Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Obamacare To Make Doctor Shortage Worse

There I was, minding my own business, when suddenly my television started telling me about all the benefits I could get under Obamacare. Blech. What’s worse, it wasn’t even an Obama campaign ad. Nope. This piece of propaganda was produced by HHS with my very own tax dollars. Grrr. And not surprisingly, they left out a very key detail called a doctor shortage. Let’s discuss.

Grrr. . . Seriously, W.T.F.?: How can HHS put an ad on my television pimping Obama’s “signature” achievement, i.e. the one he won’t mention on a bet? Well, disturbingly, this is legal. Federal agencies are not allowed to engage in partisan politics. This goes back to the 1930s when the Republicans tried to suck the politics out of the federal bureaucracy. Up to that point, the agencies were considered spoils of the process and the parties used them to hand out jobs and favors and to extract favors in return. Laws like the Hatch Act put an end to that.

So how can HHS run an ad that is essentially a pro-Obama campaign ad? Believe it or not, federal agencies are allowed to advertise the kinds of benefits they offer the public. That’s right. They are actually allowed to put out ads telling people to come get “free” stuff, i.e. things paid for by the taxpayers. This falls under the category of performing their mission because their mission requires advising the public about the benefits available to them.

What HHS technically was doing was telling the public about the new benefits being offered so that those of us who qualify could sign up for them. It just so happens that in so doing, they were basically campaigning for Obama by telling everyone about the great new law offering all the free healthcare you can sponge. Grrr.

As an aside, this isn’t the only instance of this during this election cycle. The Department of Agriculture has actually teamed with the government of Mexico to advertise American food stamps to any eligible Mexicans. Grrrrrr.

Is There A Doctor In The House?: Anyway, HHS left out one key point in their expositions on the “virtues" of Obamacare: there aren’t enough doctors. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that without Obamacare, the nation will be short 62,900 doctors by 2015 and 100,000 by 2025. With Obamacare, the number will exceed 125,000 by 2025. That’s an interesting admission. Why would a law that was meant to make everything perfect make the doctor shortage worse? There’s even a part of Obamacare which was supposed to address this! So how can this be? Well, the law only authorizes 3,000 new doctors, not the 125,000+ needed. Moreover, the law itself is driving doctors from the profession.

Further, I think these numbers are vastly understated. According to official estimates, 30 million people are about to get health coverage in 2014. If the system already has a shortage of doctors, how much worse will it get when that happens? The government recommends 60-80 primary care physicians and 85-105 specialists for every 100,000 people. This means, 30 million “new” people will need an additional 21,000 primary physicians and 28,500 specialists by next year. It apparently takes ten years to train a doctor. So unless someone expected Obamacare in 2004 and started cranking up the med schools, we’re going to be 49,500 additional doctors short starting next year because of Obamacare. And all of this is before another 25 million people join the ranks of Medicare, meaning they will need a lot more care than they presently receive, and they will need it on the taxpayer’s dime.

The result of this doctor shortage will be felt in two ways. Some people won’t be able to find care. A good example of this can be seen in Medicaid. In 2008, less than half of primary care physicians were willing to take new Medicaid patients. Why? Because they lose money on each. Obamacare expands Medicaid. In fact, one-third of the 30 million people who will be “covered” will be covered through an expansion of Medicaid. Few of those people will be able to find doctors.

The other way this will be felt will be as “an invisible problem.” This means that patients will still be able to see their doctors and get care, but the process will become slow and difficult because of overcrowding. Some people will need to drive long distances. Many will languish on waiting lists for care. And a lot of people will end up using the emergency rooms as a substitute. In effect, Obamacare will make the very problems it was supposed to cure worse. Imagine that.

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Everything's Up To Date In San Francisco

They've gone about as fer as they can go. OK, so that was originally "Kansas City," but it seemed to fit. And before you ask, that sign wasn't seen in front of a Chick-fil-A restaurant (if you can't read it, click on it to enlarge it). Still, those pesky Catholics just don't seem to get it. St. Nancy Pelosi has frequently announced the Catholic view of gay marriage, but the Pope and the curia just keep on disagreeing with her. When will the Catholic leaders wise up?

Not any time soon, apparently. Pope Benedict XVI has just appointed Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone as Archbishop of the San Francisco diocese. Cordileone (whose name translated means "Sal the Lion Heart"), currently chairs the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee on the Defense and Promotion of Marriage. Outside of California, he is largely known for his defiant stand on Obamacare mandates. Inside California, he is known for his active support for Proposition 8, the traditional marriage amendment that is being considered at the United States Supreme Court.

Undoubtedly, St. Nancy must be having the vapors. How could the Pope appoint a new archbishop for San Francisco who is so out-of-sync with the crypto-Catholic views of the Pelosians? Recently, Cordileone took a strong stance against the Pelosi/Obama moves to gut the Defense of Marriage Act. For that, he has predictably been denounced as supporting a view of gay rights "that is akin to racism." Well, what traditional conservative or religious point of view hasn't been called racism?

Cordileone gave a nod to his Christian allies recently by saying: "If you take marriage apart, everything comes unraveled. It's been frayed at the edges, and now moving more and more toward the center. But you take marriage out, it all comes unraveled. It all comes tumbling down. And again, the evangelicals, they understand that. They understand this is an attack of the Evil One at the core institution." That produced a Pelosi reaction which countered that the Bishop had gone too far. "The Evil One." What an archaic belief. Still, there are those of us who believe that Satan is the great liar, and the greatest lie he tells is that he doesn't exist. But we aren't Pelosians.

I'm beginning to like the sound of that. The Pelosian Heresy. Hmmmm. Well, never mind, we have to move on. Like so many religious opponents of gay marriage, Cordileone has been denounced as a hater of gays and lesbians. They can't cite a single instance of his ever having said or done anything approaching that, but the current fashion is to equate opposition to gay marriage with hatred of gays. His stance on gay marriage is strictly theological and practical, without any venom for the participants in the ceremonies. For instance, “How well we as a society protect and promote marriage and the family is the measure of how well we stand for the inviolable dignity and good of every individual in our society, without exception. The consequences for our future—especially that of our nation’s children—cannot be greater and must not be ignored.”

In his letter to the Judiciary Committee considering the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Cordileone wrote: "Children have a 'fundamental human right' to a mother and father and redefining marriage would lead to attacks on the religious liberty on those who defend traditional marriage." One can take the position that same-sex parents can provide the same nurture as opposite-sex parents (and many have). But where's the alleged hatred for gays?

Says Cordileone: "In places where marriage’s core meaning has been altered through legal action, officials are beginning to target for punishment those believers and churches that refuse to adapt,” said Cordileone. Any non-conforming conduct and even expressions of disagreement, based simply on support for marriage as understood since time immemorial, are wrongly being treated as if they harmed society, and somehow constituted a form of evil equal to racism." And he's correct. Canadian and Australian courts have already punished pastors who refused to perform gay marriages. One in England was put on probation on the condition that he never again preach any "hateful" Biblical sermon on homosexuality without first submitting it to a government panel for approval or disapproval.

Can't happen here? Bet me! Look at how First Amendment religious freedom is already being entirely ignored by the Obama administration in its promotion of Obamacare birth-control mandates. This administration and liberal courts all over the country believe that nebulous "human rights" trump religious freedom every time.

During the Proposition 8 campaign, the main religious target was the Mormon Church. They are still a relatively small minority in the former Golden State, and it was easier to attack them as homophobes than to attack the large number of evangelicals and Catholics who had taken very public stands in favor of traditional marriage. The thing is that several prominent Mormons put big bucks into the pro-Prop 8 campaign, and they were easy to isolate and defame.

So how does Cordileone actually feel about gays and their relationship to the Catholic Church? Here's a sample: “I think the challenge for us in the church is to help people who are in a situation of sexual orientations where they feel alienated from the church and sometimes experience it very directly. We need to learn, continue to learn, how to be welcoming, let them know that we love them and we want to help them, and that our stand for marriage is not against anyone but its because we believe this is foundational for the good of our society. “ Pretty hateful, huh?

I don't see the new archbishop excommunicating St. Nancy for her views on marriage and abortion any time soon the way a couple of bishops have denied communion to certain prominent Kennedy family members. But I'd love to see it, personally, in the cathedral. And I'm not even Catholic.
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Monday, July 30, 2012

Born In The USA

“If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes; They will find the streets are guarded by the United States Marines.” And they'll be packing American-born, American-made Colt .45 M-1911s. The Marine Corps never took to the Beretta M9 which officially replaced the Colt for the Army, Navy and Air Force in 1985 and went into actual service in 1990.

The Marines grudgingly accepted the change, though the Colt remained the choice of Marine special ops. The single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed Colt was good enough for Sergeant York in WW I and Audie Murphy in WW II (not to mention John Wayne in innumerable war movies), and as far as the Marines were concerned, it remained good enough for them. The M-1911 was designed by the renowned John Browning in, well, 1911. It has remained largely unchanged ever since. Many have termed it the greatest military handgun ever made.

The pistol is manufactured by legendary Colt Defense (the military division of the Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company) located in Hartford, Connecticut. The replacement Beretta M9 (pictured, left) is a very good gun. But it is not a native son of America. It uses 9mm ammunition, which the Marines consider inferior to the .45 cartridge. After the comparison tests for the military contracts were completed, the Beretta was chosen as much for political and international reasons as for performance. The Beretta wasn't actually proven to be superior to the Colt, but it was the gun used by NATO, and interchangeability of parts and ammo were part of the formula.

The Marines want accuracy and stopping power. They don't see the Beretta as having enough of either. The most common description of the Beretta by Marines is “that pissy little gun.” Most of all, the Marines really don't give a flying fig what NATO uses. They consider themselves a thing apart, and have a bit of contempt for the armed services which are not wholly dedicated to all things American. The talk of “serviceability” of the Beretta among the NATO allies doesn't particularly impress a Marine. The most common thought is “compared to us, how many of today's Belgians, Hollanders, or Danes have had to fire their sidearms, repeatedly, in a shooting war?”

So the Colt is making a big comeback for the Marines. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The latest contract with Colt will immediately provide nearly 12,000 non-special ops Marines with the Marine version of the gun, known as the M45 Close Quarters Battle Pistol. And though this was largely a military decision, it doesn't hurt that the initial $22.5 million order will put money back into the American economy.

Let's hope that the Army, Navy and Air Force follow suit, and soon. It will help considerably if the current Commander-in-Chief is retired in November. Of course if that happens, he will be going into a war zone of his own—Chicago. Hope he owns a Colt M-1911.
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Here Comes “The Republican War On Jews”

Obama has a Jewish problem. That’s been pretty obvious. You just can’t keep attacking people without them eventually getting upset. And Romney is now trying to win over Jewish votees. So it’s time for Obama to whip out the dirty tricks. Here comes the War on Jews.

Let’s start with the obvious. Obama lacks popularity. Anyone who has followed his approval rating knows that it looks like the famous Al Gore “hockey stick” only held the other way around. Check out this graph from Rasmussen, which shows a quick fall followed by remarkably stable unpopularity.
Obama has made this worse with policies that have hurt people and rhetoric that offends them. What this means is that Obama no longer has broad popularity and he needs to spend his time trying to excite his supporters group by group. That’s why we had the War on Women meme, the War on Hispanics/Immigrants meme, the War on Blacks meme, the War on the Poor meme, the War on the Middle Class meme, and a few others I’ve probably forgotten. Now it’s time for the War on Jews.

Obama’s popularity among Jews is fading. He’s down to 68% according to Gallup, though the real number is likely lower. Why? Well, his policies have largely undermined Israeli security in favor of the Palestinian radicals he knew in his youth. ObamaCare threatens Medicare, which is very popular with older Jewish voters in places like Florida. And his attacks on bankers have a distinctly anti-Semitic ring to them, so much so that the Wall Street community has openly complained about his rhetoric and have begun to close their wallets. And with Romney now making a play for Jewish support, it’s clearly time to act.

Hence, Nancy Pelosi fired the opening shots in the new meme this weekend when she claimed that Republican-leaning Jews are “being exploited” and that Republicans are merely “using [support for] Israel as an excuse, what they really want are tax cuts for the wealthy. So Israel, that can be one reason they put forth.” In other words, Jews, like blacks and women and everyone else before them are too stupid to realize that the Republicans are only lying to them about their beliefs and only want their votes so we can cut taxes on the wealthy. This woman is insane.

Interestingly, Pelosi must have realized calling Jews stupid was a bad move, so she quickly added this little contradiction: “And they’re smart people. They follow these issues. But they have to know the facts.” How can they both know the issues and yet not know the facts? That’s like saying, “he understands football, he just doesn’t know how football works.” Then she proceeded to explain some of the facts these silly deluded Jews didn’t know:
“The fact is that President Obama has been the strongest person in terms of sanctions on Iran, which is important to Israel. He’s been the strongest person on whether it’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling, any of these weapons systems and initiatives that relate to Israel. He has been there over and over again.”
Ok, so they didn’t realize that Obama has been pushing sanctions, that he’s been “the strongest person” on various weapons systems being built by Israel, and that he’s been to Israel. Uh... if they don’t know these “facts” then can we really say they know the issues? These aren’t factors anyone who “knows the issues” could have missed. Frankly, I’m finding her whole line of “you’re so deluded but you’re really smart but you don’t actually know jack” a tad bit insulting. Also, I should point out that Obama has not yet visited Israel even once since he's been in office, so she’s lying. . . as usual

Anyway, this weekend also saw Obama using foreign policy for electoral gain. Romney has been talking about Israel. He also just visited. And his speeches have gone down rather well. Said Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu about Romney’s Nevada foreign policy speech, “Mitt, I couldn't agree with you more.” Netanyahu also pointed out this about those sanctions Pelosi thinks Israel wants:
“We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota. And that's why I believe that we need a strong and credible military threat coupled with the sanctions to have a chance to change that situation.”
So much for Pelosi’s facts. Romney, by the way, said in Israel that he has a “zero tolerance” policy toward Iran obtaining nuclear capability and said:
“Make no mistake: the ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way. My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country.”
One of his advisors even said that Romney would respect Israel’s right to strike Iran unilaterally.

So guess what mysteriously happened this weekend? SOMEONE let slip that Team Obama has presented Israel with a plan of attack for striking Iran. Let’s be honest. Obama’s national security team chose this weekend to leak that they have a plan to attack Israel because Romney’s speech was very well received and his support among Jews is growing. This leak is a disgusting political ploy which risks the lives of US personnel in the event of an attack, and it fits the pattern of leaks Team Obama has been guilty of in trying to make their effete foreign policy seem more muscular. Heads needs to start rolling for these leaks.

This administration really needs to be shown the door.

99 days to go!

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Barack Banishes Disparate School Discipline

Disparate impact is a term that the left has used many times to circumvent equal rights. Liberal legislatures and Progressive Supreme Courts bought the concept, and tended to find that wherever a minority group was “under-represented” it was the right of the government to bring the numbers into line. Four or five decades ago, the concept actually had a semi-legitimate foundation because it was used to correct past institutional racial discrimination.

Racial healer Barack Obama has now weighed in on the subject in a rather odd and topsy-turvy way. He has determined that minorities (mostly black) are unfairly over-represented in one area—school discipline. According to The One, “African Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline.” Because blacks are over-represented in disciplinary matters, it couldn't possibly be because they over-perform in the area of bad behavior. It's the same old liberal nostrum voiced by one of the hoods in West Side Story: “We're depraved on accounta we're deprived.”

I will ignore for the moment that one of the biggest reasons blacks are denied those benefits is the lack of school choice, something liberals mightily oppose. Another reason is the breakdown of the black family which tends to produce single mothers, no responsible fathers around to help, high illegitimacy rates, gang membership to replace the non-existent family unit and a plethora of other social pathologies. Problems in the schools tend to reflect the same problems outside the schools. That leads to high crime rates among black young people, both outside of and inside the schools. It's not a “black thing.” Urban whites are rapidly catching up, but in the middle-class or affluent suburbs, black misbehavior with the resulting discipline is almost indistinguishable from white.

The simple fact remains. Blacks in urban schools are disciplined in far larger numbers and percentages of the total school population. There is a disparate impact. But concurrence is not causation, and courts have increasingly held that disparate impact can no longer stand as the sole reason for imposing quotas or other leveling processes. In order to satisfy the current legal test, disparate impact must be the result of genuinely unfair and discriminatory practices either intentionally or grossly negligently put in place by the institutions where the disparate impact occurs. That was the case years or decades ago. Today multiple factors result in the disparate impact, but institutional discrimination is not among them.

None of this has stopped Barack Obama from issuing another one of his infamous executive orders. To establish equality of outcome rather than equal treatment, he has ordered that a government panel be created to promote “a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools.” Simply put, that means until the number of whites and Asians disciplined is mathematically proportional to the number of blacks and Hispanics disciplined, either discipline of the former groups must be reduced or those of the latter increased, regardless of the facts in each individual case.

Hans Bader, a counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, had this to say about the executive order: “What this means is that whites and Asians will get suspended for things that blacks don’t get suspended for, because school officials will try to level punishments despite groups’ different infraction rates.” Bader previously held multiple positions in the Education Department's Civil Rights office.

As if this weren't bad enough, the executive order also includes the creation of a President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. That would be a noble goal if it included doing all the things actually necessary to raise the levels of black educational accomplishment and good behavior in school. But it's just a cover for more affirmative action-like bureaucracy. It won't solve any of the problems I mentioned above. But it will ensure the perpetuation of black students as a favored “victim group.” The Commission will simply be another home for government employees to suck up taxpayer money and throw more taxpayer money at useless and unrealistic projects.

Attorney General Eric Holder claimed that “we’ve often seen that students of color, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with special needs are disproportionately likely to be suspended or expelled.” So the rules and methods must be changed to “help” black students. Holder claims to be a lawyer, but he cites no evidence or precedent to support his conclusions. Except, of course, the “disparate impact” which we have already said exists. Why it exists is the bone of contention. And when all is said and done, the “why” for Obama and Holder is, as always, racism.

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The Great (film) Debates vol. 47

The universe is packed with aliens. Fat aliens, skinny aliens, aliens who climb on rocks. Tough aliens, sissy aliens, even aliens with chicken pox.

What is the coolest alien on film?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Just Some Olympic Fun...

I take it from comments yesterday that there are not many Olympic Games watchers among us. Now, I'm not an avid watcher, but there are sports that I like to watch - shooting, dressage, archery etc. Unfortunately these are the same sports that get about 2 minutes of airtime.

Well, since Mitt Romney was responsible for saving the 2002 US Olympics in Utah and it's a lazy summer afternoon, let's discuss what would make us more excited AND make the Games worth watching.

Question: If you were head of the Olympic Committee, what sport or combination of sports would you add to the competition to liven it up, or at least compel you to watch?

One "Rule": You can only use "Naked Women's Beach Volleyball" if you can add something to make it interesting for women too...

***Olympic 2012 Fun Fact #1: For the first time in Olympic history, there are more female athletes than male athletes.

***Olympic 2012 Fun Fact #2: The Romneys have a horse in the Dressage competition. Of course, they are being criticized for it because they are rich and out of touch.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Film Friday: Contagion (2011)

Contagion begins with one person passing a disease to another. They spread it to others. All these people die within the first couple minutes of the film. The next few minutes involve CDC members trying to track down where the disease began. From there, the film becomes the disjointed story of several individuals who really don’t do anything, nor are they interesting. Indeed, nothing about this film is interesting.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms

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Running Around Like Liberals With Their Heads Cut Off

Not that long ago, I had never heard of Chick-fil-A. If San Francisco has one of their restaurants, it's news to me. But now that the radical left (usually posing as the "gay community") has decided that the owners of Chick-fil-A are dangerous bigots, I thought I might look into it.

Oh, the horror of it all. The company was founded in the South by a family of good old-fashioned Southern Christians. Churchgoers all, they believe in observing the day which the Lord hath made, and despite losing one day in seven of business, the restaurants are closed on Sundays so the family and all their employees can attend church. How primitive! They are also not particularly shy about expressing their personal Christian views and values, but do not make that an integral part of their business operations. Most of that didn't cause them much negative publicity.

Then they made the big mistake. In response to a question from an interviewer doing a piece on the history and growth of the company, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, Dan T. Cathy, did the unthinkable. He voiced his opposition to the liberal cause du jour. Cathy stated that his company (basically, his family) doesn't accept the concept of gay marriage. In no time at all, The New York Times and all its fellow-travelers in the mainstream media denounced the family, the company and the restaurants as homophobic. Great indignation and threats of boycotts immediately followed as the liberals discovered that the Cathy family is violently opposed to all things gay and beautiful.

What did Cathy say that so incensed the uber-tolerant left? "As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'" I've heard much stronger messages being thundered from Baptist pulpits, but it doesn't leave a lot of doubt as to how the Cathys feel about gay marriage. And so what?

What The Times and the leftist claque missed was what else Cathy had to say. "We do not discriminate against gays. We would never refuse service to a gay person. We appreciate their business, and welcome their patronage. We would never deny employment to a person because he is gay." That tolerance is not returned by the ever-incensed left and gay lobby. "Shut 'em down." Democrats in cities dominated by leftists who are doing their best to bring down Western civilization are looking into current Chick-fil-A business permits and are determined to prevent any future growth of the company in their oh-so-tolerant cities.

For expressing the family's personal and religious opposition to gay marriage, the left has decided to act as if the Cathys and Chick-fil-A are using their profits (which are considerable) to fund some sort of gay holocaust. Thinking that opposing gay marriage is tantamount to wanting all gay people dead, big city Democratic leaders nationwide have condemned the mote in the Cathys' eyes. They simply will not tolerate intolerance (is that some sort of internal inconsistency?). Begone, Chick-fil-A, and take your Bibles and scriptures with you!

Mayors in several of the nation's biggest cities have spoken out against Chick-fil-A, but the biggest irony comes from Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel indignantly stated that Chick-fil-A does not reflect "Chicago values." One can only hope he's right. Chicago values seem to include rapidly-rising murder rates, crony socialism, and thoroughly dishonest politics. Still, Emanuel has an ally that he recently welcomed to town. Calypso Louis Farrakhan has brought his Nation of Islam shock troops to Chicago to stop the violence.

Emanuel welcomed Farrakhan and condemned Chick-fil-A all on the same day. How his head didn't explode is beyond me. The Cathys welcome gays, but oppose gay marriage. Farrakhan espouses a strange and cultish but fundamentalist Islamic view of gays and gay marriage. Farrakhan's best plan for gay marriage is to burn down the church in which the marriage is being performed, preferably with the groom-groom or bride-bride couple inside along with all those tolerant congregants supporting them. But hey, Farrakhan's black, so it's important to overlook his slightly eccentric views.

From a personal point of view, the only chicken I really like is the deep-fried kind, preferably with grease dripping down my arms as I savor the crispy skin and internal tenderness of a drumstick. That's not what Chick-fil-A serves. Theirs is basically a healthy menu of baked chicken and chicken sandwiches. Their waffle fries are not quite so healthy, but who cares? On Wednesday last, I had an appointment in Bakersfield, so I went out of my way to see if there might be a Chick-fil-A in the area. Sonofagun, there was one just three blocks from my appointment. I very purposefully decided to have lunch there.

For those of you who haven't tried Chick-fil-A, I highly recommend it. It's not elegant, it's just plain good food, nicely-packaged, and pleasantly served. And more than that, I am hoping that many of you are intolerant of intolerance (there we go again). Former Governor (and presidential candidate) Mike Huckabee is promoting August 1 as "Eat at Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." It's a counter-demonstration well worth participating in. You will be supporting free speech and freedom of religion by doing so, and you don't have to oppose gay marriage to see the correctness of it.

I'm not Mike Huckabee's biggest fan by any means. Nor am I a fan of his co-sponsor of the counter-boycott, Rick Santorum. But since the Huffington Post has declared that Mike Huckabee is "not necessarily a good ally for Chick-fil-A," I will temporarily suspend my lack of enthusiasm for him.
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Yes, You Did It

I've used the accompanying illustration before. But given Barack Urkel Obama's recent statement on government versus private enterprise, it seemed appropriate to publish the illustration again. And this time, I'm answering the posed question. "Yes, Mr. Obama, you did do that!

Obama has been in full spin mode since declaring that "you didn't do that," speaking of entrepeneurs and job-creators who worked hard, built businesses, invented and marketed products, and added to the tax base by hiring employees and paying taxes on sales. "Somebody else did that," opined Obama, and the somebody else was the government.

Well, you over-credentialed under-educated moron, you can't have it both ways. So if the government is the sole factor in business, and you are the government leader, yes, you did it. You created government dependency far beyond the wildest dreams of statists just five or ten years ago. You threw billions of dollars of good taxpayer money after bad. You destroyed going businesses to advance your leftist green agenda. You enriched green financial predators who raped their companies, got priority over the taxpayers (in violation of federal law) and then declared bankruptcy. You put union members who destroyed the world's largest automobile manufacturing company with their wage and pension benefits in charge of that very company. At the same time, you impoverished the real shareholders and bondholders by making their interests nearly worthless. You buoyed up another major car company just long enough for it to be taken over by a foreign company.

You promised to raise consumer energy costs and depress domestic energy production by making oil and coal production as profitless as possible, and you have kept your promise. You created a jobs panel, then you appointed the head of one of the world's largest corporations as your jobs czar. A company with more employees overseas than in America, and one which paid zero domestic income taxes in 2011. Then you were so busy campaigning for reelection that you haven't met with the jobs panel in over six months.

So how is your "you didn't do that" argument working out? Not too well. Rasmussen reports that 72% of likely voters believe that people who start small businesses are primarily responsible for their own successes (and failures). 57% believe that entrepeneurs who start small businesses do more to create jobs and economic growth than big business or government programs. Only 7% think federal government programs have the largest impact.

While stuttering through your lame explanations of what you claim actually to have meant, you only added to your apparent stupidity. Here's one of your "explanatory" quotes: "I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you, there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there." The implication, of course, is that the employees are smarter than and work harder than their "lucky" bosses and employers. And it's just so damned unfair that hard-working people don't own companies.

Surprise, Mr. Obama. That one isn't working either. 77% of those polled by Rasmussen believe small business owners work harder than any other workers. Only 2% think they don't work as hard. You wanted face time with what you thought was a gullible public, and you got it. Of those polled, 84% say they watch your remarks closely or very closely. That includes both men and women, young and old, rich, comfortable, or poor. And they ain't buying your snake oil.

Your latest "my remarks were taken out of context" ad is just plain silly. Nothing was taken out of context, it's exactly what you said, with no trailing caveats or expansions. What you said is what you meant. Is it possible that you were reacting to the latest Democrat-skewed Gallup poll which found that 59% of business owners think you mean exactly what you said?

One of your major demographics, female voters, is even more likely to think your statements are baloney. Men and women alike think so, but women at a higher rate than men. 63% of women agree that small businesses provide more jobs and opportunities than big business, corporations, or their least favorite, the federal government. Another of your major demographics, the young and naive, still sees small business as the leader in creating jobs and income, by 55%. 65% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans see private, small businesses as the solution to job-creation.

And therefore, Mr. Obama, I plead with you to continue to ask your dumb questions and repeat your transparent lies. You aren't as smart as you think you are, and Americans are not as stupid as you think they are.
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Romney Blasts Obama’s Foreign Policy

President-pending Mitt Romney spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Nevada this week, and he gave a rather devastating critique of Obama’s foreign policy. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar.

Romney began by laying out his standard for what our foreign policy should be, and he did this by ripping into Obama. Consider this the “Romney Doctrine”:
Has the American economy recovered?

Has our ability to shape world events been enhanced, or diminished?

Have we gained greater confidence among our allies, and greater respect from our adversaries?

And, perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear-armed Iran, become more or less likely?
Bingo! That’s perfect foreign policy! That is exactly the test any President should apply to all foreign policy decision. Not coincidentally, this test also proves to be a devastating takedown of Obama’s failures because Obama cannot answer yes to any of these points.

Romney then got specific. He noted that Obama’s policies have strangled the recovery, which weakens America’s ability to project its power. He claimed Obama exposed the military to unjustifiable cuts which threaten the military. He attacked Obama for mishandling national secrets, which endangers our policies and our people. And he pointed out that Obama has “given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due.” All true.

When our economy is weak, we stop being the shining beacon to the rest of the world. Our enemies see us as in decline and decide the opportunity to strike is at hand. Countries like China have used Obama’s term to bury us in debt, to push for the elimination of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, to become much more aggressive in Asia, to build up and modernize their military, to hoard resources, and to begin the unchecked economic colonization of Africa.

Our military has been stretched to the limit since 2001 and not only has Obama done little to help them, he used their budget as a bargaining chip. To get a budget deal, which the Democrats now refuse to perform, he proposed ripping a trillion dollars in cuts from the military. I don’t believe the military budget is inviolate, but that is obscene. Moreover, he’s politicized the military at all turns, from don’t ask don’t tell, to using the military as a campaign prop, to ignoring abuses by our frenemies like Karzai in Afghanistan while punishing and neglecting the Americans who risk their lives to prop up these failed policies. There is even a report out today that the Army stopped an investigation into a corrupt and horrific hospital in Afghanistan (the Dawood National Military Hospital) in 2010 because the report would have been issued too close to the election for Obama’s comfort.

This administration has been horrible about protecting secrets as well, which is ironic as they ruthlessly go after whistleblowers. They fed classified information to Hollywood so they could make films that are mere propaganda for Obama’s campaign. And now they’ve been leaking classified documents to the New York Times, e.g. documents about US cyber attacks against Iran and “kill lists” Obama has authorized. Even the Democrats admit these leaks are coming from the White House. Said Sen. Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.” Democrat Pat Caddell has actually accused Obama National Security Adviser Tom Donilon of being the primary leaker.

Frankly, this has all been done to make Obama look tougher. And of this, Romney told the VFW: “[the administration] betrays our national interest [and] compromises our men and women in the field.” Again, all true.

Finally, Obama has been harsh to our friends and weak to our enemies. As Romney put it, he “abandoned our friends in Poland and the Czech Republic” and he kowtowed to Russia and China. And Romney said this about Israel:
The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.
And don’t forget, Obama tried to support a coup in Honduras against our friends in favor of a Chavez-like dictator wannabe. He’s been rude to Britain and India. He flooded Mexico with illegal guns. He stopped a needed Canadian pipeline. He’s been useless on the Euro crisis and useless in the Middle East. Heck, he didn’t even placate the world’s sensibilities by closing Gitmo. And he lost control over environmental issues to the BRICS and he managed to make pirating super profitable.

Obama’s record is a disaster. He’s made everything worse and achieved nothing. Is the US better off than it was four years ago? Hardly. But let’s let Romney sum this all up:
This is very simple: if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President. You have that President today.
Damn straight!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guest Review: Act of Valor (2012)

A Film Review by Tennessee Jed
To my knowledge, this is the only movie ever to use active duty Navy SEALS in major roles, although they are not even individually identified in the credits. But, their participation permits a degree of realism not attainable with actors such as Charlie Sheen or Demi Moore. What the film may lack in budget, “name” actors, or production values is more than offset by authenticity. This alone makes Act of Valor virtually mandatory viewing for fans of the military film genre, and highly recommended for anyone who simply wants to better understand and appreciate the ethos of these rare and special people whose job it is to constantly risk their own lives to protect us.
Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms

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Tax Returns: To Release Or Not To Release

Should Romney “release his taxes”? Actually, no. He shouldn’t. It’s a trap and he’s doing the smart thing by refusing. And the establishment Republicans whining that he should really need to shut the heck up. Observe.

This. . . Is. . . SpartaAmerica!: Let’s start with the obvious. Folks, this is America. We’re supposed to be indifferent to what people make and we’re supposed to celebrate success. So why do we need to see Romney’s taxes? What are they going to tell us? That he’s rich? We knew that. That he’s got rich guy deductions? We knew that too. That he’s got rich guy sources of income? Well, duh. SO WHAT?!!

This demand to see his taxes is all about class warfare and conservatives should oppose this on instinct. It’s time we stopped letting people be attacked for their success. It’s time we stopped judging people on their money and instead judged them on their actions and views. It’s no wonder we get crappy presidents if we’re basing our decisions on the deductions they take on their taxes.

Spin v. Reality: This issue is misleading in any event. Romney actually has released his taxes for 2010 and 2011. So where does this idea come from that he won’t release his taxes? It comes from the Democrats demanding that he release 10 years worth of taxes, and they are spinning his “failure” to produce those as Romney refusing to release any of his taxes. Understand the truth, he’s already released as many years as the IRS requires you to keep and he’s released more than John Kerry did in 2004 -- Kerry released only his 2003 taxes. So why should Romney release 10 years worth? According to the MSM, Romney’s father “set the standard by releasing 12 years.” Really? The standard is 12 years? Then why did Obama release only 6 years? Why did Hillary only release 6 years and only after Obama prodded her? Why have only 13 Democrats and 3 Republicans of the 535 members of Congress released their tax returns. Where is this standard Romney is supposedly violating. . . or does it just apply to the Romney family?

The Smell of Desperation: The fact the Democrats are pushing this tax returns issue tells us they are desperate. They need a diversions so they can avoid talking about Obama’s record. But this strategy isn’t working. Why? Two reasons. First, the public ultimately doesn’t care. No one is going to make their decision based on how many years of taxes Romney releases. Secondly, Romney is playing this right. If he releases his taxes, the Democrats will comb through those taxes and will do their best to keep “finding” new information to dribble out week by week until the election. By refusing to release these records, all he’s left the Democrats with is speculation and speculation gets old fast.

Indeed, we see this already. This weekend, there were a series of articles about what Romney could possibly be “hiding.” These articles were less than effective. The new talking points appear to be that Romney won’t release his taxes because he’s afraid it will anger conservatives. Their reasoning? Those taxes might show (1) that he’s worth more than people think, (2) that he gave money to Harvard, his alma matter, and (2) that he gave lots of money to the Mormon Church. You tell me, is any of this news? And how will it turn off the base to learn that Romney gave to his church or his alma matter? And if his income bothers you, then it doesn’t really matter if he’s worth twenty million or thirty million, does it? But this is all they have. . . unless Romney releases more taxes.

That’s why Romney’s smart to refuse to release any more of his taxes. In fact, there’s an excellent article on why it’s a trap for Romney to play this game at the American Spectator (LINK). The point is that the Democrats have always done this when they needed to run away from their records, they try to create mini-scandals to keep the public’s attention on the Republican. And to do that, they take meaningless things and spin them into scandals. As soon as one “scandal” is exhausted, they move on to the next. So all Romney will do by releasing his taxes is feed their scandal machine, which is currently out of ammunition.

Cowards: That brings us to the likes of George Will, Bill Kristol, Karl Rove, and National Review, among others. These people represent the “weak knees” of conservatism. They are so accustomed to surrendering to every Democratic demand that they get nervous whenever Republicans refuse. In their minds, the Democrats are always more clever, are always standing on the high ground, and always have the public on their side. Naturally, they want Romney to play right into Democratic hands in the hopes of “defusing the issue,” which is another way of saying “admit he’s wrong for being rich and beg for mercy.” Forget that!

Interestingly, these are the same people who keep attacking Romney for not fighting aggressively enough. Rove recently claimed Romney is losing because he’s not fighting back against each and every allegation (which is both untrue and is stupid advice). Keep in mind, Rove was the man who ran Bush’s political machine which operated on the principle of never defending itself. . . ever. And Kristol just unbelievably wrote this: “Does this year’s presidential campaign strike you as strikingly petty?” Well Bill, it would be less petty if talking heads like yourself weren’t obsessing with Obama’s distractions. And this is after Charles Krauthammer of Kristol’s Weekly Standard whined that Romney needs to apologize for RomneyCare. . . for no good reason whatsoever.

I think it’s time we handed guys like Kristol and Rove their walking papers. They’ve never been right and now is no different. They are aiding and abetting the Democrats once again and they need to be called on this. Fortunately, Romney has no intention of following their advice. He’s called this a privacy issue and his surrogates are out there counter-attacking Obama for not releasing his college records. Man it’s nice to have a candidate who doesn’t surrender at the first sign of shots being fired!

A Little Mirth: Finally, I leave you with this excellent bit of photoshopping by tryanmax. This was created in response to our desire to see politicians wear more jumpsuits. Yeah, jumpsuits. And why the heck not?! They’re showmen and all good showmen wear jumpsuits. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Euro Mess

Tennessee Jed once said that I read The New Republic so you don't have to. Whenever I critique one of their headline articles, I like to do so only when the article is not just liberal, but reveals the author and the magazine as deeply-imbued with the “Progressive” ideology. Often the prejudice is clear, sometimes not so evident. This past Monday's article, The Weimar Union is one of those where the discussion is about Europe, but actually reveals the author's domestic prejudices.

TNR articles tend to be both erudite and wordy, but I will do my best to cut through the extraneous material and get to the hidden heart of this article. Author Walter Laqueur first discusses the concept that the weakening and perhaps collapsing Euro currency could mean the end of the European Union. He then points out that the chaos which could result might lead to extreme governments in the poorest of the former union members, and quite possibly the same thing for those few prosperous members which have been buoying up the profligate nations in order to protect their own reestablished currency and their borders. None of this is particularly new, and an equal number of conservatives and liberals have discussed precisely the same possibilities.

Laqueur leans toward believing that the cost of dissolving the currency union would prove too expensive for every European nation. He estimates the cost to the poorer countries such as Greece at $14,000 per person if the Greeks dumped the Euro and returned to the drachma as its sole currency. But he doesn't pretend to be a prophet. He also believes that powerful forces in the currency world might decide that the end of the Euro would bring temporary monetary chaos, but a long term recovery and ultimate fiscal health.

It is a very intelligent analysis, and I find little to criticize in his possible alternative scenarios. I tend to lean toward collapse simply because those countries in deepest financial distress are unwilling to take the extreme austerity measures needed to restore fiscal sanity to their social welfare economies, but Laqueur's opinion is not at all far-fetched. Among the scenarios he envisions is the political collapse of the union in the wake of the currency/monetary crises. Most of the rest of his piece revolves around what might happen as a result of political disunion.

This is where Laqueur and I begin to diverge. My belief is that if the currency collapse leads to the end of the political union, the worst that would happen would be a return to a Europe which looks a lot like the Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union and before full currency union and the arbitrary creation of a central European government. Laqueur sees far more dire consequences. He fears the return to the stultifying effects of competing nation-states and bemoans the loss of the civilizing nature of a masterful central government which prevents conflict between competing nations.

I should make it very clear that Laqueur is not an hysteric by any means. He makes it clear that he doesn't foresee anything that would lead to the armed conflicts of the Twentieth Century. His concern is that a few, a lot, or all the continental nations would return to various forms of repressive government in order to protect themselves from the pernicious influence of the other nation-states after the collapse of the central government.

He tries to be fair in his assessment. He thinks that those “repressive” governments could include neo-communist forms, but does seem to lean toward the liberal fear of “fascist-like” governments. Without the central political government, the kids will forget how to play nicely with each other, and will instead compete for supremacy. Anything is possible, but I fear the nation-state a great deal less than most liberals. He points out that significant portions of the populations of certain Euro nations felt that “the introduction of the euro and the relinquishing of existing currencies was never thought of as a hopeful measure of economic and political progress, but rather as a rude affront to national pride.”

He then shores up his centralist beliefs by saying: “Politicians will also use such nostalgia to insulate themselves from the economic hardship as a consequence of exiting the euro zone. They will praise the days before the globalized economy, when it may not have been as easy to acquire great wealth, but at least life was simpler, more familiar, and not as hectic.” He calls those politicians unrealistic, appealing to the populist appeal of nostalgia who are likely to extol the continent's former political divisions. This is a gross exaggeration, ignoring the fact that the euro and the European Union created a great deal more apparent wealth than real sustainable wealth. Centralized government discouraged diversity of trade and innovation in business rather than encouraging healthy market competition.

He worries that disaffected youth in Europe suffering most from the recent economic downturns and financial crises would be too quick to turn to men on white horses. He is not entirely out of step with historical reality on that issue. Angry youth manned the barricades in France during numerous popular rebellions, and in Germany, the Wandervogeln (the hippies of their day) rejected materialism after World War I, embraced pacifism and individualism, and yet became the heart of the heart of the SS. He believes that a benign bureaucracy which has no political stake in various national politics avoids such consequences by centralizing control in one body which has no national loyalty. The loss of such an authority would be part of the “danger” if the European Union falls apart. Rivalry and extreme national politics will replace relatively peaceful cooperation.

My observations lead me to believe that youthful enthusiasm and even anger would likely lead to very different forms of governance in some of the newly-seceded European nations. But they have the lessons of communist and fascist domination to temper their potential extremism. Laqueur concludes that “these movements, whatever form they take, will be unpleasant. These currents of nostalgia and radicalism may push European leaders to look beyond the monetary union and to undo the other institutions comprising the European Union, the single market, the European Court of Justice, the coordination of economic and foreign policy. When these functions are unraveled, the European Union would, in essence, cease to be.” He makes it sound apocalyptic, but is it really?

Still, he has his own sense of redemption as well. “What will eventually bring this to a halt will be Europeans' instinct for self-preservation. Indeed, this faint pulse of enlightened self-interest will also motivate their tentative rediscovery of the virtue of continental unity.” Simply, perhaps even simplistically put, big central government is the answer to all political ills, and sophisticated Europeans will quickly recognize it after the “populists” and nationalists have made a mess of it. If some form of the European Union is not preserved (or restored), only chaos and repression can result.

I leave it to you to decide if Laqueur is right. Before deciding, you should read the entire article: The Weimar Union.

Now, for what kept my attention about the article. It addresses the trials and tribulations of the European Union. But it's Laqueur's analysis that led me to see something else in the article. It is guided by the same Progressive ideology which has played so much mischief here in the United States. Progressives don't much care for the Constitution, and they certainly don't like federalism. Compare Laqueur's belief in an overweaning central government and the danger of a return to nation-states in Europe to the Progressive view of a strong national government in Washington DC which stops petty competition by bending the will of the sovereign states to the federal will.

Change “European Government” to “Federal Government” and change “nation-states” to “states” and Laqueur's entire article can instantly be converted to a Progressive opinion piece on the evils and dangers of American states' rights and the efficiency of centralized government. Europeans don't have a Tenth Amendment. We do, but Progressives simply ignore it or demean it.

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Poll-arama: Blow Out Ahead

All right, we know not to read too much into polls this early. We also understand that polls get kind of fuzzy when translated into votes. And we know that electoral college votes are more important than the popular vote, and the electorate is largely fixed. Still, when you start to see so much data going in one direction, you begin to wonder. Things don’t look good for Obama.

Yeah, They Built That: Obama’s “you didn’t build that” line continues to resonate with voters. We know this because people keep talking about it everywhere. Pollsters are even asking the public about it, which means it’s entered “the mainstream consciousness.” And guess what? The public isn’t on Obama’s side. According to Rasmussen:
● 77% believe small business owners work harder that other workers. Only 2% disagree.

● 57% believe that entrepreneurs do more to create jobs and economic growth than big business or government.

● 61% believe small business provides more valuable services to local communities than big business or government.

● And Gallup found there appears to be a fundamental shift in the public’s view of government as 61% now say the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and private business.
This is all really bad for Obama, whose campaign strategy is to attack business as a mere outgrowth of government. The public ain’t buying it.

It’s Not Bush’s Fault After All: Nor are they buying Obama's attempt to avoid blame. Riddle me this: who said in 2009, “Look, if I can’t turn the economy around in three years, I will be looking at a one-term proposition”? Here’s a hint: he’s spent the last three years trying to blame all his failures on George W. Bush. Well, according to a new poll taken for The Hill, that excuse has worn thin. The Hill found that 66% of respondents blame the slow economic recovery and total lack of jobs on bad government policy. Of those people, 34% lay the blame on Obama. Only 18% continue to blame Bush. Moreover, 53% of voters say Obama took the wrong actions and caused the economy to slow. None of this is good news for Obama.

What could be upsetting people? How about this. Who said in 2003 that George Bush needed to “fix up the economy” before he did anything else? Here’s a hint, it’s the same guy who decried Bush’s $300 billion deficit as “underscor[ing] the recklessness of the George W. Bush administration and the Republican Congress.” And it’s the same man who has now given us five straight years of budgets with trillion dollar deficits. If $300 billion was reckless, what does that make a trillion five times over?

We’ll Take the Mormon over the Moron!: All of this is adding up fast. USA Today/Gallup asked people who they trust more when it comes to managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs. Despite all the time and effort Obama has poured into his Bain Capital attacks, Romney wins this in a blowout: 63% to 29%. And it gets worse. Despite all the attacks Obama has made, including record spending on negative ads, Romney’s popularity has gone up from 53% to 54%, and the number of people who say they share Romney’s views has gone up from 42% to 45%.

But even more importantly, 18% of Republican and Republican leaning voters report being more enthusiastic about voting than normal. This compares to only 4% of Democrats and Democratic-leaners who report the same. That’s an enthusiasm gap of 14%!! Enthusiasm will be key this year because the evidence suggests that less than 10% of voters are actually swing voters. These numbers suggest a blow out in the works.

A Cold Day In Minnesota: Finally, we have this amazing bit of new. Mitt Romney is within striking distance of winning Minnesota. Yeah, Minnesota. Obama leads 46% to 40%, but the key here is that Obama can’t get to 50% and his 6% lead is half of what it’s been in the past. If Minnesota is in play, then Obama might as well quit right now. The last Republican to win Minnesota was Richard Nixon. Even Ronald Reagan never carried that bastion of idiotic liberalism.

How do you say “blow out” in Minnesotan, eh?

P.S. Don't forget, it's Star Trek Tuesday at the film site.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Leftists Exploit Gun Tragedy. . . As Usual

With the Aurora shooting a couples days removed now and emotions cooling, let’s talk rationally about the issue of guns. As usual, the left has hopped on this tragedy in full exploitation mode. They’ve blamed everything from guns to the Tea Party. They are, as always, wrong. Let’s discuss.

As with Gabby Giffords, the left immediately jumped out and pointed their twisted fingers at the Tea Party. This charge was led by ABC News who decided the shooter had to belong to the Tea Party because they found a Tea Party member with a similar name. Naturally, they never bothered to investigate before smearing the Tea Party. Eventually, they were forced to retract this, but not before every other new outlet repeated the slander. Those outlets never withdrew their reports.

Meanwhile, the usual pack of leftist celebrities took to the airwaves to whine that this proves we need gun control. Roger Ebert even whined that this proved that concealed carry laws don’t work because no one in the crowd had a gun. Think about that. In Roger’s mind concealed carry means that someone in every crowd must be carrying a gun even when the theater and law forbid it. What a twisted turd he has become.

In any event, none of this is working. Almost no one on Capitol Hill has called for gun control laws. To the contrary they are running like scared rabbits. Why? Because polls show the public’s support for gun rights at an all-time high. Indeed, an October 2011 Gallup poll found that 73% of Americans would not support gun bans. This was the highest level in 50 years. Incidentally, the same poll showed 68% approval for the evil NRA.

So why doesn’t the public fall for the blathering of the moronic celebrities and professional tragedy exploiters? Easy, it’s common sense.

As I’ve pointed out many times before, gun tragedies are incredibly rare. The United States has 2.5 million deaths annually, but only 12,000 of those are related to guns (0.4% of all deaths) – many of these are shootings by police. This places gun deaths 43rd on the list of causes of death in the United States, well behind diseases, cancers, suicides, diarrhea related deaths, unintentional injuries, measles, falls, drownings, poisonings, fires, asthma and road accidents.

And mass shootings of the type in Aurora are even more rare. For example, in the last 10 years, there have been only seven shooting sprees at schools in the US that resulted in three or more deaths. Moreover, Europe has a comparable mass murder rate, despite its strict gun control laws. Europe saw six such mass murders in the same period, and the European ones had a higher body count. China too has seen a spree of stabbings at schools that have resulted in a vastly higher number of deaths than American shootings. So this problem the celebrity left is whining about simply about doesn’t exist, and people realize that.

Secondly, guns don’t kill people. There are 250 million guns in the United States. If guns “caused” crimes as the left claims, then there would 250 million murders a year. Even if only one in ten people fell under the evil spell of these guns, we would still be dealing with 25 million murders a year. Heck, even one percent means 2.5 million murders. Yet only 12,000 people are killed annually in the United States by guns. That works out to less than 0.004% of guns being used to kill someone. . . 40 out of every million guns in the country. Guns do not cause crime.

We know this from Switzerland too. Everyone in Switzerland is required to own a gun, yet gun crime is virtually nonexistent. It’s so low they don’t even bother keeping official statistics on gun crime. It is, in fact, lower than the gun crime rate in Japan, which absolutely bans guns. Switzerland ranks as the fourth safest country in the world and its violent crime rate is 1/100th that of Britain, where guns are banned.

Moreover, there is strong evidence that guns actually prevent crime. When Britain banned private gun ownership in 1996, crime rates skyrocketed. According to American Enterprise Institute economist John Lott, an examination of information released by the British Home Office showed that the violent crime rate rose 69% following the gun ban (with murders increasing 54%). Interestingly, in the five years prior to the ban, such crimes had been falling consistently.

A county by county examination by Lott of crime rates in the United States, found that right-to-carry states experienced (on average) lower rates of violent crime (27% lower), murder (32% lower), robbery (45% lower) and aggravated assault (20% lower) than states with more restrictive gun laws. Other studies conducted at Vanderbilt University, SUNY Binghamton, Claremont-McKenna College, George Mason University, and the College of William and Mary, have supported Lott’s findings.

So Ebert’s attempt to prove that concealed laws don’t worry through a bad analogy is proven ludicrous by comparison to these statistics.

The truth is the world is full of nuts. And if they want to find a way to kill people, they will find a way. It is better to let decent people arm themselves so they can defend themselves than it is to disarm the very people who would help, leaving everyone at the mercy of the crazies. It’s interesting that our left thinks this way. Why do you supposed they don’t want you being able to defend yourself?

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Great Events In History

On this day in 1944, I was born in a manger in Chicago because there was no room in the inn. And lo, there were packers abiding in the stockyards, keeping watch over their herds by night. And there was thunder and lightning, and they were sore afraid. But a voice said unto them: “Today, in the Windy City, a blogger is born, which is LawHawk, the RFD. OK, so it wasn't that dramatic, I was born in a hospital, it was a typical summer in Chicago, and nobody in my family sports a halo.

As the years roll by, I tend to try to pretend it's not my birthday. Another day closer to the ultimate reward. But since my doctors tell me I'll live to be a hundred (I'm not sure that isn't a curse), I thought that rather than simply comment about birthdays, I'd play the game “where were you on (fill in the date or event)?” I have been around a long time, so I thought I'd just put down those events during my tenure on earth that are so vivid that I can picture exactly where I was and what I was doing at the time. Some are very personal, others were felt and remembered only by relatives and friends, and some were major events that all Americans and the world shared in. But for each of them, I still have that vivid memory.

I'm listing those events below. I'm sure I'll think of others as I ponder. But for now, I'm curious to hear from you. What events hit you so hard that you remember specifically where you were and what you were doing when the news was announced? Many of your memories will be entirely different from mine because you are much younger and don't suffer from “old folks memory.” On the other hand, I'm sure that there are some we all shared in common.

The very first event that I remember with that kind of clarity rather than just a vague memory is the Tehachapi earthquake of 1952. I was sound asleep when I was suddenly awakened by a sharp jolt and the movement of my bed across the floor. Still somewhat groggy, I told my dad to quit shaking my bed, and went back to sleep. Of course my dad was with my mom in their bedroom, holding on for dear life. When I finally got up, my bed had moved completely from one side of the room to the other end. I stepped over the books, stuffed toys and knicknacks which had been knocked off shelves and went into the living room. Everything was pretty messy there, but the big surprise was the huge crack in the ceiling that ran from the dining room, through the living room, and out to the entryway.

We lived in the LA suburb of Downey, which is almost sixty miles from the epicenter in Tehachapi (the Wolf Fault, actually). But buildings were knocked down in Bakersfield, downtown LA, and even as far out as Long Beach (which had suffered its own devastating quake in 1933). Fast forward to two years ago. My younger daughter had been begging me to get out of San Francisco and move nearer to her in Caliente and to my older daughter in Simi Valley. I was ready to leave anyway, so we started the search, and here I am. But I almost wasn't. I asked her to be a little more specific about where Caliente is. She said she lived right at the edge of the Sequoia National Forest, but that the place she was hoping I would take was about three miles farther down the mountain as the crow flies. OK so far. Isolated, and the property has three and a half glorious acres.

Then she made the mistake of telling me about nearby towns. Bakersfield is about an hour away. Tehachapi is about fifty-five minutes away. Lake Isabella is about thirty minutes away. “Whoa, say what? Tehachapi is about how far?” Well, it's actually eighteen miles away, but the Wolf Fault is even closer. It takes about fifty-five minutes to get to Tehachapi on winding mountain roads, but it takes the shock of a major earthquake about half a second to cover the same distance. So here I am, almost on top of the location that is my first clear memory. I managed to be living in San Francisco during both of the big quakes in Los Angeles. I managed to be living in Los Angeles during both of San Francisco's big quakes. But now I live practically on the site of the great Tehachapi quake, and the geologists say we're overdue. Hmmmmph.

There were many small and big events in the years following, and I have memories of most of them. But the next event where I remember precisely where I was and what I was doing was the Cuban Missile Crisis. My best friend and I were living in a dorm near the UC Berkeley campus. The only TV in the house was in the attic room of one of the other students. So when we weren't in class, all the dorm residents were huddled in that one small room, waiting to see what would happen. Out of the blue, about six months ago, I got an e-mail about our Cal 46th anniversary class reunion and our 50th anniversary Big Game Week (against Stanford). It was from the guy who rented that attic room. He asked the usual “do you remember when . . .” questions. And I replied, “I'll never forget it.”

The next event came just over a year later. The news had just been announced that John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. I had been in class when the news was flashed to TV, but I wasn't anywhere near one. My buddy and I were meeting to grab a quick burger between classes, and the best place to meet was on the steps of Sproul Hall (the spot where most of the free speech demonstrations took place and where I had a student part-time job in the admissions office). He looked terrible, and there were tears in his eyes. He had already heard the news. I asked what was wrong, and he told me the president had been shot. It still didn't register with me. There had been a lot of demonstrations against University of California president Clark Kerr, but I couldn't believe anyone would shoot him.

My friend said “No, President Kennedy.” I had cut my political teeth at age 16 working on the Kennedy campaign. I was in shock. Classes were canceled, as were all the Big Game Week festivities. I spent the rest of the day at chapel or back in my dorm room, mourning. It seemed to me that for the first and only time in my memory, all the churches in Berkeley were open for those who were seeking spiritual relief, even though it was not a Sunday. The only very specific memory that I have of what transpired next was when Walter Cronkite came on to make an announcement. His voice was choked up, he removed his glasses, and told us the president was dead. The weather turned gloomy, and stayed that way for a full week.

The next four are easy. August 25, 1968—my wedding at Christ Lutheran Church in Downey. Followed by March 3, 1970, the birth of our first baby (Laura) at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Hayward, California. Then May 19, 1972 , the birth of our son (Christopher) and October 7, 1976, the birth of our younger daughter (Andrea). Both of the latter babies were born at Kaiser Foundation in Panorama City, California. The latter two memories are very similar. In those days, husbands in the labor and delivery rooms were rare and highly optional. I remember the expectant father's waiting room. There's a reason I went to law school and not medical school. But Laura's birth remains a little more vivid. The elevators weren't working at the hospital, and OB-GYN was on the fourth floor. I partially carried and partially dragged my poor, very pregnant wife up three flights of stairs. I remember the stairwell better than I remember the waiting room

I remember the after-grad ceremony from law school better than I do the ceremony itself because it was a wild affair held at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City. Just a few week earlier, Johnny Carson had made one of his frequent cracks about the goings-on at the hotel, which he regularly called “The Sheraton Unique.” I also remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I found out I had passed the Bar Exam. I was mowing the lawn on the day before Thanksgiving, 1977. The pass rate was so low that the examiners had taken extra time to grade, then re-grade the tests. My wife told me that I had a phone call from one of my classmates. She worked at a law office, so she had access to public Bar records. I said hi, then she excitedly announced: “Congratulations, Larry, you're a lawyer!” I also remember swearing-in day because it was held at the Los Angeles Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, four days before Christmas. The Pavilion is located in direct line-of-sight with the downtown Los Angeles Superior Court, and I couldn't wait to walk down that street and have my first case.

The next memory is another earthquake, but it's a very odd memory. On January 17, 1994, Northridge (in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley) was hit by a devastating earthquake. My older daughter lived in Northridge. But she and her husband were safe visiting with me in San Francisco. It was early in the day, and I watched the news as the magnitude of the damage became more apparent. I had hesitated to wake them up, but I finally did so. I told her to stay calm, it's only “things” and you're safe here with me. But she still looked like she was in shock. I tried to reassure her, but then she blurted out that Andrea, my younger daughter, was house-sitting for her. Now we were all in a panic. The famous picture of the four-story apartment house that pancacked down to the basement was next door to her apartment. Her apartment was literally at ground zero, and my baby was inside.

They decided to pack up and head home, and I spent the rest of the day trying to locate Andrea. A friend of mine called, and after hearing the tone of my voice, immediately headed to my place. That's what good friends do. I finally was able to get through to my son who was living near the UCLA campus in Westwood at the time while working on his BA. He told me that the freeways between Westwood and Northridge were down. So I told him his little sister might be trapped in a collapsed or badly-damaged apartment. He got on his motorcycle and headed for Northridge over the back roads through the Sepulveda Pass. Some hours later, he called to say there was no sign of her at the apartment (which was badly damaged, but not destroyed). He then headed to his mom's house in Simi Valley. Andrea had also taken back roads to Simi Valley and was safe, but even Simi Valley took some of the hit. The fireplace had moved five inches away from the living room wall.

The next event I'll always remember was 9-11, and it had eery similarities for me as the Northridge quake. I woke up early for some reason, and turned on the TV while the coffee brewed. My first thought was “why are they showing a disaster movie on a news channel?” The first tower had already been hit. As I listened and realized this wasn't a movie, I heard them saying that a second plane had just hit the other tower. Nobody was yet sure what was happening, and it took some time before there was universal agreement that this was an intentional terrorist attack. Then we started hearing about Flight 93 out of Newark. That also didn't register with me at first.

Then I remembered. My son was supposed to be in New York City for one of his regular meetings with his company's east coast reps and the Defense Department (among other things, he is an expert cryptographer). He had become used to the trip, and had learned that it was frequently easier to fly out of Newark than JFK. He was scheduled to be returning to Berkeley that morning. Panic! I tried calling him multiple times on his cellphone, with no response. More panic! Finally, out of desperation, I called his home phone to leave a message pleading with him to call me as soon as he got home (thinking, "if he gets home").

In the end, it all turned out well. He picked up the phone. He had neglected to tell me that he had quit his job the week before to start his own consulting business. He had left his cellphone upstairs in his bedroom and didn't hear it ringing. He was downstairs watching the same scenes of horror that I was watching. Only he knew where I was.

I was stuck in my apartment in San Francisco recovering from surgery during Ronald Reagan's funeral. It was very frustrating for me, since the final burial service was held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley. I had worked on and voted in favor of setting aside the land for the library when I was a Simi Valley planning commissioner, and I adored Ronald Reagan. But I was stuck in San Francisco, a town that voted against Reagan by astounding margins. I watched it all on TV, and probably had a better view of it than my daughter Laura who lives in Simi Valley and actually attended the event.

Oddly, I also remember exactly where I was when the news was announced that Barack Obama had been elected President. My office was located just inside the front doors of the Westfield San Francisco Centre on Market Street. There was a lot of cheering and noise-making that I could hear even inside. Figuring it was another typical San Francisco demonstration or riot, I poked my nose outside to see what was going on. It was a huge and enthusiastic crowd, largely young and black, shouting “we won, we won.”

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Don't Fix It--Tax It

Sunday always seems like a good day for me to get nostalgic about my Old San Francisco home, so far away. I've lived in the boondocks for over two years now, and I have yet to encounter a cop, a regulator, an inspector, or anybody trying to find something to tax. But San Francisco--ah--San Francisco! They haven't figured out yet how to tax you by the breath or by the calorie, but they're working on it. The current plan is an admission that they can't prevent traffic jams, so they're going to tax by the mile.

Actually, I do see one local cop quite regularly. Caliente contracts its police services out to the Kern County Sheriff's Department. We have one cop for the entire town. And instead of trying to collect anti-dog barking fines or stop me for speeding, he just waves at me. After all, his kids and my grandkids attend the same local schools, and pretty much everybody knows everybody else around here. On my last shopping trip to Lake Isabella, I encountered three other vehicles on the road and wondered where all the traffic had come from.

Needless to say, that is not the way it is in San Francisco (or any other big city). But San Francisco always seems to be ahead of the pack. Outlawed plastic grocery bags. Goldfish ownership made illegal. Restaurants severely restricted on what they can prepare and serve. No toy water pistols unless they look like Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse. Smoking prohibited, well, almost anywhere. But they just couldn't stop that damned traffic. So they're doing the next best thing. If you can't lick 'em, tax 'em.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) have gotten their fuzzy heads together and come up with a plan whereby all Bay Area residents will be required to have electronic devices similar to GPS communications which will monitor the number of miles a car travels. At the end of a fiscal period, the owner will get a tax bill for the number of miles used up. Can mileage quotas, "excess mileage surcharges" and electronically controlled kill switches be far behind?

This is almost as insane as their plan to monitor gasoline usage. In fact, it's even sillier. In San Francisco, it's impossible to travel very far. It's a very tiny city geographically. But miles traveled would be far less tax lucrative than gasoline usage because traffic in the City is start-and-stop, stop-and-stop, or snail's pace most times of the day. And those hills are not exactly gasoline mileage increasers.

San Francisco depends heavily on tourism. The largest percentage of visitors each year are Californians who drive their cars into town. Many are day-trippers who drive in from the far flung suburbs and exurbs. Under the current proposal, only Bay Area residents would be required to purchase and activate the devices in order to be taxed. How that is going to be implemented remains to be seen. But I can also see a working commuter from San Jose or Concord suing for unequal enforcement of the law when the entire rest of the state remains untouched by the requirements and the tax.

On the other hand, I can see Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown and his tax and spend Democrats thinking that this is such a good idea that they will impose the same thing statewide. Everyone knows that Californians aren't taxed enough already--right? Besides, some of the tax money extorted from drivers could be used to help fund the bullet train to nowhere.

The proposed tax is called the Vehicle Miles Traveled tax (VMT). If you think your AT&T bill is screwy, wait until you see one of these tax bills. The tax would be as much as ten cents per mile, adjusted for location, reason for travel, and even time of day (rush hours, when most commuters actually need to be on the road, will be the most expensive).

A spokesman for the MTA says "We're not interested in where they go. We're only interested in the amount they travel." Well, that's a relief. Oh, wait, they already have GPS to tell where we go. This whole scheme is allegedly to reduce traffic and pollution, but the perpetrators know it won't make a dent. It produces the one thing that liberals in government really love--mo' money, mo' money.
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