Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Battle Of The Ages -- Words And Language Versus Thoughts And Ideas

Thoughts and ideas are expressed with words and language so how can these concepts, which are dependent upon each other, be in conflict? There is too much meaning placed on the words and not enough exploration of the ideas that the words represent, especially if the words sound good. If they are soothing words that make people feel good about themselves then people are unlikely to explore the real meaning. Call it intellectual laziness; this conflict is the dictator’s best friend.

Joseph Goebbels is known for having said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The rest of that quote is lesser known. He continued “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

While one should be careful in comparing anything to the evils of Goebbels and Nazi Germany, the propaganda methods that Goebbels spoke of have been used throughout history. Whether as a citizen, a consumer, a student, an employee, or a spouse (especially as a spouse!) people should be aware of misleading words and be careful not to confuse the words with the thoughts behind them. Ayn Rand once said “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” The key part of that Rand quote is “Check your premises”. What is the premise of the person saying the words and how does it conflict with what the listener or reader believes? Too often, the consumer of information assumes that he SHOULD accept the information at face value and is afraid to question it for fear of seeming an outcast, or worse, he may fear being scorned for being too stupid to understand the greater good of the propaganda that is being spoon fed to him. This fear is the propagandist’s best friend.

A good example is the current health care debate in the US. People have argued about this on many levels. The debate has taken many turns but the basic premise doesn’t go challenged. President Obama is always talking about reducing costs. Whose costs is he concerned about? Is each individual responsible for the medical costs of others? It doesn’t matter what the specifics are of a plan whose foundations are based on a false premise. Once it becomes the responsibility of one person to pay for the care of another, then everyone else has an incentive to get involved in the way we each live our lives. Community involvement is one thing but personally, if I work hard for my money, no one has the right to tell me how to spend it -- or worse – take it away from me to force me to buy a product that I don’t want. I need many things beside medical care (some people after reading my articles say it really is medical care I need the most). We all need food, shelter, a way to make a living, some entertainment once in a while, a 54 inch plasma TV and many other basic needs. Should we share the costs on those also?

You don’t reduce costs by cutting into the freedom of individuals. That is sacrosanct and off-limits. If Obama was interested in government waste and reducing debt and costs, which we all have as a burden, then he would start putting a serious investment in enforcing the border, where people coming here illegally are putting an incredible financial strain on the medical system. He would put a serious investment and effort into tort reform, so that doctors wouldn’t have to send patients for needless tests just to protect themselves. He would allow free competition across state lines for health insurance which would reduce prices. Another worthwhile idea would be to look into whether or not states should mandate insurance companies to cover non-essential procedures which provide incentive for people to get elective procedures which they may not need or want if it weren’t provided on someone else’s dime. When Obama speaks the words “save money” or “reduce costs” (and by the way if you google those phrases you’ll find that he says them almost as much as “I”), the translation is more government power and less freedom for the individual. He is like a car salesman that goes on and on with lies and faulty logic but the nightmare is that as a consumer, you don’t have the freedom to walk away from it! You are forced to buy the “car” with money that they take right out of your pocket.

Thomas Sowell once said that if the democrats came up with a plan that would mandate all citizens to jump off of a 100 story building, a week later the republicans would come up with a plan to mandate all citizens to jump off of a 50 story building. This health care debate is about whether to jump off of a 50 story or a 100 story building and before getting into the specifics of the plan, we should ask “Is it a good idea to be jumping off of buildings?”

This idea of misusing words is used in public policy debates but it also permeates our day-to-day conversation like a growing cancer. Stuart Chase, a left wing writer in the 1930s, correctly pointed out in his book “The Tyranny of Words” that words which end in “ism” tend to be misused more than most. These are words that represent concepts which can’t be defined simply, yet the mere mention of these words invokes images of pure evil in some and pure joy in others. Words such as fascism, industrialism, communism, capitalism have meanings based on emotion but not too many people actually know what any of these words really mean. One word cannot possibly define a complex political/economic system. Ask the average person to tell you the meaning of fascism and what you’ll get is something such as “evil, tyranny, bad government, totalitarian….” But not too many people can go further.

Fascism is often portrayed as the opposite of communism when in fact, they are two sides of the same coin. Fascism is positioned on the right and communism on the left and if no one questions this, it goes without further argument. In reality, however, both fascism and communism subjugate the rights of individuals, the family, self protection, religious freedom, the right to own property, and many other rights taken for granted, to the state. The state decides what you can own, where you can worship, even how many children you can have. These are not opposites -- they are basically the same! Yet if you listen to your average newscast or read your average paper, you’ll hear fascism linked with capitalism, not with its brother communism.

Capitalism is one word that is completely misleading. The term implies a society based on capital when in fact, the idea was to have a society based on freedom. It is the freedom to operate without government interference that makes “Capitalism” the true opposite of both communism and fascism. Yet the word itself has to be called into question because it implies that capital is at the root of a free society rather than the result of a free society. The term capitalism is itself, a derogatory term coined by none other than Karl Marx. He mistakenly viewed free markets as being based on capital and coined “capitalism”. People continue to defend capitalism by using the term capitalism which by its very use undermines what a free market is.

While there are some words that are misleading, others are sophisticated euphemisms. On September 11, 2001, the worst attack in American history took place on American soil. When we refer to that horrific day, we say “9-11”. There is a “pre 9-11 mentality” and a “post 9-11 mentality”. Other countries, after having been attacked, have said, “This is our 9-11”. After December 7, 1941, people didn’t call the Pearl Harbor attack “12-7”. They called it a sneak attack and said some not too complimentary things about the people that did the attack. Admiral Halsey said “Before we're through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell!” While we don’t need to resort to insulting any group of people, we don’t need to pretend that reality is something it isn’t. Barack Obama refuses to even use the word “terrorism”. On September 11, 2001, people went to work and found themselves trapped in a burning building knowing they were about to die. It was just a day of work for them. They were thinking about lunch, their weekend plans, their work schedule – all of a sudden they were faced with the end of their lives. Using the phrase 9-11 doesn’t do them justice and it doesn’t speak to the evil that occurred on that day. It doesn’t sound like a Madison Ave jingle and it shouldn’t – it was the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, not a date and not a number.

Sometimes words just seem to pop up out of thin air. Some political consultant who just got out of Harvard decides that there is a new word to be used and all the networks, pundits and politicians go with the word in lock step. One such word was “gravitas”. In 2000, when Bush was running against Gore, the democrats came out and said he lacked “gravitas”. All of a sudden all the people on television were talking about “gravitas”. In the last campaign the word “transparency” was the word of the day. Politicians should stop being so political and learn how to talk to people, not by using a word such as “transparency” but by explaining how as citizens, we have a right to know what our government is doing. Words as concepts lose their meaning and we hear them without really being affected by them. As for the word “gravitas”, after a grand explosion on the political scene in 2000, it seems to have gone back into hiding. No point in bringing out the word “gravitas” when there is a democratic president who lacks “gravitas”. George Orwell understood why politicians will bring words such as “gravitas” up from the basement, dust them off and use them. He said “If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy…Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful…to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Take the advice of Ayn Rand and “Check your premises” when reading, hearing or watching information. If it doesn’t sound right, don’t be afraid to question it. Look past the words and ask, where is this coming from? Why is it being presented in this way? Why now? Who has to gain from this? What is the real agenda behind this? As Orwell pointed out, political speech is designed to deceive. Read between the lines and look for what is being implied, rather than said.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Universal Healthcare And Death Panels – Sarah Palin Was Right

Sarah Palin was roundly criticized, laughed at, and excoriated by supporters of Obama when she said that the universal health care plan would lead to death panels. The characterization of the term ‘death panels’ was quickly associated with people wearing tin foil hats. It is ironic that a group of people who believe the twin towers were brought down by inside conspiracies and that a plane never crashed into the Pentagon, could call other people ‘tin foil hat wearers’.

When liberals are afraid of a person or of a particular point, they attack it with a vengeance. It’s much like the story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ by Hans Christian Andersen. The Emperor is told that his clothes will be invisible only to the incompetent and the stupid. He doesn’t want to seem incompetent so, of course he says that he sees the clothes, as does everyone else until a child says “He hasn’t got any clothes on!”

The moment the term ‘Death Panels’ is labeled as a lunatic term; everyone is supposed to be afraid to explore the logic behind the term. It is a strategy often used by liberals. We see the proof that there are, in fact, ‘Death Panels’ but we are supposed to be afraid to say it for fear of being labeled incompetent or stupid – but if you see the emperor wearing a pair of stripped boxer shorts, it’s stupid to pretend that he’s wearing a three piece suit.

When this health care debate started, the first instinct was to look at other countries which have tried universal health care. What we saw was frightening – long waits for MRIs, horrific survival rates for cancer, waits for hip surgeries and on and on. It is so bad in England that there is a waiting list just to get on the waiting list! There are 40,000 people in the UK who have been waiting over a year for surgeries. There are shortages of critical supplies, drugs and medical equipment. According to the Burton Report, it is so bad in some countries that there is a black market in health care. In Japan life saving devices such as defibrillators are rarely available.

Socialized medicine has ruined the medical profession in any country where it has been tried. It’s basic economics. Increase the demand for a product and decrease the incentive to supply that demand and you create a shortage. Not only is there a shortage in medical care, there is little to zero medical innovation and advancement. There is no money to invest in research and no incentive to even try. There is a reason why most new medical innovations come out of the United States – it is called the free market.

People who support the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Health care plan say that their plan is different. They say their plan will give people a choice; that people will be able to keep their current plan and won’t be forced into anything they don’t want. Their own words, however, prove that this is not the case.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who is now an economics adviser for Barack Obama, said the following at a speech in 2007 at UC Berkeley. The premise of Reich’s comments is that this is what a presidential candidate would say if he were honest about healthcare:

"what I'm going to do is that I am going try to reorganize it (healthcare) to be more amenable to treating sick people but that means you, particularly you young people, particularly you young healthy people...you're going to have to pay more."
"And by the way, we're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive...so we're going to let you die."
"Also I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid…to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. What that means, less innovation and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market which means you are probably not going to live much longer than your parents."

Tom Daschle was Barack Obama's first choice to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. In Dashchle’s 2008 book, ‘Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis’, he laid out some of his ideas on healthcare:
"Doctors will have to 'learn to operate less like solo practitioners' and be willing to accept mandatory government controls and guidelines."
Daschle advocates the creation a brand new bureaucracy called the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. This new government organization will monitor all medical treatments to make sure that your doctor is prescribing the exact drugs and medical treatments that the federal government believes are 'appropriate' and 'cost effective'. This would slow the development and use of new medications and treatments because they are driving up medical costs. According to Betsy McCaughey, Daschle praises Europeans for being more willing to accept 'hopeless diagnoses' and 'forgo experimental treatments,' and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.
The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is a special advisor to the President on health care. He believes people between the age of 15 and 40 should be given preferential treatment. Some quotes from Emanuel:
"Suppose a 25-year-old and a 65-year-old have a life threatening disease. Since the 25-year-old has many more potential years of life ahead of him, he should receive preferential treatment."
"The complete lives system discriminates against older people…. Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years."
"Health services should not be guaranteed to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."

Barack Obama said:
"So that's where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that's also a huge driver of cost, right? I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here…I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists…It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions through normal political channels. And that's part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance."

What is this independent group of Obama’s to be called? A death panel by any other name is still a death panel.

People may argue that the quotes listed above are taken out of context. An example of something truly taken out of context, ironically also involving Sarah Palin, is when Drew Griffin from CNN said to Palin, “some conservatives have been pretty hard on you… "The National Review" had a story saying that, you know, I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above? In actuality, the National Review article by Byron York said "Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward or, well, all of the above." The words “Watching press coverage” completely change the meaning. There is nothing, in any of the quotes listed above, that can change the context of the meaning or the intent of what is said in the way that those three words “Watching press coverage” do.

The Health care proposals that are being shoved down the throats of the American people do, in fact, have death panels. It would be obvious if all we had to go on were the many examples of how socialized healthcare works in different countries around the world. In fact, we have so much more proof than that as stated in the very words of the very people who are shoving this immoral debacle down our throats. Who the hell do these people think they are? If I work and save my own money I won’t have the right to use my OWN money on the care of my elderly parents? It won’t be available? This is their moral plan? This plan is pure evil and it is a moral obligation to stop it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Brooklyn Conservative in Blue State New York

A friend of mine was surprised when I told her that I was a conservative. I asked her why she was surprised. She said “Well, you seemed intelligent; I just assumed you were liberal.” Sometimes I hide the dirty secret of my conservatism. Living in New York, it can be easier that way. I’m passionate about my beliefs, however, and sometimes I just can’t contain myself.

If I say nothing while my core beliefs are being trashed right before my eyes, I feel as if I am going to explode. If I say something, I’ll get into an argument and I’ll feel bad for starting an argument, for being the outcast in this world of left leaning lunacy. Usually, when I can’t take the liberal onslaught and am forced to respond, it’s in a situation where there are two, three or four people arguing against me. This causes me to have to raise my voice to be heard. The spit starts flying out as I go on the attack and act like the Cro-Magnon man that the left believes us conservatives to be.

It’s really so much easier to be a liberal. You could say “Of course I’m for universal health care. What kind of person would want sick people to be without care?” This is so easy! You don’t have to look at facts or details. If I get sick or lose my job, I could say, “I deserve to be taken care of because I wanted to take care of other people who could have been in the same situation.” I would never have to worry about being blamed for anything because I wouldn’t strive for anything. If I cheated on my wife, I could say that I never said that having an affair was wrong. If I got addicted to drugs, I could say “It’s not my fault; we’re all victims of an unfair system.”

We conservatives are victims of our own standards. When it was revealed that Bill Bennett, who had written books about virtue and family values, had a gambling problem, the left was all over the story, using the H-word “hypocrisy” over and over again; the same with Rush Limbaugh when it was revealed he had a drug problem.

Conservatives never said that they, or anyone else, needed to walk on water. If it is hypocritical to strive for something and fail, what is it when one strives for nothing and succeeds? The philosophy of the left is evident in both personal matters and in larger, governmental and economic concerns. Striving for success, failing and learning from failure is the basis of a Free Market economic system. In a true free market system, a person takes a chance, gets the rewards for success and the blame for failure. Socialist systems, on the other hand, strive for nothing more than the maintenance of the society, not for creating anything better. And when a conservative gets caught doing something wrong, well, contrary to the stereotypes of the left, we conservatives like to have fun! Sometimes, like all human beings, we make mistakes. The left wants us to behave as if we were the robots that they believe us to be.

Whether it is striving for personal success, success in business, success in family life, or anything else, the conservative mind does not see failure as hypocritical, it sees failure as an essential part of the process of making the most of who you are as a person in all facets of life. The left, in judging conservatives, tends to judge them based on their standards, not with the standards that conservatives use in judging themselves.

Conservatives take responsibility for their mistakes and learn from them. A conservative who talks about family values is not hypocritical when he makes a mistake. He is a person who is striving for something greater. The mistake or the hypocrisy is not in failing to achieve your own standards, the real hypocrisy is to not have any standards, or anything worth striving for in the first place.

When I try to debate points such as this with liberals, I get blank stares. They are like children who just repeat something over and over again. My nephew, when he was about six years old, once came to me and said “Hey Howie, you know what?” To which I said “What?” “Chicken Butt!” he said, and then laughed hysterically, which made me laugh as well. Two seconds later he said, “Hey Howie, you know what?” To which I said “Tell me”. And he said “NO NO NO! You know what?” “What?” I said. And he said “Chicken Butt!” -- And then laughed hysterically once again. Somewhere around the 45th time he said the joke I had to figure a way out of it. This, by the way, is what it’s like arguing with a liberal.

Liberals will bring up points that have nothing to do with the debate and then act as if they have just declared a major “gotcha” moment. The “Chicken Hawk” argument is a good example. If someone needs to hire an accountant, it is not necessary that the person have worked, himself, as an accountant. If a person calls the police for help, it is not necessary that the person would have had to, at one time, work for the police department. Liberals, incapable of winning a debate on issues, try to cut it off with personal attacks.

As to the “Chicken Hawk” argument, if a person who never served in the military tried to tell the military what strategy to use, how to use troops, technology and equipment, then there would be a legitimate case to be made. However, whether or not the country, in defense of its borders and safety of its people, has a need to use the military is something that any person (whether having served in the military or not) has a right, even an obligation, to speak up about. The alternative would be to have a military dictatorship. Does the left ever think of the logical consequences of their arguments?

As to logical arguments, I was talking to a liberal once about the benefits of drilling for oil in Alaska. She argued that we change the environment by our drilling for oil. I countered by saying that the Alaska pipeline has actually turned out to be beneficial to the environment, as well as to humanity. The caribou population has grown and has thrived around the pipeline because the heat generated by the pipeline attracts animals. The caribou gather around the pipeline, which in turn, helps not only the caribou but other animals that prey on the increased population of caribou. Rather than see the benefit of this win-win situation, my friend said “You see! That’s what I mean; we’ve messed with the natural order of things!” I said “But they’ve INCREASED!!” “It doesn’t matter!” she said. How do you argue against this?

Sometimes, we conservatives can use the liberal biases to our advantage. I have a conservative friend in New York (one of two – not one of two conservative friends, one of the two other conservatives that live in New York) who is a baker. She entered a cupcake baking contest on July 4th. She thought of putting tiny American flags on the cupcakes. Being that this is New York, however, she thought better of it and put peace signs on the cupcakes. She won the contest. We’ll never know if she won because of the peace signs vs. the American flags. The cupcakes are amazing and may have won anyway. The point is that instinctively, she knew that to this crowd, the American flag would have been an impediment to winning and that is truly a shame.

What does one do, when the liberal assumes he is speaking to a comrade in arms? Another friend was listening to a client go on and on about the evils of the Bush administration, the evils of Cheney, Halliburton, Abu Ghraib and on and on and on. Finally she couldn’t take it anymore and said “I voted for Bush!” The reply was “You couldn’t have voted for Bush, you’re a photographer!” Liberals, who pride themselves on their progressiveness, their openness, their acceptance of others not like them, are not only the most intolerant people I’ve ever met, but the most hypocritical of all!

The left prides itself on diversity but the diversity they talk to is superficial diversity. Real diversity is diversity of thought and opinion and they do not tolerate it. These are people who love to shock and stun others with their openness and creativity but they, in turn, are truly shocked and come out with some of the most inane statements when they hear anything in disagreement with their liberal dogma.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Heads I Win – Tales You Lose (Liberals Win but leave behind a Mess)

Barack Obama has made it a point to continually talk about the “mess” he inherited from the Bush administration. In August, he said "But I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking."

Indeed, Barack Obama inherited an economy in freefall. There are wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while terrorist groups remain a constant threat. North Korea and Iran are testing long range missiles in conjunction with the development of nuclear weapons. It’s worth noting that the precarious state of the country is what got him elected in the first place. If everything was going along swimmingly, the country wouldn’t have changed direction.

Liberals need a catastrophe to get elected. They use the misfortune of others, a bad economy, a war, racial tension, hurricanes, the Rachel Maddow show – anything and everything to convince others that they and only they, can come in on their white horses with shining armor to come to the rescue and save the day. Their very existence as a political force is predicated not on solving real problems but on having problems to justify the need for their policies.

It’s a vicious circle. Without having to have to worry about consequences, liberals can promote the most radical policies the way that a gambler can go down double or nothing, without ever having to worry about losing. They are never held to account for their policies. No matter what the facts say, it’s always someone else’s fault. Hence they have a ‘Heads I Win – Tales you lose’ policy. If the radical policy produces results, they are heroes; if not, then there is justification for more of their policies.

Think this sounds crazy? In 1977, the Carter administration passed the Community Reinvestment Act. The goal was noble, as most liberal goals seem, but devoid of logic, as most liberal plans are. The idea was to create a situation where low income people would be able to buy homes. Banks had to prove that a certain percentage of loans went to these low income people and it forced them to make loans to people who didn’t qualify. In the 1990’s, in order to guarantee those loans, Freddie Mac and Fannie May promised to buy 2 trillion dollars worth of those mortgages. This took financial pressure off banks and they were able to make more of these risky loans and show what good ‘corporate citizens’ they were. The downfall was inevitable.

Once all this was set in place, there was speculation and trading on these loans to try to profit from it but none of that would have happened if the irresponsible policies weren’t put into effect in 1977 and then increased in the 1990’s. Before the inevitable collapse, President Bush tried to point out that there would be problems if the current policies continued. It was liberals such as Barney Frank who assured everyone that Fannie and Freddy were solvent. Bush didn’t push the point as hard as he should have, but at least he recognized the problem while liberal democrats said there was no problem.

So Barack Obama is elected into office based on an economic downturn that was created by exactly the kind of policies that he wants to implement to solve the problem. Incidentally, Social Security is another problem that George Bush tried to deal with. They criticized him for bringing up Social Security the same way they criticized him for trying to deal with the mortgage crisis. When Social Security blows up, liberals will no doubt use the same policies that blew it up to try to fix it. At the same time, they will blame republican and conservative greed for causing it to fail even though conservatives were the only ones who tried to head off the problems before they became critical.

President Obama talks about those who ‘created the mess’. How many messes has the left created and how many of those messes have they had to answer for? When you don’t have to answer to your failures, when you are, in fact, rewarded for your failures, it doesn’t provide any incentive to stop failing. Liberals either don’t understand or don’t care that there are consequences to their actions that go beyond the immediate situation at hand.

One mess created by liberals is the banning of the chemical DDT. Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” created hysteria around chemical pesticides. The manufacturers of DDT, farmers, scientists, and others tried to assure people that DDT was not harmful and had tremendous benefits. The anti DDT campaign took on a life of its own and when a liberal cause takes on that kind of momentum, there is no stopping it (See Global Warming). So DDT was banned. Since 1972, over 100 million people have died from malaria. This is a disease that was on the verge of being eradicated in the early 1960s. Millions of people died needlessly. This is a catastrophic event of monumental proportions that few people address and fewer take responsibility for. It’s not an exaggeration – 100 MILLION people have lost their lives yet no one is asked to answer for this! Is it because their heart was in the right place? Their intentions were good? People continue to suffer, mostly in Africa, to this very day and some are talking about re-introducing DDT – a bit late for all those who died because of well-intentioned people. For more information on Rachel Carson and the DDT ban, a good article is “Rachel Carson’s Ecological Genocide” by Lisa Makson in FrontPageMagazine.com.

Another fine mess that liberals have never had to answer for was when they pressured congress to withdraw all funding from the war in Vietnam. When the US withdrew, it did so under a treaty that it would go back in if the situation got out of hand. There was so much pressure by the left to get out of Vietnam, that they constantly blamed the US and absolved the North Vietnamese or the Khmer Rouge of any wrong doing. When it became obvious that mass extermination was taking place in Cambodia, the left continued to blame the US and make excuses for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. They placed all the blame on Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger as if, even if that were true, it would absolve them of the responsibility of living up to a treaty and saving the millions of people who were being slaughtered.

The propaganda that took place then was similar to the propaganda now and there was no FOX news, talk radio, or the internet to present the other side. Movies such as “The Killing Fields” made it seem as if everything the Cambodians did was the result of the actions of the US. Just as now with Islamic terrorism, it could never be that there were purely evil people who had to be fought and stopped. Nevertheless, regardless of the cause of the Cambodian genocide, we had an obligation to stop it, not to excuse the actions of mass murderers. Two million people died in Cambodia. Not only did the left not want to stop this genocide, they actually praised the people committing the genocide! For a more complete telling of the true story of the Khmer Rouge, see the chapter called “The Bloodbath” in Mona Charen’s book “Useful Idiots”.

Whether it’s as severe as mass extermination or a banking crisis, schools that can’t educate, a war on poverty that creates more poverty, inner city programs that create crumbling cities, rent control ideas that create a lack of housing, ideas to stop crime by understanding criminal behavior, rather than punishing it – thereby causing more crime, welfare ideas that cause dependency instead of personal growth, the messes created by liberal ideas are endless. They are never held accountable for these failures. It’s either because they didn’t do enough of whatever their miserable idea was, or they didn’t have enough money to do it correctly. It never dawns on them that maybe the ideas, themselves, are flawed.

So, we are now being forced to buy this bill of goods that has failed so miserably in the past. Apparently, we have no choice but to accept it. We’re supposed to just “get out of the way and stop talking”, but we have to leave our money behind of course -- they’ll need that. Obama is like a vacuum cleaner salesman who is going to pour some dirt all over the floor to prove how great the vacuum cleaner will work. It won’t work and we shouldn’t have to pay $10,000,000,000,000 for a broken vacuum cleaner that will leave a mess on the floor.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

War – What Is It Good For? – Absolutely Everything

Of course war is horrible. People say that war is to be avoided at all costs and it should always be a last resort. All other options must be completely exhausted before a country should consider sending troops (people) to fight and kill. War as an absolute last resort seems to make perfect sense.

Unfortunately, the idea of ‘war as a last resort’ assumes that there are two reasonable groups or countries who can resolve differences. It assumes that all differences can be ironed out with compromise. Sometimes, however, evil exists in the world and to compromise with evil is to lend it legitimacy.

Let’s look at this on a personal level. You witness a woman being mugged and beaten. What is the proper course of action? Maybe a good idea is to walk over to the mugger and say, “This mugging and beating thing is wrong. I don’t know how much money you hope to gain with this mugging but I’ll give you a twenty. Then we can all walk away satisfied.”

Or, if you are Barack Obama and you witness a mugging, you may say something such as “Hold on there young man, I know there have been differences between people who mug and those that don’t. We need to work together. Partnership and cooperation among all people is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity. I understand your frustration. In the past, people who haven’t broken laws or mugged someone have acted arrogantly and sometimes unilaterally, without consideration for those that have the need to mug others. And sometimes it is our very arrogance that has caused people to become muggers in the first place.”

In reality, when a mugging takes place, the witness to the scene has a responsibility. Perhaps you do nothing -- someone else is getting mugged and that’s not your business. Many cities have ‘good Samaritan laws’ which speak to the morality of doing nothing while a crime is being committed. You are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the same way that the person getting mugged is in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, you saw the crime and you now have a responsibility that you can’t escape from.

When countries commit crimes, the choices are no different than when a crime is being committed by an individual. While the choices are the same, the consequences of doing nothing are far more severe. The ultimate example is Nazi Germany and WWII. Suppose in 1939, the world community, knowing what Hitler was up to, had acted preemptively. Let us say that the moment the world saw Hitler’s designs on Poland, it attacked Germany. Let us also assume that the act of attacking Hitler’s Germany resulted in a war in which one million people died. Yet Hitler’s designs on world domination were stopped. It prevented the Holocaust from happening and it prevented a war where over 65 million people died.

No one would have known about WWII or the Holocaust because the preventative action would have stopped it. In such a situation, there would have been intense criticism on those who initiated a war where over one million people died. At the time, Hitler was looked at as a crazy Charlie Chaplain look-a-like. A million people dead? -- For what???

In an episode of the original Star Trek series, Dr McCoy (Bones for you Trekkies!) went through a portal that took him back in time. Back in the late 1930s, he saved the life of a woman played by Joan Collins. She was about to be hit by a car and McCoy pushed her out of the way. The character played by Collins was a peace activist who ended up influencing US policy and delaying the US entry into WWII. As a result, Germany won the war and all history changed. In the end, the Star Trek crew had to set history right by going back in time and stopping McCoy from saving the life of the peace activist played by Collins. In a moving scene at the end, Captain Kirk holds back McCoy as he is about to save the life of the Collins character. McCoy says, “Do you know what you have done? I could have saved her!!” To which Mr. Spock says “He knows, doctor, he knows.” Spock then adds, “She had the right idea, but at the wrong time.”

I bring this Star Trek episode up in all its excruciating detail because it demonstrates that the choice to initiate or retaliate in war has got to be looked at differently. No one ever gets to see the consequences of the “other choice”. When there is world conflict, the UN and individual countries always ask “How can we avoid a war”. This is the wrong question. Asking this question avoids reality and places world life and death situations into the realm of “wishful thinking”. The real question that needs to be asked isn’t how to avoid a war. It is “Based on what we know and can project, what are the consequences of going to war vs. the consequences of doing nothing?

People look at WWII as “the good war” because they know what happened. The reason that people know what happened is because we waited too dam long in the first place!! The so called and much maligned “Bush doctrine” was correct! This doctrine was based upon two truths of which reasonable and intellectually honest people cannot disagree. There are two imperatives in the doctrine. The first is that there IS evil in the world and that some countries fall under evil for a variety of reasons. When a country becomes a threat to its neighbors and its own citizens, the second imperative takes place and the world has to act to stop the threat – before innocent people suffer, not after!

The so called “Bush doctrine” was not too different from the original UN charter. The UN was set up to stop aggressive immoral behavior in order to PREVENT the kind of atrocities that took place in World War II. To stop aggression, it’s usually a good idea to make a distinction between the aggressors and the victims of aggression. Unfortunately, the UN has become incapable of making this distinction, often putting both aggressor and victim on equal moral playing fields, sometimes even taking the side of the aggressor against the victim. The UN, by this inability to distinguish right from wrong, has not only been ineffective but has often made catastrophes worse.

Even those who have coined the oxymoronic term “passive resistance” have had to come to terms that it only works if the group you are resisting against has a conscience. Mahatma Ghandi was once asked what Jewish people should do at the time of the Holocaust. His answer, documented in an essay by George Orwell, “Reflections on Gandhi”, as well as by Louis Fischer's “Gandhi and Stalin”, is that the Jewish people should have committed mass suicide in order to bring attention to their plight and to the evils of Nazi Germany. Gandhi is considered almost saintly because of his absolute renunciation of violence. But would his methods have stopped violence or caused more violence? His methods worked against the British because the British had a conscience. Again, here is the recognition of good and evil that the UN and pacifists in general, like to make believe doesn’t exist. Yet Gandhi, as displayed by his answer, clearly WAS aware of this distinction and held on to his philosophy of non violence knowing that it would not work and would lead to the extermination of a race of people.

Many people say that patriotism and religion can be blind. Pacifism can be as blind a faith as any. Shrouded in the certainty that peace is the way, no matter what the consequences, and so certain of the moral correctness of their actions or inactions, they have put pressure on countries to tolerate and often excuse evil. Whether witnessing a mugging or watching as a rogue nation gains the knowledge to build nuclear weapons, doing nothing is never the right thing to do. People never want to be in a situation where they have to deal with such horrible choices but these choices are thrust upon us whether we want them or not. In dealing with them, we will make mistakes. We are obviously not infallible. The choices we make should be based on reality and the knowledge that sometimes the choice is between something bad, something else that is really bad, and something else that is catastrophic. When you have those three choices, making the bad choice is the right choice.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Terrorism – The Left, The Right, And the Middle East

It has often been said that “All forms of extremism are equally bad”; often by people who are extremists. Extremism, in itself, is not wrong. To fight for a just cause and to be uncompromising in that fight is the noblest thing a person can do. People on the left, mislabeled as liberals, are uncompromising in their fight for certain values yet they never refer to themselves, and are never referred to by anyone else, as extremists.

When people on the right start to make noise and air their dissatisfaction, words such as militia, Nazi, skinhead, redneck, racist and many others get routinely thrown around. When people on the left air their dissatisfaction, words such as activism and protest get used. Liberals are community organizers while people on the right are rude agitators. This double standard has never been more evident than in the treatment of people who are voicing their displeasure on the proposed healthcare debacle.

The double standard was evident in early April when the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning that there might be an increase in domestic terror by "lone wolf" right-wing extremists, possibly with military experience. There was no specific intelligence for this threat. Janet Napolitano issued a report from Homeland Security that, according to Ralph Peters, “repeatedly warns of our military vets being terrorists. She uses ‘terrorist’. It warns about people who oppose illegal immigration as being terrorist threats, as people who may differ on right-to-life issues as terrorist threats.”

Right wing radio has repeatedly been referred to as hate mongering and extremist. As a result, the Obama administration is actively trying to limit talk radio, disregarding the hate being peddled by people on MSNBC, the misinformation from CBS, NBC, ABC, the NY Times… you get the idea. Would it ever occur to anyone to wonder why conservatives flock to talk radio? Would it ever occur to the people on the left that the reason people seek out talk radio is because the conservative view is constantly being disparaged and maligned by the main stream media? People on the left, not the right, created right wing talk radio. They did this by their media malpractice. People in the MSM weren’t doing their job and in true American and free market fashion, when there is an unfulfilled need, someone will come along and fill that need. FOX news and talk radio came along and filled a black hole in the media market.

It’s much easier to refer to right wingers as Nazis and terrorists than to actually listen or try to understand what conservatives are saying. Is this projection? Does the left look at the right and judge the right based on their (the left’s) values? When conservative authors and scholars give speeches at universities, liberal groups have done all they can to shut them down. They have thrown pies at authors; they have confiscated conservative newspapers and have successfully shut down conservative speeches. Is that an example of their “tolerance”? When Janet Napolitano warns of right wing terrorism, is she thinking, or expecting that the right wing will act the way the left has acted for the last 45 years?

To really view the double standard, imagine Al Gore making a speech on global warming. Someone comes along after the speech and says “Mr. Gore should be careful in his rhetoric. There might be another Unabomber out there who may take what he says too literally.” Don’t hold your breath waiting for that scenario to happen.

It would seem ridiculous to imply that this one crazed environmentalist (The Unabomber, not Gore) should be compared with everyone who is an environmentalist. Yet that invidious comparison is constantly used by people on the left. How often does the name Timothy McVeigh come up when liberals are talking about Conservatives? To the left, all people on the right are potential terrorists. For people who supposedly pride themselves on their understanding of other people, cultures and faiths, they are remarkably ignorant and intolerant of anyone with a different worldview than theirs.

While labeling people on the right as potential terrorists (or as Nancy Pelosi said about people attending town hall meetings, “People with swastikas on their arms”), liberals are eager to look at the causes of Islamic terrorism. Liberals want to know the reasons that would cause a group to do such horrific things. Moral equivalence rears its ugly head and liberals reach for the quote at the beginning of this article; “All forms of extremism are equally bad.”

First of all, when I take my belt and shoes off to go through the terminal in the airport, I’m not doing it because of Christian fundamentalists or Zionists. There is one group that has caused this to happen. We can’t live in a world where we have to pretend that the Emperor is wearing clothes when we can plainly see he’s wearing nothing but a pair of striped boxer shorts. Saying that “all forms of extremism are bad” is one of the most idiotic comments that have come into the modern lexicon (well that and “at the end of the day…”).

Some forms of extremism are noble and some aren’t. Common sense can always be used to tell which is which. The ones who tell 12 year old children to wear suicide belts can be described as the crazy extremists. The ones who fight against that ideology can be described as the noble extremists. It’s really not that difficult. Yet when liberals try to excuse Islamic terrorism, they’ll often play the Timothy McVeigh card again. “Well, there are people who bomb abortion clinics and what about Timothy McVeigh?”

The fact that Timothy McVeigh has to be mentioned so often, really indicates that there is not the epidemic of homegrown right wing terrorism that the left tries to display every time there is a controversial issue. Abortion bombings aren’t cheered by conservatives and they are extremely rare. Though when one happens, the MSM will play it up with news coverage that can only be rivaled when a child accidentally shoots someone.

Middle Eastern, Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is clearly the biggest threat the country and the world has faced and will face in the future. The left draws a moral equivalency between the tens of thousands killed all over the world from Islamic terrorism, and the few people who have died from home grown terrorism. Of course, one person’s death is one too many but no one on the right said, “We need to understand Timothy McVeigh.” Home grown terrorism, as an issue, has been misrepresented. The image one gets when faced with the term “homegrown terrorism” is one of right wing militia groups, Nazis and skin heads.

Two of the biggest and most organized terrorist organizations in the United States are the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The FBI considers them two of the most dangerous home grown terrorist organizations. The Earth Liberation Front, along with its sister group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), have taken responsibility for more than 600 crimes since 1996, totaling more than $100 million in damages. The Earth Liberation Front sprung from -- and in many ways is still an arm of -- Earth First! As described on their own website: Earth First! (EF!) is a "warrior society" that takes a "by any means necessary" approach to "defending mother earth." The group declines to participate in the democratic process, preferring instead to damage, disable, and destroy the property of its ever-growing list of enemies. EF! targets include, but are by no means limited to, loggers, ranchers, and farmers.

Where is the right wing home grown terrorist group that rivals that? There aren’t any but no one would know it by listening to the MSM. Of course it doesn’t stop there. There are the FALN terrorists (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional), responsible for more than 120 bomb attacks United States targets between 1974 and 1983. Not only did this group commit these horrific attacks, but the current Attorney General and Secretary of State were instrumental in the pardons of some of their members! Can you imagine a Republican pardoning of abortion bombers?

There has been the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and many more. The current president is an associate (some would say good friend) of two of the founding members of the Weather Underground, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. Some of the biggest worldwide terrorist groups that are not home grown, but still pose a threat to the US and its interests, such as FARC, are left Marxist groups. There just aren’t the extreme right wing groups that the left mythologizes about.

Liberals talk about “all forms of extremism” being bad, while associating, endorsing, pardoning and excusing some of the most extreme groups ever created. Memo to the left; Please stop calling other people hypocrites.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Modest Proposal For Healthcare

For Providing Better Healthcare, Cleaning Up The Environment, And Saving Money
(Based on the Essay “A Modest Proposal”, by Jonathan Swift in 1729)

A new organization has been created on the West side of Manhattan. This is an organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity, the cleanliness of the earth and the causes of equality within and between all nations. The organization is called the Bastion of Urban Renewal and Progress (BURP).

This is a community organization which is staffed by people from all walks of life, as well as by experts in all areas of importance. We will be speaking to a variety of subjects throughout the coming months and years. The first issue that we wish to address is that of healthcare.

Our goal is to have universal healthcare for all people. People should not be without basic care, no matter what their circumstances. The biggest obstacle to this is money. Our President, Barack Obama, seemed to recognize this in his press conference in July when he spoke about healthcare. In that press conference, the word “money” was stated 21 times. Only four nouns were said more. Those were “health” – 72 times, “care” – 69 times (although the word “care” wasn’t always used as a noun), “insurance” – 34 times, and “people” – 31 times.

We are a bit disappointed about the obsession with money as we always felt that it was the republicans who were more obsessed over issues concerning money while our side was more concerned with issues dealing with quality of life, morality, and fairness. However, we recognize money as the necessary evil it is, at least for now, until we can put in place a more fair system and eliminate the need for this exchange of capitalistic greed.

So how do we provide healthcare for all people and how to we pay for it? We, at our organization (BURP) have devised a plan that will not only provide healthcare for all, but at the same time will not cost a cent! In fact, we expect our plan to make money! As a side benefit, we also expect our plan to go a long way toward cleaning up the environment and stopping the green house gasses that are heating our planet to such dangerous levels.

80% of healthcare costs are spent on the elderly. President Obama spoke to this issue when he said that he wasn’t sure if it was in everyone’s best interests that his grandmother got a hip replacement – we agree. Couldn’t the medical resources that went toward her hip replacement have been better served going to a child or a person with more years to live and contribute to society?

Much of the currently proposed healthcare reform comes from Tom Daschle’s book “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis”. Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.” We agree with that statement as well, but we have some qualms about this and think that we can improve on its basic premise.

It is immoral to ask an elderly person to suffer. We don’t want the elderly to live with painful and debilitating conditions. At the same time, we don’t have the money to treat them because they will bankrupt the system and cost too much money. We can’t continue to spend 80% of healthcare costs on people who have nothing left to contribute but stories of bygone eras. We are a progressive nation and we must move forward.

As mentioned earlier in this proposal, we at our organization (BURP) have experts from all walks of life. One such expert is a chef in France by the name of Jean Aymard. Mr. Aymard assures us that an old person, if seasoned properly, can be cooked in a variety of ways to provide a most delicious and healthy meal. Old people provide a very tender meat because the muscular structure of their meat has diminished; creating a texture that is exquisite.

Old people can be served in a variety of ways. According to Mr. Aymard, the hips can make a T-bone steak that would be the envy of the finest steak house. Because there is so little muscle left on old people, a good portion of the meat can be made into an amazing filet mignon, far more so than in a cow, which contains a larger percentage of gristle and muscle.

There will be many ways of using this fine quality meat. Dipping an old person’s fingers in barbecue sauce will be a treat on a Friday night after a hard week of work. Boneless toe nuggets, either fried or baked, will be a tasty appetizer or hors d'oeuvres. Mr. Aymard also assures us that the breasts of an older woman can create a pâté that could be served at the finest cocktail parties. This pâté, served with green salad and potatoes, will be a delicacy to be envied and longed for. Other parts won’t go to waste either. There will be granny cold cuts sold in every supermarket. These cold cuts, we are assured by our resident expert, are lighter in fat content than turkey or chicken cold cuts.

Now we understand that this plan, however well intentioned it may be, could be criticized on certain moral grounds. So let us then look at the benefits of this plan. As Barack Obama said, we have to look very carefully at “end of life” decisions. We clearly can’t afford to give elderly people endless care and also provide universal care to everyone else. We don’t want our elderly people to suffer but we can’t afford to give them care. So by turning them into food, we are allowing them to do one last great thing in their life. Instead of becoming a burden to society, they become a benefit to society.

Old people, at the age of 70, can be taken to “Environmental Contribution Centers”. These centers will be located in beautiful beach front areas so that the old people can enjoy a last hurrah of life. They will be given only the finest foods, which will not only give them a great sendoff, but will fatten them up for the dinner table. They can enjoy a few rounds of golf (not too many, though, because we don’t want them to develop hardened muscular structure), ping pong, shuffle board and whatever else they wish to do. When their time comes, there will be a wonderful ceremony. Relatives will be invited to share in the gift of an elderly person sacrificing his or her life for the betterment of our country and our planet.

Putting this proposal into practice will not only free up 80% of healthcare costs for other, more productive members of society, but it will create a new enterprise that will make money. The Old People Meat market will be a multibillion dollar industry that will provide money for schools, infrastructure improvement and new jobs. It will be an economic boom!

The cruel and dirty business of slaughter houses will come to an end. There will be no need to raise turkeys, chickens, cattle, pigs and other livestock when we have an endless supply of healthy, wholesome meat. The environment will be better off. It takes a huge amount of space and resources to raise cattle. The grain to feed the cattle and the land that they take up can be used for our benefit, or it can go back to nature. In either case we will be better off for it as the raising of cattle takes up far too many resources. Cow flatulence, which is a huge contributor to global warming, will also be a thing of the past.

Animal activist groups, a number of which we have right here in our organization, such as PETA, will be happy that chickens and turkeys are no longer raised for food, suffering through their short lives to have a cruel destiny as food for some person’s selfish needs.

Of course there will have to be some exceptions to what we will affectionately refer to as “The Rule of 70”. For example, we have many resident experts right here in our organization (BURP) whose knowledge is invaluable to shaping the course of events and in creating the progressive society that we all yearn for. Because of the need for their skills and expertise, these people, despite their age, will be provided the full health care that will be provided to the society as a whole.

And so, dear comrades, you see how this proposal benefits society in so many ways. Sometimes it takes a good community activist organization to shine the light and show how to get things done. Our organization (BURP) is about making America a kinder, fairer and just country. Providing universal health care for all is just the beginning.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Life Under Obamacare

Johnny AveragePerson is 63 years old. He is in relatively good health. His wife passed away six years ago. He has a daughter living in Florida and a son who lives in New Jersey. Johnny lives in Brooklyn, New York and works at a bank, commuting into Manhattan each day.

Today is a pleasant spring day in May; Johnny has just gotten off the morning train and walks into the corner deli to get a doughnut and a cup of coffee. Let’s listen in!

Johnny: Let me get a chocolate doughnut and a regular cup of coffee with half and half.

Female Clerk: Can I see your medical ID card?

Johnny: Here you go (Digs in his wallet and hands her the card)

Female Clerk: Sir, I just scanned your card and it says that your cholesterol is high.

Johnny: I know, I just saw the doctor yesterday. He said it was a bit high but that it wasn’t anything to be concerned about.

Female Clerk: It’s above the limit to sell you a doughnut.

Johnny: That’s ridiculous! I always get a doughnut in the morning.

Female Clerk: I’m sorry (Hands Johnny back his medical ID card).

Johnny: Look, the doctor said my cholesterol wasn’t even high enough to warrant giving me Crestor. He said he would prescribe Crestor but he could only prescribe it if my cholesterol was higher!

Female Clerk: Would you like a bran muffin?

Johnny: No! I want a chocolate doughnut!

Female Clerk: I’m sorry. Look, there are other people in line. I can’t sell you a doughnut.

Johnny: So my cholesterol is too low to get Crestor and too high to buy a doughnut.

Female Clerk: (Getting annoyed) Sir, I don’t make the rules. Now if you’ll excuse me…

Johnny is so irritated when he walks out of the store that he trips on the door jam and falls awkwardly. He hurts his ankle and can’t get up. The clerk, with an annoyed look on her face, calls an ambulance which arrives an hour and a half later. They scoop Johnny up and take him to the hospital. At the hospital, they take x-rays. The doctor walks into the room holding a chart and smiles at Johnny.

Doctor: He puesto toda la información en su carta medica. Lleve la carta a una farmácia y ellos la prepararán la receta.

Johnny: I’m sorry I don’t speak Spanish

Doctor: Enfermera!!

Nurse: The doctor is putting all the information on your medical ID card. Take the card to the pharmacist and have this prescription for painkillers filled. He is listing this as a severe sprain so you should be good to go back to work in two weeks. It’s all down in your card so you shouldn’t have any problem with work compensation for lost time.

Johnny hobbles out of the hospital on crutches with a soft cast on his foot. He heads to the nearest pharmacy.

Johnny: Hi, I want to have a prescription filled.

Pharmacist: Well, let’s just see what we’ve got here. May I have your medical ID card please?

Johnny hands over his card...

Pharmacist: Let’s just put it in the scanner....

Johnny: Is there a problem?

Pharmacist: The scanner doesn’t seem to want to read your card. Did you put your card next to a magnet or some electronic device?

Johnny: No

Pharmacist: Well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to fill out this form to get a new medical ID card. You have to send the card and the form to this address, along with a $75 fee and you should have your new ID card in about 2 weeks.

Johnny: What about my pain killers. I’m in pain here!

Pharmacist: I can give you Advil, that’s it. I’m really sorry.

Johnny leaves the pharmacy and hobbles home. About two weeks go by. Johnny has not received his new card yet. He has not gotten paid anything from work or workman’s comp, or anything to cover his medical expenses. Worst of all, the pain in his ankle has gotten worse, not better. He can’t wait anymore and calls a number to get some help…

Johnny dials the phone: 1-8-8-8-U-S-A-H-E-A-L-T-H-C-A-R-E

Phone: Welcome to the United States Health Care System. Para información en español, marque ocho

Phone: If you would like to participate in a brief survey, please press 7 now.

Phone: If you are calling about finding a doctor, press 1. If you are calling about a claim, press 2. If you are calling about a lost or damaged card, press 3, If you are calling about our new super saver insurance plan, please press 4…

Johnny: Oh what the hell!…. Presses 2

Phone: Please enter you medical ID number, followed by the pound sign.

Johnny: Shoot, where did I put that claim form… Here it is. Presses: 02A9207C1-9965429B….waits….nothing happens…oh…presses #

Phone: Thank you. Please wait while we retrieve your records….OK, I’ve got your records here. What would you like to do? Press 1 if you would like to find a doctor, Press 2 if you are calling about a claim…

Johnny: I just did this!!

Phone: I’m sorry, I did not understand you. Press 1 if you would like to find a doctor, Press 2 if you are calling about a claim…

Finally after about 45 minutes, Johnny gets someone on the phone

Medical Rep: Good afternoon, this is Emir, how can I help you today?

Johnny: OK, I fell about two weeks ago. I hurt my ankle and they said it was a sprain but it’s been two weeks and it still really hurts. I haven’t been able to get any pain killers and I can’t get an appointment with the doctor because my card was damaged and I haven’t gotten any money back either and I’ve got bills to pay.

Emir: I think I can help you with that sir. May I have your medical ID number?

Johnny: 02A9207C19965429B

Emir: OK, I see your record. You sprained your ankle.

Johnny: I think it’s worse than a sprain. This is killing me!

Emir: Well, the x-rays were negative. I see that you’re 63 years old. Would you like to set up a counseling session?

Johnny: Counseling???? What the f#@% do I need counseling for?

Emir: We would have to schedule an MRI to see if there is any damage but that is very expensive and anyone over 60 is recommended to take counseling before we put them on the MRI waiting list.

Johnny: I’m really in pain here.

Emir: OK sir I can do that for you. I have to tell you though, that for people your age, I can’t guarantee an MRI for anytime within this month or next. There might be an opening in July. However if you take the counseling session, you might be able to get in there earlier.

Johnny: I’ll take the counseling session, if that’s the only thing I can do.

Emir: Very well. I can do that for you sir. Can you make it on Tuesday the 14th?

A meeting for counseling is set up. Johnny’s ankle has gotten very bad. He comes into the meeting sweating, not feeling well at all. He meets with a counselor by the name of Mica.

Mica: Mr. Averageperson, I’m very pleased to meet you! Please have a seat!

Johnny: Thank you. Listen I’m really not feeling well. I don’t need counseling. I need to see a doctor.

Mica: Mr. Averageperson, I think I can arrange to get you pills that will make you feel better.

Johnny: That would be great.

Mica: I’m going to be very frank with you Mr. Averageperson. Looking at you I can see that you are not well. The government just has so much money to spend on care and there are people who have a better chance of living longer, healthier lives than you do.

Johnny: I just hurt my ankle. This can be healed.

Mica: But at what cost Mr. Averageperson, at what cost?

Johnny: I’m not an old man!

Johnny disappeared soon after that. A couple of people in the Health Administration Department were reviewing some files and came upon that of Johnny Averageperson.

Person 1: We really didn’t handle this case well. This person should have gotten earlier treatment.

Person 2: Perhaps, but we must have saved, what, $50,000 all told? Maybe $100,000? Isn’t it our job to save money? I think we’ve handled this case extremely well!

In a small town in Arizona, a person by the name of Jonathan goes into his mailbox and pulls out an envelope from the government. It contains a check made out to Jonathan Averageperson for $106,000. Itemized for an MRI, x-rays, lost wages, medication and other incidental expenses.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ben Franklin And The Real Meaning Of Freedom

During the Bush administration, liberals often brought out one of Ben Franklin’s more notable quotes “Those who are willing to give up a little freedom for a little security, wind up with neither freedom, nor security”.

Whether they were referring to “illegal phone taps” or the monitoring of money transfers, or the detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, they said that the President had overstepped his authority and sacrificed our freedom for our security. It’s difficult to say if the left purposely misused the comment of Ben Franklin -- probably not -- they are not that smart. They truly believed that President Bush sacrificed freedom for security. In doing so, the left and the Bush haters showed a remarkable lack of understanding about what freedom means.

Not understanding freedom, liberals are helpless in comprehending the constitution. There was another quote of Ben Franklin’s that is lesser known than the first. When Franklin got out of the constitutional convention, he was asked “what kind of government have you created a Republic or a Monarchy?” His response was “A Republic, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT”.

The words “IF YOU CAN KEEP IT” mean that there is vigilance and work involved in maintaining the republic and the individual freedoms that the constitution looked at as something that was a natural right, not as something that had to be “given” to anyone. So, what exactly is freedom? Try looking it up on Dictionary.com and you’ll get 17 different definitions. Freedom is a concept, not a word.

Every time I’m stopped at a traffic light, my right of movement is obstructed. Is this a restriction on my freedom? Take away traffic lights and we’d have chaos on the roads. Road anarchy would rule the day. Driving on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, it’s obvious that road anarchy already rules the day. Without traffic lights, freedom of movement would be more restricted, not less, because the lack of organization means that no one would get anywhere. Is freedom being sacrificed for security by installing traffic lights? Of course not --laws in a society are for everyone’s benefit. There are situations where one person’s freedom conflicts with another person’s freedom and we need common sense laws so that everyone’s freedoms are protected.

A society with common sense laws is the difference between a Republic and anarchy. If you get on a plane, you have to take your shoes and belt off. This isn’t a government gone crazed with power; it is a common sense response to a real threat. President Bush took actions that were necessary based on a situation that he did not create. Whose freedoms were lost by phone taps anyway?

So if it is OK to make common sense laws that result in the benefit of everyone, when does the government go too far? The answer is the real definition of freedom. Freedom is the ability to make your own choices for your own benefit. You give up freedom when you cede the right of your own well being and put the decisions that affect your life in the hands of another person or entity.

If you are a member of a union and the union goes on strike, you may listen to the arguments pro and con and decide that you want to go on strike with the union. What if, after listening to the arguments pro and con, you decide not to go on strike. You have no right to disagree because a vote was taken and the union voted against you. They are going on strike whether you agree or not.

When the constitution was formed there was a distinction made that many people are unaware of. The United States has often been referred to as a democracy. In fact, it is a constitutional republic. The framers of the constitution wanted to avoid the mob mentality that often arises by pitting groups against each other. This pitting of groups against each other has always been the specialty of the left and dictatorships in general. When Ben Franklin was asked what kind of government they created, a democracy was not even mentioned.

So in the union example, you may be a person who is willing to work at a salary that someone else is willing to pay you, in conditions that you both agree are beneficial, and yet neither of you have the freedom to go forward with it because a majority of union members wanted to go on strike. Both you and your employer have ceded your freedoms to another group. This is the “mob” mentality that the framers wanted to avoid. Anyone who has seen the way unions sometimes behave can’t say the mob analogy is very far off. Unions may have done some great things but if a person wants to work at a salary that someone else is willing to pay, no one should have the right to stand in the way.

Gun control is another area where people are being asked to trust someone else with their freedom. Sometimes, political decisions are made as to who will be protected and who won’t be. People should never be asked to give up their right of personal protection to politicians who too often make decisions based on the political consequences, avoiding risky decisions that may cause controversy, often causing even more controversy by their inaction and cowardice.

Here are three examples of government making decisions for “expedience”. All three of these examples involve race in one way or another but race is not the issue. The issue is about giving up the right and responsibility of personal protection.

The first case is documented in Richard Poe’s book “The Seven Myths of Gun Control”. During the civil war, Black Americans served in the Union army. People coming home often kept the weapons they used in battle. However, in the case of black Americans, there was an organized effort to take away those guns. The Ku Klux Klan and other militia men ransacked their homes. The government did little to stop this. The end result is that because of a government decision, black Americans, after serving in the army, were left defenseless. There are incidents of those who refused to give up their guns and those are the ones who were able to defend themselves -- certainly, at no help from anyone other than themselves.

The second and third examples are more recent. During both the Rodney King riots in LA and the riots in Crown Heights in Brooklyn, local and state politicians decided to withhold protection for citizens who were under attack. People were rioting in the streets while police were, allegedly in Crown Heights, told to do nothing.

Liberal’s talk of gun control, as most things liberals talk about, is based on a false assumption. They are trying to create a “secure” environment by taking away the very tools that create a secure environment. In personal defense, no individual should be at the mercy of a decision made by a politician. People must have the right, if they deem it necessary, to have the last line of defense in the protection of themselves and their families.

Now there is Obamacare. We may be about to make the most stupid move in the history of this Republic. Hypocrites on the left don’t bring up Security-Freedom tradeoffs when it comes to unions or gun control. They don’t bring up tradeoffs in Social…uh, Social what? Oh yes, Social “Security”. That thing that says you have to pay some of your money so the government can put it away for your old age. When there is no money left in social “Security” you can take solace in an old age where you won’t be able to hire the doctor you want because the government may not consider your life “important” enough. Those defending Obamacare say “You already don’t have complete freedom to choose a doctor”. This is true enough but you don’t solve a problem of this magnitude by creating a much bigger problem. This would be like having a $500 dollar debt and trying to solve it by spending $10,000 more, or a few trillion but who’s counting.

During the Bush years, the United States did not sacrifice freedom for security. The one job of the government is to provide for the common defense which the Bush administration did admirably. No individual liberties were lost under the Presidency of GW Bush. Where is the left, so concerned about individual rights during those years, as Obama tries to take every personal choice out of the hands of the people and put it into the hands of beaurocrats who don’t care about the people they serve (Yes, they serve US!). Amazingly, they do this in the name of “morality”. All dictators do.

What kind of government? A Republic – If you can keep it… let’s hope we can.

Friday, July 3, 2009


It is the beginning of Barack Obama's second term as president. Obama is getting ready to deliver a much anticipated speech on the state of major league baseball. He is going to propose a stimulus package that is designed to get major league baseball back on its feet. And here he is, the preident of the United States, Barack Obama....

Good morning, everybody. Please be seated. Thank you all for being here. Throughout the history of baseball, there have many crises - The black sox scandal in 1919, the strike year of 1994.

Today we face a crisis in the sport of baseball unlike any we have ever seen. We don’t know which players are on steroids. The price of tickets has become unaffordable to the average person. Some teams cannot compete and have to get by with small payrolls while other, more greedy teams, steal the resources necessary to be competitive while the fans of these poorer teams live in despair with no hope in the current season and no future to look forward to. The horrific state of baseball education has resulted in players not running out ground balls or pop ups and has now put us behind Japan and Korea in baseball knowledge and skills.

Quite frankly, the state of baseball is a mess. Owners of major league teams have put their own selfish needs of winning above the good of the sport. Major League baseball has had a win at all costs attitude. It has encouraged trickery and deception and instead of representing all that is good about America, it has represented all of America’s mistakes. As my wife Michelle has told me, “It has become a mean game.” That ends today. Starting today, owners, players and fans must ask themselves not what is good for their team but what is good for the well being of the sport.

For this reason I have worked with my economic team and leaders of both parties on a plan to meet the most urgent challenges in major league baseball. The plan that I will outline today represents not just new policy for baseball, but a whole new approach for the game and for meeting its most urgent challenges. I understand that some might be skeptical of this plan. I get it. I do not want to run Major League baseball. I have enough to do running the banks, car manufacturers and oil companies. While Washington will do everything possible to prevent the catastrophic failure of Major League baseball, it will come with a clear understanding that government support for any team is an extraordinary action that must come with significant restrictions on the sport and on the individual teams that receive support.

Changes to the sport must begin in Washington. Only government can break the vicious cycles that have crippled the game. Baseball must set an example in creating a clean energy economy. For this reason, night games will be a thing of the past. Baseball teams will be allowed one night game per week. By this one action we will save as much energy as we would acquire by drilling in ANWAR. In addition, major league stadiums must immediately stop the wasteful practice of watering the field and the infield dirt. We can live with a weed or two in the outfield and a bit of dust kicking around in the infield.

Baseball must be at the forefront of environmental responsibility. Electronic scoreboards and video screens running throughout the stadium are also wasteful. I am recommending today that baseball return to the days of a person sitting inside a scoreboard manually changing the numbers. Not only will this help the environment, but it will create thousands of jobs. New stadiums built must be retrofitted with windmills and solar panels so that to the extent that energy is used, it will all be self generated. Existing stadiums have one year to comply with adding solar panels and windmills to their structure.

And then there is the issue of travelling in baseball. It is incredibly wasteful and bad for the environment that teams charter their own planes to fly all over the country. Again, baseball must, as the great American institution that it is, set an example. Teams will no longer have the luxury to charter planes to go to all over the country. Teams will need to travel on commercial flights already scheduled. If a team is unable to get all its members on one flight then the team can travel in two or three different flights. It can be possible that a team may get to its scheduled game and all of its players have not arrived yet. For this reason I am proposing that major league rosters expand to 35 players. This way, more jobs will be created and it will be unlikely that the team will arrive at its scheduled game without enough players.

The idea of creating more jobs is an important part of this baseball stimulus package. Baseball has become a game of selfishness, where only a few of the millions who try out for it, get to play on the highest level. One of the causes of this is the pitch known as the curveball. There are players who have been stars in high school and stars in college. Yet when they try out for the major leagues, they are excluded because they are unable to hit this deceptive pitch. Baseball should not be about deception and exclusion. The rules of the game, itself, must change to be more inclusive and fair to the people who desire to play. There will be no more curveballs in baseball, period.

Now there are some pitchers who throw over 95 MPH. Others throw at 86 to 88 MPH. Thus comes the need for trickery on the part of the pitcher who, through no fault of his own, is not able to throw the ball as hard. Currently, the pitcher’s mound is 60 ft, 6 inches from home plate. Starting today, there will be three rubbers on the pitcher’s mound. For those pitchers who throw 93 MPH and harder, they will need to use the rubber that is 70 feet from home plate. Pitchers who throw the ball at 90 to 93 MPH get to use the current rubber of 60 feet, 6 inches. Those who are less fortunate, get to use the rubber that is 59 feet from home plate.

Not only will this policy create more jobs in baseball, eliminate the need for deceptive pitches such as the curveball, it will also eliminate the need for one of the scourges of major league baseball -- steroids. There will be no need for any player to take steroids when the rules of the game don’t reward the unjust advantages that some have over others. If we eliminate these inequities, there will be no need for players to seek dishonest advantages with artificial means.

For this reason we also have to look at other parts of the game as well. Some players can hit a baseball 500 feet while others may top out at hitting a ball 350 feet. Players who are unable to hit a ball over 400 feet will be allowed to use metal bats. Players who attempt to steal a base or try to stretch a single into a double will be suspended. Stealing bases puts undo pressure on both pitchers and catchers and awards the accidental advantages that some players have for being faster than their cohorts.

With these rule changes that I am proposing, thousands of new jobs will open up to people who previously had no hope of ever playing in the major leagues. Therefore it will be incumbent upon baseball to seek out new cities for new teams in order that all the players who were previously shut out from the game find a place to play. I am today putting forth an executive order that baseball expand from 30 to 46 teams in order to provide the necessary opportunities needed for all the players who will now have the right to play.

I must now take a moment to speak about the competitive aspects of baseball. I believe that the rules of baseball were motivated by a sincere desire to create a competitive and honest game. But I also believe that all too often the writers of baseball rules made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often they trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of creating a game based on our principles, too often they set those principles aside as luxuries and too many of us -- Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens -- fell silent. In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by my Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who is a Yankees fan.

We have pitchers throwing inside at hitters with no regard for what might happen if that pitch hits the batter and the harm that the pitch might cause. We have runners trying to break up double plays going into second base without taking into account the well being of the shortstop or the second baseman on the other side of the play. We have fans hating each other. Red Sox fans hating Yankees fans. Mets fans hating Phillies fans. Hatred and the desire to do harm will have no place in the game of baseball. Tonight I seek a new beginning between the owners, players and fans around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that the interests of different fans are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

Now let me be blunt. There are no neat or easy answers here. I wish there were. But I can tell you that the wrong answer is to pretend like this problem will go away if we maintain an unsustainable status quo. As President, I refuse to allow this problem to fester. I refuse to pass it on to somebody else. It is my responsibility to solve the problem. The people elected me president. We won the election. John McCain lost the election. Yet as Senator McCain once said, torture “serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us.”

So what does that have to do with major league baseball? In baseball stadiums around the country, fans boo players who make mistakes, players commit acts that can hurt one another, they try to steal bases and humiliate the other team. They do things such as bunt, which causes a third baseman to second guess himself. He wonders “Should I play in?” “Should I play back?” And if, in fact, the hitter bunts, the third baseman is forced to rush in to catch the ball, often without even enough time to catch the ball in his glove, he has to catch it with his bare hand and then try to throw it to first off balance and awkwardly, risking injury to himself and humiliation to his family. Today I am ordering the closing of any baseball stadium that allows these practices to continue.

I must take a moment now to talk about umpires in baseball. Currently umpires call balls and strikes, whether a ball is fair or foul, whether a runner is safe or out. A shortstop may make an amazing play, throw to first on his knees, and yet after all that effort the runner may still be called safe. I am appalled by this inflexible and unfair approach to the game. I am going to increase the number of umpires in each game from 4 to 9. When there is a play that merits further consideration to the infexible rules, umpires will deliberate and vote whether or not to overrule the rule. So in the above play, if the umpires vote 5-4 to overrule the call at first base, the runner will be safe. All umpires will be appointed by me. I won the election and therefore, respectully reserve the right, with all due respect to those who lost the election, to these appointments.

For the reasons I just mentioned and many others, I am extremely proud today to appoint Al Gore as my new baseball czar. Mr. Gore will oversee the spending of money by major league teams. All expenditures by major league teams will need to be approved by my new czar. No team will be allowed to spend more than any other team and all signings of players and coaches, as well as hot dog vendors and ushers, will need approval from the baseball czar. The days of deception and cruelty in baseball are over. The days of the strong teams praying on the weak teams are over. People elected me for change, not to maintain the status quo. In baseball, the strong too often have dominated the weak, and too often those with speed, power, or the ability to throw harder or trick their associates have found all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of the disadvantages of others.

I am proposing a win-win situation for baseball. I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we cannot return baseball to its former glory unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. I am going to make the game a beacon of environmental responsibility. I will eliminate the need for anyone to ever try steroids because the rules of the game do not encourage it. I will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. I will create a game where fans in all cities have hope that their team can win a championship, where good will and mutual respect define the game, not hatred and the desire to do harm. How can anyone be against this plan?

We will not be united and safe if major league baseball continues as a wedge that divides America -- it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people and as one nation. We've done so before in times that were more perilous than ours. We will do so once again. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.