Category Archives: Social Issues

Entertaining Angels – Part One

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  

Hebrews 13:2 KJV

I have a long and, well, colorful, if you will, “relationship” with hitchhikers.  I was not brought up to pick up random people off the street, but I learned at a youngish sort of age that my path would often lead me to places where I would do just that.

My driver’s license was not even dry yet before I had my first experience with a hitchhiker.  It was dusk and I was driving alone down a long stretch of road.  The road was chain link fenced on both sides and I was the only car on it.  I passed a young man going the same way as I with his thumb out.  Without a thought I drove right past him.  Women alone in cars don’t pick up strangers, right?  But I immediately felt the Lord prompt me that I should have offered the man a ride.  I made a U-turn as soon as I could to go back, but the man had disappeared.  To where?  There was no one else on the road, and there was no way to get off the road.  I had thoroughly missed an opportunity.  And I decided that in the future, if I could help it, I would not let that happen again.  Over the years I practiced listening to that prompting and picking up people that I felt I was in the right place at the right time to render aid to.  I never felt much in the way of hesitation.  Until eight years or so ago…

Instead of flying on my annual September pilgrimage from Colorado to California to visit my people, I was driving this time.  The sun was just rising as I crossed from Colorado into Utah.  I found myself alone on the vast expanse of the freeway winding my way through the high desert.  Off in the distance I saw a figure walking along the edge of the road.  “Please Jesus”, I begged, “please don’t make me pick up someone out here in the middle of nowhere.”  I slowed down as I drove past him.  He looked pretty rough, was unshaven, and was barefoot.  I kept him in my rear view mirror so I wouldn’t lose sight of him as I briefly argued with God, ultimately pulling over and stopping about 200 yards in front of him.  He walked up to my window as I was tossing things into the back seat from the passenger seat next to me.  He was rather incredulous as I told him to get in and asked where he was going.  I knew full well this guy might be in my car all the way to Los Angeles.  Offering him a ride stretched even my usual calm reserve about picking up hitchhikers.

No, I don’t remember his name.  He was on his way to Phoenix and I told him I wasn’t on a schedule and offered to take him there.  He declined that offer.  We decided on Moab.  A big detour, but what the heck.  As we talked I learned that he’d been trying to get to Phoenix from the East Coast for months.  It had been a huge struggle.  He’d walked most of the way as few had been willing to stop and pick him up for more than a few miles at best.  His shoes wore out some time ago.  He hadn’t bathed in weeks.  He was hungry.  He had absolutely no money.  His little kids were in Phoenix and it had been years since he’d seen them.  We ate breakfast out of my cooler.  When we got to Moab, we went shoe shopping.  I gave him money, offered one more time to take him to Phoenix, and prayed with him.

But none of that was all that important.  After he first got into my car, he told me why he almost couldn’t believe that I’d stopped for him, and it’s truly amazing…

“I slept out in the desert last night.  I was cold and I was wet.  It was the worst night of my life.  I was feeling desperate, and I was feeling so angry.  This morning I stood up and raised my fist to the sky and shouted at God at the top of my lungs…WHY WON’T YOU SEND SOMEONE TO HELP ME?????  That was fifteen minutes ago.”

This man learned that God sometimes answers prayers immediately, even ones that weren’t asked in the nicest way.  And I learned that I never want to forget what it felt like to know that had I not listened to that voice I would have missed out on the opportunity to be the almost instantaneous answer to that desperate shouted prayer.  Now, instead of waiting to hear the voice, I ask God if I’m supposed to pick up this or that person.  I even offer rides to some people who are not asking for one.  Part Two of this particular story takes place on the way back to Colorado on this same trip.  Stay tuned.  (Click HERE for Part Two)

But don’t tell my dad.


דוד (David)

My friend Abner was recently traveling over in the Middle East.  “Meet up with me for a few days in Israel”, he messaged me.  He would cross the border from Jordan, and I would fly into Tel Aviv where we would connect and head to Jerusalem.  I’ve been wanting to go to Jerusalem for a long time, and if I could work out the details, I wanted to go.  I got the time off almost last minute, arranged for a cat sitter, packed a backpack, and went.

Being a person who is both fascinated by and terrified by politics, seeing the Knesset and watching the public debates was on my “to do list”.  We were only there for four days and saved the Knesset for the last day, Tuesday.  Unfortunately, that is the day that the Knesset isn’t open to the public until 4:00.  We got there at 11:00.  This is as close as we got:

DSCN2727

So we went across the street to sit in the Wohl Rose Park to discuss our Plan B.

The first thing I saw in the garden was a tent.  A tent that looked like it had been there for a long while.  Repaired with strips of colored tape and surrounded by stones, it seemed that someone was living there full time.  The area around the tent was neat and tidy and it looked like it might be cleaning/airing out day as the fly was open and bedding was folded and piled onto a chair outside the tent.

DSCN2724

Then I saw the probable occupant of the tent.  An elderly looking gentleman was washing dishes at the drinking fountain nearby.  As a lover of people’s stories, I knew I had to talk to this man.

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So I put some shekels in my pocket and although I had a full Nalgene bottle of water, I headed over to use the fountain using the pretense of wanting a drink to strike up a conversation.

I asked him if that was his tent, and introduced myself.  It was.  His name was David.  He spoke English very well, but in a thick Hebrew accent.  “Do you live here all the time?” I asked.  He did.  Under my questioning he told me was there to protest, “a private matter”, he said.  He’d been protesting there for eight and a half years.  He asked where I was from.  He’d never been to Colorado, but wanted to go some day.  He had lived in the states before and served in the U.S. Army.  I could tell he wasn’t used to casual conversation, and I didn’t want to pry further.  I offered him a blessing and asked that God would incline his ear towards this man through the Knesset so that his issue could come to resolution.  I gave him the money I had put in my pocket, and we shook hands.  He told me I was a “very kind lady”.  I thanked him, wished him well, and left.  He returned to his dish washing and I to planning Plan B.


Rich White Men Urinate On Black Women…By Ed Asner

Replace “rich” with “Jew” and it’s a Nazi propaganda video.  Everything that is wrong in America is become of the rich.  Everything that was wrong in Germany was because of the Jews.  The parallels between these two propaganda are myriad.  This is so disturbing.  What on earth is this video even supposed to be used for?  SHAME on everyone involved in it.  Extra shame on Ed Asner.  How can even be involved with a project depicting a rich white man urinating on a middle class black woman.  UNBELIEVABLE.

I think I hear black helicopters.

12/06/12 Update:  The teachers union removed and edited the video to remove the portion where the white rich man urinates on the poor black people.  Good call.  But the rest of the video is just as bad.  They’ve reuploaded the edited version.  Bad call.  They should have quit while they were ahead.


Wait, What?

I recently received a letter from my insurance company.  Kind of a head scratcher, actually.  I opted out of maternity/pregnancy coverage as I wasn’t going to be needing it, and opting out saved me some money.  But now, it’s been added at no extra cost as a result of the changes (I can only assume) brought about by Obamacare.  Here’s a paragraph taken from the letter.

Colorado law recently changed, requiring individual health insurance carriers to cover the medically
necessary expenses of pregnancy, childbirth and maternity the same as treatment of covered illness or
injury. This applies to all major medical individual insurance policies in Colorado issued or renewed
on or after ]anuary 1,2011, regardless of the policyholder’s gender or age.

Yeah, you read that correctly.  We don’t have to pass it to find out what’s in there, we just have to wait until we get letters like this from our health insurance companies.


Wait, What?

I know, it looks like I have posted the exact same thing twice, however, I didn’t, well, I did, but not really.  I posted this one first, but somehow the URL got mixed up with a previous post (how on earth can that happen?) name “Huh?”.  I am leaving this here so that I work on trying to figure out what happened.  In the meantime, I reposted the content so that I could get a correct URL for linking purposes….

 

I recently received a letter from my insurance company.  Kind of a head scratcher, actually.  I opted out of maternity/pregnancy coverage as I wasn’t going to be needing it, and opting out saved me some money.  But now, it’s been added at no extra cost as a result of the changes (I can only assume) brought about by Obamacare.  Here’s a paragraph taken from the letter.

Colorado law recently changed, requiring individual health insurance carriers to cover the medically
necessary expenses of pregnancy, childbirth and maternity the same as treatment of covered illness or
injury. This applies to all major medical individual insurance policies in Colorado issued or renewed
on or after ]anuary 1,2011, regardless of the policyholder’s gender or age.

Yeah, you read that correctly.  We don’t have to pass it to find out what’s in there, we just have to wait until we get letters like this from our health insurance companies.


My Fellow Americans…You Are the 8%…Probably Even the 1%

If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet, and loose change lying around your house, you are richer than 92% of the world.

I wonder just how many of the “99%”ers are in fact, 8%ers…

The following is by an anonymous author (with numbers which are only approximate) and has been widely quoted for many years.  Does it put things into a different perspective???

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:
57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 would be Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth and all 6 would
be from the United States.
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
ONE would be near death; ONE would be near birth
ONE would have a college education
ONE would own a computer.

When you consider our world from such a compressed perspective, are you among the fortunate?  I certainly am!

And….

If you woke up this morning
with more health than illness,
you are more blessed than the
million who won’t survive the week.

If you have never experienced
the danger of battle,
the loneliness of imprisonment,
the agony of torture or
the pangs of starvation,
you are ahead of 20 million people
around the world.

If you attend a church meeting
without fear of harassment,
arrest, torture, or death,
you are more blessed than almost
three billion people in the world.

If you have food in your refrigerator,
clothes on your back, a roof over
your head and a place to sleep,
you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank,
in your wallet, and spare change
in a dish someplace, you are among
the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If your parents are still married and alive,
you are very rare,
especially in the United States.

If you can read this message,
you are more blessed than over
two billion people in the world
that cannot read anything at all.

So if the world is reduced to 100 people, and only one has a college education, and only one owns a computer, then a whole lot of people who didn’t think they were, are actually in the 1%…


“You Ver” What???

I ver mectin!

If you are, like I am, blessed/lucky enough to live in a place where the thought of contracting river blindness, malaria, and even head lice, are things that you think about…. ummmmm…like pretty much never…take a moment and be thankful about that.

With the eradication of disease comes prosperity.  Did you know we had malaria (a mosquito borne illness) here in the United States in the South until it was eliminated in 1947?  A million people around the world die from malaria each year.

Did you know that we had major outbreaks of Yellow Fever (also a mosquito borne illness) here in the States until 1905?  Due to the highly infectious nature of this illness (despite attempts at reaching 90% vaccination rates in endemic regions around the world) there are still 30,000 deaths (and 500,000 cases of it) a year.

Did you know that the last major outbreak of cholera (spread through contaminated food and water) to hit the United States occurred in 1911?  Since cholera was introduced to Haiti by an aid worker after the massive earthquake of 2010, there have been about 350,000 cases of cholera and over 14,000 deaths.

How about diphtheria?  Diphtheria is a respiratory illness that has been largely eradicated in the United States (only a rare few cases in the past decade).  Did you know that the tetanus shot you get for skin injuries is usually a Td?  You probably know the “T” stands for tetanus, but did you know that the “d” stands for diphtheria?  Since the diphtheria vaccine was introduced in 1920 and high levels of vaccination rates were obtained, diphtheria for U.S. citizens became a thing of the past.  Not so for the people of Russia in the 1990’s and more recently the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic where large epidemics have occured.  And speaking of tetanus, there are hundreds of thousands of deaths annually worldwide from tetanus.  Only 50-100 of those many deaths occur in the United States.  Those cases are nearly always in unvaccinated/undervaccinated individuals.

These diseases are shackles to poor and developing nations and is one of the causes of keeping them impoverished, uneducated, and with seriously limited opportunities .

Because our medical system and our society in general is not constantly plagued by these expensive (both from the medical standpoint as well as the economic standpoint) diseases, we are free to grow and expand our economy and to put finances towards treating things that in developing nations are often not addressed at ALL!  Like cancer, depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, etc (etcetcetcetcetc.)  There are diseases of aging in our country that are not even SEEN in other countries due to short life expectancy.  For 2011 the life expectancy for a Swazi is projected to be 31.88 years.  No, that is not a typo.  This is in large part due to a completely preventable and most often untreated, disease, HIV.

People in the United States actually have access to a drug called Latisse…this drug treats the condition of “inadequate, or not enough lashes”.  That’s eyelashes, people.  We have a drug for growing EYELASHES.  Now, part of me is absolutely appalled by such an apparent lack of perspective by the American public.  Another part of me is thrilled that we have the time, resources, and overall health to be able to treat such a thing as a problem!  I don’t think I’ll ever meet someone from Swaziland, or Zambia, or Ethiopia (etc.) who ever THINKS about having inadequate lashes.  But I digress.  Back to real diseases…

There’s all manner of diarrheal illness, and pneumonias, and African Sleeping Sickness, and polio, and meningococcal meningitis, and bubonic plague, and tuberculosis, and hepatitis, and typhoid, and ebola, and tetanus, and lymphatic filariasis andandandandandand.  I could go on!  Many of these diseases fully, or almost fully, preventable through education, simple medications, and vaccinations.

On a personal level, I have friends who suffer from chronic malaria.  People with chronic malaria become symptomatic a few times a year.  When sick they cannot work, and it drains their already meager finances when medications and sometimes hospitalization are needed.  It is hard to get ahead in life when one single disease has such negative effects.  Imagine facing ALL of these diseases (and so many more) on a regular basis?  It’s nearly unthinkable for us in developed countries.

So, you might be asking, what does all of this have to do with ivermectin??

And what do river blindness, malaria, and head lice have to do with each other?

Well, just one of the feared diseases of West and Central Africa is river blindness.  River blindness is the result of a chronic parasitic multi-system inflammatory disease caused by a worm that inhabits fast flowing rivers.  Black flies breed in these rivers and are the vector for this worm.  As rivers are often the primary water source in this part of the world, thus the potential for becoming infected.  Around 35 million people are currently infected with river blindness, and roughly 300,000 of them are already irreversibly blind. Approximately 140 million people in Africa are at risk of infection.  Being blind in most parts of Africa is nothing like being blind in the developed world.  As so many of those at risk for river blindness are from agricultural societies, being blind (or even visually impaired) can leave a person incapable of farming and providing for his/her family.  It’s hard enough to get any sort of education in these countries…imagine trying to get an education in most of Africa if you are blind!

Ivermectin is one of a family of drugs called “anthelmintics or antihelminthics”.  They treat worm infestations in people.  Worms are an extremely common finding in many populations in Africa (and around the world).  Among its other uses, ivermectin can be used off label to treat lice and scabies.  Taking a single dose provides 24/7 insecticidal protection.  The lice are killed when they bite and consume the now insecticidal blood of its victim.  Invermectin is also used in Africa to treat the worm infestation that leads to river blindness and filariasis.  In 2008 and 2009, a team of researchers to Senegal found that in communities where ivermectin was being used, the numbers of malaria carrying mosquitoes dropped off dramatically two weeks following treatment!  In similar communities where ivermectin was not being used, numbers of these mosquitoes had doubled in the same time frame.  To me, this is a fascinatingly unexpected and positive outcome to the use of ivermectin!!!!  To treat river blindness, an individual takes a single dose of the drug annually for 10-15 years.

I have this scenario in my head where communities would be tested and treated en masse for malaria infection, given insecticide treated mosquito nets, and maybe vector spraying would be done to eliminate mosquitoes.  To me, it seems, that with an aggressive multi-directional assault like this on malaria, malaria could be DRAMATICALLY reduced and maybe even eradicated.  With the addition of ivermectin into the mix, it might be an even more effective war.  Imagine…attacking malaria, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, scabies, lice and other worm infestations all at the same time!

If “the west” could coordinate all of its currently disparate efforts and wage a full out assault on malaria, I think we could see a huge victory.  It would take massive coordination of services and some pretty specific timing, but if one generation of mosquitoes and malaria cycles could be disrupted, imagine the effect it could have on people who live with these plagues on a regular basis.

Why can’t we do this???  Is it possible?  How much DDT would be needed to spray all of the homes in affected areas of Africa?  How many mosquito nets would be needed?  How many doses of ivermectin would be required?  And how many people on the ground would be needed to make such an assault possible?  How many cycles of treatment and spraying would be needed?  And perhaps the biggest quetion is would the governments of these countries even be willing to allow such a program??????

We have put men on the moon.  We have built impossible dams and bridges.  We built the Panama Canal.  We have eradicated smallpox.  Computer power that used to occupy a room now occupies nearly microscopic space.  Why can we not do something spectacular like free the world from the prison of malaria?

There are organizations doing great things to combat malaria and bring hope to a sick and dying world.  There are a multitude of NGOs, plus faith- and government-based operations involved in the fight.  What if they all worked together, in concert to pool resources, work towards a common goal, reduce duplicated efforts, reduced waste, and increased  efficiency?  What an amazing thing that would be!

Is it just a dream?


Charlomane and Prince Leonard

I obviously don’t know the whole story, but Child Protective Services took the Leonards’ six kids (including one that is still breast feeding) from them because they were living in a storage unit.  No, not an ideal living situation, but it certainly seemed to be a very viable and safe option for this family that has fallen on hard times.  Read the story, watch the video.  See what you think.

If our Child Protective Services worked in the rest of the world, most all children would be taken away from poor, but loving parents…lack of running water in the dwelling seems to be the reason cited for the removal.

Average rural homes in Swaziland

Average “suburban” home in Haiti

My instincts tell me that a horrible injustice has been done to this family and I pray that they are reunited quickly.  I have looked for information online as to how to possibly help this family, but have been unsuccessful.  Perhaps the good people of Houston will rally together and help this family out of their terrible predicament.

I hear lots of stories about people who are down on their luck and have more sadness heaped upon them in the midst of that, but this family has grieved me particularly.  It seems highly indicative of the overall health of this family that none of the children has gotten less than a B in any of their classes despite their unusual living situation.  I think those kids belong with their parents, even if they are living (legally!) in a storage unit.


One Day Without Shoes

April 5, 2011 was “One Day Without Shoes” day.

The basic premise is to go without shoes for a day so that you can have a sense of what it’s like for so many millions who go without shoes everyday.  Many of those people live in Africa.

I was in West Africa on April 5th.  It turned out to be a travel day when we would be leaving Burkina Faso and heading to Ghana.

The sad irony of that is that it was literally wayyyyyyyyy too dangerous for me to even attempt to go without shoes on that day…

What WOULD I have done that day had I no shoes??


People Are Sick

The dog was so little and looked so odd that it didn’t even register as being a dog until we were right up next to it.

We were driving on the freeway in the fast lane when what looked like a piece of garbage blew into the middle concrete guard wall.  It wasn’t garbage.  We realized that what it was, was a chihuahua type/sized dog with a Funyon bag pulled over its head wandering across the lane.  I felt sick as it bumped its head against the concrete not having any idea where it was going. 

By the time we were able to get off the freeway, turn around, and get back to the spot where we saw the little guy, it had been hit by a car.

I can see how a little dog might get its head stuck in a bag looking for treats, but there’s no way that dog did that AND got itself across four lanes of traffic to the center of the freeway.  Someone put that bag on and dumped the dog.

The local SPCA is visible from that freeway just a half a mile or so from the spot where the dog was killed.

People are sick.


Arizona’s Law is an “Open” One and MSNBC’s Law is to “Conceal”

What do you think of this?

Now, while I’m a little nervous about people carrying guns near the president, that’s not the issue here.  Arizona is an “open carry” state when it comes to firearms. 

What bothers me about this brewhaha is that the footage that is shown in this MSNBC clip of a man with an automatic weapon slung over his arm and a handgun strapped to his leg is that they go on and on about white people with guns being a danger to the president, but what they don’t show you is this:

 

 

 

Get the picture?

 Yeah.  That’s the guy in the video.

 

 

If you’re gonna show footage of a man open carrying, and then espouse opinions about white people carrying guns and how it’s a danger to the president BECAUSE OF RACE, then you should probably tape a white guy, and not a black one, to use as your shocker video.  Shame on MSNBC for flagrant misreprentation and for lies of ommission.  Exactly WHOSE overtones are racial in this story???


No Quality OR Quantity

“The moral progress of a nation and its greatness should be judged by the way it treats its animals.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

While I think that perhaps Gandhi had a point, I wonder if he ever imagined that we in the United States (and other western nations) would squander the amount of resources that we do on our pets.  I am sure he was including food animals in his statement as well, maybe even wild animals, and so I believe that if the United State’s greatness was judged by the way we treat our animals we’d probably not be considered so great.

But I don’t agree so much with Gandhi.  I think a country’s greatness should be measured by the quality and the quantity of its toilet paper.  America is truly the land of toilet paper milk and honey. 

Have you ever traveled internationally?  If you have, depending on where you went, you will probably be nodding your head in agreement with me when I say that the U.S. has the awesomest and most available toilet paper that the world has to offer.  How often in a foreign country is there no T.P. (let ALONE seat covers) in the airport?  Is there EVER T.P. in the bathroom at the gas station (if there IS a bathroom available for public use at the gas station)?  At restaurants where there often IS T.P., isn’t it often rough and oddly colored?  You know what I’m talkin’ about!  Do any of you, like *I* do, always have a roll of T.P. in a ziplock tucked in your backpack when traveling out of the country??  (And wet wipes, too).  The worst toilet paper I ever used was in St. Petersburg, Russia, about 10 years ago.  It was milky grayish purple, unevenly cut, and about a #180 grit.  More like crepe paper.  Pretty much like this, only change the color:

I had to look through most of the stalls to find even that.  And this was at a cultural and performing arts center!  The best non-American T.P. I have ever used was in Malawi, Africa.  Malawi aspires for greatness and realizes that without great T.P., this is a pipe dream.

I recently watched “Sicko” for the first time.  I do not plan on dissecting all of the issues and problems in and about that movie.  Save one smallish little thing.  Michael Moore holds Cuba up as a bastion of excellence in socialized health care.  But what I want to know is, how can a country that runs out of toilet paper even begin to reeeeealllly be considered great in the health care arena???   The Cuban government slashed the amount of imports it’s allowing and has fallen short of the raw materials needed to keep its citizens in T.P.  These beleaguered Cuban citizens may not see it on the shelves of the local CommuMart again until NOVEMBER!!!  The government is encouraging people to use cigar wrappers as an alternative.  How hygienic can that possible be?  Oh, and in case you missed it, that also means they are encouraging smoking.  Just how many cigars do the parents of a family of four need to smoke in order to keep up with the toilet paper needs?  It’s too bad that Michael Moore wasn’t making his film during a T.P. shortage…perhaps his take on things might have been a little bit different.

Can a country who rations and runs out of T.P. really enjoy unlimited access to top-notch health care?  I somehow doubt it.  So let’s just stop comparing our health care to theirs.  And BTW (by the way), most of westernized and socialized europe doesn’t have such great T.P. either.

I’m just saying…


Sneyotches

We Americans are now being encouraged to forward e-mails (and the like) which speak out against Obamacare on to the White House.  That’s right folks, the powers that be want us to turn in our friends and family members who happen to have legitimate concerns, and have dared to voice them, over turning over 1/7th of the United States economy to the control of  “the man”.  The government can’t run education well, or the postal service well.  The healthcare programs that government already runs, namely MEDI-CARE, MEDI-CAID, and the VA, are hopelessly awash in inefficiency and drowning in fraud.  And we want to turn ALL of healthcare over to them?  To people who aren’t even going to read the bill that they are voting on?  Really?  I mean REALLY?????  Is it so subversive to want to SCREAM about what a bad idea this is???? 

And if you think I am making this up….click HERE.  This links you to the White House Blog where the address of where to send “fishy” disinformation found in e-mails or at URLs is provided.  Yeah.  You heard me.  Fishy disinformation.  Orwellian language my friends!

Am I willing to give the WH the benefit of the doubt on what I believe the intention behind this snitchy request is?  Not really.  Do I think that they simply want to see what the “misinformation” is that is out there so that they can work hard to educate us in the “facts”.  Not really.  Am I just crazy enough to think that perhaps they are more interested in taking names of those who dare to exert their First Ammendment right and are speaking freely?  Yeah, I guess I am.  And I suppose  some snitch out there will send them a link to my blog…sneyotch.  It reminds me of Russian school children under Stalin being encouraged to tell teachers of unapproved parental behaviors.  Not that I am calling anyone in power a communist or comparing them to Stalinists.  (Not yet anyway).  Just the spectre of of being “turned in” makes a person halt before opening mouth, or tapping keys.  That ain’t right.  It’s abridgement of free speech.  It’s not even all that subtle.

Welcome home Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  May no one ever abridge your freedom of speech again, abroad…or at home.


28.99%

My friend Donna is a small business owner.  She has poured heart and soul into her retail business for the past two years and has been starting to show regular profits. 

If you’ve been paying attention to things in the news lately, you know that Bank of America is one of the banks that should be out of business, but instead was handed over FORTY FIVE BEEEEEEELION dollars of bailout money. 

That’s 45 billion of your dollars, my dollars, and Donna’s dollars.  Now, Donna has been an excellent customer of Bank of America and has tied all of her business accounts to the financial giant (she did this before it became clear that the lunatics were in charge of the asylum).

And in thanks for all the bailout money it got from Donna, and in thanks for Donna’s excellent support of said institution, the interest rate on her small business credit card was jacked up to….yep, you guessed it….a whopping and usurious TWENTY EIGHT POINT NINE NINE PERCENT.

How many small businesses are out there who also got the “Dear Customer” letter?  Donna’s not sure how she’ll get rid of her business’ credit debt before this onerous interest rate suffocates her business.  That interest rate gobbles up the profits she is making.

I reallllly need a very good explanation as to why this country is not letting bad businesses fail.  Failure isn’t a bad thing!  In some circumstances it’s the BEST thing.  B of A should be dead and buried by now and not sticking its bony zombied hands into every single pocket that they can.

I ask you, who in their right mind would seek out B of A in the future with interest rates like that?  Will this cost it customers?  Certainly it must.  If it costs enough customers, will it do well as a business in the future?  Certainly it cannot.  If it continues then to fail as a business, will we again have to bail the Loan Sharks out?  I guess we will.  So, in order to keep from having to let the Loan Shark stick its skeletal hand into our left pocket, we have to let it stick it into our right one by doing business with it???  We can no longer vote with our feet when it comes to Bank of America (GM, Chrysler, ETCETERA).

This is stupid.  This needs to stop.  Bank of America should not get the “good try award”.  It needs to go away and if it figures out a better way to do business, then it should come back, but not until then!

We should look at it like Thomas Edison did when it took 10,000 attempts at making the lightbulb…

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas A. Edison

If Edison were alive today and making the 8,972nd iteration of his light bulb, I’m sure the American government would be forcing us to buy bulbs that lasted 42 seconds even thought they were crap because Edison was “too big to fail”.  We might never gotten our light bulb.

How many bigger and better things are we going to lose out on because we are propping up businesses where being not good enough IS good enough and where there’s no incentive to be the best because you’re going get your money one way or the other?  And how many small businesses who are trying to be good enough, and maybe even trying to be the best, go out of business because these not good enough businesses aren’t allowed to suffer the natural consequences of being bad?


“Live Free or Die”

The following is the latest offering of “Imprimis”.  Imprimis is a publication of Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan.  It’s a small little magazinelette to which I subscribe.  The monthly offerings are usually very good, this one is a must read.  It’s long, but so very much worth the time it will take to read it. 

Live Free or Die

 

 

MARK STEYN’S column appears in several newspapers, including the Washington Times, Philadelphia’s Evening Bulletin, and the Orange County Register. In addition, he writes for The New Criterion, Maclean’s in Canada, the Jerusalem Post, The Australian, and Hawke’s Bay Today in New Zealand. The author of National Review’s Happy Warrior column, he also blogs on National Review Online. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling America Alone: The End of The World as We Know It. Mr. Steyn teaches a two-week course in journalism at Hillsdale College during each spring semester.

 

The following is adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on March 9, 2009.

 

 

 

MY REMARKS are titled tonight after the words of General Stark, New Hampshire’s great hero of the Revolutionary War: “Live free or die!” When I first moved to New Hampshire, where this appears on our license plates, I assumed General Stark had said it before some battle or other—a bit of red meat to rally the boys for the charge; a touch of the old Henry V-at-Agincourt routine. But I soon discovered that the general had made his famous statement decades after the war, in a letter regretting that he would be unable to attend a dinner. And in a curious way I found that even more impressive. In extreme circumstances, many people can rouse themselves to rediscover the primal impulses: The brave men on Flight 93 did. They took off on what they thought was a routine business trip, and, when they realized it wasn’t, they went into General Stark mode and cried “Let’s roll!” But it’s harder to maintain the “Live free or die!” spirit when you’re facing not an immediate crisis but just a slow, remorseless, incremental, unceasing ratchet effect. “Live free or die!” sounds like a battle cry: We’ll win this thing or die trying, die an honorable death. But in fact it’s something far less dramatic: It’s a bald statement of the reality of our lives in the prosperous West. You can live as free men, but, if you choose not to, your society will die.

 

My book America Alone is often assumed to be about radical Islam, firebreathing imams, the excitable young men jumping up and down in the street doing the old “Death to the Great Satan” dance. It’s not. It’s about us. It’s about a possibly terminal manifestation of an old civilizational temptation: Indolence, as Machiavelli understood, is the greatest enemy of a republic. When I ran into trouble with the so-called “human rights” commissions up in Canada, it seemed bizarre to find the progressive left making common cause with radical Islam. One half of the alliance profess to be pro-gay, pro-feminist secularists; the other half are homophobic, misogynist theocrats. Even as the cheap bus ‘n’ truck road-tour version of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, it made no sense. But in fact what they have in common overrides their superficially more obvious incompatibilities: Both the secular Big Government progressives and political Islam recoil from the concept of the citizen, of the free individual entrusted to operate within his own societal space, assume his responsibilities, and exploit his potential.

 

In most of the developed world, the state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood—health care, child care, care of the elderly—to the point where it’s effectively severed its citizens from humanity’s primal instincts, not least the survival instinct. Hillary Rodham Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child. It’s supposedly an African proverb—there is no record of anyone in Africa ever using this proverb, but let that pass. P.J. O’Rourke summed up that book superbly: It takes a village to raise a child. The government is the village, and you’re the child. Oh, and by the way, even if it did take a village to raise a child, I wouldn’t want it to be an African village. If you fly over West Africa at night, the lights form one giant coastal megalopolis: Not even Africans regard the African village as a useful societal model. But nor is the European village. Europe’s addiction to big government, unaffordable entitlements, cradle-to-grave welfare, and a dependence on mass immigration needed to sustain it has become an existential threat to some of the oldest nation-states in the world.

 

And now the last holdout, the United States, is embarking on the same grim path: After the President unveiled his budget, I heard Americans complain, oh, it’s another Jimmy Carter, or LBJ’s Great Society, or the new New Deal. You should be so lucky. Those nickel-and-dime comparisons barely begin to encompass the wholesale Europeanization that’s underway. The 44th president’s multi-trillion-dollar budget, the first of many, adds more to the national debt than all the previous 43 presidents combined, from George Washington to George Dubya. The President wants Europeanized health care, Europeanized daycare, Europeanized education, and, as the Europeans have discovered, even with Europeanized tax rates you can’t make that math add up. In Sweden, state spending accounts for 54% of GDP. In America, it was 34%—ten years ago. Today, it’s about 40%. In four years’ time, that number will be trending very Swede-like.

 

But forget the money, the deficit, the debt, the big numbers with the 12 zeroes on the end of them. So-called fiscal conservatives often miss the point. The problem isn’t the cost. These programs would still be wrong even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover them each month. They’re wrong because they deform the relationship between the citizen and the state. Even if there were no financial consequences, the moral and even spiritual consequences would still be fatal. That’s the stage where Europe is.

 

America is just beginning this process. I looked at the rankings in Freedom in the 50 States published by George Mason University last month. New Hampshire came in Number One, the Freest State in the Nation, which all but certainly makes it the freest jurisdiction in the Western world. Which kind of depressed me. Because the Granite State feels less free to me than it did when I moved there, and you always hope there’s somewhere else out there just in case things go belly up and you have to hit the road. And way down at the bottom in the last five places were Maryland, California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and the least free state in the Union by some distance, New York.

 

New York! How does the song go? “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere!” If you can make it there, you’re some kind of genius. “This is the worst fiscal downturn since the Great Depression,” announced Governor Paterson a few weeks ago. So what’s he doing? He’s bringing in the biggest tax hike in New York history. If you can make it there, he can take it there—via state tax, sales tax, municipal tax, a doubled beer tax, a tax on clothing, a tax on cab rides, an “iTunes tax,” a tax on haircuts, 137 new tax hikes in all. Call 1-800-I-HEART-NEW-YORK today and order your new package of state tax forms, for just $199.99, plus the 12% tax on tax forms and the 4% tax form application fee partially refundable upon payment of the 7.5% tax filing tax. If you can make it there, you’ll certainly have no difficulty making it in Tajikistan.

 

New York, California… These are the great iconic American states, the ones we foreigners have heard of. To a penniless immigrant called Arnold Schwarzenegger, California was a land of plenty. Now Arnold is an immigrant of plenty in a penniless land: That’s not an improvement. One of his predecessors as governor of California, Ronald Reagan, famously said, “We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around.” In California, it’s now the other way around: California is increasingly a government that has a state. And it is still in the early stages of the process. California has thirtysomething million people. The Province of Quebec has seven million people. Yet California and Quebec have roughly the same number of government workers. “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation,” said Adam Smith, and America still has a long way to go. But it’s better to jump off the train as you’re leaving the station and it’s still picking up speed than when it’s roaring down the track and you realize you’ve got a one-way ticket on the Oblivion Express.

 

“Indolence,” in Machiavelli’s word: There are stages to the enervation of free peoples. America, which held out against the trend, is now at Stage One: The benign paternalist state promises to make all those worries about mortgages, debt, and health care disappear. Every night of the week, you can switch on the TV and see one of these ersatz “town meetings” in which freeborn citizens of the republic (I use the term loosely) petition the Sovereign to make all the bad stuff go away. “I have an urgent need,” a lady in Fort Myers beseeched the President. “We need a home, our own kitchen, our own bathroom.” He took her name and ordered his staff to meet with her. Hopefully, he didn’t insult her by dispatching some no-name deputy assistant associate secretary of whatever instead of flying in one of the bigtime tax-avoiding cabinet honchos to nationalize a Florida bank and convert one of its branches into a desirable family residence, with a swing set hanging where the drive-thru ATM used to be.

 

As all of you know, Hillsdale College takes no federal or state monies. That used to make it an anomaly in American education. It’s in danger of becoming an anomaly in America, period. Maybe it’s time for Hillsdale College to launch the Hillsdale Insurance Agency, the Hillsdale Motor Company and the First National Bank of Hillsdale. The executive supremo at Bank of America is now saying, oh, if only he’d known what he knows now, he wouldn’t have taken the government money. Apparently it comes with strings attached. Who knew? Sure, Hillsdale College did, but nobody else.

 

If you’re a business, when government gives you 2% of your income, it has a veto on 100% of what you do. If you’re an individual, the impact is even starker. Once you have government health care, it can be used to justify almost any restraint on freedom: After all, if the state has to cure you, it surely has an interest in preventing you needing treatment in the first place. That’s the argument behind, for example, mandatory motorcycle helmets, or the creepy teams of government nutritionists currently going door to door in Britain and conducting a “health audit” of the contents of your refrigerator. They’re not yet confiscating your Twinkies; they just want to take a census of how many you have. So you do all this for the “free” health care—and in the end you may not get the “free” health care anyway. Under Britain’s National Health Service, for example, smokers in Manchester have been denied treatment for heart disease, and the obese in Suffolk are refused hip and knee replacements. Patricia Hewitt, the British Health Secretary, says that it’s appropriate to decline treatment on the basis of “lifestyle choices.” Smokers and the obese may look at their gay neighbor having unprotected sex with multiple partners, and wonder why his “lifestyle choices” get a pass while theirs don’t. But that’s the point: Tyranny is always whimsical.

 

And if they can’t get you on grounds of your personal health, they’ll do it on grounds of planetary health. Not so long ago in Britain it was proposed that each citizen should have a government-approved travel allowance. If you take one flight a year, you’ll pay just the standard amount of tax on the journey. But, if you travel more frequently, if you take a second or third flight, you’ll be subject to additional levies—in the interest of saving the planet for Al Gore’s polar bear documentaries and that carbon-offset palace he lives in in Tennessee.

 

Isn’t this the very definition of totalitarianism-lite? The Soviets restricted the movement of people through the bureaucratic apparatus of “exit visas.” The British are proposing to do it through the bureaucratic apparatus of exit taxes—indeed, the bluntest form of regressive taxation. As with the Communists, the nomenklatura—the Prince of Wales, Al Gore, Madonna—will still be able to jet about hither and yon. What’s a 20% surcharge to them? Especially as those for whom vast amounts of air travel are deemed essential—government officials, heads of NGOs, environmental activists—will no doubt be exempted from having to pay the extra amount. But the ghastly masses will have to stay home.

 

“Freedom of movement” used to be regarded as a bedrock freedom. The movement is still free, but there’s now a government processing fee of $389.95. And the interesting thing about this proposal was that it came not from the Labour Party but the Conservative Party.

 

That’s Stage Two of societal enervation—when the state as guarantor of all your basic needs becomes increasingly comfortable with regulating your behavior. Free peoples who were once willing to give their lives for liberty can be persuaded very quickly to relinquish their liberties for a quiet life. When President Bush talked about promoting democracy in the Middle East, there was a phrase he liked to use: “Freedom is the desire of every human heart.” Really? It’s unclear whether that’s really the case in Gaza and the Pakistani tribal lands. But it’s absolutely certain that it’s not the case in Berlin and Paris, Stockholm and London, New Orleans and Buffalo. The story of the Western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government “security,” large numbers of people vote to dump freedom every time—the freedom to make your own decisions about health care, education, property rights, and a ton of other stuff. It’s ridiculous for grown men and women to say: I want to be able to choose from hundreds of cereals at the supermarket, thousands of movies from Netflix, millions of songs to play on my iPod—but I want the government to choose for me when it comes to my health care. A nation that demands the government take care of all the grown-up stuff is a nation turning into the world’s wrinkliest adolescent, free only to choose its record collection.

 

And don’t be too sure you’ll get to choose your record collection in the end. That’s Stage Three: When the populace has agreed to become wards of the state, it’s a mere difference of degree to start regulating their thoughts. When my anglophone friends in the Province of Quebec used to complain about the lack of English signs in Quebec hospitals, my response was that, if you allow the government to be the sole provider of health care, why be surprised that they’re allowed to decide the language they’ll give it in? But, as I’ve learned during my year in the hellhole of Canadian “human rights” law, that’s true in a broader sense. In the interests of “cultural protection,” the Canadian state keeps foreign newspaper owners, foreign TV operators, and foreign bookstore owners out of Canada. Why shouldn’t it, in return, assume the right to police the ideas disseminated through those newspapers, bookstores and TV networks it graciously agrees to permit?

 

When Maclean’s magazine and I were hauled up in 2007 for the crime of “flagrant Islamophobia,” it quickly became very clear that, for members of a profession that brags about its “courage” incessantly (far more than, say, firemen do), an awful lot of journalists are quite content to be the eunuchs in the politically correct harem. A distressing number of Western journalists see no conflict between attending lunches for World Press Freedom Day every month and agreeing to be micro-regulated by the state. The big problem for those of us arguing for classical liberalism is that in modern Canada there’s hardly anything left that isn’t on the state dripfeed to one degree or another: Too many of the institutions healthy societies traditionally look to as outposts of independent thought—churches, private schools, literature, the arts, the media—either have an ambiguous relationship with government or are downright dependent on it. Up north, “intellectual freedom” means the relevant film-funding agency—Cinedole Canada or whatever it’s called—gives you a check to enable you to continue making so-called “bold, brave, transgressive” films that discombobulate state power not a whit.

 

And then comes Stage Four, in which dissenting ideas and even words are labeled as “hatred.” In effect, the language itself becomes a means of control. Despite the smiley-face banalities, the tyranny becomes more naked: In Britain, a land with rampant property crime, undercover constables nevertheless find time to dine at curry restaurants on Friday nights to monitor adjoining tables lest someone in private conversation should make a racist remark. An author interviewed on BBC Radio expressed, very mildly and politely, some concerns about gay adoption and was investigated by Scotland Yard’s Community Safety Unit for Homophobic, Racist and Domestic Incidents. A Daily Telegraph columnist is arrested and detained in a jail cell over a joke in a speech. A Dutch legislator is invited to speak at the Palace of Westminster by a member of the House of Lords, but is banned by the government, arrested on arrival at Heathrow and deported.

 

America, Britain, and even Canada are not peripheral nations: They’re the three anglophone members of the G7. They’re three of a handful of countries that were on the right side of all the great conflicts of the last century. But individual liberty flickers dimmer in each of them. The massive expansion of government under the laughable euphemism of “stimulus” (Stage One) comes with a quid pro quo down the line (Stage Two): Once you accept you’re a child in the government nursery, why shouldn’t Nanny tell you what to do? And then—Stage Three—what to think? And—Stage Four—what you’re forbidden to think . . . .

 

Which brings us to the final stage: As I said at the beginning, Big Government isn’t about the money. It’s more profound than that. A couple of years back Paul Krugman wrote a column in The New York Times asserting that, while parochial American conservatives drone on about “family values,” the Europeans live it, enacting policies that are more “family friendly.” On the Continent, claims the professor, “government regulations actually allow people to make a desirable tradeoff-to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family.”

 

As befits a distinguished economist, Professor Krugman failed to notice that for a continent of “family friendly” policies, Europe is remarkably short of families. While America’s fertility rate is more or less at replacement level—2.1—seventeen European nations are at what demographers call “lowest-low” fertility—1.3 or less—a rate from which no society in human history has ever recovered. Germans, Spaniards, Italians and Greeks have upside-down family trees: four grandparents have two children and one grandchild. How can an economist analyze “family friendly” policies without noticing that the upshot of these policies is that nobody has any families?

 

As for all that extra time, what happened? Europeans work fewer hours than Americans, they don’t have to pay for their own health care, they’re post-Christian so they don’t go to church, they don’t marry and they don’t have kids to take to school and basketball and the 4-H stand at the county fair. So what do they do with all the time?

 

Forget for the moment Europe’s lack of world-beating companies: They regard capitalism as an Anglo-American fetish, and they mostly despise it. But what about the things Europeans supposedly value? With so much free time, where is the great European art? Where are Europe’s men of science? At American universities. Meanwhile, Continental governments pour fortunes into prestigious white elephants of Euro-identity, like the Airbus A380, capable of carrying 500, 800, a thousand passengers at a time, if only somebody somewhere would order the darn thing, which they might consider doing once all the airports have built new runways to handle it.

 

“Give people plenty and security, and they will fall into spiritual torpor,” wrote Charles Murray in In Our Hands. “When life becomes an extended picnic, with nothing of importance to do, ideas of greatness become an irritant. Such is the nature of the Europe syndrome.”

 

The key word here is “give.” When the state “gives” you plenty—when it takes care of your health, takes cares of your kids, takes care of your elderly parents, takes care of every primary responsibility of adulthood—it’s not surprising that the citizenry cease to function as adults: Life becomes a kind of extended adolescence—literally so for those Germans who’ve mastered the knack of staying in education till they’re 34 and taking early retirement at 42. Hilaire Belloc, incidentally, foresaw this very clearly in his book The Servile State in 1912. He understood that the long-term cost of a welfare society is the infantilization of the population.

 

Genteel decline can be very agreeable—initially: You still have terrific restaurants, beautiful buildings, a great opera house. And once the pressure’s off it’s nice to linger at the sidewalk table, have a second café au lait and a pain au chocolat, and watch the world go by. At the Munich Security Conference in February, President Sarkozy demanded of his fellow Continentals, “Does Europe want peace, or do we want to be left in peace?” To pose the question is to answer it. Alas, it only works for a generation or two. And it’s hard to come up with a wake-up call for a society as dedicated as latterday Europe to the belief that life is about sleeping in.

 

As Gerald Ford liked to say when trying to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” And that’s true. But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the position European governments find themselves in. Their citizens have become hooked on unaffordable levels of social programs which in the end will put those countries out of business. Just to get the Social Security debate in perspective, projected public pension liabilities are expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8% of GDP in the U.S. In Greece, the figure is 25%—i.e., total societal collapse. So what? shrug the voters. Not my problem. I want my benefits. The crisis isn’t the lack of money, but the lack of citizens—in the meaningful sense of that word.

 

Every Democrat running for election tells you they want to do this or that “for the children.” If America really wanted to do something “for the children,” it could try not to make the same mistake as most of the rest of the Western world and avoid bequeathing the next generation a leviathan of bloated bureaucracy and unsustainable entitlements that turns the entire nation into a giant Ponzi scheme. That’s the real “war on children” (to use another Democrat catchphrase)—and every time you bulk up the budget you make it less and less likely they’ll win it.

 

Conservatives often talk about “small government,” which, in a sense, is framing the issue in leftist terms: they’re for big government. But small government gives you big freedoms—and big government leaves you with very little freedom. The bailout and the stimulus and the budget and the trillion-dollar deficits are not merely massive transfers from the most dynamic and productive sector to the least dynamic and productive. When governments annex a huge chunk of the economy, they also annex a huge chunk of individual liberty. You fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state into something closer to that of junkie and pusher—and you make it very difficult ever to change back. Americans face a choice: They can rediscover the animating principles of the American idea—of limited government, a self-reliant citizenry, and the opportunities to exploit your talents to the fullest—or they can join most of the rest of the Western world in terminal decline. To rekindle the spark of liberty once it dies is very difficult. The inertia, the ennui, the fatalism is more pathetic than the demographic decline and fiscal profligacy of the social democratic state, because it’s subtler and less tangible. But once in a while it swims into very sharp focus. Here is the writer Oscar van den Boogaard from an interview with the Belgian paper De Standaard. Mr. van den Boogaard, a Dutch gay “humanist” (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool), was reflecting on the accelerating Islamification of the Continent and concluding that the jig was up for the Europe he loved. “I am not a warrior, but who is?” he shrugged. “I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.” In the famous Kubler-Ross five stages of grief, Mr. van den Boogard is past denial, anger, bargaining and depression, and has arrived at a kind of acceptance.

 

“I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.” Sorry, doesn’t work—not for long. Back in New Hampshire, General Stark knew that. Mr. van den Boogard’s words are an epitaph for Europe. Whereas New Hampshire’s motto—”Live free or die!”—is still the greatest rallying cry for this state or any other. About a year ago, there was a picture in the papers of Iranian students demonstrating in Tehran and waving placards. And what they’d written on those placards was: “Live free or die!” They understand the power of those words; so should we.

 …

 

 


A Short Memory…

When I heard that there was a photo-op staged in New York city featuring a low altitude flyover by a jumbo jet being chased by an F-16 fighter jet, I thought “Surely, you jest, who’d do anything that stupid?”.

I saw the footage myself…one of the planes that serves as Air Force One flew low over the “ground zero” area of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.  It was escorted by a fighter jet.  Immediately MY brain went to pictures of 9/11.  I cannot even IMAGINE what it must have made those who were there in New York when those planes flew in low over their city and slammed into the Twin Towers feel!!!

Did these administration people REALLY think this was a good idea?  Do they REMEMBER 9/11 and what it looked like for those on the ground in NYC and those watching TV?????

Mayor Bloomberg has the right to be furious.  All of NYC has the right to be furious.  They SHOULD be furious.  This was insensitive.  Uuncaring.  UNBELIEVABLE.  Good grief.  TRY PHOTOSHOPPING!  Don’t recreate the worst and most frightening event in our recent history in order to get a pretty picture.

]

Apparently Rahm Emanuel and Obama himself are upset about the decision to do this.  I don’t believe they are upset.  I don’t believe they didn’t know it was going to happen.  Obama is such a narcissist I simply don’t think it crossed his mind that this might be something that might be scary to other people.  All Obama had to say was that it was a “mistake” and that he was “in the dark”.  No apology.  Dude doesn’t think NYC deserves an apology for scaring the daylights out of them.  The guy who would take the fall (which there won’t be one, trust me) for this “mistake” is the Director of the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera.  This is a position which has always been held by active military.  While Caldera did serve in the armed forces, he’s a lawyer who most recently “served” as a California state lawmaker.  A super great patsy for Obama if he needed one, who I’m sure, controls him like a puppet on a string.

Honestly, I think this is Obama and his minions looking to see just how far they can go and not suffer any consequences.  It’s like a trial balloon, only a really freaking scary one.  More new memories, a gift from an administration whose memory is short…or is it?

Oh, and did I mention that this little stunt cost “us” between $300,000 and $400,000??  Yeah.  Nice.  Real nice.  Scare everyone nearly to death, and then charge them for the pleasure…


Why Socialism Won’t Work In America…

It’s rather simple, really.

Socialism and major socialist programs (like healthcare) won’t work (and haven’t worked) in America simply because most in America have lived much more prosperously than most people in other nations…and because of that, their expectations are higher.

Socialism, even at its best, is a step down from the American dream. 

Europeans have never lived the American dream.  Their expectations reflect that. 

Americans will want capitalism quality from socialism “equality”.

And that just ain’t gonna happen.


I’m Mailing My Tea Bag, Are You??


Bernie Madoff With A Whole Buncha Money

Bernie Madoff pled guilty in federal court last week to all counts against him.  Bernie’s legacy will be that the Ponzi scheme should now be called the Madoff scheme.  Ponzi only wished he could have pulled of what Madoff pulled off.

Madoff did a very bad thing and he should be held 100 percent accountable for his actions and misdeeds.  He probably has accomplices who will be found out and will be finding their way from penthouses into big houses as well.  And so they should.

But…BUT…I think there’s plenty of other blame and responsibility to go around.

Like the SEC.  They should have been paying closer attention.  Madoff’s portfolio “made” big money, steadily, year after year.  It didn’t seem to be following the same ups and downs that other funds were experiencing.  This should have put a blip on the SECs radar.

And the investors need to admit that they are complicit to a certain degree as well.  Madoff’s fund was too good to be true.  You had to have a lot of money to even qualify to buy into it.  It was a status symbol to be able to get into his fund.  And it guaranteed double digit annual returns.  One has to look just a little bit askancely at that sort of promise.  Buyer beware, right?

Plenty of greed here to go around.


Found On Road Dead

This is what my friend Donna, from the Detroit area, and always a purchaser of FORD vehicles, says F.O.R.D. stands for.  The vehicles just seem to not be the best buy out there.  But she gets a good deal because of a family member’s connections with the company, so she takes adavantage of that.  A Ford has never been on my list of cars I would want.

I don’t think that “American” cars are a good value.  I drive a Honda.  I do support trying to “buy American” when it is reasonable.  Therefore, I purchased a Honda which was built in the United States.  Because it was a good value.  It’s been a great car.  I’ve had it for 13 years and it’s still going strong.

I am not in the market for a new car, but if I WERE, I would now consider buying an American vehicle.  Not ANY American vehicle, mind you…a FORD.  Why?  Because the company has refused bailout money.  And I appreciate that.  And would reward that with my wallet.  No company that I find out has taken bailout money will be the recipient of my economic stimulus. 

There just might be a whole lot of other people out there who feel the same way because Ford seems to be increasing its market share.

Bravo, Ford, bravo.

Take government money and you’ll deal with the strings that are attached.  I prefer to deal with companies which are still “free” from as much government entanglement as possible.  TARP grinds my gears.

L’aissez-faire, folks, l’aissez-faire…


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