Friday, July 31, 2009

Talking, Texting , DRIVING (and Videos)

A Buffalo, New York area truck driver needed a tow of his own after it was found that he was driving his tow truck while talking on one cell phone and texting on another at the same time. Unfortunately for him, he ended up crashing into a car and careening into a swimming pool, ploughing through a fence and sideswiping a house before it did so.

The driver faces numerous charges, the confiscation of his cell phones and a subpoena of his cell phone records.

Tow trucking is a rough occupation. Tow truck drivers listen to emergency transmissions and rush to be the first to the scene, sometimes creating more business in the process. Any emergency vehicle has to be aware of the hazards .

It shouldn't even be necessary to ban texting while driving. Unfortunately you need to spell things out to some people who aren't exactly the brightest bulb in the fridge.

On a lighter note, one thing that inspires revenge fantasies among the public is city tow truck drivers who are punishing parking violations. I am including for your entertainment a video of a woman who lived out a revenge fantasy and fulfilled the dream of millions of Americans.

Hopefully, the tow truck accident in Buffalo will be transformed into what our Dissimulator in Chief likes to call a "Teaching moment". Perhaps some lives can be saved as the morbid curiosity of a rubbernecking nation is indulged. Please take heed. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obamacare and Euthanasia

The Obama administration has traded in troubling images of the working poor without health insurance to sell a new national health insurance. The combined Senate and House bills are bigger than a Manhattan phone book. The Obama administration is trying hard to ram the bill through before our elected representatives get around to reading the legislation.

Most disturbing is the talk of "rationing health care". What does it mean? The Washington Times strips away some of Obama's fuzzy verbiage and raises the disturbing issue of euthanasia.

When Obama talks about ""those toward the end of their lives [who] are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here, "what is he getting at? What are we supposed to do about those pesky old people who just take too long to die? Don't worry, we have Ezekiel Emmanuel guiding us into the brave new future. Emmanuel, who is the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel is chairman of the Department of Bioethics at the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health. He will tell us all what is ethical in allocating health care.

According to the Washington Times, Emmanuel "has argued that independent government boards should decide policy on end-of-life care. He also has defended rationing care more strictly for older people because "allocation [of medical care] by age is not invidious discrimination."

In many families, a decision on whether or not to go into chemotherapy or on life support is made after a call to a trusted clergy person or family member. So now we will have a government board crunching the numbers and deciding whether or not keeping someone alive is just too costly. We are taking another step down that slippery slope where the "right to die" becomes the "duty to die".

Oregon, a state in which euthanasia is legal has shown us what is in store for us if we vote Obama's plan into law. The Washington Times reports as follows.

"The situation is even worse in Oregon, which has legalized "assisted suicide." As radio host and author Mark Levin has publicized in his best-seller "Liberty and Tyranny," the Oregon health plan last year refused to pay for a recognized drug to prolong the life of lung cancer patient Barbara Wagner even after her oncologist prescribed it. Yet the same bureaucrats told Ms. Wagner that the plan would indeed cover doctor-assisted suicide if she chose that option.

Saving her life was deemed too expensive, but paying her to die was just fine."

There is a question that does not show up on profit loss statements. What do we become if we start killing off people who are "too expensive"? How do we see ourselves when we reduce the value of a human being to a profit loss statement? There is a very real danger of euthanasia becoming a part of our national ethics without one of those "national dialogues" that is so earnestly pushed by our Dissimulator in Chief, Barack Obama.

The issue of health care choice does not stop at the right to choose a health care plan. Do we want the government or a self appointed "ethicist" "playing God" with our lives? (While we are at it, just what the hell is an ethicist?)

Whenever anyone tells you, to hurry up and don't worry about the fine print, that they will explain it all to you, it is time to be very skeptical.

There is a sleazy trick used in unethical fruit stores of burying rotten fruit in a sealed container underneath fresh and tempting fruit. Obama's health plan reminds me a lot of that. Anything coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should be gone over with an electron microscope. Obama's health plan has some very troubling things to say about "pulling the plug" on the elderly. I think it is time to "pull the plug" on Obama's health plan. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bloody Unrest In Nigeria

A new group has flexed its muscles in northern Nigeria. "Boko Haram", which translates into English as "Western education is sinful", has been compared to the Taliban in its violent methods and its reflexive rejection of anything Western, from clothing to entertainment and education. Members have quit jobs as university instructors and quit college to join Mohammed Yusuf , its well to do leader who commands a multitude of followers to do his bidding.

The sect has been involved in recent violence in which over a hundred and fifty people have been killed. The BBC reports as follows.

Dozens of people have been killed after Islamist militants staged three attacks in northern Nigeria, taking the total killed in two days of violence to 150.

A BBC reporter has counted 100 bodies, mostly of militants, near the police headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State, where hundreds are fleeing their homes.

Witnesses told the BBC a gun battle raged for hours in Potiskum, Yobe State and a police station was set on fire.

Some of the militants follow a preacher who campaigns against Western schools.

Nigeria is split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims. The Muslims are centered in the north of the country, where Shaaria law has been implemented. The country is divided into different regions in which different tribes and languages are dominant. From 1967 to 1970, over a million people died, mostly from blockade induced starvation.

Current tensions between Muslims and Christians should be seen in the context of the tribal tensions that have beset Nigeria since its independence in 1960.

Nigeria is a major oil producing country. Its oil producing region has suffered unrest from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, a group that has resorted to terrorist attacks on oil producing facilities to achieve its ends. As can be noted from one of its press releases, the group has high hopes for the presidency of Barack Obama. One of their press releases reads as follows.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) salutes our brother, Barack Obama for choosing Ghana over failed states such as Nigeria, Angola or Equatorial Guinea for his maiden official visit to sub-Saharan Africa. This is a cheering message for ordinary Africans who will no longer have to tolerate watching the painful images on television of their corrupt leaders being warmly embraced by US Presidents. If it were possible to delete images from our memory, many people will not hesitate to do away with the mismatched images of Reagan/Mobutu or Clinton/Obasanjo. President Obama’s candor has energized our movement and renewed our conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice. Because our fight for justice is happening in the type of country with a fraudulent electoral process, corrupt leadership and brutal military he described to parliament in Accra, we feel vindicated. The problems facing our dear country Nigeria has nothing to do with militant freedom fighters but with the corrupt political leadership and certain arrogant tribes still living on past glory.

There are many fault lines in the Nigerian political landscape. Tribal and linguistic divisions as well as economic disparities make the maintenance of peace in Nigeria a daunting proposition. There is a real danger of Islamic militants from outside Nigeria subsidising and fomenting unrest in Nigeria. Although the US can not and should not assume a police role in that country, it would do well to cultivate good will among the Nigerian people trough development aid and subsidising health and education projects. Maintaining intelligence on flash spots in Nigeria is also useful. It would be very surprising if militants in Nigeria were not getting help from abroad.

Many countries in Africa must deal with tribal divisions. Nigeria, with its 148 million people is the most populous country in Africa and the most populous "Black" country in the world. Under proper circumstances, Nigeria can be a regional superpower and a cornerstone of stability. It is in America's interest that it be peaceful and prosperous.

The eyes of America are on far less weighty matters such as a constitutional crisis in Honduras and the arrest of Henry Louis Gates. Those in the mainstream media should rethink their decision to relegate Nigeria to the back pages of our daily papers. Nigeria is of great economic and strategic importance. We ignore it at our peril. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Professor Gates, Obama and "Teaching Moments"

A lot of new facts are coming to light in the story of Henry Louis Gates Today's revelation was a recording and transcript of the 911 call that led to the now famous arrest of Gates, the professor at Harvard University. In the course of the phone call to 911, the now famous caller made no reference to race in describing what she saw.When pressed by the 911 operator for a description of the two men she saw, she was unsure of race, describing one man as "possibly Hispanic and not being sure of the racial description of the other man. It is with this sketchy information that Sergeant Crowley was dispatched to the scene. The 911 transcript of this part of the exchange reads as follows.

"FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Umm, well there were two larger men, one looked kind of Hispanic but I'm not really sure. And the other one entered and I didn't see what he looked like at all. I just saw it from a distance and this older woman was worried thinking someone's breaking in someone's house, they've been barging in. And she interrupted me and that's when I had noticed otherwise I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So, I was just calling 'cause she was a concerned neighbor, I guess."

Sergeant Crowley arrived at the scene with sketchy information of the description of the suspects. Even if he had been satisfied that Professor Gates was the home owner, there remained the possibility that an intruder was in his house. If this had been the case, ordering Gates outside would have been a way of removing him from harm's way.

It would do Professor Gates a world of good to ride in a police car as an observer and actually do a stint as a behind the scenes observer of day to day police operations. Even though his personal experiences might have explained his hostile reaction to police, he need s to attune himself to present day realities if he is to properly educate his students.

Sergeant James Crowley has the solid support of his fellow officers, many of whom are African American. His fellow officers were quite impassioned in a CNN interview. All of Crowley's fellow officers took vehement exception to President Obama second guessing the way Gates was handled. The Cambridge Police Department seems to be one part of America in which racial divisions have melted away. In a particularly emotional part of the CNN interview, one officer who said she had voted for Obama said she would not do so again.

Obama was right about one thing. He said that the Cambridge incident was a "teaching moment". That it was, but not in the fuzzy, 50/50 feel good way Obama had imagined. Professor Gates was modeling racial prejudice, making a series of negative assumptions about Frank Crowley and the police department.

Prejudice is often based on past experience. But instead of being guided by past experience, the person who refers to their personal library of memories is sometimes blinded by them.

I met a man who was a sailor during World War Two who was transporting German prisoners of was to America. There was a horribly injured German prisoner who roared abuse at anyone who tried to come close to him. My friend knew Yiddish and high school German. He was able to understand most of what the prisoner was saying as he pushed away everyone away who wanted to help.

My friend walked over to the German and in his own language said, "You don't want a dirty American to help you? Fine! That's just fine with me.... Do me a favour. Let a dirty Jew help you."

At that point the man broke down in tears and let himself be tended to.

There is an inner growth that takes place when our professional and civic obligations take us beyond our chosen circle of friends. When we see such a challenge coming our way, we should rise to meet it.

We are not going to harmonise the various different historical narratives that are braided into America's national history. In a calm state, Professor Gates deserves respect for his personal experiences and academic knowledge. But the call for soul searching and introspection should not fall solely on America's white majority. In every moment with friends and strangers, we must ask ourselves if we are being guided by the events of our past or blinded by them.
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 27, 2009

Confessions of a Cockroach Hit Man

A friend of mine was pricing an extermination job for his apartment in a row house. He was pretty glum when someone who advertised "low low prices quoted him a $300.00 price tag for five rooms. Money was tight. He wanted the biggest bang for a buck.

Years ago, I used to do exterminating. I was slow and thorough. I knew how to find where the roaches lived. I knew how to lay out bait for rodents. The only thing that gave me the willies was rat jobs. I've had them as pets, but in the wild they make me very nervous.

I quit exterminating in good part because I did not want continuous exposure to roach spray. The poison acts on the human nervous system in much the same way it does on that of the cockroach, if there is accidental exposure. Over the course of days and weeks, I had my share of cumulative exposure. I felt woozy and klutzy when I was exposed to it too much. The humbling thought that there was a common denominator between human and insectile neurochemistry was both humbling and disquieting.

My favourite roach jobs involved gel. Gel gives off no fumes. Like any other poison, it is laid out near areas of infestation. It is great for row houses. You don't have to worry about cockroaches taking refuge in areas that haven't been sprayed upstairs or next door. The gel attracts the roaches and kills them. I have found that the common gels in the local hardware stores are not terribly effective. A roach can be a grandparent in a few weeks. Generations come and go in a year's time.Roaches adapt, just like microorganisms do.

Professional exterminators are more likely to be up to date with the latest chemicals. Some things they use are highly dangerous. Others are more user friendly. It is advisable to take warnings on roach baits and poisons very seriously, to lay them down only in areas that are safe from children and pets.Additionally, they should be out of contact with food.

Years ago, I had a job in Manhattan in a food warehouse that was severely infested. Even in daylight, there were hundreds of roaches on the walls. It was frustrating applying gel, because there was no satisfaction of hitting a nest and knowing that you had blasted thousands of roaches. I even watched the annoying little creatures sniff and nibble. A week later, there were still roaches but much less. At the end of a month, there was not a roach to be seen.

An exterminator is as obligated to be maintain confidentiality as any doctor. I never told my wife where I had been or who my clients were. I would not even convey greetings. People are understandably secretive about their pest situation.

When my friend got all of the expensive quotes for an exterminator, he was understandably discouraged. Then a thought occurred to us. Why not go on line and buy chemicals? I did a Google search for exterminator supplies. After looking at a few sites I came up with Pest Control Express in Maryland. It was offering a box of four tubes of Advion gel, manufactured by Dupont for $27.50. Shipping and handling . Shipping and handling brought my friend's order to $34.43. He ordered at about 2:00 PM. Confirmation was instantaneous. Two days later, he got a box of four syringes of Advion gel. Each little syringe was 30 grams. There was one applicator and one plunger for all four tubes. I used disposable rubber gloves. My friend, his wife and children all pointed out the areas where roaches had been sighted. We avoided any surfaces that might have contact with food. I gave the same speech I had given in numerous homes and businesses about not competing with the bait by leaving out food.

The thoroughness of the job I did was similar to that of a comprehensive initial treatment. The results were readily visible in the next couple of days. The roaches that did appear were dead or dying. It was clear that Pest Control Express had sold me quality merchandise.

I looked at the active ingredient in Advion gel and came up with a web site that did not knock me out with scientific language. I found an article in that stated as follows.

"Rachel Carson wasn't all that happy with DDT. I bet she really wouldn't like a gel bait insecticide that can kill three generations of cockroaches as they feed off of each other and transfer the poison. Unless she hated cockroaches as much as the rest of us do. It is the first time that scientists have shown that a pest control bait will remain effective when it's transferred twice after the first killing dose, said Grzegorz "Grzesiek" Buczkowski, assistant professor of entomology. Passing the insecticide from one cockroach to the next is called horizontal transfer."

The article describes how three generations of roaches are hit with one dose of Indoxacarb, which is the active ingredient in Advion. It describes what is meant by three generations being hit. First there are the adult roaches who are directly poisoned. This affects the eggs of the dying roaches. Even the baby roaches that are eaten by surviving adult roaches continue to deliver poison. Beyond the third generation, the Indoxacarb has dissipated so it is no longer effective.

Despite the alarming reference to Rachel Carson and DDT, Indoxacarb gets safe ratings from the EPA as a "reduced risk pesticide". This does not mean that you can put it on your hamburgers and mix it into your salad. It is still a poison and should be treated as such. When you become aware of the risks of airborne cockroach excrement and shed skin, it lessens one's reservations about dragging out the heavy artillery.

Gel is a big step up from sprays. Even the scent free sprays trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Most of them are nerve toxins and not to be trifled with. Gels are far better to work with and to live around.

I still dream of poison free pest control. My dream home would have a wind mill and solar panels. Every month, I would get a check from the electric company. My car would be one of those Japanese cars that runs on water. And instead of an exterminator I would have colourful lizards running around zapping roaches with their sticky tongues. Unfortunately, I live in the real world where these dream like innovations are out of my reach. So until then, places like Pest Control Express are the way to go. My friend is happy that his roach problem is under control. He and I split up a six pack of Czech Pilzner to celebrate. His wife is happy. I got a classic beer buzz. everybody wins. Thank you Pest Control Express.

This article is an unpaid and unsolicited expression of my personal opinion. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Naked Girls Pray For Rain

Do you think you have a problem paying for new holiday clothing? Count your blessings. Farmers in Eastern India have a funny way to pray for rain, according to Reuters News. In the farms around Banke Bazaar, in Bihar State, the farmers have asked their unmarried daughters to plough the fields naked in an attempt to embarrass the rain gods into putting out. (rain!)

Reuters News reports as follows about the prayer services in Banke Bazaar.

"Witnesses said the naked girls in Bihar state plowed the fields and chanted ancient hymns after sunset to invoke the gods. They said elderly village women helped the girls drag the plows.

"They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains," Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar's remote Banke Bazaar town."

How many parents have told their kids, "No way are you leaving this house dressed like that!" ?
In Banke Bazaar they have the perfect excuse.

"It's OK pop. I'm going to pray for rain."

On a more serious note, the idea of a Greater Power is not something I have a problem with. But getting naked for one of a multitude of deities is very problematic. It would make a lot more sense to focus on the underlying aspect of divine generosity. Giving charity has traditionally been a way of "testing G-d." Praying for rain and underscoring one's prayers with acts of generosity to the needy is a way of saying to G-d, "I am being generous with my limited means. You who have everything can surely bless us with rain."

Responding with prayer, personal and communal resolutions of devotion and betterment can leave lasting benefits that bring the community together in a crisis and help some of the harder hit people in the afflicted area. Embarrassing the women of the town doesn't seem to serve any rational purpose.

What about the farm workers. When rain does come, do they share enough in the abundance?

After I extracted the expected chuckles from this odd story, I thought of America's economic troubles. How rational are we in our response to economic difficulties? We are transfixed by the Dow Jones numbers and the economic indexes but are do we really act in a way that benefits workers? We ship jobs out of the country and wink at illegal immigration and then we wonder why anxious and hard pressed workers aren't shopping and creating more jobs. What about workers who cripple their employers with demands that a licenced electrician be called in to change a light bulb and who cripple the company with long strikes? Why do they not see the company's welfare as being tied up with their own?

And while we are on the subject of going naked, here in the west we don't even bother praying for rain. It is scientifically proven that the best clothing with which to stay cool is light coloured or white fabric that is loose fitting. Tight synthetics and loads of exposed skin leads to sunburn and is far less efficient at cooling a person down. while we are at it, we could sell more textiles with fashions that make scientific sense.

I can not look at the silliness of sending one's daughters out naked to pray for rain without seeing it as a carnival mirror reflection of our own folly. In getting away in our modern rationalism from the idea of a Prime Cause, are we not in the functional sense similar to those with many gods?

Indians who plough naked in Banke Bazaar could trade their odd form of audacity for a challenge not to the gods but to themselves. Until the rains come to the parched soil of Bihar, there are ways with G-d's help for the community to work together and suffer less. An atheist would see the wisdom of such an approach on a rational level. An agnostic could concede that much is unseen in a world over which we have limited control. Most believers in G-d would be happy to work together with people of good will and different persuasions to relieve the drought in Bihar and any other trouble spot.

The young women of Bihar have certainly called attention to the difficulties faced by their community. If there is a charity that is assisting them in their times of difficulty, I would like to know about it. If anyone could tell me of a relief fund for Bihar drought victims, I will pass the information on to my readers. My e-mail address is [email protected] The people of Banke Bazaar definately have gotten my attention. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, July 24, 2009

Barack Obama: Wrong on Harvard, and Honduras

Does anyone remember back in 1971 during the Charles Manson trial? Charles Manson was on trial for the murder of Sharon Tate and seven other people. It was a case that captivated the nation. Richard Nixon, who was President at that time declared to reporters that Charles Manson was"guilty, directly or indirectly of eight murders." The country was in an uproar. For a sitting President to comment in front of a live microphone on a a case being tried was roundly condemned not only by pundits but by anyone with any legal expertise at all.

Charles Manson's defense team immediately demanded a mistrial and that the charges be dismissed. Manson himself sat in court holding up a newspaper with the headline "Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares." The judge quizzed the jury and then put one of the attorneys in jail for three days for leaving the newspaper within Manson's reach.

Fast forward to 2009. A police officer might be facing charges for arresting a politically connected professor who was spewing abuse at him. It turns out that the police officer who arrested the Harvard professor was respected by both African American and white fellow officers. The New York Post reports as follows on his past record.

Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class on racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, said Academy Director Thomas Fleming.

"The course, called "Racial Profiling," teaches about different cultures that officers could encounter in their community "and how you don't want to single people out because of their ethnic background or the culture they come from," Fleming said.

Meanwhile, Crowley disclosed in an interview with the Boston Herald that he gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to NBA star Reggie Lewis.

"I wasn't working on Reggie Lewis the basketball star. I wasn't working on a black man. I was working on another human being," Sgt. James Crowley, told the Boston Herald."

While it is true that the officer was in Professor Gates home, ascertaining the full facts was made very difficult due to the lack of cooperation from Professor Gates. Although the Boston Globe has scrubbed its original article, the police report is available here.

It seems that the arrest was indeed warranted. Unfortunately, Harvard University political clout as well as political expediency and a get out of Jail free race card voided an arrest that was amply justified. At least Officer Crowley's superiors are standing behind him.

Professor Gates has indeed educated the public. He has shown the nation the low esteem in which our President holds law enforcement. The President of the United States has a lot of influence and an ability to command the attention of a nation and indeed the world. This carries with it major responsibility. As a lawyer, Barack Obama should be familiar with this.

Obama fell into the same trap as Nixon did, of running his mouth about a matter that is working its way through the courts.

The shrinking esteem in which Obama is held will probably limit the damage his ill considered remarks have had. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has a place on the world stage as well. Manuel Zelaya, who was constitutionally removed from office under Honduran law enjoyed the benefits of Obama's ill advised support as he shamelessly clung to the doorknob of the Presidential palace. Had he spoken in favour of a rightist, the press would have condemned Obama as a Yankee imperialist. It seems that both Obama and Yankee imperialism are now in fashion among the Euro trash and the ditzerati.

We are likely to hear a lot more from Obama and his teleprompter during his period of on the job training. Hopefully nothing terrible will happen. The prospect of elder statesman Joe Biden offering his wisdom is not a heartening one.

The auto industry that President Obama is trying so desperately to save offers an irresistible frame of metaphor for advice Mr. Obama would do well to heed.

Don't shift your mouth into drive when your brain is in park. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Concerning Phony Obama Sex Scandals

I should know better. In spite of myself, I checked out the headline in this week's trash tabloid, the Globe. I couldn't resist the headline," New Obama Gay Outrage. " I spent $3.59 to find out that he has a personal assistant. Since he has a pulse, a Y chromosome and duties that have him in prolonged contact with President Obama, the Globe and the more credulous corners of the blogosphere are running with it.

Apparently, since Larry Sinclair started his campaign to publicise his allegations of gay sex with Obama, other people are trying to make some of the mud stick. The results of Larry Sinclair's polygraph test have been questionable to say the least. He cites circumstantial evidence on his web site. Even if every word were true, I can not think of any aspect of his allegations that should concern the public. The only time a sex scandal should be made public is if it involves criminality. When Jim McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey was brought down in a gay sex scandal, it was only because he hired a personal friend who was unqualified and lacked security clearance for a sensitive position. The issue of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton never should have been raised. He never should have been questioned about it, under oath or in any other manner. There were other allegations of criminality that were within the domain of public interest.

Unless it involves criminal acts, I am not interested in hearing about President Obama's personal life. It is a matter between him, G-d and his family. There are many issues where Obama should be fought. They are as follows.

1) Obama's breathtaking naivete in the administration of foreign policy. He has been cozying up to a leftist President in Honduras, Manuel Zelaya and mostly silent about Iran's stolen election. America's enemies are lining up to kick sand in his face. He is waiting for a troubled world to nod off to sleep in response to the soothing words beaming off of his teleprompter.

2) Rather than nurse America's ailing economy, he is increasing the government's role in it and cranking up our national deficit. The government's role should be that of a facilitator, of collecting reasonable taxes and minimising regulations. The chaotic course of Obama's attempts to stimulate the economy are making prospective employers reluctant to create new jobs.

3) The one area where Obama has been criminally deceitful is in the promotion of his health plan. Some basic questions about Obama's health plan such as "Can I keep my current family doctor?" and" Can I keep my private insurance?" are not getting honest answers from Obama or his administration. Obama can lie all he wants about his sex life and I won't give a damn, because it's none of my business. But if he expects to pass costly legislation by lying about its hidden costs, then THAT is a crime.

4) The Democrats set the standard for examining Supreme Court nominees when they trashed Robert Bork in 1987. Obama is going to do the best he can to saddle America with judicial activists. It's time to play hardball with those who would pack the Supreme Court. There are plenty of moderate and conservative Democrats who do not want judicial activism on the Supreme Court. It is time to put up a fight when President Obama fields flaming liberals for lifetime slots on the Supreme Court. A compromise candidate who really satisfies all sides might move the country in an interesting direction. It is time to give the liberal proponents of judicial activism a lesson in "Borking" in which their ox is being gored.

5) Let's stop playing games about bipartisanship. We are all American, but we have widely divergent visions of what is right for America. Let's fight for what we believe in and try to win our opponents to our position without apology.

America's political spectrum has Democrats who deserve respect for fighting for their vision for America's future as disastrous as it might be. There are millions of Americans who want the Republican Party to step up to the plate and stand on principle. It is encouraging that the political mainstream has focused on issues of principle and not gotten sidetracked with sensational and probably false rumours. When the Republicans started trying to find out about Monica Lewinsky during the Clinton years, it made them look like idiots. Start today by saving yourself $3.59 on this week's stupid issue of the Globe. It would be wise to learn from the mistakes of the GOP during the Clinton years and to stop trying to peek through Obama's keyhole.

There is a list of battlefields where the Republicans should show up. Whatever may be happening on talk radio, the GOP has not yet begun to fight. That is a pity. It is up to us to push our representatives into the ring and to tell them to fight the good fight with their gloves off.

Don't get me wrong. There is useful information to be found in the tabloids. "How to Tell if Your Coworker is a Space Alien." "Cocker Spaniel Teaches Trigonometry in Madagascar Reform School." "Talking Cheese Omlet Sings Elvis Hits." If you want to suspend disbelief and enter an alternative universe, it can be great fun. And you won't get a hangover. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Conservative Kiosk Booted from Mall

A shopping mall in Concord, North Carolina has evicted a tenant that was doing a brisk trade in conservative bumper stickers and gag items. "Impeach Obama." Al Qaeda's favourite days, 9/11/01 and 11/08/08". It could be argued that this is some pretty strident stuff reports as follows about the politically motivated eviction.

"The bumper stickers and posters sold at "Free Market Warrior" at Concord Mills are meant to be "biting," the kiosk's owner Loren Spivack said.

At least one passerby found them racist and bigoted, and took time to tell the mall in a letter and a letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observer.

Whatever your opinion, the fact is this: At the end of July, Free Market Warrior will not be allowed at Concord Mills Mall. The kiosk chain's owner shared e-mail correspondence with NewsChannel 36 that explains that the mall management has decided that the items sold are not "neutral" enough. The lease will be allowed to expire July 31, 2009 without an option to renew."

It seems that some shoppers at the mall were so offended at the contents of "Free Market Warrior." that they threatened a boycott of the entire mall. Loren Spivack has guidelines for what is acceptable for his merchandise. He will not carry material that personally attacks political figures. He restricts the biting satire that is his stock and trade to attacks on political philosophy.

It seems odd that the first time a mall owner has enforced standards in his rental space that I can recall has been to silence conservative opinions. Spivack commented with some irony to WCNC on his upcoming eviction.

"Nobody in that mall is selling anything from a conservative perspective. Plenty of people are selling things with a liberal perspective, with a pro-Obama perspective," he said. "Given that we are in America and not North Korea, we probably should have some stuff on the other side."

The Charlotte Observer had published letters from outraged shoppers accusing Free Market Warrior of sexism, racism and even slavery. I visited the web site of
to see what the fuss is about. Is being pro life sexist? How about Hillary Clinton toilet paper? I guess I need to report for" consciousness raising".

Is it racist to oppose Obama and to make fun of him? I guess most of my family has to report for "reeducation".

I am trying to imagine the worst. I was traveling through the Carolinas and was taken aback by the sale of Confederate memorabilia. My mother in law, who is proudly southern and well to the left of me explained that Yankee mills and railroads took a big cut from the South's share of plantation profits. She explained that there was regional pride that had nothing to do with love for slavery. Although time hardened my Northern regional perspective, her observations and those of my first avowed conservative Social Studies teacher enabled me to see beyond my own world view. A New Yorker who really knows his history would have to blush in shame at the Draft Riots of 1863, in which the nadir of attacks on African Americans in that year was the burning of an orphanage for African Americans.

It is odd that the owner of the Concord Mills Mall invoked the same rights invoked by Lester Maddox in defending his right to run a segregated restaraunt. Both Lester Maddox and Mel Simon, the owner of the Concord Mills Mall are on the same page as far as assigning sweeping rights to owners of business rental property.

Two constitutional rights seem to be in direct conflict in the Concord Mills Mall. The rights of a landlord and the rights of free speech seem to be in a figurative shoving match, trying to butt each other off the curb.

How do you sort a legal fight like that out? According to the WCNC article, Loren Spivack showed the television crew bumper stickers and t shirts that were too raunchy to show on the air, indicating that Mel Simon has an oddly selective sense of propriety.

If Loren Spivack were running for president against Mel Simon, who would I vote for? Mel Simon has promised to help any liberal who wants to open a kiosk in the mall to move in. He truly wants a marketplace of ideas splashed across coffee cups and bumpers.

Mel Simon on the other hand has evicted a man whose convictions differ from his. He has attached pejorative labels to ideas as a substitute for debating them. So If I had to vote for either guy......

Where can I get a Loren Spivack for President bumper sticker? Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Police Drop Charges in Harvard Racial Flap

Cambridge Massachusetts police have dropped charges against Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr. Gates recently made news upon returning from a trip to China when he found himself locked out of his home. While attempting to jimmy his way into his front door, a concerned neighbour called police. When police arrived at the scene, they asked for ID, approaching Gates and his friend, Charles Ogletree.

Both suspects turned out to be university professors rather than burglars. Gates, who was fatigued from travel and suffering from a resperatory infection was irate. In his worn out state, being spoken to not with the deference accorded to a college professor but in the manner of a criminal suspect was quite jarring. According to FOX News, his irate reaction probably delayed resolution of the police call. Fox News reports as follows.

The woman who called reported seeing "two black males with backpacks on the porch" of the well-maintained two-story home near the Harvard campus and said one of the men was "wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry," according to Cambridge police.

The other man was a driver helping Gates, said Ogletree.

Officers responding to the robbery call on Thursday arrived after Gates was already back inside.

They say he became irate, yelled and refused to come outside to speak with an officer, who told him he was investigating a call about a home invasion.

"Why, because I'm a black man in America?" Gates said, according to a police report written by Sgt. James Crowley.

Gates — the director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and one of Time magazine's 1997 most influential Americans — initially refused to show the officer his identification, police said. He ultimately turned over a Harvard University ID card.

"Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him," the officer wrote.

Gates said in a statement that he turned over his driver's license and Harvard ID — both with his photos — and repeatedly asked for the name and badge number of the officer, who refused.

He then followed the officer as he left his house onto his front porch, where he was handcuffed in front of other officers, he said. His account of the incident was released Monday by Ogletree on, a Web site Gates runs."

I have very mixed emotions in reading the account of Gate's encounter with police. There is no doubt that there is racism and racial resentment in America that cuts both ways. In many encounters between African Americans and whites, there is distrust on both sides. It is also true that on a per capita basis, African Americans are far more likely than whites to be victims of violent crime. The police who came to Gate's home were protecting his home. It would be interesting to see how quickly they responded to the call of a break in in progress. Had Gates quietly produced ID and engaged the police in conversation, it would have been a far greater challenge to any racism the police might have felt. He could have even thanked them for protecting his home, which is what they were doing.

It can be unnerving being stopped by police or being treated in a manner that could be considered beneath one's station. It is impossible to say with 100% certainty that a reaction by police was racially motivated. There are usually shades of grey. Most people are trying to be fair in dealing with people outside their ethnic group.

It sounds like things could have gone much more quietly if Gates had been less adversarial Fox News reports as follows of some of Gate's words to the police.

"Police wrote in their report that when the sergeant on the scene tried to calm Gates, he shouted "You don't know who your [sic] messing with!", and when it was suggested they talk about the matter outside, he retorted, "Ya, I'll speak with your mama outside."

Cambridge officers said that the altercation drew several "surprised and alarmed" onlookers to the house to see what was going on."

I hope that police will not be reluctant to respond to calls for fear of sparking a racial incident. The police of Cambridge are out to guard lives and property, including that of Professor Gates.

Sensitivity is a two way street. If the Cambridge police are required to undergo any "sensitivity training", it would be far more productive if the civilians they protect were to attend it as well Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Dead Sea Scrolls: Palestinian Artifacts?!

Arabs and their leftist sympathisers are protesting in Toronto, Canada at an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports as follows about protests at the exhibit.

"Toronto's Jews have responded with their wallets to accusations that an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls is illegal.

More than 500 tickets were sold last weekend to the exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum following an e-mail blast from UJA Federation of Greater Toronto to community members warning that pro-Palestinian groups want the exhibit closed.

Toronto's Palestine House and the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid say the "Words that Changed the World" presentation is illegal because Israel looted the "Palestinian artifacts" during the 1967 Six-Day War.

In a statement, Palestine House said it "boycotts the exhibition unless the ROM admits the factual history that these scrolls are Palestinian property."

On July 10, about 30 members from the groups held a protest outside the Israeli Consulate in Toronto with placards stating "Stolen Scrolls." A small counter-demonstration by members of the newly reconstituted Jewish Defense League took place outside the museum.

The pickets by the pro-Palestinian groups will continue and the campaign will "escalate," said spokesman Rafeef Ziadah.

Sally Szuster of UJA Federation said the e-mail blast encouraging Jews to buy tickets to the scrolls display was modeled after a successful campaign last spring in which anti-Israel groups called for a boycott of Israeli wines during Passover. Instead, virtually all Israeli wines sold out after community members were notified by mass e-mails.

This time, "we want as many people to see the exhibit as possible to understand why the [scrolls] are so important to the Jewish people," she said.

Szuster said she's heard that the anti-scrolls demonstrations will take place every Friday."

If there is a prize for sheer audacity, it should go to those who refer to the Dead Sea Scrolls as "Palestinian artifacts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were left hidden by a reclusive communal sect that is referred to as the Essenes. The group existed about 2000 years ago, around the time preceding the destruction of the Temple. They were also around at the time that Jesus was alive. The scrolls are divided between Jewish religious works and rules for members of the religious commune. Since 1947, when they were discovered, archaeologists have worked non stop on reconstructing and translating them. Despite being Jewish in origin, access to the Dead Sea Scrolls was restricted to Christian scholars.

Two events were critical to an increase in Dead Sea Scroll scholarship. One was the 1967 six day war. The other was in 1991, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were offered in microfilm on an open basis to all interested scholars.

Dead Sea Scroll scholarship has thrived since the scrolls were returned to Jewish hands . There is no doubt that they are a Jewish national treasure of direct interest to the study of the Jewish faith . Christian scholars look eagerly to their translation in hopes of shedding light on the birth of Christianity.

Palestinian protests about the Dead Sea scrolls being Arab property are brazen falsehood. The scrolls are clearly of Jewish origin. Although they were discovered by Bedouin Arabs, they are clearly Jewish National Treasures. Greece, Egypt and other countries with ancient civilisations enact laws to preserve their national treasures. Israel is exercising the same right as every other nation that wishes to preserve its heritage.

The Western Wall was in Jordanian possession from 1948 to 1967. When it was finally liberated in 1967, the Israelis found that the Western Wall as well as cemeteries in the Holy City had been desecrated by the Jordanians.

Since 1967, the Wakf, the Muslim religious authority in charge of the Temple Mount upon which is built the al Akhsa mosque have conducted massive additions to the mosque, using powerful earth moving and tunneling equipment that has destroyed archaeological treasures on the Temple Mount. They have even claimed that there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount.

Given the record of neglect and willful desecration that has occurred whenever Jewish archaeological treasures fall under Arab control, it would be a disservice not only to the Jewish people but to the world to declare the Dead Sea Scrolls to be Arab property. Even since 1948, you can look at what happened to Joseph's tomb in 2000, when the site was destroyed by a crazed mob, despite the assurances of the Palestine Authority.

A family friend went with his children's yeshiva to a traveling Dead Sea Scroll exhibit. The children had been studying in text book form some of the scrolls on display. During the school trip, they were reading from the scrolls on display and translating passages. In a real sense, their studies came alive in the museum that day. The connectedness of Jewish visitors to the scrolls on display was vivid evidence of their Jewish provenance.

Israel has protected its national treasures with loving care at every opportunity, indeed, it has done a better job of protecting sites considered holy by Christians and Muslims than any prior government ever has. Its record of allowing free access to members of all faiths to sites they consider holy is a service to the world that gets all too little recognition.

Those governments who have desecrated Jewish holy sites and objects before will do it again. given their past record,they should not be given another chance. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obama's Bad News : America Unites!

If I pulled a top of the line Mercedes into our driveway with a pink ribbon on top, my wife would have one question. HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY FOR THIS ?!

The American people are looking at Obama's shopping list for the country. We have just gotten the bill for Obama's stimulus package. The US deficit has sailed past a trillion dollars, and that is just for warm up exercises. Anyone who ever drank back in high school knows the old advice you got from the hard core drinkers. "Drink a beer first thing in the morning and you'll get rid of your hangover." The potheads used to say, "The more you smoke up, the less it will take to get you high."

Listening to Joe Biden talk about spending money to save the economy is a lot like listening to my high school drinking buddies help me to get rid of a pounding headache on a Sunday morning. As many days of postponement pass, eventually, you end up biting the bullet and facing a hangover that was much worse than it would have been if you cut your losses after one night.

The second lesson from high school is to be very skeptical of freebies. Whether it's free weed or a guy buying dinner for a girl he'd like to "know" better, there are usually hidden costs. Most of the time, the smart kids will pass on the free weed and check out just who is paying for dinner.

A lot of Americans who voted for Obama are starting to ask, "What was I THINKING?" We have a naive foregn policy that sounds like it was cooked up in a college dorm with strange smelling blue smoke in the air. And our economic policy is best epitomised by the bumper sticker that says, "I can't be overdrawn, I still have checks ."

Beth Fouhy of Associated Press reports as follows about the second thoughts of some Democrats.

"Conservative House Democrats are balking at the cost and direction of Obama's top priority, an overhaul of the nation's health care system. A key Senate Democrat, Max Baucus of Montana, complains that Obama's opposition to paying for it with a tax on health benefits "is not helping us."

Another Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, tells his local newspaper that Obama is too liberal and is "very unpopular" in his district."

Although the article reports approval ratings that are still high, it notes that Obama's approval rating has dropped very fast.

"Obama continues to be comparatively popular.But now recent national surveys have shown a measurable drop in his job approval rating, even among Democrats. A CBS news survey out this week had his national approval rating at 57 percent, and his standing among Democrats down 10 percentage points since last month, from 92 percent to 82 percent."

Obama did a masterful job of wooing the electorate. Indeed, he and his teleprompter cut a dashing profile as they spin across the stage at the country fair. But a handsome man with disastrous economic policies loses his allure as quickly as the school "hunk" loses his allure when it becomes plain that he won't stick with college or a steady job. people are starting to separate their feelings about Obama the man from their feelings about his economic policies. Ther is an old saying. "When money doesn't come through the door, love goes out the window." The murmurs of discontent from Obama strongholds sound a lot like that adage ringing true.

Obama is now falling victim to the absurdly high expectations he set for the electorate. The notion that "help is on the way" has given way to grumbling as people wait for stimulus and its anticipated results. Beth Fouhy continues as follows.

"In Missouri, which Obama narrowly lost to McCain, Democratic strategist Steve Glorioso said hardcore base voters were as enthusiastic as ever for Obama but that there was a sense of disappointment about him among less committed Democrats and independents.

"People are scared," Glorioso said. "This is the worst economic time anyone under the age of 80 has ever experienced, and you can't discount people being afraid. Now that we are in July, the fear is turning to disappointment that the president hasn't fixed everything yet. I don't know why they thought he could change everything by now, but some did."

One of the surest signs of a scam is when someone tells you they have a great opportunity that you have to jump at or it will be gone. Invariably your dreams of riches evaporate with the annoyed realisation that you have been snookered. The Democrats did it with the huge bailout that preceded Obama's election. And the latest health plan is looking like more of the same. The House and the Senate health insurance bills weigh about as much as a Manhattan phone book that looks like nothing so much as an adjustable rate mortgage on the nation's future. Rather than help the ailing and aspiring businesses that have historically employed and insured America's workers, Obama proposes to hit them with new punitive and coercive taxes that make the creation of new jobs highly unlikely.

People are indeed looking to government for solutions, but now that Obama fever is wearing off, some realism is taking root. It is crystal clear that government has a lot of power to reward those who generate wealth and to punish them. However people may joke about a boss being like a diaper, ( always on your *** and full of ***) they realise that if the boss goes out of business, paying for diapers gets a whole lot harder. Sensible people let class envy last about as long as a beer buzz. Then they get back down to work.

Then there is the question of immigration, both legal and illegal. Most people understand that labour is a commodity, just like wheat and copper. Everyone understands that if you flood the market with wheat, the price will drop below the cost of production. The government even pays farmers not to grow too much wheat, corn ar other products so the price won't fall too low. I drive to work past about fifteen congregating places for illegal immigrants who are hired by the day to do work that Americans and legal immigrants did for decades. There is no way you can tell me that they are not depressing the wages of those who are here legally. I am not talking about the personal decency of illegal immigrants. I have worked along side of men and women who were taken from the shop floor beside me in an immigration raid. I am talking about the economic impact of flooding the labour market with illegal immigrants. And the level of sympathy from Republicans on this issue is as bad as that from Democrats. Everyone wants cheap workers, cheap brickwork or new Democratic voters. And no one wants to pay the bills for this folly.

New York City has officially declared themselves to be a city that does not enforce immigration laws. This policy is called by the lofty name of "sanctuary policy". and it comes at a high price that you need a PhD in economics not to see.

Then there is the outsourcing of jobs. From tech and customer support to computer programming, jobs are being outsourced. People who played by the rules and went to college are finding their jobs being done in India and Mexico at a fraction of the cost. And if you want to march in the streets for American jobs, it will be real cheap to wave your stars and stripes that were stitched together in China.

When you are running a first class hotel, sometimes it is the mint on the pillow rather than the cleanliness or promt service that sticks in your memory. In this spirit, the Obama administration proposes to leave a Nicorette on the pillow of America's servicemen and ban smoking in the military. A friend of the family on leave told us of the disgust on base with the idea of treating American soldiers like children and banning tobacco. The disgust cuts across racial lines. the contempt voiced for the policies of the Obama administration cuts across racial lines and accentuates the feelings of abandonment felt in the military.

In a parliamentary democracy, Obama would be headed for early elections. Obama is protected from the consequences of his ideological bankruptcy by our iron clad guarantee of four years in office. The one counterbalance to his executive powers is the spectre of midterm elections. It is highly likely that America's morning after regrets will translate into some changes in the Senate and the House when those elections occur. Hopefully, we will be blessed by then with an opposition bloc that will stand up for principles and for sound economics.

America finally seems to be waking up to the folly of "a beer in the morning kills a hangover" economics. The Congress with which Obama must govern America reminds me of a man who walked into a wild west saloon and joined a poker game in Congress. When told that the game was rigged and the deck was marked, he replied, "I know that. But it's the only game in town."

In that spirit, Americans must keep in mind that we are stuck with our President and our Congress. But we can still stand by the dealer and watch like hawks to make sure that no cards disappear from the table or drop from sleeves. Because that money in the pot is ours. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Commander in Chic Obama, Honduras and Iran

In Honduras, a president of the country was accused of violating the constitution and the criminal code of the country. In a session of the Honduran legislature, he was stripped of his post. The Honduran military carried out the decision of the legislature, installing the vice president in the vacant position of his predecessor.

Five weeks after an election in Iran that was riddled with flagrant irregularities, Iranians of all classes are risking their lives to protest a brutal regime that attacks opponents on the street and in their homes.

With whom does our Commander in Chic, Barack Hussein Obama express solidarity? Not with the brave people of Iran, but with the legitimately impeached and removed former president of Honduras. Manuel Zelaya is supported by some in Honduras and opposed by others, but the legislature of that country has acted. Obama has no reservations about mixing into the internal affairs of Honduras.

On June 4, Barack Obama gave his famous Cairo speech. Three days later, the Lebanese people elected a pro Western government. Obama was happy to welcome the news. To his way of thinking, the fortuitous sequence of his fuzzy speech and the victory of pro western forces made him look great.

There was no way for Obama to claim credit for the events in Iran. His hope that Ahmadinejad's heart would melt in the warmth of his Cairo verbiage did not measure up the the chilling jolt of reality that came from Iran on June 12. Declaring a landslide victory in an election with 40 million paper ballots coming from far flung regions is hard to do with a straight face, but that is exactly what happened. And the bloody crackdown continues. There is nothing that Obama would want to claim credit for.

Although demonstrators clearly are appealing to the western world for moral support by carrying signs in English, not one sign says "Obama Save Us !!' How insulting!! Ahmadinejad was talking like a revolutionary, offering Hope and Change! Why doesn't he like Obama? How odd. Maybe the Cairo speech wasn't correctly translated into Persian. And how do those pushy demonstrators fit into Obama's tightly scripted, teleprompted photo ops and sound bites? It's all so confusing. All those picket signs in English, and not one has Obama's name on it. Well if they won't call His Name, then he's not going to answer. Fair is fair.

The cold war era in which America installed compliant dictators is viewed with righteous contempt in the precincts of the American left. The times they are a changin' ! But our Commander in Chic is still doing the same thing as the cold warriors of the 50's and 60's. He's just switched sides. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, July 17, 2009

Entertainment in the Orthodox Jewish Community

In dealing with problems in the Jewish community, I like to "keep it real." When I am in Boro Park and I see advertising magazines with TV programs in them, I know that the secular media has made reached saturation levels. The internet has also made heavy inroads, bringing a lot of problems along with the benefits. I was in a Block Buster video rental place and you could have gotten a minyan together right then and there.

We have cable TV, internet and DVD players in our homes. These are inventions that can be used for good and can also be used to wreak a lot of havoc. I have some suggestions for making the best of the challenges that technology has given us.

1) There are a lot of internet filters out there. The technology exists to keep a log of what sites are visited. If someone wanted to, they could voluntarily have history mailed from their url to their learning partner, their rabbi or their mother in law. Someone could make a nice living providing what is in effect a chaperone service for the internet.

2) There are a lot of religious videos out there. The quality ranges from excellent to awful. But one common denominator is that they are all expensive. A family that is already paying for tuition for a large family can not afford to keep up with all the latest Jewish videos. There should be a chain of Jewish video rental stores. There should also be secular non Jewish videos that are deemed fitting for a Jewish home offered for rent. "Life is Beautiful" and "Lion King" might be appropriate to some but not others. Maybe we could get a video rental place off the ground by offering different "Hashgochos" on videos. It should certainly be possible to rent history videos . There would certainly be people who would rail against such a place. How sad it would be if those seeking kosher entertainment were driven to other venues.

3) There are places that rent videos on line. There could be a kosher version of Netflix or other online rental places that would offer the same fare as a kosher video rental store. Anyone who cares enough to patronise such an establishment deserves credit for keeping their home clean.

In the middle of the Three Weeks, it is a good idea to focus on avoiding community arguments. There are those who would never go to a video rental place, kosher or otherwise. Our community has a lot of levels of observance. We should in any case respect each other with our religious differences. Some are more involved in the affairs of the world. Others are more aloof. There is a place for all of us. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obama Care : Like Watching a Train Wreck

I am reading about Obama's newest plans for health care. The man won't quit. He keeps on writing checks when he knows the funds are not there. According to today's New York Post, Obama's proposal could drive the Empire State's highest tax bracket to 60%. The plan will create a government run health insurance plan to compete with existing private insurance. The New York Post describes Obamacare as follows.

"Each bill would create a new government health plan to compete against private insurers. In the House version, this "competition" would take place via a "national health insurance exchange," a new entity run by a "Health Choices Commissioner." In the Senate, a "public plan" would compete against private health plans through federally supervised state entities called "gateways."

Either way, taxpayers would assume the risks. The private plans would be heavily regulated by the government, but otherwise "on their own" -- in a highly qualified matter of speaking.

In the House bill, the government plan would pay doctors and hospitals on the basis of Medicare rates -- rates that are so low that more and more doctors have stopped taking new Medicare patients.

(The)bill would collect an estimated $818 billion in new taxes over 10 years.

There are many problems with this proposal. The most important is that it is burdening an already faltering economy with new taxes. Make no mistake about it. Businesses can pick up and cross state lines. And when people really get fed up, they can outsource overseas. For many people, health care is a real issue.Millions of Americans are uninsured. The price of health insurance has skyrocketed for various reasons such as the rising cost of malpractice suits.

Creating a new national health insurance bureaucracy will cost billions of dollars. There are already private insurance companies competing for business. Obama's plan throws the health insurance picture into chaos. It creates a huge body of new regulations. The unlimited source of tax dollars to fund folly is an assurance that costly mistakes will be made.

Most states have mandatory car insurance. But there is no government run insurance company for motor vehicles. The states regulate insurance but leave the administration up to the private companies. This principle should govern health insurance.

Companies that take good care of their employees deserve to be rewarded. A job that offers health insurance is a good job. It is good for the employee, and it is good for the government, because they don't end up with low paid workers being dumped in their lap.Companies that hire American workers and pay them well should get lots of tax breaks. Companies that outsource jobs and pay workers poorly should get less breaks.

There is one thing the government could intervene in. They could put a sensible cap on malpractice awards. If someone is crippled for life in an accident and gets a maximum payout that falls short of their needs, there could be a national safety net that would pay for their nursing home care or their round the clock nursing. Since these cases are a tiny minority of situations, the insurance companies could be relieved of some of the worst cases and focus on the more average needs of the majority of workers. There could even be a small disaster surcharge on insurance premiums that would be spread very thinly. This would remove objections to caps on malpractice settlements and make it easier to budget affordable insurance.

The other issue is health insurance portability. There should be insurance on health insurance so those who are laid off won't be put on the government's doorstep. People should be able to change from one company's plan to another without getting hung up about preexisting conditions. This is a matter for the government to iron out so private health insurance can deliver care economically.

Switzerland and Germany have state mandated health insurance that is privately administered. We should study how such plans work. Private insurers have done most of the spadework in creating health insurance. It is the height of wasteful folly to duplicate their efforts. The underlying philosophy of any health insurance should be that citizens and private business should be the first line of defense in the matter of health insurance and every other need that might concern a worker. The best social welfare program is a job. Even a bad, underpaid job is better than welfare. Those who create jobs should be rewarded and encouraged and not punished.

The only place the government should have to step up to the plate is at the scene of a disaster. If they step in before then, it will likely be a disaster by the time they finish. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Banning Smoking in the Military ?!

A proposal is being considered that would ban smoking by anyone serving in the US military. It would also ban the sale of cigarettes on military bases. CNN reports as follows.

"A new study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs recommends a complete ban on tobacco, which would end tobacco sales on military bases and prohibit smoking by anyone in uniform, not even combat troops in the thick of battle.

According to the study, tobacco use impairs military readiness in the short term. Over the long term, it can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study also says smokeless tobacco use can lead to oral and pancreatic cancer.

The Defense Department's top health officials are studying the report's suggestions and will make recommendations to the Pentagon's policy team and Defense Secretary Robert Gates."

Predictably, the ban is not sitting well with US troops.Many who were interviewed cited the high stress levels in the US military. Even those stationed in non combat situations know that they are the most likely to be sent in harm's way. Then there is the stress of those sent on assignments that separate them from loved ones. The studies cited in the study commissioned by the Pentagon do not break any new ground. They point to all the risks of smoking with which most people are familiar. I am sure that an impressive list of academics are lending their prestige to this latest nanny state proposal to ban smoking in the military. This only proves the old saying, "To err is human. To really louse things up, you need a PhD."

I can see banning smoking by minors. I can grudgingly concede the appropriateness of banning smoking in hospitals. But to tell a person who is willing to take a bullet in defense of my freedom that he can not light up a cigarette or cigar is an obscene insult. If I were to satirise the overreaching arrogance of the nanny state mentality, I could not come up with a more outrageous example than the proposed smoking ban in the military.

I am convinced that smoking is as bad as the experts say it is. But it should be my choice to take the step of kicking the habit. In New York City, we have a transfat ban in restaurants. Which new health fad is going to get a law passed to enforce it?

There are laws in some states and countries defending the "right to die". Oregon permits assisted suicide. Other states are thinking of following suit. Their attitude is, My body, my business." There is an intellectual fad of supporting the "right to die". There is another intellectual fad of prohibiting the slow motion suicide of cigarette smoking. Why does no one step back and consider the absurd contradiction of adjusting political wisdom to prevailing fashion?

Orianna Fallaci, the late, great Italian journalist who took up arms against fascism in Italy as a teenager had the following to say about smoking, and her exposure to the smoke of burning oil wells in the aftermath of the first Gulf War.

"I was very unwell in the days that followed, and while I was feeling so unwell I had to interview a high official of the Petroleum Ministry to whom I told the whole story. 'Do you smoke?' he asked me. 'I certainly do,' I answered. 'Well, inside the Black Cloud you breathed the equivalent of ten million cigarettes. From now on you can smoke whatever you want.' A year and a half later, exactly when the 450 marines who had breathed the Black Cloud were being held in various American hospitals, especially the one in Bethesda, I got cancer too. I have to admit that before the operation I made a vow: I promised myself that I would never smoke again. But when I awoke from the anesthetic two of the surgeons who'd operated on me were at the foot of the bed, smoking. 'What!!' I said, dumbfounded. "Ms. Fallaci,' they answered, 'cancer is genetic. Cigarettes have nothing to do with it.' In that case, give me one right now,' I said. I started smoking again right there in bed in the clinic. And I haven't stopped since that day."

I think Ms. Fallaci's views were odd. I would not subscribe to them myself. But she braved gunfire as an Italian Partisan. And she took bullets as a journalist in Mexico City that almost ended her life. I would never want to be the one to tell her she could not smoke.

To treat American soldiers like children is an obscenity. Like any American citizen, they should be offered assistance in quitting smoking or any other habit that might be bad for their health. We tried prohibition with alcohol from 1919 to 1933. It was a miserable failure that enriched organised crime and made law breakers out of decent people. We seem hell bent on making the same mistakes with other substances.

If there is one thing that raises my blood pressure and causes me agitation, it is the health fascists who want to force their clean living on me. I think that they should be banned from public buildings and forced to congregate on sidewalks. Like Typhoid Mary, they enjoy robust good health while they annoy the hell out of everyone else. And now they want to boss around soldiers? Put them on the front lines with some granola and some Chamomile tea to calm them down if they get shot at. But leave our soldiers alone. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Michael Jackson's Lost Son?

Debby Rowe, the land lady of Michael Jackson's rented womb has bowed out of the picture for 4 million dollars. If you think that this ends the dispute over Michael Jackson's millions, you are sadly mistaken. The National Enquirer reports of a one night stand in Norway between Michael Jackson and a smitten fan that resulted in the conception of a son, with no clinical intervention whatsoever. The National Enquirer reports as follows.

"Michael Jack­son’s “secret son” – devastated over the King of Pop’s sud­den death – is plan­ning to have a DNA test that could put him in legal conten­tion for a huge chunk of the singer’s estate, The ENQUIRER has
learned exclusively. Omer Bhatti, 24, wants to find out “once and for all” whether he’s Jackson’s biological son, reveal sources.

It has been reported that Omer, a close friend of Michael, was conceived in a one-night stand between Jackson and a Norwegian fan. "

If the test comes out positive, it could put Bhatti in line for millions of dollars from the Jackson estate. Since Bhatti is also a hip hop performer, it could also provide him with some welcome publicity. I checked out his music on You Tube and am presenting it there, as well as the link from You Tube. I wish the kid luck. He seems to have talent. If his ancestry gives him an extra boost, that's fine with me. He has plenty of talent.

Why do I keep reading these Michael Jackson stories? His life is like a highway accident. You just can't help slowing down and staring at the shattered glass and flashing dome lights. It's chewing gum for the mind, really. But when I read about O Bee, I don't think it's so bad that the world works this way. The sun sets The moon rises. And new stars appear in the night. That's fine with me. Good luck O Bee.
 Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 13, 2009

Eric Holder Mulls Prosecuting Republicans

What is a banana republic? According to a cynical yet highly accurate definition it is a place where they name a street after you one week and chase you down it the next. If Eric holder has his way, former President George W. Bush may feel that America is such a place. According to Newsweek, Attorney General Eric Holder is planning to hold hearings to investigate allegations of torture and other naughty things that went on during the Bush administration. Newsweek reports as follows.

"Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."

The article paints a disarming portrait of Holder, one of a man who is a gentleman in an argument. The article portrays him as a tough judge who was not shy about handing out jail time yet so gentlemanly that the convicts he sent away thanked him.

The article praises Holder for his independence. It claims that President Obama is reluctant to investigate and possibly indict Bush administration figures. Eric Holder is supposedly a man of law who is now agonising over the weighty decisions he faces concerning whether or not to take legal action against Obama's predecessors. He is shocked and outraged over the treatment of prisoners from America's war on terror. How he feels about some of the tortures under Sadaam Hussein is not recorded. Cutting off hands, gouging out eyes and mailing videotapes of the gang rape of family members would only concern Holder if it were done by Americans. But since these and other horrific acts were done by America's enemies, it does not concern him. He wants America to fight a war against ruthless adversaries using gentlemen's rules.

Supposedly, Obama is opposed to the plans being weighed by his Attorney General. I do not believe this for a second. If such information is being leaked, Obama is playing games if he pretends to be opposed to Holder's plans.

If Holder establishes a precedent of subjecting predecessors in the Oval Officed to prosecution, it will be a powerfully destabilising influence on the stability of our country. Only the gravest and most pressing cause should precipitate such an action. Second guessing interrogators in a war situation shows a stunning lack of good faith. It will create ill will between the Democrats and Republicans that will be divisive and corrosive toward national unity. It will also diminish respect for America in the eyes of ruthless enemies.

Holder has every right to agonise over the actions of the Bush Administration. But he should do so as a private citizen. If Obama is truly opposed to the actions of his "maverick" Attorney General, he should send him packing. There is a saying that "Those who like the law or sausage should not watch either one being made." This is certainly true of warfare.

In any corporation, behavior such as that of Eric Holder would be rewarded with a pink slip. If Obama keeps him on, it is because he approves of what he is doing. If Eric Holder has his way, the country will be divided and vulnerable. We do not need that. And we do not need Eric Holder. Sphere: Related Content