Saturday, November 28, 2009

When the people's representatives betray them.

Saturday mornings are precious to me. While it is still dark I rise and brew a stern cup of coffee then retreat to my study. In the winter, I start the fire and bury myself under a down comforter to read. Slowly and carefully I have been working my way through The Federalist Papers.

Here is what I read this morning in Federalist 28: "...the whole power of the proposed government is to be in the hands of the representatives of the people. This is the essential...efficacious security for the rights and privileges of the people, which is attainable in civil society." I believe that in my core. Don't you? Yet, it is clear our representatives, for the most part, don't.

Read on: "If the representatives of the people betray (emphasis mine) their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defence which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. "

The original intention of the Founders was for State governments to "in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority." Another check against abuse of power acknowledged and put in place by these men who understood the nature of man to impose his will on others. A nod to notion that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Yet, here we sit in California, a gerry-mandered, bankrupt state that continues to pursue failed policies of excessive spending and ever higher taxes and I ask myself, where is the redress for the invasion of my liberties? Of our liberties.
Follow me: When Mr. Obama took office, he promised: "Washington will have to tighten its belt and put of fspending," and he pledged to go through the federal budget, line by line. When he took office, the federal deficit for 2009 stood at $422B. By the end of October it was $1.42T. That is just the annual deficit. Think: we earned (taxes paid) minus we spent (total outlays) = annual deficit. The accumulated debt (money we owe other nations, our own citizens, all the holders of our debt--principal and interest) has soared from $6.3T when Obama took office to $7.5T ten short months later. (Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove) Meanwhile, despite public opinion to the contrary, our representatives continue to spend: health care, cap and trade.
If we want to see where this is going we only have to look at California. 12.5% unemployment rate (2.3% above the national average), a $12.5B tax increase last February to stem the deficit tide, yet it still grows. In 2007 (latest time period for which data is available) 260,000 Californians moved to states with "more opportunity." The state with one of the brightest business and innovation histories in the nation is now ranked the third worse among states for business climate by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. I don't know if Sacramento understands that it is business that employs the taxpayers that pay their salaries, but it is time for a crash course.
Ahhh shucks, perhaps the concept is simply too complicated for the single-minded bureaucrats in Sacramento to comprehend.
In their prescient wisdom, the Founders got it deep in their core. Quoting from Federalist 28 again: "If their rights are invaded by either, (state or federal government) they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress."
That is, "...provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them."
If you don't have a copy of The Federalist Papers rent a the John Adams DVD series and watch it with your family. You cannot help but be inspired by the passion of the men who Founded this Great Experiment. It is time for us to rekindle the flame. To defend our rights.
It is time to take our government--state and federal--back and return it to the hands of patriotic citizens with respect for the Constitution and the rights and liberties of average American citizens.
We owe it those who spent or lost their lives in pursuit of the ideals of this great country.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

From the Heritage Foundation this morning. (Note: unlike the Washington Proclamation sent out yesterday Lincoln's is not in old English. The "f's" are really "f's" not "s's." Some were confused by the old type. Enjoy!) To you and yours: A Blessed Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was not formally made a federal holiday until 1941. However, it has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November annually since President Abraham Lincoln delivered the address below in 1863. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at The Heritage Foundation.

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

General Thanksgiving--A Proclamation

Dear Friends,

Below is the first Thanksgiving proclamation given by President George Washington, on November 26, 1789. Please read and enjoy. Wishing you a Blessed Thanksgiving.

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington
Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Welcome to the United States of the Banana Republic

Last week, on the eve of the Senate health care bill vote, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (I will publish the task force member names separately) released new guidelines for mammograms. The recommendations of this task force, (which I am told and the list seems to verify, includes no practicing oncologists or OB-GYN's, rather it is comprised of professors and heads of university departments, you know INTELLECTUALS, the kind that propose theoretical policy they are never stuck implementing themselves) offer new guidelines that propose women in their 40's no longer receive routine mammogram screening, rather the tests should be given to women ages 50-74 and no longer ever year but every other. Additionally, the task force recommended that women no longer be encouraged to conduct Breast Self Examination (BSE) since there is no indication the examination produces results.

Creepy? Hold on, it is about to get creepier.

No where in the recommendation does the task force cite compelling evidence to support their recommendation. The paragraph below is pulled directly from the recommendation.

Estimates of the sensitivity of mammography vary with the methods used to calculate it. In a good quality systematic review, the first round of mammography detected 77 percent to 95 percent of cancers diagnosed over the following year, (emphasis mine) but only 56 percent to 86 percent of cancers diagnosed over the next 2 years. Sensitivity is lower among women who are younger than 50, have denser breasts, or are taking hormone replacement therapy. In screening trials, the false-positive rate of the initial round of mammography was 3 percent to 6 percent (i.e., specificity 94 percent to 97 percent)

The task force does not quantify the term "sensitivity is lower among women who are younger." How much lower? Yet, I have to admit I don't care. If the success in identifying women with breast cancer in their 40's is greater than 1% I am for it. Our society should be too. I have a feeling 100% of the children of women in their 40's would vote YES to preventative treatment for their mothers and since theses children will be paying the bills...

Creepiest? The big risk to continuing the annual test?

The consequences of false-positive mammograms (recall--3-5% of initial mammograms) are uncertain. Most, but not all, studies report increased anxiety (emphasis mine) from an abnormal mammogram. At the same time, some studies report that women in the United States may be willing to accept a relatively high number of false-positive results in the population in return for the benefits of mammography. Studies do not indicate that false-positive results diminish adherence to subsequent screening.

Now, we can't have that. Increased anxiety over false positives that does not diminish the woman's adherence to subsequent screenings, nor, according to the study cited, is an unacceptable risk to the women screened. It seems it is unacceptable to the PelosiReidObama care plan though.

After the outrage from the report, most health care organizations, Medicare and our Secretary for Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, (you remember Ms. Sebelius, the government official who gallantly showed us how to cough in our sleeves in the face of the H1N1 virus--just in case you can't get your hands on the vaccine...) all claimed they would ignore the recommendations.

But here is where Joe Wilson comes in. Ms. Sebelius can't make that claim. She misleads, over commits, obfuscates, she, well, lies.

According to the Heritage Morning Bell: "Both the House and Senate versions of Obamacare create detailed new federal regulations that micromanage all health insurance decisions. Specifically, Section 2713 of the Senate Health Bill would give the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force the force of law by requiring all health insurance plans to provide coverage (with no patient co-pays) for “items or services that have in effect a rating of “A” or “B” [recommended] in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force.”

Conversely, under Obamacare, last week’s Task Force decision to give annual mammograms a “C” rating (not recommended) will henceforth be viewed by insurers and employers as a justification for discontinuing coverage."

IN OTHER WORDS: While Kathleen Sebelius might ignore the recommendations of the task force, the bureaucrats that will doling out your health care, won't.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Time to turn on the lights and scatter the cockroaches.

Well they did it. Not out in the open, of course. Under cover of a Saturday night "procedural vote." After the $100 million according to the press, $300 million according to her ("I am not going to be defensive. And it's not a $100 million fix. It is a $300 million fix,") Louisiana Purchase of Senator Mary Landrieu. Hundreds of millions of OUR dollars used to pay off the wavering Louisiana Senator in order to secure her vote. I don't have words for this. None that won't get me in trouble.

I worked with a guy who once said to me, "What did you expect? You turned the lights on and the cockroaches are scattering." I thought of that this morning after sleeping off the news that the Senate passed along party lines the "procedural" vote to begin debate of the $1.2-2.4 trillion (I believe the latter number since it came from The Heritage Foundation), gigantic tax- increasing, abortion funding, health care monstrosity. It's time to turn on the lights and scatter the cockroaches.

Trillions of dollars to fund the 12 million people who actually need and cannot afford health care. The polar opposite of President Lincoln's a rising tide lifts all boats, rather, this is a dike-breaking disaster that will flood and destroy our current health care system in a New York nano second.

Reading in the Federalist Papers recently I came across the following passages. Bear with me for a moment. There is great wisdom in these dense commentaries.

  • Federalist 25: "For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion. "

  • Federalist 26: "...we may travel from one chimerical project to another; we may try change after change; but we shall never be likely to make any material change for the better."

Change. Not for me, thank you. I'll stick with our Constitution. And as the bumper sticker wisdom goes: They can keep the CHANGE.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

To: President Obama--You Won. Stop Campaigning and Start Governing

In the old days, when I was a kid, we used to put on our patent leather shoes, chiffon and tulle dresses and walk to the neighbor kid's birthday party carrying a wrapped Mr. Potato Head, or Barbie Doll. We were willing to suffer the indignation of dressing up on a Saturday for a slice of thick, homemade cake and a collection of prizes like a Pez dispenser or a ring-whistle or a wooden paddle ball awarded to the winner of each game. Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs and, my favorite, the treasure hunt. Our hostess would give us a list of items to collect from unwitting neighbors working in their yards or relaxing in front of the TV.

The items were obscure and the game was timed. We scrambled without a plan from door to door, wildly crisscrossing the street, helter-skelter. Completely out of control looking for old buttons or a threaded needle, a kazoo, a burnt out TV tube.

I thought of that game this morning as I read about the President's latest plan for Afghanistan: Retreat.

In a matter of months President Obama has jumped from one strategy to another, without a plan, helter-skelter. First, he extolled the conflict in Afghanistan as the "good war." In May after a serious and comprehensive strategy review, he installed his hand-picked commander, General McChrystal. He asked the General for a recommendation, received said recommendation on August 30th--a request for 40,000 more troops--then ignored the request until the report was leaked to the press. Defended his decision to do nothing with the proposal by arguing the decision was complex and required further study. Dispatched John Kerry to Afghanistan. Took counsel from the local Ambassador while the general on the ground cooled his heels. Meanwhile October was the bloodiest month for our troops on record in the theatre and troop morale is at an all time low. The proposal is still just that. No troops have been sent. And now an exit plan.

Back and forth and back and forth. Except the stakes are not Pez dispensers and wooden paddle ball games. These are lives we are talking about. The lives of our bravest and finest.

Back and forth, back and forth. "I will," "I promise," "I guarantee." Campaign promises. Empty promises.

Dangerous and reckless behavior characterizes just about every aspect of this Administration. Advice is sought and not heeded. Public opinion is ignored. The Hasan/Fort Hood probe is halted. But self-confessed terrorists are being granted Constitutional rights and offered a very public trial where our intelligence and military secrets will be paraded before a Kangaroo court and the world. Our president assures us the terrorists will be found guilty...can he do that? Of course not. It's a smoke screen, another promise he can't keep.

Back and forth, back and forth. Perhaps, he hopes we will get tired or confused, that we will give up. Not me, I am holding on for dear life. And this time it's not for an elusive prize or a piece of cake. It's for my liberty and the liberty of my children and grandchildren. And yours, too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Deconstructing Our Country at Mach Two

A number of years ago I was in the unfortunate predicament of having to be in two places at almost the same time: Zurich and San Francisco. There was no solution it seemed until someone suggested I take the Concorde. I could think of nothing more appealing or more practical considering what was at stake. So I made the two-day trip: San Francisco to Chicago to Zurich, Zurich to London where I would board the Concorde to fly to New York and then home.

Flying the Concorde was like booking a first class cabin on the Queen Mary I was told. You will be pampered beyond anything you have experienced. And whatever you do, don't miss the food! When i de-planed in London, a personal guide was waiting for me to walk me through the maze of Heathrow and deposit me in the Concorde Lounge where I took a steam shower and enjoyed a glass of champagne. We boarded from our private lounge and took our seats. The aerodynamic construct of the plane meant the seats were small and cramped but not to worry, the food was the main thing! Takeoff and we were rocket shot into the sky, speed accelerating until we reached Mach One then our cruising speed of Mach Two. The experience was heady, dizzying and then just like that I fell asleep, missed the entire service and woke with a crick in my neck when the plane landed in New York.

Reminds me of the Obama Administration. Scandal and fraud, deconstruction of the Constitution, spending, spending and more spending--all at warp speed. And if you nod off for even a moment you will miss another "historical" debacle. One thing is for sure, if half of this agenda is enacted you will end up with a colossal crick in the neck.

So grab an espresso and strap in. We are going for a ride:

  • Spending: During the first nine months, the Obama Administration has spent more than the Clinton Administration spent in eight years. From today: "Yesterday at 3:00 p.m. ET, the Treasury Department updated its calculation of the U.S. National Debt to: $12,031,299,186,290.07. That $12 trillion record high comes just eight months after it hit $11 trillion and is only expected to rise faster considering the federal deficit for 2009 was over $1.4 trillion."

  • Fort Hood: After an inauspicious start to the crisis (see YouTube video address below), President Obama vowed to pursue a full probe in his weekly address to the nation on November 7th. This morning he announced a halt to the probe.

  • Job Creation: The rate of unemployment is ticking up by the day. The October unemployment rate came in at 10.2% up from 7.6% in January, even after the $800 million stimulus bill passed for the express purpose of ensuring unemployment would not rise above 8%. Not to worry: the government reports they are creating/saving jobs all over the place. Even in places that don't exist--like Arizona's 15th district. ...oh well. Oopsie. My favorite? Five of the jobs reported as 'created' in Nebraska, are the five jobs required to count all the other new jobs in Nebraska. All of this should be resolved during Obama's Jobs Summit, though. Right?

  • Health Care: Suddenly, on the eve of PelosiReedObamaCare being crammed down our throats we learn--after decades of being told otherwise--that it turns out women don't need annual mammograms and don't even need to start the test until the age of 50. Why? To lower the risks, of course. Risks of all those false positives from the test that somehow seem to be more prevalent in your 40's than in your 50's. And we don't want to risk false positives simply to save women from the very treatable breast cancer. Make sense? And listen, don't you worry about all that nonsense of the government rationing care, they won't monkey around with rationing, they'll just deem the care unneccessary.Oh yes, and has anyone seen an H1N1 vaccine now that the government is on the job?

  • Foreign Policy: I want to compliment the president on his handling of foreign policy. Obama is doing an excellent job of bowing to foreign heads of state like the Saudi King and the Emperor of Japan. Wait a second, though. Did he bow to Queen Elizabeth--one of our staunchest allies? Ah well two out of three isn't bad.

  • Terrorists on Trial: Constitutional rights conveyed to enemy combatants, now if that isn't turning justice on its head. If only Eric Holder had been on the job during the Second World War, think of all the barbarians that would be roaming the streets of New York. Eric Holder has a long and dubious history of representing thugs and most notably obtaining a pardon for the likes of Marc Rich . According to Time's Most Notorious Pardons: "In 1983, financier Rich was indicted for evading more than $48 million in taxes, and charged with 51 counts of tax fraud, as well as running illegal oil deals with Iran during the 1979-1980 hostage crisis. During his last week in office, President Bill Clinton pardoned Rich, who had fled the U.S. during his prosecution and was residing in Switzerland." Thanks to the diligent work of Eric Holder. There is so much wrong with this decision, we'll dig in deeper soon.

Until then, hold on tight.

( and if this address fails go to YouTube and type in Obama's priorities.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

If We Refuse to Learn from History--A Power Hungry State

What use is history if we refuse to learn from it? If we are doomed to repeat the past mistakes of civilizations before us, why bother to teach and study history at all? But, if you believe as I do that our Founders took great pains to construct a government unlike any before them, inspired by the Enlightenment thinkers and determined to learn from the mistakes of failed governments, then you must ask the question as I have, what if our current leadership refuses to learn from history?

This weekend I pondered two diametrically opposed health care views I received from two doctor's. Both are orthopedic surgeons--an odd coincidence--and both have a passion for practicing medicine. One, I believe, is on the right side of the argument, the other is not. That is the tragic nature of the politicization of health care, it has and will continue to mislead people who are simply trying to do the right thing.

The first doctor is a surgeon in his prime. He has six children and works long and tedious hours to provide for his family. He has paid his dues and now he finds the government engaged in what he calls a power grab unlike any other in our history. That of taking control of our health care system.

The other doctor has practiced medicine for some 25 years in private practice and now works for one of the largest co-ops in the nation. He believes that the poor should have health care. That in a country like ours, it is "immoral" to behave otherwise. He told me of a man with a construction injury he had tried to treat himself because he couldn't afford insurance. The infection was so bad when the man finally came to the emergency room this doctor almost had to amputate his thumb. And I could see the real compassion on his face and in his voice. The situation pained him deeply. But when I asked if the man received treatment after all he replied affirmatively and I was left wondering again, why we must spend $1.2 trillion, turn the current system on its head to treat whatever the number is: 10 million, 20 million, call it 30 million, it really doesn't matter to meet his objective--coverage for the poor. Because, I think most all of us would agree that health care for the truly poor, just like food stamps and other assistance for this group is a noble and necessary goal.

And if Pelosi Care is in fact about providing health care for the poor, why not do just that? Health stamps for treatment, perhaps? Why put in place a behemoth bureaucracy to dictate health guidelines to every American?

Because the first surgeon was right. It is not about health care, it is about power. And the most Machiavellian kind of power grab seen in our generation.

Let's refresh ourselves on our founding principles gleaned from the men of the Enlightenment. I take this list from the book For Good and Evil, The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization. Today, I will focus only on the first item on the list.
  1. Government is at best a necessary evil. --The men of the Enlightenment had no illusions about government. "Government," said Thomas Paine on the first page of his famous pamphlet called Common Sense (1776), "even in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one." ...Paine's dominant theme was that taxation produced tyranny. The root of the problem lay in the foolish, naive attitude of the people towards their governments by believing "that government is some wonderful mysterious thing." And when they believe that illusion, "excessive revenues are obtained."

Begging the question, why would we tolerate a government grab for health care that will consume 1/6 of our economy and the decision making power over our very right to life and liberty?

Paine goes on, "...for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. (bold face emphasis mine). Paine believed the Revolution was necessary to produce a government that was "less expensive, and more productive."

Look at us now.

The belief that taxation was tyranny was the foundation of the Revolution and wielded great influence over the writers of the Constitution. That is why there was no provision for direct taxation (income taxes) in the Constitution and they did not exist for over 100 years until the 16th Amendment was passed in 1913.

The Baron de Montesquieu wrote in The Spirit of Laws: "The revenues of the state are a portion of that each subject gives of his property in order to secure or to have the agreeable enjoyment of the remainder. ...The real wants of the people ought never to give way to the imaginary wants of the state."

What is Pelosi Care but the imaginary wants of a power hungry state?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ignorance and Good Intentions are No Defense


I spent July in Prague studying literature and writing. Prague is a mystical, glorious, sad city of great writers and composers. And since the Velvet Revolution in 1989, a free society. But the remnants of Communism remain, like a bleak cloud hanging over the heart of the city. Before I stopped to consider the history of the place, the gloom irritated me. What not to be happy about? Anyone who has floated through the spires and frescoes or crisscrossed the River Vltava on the Charles or any one of the plentiful bridges would agree that if not the loveliest city in Europe, Prague is certainly among the top three. The City is a Yosemite Valley of delight.

But Communism has left its ugly stain on the place. You have to look hard and close and even chip away at the fresh paint of freedom but it is there, lurking.

I became fond of the Czech writer Milan Kundera as a result of my trip. I stumbled over him just before I prepared to return home and the timing couldn't have been better. Kundera is Czech but after the Soviet invasion in 1968 he lost his teaching position at Charles University and his books were banned. In 1975 he moved to France. He is probably most well known in America for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. One passage, particular, stands out to me.

I thought of this passage when I heard the news that the Obama Administration's intends to bring the 9/11 "alleged" terrorists to New York to stand trial. Terrorists, who are not citizens, not common criminals but unlawful enemy combatants; who are not subject to our Constitutional law, have confessed, have asked to be executed are according to the Obama Administration "alleged" terrorists. These evil men are somehow entitled to due process in our courts. Where to find a jury of their peers one wonders? How to keep the City safe during their before the camera trials? To what end? Why? Is the Administration just plain foolish?

Kundera, describing the reign of the Communists places a heavy burden on the "enthusiasts" as he calls them. The ones who embraced Communism because they thought it was the path to paradise. And they killed many in the process. And when paradise didn't appear, it was clear they had in fact been murderers. This is the group he addresses in the following passage: "And the accused (the communists) responded: We didn't know! We were deceived! We were true believers! Deep in our hearts we are innocent! ...But he said to himself, whether they knew or didn't know is not the main issue; the main issue is whether a man is innocent because he didn't know. Is a fool on the throne relieved of all responsibility merely because he is a fool?

... As a result of your 'not knowing', this country has lost its freedom, lost it for centuries, perhaps, and you shout that you feel no guilt? How can you stand the sight of what you've done? How is it you aren't horrified?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Too Much Money Chasing Too Few Goods

One of the best economic minds of our generation is Dr. Arthur Laffer of Laffer Curve fame. So when he talks, I listen. You should, too.

In a report published yesterday entitled, Market Expectations and Causative Reasons For Inflation he argues that conditions are ripe for the CPI to move rapidly from deflation to "the 2.5% to 3% range" over the next three months. And higher from there.

His argument is two-fold but is driven largely by the Federal Reserve's decision to increase the monetary base. "The current increase in the monetary base (Sept-08 to the present) is more than 10 times larger than the next largest percentage increase (last half of 1999) during the past 50 years."

All the while the manufacturing sector of our economy is contracting. Consider, a dramatic rise in the supply of money, fewer goods being produced; can it mean anything other than higher prices? Econ 101: Inflation = too much money chasing too few goods.

But that isn't the biggest worry as far as I am concerned. Dr. Laffer reminds: "No economy will prosper if:

  • Tax rates are rising;

  • Government is overspending;

  • The Fed is printing too much money;

  • The economy is being overregulated; and,

  • Foreign trade is being restricted."

Check. Check. Check. Check. And check.

With the markets staging a robust recovery from last year's lows and considering the economic news, current monetary policy and the looming fiscal policy changes, investors would be wise to balance their portfolios with commodities, technology and steady, stable consumer-non durable companies.

And hunker down for a long, cold winter.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Battle Weary, We March On

Nancy Tengler

I am no historian. But, my read of the Revolutionary War goes something like this: The Red Coats outnumbered, out-gunned and out-generaled Washington's Continental Army at every turn. In the beginning. But Washington had one advantage. He taught himself how to think like the enemy, when to retreat, wait. And, finally strike.

So far the early health care battles go to the enemy. Despite lack of public support, Nancy Pelosi twisted arms to make deals under cover of darkness and eked out a slim majority for passage of Nancycare. Yet, in the latest Rasmussen poll conducted the day following the vote "... 45% now favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. Most (52%) remain opposed. " A modest shift in Nancy's favor though still significantly in the minority. Once people understand what is in the bill, the opposition will grow. So we wait.

I spent an hour last evening sifting through the 1,990 page, $1.2 trillion bill. As Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann said, it is "gibberish." With a month to study and consultation over its contents I would still have no clear understanding of most of its provisions. Yet with just a few days to consider it, Congress voted.

Big Lie #3--this bill is about providing health care for the neediest.

According to Benjamin Zycher, Research Fellow at Pacific Research Institute, "It's official. The Joint Tax Committee informs us that under the terms of the Pelosi health-care bill, 'Americans who do not maintain acceptable health insurance coverage and who choose not to pay the bill's new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.'"

Key excerpts from the JCT letter appear below:
“H.R. 3962 provides that an individual (or a husband and wife in the case of a joint return) who does not, at any time during the taxable year, maintain acceptable health insurance coverage for himself or herself and each of his or her qualifying children is subject to an additional tax.” [page 1]

“If the government determines that the taxpayer’s unpaid tax liability results from willful behavior, the following penalties could apply…” [page 2]

“Criminal penalties:
Prosecution is authorized under the Code for a variety of offenses. Depending on the level of the noncompliance, the following penalties could apply to an individual:
Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.
Section 7201felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” [page 3]

Tell me how this helps the needy? To me, it reeks of absolute control imposed by our representatives whose leader in the House is drunk with her own power. Meanwhile, Barbara Boxer under cover of health care and the Fort Hood terrorist attack, is pushing cap and trade through committee, California's Prop 13 is under serious attack of repeal, unemployment is rising, the economy continues to flounder and our troops in Afghanistan remain exposed while the Chief Fiddler considers strategy...still. Three months and ticking. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is finding it difficult to prosecute the war he once called the good war when he was campaigning for American votes. Attack after attack after attack.

But we can't dig a trench and duck for cover. We have to continue the battle. And our greatest weapon is the ballot. Even in California where our districts are so gerrymandered it seems pointless to vote, and our two Senator's have been entrenched for years, there is hope. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard has announced her intention to replace Barbara Boxer. Carly is a formidable foe. She can beat the diminutive (in every sense of the word), silly Boxer. Meg Whitman, former CEO of Ebay is already running a well-funded, well-organized stop spending-lower taxes-create jobs campaign for governor. We have strong Congressional candidates in the wings that care about the Constitution and family and sound economic policy. We may lose the health care battle, but we must win the war.

The time to strike will come. And like General Washington we must be ready; like the Revolutionary soldiers we must be strong and courageous.

March on patriots.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Day to Remember

Nancy Tengler

A Day to Remember

Like every American I remember exactly what I was doing when the second plane hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I was on the treadmill in my bedroom a little before 6 a.m., watching the stock market open, the futures soaring until a report that a plane had flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 (EST). At that point there was only conjecture; a stray commuter plane the most popular theory. Live shots of the gaping hole and the billows of smoke but still no answers. At 6:03 (PST) I watched live as the second plane plowed into the South Tower.

Two months (to the day) earlier I had taken my daughter to eat at the Windows on the World Restaurant atop the North Tower. I remembered how the view from the 106th/107th floor restaurant made my knees weak. How I stood ten to twelve feet back from the windows, too unsteady on my feet before the magnificence of the height to allow myself any closer. I remembered the giddy dizziness I felt. The tingle.

This day there was no tingle. Just horror. As the situation grew more desperate inside the North Tower and the flames presumably became unbearable, I watched in eerie silence as bodies dropped before my eyes. A single person clinging to the side of the building at least eighty stories up before the cameras turned to the chaos below. A dark cloud passed over my heart and didn't budge for years. It wasn't long before the falling body pictures were swept off the air, replaced with photos of the victims on the ground--those who had made it out on foot, the fallen who were carried out by hero after hero.

And, perhaps, because I couldn't do anything valuable or because I worked with many on Wall Street, some now victims; maybe because I had spent the prior Thursday in the Deutsche Bank building across the street from the South Tower, I feel the need to keep the memory of that day alive. So, from time to time I pull out a Life coffee table book I purchased entitled, One Nation, America Remembers September 11, 2001 and gape at a two-page, full color photo of the North Tower just before collapse, a spread eagle body frozen mid-plummet, a lone individual clinging 80, maybe 90 stories high to the outside of the building, pressed between the steel spines that would soon melt and collapse from the excruciating heat. And the cloud returns and I weep.

I wish we as a nation would unite in our resolve to keep the victim's families before us each and every day. Consider their future's in the shadow of the horror of their loss and redouble our commitment to ensure their spouse or parent or son or daughter did not die in vain. I wish too we would be faithful to the precious lives of all the young men and women who joined our military shortly after the terrorist attacks to serve and protect the country they love.

They deserve our prayers, our support and our respect. They certainly don't deserve to be gunned down by a militant Islamic Major who hated the country he served and the military he served it in. I will not proclaim the politically correct platitudes our leaders offer for the Fort Hood terrorist attack. I am sickened by General Casey's comment: "Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse." If I wasn't a lady...

We know a great deal about the intentions of the shooter in the aftermath. We know next to nothing about the victims and their families. And that is, quite simply, wrong.

So while our leaders fall over themselves to explain away Major Hasan's jihad at Fort Hood. And the media does back-bends to consider the post-traumatic stress he suffered as a state-side psychiatrist who had never seen active duty. I choose instead to ask you to join me in saluting the brave men and women who serve at Fort Hood and throughout our military and to pray for their safety at home and on the battlefield.

God bless our America.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our Emperor's New Clothes

Our Emperor's New Clothes

In the Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Emperor's New Clothes, the emperor hires two phont, swindling tailors who promise to make him a set of remarkable new clothes that will be invisible to anyone who is incompetent or stupid. Of course, there aren't any clothes and the sycophantic mob that surrounds the emperor will not admit they cannot see the clothes for fear of being labeled as ineffectual idiots. Even the emperor himself is held hostage by his new wardrobe. For, he sees nothing but is afraid to admit it. As he parades through the streets in his "next to nothings" the crowd applauds and admires until a lone child's voice exclaims: "But, he has nothing on at all!"

I couldn't help but think of the tale today as I watched the modern day sycophants circle on Capitol Hill. Led by the foremost of them all: former President Bill Clinton. While extolling the need to pass a bill and pass it now he said: "It's not important to be perfect here. It's important to act, to move, to start the ball rolling." Who, but a feckless politician would say something that naive with such dogmatic fervor?

Big Lie #2

What the bill says, matters. And it must be perfect. When the politicians in Washington propose to take over a big chunk of the private sector, especially with their record in running things, we are entitled to expect perfection. So, when someone like Bill Clinton (who should know better) says, it "doesn't need to be perfect" my alarms sound and I am reminded of the emperor's swindling tailors.

We just need to act Clinton tells us. But, why do we need to act? Incrementally, how many uninsured will become insured under the bill? The numbers are evasive. The purpose of the bill is vague. The legitimacy of the bill is most definitely questionable. Yet, we move forward with all the certainty and the dogmatism of the emperor in his new clothes. The media and the democrat's fawn over the health care bill's provisions. Deny that the bill will add a dime to the deficit despite a price tag of something over $1 trillion. The emperor's clothes look lovely they cry.

Yet we know better don't we? We know that the promises won't be kept. That the estimates will be exceeded. And this time, it's personal in a way it's never been personal before. The power shift is staggering and the power grabbers have an abysmal record. Just look at the availability of the H1 N1 vaccine for a recent report card on the bureaucrat's execution in protecting our health. We see through the lies, through the wardrobe of new clothes they are peddling. We see the incompetence and stupidity while they continue to fawn and exclaim--Health care for all! Not a dime to the deficit! You won't have to give up a thing! No death panels. No federally funded abortion. No rationing. Plenty of flu vaccine for all!

They have overreached this time. But that will not stop them. Despite the fact that the majority of Americans don't support this bill, they push on. This is their religion.

The emperor's new clothes are no clothes at all. But who will have the courage like the young lad in the tale to say so?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Big Lie #1

"The first place on earth where man matters more than the state."

Michael Shaara, author of The Killer Angels, writes of America: "This was the first place on earth where man mattered more than the state."

Someone needs to remind Ms. Pelosi of this fact. Also a gentle reminder, perhaps, that this is still the Land of the Free. She can keep her 1990 page, $1 Trillion plus power grab disguised as health care reform.

And would someone tell her to stop wagging her finger at us? Please?

Let's start with the first Big Lie. During his health care reform address to the Joint Session on September 8th, President Obama promised: "Let me be clear -- it would only be an option for those who don't have insurance," he said. "No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up ."

Let's ignore for a moment the obvious question--why spend $1 trillion to cover 5% of Americans. Let's focus instead on the veracity of his promise. In other words, did he deliver?

Section 202 (pages 91-92) of H.R. 3962, passed late Saturday night on the President's urging, argues otherwise. According to an article by Betsy McCaughey in Saturday's Wall Street Journal, Section 202 requires each of us to enroll in a "qualified plan." If your health care coverage is supplied through your employer, the employer will have a "grace period" (last read it was five years) to switch to a "qualified plan," which is a plan designed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. If you buy your own insurance, there is no grace period. As soon as there is the slightest change in your plan, a co-pay increase, deductible change, benefit MUST enroll in plan's deemed by the GOVERNMENT to be "qualified."

Section 224 (page 118) states that 18 months after the bill becomes law, the HHS Secretary will determine what a "qualified plan" covers. Also how much we will be REQUIRED by law to pay for it. Mandatory purchase of government designed health care with no ability to control what we pay for the service. Hardly sounds as Obama promised that "No one would be forced to choose it and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance."

We do have an estimate of the cost though. The CBO's November 2nd calculations (which if history is any guide will be a GROSS understatement) for a family earning $102,100 a year, will result in a premium of approximately $15,000. Out of pocket costs are estimated at $5,300. Total cost? $20,300. 20% of pre-tax income. Yikes. Must be something special, right?

Well not exactly. Section 303 (pages 167-168) describes the new plan as a "one size fits all" plan. For 20% of annual family income (which most likely means 30-40%)...a "one size fits all plan?" No, thank you.

So what happened to the country you and I lived in on Friday? The one where the man mattered more than the state? Huh Nancy? Huh President Obama. Hello? Anyone listening?

Trucker plummets off S-Curve

Dear Friends,

This story made me sick.
At 3:30 a.m. a big-rig lost control on the S-curve of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and plummeted over the side, falling 200 feet to Yerba Buena Island. Needless to say, the driver is dead.

The officer interviewed for the article blamed "speed" for the 42 crashes in the S-curve portion of the span since it opened on September 8th. I blame incompetence.

Our society is quickly sinking to the lowest common denominator. We don't place blame where it belongs. We don't call things what they are. This is a dangerous, slippery slope with serious repercussions. The S-curve design is idiotic. Flashing lights and "Reduce Speed" warnings obviously cannot overcome the danger. 42 accidents in a little over two months proves that.

Grossly over budget, late and poorly constructed, the Bay Bridge has cost the tax payers of California enough in time and money, and now a hard-working man has paid with his life.

This is what happens when unaccountable bureaucrats are in charge. Sorry, I still don't want these people anywhere near my health care.

More on that in just a bit.

Friday, November 6, 2009

10.2% and Rising.

10.2% and Rising.

"Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty." --Ronald Reagan

I miss Ronnie. Don't you?

Frankly, I am sick and tired of being told America is no longer great. That our only hope is for the government to take over every part of our lives. That we must pay for past sins and successes. I am tired of the finger wagging. And the somber faces. Tired of the incompetence and the arrogance. And I am tired of the lies. Especially Obama's.

The Chief Fiddler speaks and acts without experience to support the veracity of his words. He speaks and acts without ever considering the consequences. Like an adolescent. Like a teenager I wouldn't trust with the keys to my car. Let alone the keys to our future and that of our children. He has shown reckless abandon for the truth. Joe Wilson was absolutely right when he shouted out in the dignified auditorium of the Joint Session: "You lie." The one desecrating the great office was not Joe Wilson.

When my children lied to me, I punished them. One of them had to clean up after our 190 pound Newfoundland all summer, every day, morning and night because lies are like...well you know, and integrity requires an acknowledgement of that. So the poor child cleaned the mess each day as a reminder of the importance of truth. The message was received. The behavior changed. The stakes for truth are high. There is no compromise. There is no other side. There is no negotiation.

When Barack Obama told us passing his $787 billion stimulus bill would ensure unemployment would never rise above 7.8% and that by 2010 the economy would employ 138.6 million jobs, he was either lying or recklessly uninformed. Nothing in the stimulus bill could guarantee that claim. Keynsian policies never have and never will create jobs but even if the policies did work, the claim was simply unsupportable. It was what is called an expedient lie. Like many we have heard over the past months.

(Remember the one about transparency in the Obama Administration? We were going to have the opportunity to view legislation on-line for two weeks, then 72 hours prior to passage. Nancy Pelosi promised a 72 hour viewing of the health care bill as recently as a week ago. But now she says not. We are not entitled to see the bill. And it wouldn't be fair anyway. Why should we have the opportunity to read something our legislators haven't and won't read before they vote on it?)

Simultaneously loading down business with health care reform (read TAXES) and cap and trade (read EXCESSIVE TAXES AT EVERY LEVEL) will only ensure that today's 10.2% unemployment rate will continue rising. The big LIE is: government is not the solution. It is the problem. The Founders knew that. Reagan knew that. The Administration, too, knows that. But the power is intoxicating and they will do whatever they can to grab as much as possible. No matter how many people are trampled in the process. 190,000 freshly unemployed can attest to that.

I have a secret to share with Mr. Obama. The money has to come from somewhere. You can't keep printing it forever. These are real people losing real jobs. And though we are a tolerant lot, there will be consequences.

Oh yes and Ronnie said one more thing for us to consider: "All great change in America begins at the dinner table."

Buy a copy of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, The Founder's Manual--all available at the Heritage Foundation or get a copy of Liberty and Tyranny and read it to your children a little bit at a time each night. Jefferson was right: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Word's Still Mean Something

Word's Still Mean Something

"Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. " --Buddha

Since White House Communications Director, Anita Dunn revealed her fascination with Mao Tse Tung and his "can do" attitude that wiped some 40-60 million people off the map, I have been searching for common ground with these people. It is clear they do not value the "so-called Founders" (as President O calls them) and it is obvious to even the simplest and most trusting mind that Nancy Pelosi doesn't give a hoot about the Constitution. Now we are to understand that Dunn admires Mao. Where to meet halfway?

Buddha, I thought. Who can argue with Buddha? "Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill."

Words: President Barack Obama promised the American people during his speech before the Joint Session of Congress: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period.”

Fact: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the cost of the Pelosi bill at approximately $1.1 trillion, over ten years. Pelosi estimates $894 billion. The House Budget committee puts the real cost at something like $2.4 trillion for the first decade of operation. There aren't enough tax hikes even in the diabolical little minds of those on Capitol Hill to fund any of the estimates. One thing is for sure: Tax rates will rise dramatically and the deficit will rise even faster.

Truth: Congress doesn't understand economics. They believe that tax increases raise revenues in a dollar for dollar direct correlation. History argues otherwise. Rising tax rates discourage growth of the thing being taxed: consumption, income, investment, well you get the idea.

In his book, The End of Prosperity, Dr. Arthur Laffer writes of a remarkable and point-proving revenue estimate made by the Joint Committee on Taxation in 1989. In response to a request from Senator Bob Packwood to estimate the revenues that would be raised from a 100% income tax rate on all Americans with earnings above $200,000, the committee reported that the 100% tax rate would result in $104 billion in new revenue in the first year of the tax increase, $204 billion in the second year and $232 billion in year three. In other words: The economic experts in Congress believed that when the tax rate is 100%, citizens will continue to work and produce at full capacity even though 100% of their income is going to the government.

I think we already fought and won the war against slavery over a century ago. Right?

The Health Care bills (all 3000 plus pages) and the issue of reform has been an exercise in obfuscation and downright lies by our elected officials. No funding for abortion. A public option. You can keep your health care if you like it. 47 million uninsured. 42 million uninsured. 34 million uninsured. Whatever. In the coming days we will expose every lie. You have the right to know. Health care is in fact a straw dog argument, a Trojan Horse if you will, for the boldest power grab this Republic has ever seen. If Nancy Pelosi has her way, the bill will be voted on this weekend. Call, write...and for all our sake, pray.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Insanity: Electing the same kind of politician and expecting a different result.

Insanity: electing the same kind of politician and expecting a different result.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein said it. In California, we're living it.

The map of California's district ten is an amoeba-shaped tribute to gerrymandering. Proof that when it is in their interest our legislators can put their heads down and color outside the lines. And in district ten they created a masterpiece, invading four separate counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano and Sacramento to gather a voter population with an 18% advantage of registered Democrats to Republicans. So formidable is this advantage that I can say with confidence: As a registered voter in district ten, I cannot recall the last time I voted on the winning side of an issue.

Yet, in spite of David Harmer's loss in yesterday's special Congressional election, I refuse to be discouraged. The stakes are simply too high.

Consider the approach of the great visionary, Walt Disney when he presented creative ideas to his hand-picked advisory board. As you might imagine, he had a penchant for the unconventional. According to a story told by Chuck Swindoll in his book, Great Attitudes, Disney would measure the board's response by their disagreement. Unless..."every member resisted the idea" Disney would often shelve the proposal. He simply didn't believe the idea was challenging enough unless the opposition of his board was unanimous.

That's the kind of courageous vision Conservatives must possess to return California and our nation to the founding principles and to her citizens. It is time to buck conventional wisdom and embrace the principles that made this country The Last Great Hope.

We must put a stop to the insanity and elect leaders that will represent the wishes of the people and comply with the Constitution. Let us hope John Garamendi is a last gasp of the crooked, career politician who puts self-interest first and believes he works for Nancy Pelosi, rather than you and me.