Friday, July 31, 2009

Recession: A Word for Political Manipulation

A recession is defined by many economists as when Gross Domestic Product growth is negative for a period of two or more consecutive quarters.

Before we were officially in a recession, the average consumer and business was feeling the pinch. People were missing debt payments, making want vs. need decisions, and cutting discretionary spending. Savings started to increase.

Look at what the average Joe and Jane are doing and you'll get the real economic pulse of a city, state or nation. They anticipate the positive and negatives in the economy from their unique micro prospectives. People know what's looming even before hiring is stopped, wages are frozen, benefits cut, and layoffs initiated. Only idiots think "it will never happen to me."

As a small business owner, I feel it first hand with my partners. Everyone else gets paid first. If there is nothing left, we don't get paid. We pay for our health insurance out of our pockets. We pay for our mobile phones out of our pockets. Everything associated with normal business, if there is no money, we either do without or pay for it out of our savings. We work hard, smart and hope we can save our business, but times are very tough for us.

Today's revised national numbers have shown that:
The first 12 months of the U.S. recession saw the economy shrink more than twice as much as previously estimated, reflecting even bigger declines in consumer spending and housing.

The economy contracted 1.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the last three months of 2008, compared with the 0.8 percent drop previously on the books
I am certainly not doing anything to boost the economy, keeping as much money as I can in the bank. When I start golfing again and spending money on home projects I have been putting off due to costs, the recession will be over for me. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Presidential Polls Mean What?

The conservative talk shows are excited and the Obama administration fretting about the latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll that
shows that 28% of the nation's voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -12. That’s the lowest rating yet recorded for President Obama).

Forty-nine percent (49%) now say that America’s best days have come and gone. Just 38% believe they are still to come. Thirty-four percent (34%) say the country is heading in the right direction. Seventy-five percent (75%) want the Federal Reserve to be audited.
Certainly, Obama is not running for re-election for another 3 years but what this does tend to do is sway congressional voting.

The die-hard reps that do what ever for the party, will not be swayed. Most of these come from safe districts, namely solid liberal areas. Those that are from more diverse districts need to listen to all of their constituents. In many cases, carte blanc approval of Democrat-sponsored is not something they can do. These fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats are covering their back by showing restrain on the single-payer, socialized medicine health care issue.

Those in the House are constantly running for re-election. The presidential poll impacts them constantly. Hence, if the president drops in the polls, his ability to influence legislation is diminished.

I don't get overly excited about falling presidential polls. What this latest one does show is how a once popular rock star is quickly being seen for what he is. He is trying to expand upon and add to sixty years of failed Democrat lead social programs. He is trying to replace the best health care system in the world (for a nation our size and complexity -- we are not 8 million homogeneous Swedes), with a UK-like disaster. He has brought race back into the mainstream and is showing his prejudices.

This latest presidential poll is showing the growing animosity to a person that could have done great things. But because he is what he is -- a raciest liberal -- he is collapsing upon his own weight. His dream is turning out to be a nightmare.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Prime Time Obama...Desperate

There has been no other president that has spent more time in front of the camera than President Obama. Whether it is with his MSM lovers from the major networks, speeches at staged events or town hall meetings, or prime time news conferences, his voice is constantly being broadcasted.

I personally get sick of listening to him. For all the criticism we heard of Bush, Obama is the worst extemporaneous presidential statesman I have ever heard. It is bad enough listening to people say "you know" but he is top dog on "um..." The other bothersome thing is that you just know he is lying through his teeth, all in the words proper spin. His act is getting old.

Because people are tiring of his rhetoric, he is in a rush to pass a MASSIVE, ALL-CONSUMING, BREAK-THE-BANK, RIDICULOUS SOCIALIZED medicine program. A program with details unknown by 99.999999999 of the people in America (including Congress) and will not take effect for at least four years, must be passed now?

The reason it needs to be passed now is because if anyone read it and did the proper analysis, it would be laughed at.

Obama thinks he can claim credit for saving the economy. Too bad for him, most people do not think the economy is saved. There is absolutely no proof that his stimulus has done anything positive for the overall economy. But he'll try to spin his way through it.

Obama is desperate. He needs to get this passed now because if he cannot get it done now, he will risk the analysis and discussion during the recess. He knows it cannot stand a real analysis.

A loss with health care will be a major blow to the Obama appeal. Let him lose, lose lose. He's been a disaster. Makes G. W. Bush seem like a breath of fresh air, and I did not like Bush.

UPDATE: I listened to some of Obama's press conference tonight. He insulted MDs stating as if the normal practice is for them to recommend the most expensive procedure because they make the most money. He mentions tonsillectomy for a sore throat when not required. He also insulted the Cambridge, MA police for a stupid procedure. Tough to win support when you insult the medical and law enforcement communities.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Healthcare Bill Must Be Defeated

The Obama-lead health care reform bill is heading in the direction I hope it takes: caving in due to its own weight. Every thing about the bill is destructive.

Since the beginning, Obama has been leading the "trust me, this is what you American people want and need."

Cost will be higher than expected. Taxes will go up for all tax payers; i.e., middle class and higher. Quality will be decreased. Care will be bureaucratic, not based on best practices. Most will not be able to keep their current insurance.

Insurance companies will not be able to compete against the federal government. Self-insured people and organizations will be outlawed.

Obama and his Democrat Congressional allies are lying through their teeth. Most of the proponents have no idea of the details within the health care bill. How could they? It is over 1000 pages and no Congressional member has read it in its entirety. And we know Obama has not read it, he admitted so.

It is not about health care, it is about the federal government taking more and more control over our lives. It just is. Life will not be better for the majority of Americans. It will diminish.

As Limbaugh has said repeatedly, "remember how smoking sin taxes and regulations would reduce overall taxes and reduce health care cost, the exact opposite occurred."

Obama's a fraud and a liar, a typical politician, albeit one with no track record or one that had accomplished anything (and doubtful he was even born in America). The man is a calculated communist -- knowing exactly what he is doing (government-run health care is a core socialist and communist value). Luckily, more and more American people are waking up to this.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Health Care Reform and Undocumented Workers

The proposed or pending Democratic/Obama’s health care reform legislation has been:

1. Deceptive (no one reads the legislation prior to voting).
2. Based on fiscal irresponsibility (this year's deficit will be ~$1.85 trillion and will only get worse in the future).
3. Entitlement are increasing to astronomical levels (at least $53 trillion of unfunded liabilities due to previous entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid).
4. Unconstitutional (point out where health care is authorized in the U.S. Constitution).

As it is going, and considering who is behind it, one can assume that illegal immigrates will be covered under the forthcoming health care law (single-payer system) somehow. La Raza and the Daily Kos are all over this. They do an amazing job trying to spin it. They rarely differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants. They never use the word "illegal;" preferring "undocumented."

I find their so-called facts questionable. No doubt undocumented workers pay taxes, namely sales taxes, but what the pay and what they take out are disproportionate. Most work right at or below the poverty level. They pay little, if any, income taxes. Yet they attend our schools, use our emergency rooms, consume our law enforcement resources, take our welfare handouts, etc.

There is no dislike or opposition from most about immigrants, including me. It is all about legality. American has been a land of law and of opportunity. This is obviously changing before our very eyes. But it is certainly a better place to live than Mexico, the source of most of our undocumented workers.

American law needs to be followed. Contradictory law does not need to be created to fund undocumented workers' desires for free health care coverage.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vote No On Sonia Sotomayor

It is a forgone conclusion that Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 17 years as a federal judge, will become the first Hispanic confirmed to the US Supreme Court. The slam-dunk is from the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. Her "well qualified" rating is based its on the Bar's unanimous opinion and valuation of her integrity, competence and judicial temperament.

However, the Republican Senators and all those that support the literal interpretation of the Constitution, should vote NO on her appointment/confirmation.

She is a Constitutional pragmatist -- willing to interpret it for political expediency and modern times.

She's a racist. Regardless of how you spin her ruling in the New Haven, CN firefighter exam case, it was based on race. Those that failed the test, failed the test. They were not smart enough to pass the test. One really needs to go out on an extreme limb to claim a person did not pass a test because race, gender, religion, etc. The bottom line is they did not know the material, failed to study, were not smart enough.

She is also against the right to bear arms. From a press release from Wayne LaPierre, EVP, NRA and Chris Cox, Exec Dir, NRA-ILA:
In last year’s historic Heller decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees the individual’s right to own firearms and recognizes the inherent right of self-defense. In addition, the Court required lower courts to apply the Twentieth Century cases it has used to incorporate a majority of the Bill of Rights to the States. Yet in her Maloney opinion, Judge Sotomayor dismissed that requirement, mistakenly relying instead on Nineteenth Century jurisprudence to hold that the Second Amendment does not apply to the States.

This nation was founded on a set of fundamental freedoms. Our Constitution does not give us those freedoms – it guarantees and protects them. The right to defend ourselves and our loved ones is one of those. The individual right to keep and bear arms is another. These truths are what define us as Americans. Yet, Judge Sotomayor takes an opposite view, contrary to the views of our Founding Fathers, the Supreme Court, and the vast majority of the American people.
There are plenty of other ABA "well qualified" individuals from a Constitutional originalist perspective, even from a "diverse" background.

The smooth-questioning Republican Senators, that have done an okay job during the hearings, need to back up those questions and her answers with a NO vote on her confirmation.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Legislation with Public Hearings Thing of Past

Legislation is no longer done for all to see. It is back-room politics designed to be secretive and deceptive. Consider the latest BIG ones:

-- Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the associated results from the US Budget Watch and the NY Times $700B tracking site.
-- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), aka Stimulus Package, and its surprise inclusions.
-- The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) with text HERE and pro-commentary HERE and anti-commentary HERE.
-- Health Bill requiring huge taxes on the wealthiest Americans (where's the wealthy cut-off?), will be full of pork and earmarks like parks, paths and jungle gyms.

People complain about rising health care costs but the health care we have available is nothing like it was 50 years ago or 20 years ago. Should we stop encouraging innovation? This latest program will do just that. It takes funds to develop, test and deploy. Where's that to come from?

We don't have the money! We are allowing our reps to bankrupt this nation all in the name of progress, and don't forget hope and change.

Our government has gone Chavismo. Budget be damned "we are doing every big government program we could only achieve in our wildest dreams." Liberalism is a mental disease because what the Democratic Congress has done this year is insane.

I keep reading and hearing that the "recession is just temporary, they always are; the economy will come back." Okay. But what is going to make it come back? These new policies are bankruptcy policies. They are insane. What makes it worse is that they are conceived and approved in secret.

This health care bill will be 1000 pages, no one will have read it in its entirety. It'll get passed. We'll be forced to live with it for a long time. Costs will be enormous and care quality diminished.

Too bad they cannot add a clause that makes all of the Congressional Reps who voted for it to live with the same health care they will force upon the masses.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bernard Cornwell and Saxon England

For a summer reading escape, Bernard Cornwell has written a series of novels on Saxon England. There are currently four novels in the series:

- The Last Kingdom
- The Pale Horseman
- The Lords of the North
- Sword Song
- A fifth, The Burning Land, is coming later in 2009

He gives the reader an insight into England during the second half of the 9th century when Danes were dominating and the Saxons struggling for a footing and resurgence. The main fictional character, Uhtred, is of Saxon lineage but culturally more Danish. His character brings to light some of the conditions, culture and political issues of the era. It also gives some insight into King Alfred the Great, a character throughout the novels. Cornwell does a good job showing how different two people of nobility could be, though both Saxons.

Religion plays a big role in the novels. But the thing that infatuated me is the binding power of a verbal oath. This theme resonates throughout the series.

If you are interested in English history, this is a great series. Gripping for the most part. Start with the The Last Kingdom; don't start with one of the other books, you'll miss some key plot items.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Swine Flu - H1N1 Pandemic Yet?

The H1N1 flu, aka swine flu, has become something of interest to me. Pandemics and epidemiology likewise. I just finished a book called Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic, by Gina Kolata.

The influenza of 1918 (Spanish Flu) impacted the world. With over 40 million deaths (some think much higher), just about everyone knew someone who died from it. In some place, for example in northern Alaska, 95 percent of the communities died. Young men would become infected and die within a day or two. Why is the influenza of 1918 important? Because it was based on the same H1N1 virus.

The book was rather anti-climatic: nothing was conclusive with respect to the means of infection (how it was communicated) and where it originated (they think southeast China where ducks and pigs live in close proximity to the human population). It did conclude that it impacted people between 20-40 years of age, just like today's swine flu.

According to the World Health Organization's Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 58 (6 July 2009), there are 94,512 H1N1 cases reported worldwide and 429 deaths associated with it. World Health Organization head Margaret Chan stated in Cancun, Mexico recently:
"As we see today, with well over 100 countries reporting cases, once a fully fit pandemic virus emerges, its further international spread is unstoppable."
These major influenza re-occurrences at the pandemic levels happen every eleven or so years; are mild in the spring, severe in the fall; are more pronounced in groups of closely gathered groups like those living in barracks and dorms.

The governments have a tough job. Their status quo is to over react, preferring that to under or no reaction. Like in 1976, they killed 1.5 million chicken in Hong Kong to help thwart the Hong Kong (bird) flu. No one really knows if it worked, but it was action. They destroy millions and millions of dollars worth of food if some contamination is found. These reactions ruin many businesses, all in the name of public health. Is it worth it? Are the government agencies calling wolf? Are they just doing their jobs? Are they acting because they have these jobs and need to justify their existence?

After seeing what a harsh strain of influenza can do, it is no laughing matter. I personally doubt this subtype of hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) will be as severe as the H1N1 that killed millions in 1918-1919. But after reading the book and some web sites, the possibility is there for a pandemic, albeit small.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Justice Ginsburg on Roe v. Wade Meaning

It is a bit strange to hear a sitting Supreme Court Justice actually say what she thinks. From the New Ledger and The Smoking Argus Daily in an interview by Emily Bazelon of the “New York Times Sunday Magazine”:
Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.
This is core to the liberal history of promoting the 'doctrine' of eugenics.

Eugenics is based on the goal of improving the qualities of the humans by discouraging reproduction by genetically defective people and encouraging reproduction by those with desirable traits, you know, like Hitler.

Guess we had better add Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's name to the list of leading Eugenicists.

Girl's Camp at Heber Valley Camp

For those of us in the LDS Church, especially if we have teenage children, summer is crammed with summer camps, from scout and high adventure camps, to treks, stake camporees, and girl's camps.

This year, the girls in our ward, including my wife and daughter, went to a five-day girl's camp at Heber Valley Camp, on the western fringe of the Uinta Mountains.

This cabin-oriented facility can house up to 5000 campers, is built on 8,000 acres, and sits at around 8,000 feet in elevation (with sections of the camp nearing 10,000 feet.) The camp is broken into mini-sections, each named after a prominent women from the scriptures. Each has kitchens, bathrooms, showers, ample hot water and electricity, bunks (requiring bring-your-own sleeping pads, mattresses, pillows, sleeping bags and blankets), large fire rings, and volleyball courts. They have a lake with canoes, individual and team challenge courses, and plenty of hiking trails.

Each ward is asked to have two men present to assist as necessary. These are typically dads of the girls or the spouses of the young women leaders. I was able to arrange my schedule to spend 24 hours with them, arriving Wednesday morning and returning Thursday morning. My task, other than eating their good food, was orienteering and hiking. I was able to take the 16 girls from our ward on a 5+ mile hike.

In order to do an interesting hike without backtracking or doing figure eights, one needs to go into the higher elevations. That's what we did. We started at camp which sits at 8000 feet and climbed to over 9000 feet. Although a warm day, there was a breeze. Although there is a map, the trails in the higher elevation are poorly marked. The moisture of the winter and spring made for heavy growth of grasses and flowers -- lovely but shrouding the smaller, seldom used trails. Our routes was:

Abish Trail to Legacy Lake, to Hinckley Trail. Up the Broken Arrow Trail to the Reeder Trail. Up the Bald Knoll Ridge Trail to the Bald Knoll Connector and down the Spine Line Ridge and Eagle Loop Trails to the Abish Trail and back to camp. About 5.5 miles. We hike for about 2.5 hours, rested for 2.5 hours for lunch, photos, chats. A hard hike for most. But one they were proud of after it was over.

This is one camp that every LDS girl in Utah should experience. There a full-time senior couples running the camp (they did make me check my handgun despite my conceal carry permit). The Church does things right. Heber Valley Camp is done right.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Palin Enamored by Herself

When Sarah Palin she was picked by McCain in his desperate attempt to resuscitate his presidential run, it was a desperate move. For a period, she was refreshing. Mainly in the sense that she introduced some core conservative principles that McCain failed to grasp. However, it did not take too long for her game to get stale.

Her announced resignation as Alaska governor 16 months prior to her term ending obviously sets her up for something she think will be bigger, namely a presidential run for 2012.

She is already over-exposed. She has surrounded herself by 'yes' people, telling her how great she is and how she'd make a great president.

This is not a gender thing; never was. During her VP run, she quickly turned off independents, especially women. There may be some Republicans that think she's the real deal, but I for one am not.

Her best days as a politician are behind her. She's not a business person. She's not a lawyer (which is a good thing). She's a journalist by education. She's not amazingly bright, well-read or gifted. She might do okay behind a new desk or as a reporter. I can't see her as a successful talk show host.

Palin is polarizing figure. She is enamored by herself. She's one in a long list or Republicans that I'd just as soon would disappear from the public eye. Palin is not the the savior of the Republican Party. Those who think so will continue to see loss after loss.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Obama's Favoritism Towards Communists & Chavismo

It is clear that Obama is a socialist to the core. The question is: is he also a true-blooded communist? If is Latin American stance is any indication, then yes.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was removed from power by his own political entities as he tried to amend the constitution to lift term limits.
The power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had [Hugo] Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The [Honduran] Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday [6/25/09] he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.
The Hondurans, rightly so, are resisting demands by the Organization of American States to restore Mel.

By normal accounts, the law is being followed. Yet Obama and his commies associates want Mel to have the right to usurp the law.

Look at who's siding together: Obama, Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Argentina) -- all extreme leftists and lovers of Chavism.

Obama and the OAS are wrong. They are the ones violating the sovereign laws of Honduras, all in the name of allowing one of their ideological cronies to establish himself as a dictator, king and all powerful czar of everything.

This is all about ideology, nothing about rule of law. This is part and parcel for Obama, communist at the core and dictator wannabe. He has embraced Chavismo with open arms.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wal-Mart Now in Favor of Company-Mandated Healthcare

The headline on today's WSJ is Wal-Mart Backs Drive to Make Companies Pay for Health Coverage. "We are for an employer mandate which is fair and broad in its coverage," said Wal-Mart Chief Executive Mike Duke in a letter to President Obama. Why?
About 52% of Wal-Mart's 1.4 million U.S. employees are covered by company-provided insurance, up from 46.2% three years ago. The retail industry average is 45%, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation 2008 study.

Wal-Mart isn't changing its policies. The company says it supports the employer mandate because all businesses should share the burden of fixing the health-care system. Wal-Mart also said the mandate will only work if it is accompanied by a government commitment to rein in health-care costs that is guaranteed.
This is nothing more than an attempt to put out of business all of the smaller retail firms trying to compete against Wal-Mart. It will also force many other businesses that supply Wal-Mart products either out of business or to raise prices. The firms that build its buildings, handle its leases, clean it parking lots must raise their prices to cover this added cost.

Wal-Mart says everyone must share the burden of fixing the health-care system. I am not sure it is broken. It is more expensive for the average user but what he is getting is the best in the world, and it improves every year. Quality health care is a luxury -- an income-elastic expense. Of the 45 million that don't have it, many don't need it or want to pay for it; e.g., the young and/or single. Do we destroy it all because 15 percent don't have health care?

Neil Trautwein, vice president with the Washington-based trade group National Retail Federation (retail industry lobby) said
an employer mandate is "the single most destructive thing you could do to the health-care system shy of a single-payer system," under which the government handles health-care administration. The mandate "would quite possibly cut off the economic recovery we all desperately need."
Wal-Mart is looking out for itself -- a lesser of two evils -- avoiding the national system but embracing a employer-mandate health care pay system that will eliminate a great deal of its competition.