December 2009

Experience Matters – December 2009 Update

by Bill O'Connell on December 29, 2009

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For the second time in two months there has been a terrorist attack or an attempted attack on U.S. soil.  How is this administration responding?  Well, if grandma is planning to visit the family for the next holiday and she has a bladder problem, she had better drive or take the train, because she won’t be allowed to use the bathroom during the last hour of an airplane flight.  Whew!  That was close.  I feel so much better now that we kept grandma from flying.  Don’t you feel safer?

Who’s Minding the Store?

As pointed out in several other posts, Barack Obama was elected with zero executive experience and we hold our breath as he stumbles about trying to learn what an executive is supposed to do.  He put Janet Napolitano in charge of the Homeland Security department, because her home state borders on Mexico, but without any security experience.  This was put on full display when she went on the Sunday talk shows to say the administration response to the terrorist bomber went very well and then goes on the Monday morning news shows to say they failed.  President Obama put Leon Panetta in charge of the CIA even though he has no intelligence experience.  Feeling a little uncomfortable?

Planning to Fail

President Obama has taken just about every step he can to dismantle what Bush and Cheney put in place and to discredit how they kept us safe.  Even today, Obama insiders were whispering to the Washington Post that this was all Bush’s fault.  Let’s look at the Obama record:

  • Closing Guantanamo — this is one of Obama’s top priorities.  Rather than keep these enemy combatants off shore and in military hands, as any battlefield captives should be held, he is planning to release Yemenis back to Yemen.  Where did the bomber obtain instructions?  That’s right Yemen.
  • Curtail Interrogation techniques — calling a technique that has no lasting physical effects on prisoner torture, and requiring that prisoners be asked only name, rank and serial number, this administration cuts off sources of valuable information that can save lives.
  • Calling the War on Terror, the Overseas Contingency Operation and changing us from a war footing to a law and order footing.
  • Letting the bomber lawyer up — instead of treating the bomber as a foot soldier in the War on Terror he is treated like some delinquent trying to knock over a Seven Eleven.  We should be putting him under intense interrogation to find out everything we can from him on the operation behind him.  Instead we are reading him Miranda rights, getting him a lawyer, putting him in one of the best burn center hospitals in the country, and planning to give him skin grafts.  I guess he’s part of the new health care plan.

Correctness or Political Correctness

Profiling works.  When are we going to stop ignoring this simple fact?  Look at any one of the known terrorist attacks around the world.  When someone gets on line at an airport who fits the profile of a young, male, single, Middle Eastern, African or South Asian, then pull them out of the line and give them a more thorough screening.  Pat them down.  Swab every bag for explosive residue rather than a sampling, open and examine closely everything.  Don’t say we can’t check this one because we have already checked two others and until we check our quota of old men, white grandmas, Asian children, etc. we cannot check another Middle Eastern man because we may hurt their feelings.

If enough of them get their feelings hurt, maybe all the other fair minded and peace loving Muslims around the world will rise up and take back their faith from those who have hijacked it for their own murderous aims.  Until then, we should err on the side of caution and pray that this administration figures out what they are doing to protect us.  If they don’t know what to do they should leave what Bush and Cheney did well enough alone.  It kept us safe for seven years.

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Chickens Coming Home to Roost

by Bill O'Connell on December 28, 2009

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I am sure you all recall the video played ad nauseum starring the Reverend Wright railing against America defending itself.  It now seems to accurately describe the results of the new hope and change administration.  After his worldwide apology tour, and banning the term “War on Terror,” replacing it with the limp “Overseas Contingency Operation,” so that, like his presidential campaign, no one would know what he actually meant or stood for, his own chickens are coming home to roost.

Actions Have Consequences

The left used to attack the Bush administration’s approach because being tough on terrorists only served to aid them in their recruiting.  Maybe so, but I am less concerned about lines of recruits in Afghanistan than crazed terrorists in New York.  Obama’s apology tour shows his weakness and as the terrorist mindset abhors weakness, it encourages attacks.  So what would you prefer, attacks on American soil, or an uptick in recruiting on the other side of the world?

War vs. Law and Order

Bush recognized the War on Terror for what it was, a direct attack on the United States and our way of life.  In a war, you go after the enemy, you don’t wait for him to come to you.  You take prisoners and hold them, until the conflict is over.  You dismantle their ability to wage war.  It is aggressive and proactive.  It is the way America has prevailed in wartime.

The Obama approach is Law an Order.  Each act is seen as separate an isolated and as a crime to be investigated and prosecuted after the fact.  First responders are more important than the first wave of Marines.  To quote today’s Wall Street Journal:

Brian Jenkins, who studies terrorism for the Rand Corporation, says there were more terror incidents (12), including thwarted plots, on U.S. soil in 2009 than in any year since 2001. The jihadists don’t seem to like Americans any better because we’re closing down Guantanamo.

But the Obama Administration is currently considering releasing prisoners held in Guantanamo to Yemen.  How long do you think it will be before they are back on the front lines trying to kill us?

Add to the mix the Obama administration’s, or should I say Eric Holder’s, decision to try the 9/11 terrorists in a civilian court.  Holder’s testimony before Congress justifying his decision was painful to watch how he had no credible justification.  Don’t forget to give  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, his Miranda rights and get him a good lawyer. Let’s pretend his claims to be associated with al Qaeda is just tough talk and braggadocio.

The reality is that whenever America fought a war and politicians pulled punches (e.g., Viet Nam) we lost.

Things are Working Swell

Janet Napolitano, Obama’s head of Homeland Security had this to say, according to the New York Times

“The system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days,” Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary said, in an interview on “This Week” on ABC. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, used nearly the same language on “Face the Nation” on CBS, saying that “in many ways, this system has worked.”

How chilling is that?  What exactly does she mean by the system worked?  She refers to the number of organizations that were alerted after the fact.  How about notifications before the fact?  How about listening to the terrorist’s own father who reported him to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria.  How about denying him a visa?  Or is Napolitano too busy adding funeral homes to her list of organizations to notify after the fact?

Where’s Obama?

If there’s a chance Chicago might get the Olympics, don’t worry, Obama’s on a plane to give it the old presidential push!  If there’s a Nobel Prize to pick up, Obama is your man!  If there is a terrorist attack on our country, hey, don’t bother me I’m on vacation in Hawaii.

Some pundits on the news pointed out that President Bush didn’t speak out against the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, for several days, so cut Obama some slack.  The problem is that no one doubted for a minute that Bush was engaged in the War on Terror, some even saying he was obsessed.  Well that obsession kept us safe for seven years.  In less than one year we have had Fort Hood and now this airline bombing.

Furthermore, why is Eric Holder making such a monumental decision regarding trying the 9/11 terrorists in New York?  Why isn’t this Obama’s decision?  Just like so much in this administration, Obama campaigns and gives speeches, and Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Eric Holder make policy decisions on their own.

Here’s to the Heroes

The heroes in this case were a Dutch citizen and the flight attendants, who subdued the terrorist and extinguished the fire.  To quote again from the Wall Street Journal:

The lesson here is the same as Flight 93 on 9/11 and shoe-bomber Richard Reid, which is that civilians willing to act in their own self-defense are a crucial part of “homeland security.”

May I suggest that the statists drop their efforts to weaken the 2ndAmendment?  As part of  “homeland security” we may need to bear arms like at no time since the Civil War.

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Pick My Pocket. Please!

by Bill O'Connell on December 28, 2009

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Who doesn’t love a freebie?  Who does not get a thrill of good fortune by finding money in the street, no matter how insignificant the amount?  We may not believe in the Tooth Fairy, but many of us believe we have a rich benevolent uncle, Uncle Sam, who is willing to lavish upon us his wealth if only we would ask.  The sad truth is that Uncle Sam is not rich, but penniless and is running a ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff blush.

Health Care for $20

One of the major reasons that health care costs are rising out of control is that no one is minding the store.  While Washington twists itself in knots to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic of health care, we have little to no say in how our health care dollars are spent.  Our health care “insurance” system is not really insurance.  Insurance is meant to protect us from a financial catastrophe.  Going to the doctor for a checkup is not a catastrophe.  Paying a $20 co-pay for that checkup is like finding money on the street.  There is no way anyone can get a physical exam, except by a hooker, for $20.  It is a good idea to get a physical checkup every year?  Yes, then pay the bill and ask what you are paying for and make sure you need it.  You take your car in for service don’t you?  Do you file an insurance claim when you do?  Can you get it done for $20.  Let’s get real.  What we have is called third party payer and when someone else is picking up the tab, do we care what it costs?  Really?  But someone is picking up the tab.  Look in your other pocket, because you are.  If you are generally healthy and you get your annual checkup, your insurance premium (here in New York at least) will probably run around $10,000 per year.  But, hey, you only paid $20 for that physical!  What if you paid the full amount for the physical, say, $500.  What if your insurance premium was cut to $5,000 because you would pay most routine medical costs out of your pocket and what if you could put the $4,500 left over ($10,000 original premium, minus $5,000 current premium, minus $500 cost of checkup), into a tax free account that can be used for future medical expenses or retirement if you don’t use it?  If you are a young person and stay healthy into your mid-40s, you would have accumulated over $90,000 in your medical savings account and you still have catastrophic insurance coverage and the government stays out of the picture.

Retirement for Free

Like many well intentioned Government programs, Social Security, enacted during the Great Depression, seemed like a good idea at the time.  When enacted there was about 15 workers paying in for each recipient drawing out.  Today there are about a little over 3 workers paying in for each beneficiary.  Bernie Madoff would blush at the audacity of it.  On top of that the money that is paid into Social Security can only be “invested” in Treasury Securities so the return is lousy, but safe.  People reacted to Social Security by saving less because the government safety net was there.  Had people been encouraged to save for their own retirement, they would not be leaving their children this legacy of a ticking time bomb.  So today, many young people feel the government’s hand in their pocket when they look at the FICA line on their pay stub, but don’t believe they will ever get a penny back.  Nice concept.

Bring Home the Bacon!

What’s the measure of a good Congressman or Senator?  Bringing home pork for the district, no?  If you are like me, you get flyers every year or several times per year, touting how Congresswoman Jones obtained federal funding for that pier at the amusement park.  With 435 Congressmen you can count on this, for each $1 that your Representative brings home $434 leaves the Treasury for each of the other Congressional districts and probably more, depending on the power and seniority of your Representative.  Guess who’s paying for that Turtle Crossing in Florida?  that bridge to nowhere in Alaska? that airport in Johnstown, PA that no one uses?  That’s right, you are.  What if we decided locally if we really needed a pier at the amusement park, and if we did, pay for it ourselves?  Then we could let the people of Florida decide if they want to build a turtle crossing, the people of Alaska decide if they wanted a bridge to nowhere and the people of Pennsylvania decide if they wanted an airport that no one used.  Then we could cut federal taxes by an equal amount to keep them out of mischief and help us pay for these projects if we really wanted them.

Let’s Get Organized

There was a time in our history where labor unions performed a valuable service.  In those times when many industrial jobs were unskilled or semi-skilled, employers could dismiss someone on a whim and replace them within the hour.  Unions gave those workers some counterbalancing power and fairer treatment.  Today, we have a much more sophisticated economy and workers have more skills and mobility.  Union membership has declined accordingly, in the private sector at least.  Why is union membership still growing in the public sector?  What is different about workers in the public sector that they still need unions?  Are we suggesting that all government workers are unskilled?  Why do teachers need a union?  Are they not skilled such that they could sell their services to the highest bidder?  Why do unions fight merit pay for teachers?  Why are school principals, the de facto CEO of the school and who in New York easily make six figures, unionized?  Do you get an idea why our K-12 public school system is trailing the world in performance?

In Michigan, privately owned small businesses that provided day-care services suddenly discovered that they were part of a union and union dues were being withheld from their government contractual payments.

Ms. Berry owns her own business—yet the Michigan Department of Human Services claims she is a government employee and union member. The agency thus withholds union dues from the child-care subsidies it sends to her on behalf of her low-income clients. Those dues are funneled to a public-employee union that claims to represent her. The situation is crazy—and it’s happening elsewhere in the country.

Ms. Berry, runs “The Berry Patch” a private day care center she operates from her home catering to low income clients.  The money that was once paid to her, now goes to a union that does little for her.  She is “self employed and wants nothing to do with the union.”  Don’t you think we need more of these tactics in America?  Card Check anyone?

Going Postal

And let’s not forget the Postal Service.  As postal rates are again scheduled to increase on January 4, let’s look at this paragon of efficiency, that is actually authorized by the Constitution.  In 2008, the Postal Service lost $3 billion, and the Postmaster General John Potter pulled down $800,000 in compensation including $135,000 in incentive bonuses.  What do we have to pay this guy if he actually breaks even?  Also, let us not forget this is also a very heavily unionized operation.

Don’t Worry, You Won’t Feel a Thing

During World War II, FDR needed to raise more revenue to pay for the war.  Fearing a backlash, his team hit upon the idea of payroll withholding.  Knowing the potential backlash that would result when taxpayers had to write that big check on April 15th, he rightly figured that if he took a little bit each week, he could take a lot more in total.  Statists in Washington have never looked back.  It’s like the tax that was imposed on telephone service to pay for the Spanish American War that is still in place today.  Instead of picking our pockets every week, what do you think most Americans would say about the size of the federal government if they had to write one big check on April 15th?  There would be no tax rebates, because there would be no tax withheld.  Do you think Americans would force Congress to sharpen their pencils and scale back the size of government?

Help is On the Way

Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help!’”  But perhaps the best example of how far from our founding principles our government has strayed comes from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut as she spoke during a House End of Year Wrap Up Session:

“This House–we understand, we’re there,” she said.  “You can count on us because we believe that it’s our moral responsibility to make sure that you and your family need our help.” 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the House of Representatives making sure I need their help.  I need as little interference as possible from them.  Their meddlesome intrusions in our lives is killing what made this country great.  It is a point we cannot make often enough.

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If You Didn’t Make Me Bribe You, Then Shame On You

by Bill O'Connell on December 23, 2009

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In Harry Reid’s Senate, this qualifies as dereliction of duty, as the Majority Leader said himself on Monday in defense of his frantic deal-making to get 60 votes. “I don’t know if there is a Senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that was important to them,” Mr. Reid said at a press conference that offered an unintentional commentary on modern democracy. “And if they don’t have something in it important to them, then it doesn’t speak well of them.” – Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2009

It kinda makes you feel warm all over, that our Congressional leaders are representing their constituents, selflessly doing what’s best for America in line with the consent of the governed (55% opposed according to latest Rasmussen poll). 

 Have you seen some of the commercials for Ally bank, where a man asks one little girl if she wants a pony and she gleefully says yes, so he hands her a toy pony.  He then asks the next girl if she wants a pony and she says yes, so he calls out a live pony.  The first girl, crestfallen, says, “You didn’t say I could have real pony.” To which he replies, “Well, you didn’t ask.”  By now you probably know how Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Evan Byah of Indiana feel.  They didn’t ask for a bribe in return for their vote on the health care bill, and like the creep in the commercial Harry Reid tells the world what a couple of saps they are for not doing so.

While Obama’s first stimulus plan lies sputtering on the ground, and he and his team tee up another one, they fail to realize that many small businesses that create most of the new jobs in this country, simply do not know what all this (health care, cap and trade, stimulus after stimulus) is going to cost them.  Until they do, this uncertainty is what is keeping many of them from doing any hiring.  How can you hire a new person when you no longer know how much your existing staff is going to cost when the music stops?  So the unemployment picture will drag on no matter how may stimulus plans Obama rams through.

Coming to Their Senses

This is not over yet. The House version and the Senate version still have to be reconciled in committee.   In the House Bart Stupak says he has 30 Democrats ready to vote against the bill, if his amendment against abortion is tampered with.  The chumps in the Senate that Harry just made fools of, may re-think their support. The far left demands a public option be put in.  Lieberman and a few others vow to vote against any public option. In addition, the members of Congress, when they return home to their districts, may not find them full of good cheer this Christmas, as incensed constituents express their opinions on why every Democrat in the Senate doesn’t understand 55% opposition, while they vote yea.  Better watch out for flying fruitcakes, they can be lethal.

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Grading on a Curve

by Bill O'Connell on December 15, 2009

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Yesterday in an interview with Oprah Winfrey for her Christmas special, President Obama magnanimously gave himself a grade of a “solid B+” on his first eleven months in office.  Now that’s grading on a curve!  I once had a very good professor who opened the first class with his philosophy of grading.  He said:

“I don’t believe in grading on a curve.  I don’t subscribe to the theory that if everyone learns nothing, you all get A’s”

Amen, brother.  Now if you revisit President Obama’s statement, he must have really, really done badly, because grading his class of one student, he couldn’t even pull that “A”.  Let’s look at his achievements:

  • A stimulus plan promised to hold the unemployment rate to 8%, and if not passed the unemployment rate would rise to 9%.  His team must have really screwed up that project because it caused the unemployment rate to rise 1.2% above the “do nothing” scenario, and we are $787 billion poorer to boot.
  • Cap and Trade — the Climategate scandal gives credence to the hypothesis that pro cap and trade scientists were cooking the books to manufacture conclusions that supported their political agenda.  Rather than backing away from it as it if were a skunk at a garden party.  President Obama is embracing it and pushing forward.
  • Health Care — President Obama is trying to have the federal government take over 1/6 of the U.S. economy, because in doing so they will lower costs and make sure everyone is covered.  Sensible market based ideas such as: tort reform, patient control over how patients money is spent, insurance available across state lines, etc., need not apply.  How likely is this to work? (see bullet #1 above). Because this hasn’t passed yet was one of the only reasons Obama didn’t give himself an “A”.
  • Continuing to blame President Bush for his shortcomings sounds a lot like “my dog ate my homework,”
  • Agreeing to try the 9/11 suspects in civilian court rather than in a military tribunal.  Although President Obama says they are guilty and will be executed (can you say mistrial?) how many of us are looking forward to a replay of the O.J. Simpson trial with the acquittal included?
  • Meanwhile, Black Panther’s who stood outside a Philadelphia polling place brandishing clubs have their case dropped by the Obama administration, even though there was a default judgment against the men for not showing up in court to face the charges. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!
  • Yes, they’re Fat Cats but their MY Fat Cats:  After blasting bankers for being Fat Cats, why does Obama have so many Goldman Sachs alumni in his administration?  Mark Patterson, former Goldman lobbyist, Treasury Secretary Geithner’s chief of staff; Reuben Jeffrey III, undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs; Neel Kaskari, assistant secretary of the treasury for financial stability, administering the TARP funds; Dianna Farrell, deputy director of National Economic Council.
  • In the midst of all this mayhem, he finds time to go pitch Chicago for the 2016 Olympics.
  • He is piling so much debt upon our children and grandchildren that they will probably have to work 3/4 of the year, just to pay their taxes.

How Bad is Bad?

What kind of calamity would we have to be in for Obama to give himself a “C” let alone an “F”?  So we know where Obama’s ego is, and it is doing well, thank you very much.  But the American people have their own report card and it shows that support for Obama has been on a downward straight line since his inauguration with his approval rating now in the mid to upper 40s, the lowest level in history for a president at the same point in his tenure.

Such a disconnect between Obama’s opinion of himself and the American people’s opinion is a serious problem.  It drives him to continue to pursue policies that Americans adamantly oppose (e.g., 61% oppose the Senate health care bill).  Most reasonable people would take such feedback and reassess their actions.  But if an employee is blind to his shortcomings, the only thing to do is show them the door.  The sooner, the better, folks because it’s not going to get any better.

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Nobel Nitwits

by Bill O'Connell on December 10, 2009

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Today Barack Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize in Norway for his accomplishments in the area of …..?  Well, nothing actually.  It was called anticipatory, in other words, he got the prize for what they hoped he would accomplish.  There’s that hope thing again.  I hope he stops burying this country in debt.

TR and Woodrow Wilson

In some puzzling way, President Obama’s acolytes like to make comparisons to two other presidents who won the Nobel Peace prize.  But they actually accomplished something or introduced a concept that eventually prevailed.  In 1905, Teddy Roosevelt successfully negotiated the end of the Russo-Japanese War, and that peace actually stuck.  Woodrow Wilson created the League of Nations which, although it failed survive, it was the forerunner of the United Nations.  Gentlemen, take a bow.  As for President Obama, I guess we’ll have to keep holding our breath and hoping.

Damaged Goods

However noble, the Nobel Peace Prize might have been, it has been reduced to a sad joke.  Let’s look at some past recipients:

  • 2007 – Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Al Gore won the Peace prize for his deeply flawed documentary, which by the way two members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have called for him to return the Oscars he won  for the same film.  He didn’t win the Nobel Prize in Physics or Chemistry.  Meanwhile the IPCC is embroiled in the midst of Climategate. Who lost out to these two?  A woman who smuggled approximately 2,500 Jews, mostly small children, out of the Warsaw ghetto before the Nazi’s could exterminate them.
  • 2005 – Mohamed El Baradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way” .  While investigating Iran El Baradei “opposed the publication of a secret report generated by his own agency, one which indicated Iran was using its civilian program as a cover to make weapons. And why did he oppose publication?” {more}  Do you feel blissfully peaceful now when you ponder Iran?
  • 2002 – Jimmy Carter – “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development”.  Well he must have gotten tired as he mused about how any opposition to President Obama’s policies being racially motivated for the most part.
  • 2001 – The United Nations and Kofi Annan – for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.  It seems they wanted to wait until the UN was nearly irrelevant in world affairs and Kofi Annan’s son was ripping off the UN’s Oil for Food program.  Hmmm, that must have come from the “better organized” part.
  • 1994 – Yassir Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin – for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East. How’s that working out?

Notably Absent

So where are the Nobel Peace prizes for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, for ending the Cold War without firing a shot?  That wasn’t just peaceful that was miraculous.  But then again, they were conservatives and therefore they don’t qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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The Religion of Secularism

by Bill O'Connell on December 6, 2009

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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  — Amendment I, Constitution of the United States

So what is one to make of the new campaign sponsored by atheists that says, “No God?  That’s good.  Let’s be good for goodness sake.”  Who could argue with the last part?  After all it comes from that famous Christmas carol, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. But what are we to make of the first part?

How do you argue in favor of something that doesn’t exist?  Having a manger scene in the public square next to a menorah is not the establishment of religion on the part of the government that is prohibited in the Constitution.  But demanding that all signs and symbols of religion be banned from the public, to me, comes pretty close to the state establishment of a religion called secularism.  What was the point of the First Amendment prohibition of the establishment of religion?

Religion and America

The atheists will argue that a manger scene on public land is contrary to the establishment clause.  How so, I ask?  Specifically what religion is it establishing?  Christianity?  One of the reasons that the Founders created the establishment clause was to protect freedom of religion.  Christianity is too broad a term to be considered an organized religion.  If you don’t believe me, ask the Pilgrims, and the Quakers, and the Catholics, and the Mennonites who fled the persecution that came with not swearing allegiance to the Church of England.  They are all Christians and that was the whole point.  The Founding Fathers did not want the new nation of the United States to form an official state religion and a specific form of worship and tyrannize anyone who did not adhere to it.  Having a belief in God and adhering to a particular way of practicing it are not the same.  It is easy to see that the Founding fathers manifestly believed in the former while protecting everyone’s rights to the latter.  So the very argument that the atheists and the ACLU are making should be pointed at themselves, for they are demanding that everyone follow their religion to keep the public square naked.

Faith of Our Fathers

“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…” — The Declaration of Independence

Are we to believe that the same people who wrote and signed this document meant that faith should be banished from the public square?  The Founding Fathers called upon God repeatedly for strength, guidance, and courage.  To say we should do the opposite today and call that the American way is bizarre, to say the least.

Pointing Out the Obvious

In any display of a manger scene or a menorah, or a Christmas tree, wreath, etc. the atheists are also covered.  Perhaps we need to be more careful to make it obvious.  An area, of appropriate size, should just be cordoned off or outlined in chalk, with nothing in it.  That’s what atheists believe in, nothing, so wherever you see nothing around the display, they are there.  They are represented.  Their tacky messages criticizing or condemning people of faith, is what is out of place and should be condemned.  You don’t see a message in front of a manger scene or Christmas tree pointing to the menorah saying, “They missed the boat on this one!”  Or a sign in front of the menorah pointing back at the manger saying, “Never happened!”  The universal messages are peace and understanding, not a Madison Avenue pitch for one brand over another.  So the atheists should stand down and go back to work.

Go Back to Work?

Yes, go to work.  Why are you taking December 25th off?  Without Christ, there is no Christmas.  Without Christmas there is no national holiday on December 25th.  With no national holiday on December 25th why aren’t you atheists working?  Instead of putting up insipid signs on buses go to work with gusto!  That will show the rest of us!

In his book, “What Americans Really Want…Really, ”Frank Luntz writes:

 “Harris Interactive and MBA students from Brigham Young University developed a “happiness index” based on a list of questions such as positive relationships with friends and family members, worry about work and finances, and spiritual beliefs…for the most part, the results were conclusive: The happiest people were those who described themselves as very religious and those who pray or study religion every day.  Religious people worry less about their health and are less frustrated with work.  At the very bottom of the happiness index were people who said they were not religious at all.  The angriest people are atheists and agnostics.”

Just Because You’re Miserable, Don’t Blame the Rest of Us

So you don’t believe in God.  This is America, that is your right.  But you don’t have the right to tell the rest of us what to believe.  “Well, you can’t do that in the public square, because it offends me.”  How do you come out of your dwelling this time of year?  If you are truly offended by Christmas how could you set foot in New York City?  Is your argument that all the stores and churches along Fifth Avenue with their decorations are okay, but the decorations in City Hall Park, are an outrage to your sensibilities?  Or are you really trying to start by establishing your religion of Secularism in direct violation of the Constitution?

Lunacy Unleashed

This has really gone too far.  From removing a cross from the seal of the city of San Diego, to the assault on Christmas when will it end?  When will we see the campaign to rename Corpus Christi, Texas, since the name means “The Body of Christ”?

Instead of attacking people of faith, how about trying to emulate them.  Be of good cheer, hold a door open, help out at a soup kitchen, sing a joyful song.  Maybe, just maybe, the next time Frank Luntz takes a poll, you won’t be the miserable wretches at the bottom of the happiness index. 

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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Waffler in Chief

by Bill O'Connell on December 5, 2009

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On Tuesday night President Obama gave an uncharacteristically bland speech regarding his way forward in Afghanistan.  In one sentence he said he was adding 30,000 troops while shortly thereafter he said he would be removing them.  It’s enough to make one nostalgic for John Kerry’s “clarification” of how he voted for the war in Iraq before he voted against it.  So our Waffler in Chief has given the enemy their battle plan: hunker down;  keep a low profile;  don’t back me into a corner, and beginning in July 2011, while we’re packing up you can be ramping up.  Bush never committed to an end date certain for that very reason.  They way you defeat the enemy is by making it clear that you will finish the job, no matter how long it takes.

It’s All Karzai’s Fault!

With this administration, it’s always somebody else’s fault.  But put yourself in Karzai’s shoes.  If you have the U.S. on one side, and the Taliban on the other with the U.S. packing up and the Taliban sharpening their knives, who are you going to cut a deal with?  They guy who plans to be there for the next 20 years or the guy who plans to be there for the next 20 months?  There is one way to deal with the bad guys who plan on being there for the next 20 years and that’s to make sure they spend those next 20 years six feet under.

We had similar challenges in Iraq, but once Bush ordered the surge and the bad guys knew we were going to finish the job, they started cutting deals of their own.  Many came over to our side and helped end the violence in a number of provinces.  Peace through strength.  It works.  Weakness fires up the enemy and emboldens him.  You decide which is the better strategy.

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Economic Malpractice

by Bill O'Connell on December 5, 2009

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Let’s say you were having a problem with your knee.  So you go to the doctor and tell him your problem. The doctor examines you and says he has to act quickly.  He says you need an operation and if you have it, you will experience some mild pain for a brief time, but if you don’t  the pain will get worse.  How bad you ask?  On the pain scale, designed by Andrea Mankoski, you are currently at a 6, described as, “Can’t be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities.”  He says without the operation you will probably reach a 9, “Unable to speak.  Crying out or moaning uncontrollably — near delirium.”  With the operation you will probably peak at 8, “Physical activity severely limited; you can read and converse with effort; nausea and dizziness set in as factors of pain,” but then things will progressively improve.  The pressure he is putting on you to decide is intense, so you give him the go ahead.

The good doctor performs the operation and as he predicted the pain does get worse, but it doesn’t stop.  You are beyond delirium, you are reaching level 10, “Unconscious.  Pain makes you pass out.”  Your medical proxy, demands the doctor tell her what went wrong.  The doctor shrugs and says it was worse than anybody thought, but then says the surgery is working better than expected. ”What the hell did you do in that surgery, you screw-up?” your proxy demands.   The doctor, just smiles, and turns on his heel ands walks away, leaving your proxy standing there sputtering, desperately trying to find the words to express her disbelief and outrage.  When she finally regains her composure, standing there all alone, she reaches for her cell phone to call a malpractice attorney.

Economic Stimulus Surgery

Dr. Obama told us, upon taking office, that we desperately needed a stimulus package or the unemployment rate would continue to rise.  He said without a stimulus package, the unemployment rate would rise to 9%, if we did NOTHING!  His able assistants, Harry “the Healer” Reid, and “Nurse” Nancy Pelosi, slammed through the $787 billion package.  We were saved!  Unemployment would not rise above 8% before starting to fall.  But there isn’t a happy ending to this fairy tale.  The unemployment rate rose past 8%; it rose past 9%; it rose past 10%.  So when Dr. Biden steps to the microphone and says the stimulus is working better than expected, why isn’t someone putting a straight-jacket on him and carting him off?  Why isn’t someone pointing out that the stimulus may have actually made the problem worse?  Team Obama said themselves that it would have been better to do nothing. The unemployment rate would have peaked at 9%.  Why are they getting  pass?

Non-stimulating Stimulus

Look more closely at the stimulus, which we now have had time to do.  Extending unemployment benefits does not create jobs.  Giving teachers a raise, does not create jobs.  Spending 80% of the stimulus funds so far in the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education doesn’t speak to job creation.  It speaks to a sop to their union backers and the creation of their impossible to measure metric “jobs saved.”  Only $4 billion so far has gone to the Department of Transportation and their “shovel ready” projects.  Even these, while a help to construction workers, doesn’t do a thing for laid off bank tellers, software engineers, or FedEx employees.

The Obama administration is spending us into oblivion,  while pouring gasoline on to the unemployment fire with their ill conceived and basically botched stimulus plans.  What is needed are tax cuts that will allow the market to direct the resources where they will do the most good and get the economy moving again.  Instead Obama is taxing and spending our way to economic disaster. What we need is a sharp curtailment in government spending and to shrink the size of the federal beast. Is there a good economic malpractice trial lawyer out there?

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Jobs Jive

by Bill O'Connell on December 4, 2009

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There was a commercial not too long ago where a young man looked out his window to the village green where a bundle of money had just fallen.  He calls his wife/girlfriend over to show her.  She suggests running down and getting it, but he says, no, let’s wait.  Next you see a frizzy headed guy down on the green who screams, “MONEY!!!!”  In seconds, people came out of the woodwork and scoffed up all the money while the young couple looked on.

The image of that commercial popped into my head as I considered the job summit being led by President Obama.  To me, the young couple represented the government pondering how to direct the economy to achieve this specific goal or that.  The mob on the green was the free market.  While the government dithers over what kind of legislation to write, which special interest groups to pay off to pass it, how to develop incentives to get private industry to do this or that, if they would just cut taxes and get out of the way, the free market would get to work creating jobs where they are needed, not where some bureaucrat thinks they should go.

Uncertainty

The biggest cloud overhanging this economy is uncertainty.  The Obama administration is slamming through enormous changes: a $787 billion Porkulus package, cap and trade, health care.  Businesses look at this combined with the accumulation of massive government debt, tax increases rather than cuts (yes letting the Bush tax cuts expire is a tax increase, not just the expiration of tax cuts as Speaker Pelosi tries to spin it) and they don’t know what hiring that extra employee is going to cost, let alone what it will cost to keep the employees they already have.  So they don’t hire until the dust  settles and they can calculate the impact.

“Tax incentives for job creation are “worthy of further consideration,” he said, while adding that the administration is also set on making a big push in the area of green jobs.” – President Obama at Jobs Summit

“Worthy of further consideration”?  Since conservatives have been calling for tax cuts for a year now, this kind of statement in Obama-ese translates thusly, “I have to make a nod to the right, to acknowledge that I heard them, but it ain’t happening.”  Couple that with the “big push in the area of green jobs.”  We are in the midst of the scientific scandal that the “settled science” of man-made global warming could be the greatest hoax since Bernie Madoff, and Obama wants a big push in the area of green jobs.  What if that area collapses because the urgency that Al Gore has been screaming about is no longer urgent?  It’s government planning on the order of Soviet five-year plans or Mao’s Great Leap Forward programs.  It harkens back to Jimmy Carter’s giant Synfuels project that was going to convert coal into oil, until oil prices fell and the project imploded, but not before billions of tax dollars were poured into that rat hole.

How Simulating!

If you listen to Joe Biden, the stimulus plan is working better than expected.  But let’s take a closer look.  As of about three weeks ago only $120 billion of the stimulus money had been spent. (So why is Congress looking at another stimulus with over $600 billion left to spend in the first one?)  Of that money, 80% went to the Department of Education, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Labor.  What about all the “shovel ready” projects?  Only about $4 billion has gone to the Department of Transportation.  Feel better?

Jobs Summit Attendees

So who is meeting with President Obama at the jobs summit?  Well first let’s look at who was not invited:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce — they have butted heads with Obama over health care and climate change policies
  • National Federation of Independent Businesses

I don’t know about you, but I think they might have an idea or two about how to create conditions that let the free market create jobs.  As for the attendees:

  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officer
  • President of the American Federation of Teachers — a union of workers in a government run monopoly
  • United Food & Commercial Workers International Union
  • CEOs of some Fortune 500 companies

How many jobs do unions create, not occupy, create?  Think of the auto industry, steel industry, public K-12 education, the Postal Service, and government in general.  Do they bring images of thriving, vibrant, engines of job creation?  Or is the image more of the basket cases of the U.S. economy?  This is not a slight against the union workers themselves, but rather of their leadership who create so many restrictions on job rules to artificially create the need for more jobs.  There motto is: why have three people do the work, when you have five do it?

As far as big business is concerned, let me dispel the thought that conservatives and big business go hand in hand.  In many cases big business looks to cut deals with the government to protect their industries and markets from upstart companies.  They have gotten big and lethargic, rather than nimble and vibrant.  Small businesses create about 80% of the jobs in the U.S. and they didn’t have a seat at the table.

So was the jobs summit about creating jobs or just jive talk?  If you want a real jobs summit see what American Solutions was hosting in Cincinnati, Ohio and Jackson, Mississippi.  They actually discussed ideas that would work.

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