on the basis that it can be used without permission because it meets the Fair Use conditions of our Copyright Laws regarding opinion and education. As required, the source of this video is clearly stated in the main paragraph of this blog entry. Additionally,this blog is a non-commercial entity.

The Hypocrisy of the Democrats on Health Care

For more than 2 decades, the Democrats in Congress have condemned HMO's for their refusal to pay for expensive medical procedures; access to specialists; and, for the denial of expensive, but lifesaving, drugs -- all in an effort to control costs. As you can see from this 1998 news commentary on the Congressional hearings that were being held to address the problems of managed heath care, the Democrats clearly wanted to force HMO's to expand their health care coverage by both legislative and legal means (vis- a-vis medical malpractice lawsuits) (Click to See Story). In that commentary, there is one very specific quote that shows how hypocritical the Democrats have become with Obama leading the charge to health care-less reform:

"Daschle and Kennedy are sponsoring legislation [S. 1890], with Dingell and Ganske in the House [H.R. 3605], incorporating many of these tough provisions, including the right to sue health plans and binding outside review of patient appeals on medical coverage decisions."
Back in 1998, the Democrats were hardly interested in cost containment. In fact, they were only interested in patients getting more and more care without any regard to costs. They were all for suing those HMO's if they didn't provide any of the latest health care and drugs that were available.

Now, today, with Obama at their helm, they are all for cost containment by minimizing or denying expensive health care; by denying access to specialists (Click to See Full Story); and by denying what they deem to be unnecessary drugs -- the very thing that they condemned HMO's for in the 90's! The only thing that is leftover from 1998 is that they still believe that the trial lawyers should sue the hell out of doctors, insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and other health care providers!

Apparently, back in the Clinton years -- when the Republicans had control of both Houses of Congress -- the late Senator Kennedy's life ambition was for more health care; not less. Now, with the Democrats in charge, things are completely different with the Kennedy Memorial Health Care Reform Legislation.

How hypocritical is that!

Let's also not forget that it is Tom Daschle, the then-Democratic leader of the Senate, who is now advising Barack Obama on the methods of curtailing health care in America. What a difference two decades and winning control of Congress makes!

When Green Is The Color Of Oil

In the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown's government can certainly be said to be "green" leaning. Just like Obama, Brown plans big spending on green projects as a means to economic recovery.

So, why are these two, Obama and Brown, so interested in the not-so-green participation in drilling for oil?

Just recently, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (a separate agency of the United States Government that reports directly to Obama) issued a $10 billion line of credit to the Brazilian national oil company, Petrobas, to facilitate both expanded and new off-shore drilling operations in Brazil (Click to See Full Story).

In the case of the "slithering" Brown, his government negotiated the release of the Pan Am/Lockerbie bomber so that the United Kingdom could get a piece of any new oil production in Libya (Click to See Full: "Secret documents uncover UK's interest in Libyan oil Story").

I guess oil is a "green thing" when it can be extracted by some other country and not done at home. That kind of thinking is often called NIMBY or Not In My Back Yard; but, it hardly does anything for the overall improvement of the world's environment.

Both these hypocrites talk the "green" talk but really understand that oil will be needed by us all for a very long time. They both want to make sure their countries have plenty of oil in the future because both these fools know that oil is absolutely essential to the national security of both their nations.

Does anyone think that wheeling and dealing for foreign oil production sounds like Obama is serious about getting America off imported oil?

As I have said before in this blog" 10 years from now we will be even more dependent on foreign oil than we are today. Our production is going down while our demand is rising and will continue to rise. Wind and solar are never going to counteract that reality. The only thing wind or solar will do is eat into our own natural gas and coal production and won't save a drop of imported oil.

Lastly, I find Brazil's need to drill for oil the most interesting of the above deals. Three years ago, as oil prices kept rising, Brazil was being held up as the shining example of a country that was able to get off their dependency on oil. That's because they had diverted the majority of their sugar production into the production of ethanol. Now, there is an impending shortage of sugar and the world's economic situation has forced oil to come down in price. In effect, sugar prices are going through the roof and Brazil is stuck with a very expensive option for their country's auto fuel source. Where's all the left-wing news headlines on that one?

(Click Here To See a 'Typical' News Story on Brazil's Ethanol Success from 2006: "Brazil hopes to build on its ethanol success" )

Sunday, August 30, 2009

On Health Care Reform: The Truth Is Dribbling Out

In another one of those raucous Town Halls with right-wing mobs, a Democratic Representative from Colorado, Betsy Markey, let it slip that: "There's going to be some people who are going to have to give up some things, honestly, for all of this to work..." (Click to See Full Story: "Markey: Medicare will take hit").

So, what is it that we'll have to give up? Money? Care? Our lives? I'm quite sure the true answer is: "All of the above!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pass One For Teddy?

With Ted Kennedy now gone, the Democrats are trying to push the health care reform bill as a "memorial" to the far-left Senator. I'm sorry, we already have Obama -- a Kennedy-backed candidate -- and look what that got us. Now, we are supposed to support another Kennedy mistake and pull this health care bill out of the trash, dust it off, and pass it; just because it was his life's goal?

Pelosi, Reid, and the rest of the Democrats have absolutely no shame. Kennedy isn't even buried yet and they have decided to use his death as some type of incentive for the passage of their health care bill. I'm really surprised that Kennedy's casket doesn't have a banner draped across it that says: "Pass Health Care, Now! Pass it for Dead Ted"!

The health care bill is bigger than one Senator or any other politician. If we are to pass health care legislation, it should be for the "good" of "all" Americans and not as just some memorial to Ted Kennedy. We already have a bunch of big-government, social programs that are memorials to Teddy. Most of them are in such solvency problems that they are almost all carrying "going out of business" signs. Let's not add another to that long list of things that we can't pay for and that really only benefit a "chosen" few; while pushing most other Americans aside.

As a Democrat of the 1960's, I, like a lot of those who mourned for JFK and RFK, wanted Edward Kennedy to run for President. A lot of what Ted Kennedy stood for and the legislation he pushed did, in fact, memorialize his two dead brothers, and I supported him. Still, today, I think that all of his goals are laudable. But, it was the methods in achieving those goals that I had serious problems with. I was wrong in supporting Ted Kennedy and was, in fact, blinded by the Kennedy mystique. I'm well over that now, and I am the former politically blind man, I can strongly say: "Let's 'not' pass this one for Teddy!" Let's just scrap it. Instead, let's create a health care bill that is the best in the world and that truly and uniquely American; not something like Canada or Britain or, even, France.

Friday, August 28, 2009

$2.7 Million Slice of Life

So narrow, this little house at 75 1/2 Bedford St. in Greenwich Village, New York, carries only half a street number. At it's widest point, it is just under 9 feet inside; with the narrowest point down to 2 feet. This 3-story brick job is only 30 feet deep (contrary to the 42 feet as reported by AP in the story - below).

But -- surprise! -- this 1873-built gem just went on the market for $2.7 million. It last sold in 2000 for $1.6 million (Click to See Full Story).

Who said there was a collapse in the housing market!

Just like all those super-thin supermodels, this thing just proves that skinny can make you money. As "skinny", Paris Hilton, always says: "It's Hot!"

Here's a great 2004 Village Voice story that really talks at length about this "skinny" house with the not-so-skinny price (Click to See Full Story).

As you can see, the price is based on the uniqueness and the historical "rareness" of this place and not just the "space" it provides.

I'm now trying to see if I can "squeeze" my one-story ranch into a three story jewel like this one. Maybe, then, I can recover from all the losses that I've taken in the last year and a half with the housing crash. In Las Vegas, a 3-story, 3o x 9 foot house, like that one, would certainly be unique. In terms of historical value, my current house would probably qualify. In Vegas, almost anything that is older than a few years gets "imploded" and rebuilt as something bigger and better.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Apparently, the American Public Is Easier to Screw With Than The Trial Lawyers

Forget the Insurance Companies. Here's Why Health Care is a Problem in America

Billed as a sandwich, KFC is now trial marketing a bacon-cheese sandwich that actually replaces the bread with two deep-fat-fried slabs of chicken (Click to See Full Story). It's called the "Double Down" and that's probably a good name for it since you (or I) would probably be eating "double" the fat and cholesterol that you would get with any regular cheese and bacon sandwich. And, the "down" part? You'll only understand that if you keep eating one of these things everyday. As far as calories go, it's a whole day's worth - not including a side of fries and a coke!

It's probably the first time, ever, that a bacon and cheese sandwich can be said to taste just like chicken! Then, too, let's not forget: Chicken "is" a lot healthier than red meat! Right?

A Labor-less Labor Day?

Most people consider Labor Day the end of summer. In many ways it truly is. It usually punctuates a summer of fun.

As of Labor Day, all the Summer camps are usually shut down. In the Midwest and other areas of the country, boating activities are slowed as harbor operations get ready for hauling boats out for Fall storage. Amusement parks, especially in the colder areas of the country, scale back to weekends-only. Public beaches and pools are typically closed to recreation; at least during the week.

With all of these operations being shutdown, many will find themselves out of work; starting with the week prior to Labor Day. For this reason, this Labor Day might signal one of the most jobless in decades. Unlike other Labor Days, the people who will be let go this year are going to enter a really tough job market. It won't be easy to find a job to replace their lost summertime work. Fortunately for our economy, many will just go back to college; but, many won't.

I think you can expect the unemployment rates to rise in both September and October with all those summer jobs coming to an end. This fact, alone, may be singularly responsible for unemployment rates jumping to 10 percent or higher when those month-prior reports come out in both October and November.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Orleans Still Struggling

In my previous Cranky George Blog and a year after Katrina hit New Orleans, I wrote the following:

Then to complicate things even further, there is no master plan. Mayor Nagin says he has a 100-day plan; but, nowhere on paper. Besides, he has "had" more than 3 times those 100 days since Katrina hit to have a recovery plan in effect. And, I would think he should have more than one 100-day plan to solve the "years" of problems that now face New Orleans. 100-days is either ridiculously short-sighted or irrationally optimistic. Either way, it shows Nagin's innate inability to tackle the "real world" problems at hand. While the media is always quick to attack FEMA or Bush, there seems to be no focus on this, the most critical of issues....

Lastly, the news media seems to be fascinated by the fact that nearly half of the residents have not returned. Returned to what? Even if they had a trailer or a house to come back to, they don't have jobs. The place is toxic and there are no guarantees that another hurricane won't do the same thing. The businesses, too, are in the same situation. And, with only half the people available as customers, is there really a business to come back to? This is truly a "chicken and the egg" quandary. No business. No jobs. No people; and, so on, in an endless circle.

In summary, like the old adage says: "Rome wasn't built in day", New Orleans has years of work ahead of it. It took 300 years to build this city and just hours and one storm to destroy it. It seems to me that the focus should be on making sure that can't happen again before any people haphazardly rebuild. That takes a lot planning; of which, there seems to be very little! Sadly, that's the "real story" of New Orleans that's the story that the press "should" be focused on, on this one-year anniversary of Katrina!

Now, some three years later, two Associated Press writers seem to question the quick recovery of New Orleans in this piece: "Hope, reality collide in post-Katrina New Orleans".

The reality of New Orleans is that people have moved on with new lives somewhere else. It is too "romantic" to think that people are somehow completely bound to a place where they once lived or where they once grew up; and, as a consequence, would be willing to return without any hope of a job or an inhabitable home. For too many people, especially those trapped in public housing in the lower 9th ward, that life, before Katrina, was a nightmare without any true hope. Hopefully, they are now doing much better, somewhere else.

As I said 3 years ago, it will take years for New Orleans to regain its original size and strength. That's the reality. The hope that New Orleans will become what it was before Katrina is completely irrational. I think that a lot of those who "might" return to New Orleans wouldn't even consider doing so until the levy system is fixed for good. To my knowledge, a permanent fix is still up in the air.

In my opinion, Mayor Ray Nagin has always been a problem -- both before Katrina and afterwords -- and he continues to be a problem to this day. There needs to be a leader with vision and a "plan"; not a vision and just "words". For that reason, New Orleans will never rally recover until the residents of that city replace their current Mayor.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All Wee Weed Up!

When Obama used the expression "all wee weed up", our national press corp seemed to get completely confused over what our President was actually talking about; and, quite frankly, seemed to revert back to acting like little children -- not a big leap for many of them --- after hearing what might have been their first dirty word:

Obviously, from the video clip above, the term "wee weed up" became the phrase-of-the-day for much of our network reporters. Some literally got "all giggly" over it. Others seemed very shy and wanted to avoid it all together. My guess is that they were the true bed-wetters in the crowd. Many just seemed to want to work it into everything they were saying.

Quite frankly, I think it was our national media who was actually getting "all wee weed up" while talking about the phrase: "all wee weed up"!

Image of "two men peeing" is by Joffley's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Too Many Cooks!

Obama has managed to appoint 32 so-called Czars who are supposed to oversee everything from executive pay, to the environment, and to health care. Each of these Czar's responsibilities take away from the existing cabinet positions and other agency heads. Now, Obama has created a new agency that reports directly to the White House. This new group is specifically intended to conduct interrogations; taking that complete responsibility, I suppose, away from the FBI, the military, and the CIA. And, I've previously pointed out, that Hillary Clinton's job as Secretary of State is being undermined by all the "special envoys" and "special negotiators" that Obama has already appointed.

This is just bad management. It can only create dissension in the ranks of the President's Administration. It undermines the confidence of all those cabinet members who can only see themselves as losing critical and important aspects of their responsibilities. Then, too, I would think that some cabinet members will see themselves as taking orders from two bosses: A Czar or a Special Appointee and Barack Obama.

This type of "division" of labor can result in some cabinet members becoming fed up and quitting. There are just too many cooks involved in all this Administration's activities. This kind of managerial environment will only lead to people stepping on others or getting stepped on, themselves. Not good!

Calling Dr. Strangelove...Calling Dr. Strangelove!

Ever since the movie, "Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", Dr. Strangelove has been synonymous with condoning the doomsday option of initiating an all-out nuclear war.

It now appears that Dr. Strangelove might be advising the Democrats on passing health care reform legislation without a single Republican vote or without a Filibuster. The "Strangelove" solution is to go nuclear by using a parliamentary procedure that is called Reconciliation (Click to See Wikipedia Definition). Often, Reconciliation is referred to as the "nuclear option" because it literally "blows up" the normal Congressional procedures and allows the passage of a law without any input from the minority party.

In effect, the use of Reconciliation in this case would allow the passage of this country's largest and most far-reaching legislation, ever, to go through Congress and be approved with a simple 51% Democratic majority. In doing so, it would completely ignore the increasing public dissent against any nationalized health care system that includes the public option. It could be done without any input from the Republicans.

In the past, Reconciliation has only been used to get stalled budgets through Congress so that the government didn't come to a complete and grinding halt. Now, the Democrats want to use it to ram through a piece of legislation that is totally ideologically-based and without any input from the opposition party. Is this the post-partisan government that Obama claimed he would create if he got into office?

I think the nuclear option will change the face of our legislative procedure forever because, once played, it will no longer be feared to be used again. The precedent-barrier will have been broken. The threat of future Presidential vetoes could be totally thrown out the window and the filibuster as a parliamentary tool would be dead.

I think the Democrats are playing with fire on this. The use of Reconciliation could result in their own demise through voter backlash. But, the problem with "this" Democratic Congress is that they are being driven by an extreme left ideology that is totally blind to being a true representative government; and, I don't think they care if they actually win or lose the next election. Obama, himself, has said as much as evidenced by this video:

All along, I believe that the entire thrust of this current government is to create a "no going back" change in America. The massive debt, Cap and Trade, and this Health Care Reform make no sense otherwise. Just maybe the true "nuclear option" is in all the legislation we are seeing from Obama and the Democrats of Congress. An "option" which is really intended to destroy America as a capitalist society and rebuild it as a socialist state. This could be the very "doomsday" scenario that Dr. Strangelove is "now" envisioning for America!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Obama Deficit Projection: Missed It By That Much!

On the 60's TV Program "Get Smart" (and in the 2008 movie), agent Maxwell Smart always attempted to try and minimize his failures by saying "Missed it by that much!" while holding his thumb and index finger up in the air so that only an inch or so separates them.

In that same vein, I guess the Obama Administration can, too, claim to have "missed it by that much" when it comes to talking about their projections for the 10-year budget deficit.

While it might seem like years ago, it was just in March when the Obama Administration predicted that the 10-year deficit would "only" reach $7.1 trillion dollars (Click to See A Very Pertinent Commentary on this Subject). The nay-sayers of that time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and others (like myself), were all saying that this projection was just too rosy. In fact, the CBO said that the 10-year deficit would be more in the range of $9.3 trillion dollars.

Well, as of today, it is being reported by Reuters News that the Obama Administration will project the 10-year deficit to be $9 trillion dollars by the end of 2019; and, not the "rosy" $7.4 trillion projection of only 5 months ago (Click to See Full Story: "New deficit projections pose risks to Obama's agenda").

Statistically, that's an error rate of 12% in just 5 months. One can only wonder how far off they will be in a year's time! Maybe, double that with another 1-1/2 to 2 trillion dollars added to the $9 trillion? God help us if that's the case!

From all appearances, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had it right; but, then, their $9.3 trillion might also be understated when the impact of other spending is taken into consideration like the Cash for Clunkers program and the new, higher projections for Health Care reform and Cap and Trade.

Throughout the Health Care debate, the Congressional Budget Office has said that Obama-Care won't lower health care costs in this country; but, raise them. They have also said the impact on the budget deficits would be substantially higher than what is being projected by either the Congressional Democrats or the Obama Administration. Yet, Obama has steadfastly and vehemently denied that to be true.

Well, I think the CBO has proven itself to be closer to the truth than Obama and the Democrats with this latest 10-year budget shortfall. It just seems like a day doesn't go by where this Administration isn't being proven wrong.

Either they are totally incompetent or they are intentionally deceiving us; or, both. In any event, it is not good for America!

Obama Says: "You'll Be Able To Keep Your Health Care Plan, Period!"

Mark Twain said: "Truth is stranger than fiction , but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't."

In Obama's constantly repetitious statement that "You'll be able to keep your health care plan", it is the "possibilities" that Mark Twain talked about that are being intentionally hidden by the supposed "truth" of his statement.

If Health Care Reform is passed in the current form of House Bill HR3200, it is highly possible that you will be able to keep your health plan; just as Obama keeps saying. However, the "possibilities" that are missing from his statement are all too true.

For sure, you'll be able to keep your current health plan "but" only until the your health insurance company is run out of existence because it can no longer compete with the "public option." Then, too, you can keep your health plan "until" that new agency of the Federal Government, the Health Choices Administration, audit's your health insurance company out of existence. Then, again, you can keep your plan "until" the Health Choices Administration tells your insurance company that it can no longer provide that type of coverage for any of a variety of reasons. Also, you'll be able to keep your plan "until" your employer decides to completely drop your health insurance coverage because it will be cheaper for that employer to pay the Federal penalty than to keep providing employer-based health coverage. And, let's not forget that HR3200 stipulates that once you are forced to move to the "public option", you can never again rejoin any private insurer.

Yes, Obama is telling you the truth, alright. But, in his "truth" there are many hidden "possibilities" in the form of BUTs and UNTILs. For those reasons, Obama's statement isn't just "stranger than fiction" --- it is fiction!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

An American Economy Based On A Baseless Dollar?

More than once, Obama's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, has made a statement that has been very similar to the following quote of just 3 weeks ago:
"The rebuilt American economy must be more export-oriented and less consumption-oriented, more environmentally oriented and less fossil-energy-oriented, more bio- and software-engineering-oriented and less financial-engineering-oriented, more middle-class-oriented and less oriented to income growth that disproportionately favors a very small share of the population."
This, in my opinion, is an insight into all that Obama and his people have been doing since he took office. Simply speaking, I think that Larry Summers and Barack Obama want to see the destruction of the U.S. dollar as a means to the goals that he has expressed in the quote above.

Ever since Obama took office, he has massively increased the debt load and the deficits. That, in turn, has weakened the American dollar. When Obama took office you could exchange 1.32 dollars for one Eurodollar. Today, you will need to cough up 1.45 dollars for that same benchmark of European currency. That's a decline in the value of the dollar by 22%. The exchange rate with some other currencies is even worse.

Whenever the dollar is weakened, our products become cheaper to buy in other countries. Likewise, products being imported into America become more expensive for Americans to buy. We are already seeing this in oil prices. Despite the worldwide usage decline and the complete overstock of this commodity, oil prices have still been rising. Yesterday, it hit $75 a barrel before falling back. Most oil is traded in dollars. We are the world's leader in oil consumption. We import more than we domestically produce; and, therefore, the price will rise with any fall in the dollar. In effect, the weakened dollar is punishing us all at the gas pumps.

As the dollar continues to weaken, domestic products become cheaper and more attractive to buy than similar imported products. This could force manufacturers to establish or, just maybe, re-establish manufacturing operations in this country in order to regain price competitiveness. Subsequently, our exports could expand. I believe that is what Summers means in his comment that "a rebuilt American economy" must be "more export oriented."

The downside to the Summers philosophy is that America imports more than it produces domestically. In most cases, this is because many items are not even made here anymore. This is certainly the case for consumer electronics, most textiles, ceramics, etc. When Summers says "less consumption-oriented", he's not kidding. As the dollar falls, all those imported flat screen TV's will cost a lot more to buy because of it. Further, as the unemployment rate rises and the value of homes decreases, fear will cause consumers to hold onto cash and pay off their bills. People will buy less and save more money because they will have learned the value of saving from the hardships of this recession; just as the survivor's of the Great Depression did in and after the 1930's.

Mr. Summers is also right when it comes to his statement that American society will become "more environmentally oriented and less fossil-energy-oriented". As noted previously, the fall in the U.S. dollar will force world oil prices up and that, will, as a consequence, force up the price of gasoline. This, then, will make alternative and domestic sources of energy more competitive with fossil fuels; but, also, it will make every American's energy costs exceedingly more expensive. Because of the falling dollar and high imported oil prices, this Administration will be able to force-fit America into wind and solar by artificially pushing the cost of fossil fuels up.

The comment of "more bio- and software-engineering-oriented and less financial-engineering-oriented" is really referring to more control over Wall Street and our banking system. The mindset of this Obama-government is to completely control banking and completely stifle any more of those radical "wealth building" activities of Wall Street. We can see this with Obama's tactic of giving bailout money to Wall Street and the banks so he can absolutely control them; both in terms of business operations and in terms of salaries.

Our leadership in "bio- and software-engineering" might not be as doable as Summers thinks. We are losing ground in both these areas to countries who are getting educationally stronger than we are. However, it appears from the context of these words that Federal money will be funneled into these activities. We have already seen that in software-engineering due to Obama's push for the complete national database of health records. His funding and relaxed rules on Stem Cell research will certainly give a boost to bio-engineering.

Summer's last comment --- "more middle-class-oriented and less oriented to income growth that disproportionately favors a very small share of the population" --- is really key to Obama's populist and socialist attitude towards the rich. That statement says it all about his plans to kill off the wealthy through taxing and, ultimately, the redistribution of the nation's wealth. In effect, from that statement alone, it is the intent of this Administration to eliminate entrepreneurship in America by punishing the more creative wealth builders and giving that money to the less instrumental members of our economy. The downside is that unemployment will rise because we won't have the funds available for the building of new business opportunities and current business expansion.

I personally find Mr. Summers comments to be anti-capitalistic and naively socialistic. It is obvious that the Obama Administration seems to falsely think that a weak dollar is the key to rebuilding America. I say falsely because the big drawback of the Summers/Obama philosophy for a weakening dollar is the fact that our country will be so in debt that it will make us more and more dependent on the foreign countries that hold all that debt. For years we have been emasculated in dealing with Arab oil-producers because we are so dependent on their oil. In the future, we will be similarly emasculated in dealing with countries that hold our debt; like China. China, today, is increasingly trying to be the world's superpower and we are becoming more and more subservient to them. Not good!

Additionally, as the dollar falls, so does the value of our bonds (our debt). This, then, poses a real problem for China and all those other countries that we need, debt-wise, to bankroll all of our unfunded spending. But, if anyone buys our debt and the value of the dollar falls faster than the interest rate that is being paid on it, they will lose money on their investment. To overcome this problem, the buyer of our debt has only two choices: (1) stop buying, completely or (2) demand higher and higher interest rates.

If China and other countries continue to buy our debt, but at higher rates, it will mean that our national debt will be much more costly to us than it had been previously. We will have to issue more and more less effective debt instruments in order to cover our deficits. The interest that we will pay will skyrocket. Like the Carter years, the interest rates to buy a house will be double digits; probably above 20 percent. To buy a car may cost you interest of 15% or higher.

If the value of the dollar falls too low and China and other countries completely stop buying our bonds, we will be in a world of hurt. At that point, our dollar will literally collapse because all of the bonds will fall to junk status. Inflation will be uncontrolled. In fact, our economy could be very similar to many of history's "Banana Republics" that have all fallen by the wayside.

Debasing the dollar is OK if you don't have as much debt as the United States already has. But, we are increasingly looking like a spender who is quickly becoming the "up to their eyeballs in debt" debtor. Typically, that kind of person eventually winds up in bankruptcy court. There is no bankruptcy court for a country; just complete and utter collapse.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Latest Zogby Poll: Only A 45% Approval For Obama

With polls coming fast and furious, its obvious that Obama is sinking as quickly as the polls are being reported. The latest John Zogby poll has him at a 45% approval rating with 51% of those disapproving of his performance (Click to Read the Polling Summary at Zogby International's website). The drop in Obama's approval rating is a full 8 points from the last Zogby poll in July. What should be really disconcerting to Democrats and Obama is the fact that nearly 60% of Independents now disapprove of the President's performance.

That Libyan Already Received Compassion!

For Scotland to have released Libyan bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, on the basis of "compassion" -- after he had been convicted and sentenced "to life" for his role in the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie Scotland -- is both a travesty of justice and a moral outrage (Click to See Full Story: "Barack Obama leads condemnation of Scotland for freeing Lockerbie bomber").

This Libyan had already received his compassion in getting a life sentence in Scotland. If the tables were turned and he had been tried in Libya for murdering Libyans or other Arabs, he would have been sentenced to death under Libyan law. He should be grateful that his life was spared by some of the same Westerners that he hates and would kill in a heartbeat.

I applaud Obama for his stance on this Libyan's release. I also applaud his condemnation of the celebration for Megrahi that took place when that murderer landed in Libya. I would hope Obama pushes this issue with some penalties being issued against Libya for idolizing this killer of hundreds of Americans.

Sadly, there is no "reprieve" even possible for the dead who were killed by this murdered!

Obama: It's The Republicans Who Are Blocking Health Care Reform

Having a strong majority in the House of Representatives, the Democrats should be able to easily pass "their" health care reform without a single Republican vote. For the Senate, the Democrats, too, have a veto-proof 60-vote majority. In addition, they have Republican Senators Grassley and two other Republicans who are working with a few Democrats to try and hammer out what could be considered a marginal attempt to get a bipartisan bill through the Senate.

Clearly, the Democrats have a majority to vote this bill into law without the help of a single Republican. The Dems could have brought it to a vote in the House before the recess. But, they didn't have enough of their own people on board. The Republicans had nothing to do with it. Harry Reid is now saying that it won't be until late September or October before a vote can take place in the Senate because he, too, doesn't have enough votes for any Democratic, go-it-alone, health care bill being passed in the Senate. In both cases, the Republicans have been a lot like the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globe Trotters. They might have scored a few points but, theoretically, they are in no position to really win. It is actually the Democrats who have been their own worst enemy.

So, I find it interesting that this President seems think it is "solely" the Republicans who are at fault for blocking any health care reform (Click to See Full Story: "Obama blames GOP for stalled health bills").

But, this is so typical of Obama and his blame-game. It's never about him; it always someone else. It is either the health insurance companies; or, the greedy Wall Streeters; or, the banks; or Joe the Plumber; or, now, the Republicans. This guy appears to have the mentality of a two-year old. His is a spoiled child who won't accept any responsibility; won't ever apologize for his own faults; won't give credit to Bush for Iraq and other programs; and, who thinks he can deflect any blame by always pointing fingers at someone else. I call that the Obama,"Johnny Did It", syndrome!

From the very get-go, Obama only had meetings with the Democrats of Congress to lay out his planned health care legislation. The Republicans were completely excluded from any and all of those meetings. Obama and the Democrats completely ignored Republican calls for tort reform; the interstate sale of medical insurance; tax credits for anyone having to buy their own insurance coverage; the creation of non-profit co-op insurers and insurance pools to reduce cost; and so many other ideas. Instead, the Democrats are totally deaf to any other viewpoints because they only have "one" goal in mind. That goal is a single-payer, government-run health care system that will ultimately crush any private insurance companies in America. They want complete control over you and your doctors and the hospitals. Any concessions to that ideologically-minded goal will not be tolerated. This, then, is why the Republicans have been almost totally excluded from the process. That reason, too, is why the Democrats are calling out and demonizing the dissenters at the Town Hall Meetings.

When the President says that the Republicans are "not" working with him, he is really saying they aren't completely on board with either "him" or "his programs" -- lock, stock, and barrel! For this supposed bipartisan President, it has always been the philosophy of "his way" or the highway. He seems to think that bipartisanship is to have the opposition party falling all over him as if he were some kind of political god. Now that he has shown the Republicans the highway, he wants America to buy into "his big lie" that it's all about "them" and their unwillingness to work with him. When, in fact, it is not just the Republicans who are having problems with health care reform; it is his own party.

The polls are showing that, more and more, it is most voters and most Americans who aren't buying this health care plan; and, not just Republicans. His overall approval rating is plummeting because he has lost the confidence America and, most importantly, the voters in the middle-of-the-road: The Independents. His dream of complete health care control in America has literally turned into a nightmare. A nightmare of "his own doing" or, should I say, of "his own undoing"! If the Republicans had something to do with that, it is only because Obama, himself, handed them the very weapon -- Reason -- that was needed to defeat his health care reform plans.

Obama should look into the mirror; take his blame like a man; and start over with a plan that doesn't hurt, but helps, Americans with any of their specific health care issues. It should be a plan that takes baby steps. It should not be one that forces the whole meal down your throat at once. That' why America is choking over Obama-Care. It has very little to do with the Republicans.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Those Bad Health Insurance Companies

Over the last three weeks, Obama has been absolutely demonizing all those supposedly bad health insurance companies. Apparently, he thinks "making money" is a no-no in America. Like every other socialist, he thinks that America's companies should have zero profits.

But, how bad are those insurance companies? Are they simply ripping off all of America on the with their high insurance fees for health care so that they can make excessive profits?

Well, to answer that, let's look at the health care insurers and their profit margins. The profit margin is the percentage of profits that a company makes after all expenses and taxes are applied to its revenues.

Now, it is true that most health care insurers do make money. In fact, they are somewhat recession-proof. But, in general, these companies only have profit margins of about 2-1/2 to just under 5 percent.

So, now, let's look at the very biggest of the health insurance industry.

Humana will have a scant profit margin of 2.79% this year and has had a 9-year average profit margin of only 1.92%. Similarly, Cigna is at about 3.02% for 2009 with an average of 4.73% over the last 9 years. Aetna is at 3.85% with a 9-year average of 4.01%. Wellpoint has numbers of 4.07% and 4.39%; respectively.

Note: All these statistics (above and below) were obtained from either Yahoo Finance or from Standard & Poors Stock Reports.

To put those profit margins into perspective, let's look at the current-year and 9-year profit margins for some other companies that aren't in the business of medical insurance.

  • In the case of Apple Computer, they have a current profit margin of 14.88% (in midst of a recession) and a 9-year of 7.12% (Note: a decade ago, before the IPod, Apple was really struggling which accounts for its lower average profit margin).
  • Microsoft is struggling this year with a profit margin of 24.9%. In the past 9 years, it has averaged 28.3%.
  • Caterpillar at 6.93% this year with a 9-year of 6.21%.
  • Exxon-Mobil is at 9.47% and 8.45% for a 9-year.
  • General Electric is 9.91% and has had a 9-year average of 11.42%.
  • And, finally, Johnson & Johnson, a health care provider, has a 20.31% profit margin for this year and a 9-year of 18.44%.

In general, most companies, when they are making money and are not in a recession, have profit margins that are at least double that of the health insurers. To denigrate them as evil profiteers is just ridiculous and it shows how out of touch Obama is with reality.

Let's not forget that in order to make profits and be competitive, insurance companies must keep expenses to a minimum; something that the all the government controlled and losing efforts of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Post Office haven't got a clue about.

Also, these companies, by making profits, pay state and federal income taxes. That is something that can't be said about a company like General Motors who has received billions of dollars in bailouts and who hasn't paid taxes for years.

Further, the health insurance companies provide thousands of jobs with employees who, in turn, also pay taxes.

What Obama doesn't seem to understand is that it is only companies that make money who are able to pay income taxes. If we had a whole country of bankrupt and General Motors-like companies who don't pay any taxes, there would literally be no Federal Government for the lack of tax revenues. Uncle Sam would be totally broke. What then?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You Know Health Care Reform Is Dead When the Left Has To Throw The Race Card Down

Following Janeane Garofalo's declaration that all those Tea Parties were being organized by racists who hate Obama, I wrote the blog entry: "Racism: The Left's Argument of Last Resort"

Now, MSNBC is, once again, up to it's eyebrows in playing the race card. Chris Matthews and his liberal guests seem to think that all the anger at these Town Hall Meetings is purely based on racism and a hatred of this black President (Click to See the Video). I suggest they all read the story of the boy who cried wolf and learn something from it!

Like I said before, it's the left's argument of last resort. It shows desperation. It reflects their frustration. It's absolutely because of their inability to come up with any other intelligent and logical argument. It's just sad!

Obama's Audacity Gives New Hope For Change

When Obama wrote "The Audacity of Hope", I am quite sure that he thought he would be the instrument of change and not the object of it. But change may indeed come as a result of all the "change" that Obama is trying to force onto the American people with his extremely radical agenda.

The polls seem to be shouting a resounding "Whoa!" from those who are now becoming increasingly concerned about their country's future under the Obama Administration and the Democrats of Congress. Those same polls seem to reflect that definite change may be impending for America's current political leadership.

Polling now shows that the Democratic Governor, John Corzine, in the very blue State of New Jersey, is in trouble against his Republican challenger (Click to See: "Christie maintains lead over Corzine in poll"). In Virginia, that Democratic Governor has also fallen behind his Republican challenger (Click to: "McDonnell Leads Latest Poll in Virginia's Governor Race"). Senator Barbara Boxer has lost her normally dominant strength in that always-blue State of California. She only leads her opponent, Republican Carly Florina, by a mere 4 points and that campaign hasn't even really started (Click to See: "Poll: Carly Fiorina Closing Gap in Calif. Senate Race"). Then, there's Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate. Polls show his numbers have plummeted to a 34 percent approval rating (Click to See the USAToday Story: "Poll: 34% approval for Harry Reid" ). Unfortunately, the Republicans can't seem to find a strong challenger to oppose him in 2010.

What should be more worrisome for Obama and the Democrats is the fact that, for the first time in years, people are saying that they would vote for a generic Republican over any generic Democrat (Click to See Real Clear Politics Polling Data).

Despite all this, the Democrats blindly and deafly push on with their agenda. It is as if they think they are at the Alamo and are all willing to die to save Texas; or, as in this case, save America. But, I think one Alamo in our history is enough. So do most Americans.

The Democrat Party was hijacked by the extreme left when they gained control. Once again, they did what they always do: overstep their boundaries. They have done this before under Carter and Clinton and have lost their dominant control as a result. In the case of Clinton, the complete Congress went to the Republicans.

In football, there is an expression that a quarterback will "hear footsteps" just before he's about to be sacked. If alert and agile, that quarterback will run out of the "pocket" and avoid the sack. Politically speaking, Obama and Congress might be ignoring those same footsteps and are unwilling to run out of or abandon the ideological pocket they have put themselves in.

I can't say for sure but, I think there could be a sea of change in 2010. A "change" that I think Obama couldn't or wouldn't see or hear coming. A "change" that he created for himself through his own audacity.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

There's a Reason We Already Call Them Waiting Rooms!

To me, this whole health care plan of the Democrats overlooks a very critical and proven theorem of demand dynamics: Queuing Theory.

Right now there are about 46 million people or about 20% of the population in America who don't have health care insurance. Some can't afford it. Some have opted-out to save money or aren't buying it because they feel they are still young and healthy and they don't need it. Others can't get it because they have a pre-existing condition that has nullified their eligibility to obtain any insurance at a reasonable cost. Others are eligible for low cost or no-cost health care coverage like Medicaid but don't know how to apply for it. Many others are without insurance because they are between jobs. And, of course, about 10-15 million are illegal aliens who either can't get insurance or can't afford it. All these people receive high-cost and generally free care in our emergency rooms when they really do get sick.

Additionally, we are already in the midst of a shortage of certain health care professionals. Registered nurses have been a rare commodity for years. The number of both family and general practitioners has been declining rapidly; primarily as a result of doctors moving into specialty fields. Many small and rural communities have no nearby doctors. Additionally, because of increased malpractice suits and higher and higher costs for malpractice insurance, many OB/GYNs are leaving that specialty. All too often many new doctors are avoiding specializing as OB/GYNs for that very same cost reason. Lastly and increasingly, urban hospitals have decided to give up their "trauma center" status because they are being overwhelmed by the non-insured demands that are being placed on their emergency rooms and limited staff.

With these facts in mind, let's look at the Queuing Theory and how it applies to our health care system.

For those not familiar with Queuing Theory, it is a branch of statistics that deals with the probability of service availability and the probability of service being denied or of service being unavailable. Generally, speaking it looks at the dynamics of demand on any system of servers.

When I managed telecommunications, my staff would used formulas based on Queuing Theory, like Poisson and Erlang-B, to engineer the number of required phone lines, both incoming and outgoing, to achieve some level of desired service during peak times of the day. We would deal in levels of service as expressed in percentages. For customer support operations that need high levels of service, we looked at having a 98% throughput for incoming customer calls during any peak business hour. That, in turn, meant that some customers would experience peak hour blockages or busy signals; hopefully, only between 1 or 2 percent. We engineered to 98% level because to engineer to a level of 100% throughput would be cost prohibitive. That's because the extra 2 percent of increased service to a level of 100% might actually need 20 or 30% more phone lines to avoid any busy signals or call blockages. Additionally, when you have service level below 98%, the traffic load gets magnified by the amount of time that customers hang up and redial; over and over, again. At the 98% service level, the calls are usually minimized to only one failed attempt.

Traffic engineers use similar techniques to design and engineer new roads; the amount of exits; and how long traffic should wait at signals. It's also used in retail stores to estimate how many cash register/checkouts would be needed when designing a new store. So, it's application is endless in all walks of business where service is involved.

Anyone who is familiar with Queuing Theory knows the probability of service denial is not directly equal to the amount of servers being added or reduced. The best example I can give you of this is a 4-lane highway at rush hour. Hypothetically, it might normally take you 5 to 10 minutes to get from point A to point B on that highway. However, if one of those 4 lanes closes due to an accident, it might actually take an hour or more to get from A to B. The loss of one lane is only a 25 percent reduction in the total lanes of traffic. However, the delay time might be increased by a factor of 10 times or more than that. The inverse is also true. If you add 25 percent more traffic to the normal rush hour, you will, once again, experience delays that are disproportionally higher than the percentage of traffic that was added.

Now to health care.

The plan is to bring 46 million or 20% more people into the primary care system. While this will reduce the demand on hospital emergency rooms for unnecessary and uninsured clinical activity, it will swamp the already limited supply of primary care physicians and nurses. That's because the system will not only have to handle the previous emergency room traffic but it will also have to handle increased preventative care as being demanded by the Health Care Reform Bill. Based on my experience with Queuing Theory, the average wait times to see a doctor will increase exponentially and not just by a simple 20%. As a result, we could very well see weeks to schedule those things that had been previously done in the same day or within just a few days. Or, we could literally see months to schedule procedures that had been done previously with only a month or less notice. To lend some credence to this fact, please read this article about the United Kingdom's attempts to improve accident and emergency (A&E) wait times: (Click to See Full Story: "Professor Mayhew challenges Government A&E waiting times").

In business, it would be normal to increase capacity "before" you added 20% in new load to any existing system; especially one that is already overloaded. We have waiting rooms in our hospitals and in our doctor's offices because people are not being served immediately. They are there because patients are already waiting for service and things can only get worse with this nationalized health care reform. But our people in D.C. don't seem to understand this. I don't know if the system will be totally swamped; but, for sure, waiting times will increase and your doctor's availability will be reduced. This is the case in both Canada and the U.K. since they nationalized their own health care systems. And, it will be true in this country. It's just that simple when looking at the health care system from a Queuing Theory standpoint!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Global Warming Is Being Served Up Over Ice

All too often, we have all seen the same old scene being played out. Al Gore (figuratively) dons his not-so-little "Chicken Little" costume and begins running around and wildly screaming: "The ice is melting. The ice is melting."

As long as I can remember, the believers in Global Warming have been predicting the eventual sales of ocean front property in the heart of downtown Manhattan or at the foothills of the San Bernadino Mountains in Southern California. That's because they all believe that Global Warming will cause the unbridled loss of sea ice and it will flood the shorelines of America and the rest of world as the level of the earth's oceans rise as much as 30, 60, or 90 feet or more; depending on how outrageous the "warmists" feel that day and depending upon which flawed Global Warming study they most recently read.

For years, all those left-wing scientists of the Global Warming ilk have had their tape measures out, along with their mighty magnifying glasses, and they have measured every drip, drip, drip of melting sea ice around the world.They have sounded the alarms over the devastating floods that are "sure" to come. Then, the liberal news media gives them cover with op-ed's and news stories that support their predicted doom. Our nightly news teams will run stories along with videos of massive chunks of ice that are falling off of glaciers and dumping into our seas; even though these "ice events" have being occurring, over-and-over, for thousand of years.

Amid all these efforts towards their "hopeful" destruction of the earth due Global Warming, they seem to have a blind eye when the news is a lot more contrary to their ideological beliefs and their "Ice Is Melting!" rantings.

In reality, the sea ice, around the world, has returned to levels not seen since 1979 (Click to See Full Story: "Sea Ice Ends Year at Same Level as 1979"). This is "the" report you will "never" hear or see on NBC/MSNBC or read in the New York Times. Instead, all you will ever hear is those stories that would "support" the ideological march to "Cap and Trade" and other clamp-downs on human activity.

Then, too, there was this little news flash that was published in April of this year: "Antarctic ice is growing, not melting away". Since Antarctica has 90% of the world's ice, you would have thought this story would really get some press. However, once again, it wasn't even reported by any of the major news media outlets of this nation; except, of course, by the chief political nemesis of Obama and the Democrats: Fox News (Click to See Full Story).

The "real story" is that these two stories tell the real truth behind the Global Warming movement. The fact that these stories of ice expanding are being ignored by the liberal media just shows that there is an ideological agenda being promoted and, that there might not be any real or immediate threat to humanity.

As I have said all along, it isn't really about the science. It's all about the environmentalists using CO2 and Global Warming as the tool to stop human activity and any further expansion into nature.

Even the health care bill in Congress has a Global Warming component. When I wrote "Is A Real-Life Soylent Green Society Just Around The Corner?", I was primarily talking about a green adviser to Gordon Brown, Jonathon Porritt, in the United Kingdom who believes that the population must be cut in half to save the planet. But, since then, it appears that Obama has hired his own possible "Soylent Green" believing Czars: Anthony Jones, Ezekiel Emmanuel, Carol Browner, and John Holdren. Each of these people seem to have similar beliefs (more or less) that mankind should be controlled or even eliminated. And, all might have had some role in advising Obama and Congress on health care.

I guess I'm a little tired of the constant push by the left to say that Global Warming is a "settled science" and that there should be no further debate. But, as I pointed out above, nothing could be farther from the truth. The science clearly shows that nothing is "settled" on Global Warming.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hillary's Fatal Flaw is Exposed

In the world of diplomacy, it is essential that the entire "corp" of diplomats keep their cool under fire.

Earlier this week, our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton -- the U.S.' top diplomat ---lost it when she was asked an improperly translated question by a Congolese college student (Click to See Full Story: "Clinton loses her temper in Congo").

It is apparent that this student had hit a raw nerve as exhibited by her explosive response to a simple question that she "thought" was about Bill Clinton. A nerve that had been apparently laid bare by the years of being in the shadow of of Bill Clinton. When you really think about it, Hillary, just before this blowup, was upstaged by Bill, again, with his rescue of the two journalists that were being held captive by the North Koreans. In many ways, that should have been Hillary's job to do. But, instead, Bill got the glory.

I think, too, Hillary is being frustrated by feeling like she's on a treadmill of busy work. It just seems like she's being excluded from the heavy lifting by just sending her on "tours" to places like the Congo. Obama has, time and time, again, handed the "hot spot" diplomacy jobs to people like Bill Clinton and to special envoys like Richard Holbrooke in Pakistan; to Farah Pandith as the State Department’s new Special Envoy to Muslim Communities; and to George Mitchell, the Special Envoy to the Middle East.

The problem with Hillary's outburst is that she has now weakened her ability to be an effective diplomat. Some foreign diplomats, especially those of our enemies, could actually take advantage of this apparent flaw and exploit it in order to gain the upper hand in negotiations. It's like playing poker. Once everybody is able to see through your poker-face, you are no longer able to bluff and win consistently. Literally, Hillary has lost her poker-face.

I personally don't expect Hillary to remain in her job very much longer. This outburst may have actually signaled that fact. When she blew up, she exhibited one of the typical "disgruntled employee" characteristics that I have seen so many times in my past role of being a manager in business. In the world of business, it would be time for a boss to sit down with the employee to try and get to the heart of their anger and, in doing so, try and come up with some resolution that would avoid losing that employee. But, Obama has no management skills to really speak of and he probably doesn't even recognize her frustration. Then, too, he might not even care if he did recognize it.

It could be that we are actually seeing the "start" of a new Hillary campaign to be the next Governor of New York. Who knows? But, that would be my guess for her next political move. Only time will tell.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Obama's Anger "Management" on Health Care Reform

If you listen to President Obama, you would think that going to the doctor was like taking a car to a "chop shop".

Does your little girl have a sore throat? Then the doctor will yank her tonsils out because he'll make more money! (Click to See the Video) You've got diabetes? The doctor will amputate your foot because in doing so he can take that to the bank! (Click to See that Video) Apparently, our quack Doctor Obama seems to think that all doctors have nothing but profit on their minds the minute you walk through their office door.

Now, there "is" a little truth in what Obama is saying. But, "very little". On the whole, doctors are trying to fix the human machine to the best of their ability and by using all the tools that their very expensive and very intensive education has given them. I think most want to do what is best for their patients. Otherwise, you can count on the fact that they would be in court, countless times, over malpractice lawsuits. Something that our not-so-good Doctor Obama always seems to ignore in both his analogies and in the thrust of his reform of health care!

Throughout this process of trying to get health care reform, Obama has spent most of his"jaw flapping time" demonizing the health care industry: the doctors, the insurance companies, and the drug companies. His full intent in doing so is to try to portray them as such evil bogeymen that Americans will want health care reform out of sheer, get-even anger. This is what community organizers do; and, Obama has that ACORN-philosophy streaming throughout his veins. Obama's form of anger management is to get "you angry" and try to "make you forget" about what he's really trying to do. After all, with anger there's no logic.

Don't forget what the teacher Buddha said: "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else"...(and ultimately)..."you are the one who gets burned!"

By The Way: The tactic that Obama is using is formally called the "ad hominem abusive" or "agumentum ad personam". The thrust of this type of tactic -- often used in debating -- is to personally attack someone as a means of discrediting their argument. It is figuratively killing the messenger in an attempt to sidestep the message. Does anyone remember what Obama and his allies did to Joe the Plumber?

The Lie Detector

Those on the left say that the "mobs" at the Health Care Town Hall Meetings are "manufactured". It isn't a real grassroots movement. It's AstroTurf. They also say that these "mobs" are being planted by the health insurance companies and by anti-health care reform Republicans like Dick Army.

That all might be true if the polls contradicted that anger. But, the polls, too, show that Americans don't want what the Democrats are trying to cram down their throats. And, it is isn't just one poll but, almost all the polls. So, who's the liar here: The Mobs or the Democrats. You be the judge.

Idiocy of Government Run Heath Care

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all on a fast track to be insolvent; somewhere between the years 2019 and 2040. Each of those programs carries with it fraud and waste that is somewhere between 7 and 10 percent annually.

The United States Post Office has been a complete loser for years. It seems like every rate increase they get actually puts it farther in debt.

Then, there's Amtrak. No profits there.

And when it comes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both government sponsored entities, you can blame both of them, in a large part, for the collapse of the housing market, the foreclosures, and this recession.

So, why, then, would any rational person think that the American health care system would be better run by Uncle Sam?

Why would anyone think that health care will be better and less costly with this government running it?

I think anyone, who isn't being ideologically blinded, understands that the government running health care will only make heath care more costly and less available than it would have been; had it been left alone.

I believe that there should be a revamp of the health care system. It has some problems. But, let's not burn down the house to get rid of a few mice. For that reason and the reasons above, I believe every effort should be made to draft a health care system that covers everyone and provides portability and quality; but, leaves the government out of it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Is Obama A U.S. Citizen?

With Obama's numbers falling fast in the polls, a hot-button issue that seems to be bubbling up to the surface is whether or not Barack Obama is actually a natural-born citizen and, therefore, even qualified to be President. Recently, Lou Dobbs, on the cable news channel, CNN, has been taking some heat for his broaching of that very subject (Click to See Full Story).

To try and put this topic to rest, I have simply assembled the following information and opinion about Barack's birth and his eligibility to be our President.

The Constitution of the United States clearly states that, in order for a person to be President, they must be a "natural-born" citizen of the United States and not a naturalized citizen; as in the case of someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We also know that Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 and Hawaii had only became a State in the prior year. He was born to an 18-year old mother who was a valid U.S. citizen. His father was not a U.S. citizen. Although Barack left the United States as a toddler, he returned at age 10 to live with his grandparents and remained in the United States from then on.

Right now, there are a lot of bogus theories on the Internet about whether or not Obama was actually born in the United States because of his failure to produce an authentic, not recreated, long-form birth certificate. However, I don't think any of them would really "stick" under legal scrutiny because there are two known Hawaiian newspaper notices from the year 1961 that clearly make note of his birth and clearly reference both of his parent's names. This simple fact substantiates his birth; with or without any birth certificate. It also puts to rest the belief that, somehow, Barack was actually born in Kenya.

The second reason that people claim that Barack is not a citizen goes to these words from U.S. law at that time that states: "If only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth, that parent must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16." But, these words only apply to children born outside of the United States or in U.S. territories. At the time that Barack was born, Hawaii was a true State with the United States of America and not a territory. So this language would not apply.

The truth about this really comes down to the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which stipulates that any child born in the United States is a natural born U.S. citizen unless that child, somehow, is under the control of a foreign government; such as a child born to a foreign diplomat who is working in the United States. The purpose of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was to insure that any child born of non-U.S. citizens (primarily those born to slaves who were not citizens) would automatically become citizens. That's why, today, children of illegal aliens are all natural-born U.S. citizens; as illogical as that may seem.

I think, for the reasons above, Obama is a legitimate and natural-born U.S. citizen and there is no reason for him not to be our President. Whether or not he is still our President after 2012, is all up to the voters and it should not be left up to some frivolous court actions that are attempting to nullify his valid claim of being a natural-born citizen and our President.

Simply speaking, Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A!

End of story!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Consumer is MIA!

This morning, the latest month's Retail Sales Report came out and, after 2 months of meager but positive growth, the consumer is once again missing in action. The economists who had been surveyed before the report, had looked into their dusty crystal balls and had predicted the future to be a growth in sales of seven-tenths of one percent. In actuality, the overall sales came in with a "loss" of one-tenth of one percent. Worse than that, if you yank auto sales out of the number and their artificial boost due to the "Cash for Clunkers" program, the actual sales in all other areas were down by six-tenths of a percent; down almost as much as they were supposed to be up (Click to See Full Story: "Bleak sales are another reality check for economy"). I really think all those economists should have their crystal balls checked before they make another one of their not-even-close projections.

The ominous thing about this report is that unless the consumer enters back into the picture and starts buying things, our economy will never recover. The economy is 70 percent consumer driven. Obviously, the tax cut that Obama gave to 95 percent of Americans -- the one that gave everybody who got it about $13 a week --- isn't working. As I've said before, that silly tax cut won't even buy a daily donut and a cup of coffee; let alone, even mildly attempt to restart this economy.

We are now nearly 7 months past the enactment of the Stimulus Package and we are still getting horrible numbers. From meager tax cuts to part time infrastructure work, the "Stimulus" is just a flop!

In addition to that bad news, the foreclosure rate just keeps rising. Foreclosures were up by 7 percent in just one month from June to July. On top of that, the number of foreclosure filings, as compared to last year's July number, went up a whopping 32 percent (Click to See Full Story: "Foreclosures rise 7 percent in July from June"). Again, where's that Obama program -- his 31 percent solution -- that was supposed to help stop all these foreclosures? (Click to See My Blog Entry: "The 31 Percent Solution?")

Nothing that this Administration has done or promised to do has come true. That's why Obama and the Democrats "should not be trusted" with any more of our money for things like Health Care Reform and Cap and Trade. First things first! Get this economy rolling again!

On Health Care Reform: Obama's Biggest Mistake

From both polling to the Town Hall Meetings, there is definitely a backlash against Obama-Care. What the Democrats and Obama seem to have missed in their calculations on health care reform is the fact that America is still a politically center-right country. For decades it has been those in the political center and in the non-partisan middle who have decided our elections.

The worst thing that Obama and his team did was to ignore the political center. Obama, lacking true management skills and unable to think outside of his ideological box, tossed the development of the Health Care Reform Bill(s) to some of the most liberal members of Congress: Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman, and Ted Kennedy. This was a total mistake. Obama ignored the fact that it really wasn't his base of far-left supporters who put him into office. It was those Independents. Now, those same people who grass-rooted him into office are turning on him and the polls show it.

I think, now, that health care reform is DOA or, better yet, DBA (Dead Before Arrival) . Obama was a good campaigner where the concepts being expressed could be ghost-like in their details and he could get away with that. But, now, as President, the public is seeing the devil in those details; and, they don't like it. Like it or not, the lack of leadership on both the economy and his health care reform has become Obama's "Waterloo". It will truly take a boat-load of "positives" to happen before he can even think of regaining any of the lost public trust.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When Bernanke Speaks...Should We Really Listen?

Today, the Federal Reserve, headed by Chairman Ben Bernanke, concluded its Federal Open Market Committee Meeting with a statement that seems to say that the economy is "leveling out" (Click to See Full Story). Of course, the stock market responded with another up-day.

But, I would caution about Mr. Bernanke's "leveling out" comment. He did the same thing in February and, by all rights, things have only gotten worse. Back in February I wrote this:

Bernanke Pushes Stocks Up

Almost, as if any good news would be a reason to buy stocks, our stock markets are "all" up over 3 percent and the "Dow Jones Industrial Average" finished up 232 points. Fed Reserve Chairman Bernanke seems to be the primary driver for this rally. In a Congressional hearing, earlier this morning, Bernanke said that the recession "could" be over in '09 (See Full Story).

Now, before you uncork the champagne and start buying up all the beat-down stocks you can find, you would be well advised to look at what "Carnac the Magnificent", Mr. "Big Ben" Bernanke, said to Congress in April of just last year: "Recession is possible, but recession is a technical term ...I'm not ready to say whether or not the U.S. economy will face such a situation..." (See Full Story)

Now, for me, I don't think Bernanke can really be trusted with his defective little crystal ball. If what we are going through, right now, is just some kind of "technical" situation, I'd really hate to see what an actual, not "technical," recession looks like.
Once again -- just as then -- I think it would be wise to leave the champagne on ice.

Uncle QALY

Yesterday, Barack Obama, at a Town Hall Meeting, laughed-off the "rumor" that Obama-Care will pull the plug on "Grandma" when the Federal government decides that it is the time to end her life. Many point to the section of HR3200 (the primary House version of the Health Care Reform Bill) that mandates that patients, who are age 65 and beyond, receive end-of-life counseling as proof of this. However and in reality, there is no such actual "euthanasia" language in the entire bill.

What is in the bill is the creation of a Health Choices Administrator (Commissioner) as defined in the "governance" subsection of Title I of the bill. On a cursory basis, this new agency, that reports directly to the President, looks to be a regulatory agency of the Federal government who will oversee the health insurance industry. But the Administrator's responsibilities are very broad because there is "no" limiting language. In fact, there seems to be absolutely no limits placed on this agency in dealing with the insurance companies. Simply speaking, this new agency will "decide" what medical practices and procedures will be allowed under any insurance company's offered coverage. Any, and all, decisions by this agency are then legally binding under Federal Law. Insurance companies who either violate the mandates or who are even thought to have violated the dictates of this agency will be subject to audits, fines and, in, worst case, an ordered liquidation of that company. If an audit is ordered against a company, for any reason, that company will be forced to pay the cost of the audit; even if it is found to be in full compliance.

This is where the dirty work of the "end of life" decisions will be made. Don't expect euthanasia to be clearly outlined or specified by this agency. What will happen is that it will mandate rules regarding the extent of care that anyone can receive depending on their age, their sex, and their relative and pertinent health conditions and, even, their value to society.

In the U.K., the national health system's medical practice and procedures rules are dictated by an agency that carries the cute and non-threatening acronym: NICE (Click to See Full Story). However, if you are disabled or aged and you need expensive health care, NICE may not be so nice. That's because NICE guidelines are based on the principles of QALY or Quality-adjusted life year (Click to See Full Story). In effect QALY analysis will determine whether or not care is given or withheld; based on age and other factors that can include a patient's value to society. In other words, if you are a 78 year old male who is, in QALY's viewpoint, 3 years past your life expectancy, QALY might deny you a heart transplant or some other heroic effort to extend your life because the cost of do so is too high; relative to the likelihood of you "possibly" dying soon. At the same time, heroic efforts might be denied to any mentally-challenged or severely disabled children or babies because their quality of life or life expectancy is considered to be too limited.

In a way, QALY is a backdoor form of euthanasia because it doesn't actually pull the plug on your life. Instead, it just denies you the treatments you may need to keep you alive. That is the real intent of the Health Choices Administration as defined by HR3200. And, that's where "Grandma" will lose her life. Uncle Sam's QALY guidelines will effectively overrule any desires by the doctor, or a family or the patient for any lifesaving procedures. That's where the Democrat's plan will ultimately save money. This is because the bulk of the costs for anyone's health care generally comes in the last few years of their life.

Uncle QALY is the true Grim Reaper in this health care reform bill. And, to that extent, Obama was really stretching the truth when he said the Federal Government won't pull the plug on Grandma. He knows damn well that, after implementation, a bureaucrat, running the Health Choices Administration, will determine Grandma's fate. The pure goal of that agency is restrict what it determines to be unnecessary. Anyway you shake it, that is rationing and that is medical care being denied. To say otherwise is pure lie!

By The Way... QALY practices are why the Insurance Companies are backing Obama-Care. Their massive insurance payouts will be reduced by the government-mandated restriction on health care procedures and care. For them, Uncle QALY, not them, will now become the bad guy who is denying your care.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Opinion On The Town Halls

When's the last time you heard of the Democrats going on break and holding "so" many Town Hall meetings? I can't remember when -- and I have closely followed political news for years.

I think these Town Halls are "all" a set up. They are intentionally being used to bait the opposition. I think they want the yelling and dissension as a means of marginalizing the opposition to their Health Care Reform Bill. Those that are objecting to Obama-care in these meetings are being held up by the Democrats and the Obama-loving national media as misfits; and, thereby, making their arguments against the plan look disingenuous, radical, and, even, un-American!

This is consistent with all that has been going on since Obama took office. It is a strategy. It is a tactic that is used by the community organizers and the political thugs of Chicago. It is the practice of calling people out by isolating them, embarrassing them, and, then, crushing them and any opposition to what you want to do.

It's the Underemployed, Stupid!

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported an unemployment rate of 9.4%. This was a drop from the 9.5% rate of the previous month's report. This is despite the fact that the there was a net increase in the unemployment rolls by 247,000 newly unemployed workers.

The only way you can actually have "more" unemployed in any given month and, yet, have a lowered unemployment rate is to "play" with the total number of workers who are in the available workforce. So, in effect (and so illogically), the BLS is claiming, in last Friday's report, that the workforce grew by some amount of new workers and all those "new" workers "entered" this new, larger workforce pool; bringing their jobs with them. Therefore, the "unemployed" -- though higher in their amount -- actually represented a smaller portion of the total workforce and, consequently, the unemployment rate went down. That highly improbable fact was completely swallowed by our national media; without question.

What most people don't really understand is that an agency like the Bureau of Labor and Statistics doesn't really know what the "true" unemployment rate actually is. They don't actually interview the 300 million or more people in the country each month to determine who is "working"; or, who is retired from the workforce; and, who his employed versus looking for work. Instead, they use both "samples" and "assumptions" to come up with the unemployment rate. Any changes, in either the sample data or their assumptions, can have a big impact on their resulting calculations of the unemployment rate. And, that is what happened, conveniently for the Obama Administration, last Friday.

All you had to do is look at the weekly "Jobless Claims" number that was reported the day before the Unemployment Report was released on Friday to know that the unemployment situation isn't really getting any better. In that "jobless claims" report of Thursday, the number of people losing their jobs was surprising less than expected; but, the back-story of that report was that more people continued to claim unemployment benefits; showing that the job market is very tight and that people who are losing their jobs are still less likely to get rehired. In fact, the amount of people still claiming benefits jumped by 69,000 workers from the previous week (Click to See Full Story).

The problem with all these reports is that they "don't" include the accounting for what most economists call the "underemployed" (Click to See Full Story). While the Feds try to overcome this short sightedness by conducting what they call the "household survey", they are generally way off the mark.

A good example of the underemployed is my brother. He is a fine arts artist. His gallery sales are down to trickle, at best, and he is now living off of his savings. To the Federal government, he is not consider to be unemployed. The same is true with my brother-in-law. He and his wife have a plant rental and placement business. He lost his very last commercial account a couple of months ago. He has no income from his business and the Federal government still considers him to be employed. A farmer who has no income because of any complete crop damage is also "not" considered to be unemployed. In addition to those people who have small businesses that are, in essence, out of business, there are a number of people who have just given up it trying to find a job. These are the people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and just can't find a job anywhere. Some of them are our new homeless that are now inhabitants of those "tent cities" that seem to be cropping up all over the country. Generally speaking, these are people who have both lost their jobs and lost their homes to foreclosure.

The fact is that the unemployment rate is a number that can be tweaked; politically, if necessary, and without actually being accused of lying. It's all about the assumptions; and, like many have said before this, just look at the first three letters of the word assumptions! Most economists, now, think that the true unemployment rate is upwards of 15%. In fact, the best source of information about what "might" be the true unemployment rate comes from this website of economist John Williams (Click to See Full Story). Note: Be sure to look at his "Disclaimer" statement that can be linked-to at the bottom of this report.

Politically, the headline that the unemployment rate fell was just what Team Obama needed to tout that their Stimulus Plan and all the other measures that they have taken are working. However, I believe this to be a political ruse. Other reports, like Personal Income and Spending (Click to View Charts) and Consumer Credit (Click to View Charts and Graphs), say just the opposite; and those numbers are falling off a cliff. To top that, Consumer Confidence, as reported by the independent and non-government Conference Board, has fallen over the last two months as people retreat from the optimism about this economy and increase their concerns over the ineffectiveness of Obama's Stimulus Program.

Never forget this old saying about statistics: "There are lies; damn lies; and, then, there are statistics!" I would be careful of any government agency, like the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, that proudly bears the word "statistics" in its name. After all, it reports up through and to the President, President Obama; who desperately needs some good news about the economy to stop his falling in the polls and to ram through his Health Care Reform and Cap and Trade Bills.