Friday, August 9, 2013

What's In A Name

There's a lot of flap going on regarding the Washington Redskins and pressure from certain groups to change the name of the team. A recent article on Yahoo laments this ongoing, and tiring, debate (read the article here:

I guess the liberal media, and purveyors of equality based on the lowest common denominator, might be more accepting of the name "Greedy Fat Racist White Guys" to replace "Redskins." Or, to reflect the nature of our nation's capital, maybe the "Washington Wafflers" or "Washington Waivers" or "Washington Weasels." I kinda like that last one... it seems to fit.

Turning our attention to other sports teams would reveal an alarming *gasp* number of team names that simply do not fit our politically correct minded world. With enough time, dedication and fabricated outrage at the unfairness of it all, we could systematically rid our sports industry of all that offends... here's a sampling of some that come immediately to mind.

Let's stick to the main topic and go after some other teams with "racist" names. The next teams on the chopping block would be the Atlanta Braves, Golden State Warriors (see their original logo of a cartoon "Indian" dribbling a basketball), Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Blackhawks and Cleveland Indians. Let's not forget about the college teams... Utah Utes, Alcorn State Braves, Florida State Seminoles, San Diego State Aztecs, North Dakota Fighting Sioux and Illinois Fighting Illini...for starters.

And so that we don't offend anyone with religious leanings or opposition to religion, we must begin the cleansing with the New Orleans Saints, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystic, Orlando Magic, Tennessee Titans (don't want to offend the followers of Greek mythology) and the San Diego Padres.

I suppose PETA would have us get rid of these teams because of the sensitive nature of some of these critters: Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Timberwolves, Florida Panthers and Detroit Tigers.

And finally, so that we don't offend the non-American citizens, or those who just don't like us, we must eliminate the New England Patriots, Philadelphia 76ers, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and the Washington Nationals.

Realistically, we need to get over ourselves. We need to stop taking everything so seriously, especially things that have no real value in the long run. We need to focus on more important things, like how we treat our neighbors and co-workers instead of how offended someone might be because of a sports logo. We need to focus on how we can help one another with our own hands, our own blessings, our own means. The fact that our culture places a higher value on the name of a football team than on pursuing a life of love and charity... that offends me. Not really... but it does make me sad.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Next In Line

It seems today that all of the major topics in the news are about the rights of the person or persons who are standing at the front of the line.

What I mean by that is that the citizens (and some non-citizens) of this great nation are all clamoring to be heard by the government... and demanding that the government grant them this right or that one. The sad thing about this, is that we have forgotten that the framers of the Constitution believed that our rights came from the Creator, not from government. They wrote the Constitution to give us the freedom from having to look to the government for our rights, and rather constructed the document to protect us from an overbearing, over-powerful body of legislature. They wrote to protect us from being infringed upon, not to grant us anything we didn't already have.

Over the decades, we have slowly replaced culpability and accountability with legislation, and thus seen our personal freedoms taken away and tucked under the wings of government... little by little... death by a thousand cuts. Think about it... it won't take you too long to come up with a list of laws that instruct us (and penalize us) in regard to our personal behavior... that behavior which causes no harm to others or to anyone outside of our direct care and responsibility. If you live out in the country, with nobody within 10 miles of your driveway, it's still illegal for you to drive down the road without wearing your seatbelt in order to protect yourself. Some states want to ban certain types of food or beverages because the government has deemed us too foolish to know better for ourselves.

We have lost all understanding of the origin of our rights, and how we are supposed to claim and exercise those rights. We are hell-bent on being the next in line in order to have our voices heard by the powers that be... so that we may be granted (or denied) basic freedoms given to us at birth. When granted, we dance and holler and shout "we're number one" or "I told you so" only to be shoved aside by the person or group in the number 2 position. Next, please. We have forgotten how to be human. How to live. How to love each other for all of our differences. We demand to be noticed and coddled and bronzed for posterity.

Whatever the topic of the day, our courts will decide for us... tell us that we're right or wrong... and then move to the next person in line. The most current victor will gloat and jump for joy, for a while. The disappointed will withdraw and hope the victors will go away now that they've had their day in the sun. Alas, there's always someone else standing in line, ready to seek their rights to be granted, and the only thing that will change will be the topic of the day. The process will always stay the same... unless we reacquire the ability to live in the time and place we are granted and do it to the best of our ability.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Presidential A-Go-Go

It seems that our President is, technically, a felon... once more. Yep, that's my take. You see, President Obama is in violation of a Federal Law that requires the President to deliver his budget to Congress on the first Monday of February of each year. At the time of this writing, he is in violation of that law in excess of 5 weeks and has no plan to present his budget until at least April, 2013... if at all. This shouldn't be surprising since he's missed this deadline in 4 of the last 5 years, and for the third year in a row... or that the Senate has yet to produce and pass a budget in 4 years. I know it's a tough job, and I'm sure that he's working hard at getting it done, but let's take a look at what he's been up to for the last 5 weeks, and a little bit before the deadline.

In the month before the deadline, specifically from Jan. 1 through Jan. 27, President Obama did little to nothing. Realize, of course, that he had lots to do to prepare for the inauguration... for all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the "most transparent" President in history. During this period, he did manage to have lunch with the Vice President 4 times and make 4 "personal announcements." He also managed to meet with our great friend and ally, Afghanistan President H. Karzai all day on Jan. 11. One can only imagine how much money was spent during that meeting.

In the week prior to the budget deadline, President Obama managed to have lunch with the Vice President once, lunch with Sec. Clinton once, fly to Las Vegas to give a chat about immigration reform to an undisclosed group, then fly back in the same afternoon (minimum Air Force One operational costs for that trip ring in at approximately $1.4-2.0 million, depending on exact air time and staffing). He also managed to conduct two interviews with Spanish TV reporters and present some awards for something or another. Clearly, the President was concerned about getting his budget completed and delivered the following week.

Since the deadline has passed, President Obama has managed to log no less than 20 more hours on Air Force One, over half of that coming on a three-day, three-state tour de force between Feb. 13-15. On those trips, he flew to a factory in North Carolina, a kindergarten school in Georgia and to Chicago to talk about his State of the Union Address (which he had already delivered two days prior -- just to be clear). Then on Feb. 15, following his clarification tour in Chicago, he flew off to West Palm Beach for a guys weekend with that well-known financial and marital guru, Tiger Woods. Nobody knows exactly what that 3-day jaunt cost taxpayers, but considering the extra security and staffing, it's got to be at least 20-bucks, right? The estimated Air Force One operational costs, alone, for travel during this time is between $5-6.9 million. Just a tiny drop in the bucket for someone so concerned about our financial woes.

Also during this time, Dear Leader made 3 more "personal announcements," delivered "remarks" on one thing or another at least 8 times, had lunch with Joe at least 6 more times, conducted at least 4 more tv/radio/media interviews (including an important interview with Al Sharpton), attended a Google+ Hangout to talk (more) about his SOTU Address, and presented some more awards here and there. Additionally, he found time to hook up with the Japanese Prime Minister and play host to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanai Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam. Oh, oh... and he managed to get down to Newport News, VA to deliver remarks about how damaging the sequester would be if "Congressional Republicans fail to compromise..." on budget matters. I always thought compromise meant both sides were giving a little.

So, it appears that the President has truly been a busy man, as would be expected. The one thing glaringly missing from the calendar during this entire time, aside from Snookie not visiting the White House, is that the President did not meet with his Budget Committee one, single, solitary time. For someone who finds it appealing to talk to the nation, and those whom he is supposed to serve, about budgets and such, he sure doesn't seem too worried about getting the job done, or in complying with the law.

My question is this... how on earth can any of us continue to take this President seriously? How can anyone feel vindicated in lecturing us, the public, or any other leaders on budgetary issues and fiscal responsibility when legal deadlines are flippantly ignored? How much longer are we really going to sit back and eat what this President and his ilk are feeding us? How long?

All of this, by the way, is easily discovered on the published White House calendar located at:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Blue Plate Special?

So, I read this entertaining article on the "sequester" this morning and really couldn't believe what I was reading, until I considered the source. Yahoo News has become so left-focused that many of their writers now pass off fluff like this without any shame whatsoever, simply to please the populace and encourage an attitude of complacency and ignorance... or so it seems.

There's a link to the article below, but here's just a taste of the scat that's passing as journalism on Yahoo News these days:

"…the blame falls more heavily on congressional Republicans than it does the White House. Peddling tax cuts as a solution for all human maladies including writer’s block, the GOP has thwarted every effort by Obama since the 2010 elections to stimulate the economy."
My wonder, considering the statement above is this: which party has faithfully passed a budget in each of the last 4 years and which has failed to do so? Which planet, exactly, does this writer call home? Has he been observing the same government that the rest of us have been watching?

While the article does have some valid points, most of it is political pandering and verbose. Sadly, many will read the article (or some of it) and go for broke in quoting the talking points as fact. This is what we're up against. Below is a link to the online article along with my response to the author.

My Reply:
Mr. Shapiro... methinks you are delusional. First, how... exactly... is Bob Woodward's claim exaggerated? Do you really believe that one of the most respected journalists in U.S. history (and I'm not a particular "fan") would not weigh this situation with utmost concern before making it publicly known? It's exaggerated only perhaps in the sense that one might consider the closest star to our planet, aside from our sun, as in our "neighborhood." I'd like to hear your explanation, not just your decree, that Mr. Woodward's claim is exaggerated (some proof or evidence would be nice, too.)

Second, if you can correctly recall... President John F. Kennedy did more to stimulate the economy of his day by doing exactly what most Republicans have been calling for... cutting taxes and broadening the base. It was Kennedy who said "ask not what your country can do for you..."

Third... Draconian? Really? Do you know much about Draco? Is 3% really catastrophic and severe in your world? If so, I suggest that there are more pressing problems that we all face. For enlightenment's purpose, 3% of a standard day is just slightly over 43 minutes, or not even enough time to catch the latest episode of American Idol. If the sequester cuts are to be considered Draconian, in the least, it is only because of the lack of comprehension on the part of the observer.

Lastly, when it comes to placing the heavier burden of blame on the Republicans, I can only ask this: which group of politicians has passed and presented a budget... a real, working budget... every year for the past 4 years, and which one has not? It's hard to talk about how much spending is going to take place and how much is going to be cut when there's no concept of how much there is in the pot.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Problem with Freedom

I've heard it said that the problem with freedom is that stupidity is not illegal. If there is any underlying base to the problems in the United States, I would argue that, as I call it, selective stupidity would be the most likely culprit. Now, I don't mean ignorance... I mean outright, basic stupidity... the kind that results in stickers being placed on electric hair dryers about the danger of using them while in the shower or bathtub. You know, stupid stuff. Now don't get me wrong, I do my fair share of stupid, so I'm not immune. I'm purely talking about the kind of stupidity that has progressively removed the "common" from common sense.

To complicate matters, the stupidity that prevails in our culture is driven by emotion and not a lack of knowledge or understanding. It's the kind of stupidity that doesn't realize that all violent crime is hate crime, that simply disagreeing with someone of a different ethnic or cultural background is not racism, that being "pro" something doesn't make you "anti" anything. We live in a culture and environment of instant access to immense amounts of factual data, and yet we choose the easy way out and readily digest the spoon fed junk that is shoved in our faces by sensationalism. That kind of stupidity is what's undermining the fabric of the United States and leading us down paths of an ultimately pathetic existence.

I remember, years ago, reading "Fahrenheit 451" and the imagery of the parlor walls and how Guy Montag's wife was captured by the sensless stories told on the walls (which are really televisions)... how they became the center of her's and her friends’ lives. At the time, I dared to even believe that such a thing... such a time or culture could actually exist. I was wrong. We live in a culture that not only has the freedom to be constantly entertained and amused, but we actually choose that path of stupidity in favor of being involved in the life around us. We get more upset about the insults of a silly, stupid talent show host than the fact that the members of our government continue to place themselves above the law... and without any accountability.

“You’re nothing but zombies... all of you... You’re not living, you’re just killing time.”
(Guy Montag, Fahrenheit 451)

A recent example of this is how President Obama announced, in January, that he will present his White House budget to Congress late, again, choosing to ignore the law that requires his budget to be presented by the first Monday of February. This is the third time in four years that this has happened, and every time it has happened, he's had some sort of excuse. I wonder if I could make up my own excuses should I choose to violate the law at my discretion. The Senate, too, has chosen to ignore the law (and one of its primary responsibilities) and has failed to pass a budget since 2009. The fact that the public is not outraged at this, my friends, is stupid.

How long will we sit this one out and choose, as a society, to ignore the basic foundations of our government... of the people and by the people... and choose to be stupid about it? Many who read this will say that it's too late, that our system has failed us, that it won't matter if the few who really care continue to stand up for what's right. Others will do what they always do... choose the path of stupidity, the path of the complacent, the path of refusing to be part of anything but the problem. To both groups, I say this... Oprah is no longer "on" -- it's time to move or be moved. It may be impossible to outlaw stupidity, but simply doing what is right, through knowledge and fierce determination will eventually triumph by one measure or another. Of this, I am sure.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's midnight... do you know what your Senate is doing?

Several months ago, if I searched for "HR 3590," links would appear that would point to at least one or two sources for "The Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009." Now that appears to have been changed and everything related to HR 3590 only points to "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." Why is this important? Well... HR 3590 was the originating bill, sponsored by Charlie Rangel, that somehow morphed into the PPACA, aka Obamacare.

Origin of a revenue bill.

As required by the Constitution, all revenue generating (i.e. power to tax) legislation must originate in the House in order to be legal. On September 17, 2009, Rep. Charles Rangel introduced HR 3590 (see original 8-page bill here, as passed by the House) which was titled the "Service Members Home Ownership Tax of 2009." The bill passed unanimously in the House on October 8, 2009 and was sent to the Senate. Similar legislation was introduced to the Senate in the form of S.1728 on September 20, 2009 and promptly died and was referred to Committee.

The Transformation

Sometime between October 13, 2009 (when the bill was placed on the Senate calendar) and November 19, 2009, HR 3590 was placed on the Senate's operating table and was stripped of ALL resemblance to the original bill. On November 19, 2009, HR 3590 was reintroduced -- "as amended" -- into the Senate as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" while still wearing the disguise as the original text. Compare HR 3590 as it was placed on the Senate calendar versus how it was presented, as amended, on November 19, 2009).

Note that the original bill, as passed in the House, was only 8-pages, however by the time it got to the Senate floor, it had grown to over 2,000 pages.

The Ruse

This is the trickery that was used by the Obama administration, and the Reid Senate, to get the PPACA started with the revenue (i.e. taxing) power without presenting it for what it was in the House. The original HR 3590 passed the house unanimously, giving the bill... under name only... the power to create taxes to generate revenue to pay for the provisions of the bill. The move by the Senate to gut the bill, in its entirety with exception to the "enacting clause," is masterful deception (see the very first page, below, of HR 3590 as presented on November 19, 2009)

This Senate version of the bill passed with a vote of 60-39 and was sent back to the House for a vote on December 24, 2009. The House finally passed the bill (see the final bill as passed) on March 21, 2010 (with Democrats firmly in control of the House), receiving zero Republican votes and losing 34 Democrat votes. So the big question should be... how does a bill go from 8-pages and unanimous support in the House, to over 2,000 pages and zero Republican support in a period of a few months? This is how the Obama government works folks... like it or not. This is how they will bend in any direction to get what they want... all for the "good of the people." [Read on past the graphic below...]

Note the three items above:
Who proposed the changes;
How they gutted the bill except for the enacting clause;
How they changed the title and the entire purpose of the bill.

Parting Shot

It might be noted that President Obama signed this bill into law on March 23, 2010... just two days after it passed the House and Senate in its final form. This is yet another violation of his promise to let all bills sit on his desk for 5 days before signing them...

"When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you will have five days to look online and find out what's in it before I sign it." (then Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, Manchester, NH, JUNE 22, 2007)

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Constitutional Convention...

Years ago, I heard someone famous say that (and I'm paraphrasing) the reason we have so many laws that align with common sense is that someone decided that the government needed to enforce the things we're no longer willing to do for ourselves. It is precisely this sentiment that drives my complete opposition to the idea of mandated term limits, as I'll explain below.

Waiting In Line for Bread While Eating A Donut
We don't need term limits. We already have them. The idea that we need mandated (i.e. legislated) term limits is pretty absurd to me. The Constitution already provides for a regularly scheduled removal/approval process for our Representatives and Senators. Anyone who denies this is apparently unfamiliar with the voting process. Some will say that I'm being naive about this and that the American voter is too apathetic to properly work the process nowadays. I argue just the opposite. I say that those pushing for mandated term limits aren't giving the process a chance and aren't thinking the idea through very well. Asking for something that we already have in our hands is pretty lame. What we need to be doing is encouraging voter responsibility and understanding that there are other people in the room who may vote differently than us, no matter how sure we are that they're wrong.

What About The Good Ones?
Most of the knee-jerk, emotional crying for Term Limits fails to consider the Good Ones... those Representatives and Senators who truly are doing a good job of representing the voice of those they serve. They may be far and few between, but they're still there. When we cry that the government should not punish all of the people because of the actions of a few, we should take the same stance when thinking of our government. There's a reason why some members of Congress continue to get re-elected... it's because the people they represent (at least a majority of the voters) ask them to stay, like it or not. If we grow tired of the ones we have in power, then it's our JOB to elect someone new. The real problem is that nobody WANTS their job.

I believe that our Founders left out mandatory term limits on purpose. They had the faith that the good people of the United States would WANT to be involved with their government and would keep it under control by using the tools they had been given. They did, after all, consider the Constitutional government of the United States as a great experiment.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!
Mandated Term Limits, especially on such a broad scale as within both chambers of Congress could have some disastrous effects that most people simply aren't willing to examine. Think about this. Think about having half of the government changing jobs, by force, every 2-6 years. Think about all of the works in progress that will have to be abandoned and handed off to new people who haven't been involved in the process. Think of all the bridges that will be burned in the turnover. If you think that they don't get anything done now, just wait until good relationships between lawmakers are forcibly broken because we, the people, became too complacent to be involved in the process. Think of the corruption... when a Senator of questionable morals or scruples is facing mandatory firing and decides that he or she will do anything they possibly can to mess things up as much as possible... either out of spite or for their own personal benefit... or both. The result of mandatory term limits will be "Lame Duck Syndrome" on a massive scale.

What will we do when we suddenly lose a good Representative, who has been serving the people well, to someone of little experience and questionable character simply because we have to put "someone" in the seat? How will the people react to the practice of "selective grooming" by the corrupt politicians to ensure that "their heir" is the one elected to fill their seat? The dangers of mandated term limits FAR outweigh their perceived benefits. 

Mirror, Mirror
So what do we do? Well, we get involved in ensuring that the people elected to office truly represent our beliefs and listen to us instead of telling us what they want to do. We get involved by holding those we elect accountable for their actions. We do a double check of the reflection in the mirror and make sure we're not being too hypocritical. It's often said that those currently in government are out of control and not representing the public, but there's considerable proof that the opposite is true. We have a government addicted to credit and spending without limits, while a majority of U.S. households are deep in debt, but continue to spend record amounts on non-necessities. We have a government rife with scandal: drugs, infidelity, tax cheats, deceitfulness... and yet we fill our evenings in front of the television to watch shows centered around the same things. Our very lives are full of the same things and we glorify it on television but are shocked when it happens in Congress. 

Reality Check
No, friends, the solution is not term limits. The solution is looking around at our very surroundings... at our peers... at ourselves, and understanding that we are all flawed and no matter who we elect, they're probably going to be flawed too. We have to get involved. We have to replace Dancing With The Stars with educating ourselves as to how our government is supposed to operate. We have to put focus on the States and strip the federal government of so much authoritative power that is has assumed over the decades. We need to come to terms with the fact that this is supposed to be the government "of the people" and that if we fail to take an active, involved, and educated part in it, then we will, indeed lose the Republic that was given to us. Term limits will not do this for us... only we can do it.