Monday, March 29, 2010

“I Swear By My Life…”

This weekend, my wife and I attended a local "family day at the opera". We have a lot of fun at these family days, and my daughter really enjoys them. Who knows, maybe it will spark some future career interest in the arts in her. This is the second year we have gone to this event, and we have had a lot of fun both times.

This weekend I was wearing a shirt I bought online with a quote from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. On the front it says, "If you can read this, you should read Atlas Shrugged". On the back, it contains one of the more important quotes from the book:

I swear, by my life and my love of it

that I will never live for the sake of another man,

nor ask another man to live for mine.

The shirt is a very vibrant green, and I am sure you can find one just like it if you do a quick search on any of the internet t-shirt sites. However, while we were at "family day" I had someone from the staff come up to me and compliment me on the shirt. He said that the quote was particularly important in today's world. I tend to agree. The quote, and the passage in the book it comes from, argues that no able bodied person should leach off another individual if they are able to provide for themselves. There are too many politicians today that would argue we should take from people who have provided for themselves, to give to others who haven't. Instead of some people succeeding in life, everyone should be mediocre. Instead of most people having good health care, everyone should have sub-par health care.

What amazes me about this weekend is that this isn't the first comment I have gotten from wearing this shirt. I have a number of other politically themed shirts, but none of them get as many comments and compliments, and from as broad a walk of life, as this one does. All of the comments are positive, and most are very positive.

I have a theory as to why many people like this shirt, and it's the same reason I think sales of Atlas Shrugged have continued to increase over recent years. I think it's because the theme of both the book, and the signature quote that is written on my shirt resonate with many, many Americans. We want to be left alone, we want to take care of ourselves, and we don't want to pay crushing taxes to go to a permanent welfare group. I believe in helping those less fortunate than me, but I don't believe in paying someone to not work, and I don't believe in creating a permanent class of people who are 100% dependent on the government for everything.

This is important because I believe more and more Americans are paying attention to politics, and more and more Americans are starting to feel like this. It's one of the reasons the Tea Party movement started, and it's one of the reasons there was such a backlash on Democrats for Obamacare. The quicker politicians realize that there are more and more voters paying attention to what they are doing, the quicker Congress might actually start focusing on the things that are important to voters like jobs, the economy and security.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How's Your Obamacare?

Days since Obamacare became law: 1

Days left before the beginning of $500 Billion in new taxes: 282

How is your new health care?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Call to Action

I consider myself an amateur historian. Amateur because I don't study history for profit, I study it because I find it an incredible story. I would argue that the story of America is one of the richest, most beautiful stories ever told, and stands against any work of fiction ever written. I love the National Archives in Washington. Seeing the actual Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution is a very moving experience. On the west side of the Archives, the following inscription is written in big bold letters:

The glory and romance of our history are here preserved in the chronicles of those who conceived and builded the structure of our nation.

I never fail to be moved when I read that inscription. As an amateur historian, I will tell you that I find it hard to believe the tyranny that has been forced on our nation by the U.S. Congress, by the U.S. Senate, and by the current President of the United States. I do not use the word "tyranny" lightly. Tyranny is defined as "oppressive power". Today, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the most massive redefining of our economy to take place since The Great Depression. Under the guise of "health care reform", this law gives the government the power to decide what kind of health care you and your family receive.

In addition to this travesty, it will increase our deficit according to Democrats own internal memo's. The law costs $1 Trillion. That's $1 Trillion we don't have to spend. The law attempts to pay for itself through taxing the very services, devices, and people, it claims to help. A few days ago a comment on this blog went, "Oddly, when I woke up this morning and looked outside, I didn't see any communist nationalistic troops with tanks rolling down my street." True. However, is your health care better today? Do you get better appointments at the Doctor's office? Is your Doctor even still in business? Do you suddenly have medicine you couldn't get on Saturday? Is the "change" in your insurance worth the estimated $500 Million in new taxes we will see on January 1, 2011? The honest answer to most of these questions is "no".

This health care law by itself hasn't destroyed our nation. However, with its passage into law today, I can see the end of our nation from here. Our country can't afford the price tag of this bill in this economy, coupled with the price tags of Social Security and Medicare. Both of these programs are running out of money. Some estimates state they will be out of money in the next ten years, just as we're paying increased taxes for the law signed today. The Democrats in Washington have decided a one and a half year crusade to centralize healthcare decision making power is more important than getting people back to work, and more important than improving our economy.

The "Greatest Generation" fought to protect our country, and the west in World War II. However they failed to pass on the values of their generation to their children. The Baby Boomers are starting to retire, and failed to fix Social Security or Medicare, and failed to protect our nation from the encroachment of soft tyranny. This "beneficial tyranny" believes in protecting everyday people from themselves at the price of their freedoms. President Obama says, "I will protect your health, just give up your right to make your own health care choices."

It's now up to our generation to stop this soft tyranny, and to begin to repeal it. It's up to the Baby Boomers who are still willing to fight, the Generation X-ers who must fight, and Generation Y that is coming into its own politically. Lines have been drawn around freedom, and around uncontrolled, nation destroying spending. If you're reading this blog, YOU must make a choice. You must decide if you will continue to fight for this country or if you will sit back and let Democrats in Washington decide how to run your life. Will you take care of yourself and your family, or will you trade your freedoms for the shackles of government handouts.

In 1964, Ronald Reagan told an audience that they had a rendezvous with destiny. Today, we face that same rendezvous. Will we fight for our freedoms? For our nation? In the coming months, each of us must ask, as Reagan did, "Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves." Another famous Reagan quote also applies to today:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Now is a time when we must decide: Will we protect our nation and leave freedom and this great country to our children and grandchildren, or will we let planners in Washington make our decisions for us and voluntarily put the shackles on our children's children?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Real Health Care Summary

If health care passes tonight, get ready. My wife saw this on Facebook yesterday, and it's a good summary of the Senate health care bill the Democrats want to pass. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Keep Your Enemies Close And Reject Your Friends

In 2008 Senator Barack Obama campaigned on cleaning up our image internationally. This appealed to a lot of people who believed our image had been tarnished by the eight years of President Bush. What they didn't know is that this would be another broken campaign promise.
The "Obama Doctrine" appears to consist of two points:

1) Never meddle in our enemies affairs.

2) Insult our allies whenever possible.

When a pro-democracy protest began in Iran after fraudulent elections, demonstrators were looking to the West for support. The words of encouragement our President gave them were, "Now, it's not productive, given the history of the U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling -- the U.S. President meddling in Iranian elections". While President Obama faltered in Iran, other nations stepped up. For example, French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated the clear message Obama should have said, "These elections are an atrocity." Perhaps President Obama simply has a blind spot for Iran. He did commit to meeting them without precondition during the campaign. Perhaps he didn't want to be hamstrung by such pesky things as morals during that meeting.

In our nation's history, we have considered England a special ally. They share our history, and we have worked with them to solve many world problems. We worked with Churchill in World War II to defeat the Nazis, and Margret Thatcher during the Cold War to stop the spread of Communism. How does our global-celebrity-commander-in-chief treat this ally? Shortly after being sworn in, our State Department told England that they were no longer considered any different from any other nation on the planet. If this wasn't bad enough, the Obama administration has slapped the British government in the face by refusing to acknowledge British claims over the Falkland Islands. This is a serious issue as the citizens of the Falkland Islands are British citizens, and have decide for themselves they wish to remain part of Britain. Argentina is attempting to claim the Falkland Islands. They argue that the citizens of the Falkland Islands have no right to self determination. This could become a serious issue as Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982. Britian is believed to be considering military options. Into this tense situation, our country has stated officially:

We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality. The US recognizes de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.

This is a slap in the face of the British, and it is not the way we should treat one of our most trusted allies.

Recently, there was a lot of news of Vice President Biden's trip to Israel . His trip coincided with an announced Israeli settlement plan in Jerusalem. This embarrassed the Vice President as he was there to try and further the peace process. Biden felt Israel was working against his efforts with the settlement in Jerusalem. The Israeli's argued that this settlement was going in an area that must remain in Israeli control in ANY peace agreement. The Israeli Interior Minister tried to apologize saying,"We had no intention, no desire, to offend or taunt an important man like the vice president during his visit...I am very sorry for the embarrassment. We need to remember that approvals are done according to law even if the timing was time we need to take timing into account." This apology should have ended things. However, days later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let it be known that she spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for 45 minutes. She stated that she berated him for the settlement decision the entire phone call, thus further embarrassing Israel. Both Biden and Clinton used the word "condemn" when disusing the US view of the settlements in Jerusalem.

When all of this happened, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority dedicated a public square in the West Bank to a woman who helped carry out the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel's history. Neither Biden nor Clinton appear to have voiced concern of how this might impact President Obama's attempt to bring peace to the Middle East.

President Obama has definitely ushered in a new image for the United States globally. Unfortunately, I don't believe it was the image voters thought they were getting back in November 2008.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stop Obamacare Now.

It's easy to feel that Washington ignores your voice. With every major poll showing the majority of Americans oppose Obamacare, the Democrats are pushing on and trying to force the American public into Government planned health care. This week, they are trying to pass a shell bill that they can send to President Obama to sign. They payoffs and kickbacks will be included in another bill.

There is still time to stop this bill. Remember, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress wanted this passed last year. However, the American public has fought this tooth and nail. It isn't too late. Want to voice your opinion to your local representative and to those Democrats who are having second thoughts? Try Free Our Healthcare Now. You have to provide your contact information so they can verify no one is spamming the system. You input your name and address, and Free Our Healthcare Now will provide you with a form letter you can send members of Congress to express your concern. You can edit the form letter for your specific concerns.

The American people have stopped other bills under other President's. We can stop this one too, but YOU have to act!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Will Government Healthcare Cover Everything?

When I started college, my step-father left work with a disability. He applied to his insurance provider and was rejected. He had lost his job, and this disability would mean a source of income for him. In the end, the insurance company caved when my step-father got a lawyer. Who was this evil insurance company? United Healthcare? Cigna? Kaiser? Nope, it was the U.S. government. My step-father was fighting to get Social Security disability.

Pop-quiz: Who denies more insurance claims than any other insurance provider? The U. S. government. A 2008 study by the American Medical Association found that Medicare denied more claims both in number and percentage than any private insurance company. The study found that Medicare actually denies almost double the percentage of claims as most other insurance companies including such giants as Cigna, United Healthcare and Humana.

Sarah Palin made headlines by claiming there would be "death panels" in the Democrat health care bill. These panels would decide who receives treatment and who doesn't. Truthfully, these panels are already in place at Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These groups already decide whose claim they will reject and whose they will pay for. I challenge my readers to ask any Medicare / Medicaid customer they know this question: Does Medicare or Medicaid pay for every doctor's visit, every treatment, and every prescription you want it to? I will bet the vast majority of them will give you a resounding "No!".

I bring this up only to illustrate a point that is lost in the current health care debate: under a government run plan, you will not be able to get every service, treatment, and prescription you want. Ask the current government insurance customers if you think I'm lying.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Temporary Unemployment Benefits – Now for 99 Weeks!

Unemployment benefits have been in the United States in one form or another since 1932. For most states, the maximum benefit period was 26 weeks. However, you can now draw unemployment benefits for 99 weeks in some states. That's just less than two years. If you lost your job through "no fault of your own", then you would be able to stay out of work for 99 weeks and receive a check from the government. Of course this check isn't as large as your standard paycheck, but it is a paycheck. The government has extended this benefit period through a number of "emergency extensions" that are set to run through the current economic crisis.

A few weeks ago, Senator Jim Bunning (Republican –Kentucky) objected to a bill that included an extension to the unemployment benefits. This was billed as another heartless Republican trying to screw the common man. However, Bunning had a legitimate concern. Early in February, President Obama signed into law a Paygo bill. This means any new spending must be offset with some sort of savings to pay for the bill. Democrats in the Senate labeled the bill an emergency bill meaning it is exempted from Paygo (for the record, every bill the Democrats have tried to pass since Paygo passed has been considered an emergency bill). However, Bunning had a solution: take the funds from the unspent portion of the Stimulus bill. That would be approximately $15 Billion for the recent bill out of the $787 Billion stimulus bill.

Not every Republican supported Bunning in this effort. John Kyl said that while he didn't agree with holding up the bill, he did feel that Senator Bunning had a point. According to the Washington Post, "…about 11.4 million out-of-work people now collect unemployment compensation, at a cost of $10 billion a month. Half of them have been receiving payments for more than six months, the usual insurance limit. But under multiple extensions enacted by the federal government in response to the downturn, workers can collect the payments for as long as 99 weeks in states with the highest unemployment rates -- the longest period since the program's inception." Also according to the Post," …14.9 million jobless Americans have been out of work an average of 29.7 weeks, just below January's 30.2-week average. Those levels are the highest since the government began keeping those records in the 1950s…"

The point of this post is not that we should stop all unemployment benefits. My point is that 99 weeks is very excessive. Our Senate and Congress can't figure how to pay for an extension to the program, let alone the full 99 weeks for those people on it. When they are offered a chance to pay for it, they resort to dirty political tactics to charge the bill to the taxpayer credit card. Our Congress and our President are fighting the wrong problem. If they would learn to drop their white whale of a Health Care bill, and focus on creating jobs, we wouldn't need a 99 week unemployment benefit period.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

More Census Dollars at Work

I was watching the race here in Atlanta on TV this weekend and saw the new Census 2010 car:

This photo is from the official census website. As you can see, the census is sponsoring more than one vehicle.

If you're not familiar with NASCAR, a full vehicle sponsorship (as opposed to a smaller sticker) can run millions of dollars. The census website states that the sponsorship for three races for this car costs $1.2 Million. According to the website, the census hopes that this sponsorship will encourage people to mail their censorship forms in. According to the website, "for every 1 percent increase in mail response, taxpayers will save an estimated $85 million. Those funds would otherwise be required to send census takers to collect responses in person from households that don't mail back the form.”

I have to admit, I am a little fuzzy on the math here. If I receive a census form and don't mail it back, they will send someone specifically to my house? They state that a "1 percent increase in mail response," will save taxpayers millions. What is that increase in numbers? Is that 1,000 forms? 100,000 forms? 1,000,000 forms?

We all know we are in tough economic times. Am I really the only person that thinks paying for a NASCAR sponsorship in addition to the silly superbowl ad is a bad idea?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Global Warming Comes to Atlanta

A picture is worth a thousand words. Global warming came to my neighborhood today...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Do You Know Basic Civics?

I first heard about this story on the Rush Limbaugh show today. I was simply appalled. A conservative non-profit group recently released The Shaping of the American Mind: The Diverging Influences of the College Degree & Civic Learning on American Beliefs. This report sought,"... to measure for the first time the impact that earning a bachelor’s degree and acquiring additional knowledge of America’s history and institutions exerts on public opinion." The results were not good. The group, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, administered a basic civics test to some 14,000 college students (half were freshmen, half were seniors). They also got a number of elected officials to take the test.

If you want to take the test yourself, you can at this site. I took the test and scored an 83%. According to ISI, 71% of Americans failed the test. The average score was 54.2%. I thought many of the questions were very basic. The very first question is a great example (this is copied from the site, so the bullets don't work):

1) Which of the following are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence?

I am embarrassed that this question could cause anyone trouble. However, 30% of the elected officials who took this quiz got the answer wrong. Here's another one:

3) What are the three branches of government?

51% of Americans who took the quiz missed this problem as well. Some of the other stats are equally embarrassing. To be fair, there are a few questions on the test that are a little more difficult, such as:

14) The Puritans:

(The answer is B, and this is one of the questions I missed)

The bulk of the questions should really be easy to anyone who has graduated junior high. The problem is that we have gotten away from teaching basic civics to our students. There are any number of explanations for this, but none of them are acceptable. If our children don't understand how the government works, or even their basic rights, how can we expect them to govern themselves and to carry freedom forward to the next generation? Being a citizen of the world means nothing if you don't understand your own country and heritage.

This represents a pretty big problem for our future. If our children don't know the rules the government plays by, how do they know when the government has overstepped its boundaries? How do they recognize tyranny, even a "benevolent" one?