Sunday, August 30, 2009

Poll shows Obama won't be re-elected in 2012

It’s not scientific, but does represent the opinion of a large and fairly diverse group of Americans.

A poll on the social networking site Facebook shows the following results from (at the time) more than 423,000 participants answering the question, “Will you vote for Obama in 2012”?

The results:

Yes = 101,881 (24.0%)
No = 301,549 (71.2%)
Undecided = 20,306 (4.8%)

By a margin of nearly three-to-one, at this point in time Americans are not inclined to re-elect Barack Obama when his first term in up in 2012.

That’s good news, if the country survives until 2012.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tell the slim-ball Qaddafi "No!"

Now there is the absurd possibility of the loathsome and contemptible Muammar Qaddafi coming to the United Nations, and staying in somewhere in the United States beyond the property donated to the UN. He wanted to stay in New Jersey, a situation that would be intolerable, and Jersey officials nixed that. Good for them.

Just in case you don’t know, here’s the knock on Qaddafi, in part of a report from Arab News: “A former Libyan agent jailed for life for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people [most of them Americans] flew home to a joyous reception Thursday after Scottish authorities released him on compassionate grounds because he is dying of cancer. [Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi] emerged from the plane wearing a dark suit, his hand held by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s son Seif Al-Islam, who was in the delegation that flew to Scotland to bring him home.”

Although Scottish and British officials bear substantial responsibility for this travesty, Qaddafi is the one who plans to flaunt his contempt for the United States by coming to the U.N. and venturing beyond its limited confines to pitch a tent in some comfy spot (he’s a nomad, you know). Qaddafi ignored United States wishes and welcomed the terrorist Megrahi as a triumphant hero.

If President Barack Obama allows Qaddifi to travel one foot beyond what he is allowed as a visitor to the UN, that will be a clue that there is nothing about the United States Barack Obama will strongly defend.

If Qaddafi comes to the UN, let him pitch his tent in a UN parking lot, or perhaps he can sleep on a couch in the lobby. This arrogant terrorist sympathizer must not be allowed on US territory.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hubris and over-reaching hurt
Obama's job approval

The usual course for most presidents is that they lose popularity after they take office and finish their presidency less popular than when they began. Just seven months into his presidency, Barack Obama has lost the confidence of the American people, according to a Washington Post-ABC News survey released last week. It found that just 49 percent now believe Mr. Obama will make the right decisions for the country, a drop of 11 points from the 60 percent who believed in him at the 100-day mark in April, a little more than 100 days ago.

While the poll lists the president’s overall approval at 57 percent, which is 12 points lower than it was at its high in April, it shows that 53 percent disapprove of the way the president is handling the budget deficit, and the healthcare and cap-and-trade issues are taking a toll, as well.

Barack Obama was elected because of his message of hope and change, and his overall popularity is holding up fairly well, because people like him. But when it comes to job approval, evaluating how he’s really doing as president, Mr. Obama is in trouble. His radical leftist agenda is wildly unpopular with most people, once they learn the details of his proposals.

The country is likewise not enamored of the president’s incessant campaigning – does he not realize that he won the election? After he promised better government, the cronyism and lack of transparency in his administration disappoints them. And the Chicago political tactics Mr. Obama brought with him to Washington are the sort of charm that most Americans don’t appreciate.

But to make a bad situation even worse, in the face of spirited and wide-spread opposition to his initiatives, Mr. Obama is acting badly. The people who disagree with his position on cap-and-trade and health care reform are everyday Americans who simply don’t like what he is selling. Instead of slowing down the frantic pace he set to ram these measures through, and proceed in a deliberate and respectful fashion to hear objections and craft policies that respect those opinions, he has taken to demonizing the opponents, calling those who disagree with him names, denouncing them for employing "scare tactics" and "wild misrepresentations," and wanting them to just shut up.

Then, the President himself twists the truth into an unrecognizable sludge when he says things such as that there are 47 million people who can’t afford health insurance, and that someone declares bankruptcy every thirty seconds due to high health care costs. Both of those assertions are provably false. And, he packs his town hall meetings with friendly audiences, limiting the likelihood that a real dissenter will confront him with an uncomfortable question. Is the White House motto “Dishonesty is the best policy?”

In his haste to solve the country’s problems, the president has demonstrated poor leadership and produced few positive results. He campaigned on health care reform, then allowed Congress to design it, and ceded control of the issue. The health care reform measures are regarded as radical and unacceptable by a large portion of Americans, and they believe these measures will dramatically increase the cost of government. Likewise, the cap-and-trade bill that the president supports threatens established energy industries and promises hefty increases in spending for all Americans. People find these and other things intolerable, hence the president’s slipping popularity and job approval ratings.

Barack Obama had a unique opportunity as the first black President of the United States. If he were less ideological and less partisan, he could work to tune up the health care system, instead of trying to completely remake it. He could put into effect some sensible policies to relieve our dependence on foreign oil by opening up areas for domestic production while he created incentives for developing alternative energy technologies. He could put into effect tax cuts that would lighten the load on businesses, encouraging the creation of new jobs and the rehiring of laid-off employees, and speed rather than impede the economic recovery. He could have been a hero.

Instead, he tried to do everything at once, and do it before anyone had time to even find out what was being done. He tried to do more than he could do, and more than he should have done. And as a result, he has failed, so far.

Did President Obama badly over-estimate his own popularity and abilities, or did he badly under-estimate the American people’s resistance to more big government control over their lives? Either way, he has badly misjudged the political atmosphere. And one result of that bad judgment is that today the country is more divided, and more raucously divided, than it has been for decades. Is this the change so many hoped for?

The President and his supporters in Congress are hostile to their constituents’ genuine objections to these radical programs, and arrogantly regard Americans who disagree with them as annoying rabble rousers hindering their efforts to turn the nation into something it has never been, nor was ever intended to be.

That attitude and their image of America must be rejected.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fix the current system: It’s far more sensible
and much cheaper

Reforming the nation’s health care system will bring sweeping changes to one-sixth of the American economy, and will alter the way healthcare is delivered. Changes of this magnitude demand careful deliberation and in-depth study before implementing any significant level of change. The evidence tells us that this isn’t what’s happening.

The tenets of good government prohibit introducing measures like H.R. 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, a bill of more than 1,200 pages that House leaders tried to ram through before the August Congressional recess to please President Obama. Almost nobody had read the bill, and there had been no debate on its provisions. A couple of legislators actually admitted that it was futile to try to read and understand bills like that. Such irresponsible behavior is not what the Founders envisioned, nor is it what the American people expect or deserve.

Representatives and Senators were elected to represent their constituents sensibly. When citizens witness them behaving stupidly (to borrow a phrase), voting on measures without knowing what’s in them – as they did on the Waxman-Markey bill – the citizens have every right to get upset and even to shout at them if they want to. They are public servants, not royalty. They work for us.

The $64 question is, why produce thousand-page bills that will dismantle the current health care system instead of simply repairing it? Is it possible that solution never occurred to anyone in Washington? Or is there a different reason?

The Secretary’s Corner at states the following: “Under the status quo, too many Americans can’t get the affordable care they need when they fall ill.” And later, “health care costs are crippling [the] ability [of small businesses] to offer and sustain health insurance for their workers – limiting their competitiveness and shifting costs to families.” There is also a statement supporting increased attention on prevention.

So, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama identify the cost of health care and health insurance as problems, and think we need more emphasis on prevention. Fair enough. Aren’t members of Congress and the administration smart enough to address those problems without creating a new government bureaucracy that will be as inefficient and expensive as all the others?

What sense does it make to give up a good system that needs some fine tuning for nothing more certain than the hope of something better?

As nations go, the United States is young; it is an adolescent, and is behaving just that way. Right now we are going through the fits and throes of pubescent girls and boys, overcome by emotions and hormones.

Many of us have forgotten all that this country has accomplished quite independent of its government, perhaps in spite of it. One great thing we have is our health care system, which while imperfect is the best in the world. People come here from other countries to get the care they can’t get at home under their government-run systems. We have the most modern medical technology, and more of it than anyone, and we have the newest and best pharmaceuticals. Yes, those assets are expensive, but we don’t want to give them up. There is no reason to give them up.

If small businesses can no longer afford the costs of health insurance for their employees, then separate health insurance from employment. That never made any sense, anyway. Why should health insurance be administered differently than auto or personal property insurance? What began as a fringe benefit offered by a few businesses to attract and retain good employees has spread and become the de facto way things are done, and is now a source of much consternation and gnashing of teeth.

If health insurance is too costly, attack the reasons for that. Medical liability reform will reduce or eliminate defensive medicine practices that add so much to the cost of medical care, and also increases the price of medical malpractice insurance that costs hospitals hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year and costs most doctors tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Relieve insurance companies of the mind-boggling maze of regulations that drive up costs. Work to make policies portable from one state to another, regardless of the details of employment, and to standardize state regulations for insurance companies.

Increase Medicare reimbursements to cover billed costs so that the unpaid balance isn’t shifted to patients with insurance, and eliminate or substantially reduce waste, inefficiency and abuse in Medicare.

Encourage wider use of health savings accounts and health care co-ops that provide options, but do not cede control.

It won’t be that hard to solve the problems of the current system. But to do that we have to have legislators and an administration that realize that government isn’t the solution to all problems.

Democrat leaders are determined to get a public option into the reform process – sneak it through the back door, if necessary – and that is the first step to turning our system into one like the Canadian and English systems, with the long wait times and rationing of treatment and medication that plague those patients.

That is unacceptable.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's been a bad week for crooks and hoodlums

There was a story on television news showing a guy in a stolen pickup running a light and being hit in the left front by an on-coming van that was turning in his direction. The impact knocked the pickup off course and it hit a light pole and burst into flames, killing the crook.

Then, there was the 18 year-old punk that entered a bar with a gun with robbery on his mind. Turned out, it's a favorite place for that city's finest to gather when off duty, and they took him down before he could take a breath.

Now, some jerk gets collared by nuns who spotted him running through the field near their place.

The world has an ample supply of idiots.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Obama's Right: Pass America’s Affordable
Health Choices Act of 2009

If transforming the United States is really as important as President Obama and his fellow travelers in Congress and elsewhere seem to think, and if trashing the current health care system in favor of something untried and unproven is part of that plan, perhaps we ought to have the good sense to try out the new idea before imposing it on everyone in the country, and find out if it is truly better than what we now have.

Who can object to a trial run for our new health care system? After all, new drugs are developed and tested over a period of 12 years, and only five in 5,000 is determined to be suitable for testing in humans, and only one of those five actually makes it to market for general use.

This arduous and expensive program is required by a myriad of federal regulations to insure that only safe and effective drugs can be provided to treat disease and physical disorders.

If pharmaceuticals require rigorous testing over more than a decade before the government feels comfortable that they are suitable for use by the American people, shouldn’t we take at least a few years to try out a system that will affect at least millions of Americans, and perhaps every American?

So, here’s a proposal: Enact America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, the system that the administration and Congress believe will be superior to the present system and run a 10-year trial using employees of the federal government, including everyone in all three branches of government – the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Executive Branch – and their families. No one who draws a federal paycheck, from the President of the United States to the lowest paid federal employee, will be exempt.

That will include millions of employees who are supported by taxpayers – the people who make the country run and pay the bills, and who deserve the best of everything – and will also have people of all age groups from newborns to the very elderly. This group will be a good test cohort.

A long-term testing phase provides the opportunity to see if this system meets the needs of this large group and will give us ample information upon which to base a decision about whether this system is good enough for taxpayers.

After a few years of trial and error, and fine tuning, maybe a system will evolve that is suitable and good enough for the American people.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Congress fails to hear the people’s objections
to health care reform

It is fascinating to watch Americans who are satisfied with their health care try again and again to get their elected representatives to hear their objections to America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, the bill that will “reform” America’s health care system. The message they are sending is strong enough that even the dimmest bulb in Congress and the administration ought to be able to understand it: “We don’t like the bill, so pay attention and stop trying to pass it.”

Not only do a majority of Americans not like provisions of this bill, but they also don’t like the process. The bill’s opponents expect their elected representatives to behave like mature, responsible adults, and in addition to paying attention to what they are being told, they expect them to approach passing sweeping legislation like this with thoughtful deliberation. What they see instead is a bill of more than 1,200 pages voted on without being read.

We can partially blame President Obama for this, since it was he who told the Congress he wanted this bill passed before the August recess, and the Congress, being compliant folk, tried to obey. Of course, the Congress does not work for the President, a point on which both the President and the Congress seem confused; it is a co-equal branch of government with clear instructions for how to best serve the peoples’ interests.

The objections to the government’s do-everything-fast tactics were first voiced in earnest last April with the tea parties on Tax Day, and again on July 4th, all to no avail. The Congressional leadership and the administration wrote those protests off, figuring they were just fits of indigestion that would soon pass.

Now that the August recess is underway and members of Congress have returned home to touch base with voters, the message has gotten louder. Displeased that their representatives didn’t listen to them in April when they protested profligate government spending, or again on July 4th, the atmosphere has been rather tense in town hall meetings, with messages being shouted, and citizens chanting and carrying signs, all in an effort to get these public servants to pay attention.

You might think that since protests using these tactics were created by liberals they would be somewhat tolerant of them. You would be wrong: When the shoe is on the other foot, liberals don’t like protests very much.

The reaction from said public servants in the administration and the Congress has been disappointing, if predictable. Rather than acknowledge the widespread dissatisfaction, they choose instead to insult and demonize the citizen protestors, calling them “angry mobs,” and belittling their involvement as merely the result of an organizing effort, rather than a genuine protest. But isn’t that exactly what “community organizing” is?

In town hall meetings members of Congress have been given a message in straight-forward, frank terms accented by chants of “read the bill, read the bill” and “tyranny,” and “Yes we can,” and “Just say no,” and “You work for us.” Rough stuff, that. For the most part, impertinent behavior is the worst of it, and, no, that is not the best way to behave. But this sort of behavior is somewhat understandable, since Congress and the administration haven’t gotten the message after months of objections, and, more to the point, that’s the way liberals taught us to do it.

It seems that in order to get attention, you have to be loud and rude. Back in the 1960s, both the Civil Rights movement and the Anti-Vietnam War movement were routinely marked by offensive behavior, and those protests occasionally turned violent. We certainly don’t want anything like that. More ominous is that America was born of a protest ignored by arrogant rulers who refused to listen, and it eventually was settled by armed revolution.

Protest is a time-honored exercise in the United States. It is the right of every American to criticize his/her government at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all. And it is the government’s duty to protect that dissent, however unpopular or unpleasant the criticism may be. It is not proper for the government to in any way attempt to stifle dissent, and evidence that it may be planning to do so should anger every true American.

This bill will transform the health care delivery system, which comprises one-sixth of the national economy. Whether you support this bill or maybe just think some improvements are needed to the current system, the process cannot be taken as lightly as Congress and the administration are taking it, and such a dramatic and important transformation cannot be undertaken with a thin majority of support, let alone if only a minority supports it.

Most Americans think some changes to the health care system are needed, but most do not want the provisions contained in this bill and are giving their elected representatives an ear-full by letter, phone call, email, and in person.

It would be a very good idea for our public servants to pay strict attention to the message being sent, which is that this bill had better not become law.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Do most journalists really subscribe to this?

The first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, Walter Williams, created the Journalist's Creed approximately 100 years ago.

The University’s Website states that “his declaration remains one of the clearest statements of the principles, values and standards of journalists throughout the world.”

Clearly, it sets a high standard for those who are trusted with the solemn duty to fully and adequately inform us.

How many of today’s journalists do you think rise to this standard?

The Journalists Creed

I believe in the profession of journalism.
I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.

I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.

I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.

I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one's own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another's instructions or another's dividends.

I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.

I believe that the journalism which succeeds best -- and best deserves success -- fears God and honors Man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today's world.

- Walter Williams

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill
an important topic at the Coal Summit

Someone said that the country is never in greater danger than when Congress is in session. Perhaps the converse is also true: the country is relatively safe when Congress is on vacation.

So the American people can breathe a sigh of relief if the traditional August recess is observed and members head home to check in with voters. While there, they will undoubtedly get an earful of the stuff they have been told in opinion polls, but have ignored. Recent news reports show this process is already taking place in town hall meetings.

The health care reform bill and the cap-and-trade bill now working their way through the Congress are the most dangerous legislative measures in memory. Alone, either of them spells big trouble, together, they spell catastrophe.

Are we about to see the greatest country in the world – the country with the greatest degree of personal freedom; the country established in opposition to the heavy hand of government; the country that has been the leader of the world for so many years – be transformed into a nation just like all of those that have followed along behind us, just one more nation that depends upon government to solve all its problems?

The odious Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill has as its underlying goal to move the US from burning pollution producing fossil fuels for their energy needs to a nation using non-polluting, renewable energy. Few will argue that we should not integrate “green” energy as soon as it’s practical. But we can’t do that for many years, because neither the nation’s infrastructure nor the technologies themselves are ready, and what’s more important, the environmental situation does not require measures nearly so drastic as the cap-and-trade bill will impose. Forcing this transformation will cause serious damage to our economy and our way of life.

Yet that is the goal of the energy initiative being pushed by the administration and the Congress, led by Waxman-Markey, and that was the focus of the Coal Summit held last week in the midst of the two Virginia’s coal country.

The economy of West Virginia and the southwest region of Virginia rely heavily on coal, with thousands of jobs depending upon the industry, either directly or indirectly.

Myron Ebell is Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and was one of the speakers at the Coal Summit. He reminded the audience of the realities of the US energy industry: eighty-five percent of its energy comes from coal, oil and natural gas; 50 percent of its electricity comes from coal, 20 percent from gas; and virtually all its transportation fuels come from petroleum.

Waxman-Markey requires that the US reduce its fossil fuel emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020, and continue reductions so that by 2050 emissions will be just 83 percent of 2005 levels, he said.

Yet again liberals are mired in stage-one thinking, consumed by ideology and ignoring the practical obstacles that make what they want to do impossible in the short term, and difficult in the longer term.

One of those obstacles is the fact that alternatives aren’t close to being ready to supplant fossil fuels, and another is the spectacular inefficiencies of government. Mr. Ebell referred to news accounts of how surprised solar project backers have been at the delays in getting their project through the permitting process. Even projects that have the government’s blessing can’t move through the bureaucracy without encountering crippling amounts of red tape, one more reason to seriously doubt government’s ability to create workable solutions.

The current regulatory environment makes it difficult for coal companies to keep up with demand, he told the audience, and if it were not for the recession, with demand down as one result, parts of the US would be experiencing blackouts this summer. “That’s because the policies that created California’s blackouts are being exported to the rest of the country, and the culmination of that is the Waxman-Markey bill,” he said. One of the bill’s sponsors, Henry Waxman, is from Beverly Hills, and chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer, is from Marin County. “They are exporting the policies that made California bankrupt to the rest of us.”

He painted a picture of attempts by the bill’s supporters to patch up the flaws and make deals to counter objections to the bill so that reluctant Congressmen would support it. He believes that Virginia 9th District Congressman Rick Boucher was involved in such a deal. The result is that instead of just the original bad bill, we now have a bad bill with pieces dangling from it held on with chewing gum and bailing wire.

Under the best of circumstances, energy prices and the price of everything associated with them will rise, and that will affect every American. Under the worst of circumstances we will experience economic catastrophe. “I don’t think the economy or coal can survive” this bill, Mr. Ebell said. Waxman-Markey cannot be successfully amended, he said, it must be defeated.

Each of us should contact our Representative and Senators, and tell them to vote down this bill.

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