California: What a Mess!

Standard

Obama and money

Unless the California legislature finds a way to balance the state’s budget today (July 1st) everyone who receives money from the state, state employees, contractors, welfare recipients, etc., will receive IOUs in their ‘pay envelopes’ instead of money. Why? Because the California Constitution requires (demands) a balanced budget every year.

Why the state budget got out of whack is explained very well by Associated Press Writer Eric Carvin in an article published in the Southern Ledger titled: Meltdown 101: California’s budgetary troubles.

Mr. Carvin explains that one thing that got California in trouble in the first place was:

“Lawmakers and voters have agreed to higher levels of spending over the years without identifying a dedicated funding source. Over time, that means the state’s general fund has had more obligations than it can afford to pay.”

Requiring a balanced budget, as the California Constitution does, is a great thing but electing irresponsible lawmakers, as California apparently has done, is the worst way to meet that Constitutional requirement.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to solve the problem by cutting spending, say what you want about the “Governator” but he is a very logical thinker; according to Mr. Carvin’s article, the governor wants to cut $16 billion from state programs, borrow $2 billion from local governments and borrow about $6 billion from other government accounts. It’s not a solution but a stop-gap measure.

The Democratic majority in California’s legislature however have a typical Democratic resolution to the problem in mind; from the article:

“Democrats have countered with $11 billion in cuts and nearly $2.5 billion in higher taxes, primarily on tobacco products and companies that drill for oil in California. They also want a $15 increase in the vehicle registration fee, which already was raised earlier this year, to ensure that state parks remain open.

“Schwarzenegger and Republican lawmakers have steadfastly refused to raise taxes after the state Legislature approved nearly $13 billion in higher sales, personal income and vehicle taxes earlier this year.”

Kudos to the governor and the Republican’s who refuse to raise taxes any more than they have.

Shift focus for a second to Washington DC and think about what the President is doing with the Federal budget. Rather than proposing massive budget cuts like Governor Schwarzenegger has done, or any responsible president would have done, President Obama is on a spending spree. He’s putting the country trillions of dollars in debt and why not — he can do something that no governor can do — he can print money. Of course that makes our money worth much less — and by the time he’s through — unless the congress or us voters give him a swift kick in the rear and bring him to his senses — our money may be completely worthless. I guess the president plans to worry about that later.

Since January I’ve been wondering if an individual can secede from the union . . . at least temporarily!

Advertisements

Looking for a Few Honest Congresspeople

Standard

Donations?

I’ve always been an anti-union guy, mainly because unionization all but eliminates individual incentives to achieve. The concept of providing the biggest raises and bonuses based on performance is a basic (and necessary) concept for any business that wants to be successful — this makes unionization a formula for failure.

I know that back when unions were first conceived and formed they WERE necessary because working conditions in many shops were beyond disgusting, they were dangerous and many people ran their businesses like slave-owners ran their plantations. In truth there are, without a doubt, still some (possibly many) businesses that provide sub-standard wages and terrible, dangerous working conditions; the people who work in this kind of place are usually either so unskilled they have few other choices or are, in some other way, locked into working there. These people DO need unions but will never get them without walking out and refusing to work until the pay and conditions are improved.

Beyond these special situations, however, unionization is the most counterproductive step a business can take. A look at what the unions have done to the auto industry should be all the proof you need.

To me, what is most reprehensible about unions is their ability to buy politicians — and that is not an exaggerated claim. This Investors Business Daily Editorial about the proposed National Health Care plan supports this notion of unions having politicians “in their pockets”. A key excerpt:

“Spending a trillion dollars as a down payment for a government takeover of health care is a dream of many Democrats. The current plan in Congress would create a government insurance plan that would drive out the private ones.

The problem, though, is the cost. Even moderate Democrats are having second thoughts about that, as well as all the quality problems associated with socialized medicine. Even so, health care nationalization’s biggest boosters are cooking up bad new plans.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., both would like to slap a tax on private health plans to pay for a new government one.

But they’ve carved out one very big exception: unions and their gold-plated benefit packages. This effectively gives Big Labor an advantage in the market and forces nonunion workers to subsidize unions for their share of this bad idea.

The logic behind this tax giveaway is that union health plans, which are lavish, would be subject to higher taxes than those of workers with regular private sector health care plans.

According to news reports, if unions get a special tax break for themselves on health care taxes, they’ll gladly muscle “their” Congress members into supporting a “public option” health care bill.

In short, it’s little more than a political payoff to unions for spending $400 million in campaign cash to elect Democrats to Congress and the White House last year. As if the outrageous favors they’ve received from the auto bailouts aren’t enough.

This article, pointing out the unions influence on “THEIR” congresspeople is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg. Literally hundreds of special interest groups are OWED FAVORS by those in the House and Senate (Republicans as well as Democrats) who accepted their generous “donations;” and those favors are being granted daily — by us — through the use of our tax dollars. While on the subject, let’s not forget our president who is eagerly ‘paying back’ unions, for helping to get him elected, by pushing “card check.”

Having crooks and lowlifes in the seat of government with their focus primarily on winning their NEXT election seems to me to be a very stupid way to run a country!

My other homes for my posts are: The Blogger News Network — it’s real news from real people and Opinion Forum A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life.

Obama: No More Meddling

Standard

Mousavi

“It’s up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be . . . having said that, I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television.”

President Barack Obama

In the wake of the Iranian election, hundreds of thousands of supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi are taking their very lives in their hands to protest the election result which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retain his presidency by a large margin. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened “bloodshed” if the protests continue — but they do continue and who can guess how far this will go.

I, like Mousavi’s supporters, think the election was probably, somehow, rigged; but I find myself in complete agreement (do wonders never cease?) with President Obama on the proper American response to that election (quoted above); i.e., let Tehran know how we feel about the attempted silencing of the protesters and about the blood that has already been shed by the Iranian “Nazi” army and leave it at that.

President Obama also went on to say something else, he said: “It’s not productive, given the history of U.S. Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling.” That probably need not have been said — since it can be portrayed as weakness — but it is an excellent internal White House policy.

John McCain, ever the 21st Century man, “twittered” his feelings to the Iran situation: “Mass peaceful demonstrations in Iran today, lets support them & stand up for Democracy and freedom! President & his Admin should do the same.” McCain didn’t really specify what form that “support” should take but one feels that he is advocating a covert but active role in the forces behind Mousavi. Many, many other Conservative politicians and especially commentators feel as McCain does — they seem to want us to motivate an uprising against the Theocratic government, but it is pig-headed blindness like that that may lead us into another unwinnable situation. McCain and the others fail to understand what the Middle-East experts are saying about Mousavi; he does not desire a change in government, he only advocates a change in the “tone” of government — he wants to join the 21st Century and take the theocracy with him; with mullahs in charge that will likely never happen but that seems to be his game plan. That’s just one reason any involvement in the Iranian situation on our part, with the objective of drastic change, would certainly be a lose-lose situation for the U.S.A..

Aside from the Iranian election aftermath its well past time for the U.S. to stop stirring the “lets spread some more democracy” pot. I’m sure it gives the majority of Americans a warm and fuzzy feeling inside to be able to say we are the saviors of oppressed people around the world but the President has it absolutely right — it’s meddling and it’s no more correct for us to meddle in other countries politics than it would be for them to meddle in ours.

One final thought: The best friend you could have had in High School when trouble came your way was that 6′ 5″, 200 lb football player standing next to you looking imposing and invulnerable; he was a friendly, happy, non-judgemental guy but everyone knew that if he was provoked he could be as vicious as a grizzly bear. In the eyes of the world, the U.S. needs to emulate that football player. Unfortunately, that possibility is unlikely as a change in the “face” of Iran; President Obama does not appear to be a man with a mind of his own. Whatever public opinion suggests and whatever his advisors lobby for will be our constantly-changing policy.

News Links:

Voice of America: Obama: Iran Must Stop ‘Violent and Unjust Actions’

Washington Post: Cautious Response Reflects Obama’s Long-Term Approach

Blog Links:

Mind Your Own Damn Business Politics: Obama’s response to Iranian protestors correct; I was wrong

The Kansas Progress: Paul Wolfowitz on Obama, Iran: No Comment is not an option

My other homes for my posts are: The Blogger News Network — it’s real news from real people and Opinion Forum A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life.

The Slippery Slope to Statism

Standard

Obama

We all know how the current economic crisis began right? Maybe not right! I emphasized “current” because what we are seeing now really began some decades ago but if you understand the current situation and the forces leading up to it you will be able to look back and clearly see the basic problem.

Following shortly will be an excerpt from a short essay that illuminates the source of the problem. The essay is titled: Misrepresenting “How We Arrived at This Moment” and is written by Alex Epstein an analyst focusing on business issues at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

I can hear some of you moaning at the mention of Ayn Rand’s name; that either indicates that all you know about her is that she’s a fiction author or it indicates that you know that she, and her acolytes, after her death, are the country’s most vocal spokesmen for the free market and you don’t believe the free market works. In either case you’re wrong. Ayn Rand was much, much more than an author, she was a philosopher, a visionary and, even though she was born and raised in Russia, she was one of the most dedicated American patriots of her time. As for the free market; many (or most) of you who are reading this have never seen a truly free market in operation — there hasn’t been one for forty or fifty years.

Getting back to the economic crisis and to Alex Epstein’s essay: Lets start out with Epstein’s central thesis: The misdirection and misrepresentation we receive from our President; Epstein argues that Obama believes that the reason our economy is in a crisis situation is because the market, leading up to this crisis, was too free. It needed controls, direction and, most of all, regulation.

Obama has never once mentioned the fact that it was the Federal government’s systematic manipulation of the financial and housing markets that led to today’s crisis. Think back, you’ll remember this: the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to all-time lows to “stimulate the economy”; so mortgage lenders now had cheap loans that they could make and people came in droves to apply for mortgages. The only hitch was that the mortgage lenders had standards that they had to apply and many people could not qualify for home loans, based on their income. Some say that the federal government forced mortgage lenders to lower their standards so that more people could own homes, others say that the mortgage lenders didn’t need to be coerced they just wanted to suck in every potential customer they had with the low initial rate mortgages, rates that would be “adjusted” later. Either way it was the government stimulation of the economy through the lowest interest rates in decades that started the ball rolling toward the eventual collapse of the housing market when the loans that shouldn’t have been made, defaulted.

Epstein considers the cause and effect and a possible (but, alas, improbable) solution:

“. . . a genuine explanation of the financial crisis must take into account all the facts. What role did the Fed play? What about Fannie and Freddie? To be sure, some companies and CEOs seem to have made irrational business decisions. Was the primary cause “greed,” as so many claim — and what does this even mean? Or was the primary cause government intervention like artificially low interest rates, which distorted economic decision-making and encouraged less competent and more reckless companies and CEOs while marginalizing and paralyzing the more competent ones?

“Entertaining such questions would also mean considering the idea that the fundamental solution to our problems is to disentangle the government from the markets to prevent future manipulation. It would mean considering pro-free-market remedies such as letting banks foreclose, letting prices reach market levels, letting bad banks fail, dismantling Fannie and Freddie, ending bailout promises, and getting rid of the Fed’s power to manipulate interest rates.”

Epstein’s solution: getting the government out of the markets and allowing those who fail to fail so those who succeed can succeed, is something we may never see and will certainly never see under an anti-free market president like Obama (and, to be fair, just as we never saw it under the other recent presidents who were manipulators and not true believers in free and unfettered markets: Bush, Clinton and Bush (41).

So Obama is forging on to add more controls (government controls) to every market: financial, housing, health care, education, and so on. If unchecked, there is only one place this can lead; it will certainly lead to statism. Obviously the situation President Obama is dealing with was not of his making but the choices he is making are setting a disastrous course for this country and its economy. Unless our course is changed, your children’s children will never know the America that we grew up in.

I guess the moral of the story is: next time, be more careful who you vote for!

News Links:

ABC News: Obama to Outline Biggest Regulatory Overhaul Since 1930s

Daily Finance: IMF sees economic crisis getting worse, others expect recovery

Blog Links:

PUMABydesign001’s Blog: Congress Unlikely to Reform Root Cause of Economic Crisis! But we already knew that, didn’t we?

Mostly Economics: Obama to announce Financial sector reforms yet again

My other homes for my posts are: The Blogger News Network — it’s real news from real people and Opinion Forum A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life.

Pondering America in the World

Standard

AmericaWorld

Shortly after President Obama delivered his speech to the Muslim World in Egypt, the news was filled with reactions by individuals and by other countries. There are two reactions in particular that are worth a second thought: the thoughts of Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia and the reactions of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran (the one who pulls the strings of the puppet Amadinajad).

The day after President Obama’s speech Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, sat down with a reporter for Newsweek. In the subsequent article Prince al-Faisal had all good things to say — but pay attention to what he’s saying. Here’s an excerpt (emphasis supplied by me):

” . . . he showed sincerity in his talk. Different people came away with different impressions, but for me it was positive, balanced, comprehensive and many parts of it were very personal and touching. It hit the right tone from the opening salutation, ‘Assalaamu alaykum’, to the quote from the Qur’an at the end. President Obama is very good at atmospherics.

But the key point was that America is changing policy. It is not the same America. He talked about humility, not power. He talked about democracy — that the United States wished the world to be democratic but is not going to force the world to be democratic.”

“Not the same America!” That is also the title of the Newsweek article, joyously proclaiming that the United States is not the same under Obama as it was under previous presidents. The prince is right; and, in the area of foreign policy, we may never be the same again — and that, in some respects, may be a good thing.

Then on June 4th, the Washington Post published an article titled: “Supreme Leader of Iran: Muslim Nations ‘Hate America’.” In this article Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks his mind about President Obama and America. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Iran’s supreme leader dismissed President Obama’s speech at Cairo University Thursday, saying the Muslim world continues to “hate America.” And he criticized the United States and its allies for asserting that Iran seeks nuclear weapons, which he insisted are forbidden under Iran’s brand of Islam.

Speaking shortly before Obama delivered his address, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that “beautiful speeches” could not remove the hatred felt in the Muslim world against America.

(He then went on to explain why.) “People of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa — people of these regions — hate America from the bottom of their heart. For a long time, these people have witnessed aggressive actions by America, and that’s why they hate them. He attributed these feelings to “violence, military intervention, rights violations and discrimination” by the United States.”

Khamenei went on in the article to be quoted as saying “Even if [Obama] delivers hundreds of speeches and talks very sweetly, there will not be a change in how the Islamic countries perceive the United States.” He called on Obama to deliver change “in practice” (not just in words).

I really don’t care what either Prince Saud al-Faisal or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei think of America and have no interest in making them happy because caring what they think and making them happy, in the world of the Middle-East, are both signs of weakness — and weakness is just what President Obama displayed to the Muslim world. A dog showing his belly to the pack!

The paradox is, both al-Faisal and Khamenei have a valid point. The United States has indeed involved itself in too many contentious situations, in too many parts of the world when our involvement could have been avoided. We have engaged in a self-anointed mission to spread Democracy around the world — its an effort that has gained us very little and has cost us far too much.

An example is President Carter devotion, for a large part of his administration, to the overthrow of the “Peacock Throne” in Persia and the return of the brutal, mindless Muslim regime that now has the world in such a huff over nuclear power; he did that for strictly personal and humanitarian reasons.

Then, under George Bush, in the wake of 9/11, we invaded Iraq. One of the original contentions after 9/11 was that it happened because the United States instigated it by its over-involvement in the Middle-East, where it did not belong. I disagree with the contention that we didn’t belong there, at least when we were assisting our ally Israel (that same ally that President Obama has just thrown to the wolves) but our presence there and our natural bias toward an ally was certainly one factor in the hate that turned into 9/11. Did we go into Iraq:

a) because there was no other way to find out if they had WMDs?;

b) to punish them for supporting terrorists?; or

c) to overthrow a brutal dictator and spread Democracy??

Many people have offered answers to that question but who are you going to believe. I have a strong feeling that the correct answer is “c”.

In these and in many other places, the United States has been very vocal and very active trying to “spread Democracy” around the world. Are we, like the Blues Brothers, on a mission from God? I certainly hope not! Perhaps it’s time we backed off of saving the world from itself and returned to focusing our energies on our own defense preparedness and assisting our allies.

Not that I mind being hated by the uncivilized (by our standards) masses in the world — not as long as we are also feared but the problem is, we are NOT feared and not respected and our President’s speech to the Muslim world may have just made that situation worse.

News Links:

Newsweek: Not The Same America

Washington Post: Supreme Leader of Iran: Muslim Nations ‘Hate America’

Blog Links:

Rebelliousvanilla’s Blog: Blow Back And Foreign Policy

Matt and Ryan’s Blog: President Obama and Cultural Relativism

My other homes for my posts are: The Blogger News Network — it’s real news from real people and Opinion Forum A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life.

Our Openly Straight Military

Standard

Don'T Ask, Don't Tell

The Supreme Court has rejected the effort to eliminate the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the military which, if you don’t understand the policy, SHOULD mean that the subject of sexual orientation is completely off limits. It doesn’t, however, work that way!

Here’s a scenario:

Engineman 2nd Class Fred Winters returns to his ship after a 24-hour shore leave in Bangkok, throws himself on his bunk and says very loudly: “Man, what a night!”

His shipmates gather around to hear the story of his exploits on shore leave and he begins to tell them about this beautiful Thai girl he met and ALL about their night bar hopping and then, in exquisite detail, about their night at a local hotel.

Suddenly the group notices that Lt. Cmdr. Brady is standing nearby listening. He approaches the group: “Winters!” he said loudly, Are you aware that you have just told everyone in this cabin, including myself, the Executive Officer of this vessel, that you are straight?”

“Ahhh yes sir!” The confused sailor said meekly.

“Are you not also aware that the United States Military has a strict rule about discussing your sexual orientation?”

“Ahhh yes sir I am . . . but I thought that was just for the queers!” Winters answered in a pleading voice.

“Come with me Winters,” the XO said sternly, “you’re spending the night in the brig.”

Winters began to slowly and shakily get on his feet when he heard the XO begin chuckling. By the time he stood and faced him, the XO’s face was red and he was laughing harder than anyone had ever heard him laugh. “Got you didn’t I?” he gasped out between rounds of laughter. “You’re right Winters,” he said then as he regained control of his emotions, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell IS just for queers!”

And so it is! Federal law Pub.L. 103-160 (10 U.S.C. § 654), crafted by Gen. Colin Powell, was put in place in July or 1993 as a revision to the former policy which barred homosexuals from serving in the military. The published policy reads:

Sexual orientation will not be a bar to service unless manifested by homosexual conduct. The military will discharge members who engage in homosexual conduct, which is defined as a homosexual act, a statement that the member is homosexual or bisexual, or a marriage or attempted marriage to someone of the same gender.
(quoted in “The Pentagon’s New Policy Guidelines on Homosexuals in the Military”, The New York Times (July 20, 1993), p.A14.)

My opinion is that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell seems like a good idea for one reason only; it’s terribly discriminatory yes, but it helps provide for the safety of gay service people. The world is filled with people who are, in one degree or another homophobic and, in the close quarters of the military where a lot can happen very suddenly, they are a potential life-threatening danger to gays.

One writer/researcher Scott Bidstrup (himself openly gay), has a different take on the subject. He wrote a brilliant essay on the origin and nature of homophobia titled “Homophobia: The Fear Behind The Hatred”. In it he says this about the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of the military:

“The U.S. military spends about $30 million a year hunting down and expelling homosexuals from its ranks, in a clear and open defiance of the “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” law, even though its own studies, from the 1950’s to the present, have shown time and time again that they do not represent the threat to “unit cohesion” that is the reason usually given for expelling them.

“In spite of the military’s insistence that unit cohesion is a problem, the fact remains that during times of war, expelling homosexuals from the ranks goes way down (and was practically halted during the Gulf War), when unit cohesion is actually of greatest importance. If unit cohesion were really the motivator, why do they quit expelling that ‘threat’ when the need for cohesion is greatest? No one at the Pentagon has ever answered that question. The answer is obvious to any thinking person: it’s institutionalized homophobia. And this is a case where homophobia directly costs the taxpayers $30 million each and every year it is allowed to govern military policy. And that doesn’t count the cost in thousands of destroyed lives caused by the illegally issued general discharges that sully the reputations of these honorable men and women.

Here’s a quote from OregonLive.com (article linked below) that backs up Bidstrup’s accusation that the military is “hunting down and expelling homosexuals:

“While Obama stays cautious, the Pentagon has discharged nearly 240 people under the policy since he took office, according to the Service Members Legal Defense Fund. Last year, the Pentagon discharged 619 people because of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. The year before, the number was around 600, too. And the defense fund’s Web site contends that nearly 13,000 service members have been discharged since 1993 under the policy.

My long-time theory is that the people who will act most violently against gays do that because they are afraid that they themselves are latent homosexuals. Mr Bidstrip also wrote about that in his essay but to me it seems to be a prime theory — after all, why else would anyone care enough to commit a violent act.

News Links:

Christian Science Monitor: Supreme court rejects challenge to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

OregonLive.com: Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t act?

Blog Links:

Law Dork, 2.0: DADT SCOTUS ‘Rejection’: What’s It Mean?

Caffeinated Politics: Supreme Court Betrays Gay American Military Service Members

My other homes for my posts are: The Blogger News Network — it’s real news from real people and Opinion Forum A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life.

Blameless?: The Death of an Abortionist

Standard

Dr. George Tiller

The headline of an Opinion column written by JAMES KIRCHICK, in the latest Wall Street Journal (linked below) reads: “The Religious Right Didn’t Kill George Tiller.” Of course that’s an accurate statement but the underlying sentiment — the “story” in the piece — is that anti-abortion activists are completely blameless and that’s absurd.

When you use an emotional issue to stir up powerful sentiments, as the anti-abortion crowd does so well, and when, on a daily basis, you suggest and even call abortion doctors murderers — you need to take SOME of the blame for the death of anyone associated with abortions. Its not hard to imagine a court of law finding all of them accessories before the fact.

Granted, most anti-abortion crusaders are not violent people and just hours after the death of George Tiller the head people of every main-stream anti abortion movement denounced the murder — and then they began distancing their actions and their approaches from any act of murder. So rather than looking at the hate they stir up, at the revolting literature they happily pass out, at the power they possess in the media or at the fact that the ONLY basis they have for doing what they do are their personal religious beliefs; rather than taking responsibility for their own actions they just stand on the balcony and wash their hands of any involvement.

Sorry guys, that blood on your hands won’t wash off!

Tiller’s murderer now has a name! According to the article: “Tiller’s alleged killer, Scott Roeder, is a long-time radical antiabortion activist with reported ties to a militant antigovernment organization called the Freemen.” The “Freemen” is certainly an interesting choice for a name of an organization that advocates the denial of a basic right to pregnant females, the right to complete control of their own body functions.

There are some on the far left who compare anti-abortion crusaders with terrorists and that’s patently ridiculous; what anti-abortion crusaders are are provocateurs — they are simply agitators who loudly and graphically oppose a woman’s right to an abortion and try to pray that right out of existence. They sound the rallying cry for the individual terrorists like Roeder and the organized ones like the Freemen — but since they perform no violent acts themselves, the anti-abortion crusaders manage to escape the appellation: terrorist.

News Links:

Wall Street Journal: The Religious Right Didn’t Kill George Tiller

Washington Post: Clinics in the Cross Hairs

Blog Links:

Abigail’s Leftovers: what should a pro-life Christian think about abortionist George Tiller’s murder?

Where’s The Outrage?: Thoughts on Dr. George Tiller

My other homes for my posts are: The Blogger News Network — it’s real news from real people and Opinion Forum A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life.