Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Are We Ready to Profile?

By now you've read or seen a variety of opinions on what we should do after the failed Christmas terrorist attack. I won't repeat all the details here. At this stage, it appears the intelligence community knew a little about the terrorist (enough to give him the codename "The Nigerian"), but not a lot. What we do know is there were holes in our system that allowed this man to have everything he needed to blow up a plane over a major U.S. city. His own mistakes, and the quick actions of private citizens are the only thing that saved us.

I have seen a number of reporters and pundits asking if we should update airport screening machines in response to this attack. Specifically, should U.S. airports install the new machines that allow a viewer to see everything under a passengers clothes. However, very few pundits seem to be discussing profiling. Why are we willing to punish innocent passengers by essentially strip searching them, but we won't suffer the potential embarrassment and hurt feelings of a few passengers and a few terrorists by profiling?

The Israeli's seem to profile with excellent success. I think we should really consider this. With the Christmas bomber, we had a Nigerian, paying for a ticket in cash, traveling without luggage. Surely that would have raised a few flags in the profiling process.

There will be the inevitable remark that profiling is racists. I am not arguing to profile strictly on racial lines. I am saying let's talk to Israel, and use another tool that could potentially catch terrorist as oppose to strip searching a vast group of passengers who have no intention of blowing up an airplane.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: Liberal Fascism

I have written on here a number of times about the Red State Book Notes project. This project was created to discuss conservative idea's and theories. The first book of the project was "A Message to Garcia". The second book was Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

Mr. Goldberg traces the history of fascism from Mussolini and Hitler to the modern progressive movement. Before my more liberal readers get up in arms, Mr. Goldberg points out that just because today's liberal movement share's a history with Hitler and others doesn't mean all liberals today would condone that action. However, many of the theories that today's progressive's support have been pursued before with deadly consequences.

As part of the Red State project, I wrote diary entries after almost every chapter. You can view those below this paragraph. Each of these posts discusses important ideas within each of those chapters. They are not intended to be recaps of the chapter, but only discuss an important point. I wanted to post these links to provide more information on the book, and to give you a flavor of the book.

The Good Tyranny

Liberal Fascism: Adolf Hitler

The Original Fascist: Wilson?

Liberal Fascism Chapter 5: We have to do something!

LF Chapter 6 and the Second Coming

LF Chapter 7: The Liberal Racist

LF 8: The Myth of the "Right Wing Business"

LF9: The Religion of Government

LF 10: The Fascism of the Green Movement

LF Afterword and My Final Thoughts

One of the most interesting things I discovered while reading this book is just how little I knew about the Woodrow Wilson presidency or JFK. For example, the first two chapters of the book go into detail about Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. After discussing why people view those governments as fascist, Mr. Goldberg then applies those same rules to President Woodrow Wilson. Mr. Goldberg argues that Wilson was actually the first fascist government in the world.

In the final chapter, Mr. Goldberg points out that liberals aren't the only people with fascist tendencies. He argues that some "compassionate conservatives" have shown fascist tendencies when they try to regulate behavior. However, this section is relatively small. Mr. Goldberg's book focuses in on the examples provided by liberals. He says, "In this book I have argued that modern liberalism is the off-spring of twentieth-century progressivism, which in turn shares intellectual roots with European fascism. " This sentence is a great summary of the book.

This is a great read if you are looking to explore the history of liberalism or progressivism. With more politicians on the left shunning the "liberal" label in favor of the "progressive" one, knowing exactly what this means is important to all voters.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Senate Gives us a Lump of Coal

The Senate has passed what they are calling Health Care Reform. The Democrats in the Senate passed this in spite of breaking Senate rules twice this week, in spite of outcry on both the left and right. Why was it rushed through today? Because Reid was afraid of what would happen if the Democrats went home and heard from their constituents, and Reid was afraid the voters would get a chance to read the bill that was introduced less than a week ago.

Merry Christmas, here's your coal.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quick Notes: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you!

Over the next week and a half, my posts will be somewhat infrequent as I celebrate the season with family and friends. I hope you and your family have a safe and fun Christmas and a very happy New Years.

I am working on a post about the Health Care Bill we are about to be saddled with. I think the Senate is in for a rude awakening on this. Both left and right are very upset about this bill. I am also working on a post about a school on the West Coast that banned LEGOs from the school.

If you are looking for something to read today, I recommend these articles:

  1. Peter Wehner writing on the Commentary Magazine online site lists some of the backlash that might be waiting the Senate and President Obama over the Senate's Health Care Bill.
  2. William Kristol at the Weekly Standard sounds a similar note with a lesson on what a "Pyrrhic Victory" is.
  3. Thomas Sowell writes about the "Science" Mantra. I read Sowell any time I can. I like this quote from his article:
As for politicians, Senator Barbara Boxer has urged prosecution of the hackers who uncovered and revealed the e-mails! People who have in the past applauded whistleblowers in business, in the military, or in Republican administrations, and who lionized the New York Times for publishing the classified Pentagon papers, are now shocked and outraged that someone dared to expose massive evidence of manipulations, concealment and destruction of data-- and deliberate cover-ups of all this-- in the global warming establishment.

Enjoy these articles, and once again, have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Global Warming Primer

There seems to be lots of questions on this global warming issue. Anonymous Guy and Andy just go back and forth quoting things that make there point of view true. It is like one of you saying the way to heaven is to follow the Koran and the others says to follow the Bible. Your only proof of who is correct comes from those books you are promoting. Is it possible that the Jews know the way to heaven too? To finish the analogy are human actions the absolutely only reason the Earth is currently warming? If not how much effect do human actions have on it?

--Pack04 commenting here.

I thought Pack04 brought up an excellent point. When I discuss Global Warming face to face with people, I don't have the ability to insert a hyperlink to make my case. Instead, I rely on logic, and hope to give the person some direction to go do their own research. I am going to do my best to do that here. Hopefully this will help shed some light on my thoughts on global warming, and might give you some food for thought.

A little about my background. I have been writing about global warming on here since 2007. I have been reading about the topic longer than that. I studied geophysics in college as a minor. Does that make me an expert in the field? Absolutely not. It does give me a few tools to understand some of the science behind the arguments. Truthfully, I think most of this debate can be understood by anyone, if they can keep a few points in mind. As you read the rest of this article, try to put aside what you currently know about the debate on global warming. Then, after reading this, go back to what you previously thought with, hopefully, a slightly different perspective.

First, it's important to remember that the Earth's climate and temperatures are constantly changing. If you could magically transport all humans, and every piece of our technology and pollution off the planet, the Earth would probably still be warming. At the very least, the temperature would continue to change. Before man arrived, the Earth went through natural warming and cooling cycles. This will continue long after we leave. The question both sides debate is: How much warming is due to man?

Secondly, remember that all future predictions (dire and otherwise) are based on computer models. Computer models are a very complicated set of predictions and assumptions an individual makes. In every other scientific or engineering field, once a computer model is created, it is tested with a known set of data with known results. For example: if you were creating a climate model, you might plug in data from 1900 to 1960 to see if your model could accurately predict the weather of the 1970's and 1980's. If it does, you have a good model. If it doesn't, your model still needs work. Here is the second important point: No model currently out there will predict previous years climate. None of them.

One of the assumptions built into climate models is how clouds act. Climatologists on both sides agree that clouds are an important component (some have argued they are a primary component) of what our climate does. However, climatologists don't understand how or why clouds form, or how and why the disappear, or even why they appear in some locations and not in others. As a third important fact, this means all computer models incorporate a guess on how clouds do what they do. This starts the model with an error before the first piece of data is entered.

Now let's pretend we could accurately predict the climate, and we knew it was in fact warming. That still doesn't end the debate. There is no proof that global warming is a bad thing. If the planet was to increase its temperature by 1 degree over the next 100 years, that might be beneficial. It could cause an increase in plant life and human life. Hot weather kills less than cold weather. If we knew a 1 degree increase might cause an additional 1000 deaths in the summer, but save 10,000 lives in the winter, would that be bad? This debate hasn't happened yet, and until it does, we shouldn't spend fortunes trying to correct something we don't really understand.

We aren't sure how accurate our predictions are, and we aren't sure if global warming would truly be a bad thing. Now, let's look at some solutions. If you have read about this topic, you are familiar with the Kyoto treaty. In a nutshell, the Kyoto Protocol is a international treaty that sets targets for reductions of greenhouse gases. The United States is has not ratified this treaty. However, if every nation in the world signed on to Kyoto and met its requirements, it wouldn't stop global warming. The best it would do is to reduce global temperature increases by approximately 0.01 degree Celsius. And this relatively insignificant reduction would come at a fortune of money, technology, and even quality of life.

However, just because I don't believe in man-made global warming doesn't mean there aren't solutions I would support. I do believe conservation is important. I recycle in my own home. I also believe that if the United States did a major push to increase our nuclear energy facilities, there would be a number of benefits. More US nuclear energy would mean more energy here, less money going over seas, more jobs in the United States, and if you believe in Global Warming, a clean energy source. I am always suspicious of people who claim to believe in man-made catastrophic global warming, but aren't willing to discuss more nuclear facilities in the United States. This is a compromise that should generate support form Democrats and Republicans alike.

The next time you read a global warming article (regardless of the point of view of the article) keep these points in mind. I think you might be surprised with what conclusions you reach on your own if you ignore the propaganda, and just look at the facts. Regardless, like any other issue, if you are going to make an informed decision, you will need to do some homework. I hope this helps to give you a framework to start digging around with.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review: How the Obama Administration Threatens to Undermine Our Elections

I have written twice before (here, and here) about the new series of political pamphlets from Encounter Books. Encounter is producing these pamphlets as,"...indispensable ammunition for intelligent debate on the critical issues of our time." They are small (the one discussed here is 35 pages) and cheap ($5.99). In How the Obama Administration Threatens to Undermine Our Elections (Encounter Broadsides), author John Fund attacks,"...dubious measures that make our current system even more prone to confusion and manipulation...".

This is the third in the series. I have been reviewing these in the order I have received them which is why I haven't reviewed the second book yet. I have to admit that I was a little suspicious of the topic for this one. I was very excited to read the first book in this series, but I wasn't so excited about this book. However, after reading the book, I have to say that Mr. Fund has done a good job laying out his case.

Mr. Fund points to the administrations action in some areas, and inaction in others, to make his point. He discusses a couple of cases that the Justice Department has dropped that were slam dunks / handed to Mr. Holder on a silver platter. Yet for some reason, this administration has dropped them. The case of voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers is one example. From Mr. Funds book:

Bartle Bull couldn't believe his eyes. The former civil-rights lawyer had been arrested in the South during the 1960's. He once forced local officials in Mississippi to remove nooses that were hanging from tree branches outside polling places. But until election day 2008 in Philadelphia, he had never seen a man brandishing a weapon blocking the entrance to a polling place. And now he can't understand why the Obama Department of Justice has dropped its case against the New Black Panther Party, the hate group (according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League) whose thugs he saw threatening potential voters with truncheons when they tried to vote.

Mr. Fund goes on to discuss how after the Justice Department obtained a default judgment against the accused members of the Black Panthers, the Justice Department suddenly dropped the charges. There are other examples of this in Mr. Funds pamphlet, and there are examples of policy decisions the Obama Administration is pursuing that could make federal elections more fraudulent instead of less. Mr. Fund ends with a paragraph that should worry conservatives and liberals alike:

If we do not demand that the Obama administration and its allies in Congress abandon schemes and policies that further undermine confidence in our electoral system, we are headed for crises that will shake our electoral system and will make us look back on the disputed presidential vote of 2000 with something like nostalgia.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Global Warming Hoax

You wouldn't know if from any coverage in the main stream media, the UN, or Al Gore, but man-made global warming has been exposed as a hoax. At the very least it no longer qualifies as "settled science" and there is question there was ever consensus outside of activists and four or five politically motivated scientist. If you haven't followed the news, I will give you a quick summary, the bad news and the good news (the last two intended for global warming believers).

For background, I have written about my position on man-made global warming here. I have read alot about global warming since I wrote that post, but my position hasn't changed dramatically since that writing.

What Happened?

A few weeks ago a series of emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the East Anglia University became public. It is uncertain if they emails were leaked from inside, or hacked from outside the university. Either way, the CRU did not intend the emails to become public, and they contain some very damning information. The emails suggest that climate scientist at the CRU and in the United States have colluded together to hide evidence that contradicts the theory of man made global warming, to prevent papers that dispute global warming from being published, and to redefine the very word "peer-review" to protect their agenda and to prevent any dissenting papers from coming forward. A number of investigations have been called for in the UK, and the scientist who headed CRU has stepped down. On top of this, there is a possibility the scientists at CRU broke the law by destroying data that should have been made available under Freedom of Information laws in England and the United States. At the very least, all scientific research that has come out of the CRU is now suspect. Much of this research is used in the UN's own global warming reports.

There is far more than this. If you want more details, do a google search for "climategate". These are just the highlights. One important note. So far, this is only receiving media coverage in the United States through the "new media" of radio and the internet. That isn't the case in Canada and the UK. In both of these areas, it is front and center in many major papers as well.

The Bad News

If you are a global warming believer, these revelations are a true doomsday scenario. It means all of the science that has been used to predict catastrophic global warming is inaccurate. The scientists at the CRU were particularly worried about how to hide the cooling trends of the last ten years. They were also worried about keeping their data away from the public, and away from scientist who disagreed with them.

This isn't science, it's activism. In the scientific process, once you have performed an experiment, you release the data to anyone to see if they can collaborate or recreate your experiment. These scientists were doing everything in their power to avoid that. This disqualifies this as science even if the rest of the emails never surfaced.

The Good News

As devastating as this is to the global warming believers, there is a silver lining. There is no evidence we are heading towards a climate doomsday. If you previously thought man was destroying the planet by driving SUV's and using standard light bulbs, you don't have to worry about that any longer. Global warming believers can still work towards conservation, but not with the threat of Armageddon if we don't stop driving SUV's. This is an important point. I, and many others who have doubted the science behind this hoax, believe in conservation. However, Al Gore and others don't want conservation, they want laws that would destroy our entire economy. I think it is wrong to destroy our economy based on a vague theory that has failed to meet any projections, and that has no real science to back it up.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Harry Reid Forgets History

Once more I have to delay my Global Warming post. This time it's due to the inane comments of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-NV). In my experience, when liberals start crying racism, it's because they have run out of any legitimate arguments. Today, Harry Reid attempted to call Republicans racist because they oppose Reid's 2,000+ page (and multi-Trillion dollar) health care bill. Reid said:

Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right... When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.

This comment appears to be a reference to history. Harry Reid either believes no-one will look it up, or no one remembers what he's talking about. Here are the two possible cases Reid may be speaking about.

First, he could have been speaking of Strom Thurmond's unsuccessful filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Thurmond, who was a Democrat at the time, was defeated by Republicans. Perhaps Reid isn't much of a history student and instead was discussing the debate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This would be particularly troublesome because the opposition to this bill was again led by Democrats. Even more embarrassing is that one of the most adamant opponents of the Civil Rights Act was Ku Klux Klansman, future Democrat Majority Leader, and current Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd. Byrd serves alongside Reid today. Jonathan Leaf, writing on the filibuster of 1964 says:

In total, the filibuster led by the "yellow dog" Democrats ran for ten million words over 534 hours, filling up 63,000 pages of the Congressional Record. Ultimately, 62 percent of Democratic congressmen and 60 percent of Democratic senators voted for the bill, compared to 80 percent of Republican congressman and 82 percent of Republican senators. {emphasis mine}

Reid should pay more attention to history, and not throw about labels that could be more accurately directed at his own party. The American public, and the voters of Nevada, don't want this health care bill. Reid can try to dance around the issue by smearing Republicans as racist while plugging his ears and ignoring the wishes of his own constituents. At the end of the day, this bill will hurt our economy far more than it will help it. On some level, Reid knows the dangers of this bill, and he knows it is unpopular. That's why he has resorted to calling Republicans racists when his arguments could easily be directed at his own party.

Instead of insulting Republicans, maybe Reid should try to listen to them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A New Road in Iran

Earlier this week,I wrote that Iran is moving in a direction that represents a clear and present danger to the United States. Iran is increasing it's nuclear production by beginning construction on five new enrichment facilities. It is also looking for locations to build an additional five facilities. Iran has also committed to increasing aid to external groups that oppose the West by $20 Million. I believe the bulk of this money will go to Hezbollah and Hamas.

There are "three steps" that make Iran a threat to us. First, Iran is not going to voluntarily stop its nuclear program. Is there anyone who seriously believes Iran will only build nuclear reactors and not nuclear weapons? Secondly, Iran controls and funds Hamas and Hezbollah. Should Iran get a nuclear weapon, it's only a matter of time before one (or both) of these groups gets one. Third, should Hezbollah or Hamas get their hands on a nuclear weapon, they will detonate it in Israel or the United States (or both). With this in mind, here are my solutions:

No more "positive" incentives" for Iran. Iran has shown it really isn't interested in allowing Russia to supply it with nuclear power. We should also drop the notion of enticing Iran with money or with an "entry to the world community". Iran has shown they don't care about any of this. How many years have we been following this path only to arrive with Iran closer to aobtaining a nuclear weapon than ever?

Immediate sanctions against Iran. These need to be real and have teeth. They should include a blockade of oil leaving Iran. Iran has to send its oil out to be refined. Let's put an end to that.

Increase funding to pro-Democracy groups inside of Iran. The Obama administration has opposed this and has actually taken the step of cutting funding to groups that document abuses inside Iran. This in an age when we can increase the money to the National Endowment for the Arts, but groups that are putting pressure on Iran get $0.00?

Keep the Military option on the table. And mention it often. Iran needs to know that we will not accept a world with a nuclear Iran. ALL options should be on the table to prevent that.

Mark Hitchcock in The Apocalypse of Ahmadinejad quotes Kenneth Pollack:

Right now, there are two clocks ticking in Tehran. The first is the clock of regime change. Given the sentiments of the people, it seems likely that there will be further meaningful change in Iran at some point in the future. The second clock is the clock of Iran' s nuclear program. We do not know when the alarm on either of those clocks will go off. History has demonstrated that meaningful change in Iran is likely to take considerable time...the findings of the IAEA suggest that Iran is getting fairly close to having a fully self contained enrichment process, if not actual weapons.

These words were written in 2005. We know the nuclear clock is much closer to going off than it was in 2005. President Obama's actions from this summer and more recently look like he doesn't care when either of these clocks go off. We have to act now. Should Iran get a nuclear weapon, the rest of the President's agenda will be moot. We don't have to use the military. We do need to do more than we are doing now.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Problem with Iran

I really wanted to write about the now debunked myth of man-made global warming. With the revelations over the last week, the best you can say is that man-made global warming is a scientific theory that has yet to have any serious scientific data to support it. However, as fun as that would be to write, there is a much more significant and deadly issue facing the West.

Iran made two very significant announcements over the weekend. The first you have probably heard about by now. The second seemed to miss most of the big news outlets.

First, Iran announced they will build 10 new enrichment facilities. The first five will begin in the next two months. The sites for these five have already been selected. The sites for the next five will be selected over the next two months. These 1o facilities, along with the one the West has known about, and the one the West just found out about, would give Iran the capability to make 160 nuclear bombs a year.

First-and-a-half, Iran has said time and time again that if it had a nuclear weapon, it would detonate it in Israel even knowing Israel would strike back. Why? First, Ahmadenjad believes that he can create a world Armageddon that would bring the 12th Iman out of hiding. Second, Ahmadenjad also says there are more Muslims in the world than Jews, so he can win a war of attrition.

Second, also from this weekend, Iran approved a bill that will send $20 Million to militant groups who "oppose the West". The majority of this is probably going to go to Hamas and Hezbollah. Both groups are known terrorists groups and both are quite happy to lob any number of rockets, bombs, missiles, and suicide bombers at Israel. Ask yourself, "What would happen if Hamas or Hezbollah got their hands on a nuclear warhead, even a "dirty" one?"

Health Care and Global Warming are very important debates. However, inaction on Iran will render these two issue moot. Threats about Iran not joining the world community or facing serious sanctions this time won't cut it any longer. What will? Stay tuned for the next article...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. I hope you and your family have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for my family, my wife, and kids. Having a newborn baby, I am especially thankful to have everyone healthy and happy.

While we have debated a number of political issues on here, I am thankful to live in a nation that allows this free political discourse even when we don't agree with the administration.

Have a good holiday, and don't eat toooo much turkey.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Review: Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a new series of political pamphlets that were about to be published. I received the first one, and have been fairly impressed. Encounter Books is releasing a series of the pamphlets (at around $6 each). They are short and designed to be read in one sitting. The first one in the series is Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster (Encounter Broadsides) written by David Gratzer.

First the book. The format is very interesting. I have ordered the next two in this series and I am interested to see how they look. This one is 44 pages, and is about the height and width of a Reader's Digest. However, the paper is pretty high quality. I have a habit of highlighting and writing in my non-fiction books and the paper works very good for this.

Mr. Gratzer is a physician and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He has written previous books on medicine and health care and has appeared in The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He also draws from personal experience in this book.

The book is really good. The first 31 pages list the problems with Obamacare, citing specific evidence from other nations that have some form of socialized medicine. The last 13 pages list ten points that could be used to reform health care in the United States.

Mr. Gratzer points out that government run health care has its own problems:

In Alberta, Canada's wealthiest province, 50 percent of outpatients waited more than 41 days for an MRI scan in 2008. In Saskatchewan, 10 percent of patients awaiting knee-replacement surgery waited 616 days or longer for care. In Nova Scotia, 50 percent of hip-replacement patients waited 201 days or longer for surgery. Wait times for these and other procedures don't factor in any wait to get a referral from a family doctor -- and more than 4 million Canadians can't find a family doctor because of a national doctor shortage created by government cutbacks to medical schools in the 1990's. The situation is so dire that some townships hold lotteries, with winners gaining access to a family doc. {emphasis in the original}

The book contains other examples of problems with government run health care from European nations as well. The solutions provided in the afterward include ideas such as ending defensive medicine, revamping the FDA and the estimated $1 Billion to get a single drug to reach the market, and making health insurance more like other kinds of insurance. Finally, the book ends with a case study in a successful attempt to revamp health care at the business level: Safeway. They were able to get a "net zero percent (0%) gain in per-employee health insurance costs. " Other businesses had an almost 40% increase over the same time period.

In spite of it's long title, Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will be a Disaster is a very good read. It can be read in one sitting and is full of useful information in the health care debate. It should be considered a primer in the health care debate.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Liberal Fascism, Chapter 6 Review

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Red State was running a new book club. There are weekly discussions on each of the assigned chapters. The reading material so far has included A Message to Garcia and Liberal Fascism. I'm finding it pretty interesting, and I thought I would mention it on here one more time. The assignments each week have been about one chapter (around 40 pages). Participants are suppose to write a quick post about what they read for the group to discuss. My post for this week is below. On the other site, it's assumed you have read the chapter, but I think this post brings out some interesting points without a full reading of the chapter.

I hope you take a moment to check out Red State and the book club. Full details of their project can be found here. Let me know if I should explain anything from below.


Liberal Fascism Chapter 6 and the Second Coming

I have thought for a while now that the left’s obsession with “man made global warming” looked much more like a religion than any sort of scientific debate. After reading Chapter 6 of Liberal Fascism, I understand that it’s not global warming that is the religion, it is the entire spectrum of hot button issues the left defends.

Mr. Goldberg argues throughout the chapter that there was a religious faith in the 60’s by radicals and liberals in the God state. Only through the state could man’s greatest potential be realized. This faith included their savior, JFK. I am young enough that I only know what I was taught in school about JFK. What I learned there was that he was assassinated in Dallas, and that the nation wept. In school I was never taught any of things he may have done as President to become a great figure. Just that he was, and that it was a national tragedy that he died.

…after Kennedy’s murder, Kennedy the nationalistic Third Wayer was replaced by Kennedy the fighting liberal. The JFK Camelot eclipsed the one who tried to assassinate Patrice Lumumba and Fidel Castro.

Woodrow Wilson’s grandson Dean Francis Sayre delivered a sermon at the Washington National Cathedral in homage to the fallen leader. “We have been present at a new crucifixion,” he told the assembled dignitaries. “All of us,” he explained, “have had a part in the slaying of our President. It was the good people who crucified our Lord, and not merely those who acted as executioners.”

Mr. Goldberg spends a significant amount of time comparing Kennedy’s actual presidency with what it is described as today by the left. Anytime people look back on history, there can be a desire to white wash events. The left seems to have forgotten the white wash and gone with a total re-write. But what struck me the most is the number of descriptions of Kennedy by the left that could equally be applied to President Obama by the liberal media today. For example:

In 1964 James Reston summarized the newly minted liberal nostalgia for America’s Greek god of a president. “He was a story-book President, younger and more handsome than mortal politicians, remote even from his friends, graceful, almost elegant with poetry on his tongue and a radiant young woman at his side.”

Or later on…

Recall the key themes to Mussolini’s cult of personality: youth, action, expertise, vigor, glamor, military service. Mussolini cast himself as the leader of a youth movement, a new generation empowered through intellect and expertise to break with the old categories of left and right. JFK’s stirring inaugural spoke of “a new generation of Americans –born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage.”

Both of these passages were describing JFK’s legacy, but they could equally describe President Obama’s current cult-like following. How many times have we heard about President Obama’s story book campaign? A political “outsider” who came out of nowhere. And keeping Michelle Obama in the back of your mind, do you think the press wouldn’t use the first passage to describe Obama today? Surely we can all agree that during the election, the “cult of personality” was in full effect on President Obama. We were told that the youth of the nation would carry Senator Obama to victory. And even though the youth turned out in very comparable numbers to previous elections, I have heard news stories just this week discussing what the youth will do in 2010 after getting their President elected last year.

So I ask, “Is President Obama the second coming in the religion of the left?” His polling numbers are continuing to drop. However, people seem to go out of their way to say, “I disagree with the President’s policies, and not with him.” When Rush Limbaugh said he hoped the President failed, the left went into a fury. Many of the bad decisions of this administration have been placed at the feet of Obama’s staff, and not the President. Have we really forgotten who runs the office, and who is ultimately responsible for their decisions? Or being the second coming of the liberal God-state, is it simply forbidden to dispute President Obama?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holder Defends Terrorists Trials in New York

I've written two pieces this week on Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try terrorists in New York. In the first, I argue that Holder and President Obama don't understand Terrorism. In the second, I point out that when we have tried terrorists in courts in the past, we have unintentionally given intelligence to terrorist still overseas.

Today I want to look at a couple of quotes from Eric Holder's testimony this week before the Senate. In this testimony, AG Holder is trying to defend his decision to try terrorists in New York. I think there were two very important things to come out of this testimony. Here is the first. For those of you who don't like FOX News, I apologize, but I wanted to show this statement by Mr. Holder in his own words.

I believe this clip is important because it rejects a defense of Mr. Holder I have heard a lot this week. A number of people defending his decision have said, "We aren't really at war right now." Holder destroy's that argument with this quote:

I know that we are at war. I know that we are at war with a viscous enemy that targets our soldiers on the battlefields of Afghanistan and our civilians on the streets here at home.

I am not a fan of Senator Lindsey Graham. However, he did his homework, and really took the Attorney General apart in this clip. Thanks to Moe Lane at Red State for initially posting this.

Again, there is a very specific point that is important here. Sen. Graham asks Mr. Holder what precedent there is for this decision. Mr. Holder can't answer him, and isn't even prepared for the question. That means the AG didn't know what precedent there was, and made this decision based on other considerations that had nothing to do with precedent.

AG Holder has said this week that this will be a slam dunk case. If this case is suppose to show that we are willing to give terrorists the world over the benefit of the doubt, and try them in civilian courts, how can this be a slam dunk? Nothing in a civilian court is guaranteed. Eric Holder has said that if the terrorists are acquitted, they will not be released into the country. If a judge orders them released, how can the AG not release them into our country? Eric Holder has also said that if for some reason he doesn't get a conviction, he has other charges that he can try them on to get a conviction. Does this sound like the US showing the world how we stand behind our civilian court system? Also keep in mind that the same day Holder announced KSM would stand trial in New York, he announced that the men behind the USS Cole attack would face a military tribunal. None of these statements, or the ones I provide clips for above make any sense if the goal is to get a civilian conviction from these terrorists.

However, if the AG's goal is to put the previous administration on trial, they suddenly make perfect sense. Any good defense attorney will know that if he doesn't have a good defense, he should put the U.S. Government on trial, and try to get his client's off that way. Both President Obama and AG Holder know this. So it looks to me like the simplest answer is that they aren't concerned with the outcome of the trial. I am sure in their minds they have already gotten a conviction. What they are really concerned with is putting President Bush and his administration on trial. This political stunt may well backfire on them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Terrorists in Civillain Courts: What Does History Say?

On Sunday, I posted a blog on why I thought President Obama and Attorney General Holder grossly misunderstand terrorism. We are told by the administration that our nation has a very successful history of trying terrorism in civilian courts. Seattle Dave even pointed in the comments for my post that three conservatives sided with the administration and said the following:

Over the last two decades, federal courts constituted under Article III of the U.S. Constitution have proven capable of trying a wide array of terrorism cases, without sacrificing either national security or fair trial standards.

I thought it might be helpful to look at three high profile cases to see if this is really the case.

Case One: The Blind Sheik

Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as "the Blind Sheik" was tried for terrorism in the 1990's. It was alleged that he was behind the original World Trade Center bombing in 1993. His trial was a very high profile event. He was not convicted of terrorism but was instead found guilty of "seditious conspiracy". This is an easier charge to prove in a court of law than terrorism. It was believed the Blind Sheik was involved in planning 15 bomb attacks through out New York.

The trial for the Blind Sheik is believed to have provided valuable intelligence for Al-Queda. Michael Mukasey, previous Attorney General, and a man who presided over the trial of the Blind Sheik, writing last month illustrated this with an example:

...the government was required to disclose, as it is routinely in conspiracy cases, the identity of all known co-conspirators, regardless of whether they are charged as defendants. One of those co-conspirators, relatively obscure in 1995, was Osama bin Laden. It was later learned that soon after the government's disclosure the list of unindicted co-conspirators had made its way to bin Laden in Khartoum, Sudan, where he then resided. He was able to learn not only that the government was aware of him, but also who else the government was aware of.

This is just one example of court evidence providing valuable intelligence to terrorists. The Blind Sheik's trial also had the distinction of getting the defense attorney in trouble. Lynne Stewart was a member of the Sheik's defense team, and was convicted of passing messages to the Sheik's followers in foreign countries inciting them to perform terrorist attacks.

Case Two: Zacarias Moussaoui

The alleged "20th Hijacker" also had a few intelligence problems. Moussaoui represented himself in court, made a mockery of the trial, and even verbally attacked the judge during the proceedings. Since Moussaoui represented himself, the prosecution had to turn over their case to the "defendants lawyer" under discovery. According to CNBC News, the government admitted they turned over classified documents to Moussaoui that he shouldn't have had access too. This is important because KSM has decided to represent himself in the upcoming New York trials.

Case Three: Ramzi Yousef

Like the Sheik,Ramzi Yousef was also found guilty of "seditious activities" in spite of being a known terrorists and in spite of being involved in terrorists activities. Once again, material presented in court helped our enemies overseas. From Michael Mukasey:

Again, during the trial of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, an apparently innocuous bit of testimony in a public courtroom about delivery of a cell phone battery was enough to tip off terrorists still at large that one of their communication links had been compromised. That link, which in fact had been monitored by the government and had provided enormously valuable intelligence, was immediately shut down, and further information lost.

We have been told by President Obama, Attorney General Holder, some conservatives, and other officials that our court system can handle trying terrorist. We have been told they can do it successfully, and without putting our security at risk. In these three specific cases, that didn't happen. In these high profile cases the government was unable to prevent sensitive information from getting in the hands of our enemies. In these cases the government failed to prosecute terrorists in civilian courts, "...without sacrificing either national security or fair trial standards."

Can we really expect the government to do better when trying the plotters of the 9/11 attacks?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama Doesn't Understand Terrorism

We learned two very important things about President Obama on Friday. The first, he has no understanding of terrorism. The second, he has no understanding of just how bad our deficit is.

Eric Holder announced that the five men accused of planning the September 11th attacks will be tried in civilian court in New York. This announcement was made while President Obama was in Asia, and unable to field questions about this decision. What Holder and Obama both fail to recognize is there is no good outcome that justifies bringing them to the United States to stand trial in a civilian court. I want to look at the best outcome Holder / Obama could hope for and why it shows a lack of understanding of terrorism and our deficit.

The "Best Case" Scenario

The best possible outcome from trying these terrorists in New York is that they will be found guilty, be sentenced to death and quickly executed. This is probably the exact same outcome if they were tried in a military tribunal. In the "best case" scenario, there will be no press coverage of the proceedings so there will be no live broadcasts of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed denouncing the United States and our "imperialist" invasion of the Middle East. This case also assumes that there will be no disruptions or attacks on the courthouse during the trial. We are told if this happens, our image will improve world wide. The same people who tell us this are the ones who told us electing Obama would improve our standing world wide. After almost ten months in office, Iran is closer than ever to getting a nuclear weapon, Chavez is expanding his influence into surrounding nations, we are belittling our allies in the press, abandoning them in Latin America and Eastern Europe (not to mention Israel), and our "new, better image" failed to land the Olympics for the President' s home town. I'm not sure this is going to help our international image.

A Lack of Understanding Terrorism

The New York Times Mark Mazzetti writes today:

Not long after he was rousted from bed and seized in a predawn raid in Pakistan in March 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave his captors two demands: He wanted a lawyer, and he wanted to be taken to New York. After a nearly seven-year odyssey that took him to secret CIA jails in Europe and a U. S. military prison in Cuba, Mohammed is getting his wishes.

Who says we don't negotiate with terrorist? Captured on the battlefield? Wait out the administration, and maybe your dreams will come true.

The Obama Administration was accused of having a "pre-9/11 mentality" during the campaign. Their actions on Friday show this was an accurate charge. Civilian courts are not designed to try terrorist captured in the worlds hell-holes by our military. Our courts are use to miranda rights and constitutional protections. These are not guaranteed to military enemies. Al-Queda has declared a war against the United States since before 1996. Iran (acting through Hamas and Hezbollah) has been at war with us since at least 1979. These are self declared wars involving military actions against civilian and military targets. You do not defeat that by capturing a few of the enemies soldiers and trying them in court.

In a court of law, KSM and his co-conspirators will be allowed to speak, and may make sudden outbursts just to get attention. They may be allowed to cross examine their accusers, their lawyers will probably challenge the way they were handled since their capture. Their lawyers are almost certain to move for a dismissal of charges based solely on the reported torture in the media. To avoid this, the Bush Administration, working with Congress and the Supreme Court, created a legal military tribunal system to deal with terrorist captured in foreign lands.

During these trials, how much testimony or evidence will be discussed that might provide intelligence to our enemies? If these trials are covered in court, do we really think the Amerian audience will be the only one watching? What might be revealed in an open court that might jeopardize soldiers and agents in the field?

KSM and at least one other of the terrorists Holder and Obama want to try in New York have admitted guilt and have asked to be executed. Eric Holder says he hopes to seek the death penalty. Why should we waste the money a New York trial will cost when we can arrive at the same verdict with a military tribunal. Which brings up...

A Lack of Understanding of Our Debt

The President seems to have no idea of the cost a trial in New York for the masterminds of the September 11th attacks will cost. The O.J. Simpson circus cost an estimated $9 Million in the 1990's. I expect by the end of the day, the trails for these five will total $100's of Millions. How long will a trial of this nature go on? months? years? This would represent a great target for terrorists like the one from Fort Hood, or Al-Queda. During the entire time, the courthouse, judge, prosecutor, jurors, and defendants will need security. Is there anyone that thinks this will be free?

The defense lawyers are likely to seek any sort of delay or extra trail they can get. How long can this trail be delayed? Anyone associated with any of these special sessions or pre-trail events will need security. Any location will need extra security. What if the defense lawyers successfully lobby to put the soldiers that captured these men on the stand. How much will it cost to get them to and from New York?

Finally, A Worst Case Scenario.

What if the worst happens. Michael Goodwin writes today"

The worst-case outcome is frightening. The beasts who helped kill nearly 3,000 Americans could walk free, while the brave agents who protected the country get locked up.

What if our courts declare some sort of mistrial and order these men set free? Forget whether they would be freed here in the United States or flown back to other countries. If any one of these five is set free by a civilian court, we will give a terrorist who helped plan the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil his freedom. Could any political stunt by the President really be worth this possibility? Could you imagine a photo op with KSM walking around Ground Zero? What about a terrorist being set free while an agent or soldier is locked up pending a trial on their techniques for capturing these terrorists?

There is a real chance that future generations will look back at this decision as Obama's biggest mistake. I am afraid the President and his Attorney General just took one giant step towards making us much more vulnerable to other terrorist attacks. And they did it to what is going to be a huge tax payer burden.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who cares if it isn't in the Constitution??

I found the following clip at the Heritage Foundation. This is a Democratic Senator from Hawaii being interviewed by CNS News. It's a rare instance where a politician gives an honest answer to a simple question, and it really should scare the hell out of everyone.

If the Constitution doesn't give Congress the power to do it, then they can't do it! The scariest part is were Senator Akaka says they should do this without Constitutional authority because they want," help citizens in our country to live a good life."

If this doesn't scare you, then you don't understand what he just said. If you're a liberal or a Democrat, imagine a Congress with an overwhelming majority of conservative Christians passing legislation that has no Constitutional authority, but they want to do it so that the citizens live a good life. Would you tolerate that?

A Small Taste of the "Public Option"

On yesterday's Rush Limbaugh Show, Rush featured a letter to the editor that was sent to the Southeast Missourian. If you wish to read it for yourself, go to the original here. In the letter, a reader describes their experience with trying to get the H1N1 vaccine. This is very instructive because this is an example of what a government run health care plan, or "public option" might look like. From the letter:

The new era of government control over our lives and freedoms has begun. This week, it got personal, and I felt helpless.

The doctor overseeing my health care advised me to get an H1N1 flu shot. I've been under a six-year treatment program for a chronic infection, plus I have heart and lung problems. Therefore, I am considered a high risk. Fortunately, my doctor had three shots available, but I would have to get approval from my county health department. Much to my surprise, the woman at the health department apologized and told me that even though I was a senior citizen at high risk, the health department had been instructed to approve shots only for children and pregnant mothers. I asked when a shot for my situation might be available. "We really don't know. Check back with us sometime in December."

What? The terrorist detainees in Gitmo are getting shots this month. Why not a high-risk senior citizen?

Mr. Obama, this is what we call health care rationing, which you claim won't happen under a government-run health care program.

Here is a case where a high risk senior citizen was denied a H1N1 vaccine because the county health board employee hadn't been instructed to make them available to high risk individuals yet. In a government bureaucracy, employees follow their instructions and don't typically question the wisdom of these instructions. If you are upset with the layers of bureaucracy in your current plan, just imagine when you add to that plan the government' s bureaucracy.

To continue this example of poor government health care, the Pentagon said earlier this month that H1N1 vaccines would be given to detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Press Secretary Bryan Gibbs quickly said there were no vaccines at the base, and there were none heading there. To further muddy the waters, the Pentagon confirmed this week that 300 doses of the vaccine had arrived at "Gitmo" (regardless of what Mr. Gibbs said). The current speculation is that 300 doses is too small of a quantity for any to go to detainees. I suspect in a month or so there may be an article quietly stating that more vaccines had arrived at Gitmo.

Whether you personally believe the detainees should get vaccinated or not, this is an example of the federal government making a health care decision based purely on politics. The Pentagon believed it,"...[had] an obligation to care for persons in its custody..." The White House didn't like the political fallout of taxpayer money providing flu vaccines to terrorists. The policy appears to have been changed. This took about a week and a half.

Now I ask you: if the Federal government was in charge of a much larger portion of the nations health care and they made a decision that got poor coverage in the press, do you think they might change that decision based purely on politics or polling data? Or do you really think they would stick to their guns and make the decision purely on medical reasoning?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fun Facts on Pelosi's Healthcare.

If you are like me, most people, and certainly members of congress, you haven't had a chance to read the almost 2,000 page health care bill Congress passed Saturday night. We have seen a number of surprises in rushed through legislation over the past year and I am sure this one will include a number of surprises no one knows about right now. However, the Heritage Foundation has done a detailed analysis of the bill and found a few "fun facts" you may want to know about before your Senator votes on this bill. The information below is from the Heritage Foundations webmemo #2684 "A Closer Look at the House Democrats' Health Care Bill". Considering only one Republican voted for it, I think this is still a good title.

If you only remember one of the details I am going to discuss, remember this one: You will probably not be able to keep your current insurance. The President has said a number of times that you can keep your insurance. This is simply not true. The President either hasn't paid attention to the bill, or is speaking of a different bill that has yet to be introduced. First, the bill provides incentives for companies to not provide health care. From the Heritage Foundation research:

The bill also imposes a new 8 percent payroll tax on employers who do not cover specified percentages of their employee's health insurance...since the amount of this tax would be lower than the cost of providing health insurance (especially for low-income workers), many employers would opt to pay the tax and not offer health plans, disrupting their employees' existing coverage.

Secondly, the bill creates a new "Health Choices Commissioner". This Commissioner can decide what services insurance provides are forced to cover, and what services they are prohibited from covering. As such, the Health Choices Commissioner will be able to dictate the services your insurance provides. This may or may not be something you want, but I am sure there will be changes to your coverage from the Commissioner.

The "public option" is back in the bill. The bill structures what employees would be eligible to participate and when. The rates of the "public option" are to be "negotiated" with medical providers. However the CBO estimates that if the "public option" rates were truly negotiated, the "public option" would cost more than most private insurances. As such, I leave to you to guess what the term "negotiated" means in this bill.

The final fun fact tonight is the price tag. President Obama has set a goal of $900 Billion for any health care bill. The CBO has estimated this bill at between $1.05 and $1.3 Trillion, slightly higher than the President' s commitment. However, this doesn't reflect the actual price of the bill. Because the bill won't take effect until 2014, the Heritage Foundation points out:

...although the [CBO] score is technically a 10-year score, it is not a 10-year cost under full implementation. A full 10-year cost puts a total close to $2.4 trillion.

Over the coming weeks and months these three facts will be disputed and glossed over. Remember, there is a good chance your local Senator has never read the bill, nor has any plans too. I would encourage you to read the Heritage Foundations report. I only covered three of the biggest problems with the Health Care bill. You may find more you don't like.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Unemployment breaks 10%

If you follow the news at all, you heard a lot yesterday regarding the shooting at Fort Hood. As more information becomes available, I may or may not write about it here. This grizzly news did hide some economic news: The U.S. is not over 10% unemployment. This is the first time it has crossed 10% since 1983. A Fox News article this morning had two other cautionary statements:

Counting those who have settled for part-time jobs or stopped looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 17.5 percent, the highest on records dating from 1994.


Economists say it could climb as high as 10.5 percent next year because employers remain reluctant to hire.
In the middle of all this is talk of a possible Stimulus Part II. Looking at how much we spent to still have over 10% unemployment, I'm not sure a Stimulus Part II is any thing other than throwing money that our government, and our taxpayers, and our grandchildren, don't have.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Interview with Maria Sheffield, Part III

This week I have been posting my interview with Maria Sheffield. Mrs. Sheffield is a candidate for Georgia State Insurance Commissioner. I posted a little of her background here. I also posted the first part of this interview here. As I have said before, I think Mrs. Sheffield is a very interesting candidate and I think Georgia voters should get to know her.

I warned my readers last time that these posts would be a little longer than my traditional post. However, I think it's a good idea to include the entire response from Mrs. Sheffield so youcan make your own decisions about what she was trying to say. Without further ado, here is the conclusion of our interview.

Political Friends:
In Georgia politics there seem to be a number of candidates that are being accused of being the "hand- picked successor" to the current office holder. You have been accused of that on the internet. Can you tell me a few things that would distinguish your time in office or your position on issues from Mr. Oxendine's?

Mrs. Sheffield
: Well, that is just silly, but I suppose when these "other" candidates neither have the experience or qualifications for the job, it is easier to try and belittle the competition. It is so effortless for people to be negative on the Internet because they know they do not have to be accountable for their actions. When political campaigns do not have positive ideas to offer, they attempt to distract Georgia from the real issues. It is true that I worked at the Department of Insurance during the Oxendine administration but I have also been in private practice for the past seven years. This campaign is not about the current incumbent. It is about the people of Georgia and who has the experience to work for them each day on the issues before the Department, which affect their daily lives. I think of the campaign as an extended interview - the voters in Georgia are interviewing candidates for a job, one that is paid by their tax dollars. Surely they want to hire a qualified person and not someone simply seeking higher office or someone hoping to promote his or her own self-interested agendas. I believe my personal, professional and educational backgrounds suggest I am the best qualified person for the job.

I am very proud of my service to the citizens of Georgia during my time at the Department of Insurance and I think most reasonable taxpayers understand I worked for them and did my best for them. I am proud that many people who support the work of the current commissioner are supporting my campaign and I am also equally proud that I have strong backing from people who have chosen not to offer their support to the current commissioner. I can assure you and everyone in Georgia, that any decisions I make as insurance commissioner will be based on my relationship with taxpayers, my own beliefs and my own experiences.

PF: You are campaigning on "Portability of Health Insurance Policies". How would you work to get more portable coverage for Georgia workers?

Sheffield: The last major federal challenge to state regulation of health insurance came about in 1996 with the Kennedy-Kassebaum Bill, known now as HIPAA or, more formally, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. When HIPAA was passed, all states, including Georgia, were forced to change many of their state health insurance laws. The Georgia Legislature acted shortly thereafter to protect state regulation of insurance in Georgia by clarifying many jurisdictional issues surrounding state regulation. I would point out that Georgia was ahead of many states in the rest of the nation in establishing laws regarding portability protections in health insurance a full year before the federal government adopted them in HIPAA. I will work to make certain that Georgia's portability laws are maintained as a job change should never cause a Georgia taxpayer to lose his or her health insurance coverage.

Would you challenge the creation of a National Insurance Commissioner in court? Do you believe the creation of a National Insurance Commissioner would violate the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

Sheffield: In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled that insurance should come under federal regulation, but Congress passed the McCarran-Ferguson Act in 1945, returning control to the state level where it has remained to this day. State insurance oversight has kept insurance companies both solvent and stable and has protected policyholders for the past sixty-four years. State regulators continue to provide an immediate and local response to consumer issues. While there are a number of areas in the financial sector that suffer from little or no regulation; insurance is certainly not one of them. The strong state-based regulatory framework should remain in place and not be supplanted with a new federal bureaucracy.

PF: I have seen your support for the Fair Tax in a number of places. What can the Insurance Commissioner do to get the Fair Tax Act into law in Georgia?

Sheffield: In my experience, Georgia voters generally want to know where their public servants stand on the vital issues of the day, they want to know the values we hold. I will use my position to advocate for the Fair Tax among those elected officials that are in a position to directly affect change – we are a government run by people and all who are honored to serve must speak out on the issues that are important to the taxpayers. This being said, my primary focus as insurance commissioner will be in serving the people of Georgia in the capacity in which I am elected.PF: Health Care and Health Insurance reform are hot topics in Washington. What proposals do you believe need to be considered in any effective health care reform?

Health Care and Health Insurance reform are hot topics in Washington. What proposals do you believe need to be considered in any effective health care reform?

One of the reasons I am running for insurance commissioner is because I want to establish the most competitive free-market environment for Georgia's insurance industry, one that simultaneously provides the greatest opportunities for business and the best choices for consumers at the most reasonable rates. Any effective health care reform must incorporate these same fundamental principles.

PF: You have pledged to expand the Rural Georgia Healthcare Initiative. Why is this so important, and how can it be expanded in a fiscally responsible way?

Sheffield: The Rural Georgia Healthcare Initiative that I am referring to relates to Georgia's telemedicine program. You should know that I was born and raised in a small town in middle Georgia, my father was disable from the time I was five years old and because of my father's health problems I spent many days of my life traveling to and from metro-area hospitals, so I understand firsthand the value of telemedicine. You see, through telecommunications systems, computer technology and specialized medical cameras doctors are able to examine, diagnose, treat and educate patients at a distance. Telemedicine provides greater access to quality care, allows physicians to better share knowledge, provides stronger relationships between patients and providers and reduces travel time for people, thereby reducing costs and adding value to the economy.

Additionally, rural hospitals in Georgia face a financial crisis because hospitals in undeserved areas face competitive disadvantages as they confront rising costs. Such facilities need to find sustainable ways to become more efficient while improving health care quality and reducing costs. I believe that telemedicine is a step in the right direction. I will encourage the continued investment of private dollars into this program.

PF: The election is over a year away. At this point, how do you like your chances, and what will you be doing in the coming months to get your name out to the voters in Georgia?

Sheffield: First, I am listening to people across the State of Georgia, talking with them about their issues and concerns and telling them about my plans for the Department. The people I have met know that I understand the role of insurance commissioner and the issues that are dealt with daily by the Department. They appreciate that my interest in pursing the position is rooted in my desire to actually serve the public in a position where I have a solid base of knowledge. I am the only candidate who has real experience in insurance, fire safety and industrial loan matters. I will use this knowledge and experience to be an advocate for the people of Georgia in this campaign.

I am humbled by the support the campaign is receiving across Georgia. We are building a strong team of committed volunteers and supporters. We will work tirelessly to earn the trust and votes of the taxpayers.

I took away from this interview that Mrs. Sheffield is a very qualified candidate who has some very interesting ideas about the office she is hoping to win next year. I will be keeping an eye on her over the next year and I wish her the best of luck.

Time for the President to be President

Note: I originally wrote this for Alexandria. I decided to exercise my power as author of this blog and post it here as well. Enjoy!

Critics of America should consider carefully whether they really want what they have wished for: an America more restrained, "back in its box" deferential to other countries --or even, less successful.

Bronwen Maddox writes this in her book "In Defense of America". I am a political junkie, an really enjoy reading books about America written by foreign authors. I read this book last summer, and the line I quote above has stuck in my head. "What would happen if the United States did what many foreign leaders claim to want us to do, and simply leave other nations to take care of themselves?" With the election of President Obama, we are starting to see just how much Europeans like it.

This week, there have been two different articles in two different foreign publications calling President Obama to action in Afghanistan. So far, those calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Writing in the UK Telegraph, Toby Harden points out the that the President appears to still be campaigning and hasn't yet started governing. Mr. Harden points out that President Obama has attended 22 fund raisers since being sworn in. President Bush attended six in his first year in office. He says later in his piece:

All this says much about Mr Obama's priorities at a time when he is sitting on an urgent request for 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, seemingly unsure about whether the counter-insurgency strategy he announced in March is the right one.

This call for action is repeated this morning in another international publication. In an article entitled "We're Waiting, Mr. President" appearing in Der Spiegel, Claus Christian Malzahn argues that "Obama must provide better leadership on Afghanistan". He goes on to say:

So far Obama has only made it clear that he doesn't intend to withdraw any troops and that he hasn't decided yet whether to add more soldiers. But this smells more like a lazy compromise than a clear statement of intent, and it has led to speculation in Washington that Obama could wash his hands of the matter by announcing a moderate troop buildup and newly packaged diplomatic initiatives.

I would argue that this qualifies as a "do nothing" approach. In it, President Obama doesn't have to commit to persecuting the war like he and Vice President Biden said they would while campaigning for these offices. He also doesn't have to give his political enemies ammunition by retreating from Afghanistan. He simply chooses a middle of the road approach and goes back to health care reform.

Sometimes, our best advice can be found right here at home. Yesterday was the 45th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan's "A Time for Choosing" speech. In it, he says the following when discussing communism:

We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we're willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second—surrender.

These words ring true with Afghanistan. It would be easy to pack up our bags and head home. The easiest thing to do is not always the right thing to do. President Obama campaigned hard to become President of the United States. No one forced him into this office. He went after it, and he has the job now. With that position comes great responsibilities. It's time President Obama lived up to the office.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"A Time for Choosing"

Eric at Red State posted this today. Today is the 45th Anniversary of Reagan's speech for Barry Goldwater. I think this is an important speech everyone should watch. If you changed just a few words it would still apply today. Reagan labeled it "A Time for Choosing", everyone else seems to refer to it as the "Rendezvous with Destiny" Speech.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Interview with Maria Sheffield, Part II

Tonight, I get into the Question and Answer part of my interview with Maria Sheffield. Mrs. Sheffield is running for Insurance Commissioner for the State of Georgia. Last time, I wrote a little about her background. I think all Georgia voters should take some time to get to know Mrs. Sheffield. In my opinion, she is a very strong candidate and well worth looking into. I have left the responses in Mrs. Sheffield's own words. While this makes for a little bit longer post than I usually write, I think it is better to have the candidate speak for herself.

Political Friends:
There will be a large number of offices on the ballot in the 2010 elections in Georgia, why should voters pay attention to the Insurance Commissioners race?

Mrs. Maria Sheffield: Healthcare reform is presently the most controversial issue both within the State of Georgia and at the national level. Most people recognize and agree that health care is provided locally. Many people also understand that insurance coverage for locally provided health care can and should differ from state to state, as does the licensure of doctors, the types of available medical facilities, the court systems and other, related aspects that go with care and coverage. Many other people also understand that state laws include important protections for all people concerned about their health insurance coverage and their health care. I expect that whatever legislation may be passed at the federal level, will require direct state action and will likely involve the Georgia Department of Insurance.

Further, while the insurance commissioner is most often thought of as the regulator overseeing the licensing and regulation of 1,600 insurance companies and 137,000 insurance agents in the State of Georgia, the Georgia insurance commissioner is also responsible for approximately 1,000 industrial loan offices and also serves as both Safety Fire Commissioner and Comptroller General of the state. The role of Safety Fire Commissioner is diverse and responsibilities include the investigating and examining of construction and engineering techniques, construction material and fire prevention and protection techniques. These responsibilities fall into five main categories including building inspections (hotels, day care centers, schools and racetracks just to name a few), manufactured housing inspection, fire scene investigation, engineering and hazardous materials such as explosives and propane gas. The office also promotes fire safety education in the schools.

Given the responsibilities housed within the Georgia Department of Insurance, Georgia needs a strong leader who has direct experience with the many issues handled by the Department and someone that is willing to work hard each day for the citizens of the State.

PF: Why did you decide to make your official announcement on Facebook and Twitter? Do you hope to utilize the internet to communicate to Georgia voters, and if so how?

Sheffield: Absolutely, I will use new media to communicate with voters – everyday. Statistics show that the way we receive our news is changing. People receive more and more information on the Internet. Plus, this technology is available at virtually no cost to a campaign, provides voters with real-time information and allows for greater interaction which is key in a state that is geographically as large as the State of Georgia. It is also a lot of fun and I enjoy letting my supporters know what I am doing and likewise learn about them, what they are doing and the issues that are important to them personally.

Further, since I believe that the insurance
industry has to be both responsible and responsive to the citizens of the state, I intend to work with the industry to insure that the insurance regulatory framework in Georgia is clear and concise and works for those of us that are consumers of insurance products, as well as for the industry, as we all benefit from a healthy insurance environment. I believe that the most cost effective way to communicate with the industry is through Internet based technologies and will work as Insurance Commissioner to promote this practice at the Department of Insurance.

PF:You have spent time in the Georgia Department of Insurance as well as in private practice. Can you tell me a few things that might give you better insight into the role of the State Insurance Commissioner than some of your competitors?

Sheffield:I am the only candidate who has been on the front line listening to, and working for, Georgians with real problems regulated by the Department of Insurance. After six years of direct experience addressing issues in all of the various divisions within the Department, I made the decision to go into private practice, choosing to focus on insurance regulatory and compliance issues. While I thought I knew a lot coming out of the Department, I can attest to the fact that I have learned so much more over the past seven years and am glad I have had the opportunity to deal with issues affecting Georgians and the insurance industry from various vantage points. My experience in the private sector working in the industry for small business owners and taxpayers has certainly expanded my knowledge. Further, as someone who has worked with every insurance department in the country and has been actively involved in proceedings of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, I truly understand the pivotal role of an insurance commissioner and I take that responsibility seriously. During these critical times, Georgia needs a Commissioner who is ready to lead on day one and not someone who needs on the job training.

PF:What do you see as the biggest obstacles to the next Insurance Commissioner?

Sheffield:I think one of the biggest obstacles will be the uncertainty over the most appropriate and effective way to make changes to our nation's healthcare system. None of us currently know what and if any law(s) will be passed by the federal government. As Insurance Commissioner, I am charged with enforcing the laws that are made by members of our legislature, that being said, I will use every ounce of authority that I have to make certain that Georgians do not lose their ability to make their own decisions about their health care options and coverages.

Another major obstacle will be the economy. One of the most important jobs of any state insurance commissioner is regulating the solvency of the insurance industry. After all, it does not matter how many insurance companies are doing business in Georgia if they can't afford to pay the claims of their policyholders. The economy has no doubt had a direct impact on the insurance industry and as insurance commissioner I will be diligent in examining the solvency of each insurance company doing business in Georgia. The economy has also had a major impact on the budget of the Department of Insurance. As I understand it, there are actually fewer employees today at the Department than there were 16 years ago and of course all of these employees are handling many more issues than there were in the past. Services provided by the Department are crucial to the citizens of Georgia and the next insurance commissioner will truly have to do more with less and again, that is why I believe it is critical that we have an insurance commissioner that is already well versed in the issues before the Department.


I will post the rest of the Interview on Thursday. Some of the topics we discuss in the next half of the interview include the Fair Tax, the Tenth Amendment, and Health Care.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Interview with Maria Sheffield, Part I

Looking at the current political landscape we have a single party that controls the Presidency, the Congress, and the Senate. Depending on how things shape up over the next three years, they could control the Supreme Court as well. Elections are important, and they are important at every level. Barack Obama started as a State Senator. Most elected officials start as state and local officials before they run for federal office. If for no better reason than this, we should be paying attention to our local elections.

At the beginning of September Maria Sheffield formally announced her candidacy for Insurance Commissioner for Georgia. At the same time, I was trying to come up with a way to discuss some of the elected offices that will be on next years ballot but don't usually draw a lot of attention. I thought a great way to start this discussion might be to do an interview with Mrs. Sheffield. I contacted her, and she agreed. This week, I will be discussing the interview I conducted with Mrs. Sheffield. Tonight, I want to get into a little of her background. The first question and answer session will be on Tuesday night, with the second to follow on Thursday night.

I first heard of Maria Sheffield on Facebook. I started researching her, and I felt she had a very interesting background that might make her a strong candidate for Insurance Commissioner. She was born and raised just North of Macon, Georgia in the town of Ivey. Her mother was a nurse and her father served a career in the Air Force and retired from the Air National Guard. Before her 26th birthday, Maria had obtained four degrees including an MBA and a Juris Doctor from Georgia State University. However, her life wasn't all roses either. Her mother was killed when Maria was 15. Her father died of brain cancer when she was 25.

Maria has worked for the Republican Party since the 90's. She served as a District Chairman for Phil Gramm for President in 1996 and as a Vice-Chairman for George Bush for President in 2000. She worked for the Georgia Department of Insurance for six years and served as the Legislative Liaison and Legal Counsel. She is currently an attorney for Burr, Forman, LLP where she specializes in insurance and regulatory compliance matters.

As a final note, this week is not intended as an endorsement of Mrs. Sheffield's candidacy. I think it is too early for any voter to commit to a particular candidate for the 2010 election. If I get the chance to interview some of Mrs. Sheffield's competition, I will be happy to run those on this site as well. However, from what I have read of Mrs. Sheffield, and from looking at her responses during this interview, I think any Georgia voter should consider Mrs. Sheffield over the coming months. Kathryn Ballou of Sheffield's campaign told me that she would encourage the voters to listen to what the candidates are saying. She points out that almost anything can sound good in a 10 second sound bite, but who really has the experience and who is in the race simply because they don't have anything better to do? I think this is good advice for any of the positions we will be voting on in November.