Friday, August 7, 2009

The Dangers of Being Unemployed

There are many dangers to being unemployed - not having enought money to pay bills, looking for a job in this economy, boredom. But the biggest danger I've seen so far is that I read too much news, and actually have started reading the 1000+ page healthcare bill from Congress. I've only gotten through the first 50 pages. To put it nicely, reading a 1000 page book on just about any other subject would be better than trying to read through this bill. There is quite a bit of "see section xxxx, x, x, x,.1" in this that I'm not sure I'll ever quite understand all the ins and outs, and yet, I'm doing it.

Within the first 50 pages, I've already found places where both sides have been wrong. It is a fact that 5 years after the bill is passed you may not be able to keep your current insurance even if you like it. And if you switch your insurance in that 5 year period, you will have to use the government exchange. You can still buy a private plan, but that plan will have to include what the government tells it to include.

I have not yet found a section that mandates covering abortions, the closest we come is "family planning", and while that could include abortion, it doesn't necessarily include abortion yet. I'll let you know if that provision does crop up later in the bill.

Something else of note: there are certain "taxes" that will be imposed for certain things. And in one place it actually says "This tax imposed under this chapter will not be treated as a tax". Kinda makes you think these people are really trying to pull one over on us, right? (I haven't gotten to that section yet, but someone pointed it out to me. It's there - page 203 lines 14 and 15)

The purpose for me reading this bill is because we are hearing "it says that", "no it doesn't say that", and since I'm not sure half the people opining on this have actually read it, I'm going to read it and find out what it really says. At this point, I can point to the only major lie I have seen. President Obama keeps saying "If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it". That's not true Mr. President. Not really. What you need to be saying is "If you like your insurance plan you can keep it for 5 years. At that time, if that plan doesn't meet our mandates you will not be able to keep it, unless it changes to meet our mandates. And then, it may not be the plan you liked and wanted to keep."

I have noticed several other things in this debate and I'm going to opine and ask questions:

1 - The President himself once said "I'm not familiar with that portion of the bill". Please, Mr. President, if you are going to push Health Insurance Reform, could you at least be part of the process? This is your idea, and yet, you seemed to have handed control of it over to the Congress and Senate, and you aren't even sure about everything that's in it.

2 - The debate changed over the last month from "Health Care Reform" to "Health Insurance Reform". Please explain that change?

3. According to the Bill coverage with this new plan won't start until 2013, and even then the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) says it will only cover about 16 million of the uninsured, meaning that of the "47 million" we keep hearing about, 31 million of them will remained uncovered at a price tag of at least 1 trillion dollars. So are these 31 million not Americans and not entitled to coverage? Who are these people who will ultimately not be covered by the bill that's supposed to make sure EVERYONE has affordable coverage?

4. Why the rush? If this is the biggest thing we need to tackle, the biggest problem we have, why not take the time to do it right? Mr. President, you gave these people 3 weeks to write a bill, and you actually wanted them to pass it in that time too. Can we please give them the time to do the right thing? Please?

I truly do believe there needs to be reform. I have several ideas I'd like to express to my Representatives about that reform. But the truth is, a good bi-partisan effort with the American people involved is going to take time. The President once said that he envisioned the meetings taking place on C-Span and having all kinds of people in on the discussion. This current bill was written in committee with people from Congress - no constituents, no doctors - just career politicians. That's not the way health care or, I'm sorry, health insurance reform should be handled. It's not the way the President told us it would be handled.



Friday, July 31, 2009

Stupidly

The word "stupidly" seems to have made a comeback in the last week. It all started when the press asked President Obama how he felt about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct. Professor Gates, a Harvard Professor, was arrested after a passer-by reported what looked like an attempted break-in. It turns out it wasn't a break-in, just the Professor trying to get in his own house. Now, I have locked myself out of the house and had to crawl in a window on more than one occasion, but have never had my neighbors or anyone else call the cops. However, had that been the case, I would have been happy to provide the officers with proof that I lived in said residence, and then let them go on their way. It's their job to investigate when something like that is reported, and I would be grateful that someone actually was trying to protect my private property. Mr. Gates wasn't so grateful, and for some reason unknown to any of us, he started bullying and threatening the police officer (Mr. Crowley). He even called him a racist. He was arrested. And the President said "the Cambridge Police acted stupidly". It set off a firestorm that had the FOP and many other people shaking their heads and wondering if the President understands anything about law enforcement.

Some news stations have berated the poor woman who made the 9-1-1 call, actually laughing because it appeared she didn't know her "neighbor", except it turns out she wasn't his neighbor but a passer-by playing the good Samaritan.

But I digress, really, because the fact is, even after the President made it clear that he didn't know all of the facts of the case, he still had to make a pronouncement that the arrest was a stupid move. Now, I'm not convinced it wasn't overkill, but overkill doesn't mean racist. I'm sure had the arresting officer been black, and the homeowner white, this wouldn't have even entered the collective thought process other than to shrug our shoulders and say "it happens".

The other day someone I was talking to brought this up in a round about sort of way saying that 6 months wasn't enough time to judge the President, and too many people were freaking out because there was a "darkie" in the White House. I blinked. Um, first of all, even jokingly, most people wouldn't use the term "darkie" - at least not people in my circles. Maybe we are too used to being accused of being racists for any number of reasons, but um... yeah... we wouldn't use that term. Second, I don't remember hearing a single commentator in the last 18 months (which is about as far back as my memory goes) make any reference to not wanting to vote for President Obama because he was black, and once he won, I don't remember any of them freaking out because there was a black man in the White House. So I asked, innocently enough, "Who said there was a problem with a black man in the White House?" I got this response "Glenn Beck called him racist."

Calling someone a racist doesn't necessarily mean you have a problem with their skin color does it? I mean, I know racists, both black and white, but that doesn't mean I'm afraid or upset with either white or black people because of it. Do I think Glenn was correct in his assumption? I don't know. I didn't hear the clip, and I haven't read more than that one sentence, so I'm going to vote present on that one. But, I think a point can be made that even after admitting he didn't have all the facts, President Obama's "stupidly" remark came off looking like he was looking for a racist in the situation. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't the black guy. At best, he jumped to an absurd conclusion that was in no means backed up by facts later revealed, not only about the case, but about the officer in question. At worst, he was confirming or agreeing with Mr. Gates that the officer in question had used racial profling in this case. (Although, I know for a fact, having worked in the 9-1-1 center, that the officer was just doing his job in requesting ID to confirm that the subject in the house, was, in fact, the owner.)

The fact is, the only two people in this case who acted stupidly were the President and his friend, Mr. Gates. Mr. Gates, had he really thought there was an issue, could have addressed it afterwards with Mr. Crowley's superiors. We took calls to the 911 center about that all the time - someone had an issue with the officer and wanted to speak to the chief. The President should have been smart and said "I don't know all the facts of the case, and as such, I think it would be inappropriate for me to offer an opinion at this time". Maybe a few liberal elite people might have been perturbed, but the rest of the country would have nodded their heads and said "smart man, our President".

Instead, today, people across the country aren't wondering if our President doesn't see all white people as potential criminals or hate-mongers just waiting to happen. I don't believe that either, by the way. I just think he rushed to make his judgment, and he's paying for it now.

And by the way...from this point forward, I thinkt he word "stupidly" should be banned.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Canned Pork Anyone?

When Congress was in the process of writing and passing the $787 billion stimulus, many Conservatives and Libertarians took to calling it the "Porkulus". Of course, that was based on the few things people actually found out before it passed. Now we can "track" our stimulus money. So this funny tidbit appeared on one of my many daily reading sites:

We, the taxpayers, have bought ourselves $16 million worth of canned pork from Lakeside Foods in Plainview, MN. It's actually listed as "Canned Pork" on the recovery.gov website.

If only I had the time to go through every project listed to see what we are actually buying. I just thought, since some of us claimed that the stimulus was packed with pork projects and election payoffs, that actually spending that kind of money on canned pork was...ironic.

Of course, I'm still waiting for the QUACAA to become available online so we can actually read it before it becomes law, and the President is pushing for that to happen for Congress takes it's paid month off come August 7th.

The Stimulus has not, contrary to the President's statements, done what it was supposed to do. We were told it would stop unemployment at 8% - it's at 9.5%. We were told it would save or create (how do you count saved jobs???) 3 million jobs. According to the President it's saved or created 150,000 jobs while the economy hemorrhaged 2.5 million jobs. And we still don't know how he's counting "jobs saved" - his own people don't even know. And now comes the news that he's not going to release his budget updated in July. He's going to wait until August, after Congress has already recessed and hopefully a passed a bill that the non-partisan Congressional Budget office says is going to cost us at least 1 trillion dollars. Maybe it is because it's a Presidential transition year, but hey, he was able to release an update in May, so why not now? Could it be that the numbers are bleak, and he's afraid it might sink the Health Care ship that is already taking on more water than a canoe with a cannon-ball sized whole in it?

I don't know - I'm still trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with my share of $16 million dollars of canned pork.....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fierce Moral Urgency

So, yet again yesterday, our President decided to hold a mini sales pitch, er... press conference, to sell his Health Care Reform. This comes after ABC's fawning 2 hour coverage, and after earlier this week all 3 major networks gave him the time to talk about it. I guess it's a good thing it's summer, and most programs on TV are re-runs. At least he won't be pissing off the average American Idol fan by pre-empting their show. (Yes, remember all those "stimulus" news conferences?)

Let's face it, the President is a darn good salesman. He sold the American Public his campaign, and they bought it. And not long after he won the election, he sold his Stimulus Plan, and manage to drum up enough support in the polls that Congress passed it. It also appears to have worked for Cap and Trade, but then, most people didn't support that. Congress voted for it anyway.

So with 60% of Americans not feeling an urgency to increase the deficit with another government run social program, President Obama is taking to the television airwaves and pitching this program too. With a fierce moral urgency.

Is this the same fierce moral urgency that led to a 787 billion dollar stimulus plan that was going to keep unemployment at 8% or lower? We keep hearing we have to do something now or it's going to get worse. But when we did do something "now" without having even read the full extent of what we were doing, things got much worse than they would have if we had left it alone. Once again, a bill is being rushed through Congress (like Stimulus I and II and Cap and Trade), no one will really get a chance to read it or understand everything that is in it, and we are doing it because it has to be done NOW.

You'll have to excuse me while I shake my head in disbelief.

I think most people forget that the Government isn't in the business of making money. If you doubt me, look at the US Postal Service and Amtrak, two Government Organizations that are Hemorrhaging money faster than GM and Chrysler before we bailed them out. The Government only has 1 source of income - the taxpayer. So every bill that is passed is going to require the taxpayer to pony up money to cover the expenses.

787 billion dollar Stimulus? That's right open your wallet (and btw, please don't talk to me about my "tax cut" that I was informed by my own employer that I would have to pay back come tax time next year).

Rising Energey Cost due to Cap and Trade? Open your wallet (because you know those companies will pass that tax hike right on down to you)

Universal Health Coverage? Get out your wallet.

And don't bother asking for that "transparancey" that we were promised. As of yet, not a single bill from Congress has been opened up to the American Public to read for 5 days before being signed into law. Not one. We still don't have any clue what was in the Stimulus, Cap and Trade, and I'm sure we won't know what is in the Health Care Bill. Which by the way, has a really interesting name: QUACAA. Yes, prononced Caca.

Must have been a psychological slight by Congress.

I'm not against Health Care Reform. I'm against Health Care Reform that is going to cost trillions of dollars, going God-knows-where, and is run by a government that makes hand washing laundry look like the most effective thing in the world. Let's find a way to reform health care via the free market. Let's work together (which is not happening, in case you didn't notice - no Republicans in Congress voted for the Stimulus, only 8 voted for Cap and Trade, and I don't think many are planning to vote for the Health Care Bill - there's your "healing the great divide in the country"). There has to be something we can do without just approving some unknown bill that's modeled after other failed systems, right?

But there is that "fierce moral urgency" thing....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Oh wow... I really did take a break

I had not expected to be gone this long but as I mentioned in the very beginnings of this blog, I am sick of politics. I have continued to read the news, but all I really do is ... read. I haven't really had any desire to comment on anything I've read. I've simply been sitting back and watching.

Current things in the news:

North Korea has threatened the U.S.
Iranian leaders crushed (literally) dissent in the recent elections
The Honduras Congress and Supreme Court ruled that the president couldn't unconstitutionally seek a third term
The US Congress barely passed a "Cap and Trade" bill
Both the US Congress and Senate are pushing for a huge health care overhaul
Michael Jackson died

There are six things posted above, and just to be fun, can anyone guess which one of those things is getting the most news coverage?

Yes, you are correct. It's Michael Jackson.

Let me start by saying this: It's a tragedy that Michael Jackson died at the age of 50. He was, by no means, an old man. I haven't been following the news religiously, so I don't know if there has been an official finding as to the cause of death. (yes, he died of cardiac arrest, but the truth is, everyone dies of cardiac arrest. That happens when your heart stops beating, which is what is required for you to...die.) However, there was a quite a bit on the rumor mill about him taking a lot of pain killers, and one news report said they found a powerful sedative in his home. The past 10 years have not been particularly kind to the "King of Pop", and it's highly possible that, even accidentally, he is responsible for the condition that lead to his eventual death. We have lost a great musical talent, but this isn't the first time. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon, Bon Scott, John Bonham, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Kurt Cobain, just to name a few. Unfortunately, in all but 1 of the cases listed above, drugs and/or alcohol played a part in their death. It appears that becoming a rock star is bad for your health, yes?

There is a point to this. Of the 6 things listed above, Michael Jackson's death is the least impacting to Americans. Yes, I said it, and I'll say it again if necessary. What we seem to forget about our celebrities is that they are all too human. Thousands of people in this country die every day, and other than the fact that Michael Jackson spent most of his life in the public spotlight, he is still a person, just like you, just like me. The bigger problems in life don't take a break because a famous person died.

What bothers me (so much so, that I threw the remote at the TV on Saturday Morning), is that to our News Organizations, all of them, Michael Jackson's death is the most important thing. I don't see it that way.


We appear to have a serious issue these days - with celebrity. Does anyone remember the hoopla over Princess Diana? Now we have a repeat with Michael Jackson. Let's not forget the hours "Octomom" spent in the news. Or how about those two paragons of parental virtue who live so close to me...John & Kate?

Honestly, why do we care? It's not that I'm arguing against compassion, but I am arguing that such people take up too much of our thoughts, our time, and yes even our adoration. They have become like gods, and the obsession with their lives have become a drug.

Meanwhile, our Congress spends more money, puts us deeper in debt, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and I can't find a decent news story on anything but...Michael Jackson.

This is why, my friends, the majority of Americans don't trust the news media.

Until Next Time....






Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Day - After the Inauguration

Just in case you were wondering, no, I did not watch the inauguration. (for two reasons)
1 - I had to work, and they don't pay me to watch television while I'm at work. I did hear of some places where people sat glued to the rare televisions that appear in offices.
2 - I haven't watched an inauguration since 1985 - Ronald Reagan's 2nd term. I don't remember much about that inauguration as I was only 9 years old.

I did read President Obama's speech. That's the best I could do for that day. I'm no fan of Obama's, and most people who know even a little about me could back that up. However, the day after his election, I did write a piece on my facebook saying we should give him a chance to prove us (his dissenters) wrong. This opinion of mine contrasts greatly with many Conservative and Republican commentators who say we should give him as much of a chance as the other side gave Bush. However, I have always held to the belief that we are, better, when it comes to political discourse. I still think we are, and I think much of the rancor on the right is grounded in the abuse the former President took over just about everything he did and said, and a lot of things he didn't do or say or have any hand in. I can understand, if not agree.

Still more is grounded in the fact that the left still seems bitter, and by george, their guy got into office. What's left to be bitter about? He's going to reduce the ocean water levels, reduce carbon emissions, make everyone in the world love us, and according to his wife, heal our souls. I'm sorry, I didn't intend to be sarcastic, it just came out.

After Inauguration Day, I was sitting in a meeting at work, and someone said "Did you hear there wasn't a single arrest at the capitol? It would have never been like that if a Republican had gotten elected." I keep my thoughts to myself. I did in this case also, but in the back of my head, I wanted to say "Yeah, and what does that say about opposition on both sides?" Truth is, it says this...when the liberal leftists lose, they scream, cry, throw first class hissy fits, riot, and get arrested. When the conservative right loses we go home to quietly lick our wounds for awhile, and then we stand up for what's right. We might say things, we might get a little hot around the collar, but we do not take to the streets and riot. And as was proven this past week, we don't show up at inaugurations and wreak havoc. Wait, unless of course, we are to blame for the cold temperatures that meant most of the crowd had to hear a recording of the famous artists playing their musical instruments. Oh, darn, I'm sure I just gave some kook on the left a good idea.

I do have a point to this, sarcasm aside.

I don't agree with 99% of President Obama's policies. And just becaue he's a black man didn't mean I was going to cry at the fact he got elected. See, in my world, my God is color blind. I always disagreed with Obama on the merits of his platform (what little he had), and not on the color of his skin. And I hate that, throughout the election, and even now,we are treated to some idea that we should all be happy and united because we elected a black man. We aren't going to be united, because there are 58 Million Americans who disagreed strongly enough with his policies that we didn't vote for him. We are not suddenly, now that the election is over, going to agree with those policies now. Political disagreement and discourse is fundamental to the principles of this country, and the idea that we should do away with it, in the name of unity, is ... well, simply put wrong.

I really do hope he proves me wrong, but in the past week, I've been treated to enough snippets to know that probably isn't going to happen. So I will be writing my congressmam and Senators, and I will be urgring them not to vote for certain things, and I will participate in my constitutional right to disagree with the socialistic principles President Obama is trying to push on our country. But, I'm still giving him a chance, even now, to prove me wrong.

Too bad, that same chance wasn't given the last 8 years. But, as I've said, I'm better than that.