Monday, August 31, 2009

A Laugh Is Good

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Oil's 150th Birthday

Do you know who Col. Edwin Drake was? He is credited as the first to drill for oil in the United States. On August 27, 1859, with a well near Titusville, PA, Col. Drake struck oil.

I didn't know that fact and I am married to a man who has been in the oil drilling industry for 30 years. So that we are clear - I am of the drill here, drill now crowd.

It is chic for some circles to trash the reputation of the oil drilling industry in this country. That is a shame. And, it is ungrateful. An excellent article was written by Alex Epstein for explaining the history of oil drilling.

The ready availability of oil has transformed the world. For our country, "Many historians have argued that Allied nations' superior ability to produce oil was a decisive factor in both wars (WWI, WWII). In war, as in economics, having the cheapest, most convenient energy is a matter of life and death."

Goods in your home are there thanks to oil. Transporation in trade is fueled by oil around the world. While those who wish to see oil production shut down may not even realize it, there is not much around us that is not somehow connected to oil. Without oil, our world would be a very different place.

Oil based products are everywhere. Your iPhone, sunglasses, shatterproof glass, HDTV's, automobile tires, appliances, and yes, even the wind mills that may one day yield an alternative energy supply. Solar panels, too.

The oil and gas industry is the most regulated of all. The exploration process for oil and gas is expensive and often in dangerous places. Our refineries are overworked and more are needed. The "Big Oil" companies that politicians love to bash and tax are the very ones pouring money into alternative energy sources and protecting marine life. Did you know that reefs for fish and marine life are made when oil drilling platforms are sunk to the ocean floor as they are discarded? It is not uncommon for offshore oil drilling personnel to enjoy fishing during down time.

There is certainly a need for alternative energy sources. No one disputes that. It is far down the road, though and will cost a lot of money. It makes sense to support oil drilling on our own land and in our waters instead of purchasing from foreign sources.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ted Kennedy - The Good and The Bad

When a person of prominence dies, people of every walk of life will stop and reflect on the ups and downs of that person's life. The reflection is often a complicated one if that person is a politician. If that person is a politician with a very long history and family legacy.

When Senator Ted Kennedy died, my immediate reaction was to take note and then go on with my day. No fan of his or his family, for that matter, I have no personal tales to tell as to how any Kennedy changed my political philosophy or made an impression on my life as a young person. I wasn't even enamoured with the bogus Camelot story the press and Jacqueline Kennedy were obsessed on pushing.

Ted Kennedy was a far left liberal. Period. He spent his life in the U.S. Senate, running for office and winning as soon as he was of legal age to do so and remained there. He was a master of the legislative process, as time went on, and cannot be faulted for a lack of work ethic. He was prepared for whatever the debate of the day was and that was his job. We used to expect that of our elected officials - to be prepared and do the work they are hired to do. Now, somehow, it is to be lauded that he was a workhorse. It was his job.

As a politician, his life goal was to pursue legislation on health care and civil rights. As a liberal Democrat, he was out of sync with my political philosophy as a Republican. His work with the civil rights legislation, for example, was good and commendable. But, as a liberal, he went on to take it too far. Affirmative action and welfare legislation have both proven to be deterrents to the personal growth of generations. Big government has a place in hardship situations and as a safety net for those unable to care for themselves but not simply as a system of political favor to win votes from segments of the voting population.

Kennedy is said to have been able to work with both sides of the political aisle. To some degree that is true. He never veered from his liberal political philosophy but he knew one side cannot accomplish much alone. He was willing to work to get his legislative goals put through into law. He was able to find common ground with Senator Hatch, Senator McCain, even President George W. Bush. All for big government ideas.

He has the legacy now, though, for some bad moments in history. He is responsible for the complete deterioration of the demeanor of Supreme Court nomination hearings, for instance. He took it upon himself to personally bring down a good man - Robert Bork - solely for political reasons. It was wrong at the time and still is. Ted Kennedy was often a very small, nasty man.

"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit in segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of million of citizens." He called Samuel Alito a bigot during his hearing before the Senate Judicial Committee as a Supreme Court nominee.

All of that was very wrong and destructive. And, Kennedy lied for personal gain.

In his personal life, he doesn't fare so well. He was the driver of a car that went over a bridge, at the age of 37, and the car went off the bridge into the water. A staffer, a 29 year old woman, was seated in the passenger side of the car and she drowned in that water as Kennedy swam off. He checked into a hotel and called his lawyer and his chief of staff. He waited hours before reporting the accident.

Also showing a lack of character, he was kicked out of Georgetown for cheating on a Spanish exam, he led police on a high speed chase in Palm Beach as a young man, and he divorced his first wife while asking for an annulment so that he could be married to his second wife in the eyes of the Catholic church. His second wife, a woman about 25 years his junior, is the divorced daughter of his long time friend, Edmund Reggie of Crowley, Louisiana. Reggie turned out to be a corrupt judge - convicted and sentenced. He was a big supported of JFK, back in the day.

Kennedy liked to play the Catholic card yet turned from pro-life to pro-choice in his career, for political expediency. He was a known playboy - as was the term of the day - and a heavy drinker. No choirboy, he.

So, he leaves a legacy of a long life in the U.S. Senate. He was a wealthy man who never held a "real" job and enjoyed the privileges of his life. He was true to his political convictions. He preferred domestic over foreign policy. His brother, JFK, brought the U.S. into the Vietnam war to fight for the freedom of South Vietnam yet Ted Kennedy was a strong anti-war voice after JFK's death. He has never spoken in favor of U.S. foreign policy if it involved military force or aid. He was often proven to be on the wrong side of history.

The irony is that liberalism is dying a slow death. Liberals now prefer the title "progressives". Ted Kennedy never did. Liberals fled from the title as the political philosophy continues to be rebuffed by American voters. European voters, too. European countries are moving to more conservative leadership and philosophy as they feel the effects of their own experiments in liberalism, in socialism. Even the Swedish health care system touted by Kennedy is within the framework of a recognition that socialism in Sweden has failed.

The election of Barack Obama to President of the United States would have been difficult without the early, strong support of Ted Kennedy. Yet, Obama is now realizing that we are still a center right nation. His massive power grab through government programs is not boding well with a watchful nation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Obama Channels His Inner Jew, Then Christian Voice

Last week, as reported by Pajamas Media and Politico, President Obama threw a Hail Mary pass, so to speak, in the debate for his health care reform plan (though he has none). He sat in on a conference call with rabbis across the country. His goal was to convince the rabbis to speak to their "flocks" as he called them, and tell them that "We are God's partners in matters of life and death, quoting from the Rosh Hashanah prayer that says that in the holiday period, it is decided "who shall live and who shall die." That from the piece in Politico written by Ben Smith.

Obama ended the call, without taking questions, and wished the rabbis "shanah tovah". Happy New Year. The high holidays aren't for a month, but never mind that tidbit.

Remember when he told Pastor Rick Warren that the abortion issue was "above my pay grade" while he was campaigning? According to the Pajamas Media article, "The 15-minute morning briefing was sponsored by the Religion Action Center of Reform Judaism, and included rabbis of all persuasions. Although the RAC hosts the call each year, participants had never before heard from a sitting president."

The next conference call was to 140,000 clergy of all faiths. "I know there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness," he said. He called the death panels, " just an extraordinary lie" and said it is not true that illegal aliens would have insurance and that there would be no government takeover of health care or cuts in Medicare benefits for senior citizens.

"These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation and that is that we look out for one another," he said. "That I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper and in the wealthiest nation on Earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call."

Wealthiest nation on Earth right now?

I agree it is moral for all to be insured for health care. That does not, however, mean that I support his public option solution. That does not, despite his self-righteous tone, mean that his opinion of reform solutions is superior to those of the GOP.

Remember when the far left and Obama, too, enjoyed ridiculing President George W. Bush for 'wearing his religion on his sleeve'? I don't think there was really any doubt that Bush sincerely held his religious beliefs. Obama?

It is wrong for either party's politicians to insist that clergy tow the line and spout political agendas to their 'flocks'. For believers like Obama, it seems it's ok for Democrats and if it is his own agenda. That is hypocrisy over a very personal time - the time set aside for Americans to worship.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eric Holder Opens Investigation Into 2004 Intel Report

Eric Holder announces he will appoint a special prosecutor to look into the CIA's treatment of Gitmo detainees. He does this as the Obama family is on vacation and after Obama said that we must move on as a nation and not dwell in investigations of the past. Is this some sort of payback to the far left as he loses their support in the health care reform debate?

Or is it truly a lack of respect for the intelligence gathering agencies? The CIA methods were investigated and in 2007 found to be within the law, except in one case. As Director Mullins now says, this new investigation, after a previous investigation, will only serve to make intelligence agents 'timid' and not reach for the boundaries. Essentially they will no longer feel the backing of the administration and morale will sink further.

Do we want intelligence gatherers to simply ask basic questions written on index cards and leave it at that? No firm follow up questions? The question is - does this nation want an intelligence agency or not? Stop the charades. They are dangerous, especially as a nation at war and they are disheartening to those out in the field doing the tough work to keep us safe at home.

On January 22, 2009 Executive Order 13491 created the Special Task Force on Interrogations and Transfer Policies, according to the FBI web site. At the very beginning of his administration, President Obama was asked by Atty General Eric Holder to "establish a specialized interrogation group to bring together officials from law enforcement, the U.S. Intelligence Community, and the Department of Defense to conduct interrogations in a manner that will strengthen national security consistent with the rule of law." I don't remember any announcement of such a special task force.

More of the current special task force recommendations: "The Task Force also made policy recommendations with respect to scenarios in which the United Sates moves or facilitates the movement of a person from one country to another or from U.S. custody to the custody of another country to ensure that U.S. practices in such transfers comply with U.S. law, policy and international obligations and do not result in the transfer of individuals to face torture."

Holder is confident the policies will have "no tension between strengthening our national security and meeting our commitment to the rule of law, and these new policies will accomplish both." Just like the good old days when he and Janet Reno were pursuing the war on terror as criminal acts and not terrorist acts. In just a short time, our nation will remember the 8th anniversary of 9/11/01 and the terrorist acts of that day, executed after eight years of the Reno/Holder team.

So, Holder has appointed John Durham - a career Justice Department prosecutor from Connecticut, according to The Washington Post, to "lead the inquiry, according to sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete."

This announcement came the same day that the Obama administration decided to issue a 2004 CIA Inspector General report to the public. This is the report that questions the effectiveness of harsh interrogation methods. It is being released after a federal judge ruled so. The ACLU filed a lawsuit to make it public.

A letter has been written and signed by Senators Kyl, Sessions, Cornyn, Hatch and Grassley stating, "The intelligence community will be left to wonder whether actions taken today in the interest of national security will be subject to legal recriminations when the political winds shift." All of these Republican Senators are seated on the Senate Judicial Committee.

Rumors persist that after only a few months on the job, CIA Director Leon Panetta has threatened to quit.

Senator Lieberman issued, in part, this statement: "I respectfully regret this decision by Attorney General Holder and fear our country will come to regret it too because an open ended criminal investigation of past CIA activity, which has already been condemned and prohibited, will have a chilling effect on the men and women against of our intelligence community whose uninhibited bravery and skill we depend on every day to protect our homeland from the next terrorist attack. Career prosecutors in the Department of Justice have previously reviewed allegations of abuse and concluded that prosecution was not warranted, with the exception of one CIA contractor who has already been convicted. President Obama has established clear guidelines to ensure that past abuses are repeated and has stated his desire to look forward rather than backward."

President Obama shirks responsibility, as is his habit, and puts it all on Holder. His press secretary said, "The President has said repeatedly that he wants to look forward, not back, and the President agrees with the Attorney General that those who acted in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance should not be prosecuted. Ultimately, determinations about whether someone broke the law are made independently by the Attorney General."

Good cop, bad cop.

The report released shows a direct line from interrogation techniques used and intelligence gathered that saved lives in our own country by preventing attacks. That is some hard truth that the far left apologists will have to reconcile. We have not been attacked since 9/11/01.

Gotcha politics have no place in homeland security policy. The continued Bush hate has to be put aside at some point.

Monday, August 24, 2009

GOP Chairman Steele On Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights

GOP Chairman Michael Steele wrote an article published in The Washington Post about a Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights. The GOP is presenting it as a tenet of health care reform and the national debate.

The basic points are undeniably universal and should be supported in a bi-partisan way. Since up until now the Republicans have essentially been shut out as far as giving much input goes, it will be interesting to see if this is taken seriously either.

From the article, the points are as follow:
1. "We need to protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of "health-insurance reform."
2. "We need to prohibit government from getting between seniors and their doctors."
3. "We need to outlaw any effort to ration health care based on age."
4. "We need to prevent government from dictating the terms of end-of-life care."
5. "We need to protect our veterans by preserving Tricare and other benefit programs for military families."

Simple, right? Easy to understand, right?

If the president and the Democrats truly want to work with Republicans to get the reform that we all want passed, they will digest these very basic statements. They will allow such measures in the legislation and they will credit Republicans with common sense ideas.

Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Obama Administration Puts Death Book for Vets Back Into Use

At the forefront recently in the health care reform debate, end of life decision making has brought on some heated discussions. First it was former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's insertion into the argument decrying the establishment of "death panels" to allow doctors to be paid for advising patients on end of life decisions, as advised by a panel of 'experts', though not medical people. This was immediately the cause of severe heartburn on the far left and at the White House as Palin was subjected to a new round of criticism for speaking out.

When all else fails, call your opponents names.

If there were no provisions for these 'death panels' then why has the part of the proposed legislation been eliminated by the Senate committee now working on a more bi-partisan approach?

Charles Krauthammer has a recent column out in the Washington Post titled, "The Truth About Death Counseling" and it rings true with me. If you have ever had to face the difficult decisions made at the end of the life of a loved one, you know that the trite way in which some speak of the process is very dishonest. Krauthammer writes, "But there are no "death panels" in the Democratic health care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate. We also have to tell the defenders of the notorious Section 1233 of H.R.3200 that it is not quite as benign as they pretend. To offer government reimbursement to any doctor who gives end-of-life counseling -- whether or not the patient asked for it -- is to create an incentive for such a chat."

Krauthammer goes on to describe living wills and that they are useful until you actually need to use them. The fact is that as a healthy person, a living will seems to make sense. Save the cost and prolongment of an ill loved one if that loved one doesn't want extraordinary measures taken to save life. However, once that person is actually at the point of the family using such guidance, often instructions can change. Living wills prolong life, for the most part, not extinguish life, as those thinking of them as a cost cutting instrument would have you believe.

Also not so prominent until now is the discussion of the Death Book for Veterans, as it is called. Jim Towey writes about it in The Wall Street Journal. Towey is president of Saint Vincent College, and he was director of the White House Office of Faith-based Initiatives from 2002-2006. He is founder of the nonprofit Aging with Dignity. The booklet is titled, "Your Life, Your Choices" and is distributed by the VA. "If President Obama is sincere in stating that he is not trying to cut costs by pressuring the disabled to forgo critical care, one good way to show that commitment is to walk two blocks from teh Oval Office and pull the plug on "Your Life, Your Choices. He should make sure in thefuture that VA decisions are guided by values that treat the lives of our veterans as gifts, not burdens."

You see, this booklet is currently being revised. It is also, however, back in force since President Obama ordered as he came into office. Under former President Bush, the use of the booklet was suspended by his order.

In the booklet, veterans are asked to consider if they are a burden on their family, if they are 'blue', if they are living in a nursing home, if they are using a wheelchair. All of these conditions are reasons for a person to end his/her life. The primary author, according to Mr. Towey, is Dr. Robert Pearlman, "chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S> Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing."

"I am not surprised to learn that the VA panel of experts that sought to update "Your Life, Your Choices" between 2007-2008 did not include any representatives of faith groups or disability rights advocates. As you might guess, only one organization was listed in the new version as a resource on advance directives: the Hemlock Society (now euphemistically known as "compassion and Choices").

Is hurry up and die the message we want to send to our veterans?

End of life decisions are gut-wrenching. In my own family, my mother was very ill for the last several years of her life. She lived in my home and I was her caregiver. As it became clear that her life was approaching the natural end, she requested a Do Not Resuscitate order be placed on her charts. It was her choice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Obama Supports Offshore Drilling - In Brazil

Recently, according to The Wall Street Journal, White House National Security Adviser James Jones "met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan." What loan, you ask? The loan of billions of dollars to Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned oil company.

The financing of offshore drilling in Brazil is important in light of the discovery in the Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin. Near Rio de Janeiro, Petrobras is hoping for a big payday from this field. Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas, The WSJ article points out, and the U.S. Export-Import Bank has issued a "preliminary commitment" letter in the amount of $2 billion.

Remember when Obama came around to the idea that offshore drilling should be increased in our country? After increased pressure from the electorate and high prices at the gas pump last summer during the campaign, Obama agreed that more drilling activity is needed. Once in office, however, he reverted back to the old ways of the far left.

Sure, 'green' energy is good. However, all of that technology is far down the line into the future and methods like the wind technology used now is proving to be simply not feasible due to the high price of such ventures. Hopefully that will change. In the meantime, we need oil.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has won an appeal of the block put on the Bush administration's five year plan to open the outer continental shelf for oil exploration by environmentalists in federal court. Salazar said the sale of leases in the Gulf would occur August 19.

So, while Obama smears "Big Oil" as the bad guys and does all he can to take away tax incentives for the development and drilling of oil and gas, he is all for helping out Brazil. Odd, isn't it? He was all giddy over the Cap and Trade legislation out of the House before the summer recess. Called "cap and tax" by its opposition, even former Democratic Senator Tim Wirth - a former adviser on climate change for President Clinton - says "The Republicans are right -- it's a cap and tax bill." That from a report in Bloomberg. "That's what it is because they are raising revenue to do all sorts of things, especially to take care of the coal industry, and it makes no sense."

Aren't Americans worthy of the same oil revenue and production as Brazil?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

White House Backtracks on Public Option in Health Care Reform

Let's be honest. Obamacare is tanking with the public and the President's approval rating of his handling of the debate is at 41% now. Yet, the Democrats have hit the panic button and are now publicly mentioning that they are seriously talking about jamming reform legislation through with only the 51 vote in the Senate. The nuclear option is back with a vengeance.

The panic intensified over the weekend as both Obama and his HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius said that the public option was not a deal breaker. Both floated the trial balloon that perhaps reform would be passed with it. Liberals went ballistic. Howard Dean said, well, why bother? That's no reform at all and just a waste of resources already in place in the system.

Immediately the backlash caused capitulation from the administration. As is his habit, Obama allowed his people to throw Sebelius under the bus. She spoke in Washington honoring senior volunteers who monitor Medicare and Medicaid fraud, according to The Washington Times, and said, "All I can tell you is that Sunday must have been a very slow news day because here's the bottom line: Absolutely nothing has changed." "We continue to support the public option that will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest."

When all else fails, blame the media.

On Sunday, Sebelius stated on CNN's "State of the Union" that a government run plan was "not the essential element" and Obama said in Colorado on Saturday that "The public option -- whether we have it or we don't have it -- is not the entirety of health care reform", according to the Washington Times article by Joseph Weber.


Also, an op-ed appeared in The Wall Street Journal penned by John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc., in which he stated in no uncertain terms that health care is not a right - any more than food or shelter. He sounded quite Republican in his suggestions. He offered up the same that Republicans have but are not being utilized by the administration - allow insurance to be purchased across state lines, tort reform, Medicare reform, revise tax laws so that health insurance provided by employers and individually owned policies produce the same tax benefits, all free market solutions. The liberals went nuts. Now they are calling for a boycott of their favorite grocery store.

The best part is that you may remember that Obama used Whole Foods and purchasing arugula there in a speech in Iowa as he campaigned for the Iowa caucus last year. And, by the way, Iowa doesn't have any Whole Foods there. It was an example of his liberal elitism on display but the folks didn't mind. Next time, maybe they'll pay closer attention to the undertones of a speech.

And, there is the problem with the lobbyists dollars in the mix. Though the Obama administration pledged they would be the most transparent and ethical -ever- all indications imply it is business as usual in Washington. Bloomberg News reported "that an army of no less than 3,300 registered lobbyists is working the halls of Congress, twisting arms on health care reform. That's about six well-paid lobbyists for every representative of the American people. And an average of three more a day reportedly are signing on for the fight."

We already have the stories of the Big Pharma and the hospital deals cut with the Obama administration - behind closed doors and without a list of those present released - and now the insurance industry is the villain. Remember in the beginning when Obama stood on a platform with health insurance industry CEOs and proclaimed they were all on his side of the argument? Then they shifted and war was declared by this White House. Chicago style. And, now reports of the personal financial coffers of top Obama adviser, David Axelrod, are being enriched by his association with the PR firm he prospered from back in Chicago, all thanks to health care reform. What would have happened if such a story had broke about former Bush adviser Karl Rove during their time in the White House?

Many from the left insist other countries do health care better using socialized systems. Here is an interesting blog post: for those who insist France has the world's best health care system and should be imitated here. This is an excellent glimpse into it from a woman's first hand experience.

Most people want our system to be reformed. Republicans know that free market solutions will work to the benefit of all, not the big government solutions offered by the Obama administration. Forcing a plan written by the far left in Congress will not serve the American people well - and the administration will pay a heavy cost for it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ted Cruz for Attorney General

Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz announced that his campaign for Texas Attorney General has been endorsed by over 50 leaders of the Texas Federation of Republican Women .

TFRW from across the State, including a majority of statewide officers who are allowed to support candidates before the primary election. The TFRW is a volunteer organization of more than 10,000 members with 164 local clubs across Texas. The leaders endorsing Ted Cruz for Attorney General include five current statewide officers and seven deputy

“The women of TFRW are the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and their leadership will help bring us out of the wilderness and ensure that we elect principled candidates who stand up for Texas values. These women are tireless workers, and I’m tremendously grateful to have their support,” Cruz said. “Their enthusiasm and broad-based support is a reflection of the remarkable grassroots team we have been blessed to build all across Texas.”

Sometimes the strength of support from Republican women is overlooked by a campaign. Ted Cruz is not making that strategic mistake. Republican women are known for working hard for the campaigns of candidates for whom they have decided to support.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hillary Clinton Fails U.S. in Africa

For a while there, I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Especially after fracturing her elbow, or whatever had her in the cast and arm sling, she seemed to be out of sight and out of mind. VP Joe Biden was buzzing around the world at the drop of a hat and the special envoys were heading out to Afghanistan and Iraq. Hillary Clinton didn't seem particularly needed. Surely that was not the deal she and Bill brokered with Barack Obama as he put together his team.

Yes, she was off to a rocky start. The incredibly stupid 'reset' incident in Russia did not exactly inspire a lot of confidence. But, she's a far left Democrat and they do love the symbol over substance photo shoots.

Then, lo and behold, the crazy little dictator in North Korea finally got his one on one face time with Bill Clinton. Clinton brought home the two American journalists working for Al Gore's television network - another slap at ole Al that no one was interested in speaking with him to broker the deal - and he captured the spotlight from everyone again. To his credit, Bill Clinton was quite modest in the homecoming, especially for him, and allowed others to receive the buzz.

So, Hillary was there in Africa, on an 11 day trip - very long by any standards. The wear and tear of such a trip to that continent began to show. First, Hillary Clinton, our nation's top diplomat, lost her cool with a journalist in the Congo as she was asked about her husband's opinion. It wasn't a good question but it's Hillary's job to handle such nonsense. She failed the test.

Then, to compound her African blunders, during a speech in Nigeria she brought in a comparison of that country's last election process to our own 2000 election. Nigeria. Again, Nigeria.

My husband sometimes travels to Nigeria for work. It is simply the most corrupt spot in the world. Fraud is a way of life. For Hillary Clinton to say, "You know, we had some problems in some of our presidential elections. As you remember, in 2000, our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of one of the men running for president was governor of the state. So we have our problems, too.", is insane.

That's the problem with hyper-partisans assuming such positions of power. She is a celebrity on the world stage. She is not a diplomat. She is a disgrace.

Democrats just don't get it. American leaders are not to go overseas and bash our own country. It is disloyal and it is an embarrassment. Yes, it is unpatriotic. Democrats spent the last eight years stomping George W. Bush and his administration into the ground and took it to such a new level of low that we have not seen in modern history. Democrats cannot accept that Bush did in fact win Florida, no matter who the Governor of the state. Independent studies were conducted, even by incredibly unfriendly newspapers like The New York Times and the Miami Herald and the San Francisco Chronicle, all with the same conclusion. Yet, it was not to the advantage of Democrats to accept the facts and they beat their drum of hateful political activity at every opportunity.

Now, Hillary Clinton will travel the world as our top diplomat and continue the spread of lies about our election process? In places like Nigeria? It is unforgivable. She opens the door for these countries to say, well America has big problems with elections, why should we be held to a high standard?

America bashing from the far left in this country is old news. It is not helpful. They think those deserving of criticism will "like" us more. It has never worked but they continue to do it anyway. Such remarks make us look weak to them. They do not respect us any more.

It is dangerously naive to think otherwise.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Senator Cornyn Responds to WH "Fishy" Site

It is good that someone in the White House now realizes what a chilling and abusive idea it was to request that folks forward e-mails from family and friends that appeared to contain "fishy" arguments against the health care reform ideas coming out of Congress. Senator Cornyn wrote a letter to the President spelling out his disapproval of such an exercise.

Over the weekend, a major publicity snafu was squelched, kinda, after the web site was disabled and the way in which a person corresponds with the White House web site was modified due to questions by Major Garrett of FOX News. Garrett filed a FOIA to get some kind of answer, unavailable from the Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, late last week. During a White House Briefing, Garrett inquired as to the reason some people were receiving unsolicited e-mail from the White House - David Axelrod, to be specific. Gibbs feigned no knowledge of any such spamming going on.

Today, a statement is issued by the "new media" person in the West Wing that claims a nameless third party is responsible for the unwanted e-mail spam.

Senator Cornyn released this statement concerning his objection to the "fishy" information site:

"I'm glad the White House recognizes its own bad idea and has disabled their data collection program. They've finally come to their senses and acknowledged that this is compromising citizens' free speech rights by causing them to be concerned whether complaints will be compiled into some sort of enemies list."

"Questions still remain about information that’s already been collected over the past few weeks. I still would like to know what steps the White House taking to purge all names, email addresses and other personal information they have collected on private citizens as part of their data collection program."

So, the guys who are supposed to be so tech savvy and the ones who preach total transparency at the top of the chain realize that people expect them to mean what they say.

Kay Bailey Hutchison Announces for Governor in Houston

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison kicked off her campaign to be the next Governor of Texas in Houston this morning. The event was held in the Bellaire Civic Center because that is where she kicked off her first campaign to be elected to the Texas state legislature.

Following an event in La Marque, her birthplace, she arrived in Houston for the event scheduled for 10:00 this morning. Getting off to a bit of a late start, the speakers began about 10:30. First the Mayor of Bellaire spoke of her support of Senator Hutchison. She introduced former Secretary of Education (and Superintendent of Houston Independent School District) Rod Paige. Paige spoke of Hutchison's commitment to education reform and to her strong work ethic. Next, former Rep. Dick Armey was introduced. He spoke of Hutchison's loyal commitment to working on behalf of keeping federal funding out of abortion legislation. He spoke of Hutchison's love of her state. Last, former Presidential adviser and Deputy at the State Department Karen Hughes spoke of her relationship with Senator Hutchison, both in and out of Texas.

Kay Bailey Hutchison came out on stage with her husband, Ray, and their two young children. Her daughter, Bailey, clung onto Kay's hand as she made the rounds on stage greeting those standing with her. Her son, Houston, was smiling and also a bit shy.

Many local politicians and notables were on the stage. Lots of smiles and enthusiasm.

As was said today, Texas deserves better. We will work hard for Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Perception vs Reality in the Obama Administration

Today in Montana, President Obama tried another of his town hall meetings about health care reform. The crowd was another friendly one - he was in Bozeman, after all - and it was interesting that even with a friendly crowd, he was insecure enough to pull out the Bush bashing card. He told the audience that even with the big increase in drug benefits to seniors that Bush wrote into law, it was not funded. What he didn't say, though, as the crowd basically ignored his bashing statement in a traditionally red state, was that it is the legislature that funds legislation. Maybe if he had spent more than a few days in the U.S. Senate, on the job, he would have realized the full process. Or, if he had watched the "Bill on Capitol Hill" video that the kids watch.

But perception is rarely reality in Washington, D.C. Or, maybe even in Chicago, Illinois. Seems that First Lady Michelle Obama has not shaken the cloud she is under from her time at the University of Chicago Medical Center. You may remember that, besides receiving a triple in her salary after her husband became a U.S. Senator, she initiated a program called the Urban Health Initiative. The program redirects under insured and uninsured patients to local health clinics and other hospitals in the community. When it was first implemented, the program was not well-received, to say the least, by some like U.S. Rep Bobby Rush who even called for congressional hearings on the program in June, according to an article by Wailin Wong and Jason Grotto in the Chicago Tribune.

So, while enjoying being a behind the scenes player in promoting health care reform, playing up her former work experience, Michelle Obama was really just another push-them-off-on-someone-else kind of administrator.

And, speaking of advancing while pursuing hypocrisy in your work ethics, Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) was the latest Republican to join the Obama administration as the new Secretary of the Army. It is interestingly noted, however, the Weekly Standard recently, that McHugh had a 12 year record of voting pro-life as an elected official. Then, upon the announcement of his new position, before confirmation, he has voted "for a bill would establish an office that would promote abortion overseas; he didn't vote on an amendment to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood; and he voted to allow taxpayer-funding of abortions in Washington, D.C. - a measure that will lead to the "funding of 4,000 or 5,000 abortions annually with congressionally appropriated funds, including about 1,000 abortions a year that would not happen otherwise," according to the National Right to Life Committee's Douglas Johnson.

So much for integrity. It would appear there was a quid pro quo attached to that plum gig.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Secret White House Deal With Hospital Officials Emerges

Have the people in the Obama administration forgotten their pledge to be the most transparent and ethical administration - EVER? They pledged to put legislation up on the Internet a full five days before the President signed bills. They pledged to bar lobbyists from deal making on legislation.

Turns out, Rev. Wright was correct. Barack Obama is just another politician. He promotes a public image of being above the political back and forth. Yet, turns out he is wheeling and dealing in private to get his behemoth of a health care reform bill passed before even more of the American public reads what all is in it. His numbers of approval in polls are plummeting. Voters registered as Independents have come back to supporting his opposition. It is panic time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Last week we learned of a behind the door deal cut with Big Pharma and its lobbyists so that they would appear to support Obamacare and pay for advertising in favor of it. Now we read of a deal cut with hospital industry lobbyists that was to have been announced last month, with the support of Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT). However, Baucus "abruptly pulled out of the event. Was he backing away from his end of the deal?" That asked by the article in The New York Times, written by David D. Kirkpatrick. Jim Messina, deputy White House chief of staff assured the hospital lobbyists not to worry about that. Messina says the White House stands behind the deal cut.

This deal cut with the hospital industry is for a maximum of $155 billion over 10 years in exchange for its political support, according to The New York Times. Anyone seen that publicized? Anyone know who all was at the table putting together this deal?

Turns out that the Obama administration is counting heavily on the support of Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee to write the legislation that will ultimately be signed into law. The House bill that everyone is now reading , according to Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, "has largely been a sideshow." "The Senate Finance Committee is where it really matters."

So, there we have it. Two deals down. More, evidently, to come. Originally the insurance companies stood with the President and he was their pal. Now, they have pulled support and he demonizes them. Obama claimed AARP was supporting the House bill and that has been proven false. Obama received the support of the AMA but didn't bother to tell the public, which probably doesn't' know, that only about 25% of doctors are members of the AMA.

Is this all just a shell game to President Obama? Say something publicly and do something else privately? He claims support he doesn't have. The American public is putting together the pieces and not looking favorably upon his handling of this huge undertaking.

Just a politician after all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama Flunks BiPartisanship But Excels At Arm Twisting

Recently Senator John McCain told Politico that President Obama has flunked the bipartisanship promise he made on the campaign trail. "And, look, they've go the votes. We understand that. They had the votes in the stimulus package, in the budget, in the omnibus, in the SCHIP, all this legislation. And they have picked off, sometimes, two or three Republicans." "But that's not changing the climate in Washington. What that is, is exercising a significant majority. And so I respect their successes, but please don't call it changing the climate in Washington."

On August 4, 2009 Representative Issa (R-CA) sent a letter on his Committee on Oversight and Government Reform stationary - - telling White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to back off. He told Emanuel to lay off the Chicago style of intimidation using stimulus monies to Arizona, for example, after Senator Jon Kyl questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated he wants to cancel projects that are not already underway. Both Sec of Transportation, Ray LaHood and Sec of the Interior Ken Salazar sent Kyl's office letters with the same sentence included: "However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know." It was a copy of a letter sent to threaten Gov Brewer of Arizona to get onboard the Obama express.

"At what point do you believe your practice of Chicago-style politics violates a public official's right to speak out in favor of alternative policies," Issa asks. "The American people have a right to know what role you played in developing the threatening letters to Governor Brewer and whether you intend to continue to engage in these tactics in the future." He then went on to demand four inquiries be answered. All concerned concerted efforts of intimidation to Gov Brewer as reported by Politico and in letters from Sec LaHood, Sec Salazar, Sec Donovan, and Sec Vilsack in July 13 letters to the Governor.

This also ties into Issa's request for information from Emanuel concerning the testimony from LaHood on July 24 before a House budget hearing. He was asked if anyone in the White House had put him up to writing a letter to Gov Brewer. "After several evasions by LaHood, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J. finally complained to the chairman: "Mr. Chairman, would the witness please answer the question?" "LaHood finally answered "no". That from David Freddoso in the Washington Examiner on August 5, 2009.

So, did Secretary LaHood, from Chicago, lie to Congress? Or was it all just a big coincidence that his letter said the same thing as three other Cabinet Secretaries in the White House?

We can thank Senator John Cornyn for speaking up about the office of communications in the White House, Linda Douglass a former journalist in specific, going online and requesting that citizens report any "fishy" e-mails they may receive from their friends or loved ones. She would like them to be forwarded to her at the White House. She doesn't, however, bother to let the viewer of the video know that under federal law, the White House has to save the correspondence, therefore developing quite a database of those questioning the Obama health care legislation.

"As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights," he wrote. "I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward emails critical of his policies to the White House," Cornyn wrote. "I suspect that you would have been leading the charge in condemning such a program - and I would have been at your side denouncing such heavy-handed government action."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Angry Mobs at the Town Hall Meetings

It is said by the Democrats and others that the Town Hall protesters are organized by Republican parties around the country. That everyone is taking marching orders from conservative talk radio show hosts. While some are coordinating information, a huge conspiracy of conservatives opposed to the reform measures does not exist. And, frankly, organization is good.

Candidate Obama used his years as a "community organizer" in Chicago as a big part of his resume to run for President. He thought it a badge of honor. That was until those of another opinion used the same methods. Paging Mr. Alinsky.

The talking heads on MSNBC say that the Town Hall protesters are racists - that they are simply against anything the bi-racial president is pushing. Ron Reagan, from Air America, debated Dana Loesch (yes, he was way out of his league with my girl Dana) and he was predicting gunshots at any time during these angry exchanges at Town Hall meetings. Nancy Pelosi - the Speaker of the House, third in line for the Presidency - and her Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer proclaim you as "unAmerican" if you are passionate. Hey, wasn't Joe McCarthy on a hunt for "unAmericans"? Senator Ben Cardin in Delaware made the mistake of condescendingly telling his last crowd that he "knows you don't want to hear the facts" and was immediately shouted down. Here's a tip, Senator: don't insult your constituents because they'll probably remember your attitude come next election. Just sayin'.

President Obama continues with his riff that "some" want nothing to be done. "Some" only want to play politics. Yes, Mr. President, exactly who would be these "some" to which you refer? Hmmm? Never mind that this president doesn't even have the details of the very legislation he is allowing the far left in the House write for him. He thinks it keeps him out of the weeds, above the fray. He has another think coming.

Americans are angry and confused. Americans are just plain scared. Why? Turns out the majority of Americans are covered by insurance plans and are essentially happy with the coverage. They certainly don't want to gamble on being forced into a government run system that will deny personal choice and ration services. The President enjoys pointing out that Medicare and the VA are both government run programs. True enough. Both are, however, riddled with excessive cost and bureaucracy. Both, however, are the bain of those on the plans. Yes, it is better than absolutely nothing, but is that our national standard? Huge amounts of money can be saved to provide for those without by beginning with cutting waste and fraud. And, tort reform, too. Democrats are completely beholden to trial lawyers - even the President who proclaimed he would not be under the thumb of lobbyists - and without tort reform the continuing burden of liability insurance will remain for caregivers.

Do you think it is only Republicans playing politics at these Town Hall meetings? That would be silly. Look at the crowd and their faces. It is everyone. Young, old, every ethnicity, insured and not, professional and working man. Health care reform will affect absolutely every person in this country. Cradle to grave. The dirty little secret that the President doesn't care to expand on is that even with the huge bill being rammed through the House, not everyone will be covered. It will take a decade to accomplish that, if even then. And, by then, the predictions that the system will be completely broken and out of money abound.

Long term viability must be at the forefront of any reform. The White House is busy making deals, in private, with the big drug companies after claiming support from the insurance companies before they jumped off the train. Now it is time to demonize the insurance companies - and suddenly the whole agenda is "insurance reform" not health care reform. I have said that from the beginning. Insurance needs reform. Our health care system is the finest in the world. Everyone acknowledges that. Well, except for some malcontents who would bash our country for anything that comes up. Ron Reagan - prime example - of talking while stupid. He spouts the standard negative "ranking" systems of the international community. Never mind that those are skewed for countries much smaller and less insured or covered. And, our country has a huge population of undocumented workers who are treated.

So, here we are. Congress is sent home with absolutely no idea of the details of a bill that is more than 1,000 pages and some are even saying it will be impossible to be read before a vote is taken. Just like the stimulus bill that hasn't worked. With only 10% of that money distributed, we could cancel the rest of the distribution and put it towards helping those in need. The recession is seeing a natural cyclical bottoming out. That is how economics works. Just like Mother Nature. Cycles.

The rush is for President Obama to force this through before any more dissent brings down his polling numbers further. He is on a downward slide and he knows it. He knows all of his social engineering agenda must be done now or he will have to make concessions and allow Republican input. The man who campaigned on a post partisan country didn't really mean any of that rhetoric. You didn't believe that, did you? Many are now coming out of their slumber.

Attention Mr. President, Robert Gibbs (who compares protesters to his 6 year old son), and members of Congress: Americans are watching. We are not "angry mobs" and we will not be stopped by union (SEIC) thugs. The violence didn't begin until you dispensed them to intimidate ordinary Americans.

How very Chicago of you.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The White House Deal with Big Pharma

From Rich Galen in his piece: "Yet, here it is; in the newspaper of record. The White House had reached a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry to put a ceiling on the amount of money the government could save by negotiating for lower drug prices. In the words of the NY Times, the White House "had committed to protect drug makers from bearing further costs in the [health care] overhaul" but "had never spelled out the details of the agreement."

"Oh, here we are in graf seven:
The new attention to the agreement could prove embarrassing to the White House, which has sought to keep lobbyists at a distance, including by refusing to hire them to work in the administration".

It turns out that there is a quid pro quo for keeping the drug companies out of the rough and tumble world of free markets. Again, from Mr. Kirkpatrick's piece:
"Failing to publicly confirm [the drug lobby's] descriptions of the deal risked alienating a powerful industry ally currently helping to bankroll millions in television commercials in favor of Mr. Obama's reforms. [emphasis mine] "

"Caught between a pivotal industry ally and the protests of Congressional Democrats, the Obama administration on Friday backed away from what drug industry lobbyists had said this week was a firm White House promise to exclude from a proposed health care overhaul the possibility of allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices under Medicare." That from The New York Times this weekend.

On Wednesday, former Congressman Billy Tauzin, chief lobbyist for Big Pharma, told the New York Times:

“We were assured: ‘We need somebody to come in first. If you come in first, you will have a rock-solid deal,’” Billy Tauzin, the former Republican House member from Louisiana who now leads the pharmaceutical trade group, said Wednesday. “Who is ever going to go into a deal with the White House again if they don’t keep their word? You are just going to duke it out instead.”

This administration has been the self-proclaimed "most ethical, transparent" administration. Ever. So much for ethics and transparency. This President said that the same old, same old would not fly with him. No more closed door deals with lobbyists.

According to The New York Times: "The drug industry has authorized its lobbyists to spend as much as $150 million on television commercials supporting President Obama's health care overhaul, beginning over the August Congressional recess, people briefed on the plans said Saturday. The unusually large scale of the industry's commitment to the cause helps explain some of a contentious back-and-forth playing out in recent days between the odd-couple allies over a deal that the White House struck with the industry in June to secure its support. The terms of the deal were not fully disclosed. Both sides had announced that the drug industry would contribute $80 billion over 10 years to the cost of the health care overhaul without spelling out the details. With House Democrats moving to extract more than that just as the drug makers finalized their advertising plans, the industry lobbyists pressed the Obama administration for public reassurances that it had agreed to cap the industry's additional costs at $80 billion. The White House, meanwhile has struggled to mollify its most pivotal health industry ally without alienating Congressional Democrats who want to demand far more of the drug makers. White House officials could not immediately be reached for comment."

And, from Robert Reich's blog: "But I also care about democracy, and the deal between Big Pharma and the White House frankly worries me. It's bad enough when industry lobbyists extract concessions from members of Congress, which happens all the time. But when an industry gets secret concessions out of the White House in return for a promise to lend the industry's support to a key piece of legislation, we're in big trouble. That's called extortion: An industry is using its capacity to threaten or prevent legislation as a means of altering that legislation for its own benefit. And it's doing so at the highest reaches of our government, in the office of the President. When the industry support comes with an industry-sponsored ad campaign in favor of that legislation, the threat to democracy is even greater. Citizens end up paying for advertisements designed to persuade them that the legislation is in their interest. In this case, those payments come in the form of drug prices that will be higher than otherwise, stretching years into the future."

You may remember Reich was Clinton's Secretary of Labor and a proponent of universal health care.

And, recently in Houston a meeting was hosted by Rep. Kevin Brady, (R-The Woodlands) which was attended by about 90 physicians at Memorial Hermann Hospital - The Woodlands. "I am very concerned about what this will cost us in terms of dollars," said Dr. Wm Parker, the chief medical officer where the meeting was held. "Before this week, they did not tell us any details of the plan. We've had too little time to read, digest and discuss something that will be such a major overhaul of the health care system."

The concern is from all corners. All are aware, now, that this huge legislation is being rushed through with no more thought or consistency than the stimulus/spending bill earlier this year. Or the cap and trade legislation, which will increase energy costs on every American and stunt business growth which will cost jobs. There is a very disturbing pattern here.

Slow down. Let's get this right.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Dr. Arthur Laffer Offers Alternatives in Health Care Reform

Dr. Arthur Laffer has some good, common sense suggestions for health care reform, as presented in his report to the Texas Public Policy Foundation recently. Common sense solutions to our nation's problems are sorely needed, in all areas of policy.

While President Obama continues to criticize those opposed to his government takeover to our health care system - 1/6 of our economy - by claiming those critical are not providing other ideas, only being naysayers for political reasons, maybe he should fulfill his campaign pledge to be inclusive of all and listen to others. By attempting to remain above the fray of the actual legislative process, Obama has allowed the far left in the House, once again, to produce his agenda.

Here are some ideas from Dr. Laffer for patient-centered health care reform :
** Individual ownership of insurance policies. Instead of employers receiving tax deductions for your insurance policy, it should be given to you.

** Leverage Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). By empowering individuals to oversee their own health care costs, incentives can be provided so that only services necessary are used.

** Interstate purchasing of insurance. This allows competition of pricing of policies, no matter which state companies are located.

** Reduce the number of mandated benefits insurers are required to cover. Insurance needs are not one size fits all. Allow consumers to choose the benefits that will be most effective for their own needs.

** Reallocate the majority of Medicaid spending into simple voucher for low-income individuals to purchase their own insurance. Using a sliding scale, based on income, would cut bureaucracy and produce considerable cost savings.

** Eliminate unnecessary scope-of-practice laws and allow non-physician health care professionals practice to the extent of their education and training. This simple idea allows retail clinics to increase the pool of providers, which increases competition and access to care while allowing the patient to decide which caregiver to use.

** Reform tort liability laws. Medical costs can be brought down if doctors are not performing defensive medicine.

All of these alternatives allow more individual control of health care for the patient. Isn't this what everyone wants - to make their own decisions and receive the benefits needed for their own specific needs? The massive government takeover that is the ultimate outcome of the Obama administration will only allow government bureaucrats to step in and make decisions of which they are not qualified. There will be an elimination of personal care and the doctor-patient relationship.

We can do better.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Dr. Arthur Laffer Reports Findings to Texas Public Policy Foundation

Yesterday, August 4, 2009, an article by Dr. Arthur B. Laffer appeared in The Wall Street Journal featuring an alternative to ObamaCare. His health care research can be viewed at He performed research for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, in Austin, Texas and recently presented some findings.

"The health-care wedge is an economic term that reflects the difference between what health-care costs the specific provider and what the patient actually pays. When health care is subsidized, no one should be surprised that people demand more of it and that that costs to produce it increase. Mr. Obama's health-care plan does nothing to address the gap between the price paid and the price received. Instead, it's like a negative tax: Costs rise and people demand more than they need."

"To pay for the subsidy that the administration and Congress propose, revenues have to come from somewhere. The Obama team has come to the conclusion that we should tax small businesses, large employers and the rich. That won't work because the health-care recipients will lose their jobs as businesses can no longer afford their employees and the wealthy flee."

That is the problem, isn't it? Thoughtful Americans know that higher taxes are on the way and certainly will be required to finance a universal health care program. The wealthy will not be particularly affected as they will do as always - simply pay out of their own pocket for services they desire. That is what happens in other countries being held up as examples - Great Britian, Canada, France. Those countries have a private option for those willing to finance their own health care.

Dr. Laffer finds through his research for Texas Public Policy Foundation that Obama's own plan, using his reform principles of "a public health-insurance option, mandated minimum coverage, mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions, and required purchase of health insurance - only increase the size of the wedge and thus health-care costs." And, with the $1 trillion increase of federal health care subsidies, some 30 million will still be uninsured.

According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, President Obama's principles will Add $285 billion to the federal deficit by 2019; Increase national health care expenditures by an additional 8.9 percent; Raises medical price inflation 5.2 percent above what it would have been otherwise; Slow U.S. economic growth in 2019 by 4.9 percent less that doing nothing; Impose an additional $4,354 financial burden on every man, woman, and child in the U.S.; and Still leave 30 million Americans uninsured.

Sound good to you? We can do better.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Community Organizer in Chief

We have a President in the White House who is a former community organizer from Chicago. He was more than willing to be a spoke in the Daly machine. He went from community organizer to the Illinois State Legislature then to the U.S. Senate without breaking a sweat. He has done nothing but campaign for the the next office for most of his political life - why get stuck and actually accomplish something for the folks who put you into your position of power? He delivered a fine speech at the 2004 Democrat National Convention - the guy can deliver a fine speech with his mastery of the teleprompter - and he was ready to run for President. He wrote two books to cash in and it worked. He had barely been in the U.S. Senate for any time at all, but never mind. It was all written in the stars.

Obama, the chosen one. He agent of hope and change.

The community organizer in chief.

The best part of the constant mocking and criticism of those willing to attend public events and voice opposition to the Obama administration's grand adventure with our national economy is that the community organizer residing in the White House is the one leading the criticism. He is the one demanding his minions fall into line and go out there and demand cooperation from the masses. He even has a former "journalist" working in the West Wing who has set up a web site for Americans to snitch on other Americans if they wish. Read something you don't like from someone opposing the socialization of our health care system? Forward the e-mail or video to the White House and Linda Douglass will handle it.

Remember when the Bush administration was called a Nazi regime? Photos of Bush with Hitler mustaches added? Seems so benign now.

The community organizer in chief is quite thin skinned. That is what happens when a perpetual campaigner assumes the highest office in the land without any leadership experience. His bloated ego and nose up in the air attitude is not serving him well at all. He strives to remain above the fray of writing actual legislation while instructing Congress of his demands. Problems arise, though, because Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is way out of the mainstream of America. And, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is too milquetoast to stand for much of anything, other than trying to hang on to his seat since he is seriously down in the Nevada polls on the favorable column.

Americans are mad. Angry. Resentful. It is not, however, as it is portrayed from on high in Washington, D.C. While Barbara Boxer mutters that the protesters cannot not be true malcontents because they are dressed too well (you can't make this stuff up!); and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs uses the White House briefings to snarl that these protests are organized and not really truly unhappy Americans; and then President Obama uses his favorite straw men as arguments - "there are those who wish to do nothing" - which is a flat out lie he tells every day.

Obama's polls are not in a good place. His favorable numbers are way down. Now the polls on health care show a higher percentage of Americans happy with what they have than not. And, more Americans are beginning to pay attention and realize we cannot have 1/6 of our national economy turned over to bureaucrats who have botched up Medicare, Veteran's care, the U.S. Post Office, and on and on. The only job growth from the federal stimulus/spending legislation rammed through in the early Obama days before anyone even read it all is in government hiring. You may have noticed that the unemployment numbers continue to rise.

The recession is finding its natural bottom. Typically recessions last for 16 to 18 months. Count it out. Only 10% or so has been remitted of the stimulus funds. Cut if off and return it to the federal coffers. It is not working.

Despite the fact that the Obama regime would like you to believe it is only those rabid right wingers out there making noise, it is voters from all spots on the political spectrum. The far right is angry over what they perceive as socialism running rampant, the far left is angry that Obama is making concessions and not socialist enough.

Political hacks like Brad Woodhouse, DNC communications director is putting statements and videos out there calling town hall protesters members of the "birthers" movement. That is the term used by the Democrats who don't like people questioning the legitimacy of the document used to prove where the President was born. Never mind that these were the same hacks who started the ruckus demanding to see John McCain's birth certificate. He was born in Panama while his father was serving as commander over the Panama Canal so they thought they would claim he was not legally able to run. Payback is hell, huh.

The difference is that McCain immediately produced his document and it was completely legit. Obama has not even bothered to release his complete medical records or school records - McCain did both.

How's all that transparency working out from the "most ethical administration ever"? Yeah.

Frankly, after the last eight years of such political discourse as this country has not seen in recent history - dissenters emboldened to make movies with the idea of a Bush assassination and reporting on his young adult twin daughters, though children are typically left alone, it is small wonder that Obama experiences such crowd reaction and his fellow Democrats, too. They are in charge.

Democrats have been in charge of Congress since January 2007. Let's remember that. Granted President Bush didn't stop the runaway spending but they produce the legislation for him to sign. What happened to the notion that dissent is patriotic? What happened to free speech in this country and the right to assemble? Is that only if it is with Democrats?

So, when you continue to hear claims that it's those crazy right wingers who are conducting protests, tea parties, voicing opinions at town halls, sending e-mails to others, writing on personal blogs, remember who is doing the complaining. It is disgraceful to be so elitist that one party feels entitled to control the conversation - especially as we are being told that this country has to so dramatically change, right this minute.

The urgency of the President's agenda comes from the fact they planned to ram it through their Democratically controlled Congress before the American voter realized what was going on. We have the Blue Dog Democrats to thank for the slowing of health care legislation.

Listen well to the nasty ones. Remember those with the thin skin were not on the receiving end of criticism directly from the former president as he was being smeared with the help of the national media for eight years. This current administration is very tech savvy and aggressive. They will stop at nothing.

I say we stop them. I say 2010 is a start.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Julie & Julia" - Skip the Book

I enjoy reading cookbooks like others read fiction or non-fiction books. They frequently tell stories of the history of foods and why different techniques are used versus others. I learned to cook from cookbooks, not having the benefit of a mother who particularly enjoyed cooking much less offering to teach her daughters how to cook. I firmly believe, from my own experience, that if a person can read then a person can learn to cook.

Just follow the directions.

I love a good biography more than just about any other type of book. The stories of the lives of people have always interested me. One I read not too long ago was the story of Julia Child. Now there was one fascinating life story. Not only did she launch a very successful cooking career in the latter part of her life but in her earlier years she was a part of the foreign intel service. Talk about forging her own paths in life, that would be the lesson to take from her life story.

So, when I learned of a book that was published from a blog about cooking by Julia Child's French cookbook, I thought that would be a terrific summer read. A movie from the book will open Friday across the nation.

"Julie & Julia" is written by blogger turned author Julie Powell. Powell, originally from Austin, Texas now lives in a borough of NYC and worked for a government agency in Manhattan located directly across from the site of the 9/11/01 attacks. She came up with the idea to take the Julia Child cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and set a goal of making every recipe in the cookbook within the time frame of one year. She was 29 years old and a bored secretary at the time. She was looking for a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

So far so good. Interesting idea. She began a blog to record her experiment and came to realize the benefits of writing and receiving feedback from complete strangers. To say it all rapidly went to her head is an understatement.

Like many who are raised in small communities and move to the big city, Powell was determined to let the reader know how cool she is, to a fault. She is married to a good guy, by all accounts, who was her high school sweetheart. Unfortunately, she felt the need to insert politics into her book about cooking from a cookbook. Weird, very weird. I guess it has to do with the trying to be cool mindset.

She felt the need to bash Republicans at every opportunity - usually from out of thin air. There was never any reason for the side notes but it was how she decided to write. She was not at all happy with her job at a "government agency" and that some of her co-workers were Republicans. She belittled those who called Sept 11, 2001 "9/11" since she thought it sounded "like a deodorant or something" (pg 68) and wasn't comfortable with the emotions produced by those of the public with whom she interacted, whether in person or on the telephone. "Besides, the place was lousy with Republicans, so genuine emotion wasn't such a big commodity, anyway." (pg 68)

The head of the agency for which she worked was described as "he probably looked a little piggy to me only because I knew he was a Republican." (pg 69) Her friend Sarah comes in - "She stopped and grabbed my shoulders, staring into my eyes like a hypnotist. "Julie," she asked, "are you a Republican?" " (pg 70) And, from Nate "Are you kidding? Republicans don't wear vintage". (pg 70) That was after she interviewed for a job while wearing a vintage shop find. On the first anniversary of 9/11 she writes about manning the "Family Room" which was set up in her office to accommodate grieving spouses, children, parents and friends. She doesn't understand the comfort these grieving people sought by returning to the site of the attacks. She complains that only women, at the junior staff level, were handing out tissues and bottles of water. "Maybe, being Republicans, the senior staff had some family - values sort of notion that women possess inherent delicacy and sensitivity - despite the abundant evidence to the contrary within their own organization." (pg 77)

Powell uses vulgar language and sexual references for shock value. There is no other explanation. This was suppose to be a book about her experiment that was begun as a way to shake up a boring life. As she saw it. She insults other bloggers - they aren't as cool or smart as her - "Today, when we blog about our weight-loss problems and our knitting and our opinion of the president's IQ level, we do it on the blithe assumption that someone gives a sh** - even though there's a guy stuck in Baghdad who blogs, and a Washington DC staff assistant who gets paid by Republican appointees for sex who blogs, and our own jottings must be dreadfully dull by comparison." (pg 110)

When her friend, Gwen, refers to comedian Jimmy Fallon as a "fuc***g retard", "to his face" she opines it must "have felt pretty good." (pg 138) How progressive.

She brought in a dish made the evening before in her kitchen to her co-workers. Her kitchen is described for the filthiness of it. This dish, Charlotte Malakoff, was victim of an unfortunate accident en route to the office. Powell dropped the ceramic souffle dish and it shattered on a Manhattan sidewalk, during a freezing rain. Undeterred, she set it out for her co-workers, with a note to "Please Enjoy!". "I had to go to the six Democrats in the office and tell them they might want to take a pass since there might be ceramic shards or antifreeze in it." (pg 197)

I could go on with the political references, but it's too much. This is why the book was such a disappointment to me, as the reader. Did Powell assume only Democrats would read her book? Or the non-political readers? Why is she so insecure?

Her experiment is an interesting read - the parts she talks about actually cooking and the techniques she learns. It is also interesting that she learns of Julia Child's death as her year comes to an end. She learns Child is not supportive of Powell's project. Child is insulted by the stunt aspect of the project. Powell is offended by that.

Powell finishes her project within her time frame. She completes the mission. She learns so very little as a human being, though. Maybe it is her age - she turns 30 as her year of cooking a la Julia Child progresses. Maybe it is just the faux sophistication she presents to the world.

The book was difficult for me, a political wonk on the Republican side, to get through. It was offensive to me. I pushed through as an exercise of persistence. I was very disappointed.

I will, however, see the movie. I want to see Meryl Streep portray Julia Child.

I watched Cybill Shephard portray a "forty something" divorcee in a made for TV chick flick over the weekend. If Cybill can play someone 20 years her junior, Streep can certainly portray Julia Child.

Save your money on the book. Go see the movie.

The page references noted in this post are from the paperback edition of the book.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Obama Shamefully Takes GI Bill Credit

Laura Bush was a guest at the change of command ceremony for the USS Texas nuclear submarine in Groton, CT. She is the sponsor of the submarine. During a brief interview, she thanked the military and their families for their service to our country. She always stresses the sacrifices made by military families. When given an opportunity to criticize the Obama administration for the silly mistake made of changing the jargon of 'war on terror' used by the Bush administration and now have gone back to it, she chose the high ground and didn't. That is the dignity that is so sorely missing in the White House today. The West Wing and the East Wing could take some much needed lessons. Agree with the Bush policies or not, no one ever doubted the respect held for the office by the last administration or the quiet dignity - yes, class - of Laura Bush.

The remains of Navy pilot Capt. Michael Speicher have been found and identified in Iraq. He was shot down in the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and was the only MIA from that conflict still unaccounted for. Marines in western Iraq checked into some information from locals there, most importantly from citizens who say they were witnesses to the burial of the pilot. Bones and skeletal fragments were found and examined at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Dental records and DNA evidence from family members were used.

Now his family knows for sure of his death. His two children were just toddlers when he was shot down. Now they are college age young adults.

And, today President Obama is in Virginia touting the newly in effect GI Bill. He, unfortunately, made it sound as though it is his new bill. President Bush signed the new bill two years ago but it is just now taking effect. The Democrats have been in charge of Congress - both houses - since 2007.

The President again chose to use class warfare politics to make his point of the heroes this bill will aid - "While so many were searching for a quick buck, they were headed out on patrol," Mr. Obama said at a press conference at George Mason University." That from The Washington Times. Obama is a hypocrite. He and his wife were both chasing the quick buck - she at a cush job due to her Daly machine connections and magical pay tripling as her husband became a U.S. Senator; and he as he wrote two books while pursuing the office of President and the sweet deals they involve.

In America, we think pursing money is good. We think working and most careers are noble. The military deserves our respect and support, to be sure. But, that doesn't make other careers less.

President Bush also increased military pay substantially, compared to previous pay raises. And he was especially supportive to military families. He and Laura Bush are dearly loved by the military. They know who truly supports them.

Obama with his continued anti-war rhetoric and belittling of General Petraeus' surge strategy showed how little he respects our military. Supporting the mission is supporting the troops.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Suds Summit Goes Flat

Lots has been written and opined on about the meeting hosted at the White House by President Obama for Professor Henry Gates and Sgt. James Crowley. We all know the story and are tired of it. My question is, what came of it all?


"What you had today was two gentlemen who agreed to disagree on a particular issue," a poised and smooth Crowley said during a 15 minute news conference after the session. ("Smooth"?) "We didn't spend too much time dwelling on the past, and we decided to look forward,: Gates said in an interview. "I don't think anybody but Barack Obama would have thought about bringing us together." Those are quotes from The New York Times article from Friday, July 31, 2009. There were no apologies at this summit.

Joe Biden was there, too. That must have been a last minute invitation as he wasn't included in the original guest list by Obama. Originally we were told the three men would sit around a picnic table outside by the swing set. Odd setting, to be sure, just as it was for the initial meeting between Obama and Hillary Clinton as she was newly installed as Secretary of State. So, Biden appears in the photo - maybe he was to balance out the racial quotas.

Gates ended his statements to the press by saying, "We hit it right off from the beginning. When he's not arresting you, Sergeant Crowley is a really likable guy." Cute, right?

Here's what I noticed. Obama and Biden attended this White House beer summit in shirt sleeves. The guests wore suits. It is the protocol of a host to make the guest feel at ease. The two elite politicians in the White House decided to dress down since these were two working stiffs and it backfired. There's a teachable lesson for President Obama: stop with the condescending photo ops.

The meeting moved to a table across from the Oval Office. That was a move in the right direction. Obama feigned surprise that his inappropriate wading into a local law enforcement issue in Cambridge was such a headline grabber. Most interesting is the continuation of the arrogance of Obama on full display.

A photographer snapped a shot of the three emerging for the after-summit press conference. There's Obama walking out ahead of his guests, not a care in the world. His guests are trailing behind, Gates using his cane and Crowley offering his arm to steady him. The white cop accused of racial profiling of Gates, by Gates "are you asking me for identification because I'm a black man in America?", is extending common courtesy of helping an older man using a cane. The photo can be seen at American Thinker. There is an interesting contrast made, using an older photo of former President G.W. Bush holding the hand of Senator Byrd to help his walk at an event. Also, you may remember Bush holding the hand of the Saudi King, his guest at his ranch in Crawford, to steady him as he walked into the building. Democrats enjoyed mocking Bush for holding hands with the Saudi King for months afterwards. They simply don't get it.

A sense of common courtesy and standard good manners are necessary at all levels of society, most importantly at the top. This president is woefully lacking in standard decorum from the White House. The process matters.

The fact that Obama - who promised on the campaign trail to be the post-racial president - felt it proper to wade into the arrest issue of his old friend and then be so surprised that it caused a national debate is prime example. Gates is a prominent black professor, very successful in his field. He is not, however, above the law. When a police officer asks you to produce id as he looks into a report of a break-in at the house, you do it. Period. Doesn't matter what your skin color.

But, no. The first statement from Gates, who should have expressed gratitude that the police were there, doing their job of protecting the property of the public, was to voice the "black man in America" statement. That is an historically divisive cultural statement, as Shelby Steele wrote in the Wall Street Journal. And, then the President willingly stepped into it. You may remember that Michelle Obama used the same phrase when Obama announced his candidacy for President and she voiced some concern for his safety on the campaign trail.

Gates lives in a liberal university city - Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a black mayor. His liberal state has a black governor - also a friend of Obama. Obama is the first bi-racial president. The deck is hardly stacked against Gates in his own world. What if the white police officer simply ignored the call for help from the neighbor? That would have been portrayed as racism, too, right?

And, what about the woman who lived across the street that reported the incident? She did the right thing, looking out for a neighbor's property as that neighbor was out of the country on vacation. The house had already been broken into once during that time. She reported that two men - no race mentioned - appeared to be trying to force open the front door of the house. Period. Where was her invitation to the White House summit? Did Obama take a teachable moment to point out the efforts of a good neighbor? No. The woman has hired Boston attorney Wendy Murphy since now she has been the target of hate mail and threats for her good deed. She is being accused of racism. Incredible.

Gates did finally send the woman, Lucia Whalen, flowers and a note of thanks. After the lawyer got involved.

The teachable moment Obama likes to point to in this incident is lost on him. The teachable moment would have been for Obama to simply say, when asked by the Chicago reporter at the press conference, that he didn't have the whole story and didn't want to insert himself into the matter. And then leave it alone. That is the teachable moment - seeing a President of the United States using discretion and respect for the office he holds.