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Archive for September, 2011

Teleprompter Magic

28 Sep

Now I don’t know a great deal about teleprompters.  I’ve given a lot of speeches in my time, but I never had the luxury of using one of those things.  I have no idea how they work, but I’ve observed a few people using one.   I guess I should say two to be more accurate two.  Or is “teleprompter” a word similar to moose wherein it can be either singular or plural.  No matter.  I’ll just say teleprompter and you can add an “s” if you wish.  Or an “es” if you’re so inclined.

Anyway, I’ve taken to notice that our president uses one quite a lot.  In fact he is seldom without one.  I often wonder if he set one up when he proposed to Michelle.  Can’t you just picture the scene?  “Michelle, dear, I want to ask you a question. Give me a minute to set the mood.  Don’t be distracted by these things.  Damn, they don’t go low enough for me to read them when I’m on one knee.  Oh, I’ll just stand here and ask.  Michelle, dear will you…..Michelle dear, will you.  Damn thing is stuck!  Wait until tomorrow and I’ll ask you what I was going to ask before this thing failed me.  That bush over there just messed me up.”

And what do you think it looked like on his honeymoon?  The water bed waving back and forth and all.  Talk about dexterity and quick adjustments.  I’ll bet he wished he was back in the woods among all those bushes then.

I think I’ve discovered the real reason he uses them so much.  First of all, if he gets them positioned just right he is able to keep his nose in the air at just the right angle to let the people in his audience know just what he thinks of them.

But the most important reason is actually more basic.  As a kid he really admired George Washington.  Back in those days they were still teaching good things about our founding fathers.  What struck Obama most was how honest Washington was.  After all he could never tell a lie.

This presented Obama with a hugh problem.  How could he present his ideas across to the people when deep down he knew what he was saying is, as Representative Wilson so aptly put it, a lie?  The teleprompter was the answer.  He could say whatever he wanted while at the same time letting the audience know he really didn’t believe what he was saying.

How, you might ask could the teleprompter pull off a task as difficult as that?  Well, the trick is quite simple.  Just record his speech then play it back in fast motion.  Notice the distinct movement of his head.  Doesn’t it look as though he is shaking his head NO in an effort to let everyone know it isn’t really so?

Try it the next speech Obama gives a speech.  Don’t worry.  He’s bound to make another one sooner or later.

 

United Nations–Time to Defund?

24 Sep

Such a grand idea–the United Nations.  So much promise–the United Nations.  So misguided–the United Nations.  Such a toothless tiger–the United Nations.  A path to peace or a terrorist’s dream–the United Nations?

In the beginning there was so much hope placed in the United Nations.  In fact the United States thought it so worthwhile that it took on the major fiscal responsibility to make that organization effective.  With safeguards in place that protected the major powers of the world from runaway intrusion on their security, it looked as though it might work.  The primary safeguard was the power of the veto.  A device commonly used by the Soviet Union during the cold war, and on occasion by the other major players.

But now it has morphed into a platform for anti-US countries to make inroads into our wellbeing.  Most of these countries a weak and somewhat inconsequential.  Gnats to be sure, but none the less effective and extremely bothersome.

What sense does it make, as far as the US is concerned for some of the world’s most flagrant abusers of human rights to belong to and even lead the committees that deal with such issues?  Or provide a platform for run amuck alarmist (think global warming) to launch wildly suspect theories?

To be sure, the UN can and does on occasion do some good.  When a catastrophic  natural catastrophe overwhelms a country the UN does lend a much needed hand.  It even attempts to provide help to countries where genocide is occurring.  Even when most of the aide goes to corrupt leaders, some good might come from its efforts.

But the most destructive thing the UN has generated is the idea that countries, especially the United State must feel compelled to get permission from the UN before undertaking some kind of action that is aimed at protecting our security.  In this, the UN has become dangerous.

The concept of “One World Government” is fallacious on its face and totally impractical.  It is nothing more than a mechanism for wealth redistribution that is disguised as a good thing.  In reality it is just one of the ways “do gooders” use the UN to tear the United States down.

The time has come for us to either eliminate or severely cut back on our “gift” to the UN.  The money we put into it is quickly turned against us.  That we should not permit.

 

Redistributer in Chief

21 Sep

Our President seems resolved to throw caution to the winds just so he can redistribute our wealth in the way he see fit.  He is so envious of the wealthy (apparently those earning over $250,000 a year) that he is willing to sacrifice our country in order to level the playing field.  He feels himself qualified to define just what “leveling” means and which part of our society has to be cut down to size.

The needle is stuck on his record (you know those black round things with a hole in the center) when it comes to fairness.  When he thinks of fairness he thinks only about the amount one makes, not giving any credit to the amount one already puts into the pot.  It matters little that the ones he is intent to whittle away at already supply the bulk of money that is available for public consumption.

If fairness, or as he calls it, fair share, means sharing in carrying the load, that’s one thing.  But if it means giving just because you have, that’s quite a horse of a different color.

Now I’m not advocating taxing the lower paid person in order for him or her to be supplying at least something to the greater good.  They need every dollar they can get just to keep their heads above water.  It’s not like they aren’t paying any taxes at all.  The states and local governments are gobbling up quite a lot from them all ready.  Even then though, almost fifty percent of our working folks pay nothing to the federal government, and some of them are even getting a chunk of change from some governmental give away or other.

So what is a fair tax (as opposed to share)?  I was once at a meeting with Governor McCall and a few of his staff.  Our Highway Commission Chairman, Glenn Jackson and three or four of his staff were discussing the need to increase the gas tax so that we could patch a few more holes in the pavement.  Gov. McCall started the meeting off by saying “we must come up with a fair tax.”  To which Chairman Jackson replied, “there is no such a thing as a fair tax.  Someone will feel they are being gouged.”

Mr. Jackson was right, of course.  And, perhaps so might be President Obama.

But when it is taking more money from anyone, at a time like this is just plain foolhardy.  More so when we need to create more jobs (which is the real solution to our problem).  And piling on more taxes and regulations on those that will create those jobs is not very good public policy.  Further temporary fixes only leave uncertainty.  And Obama’s fixes are basically very short term, except for some of the tax increases.

Sending a proposal to Congress, especially when there is not enough specificity to tell exactly what he is asking for while demanding an up or down vote on the package in its entirety is not very helpful.  He should allow Congress to have its fair share of what is presented to the American public.

 

America’s Poor

17 Sep

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I was interested to read some facts concerning American’s poor population.  A recent Heritage Foundation report contained information developed by the Census Bureau.

I am not repeating these facts in an attempt to illustrate the premise that we have no problem concerning the “poor” in this country.  While there are most certainly some places in the world that have it much worse than we do, that’s not my point.  However, I do think this information illustrates a situation that differs greatly from what our more liberal colleagues would want us to believe.

Here is what they had to say:

“Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield lay out what the U.S. government’s own facts and figures really say about poverty in the United States. The results might surprise you, especially if your view of poverty is the conventional one, perpetuated by the media–namely, destitute conditions of homelessness and hunger. In reality, though, the living conditions of those defined as poor by the government are much different than that popular image. The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau:

  • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning
  • Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR
  • Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation
  • 43 percent have Internet access
  • One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD television
  • One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo

 

Rector and Sheffield point to 2009 statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing that 96 percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food, 83 percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat, and over the course of a year, only 4 percent of poor persons become temporarily homeless, with 42 percent of poor households actually owning their own homes. Want an international comparison? The average poor American has more living space than the average Swede or German. You can read even more of those facts in their report,

None of this is to say that the poor have it easy. Sadly, one in 25 will become temporarily homeless during the year, and one in five poor adults will experience temporary food shortages and hunger at some point in a year.”

I feel there is most certainly an issue that must be dealt with.  It can most effectively be dealt with only after we provide more focus and clarity on those that are truly in need.  By so doing our hard earned tax dollars will go further while at the same time not providing a “freebee” crutch to those not requiring the aide.  A crutch, incidentally that encourages those receiving the aid to remain in that “poor” condition simply because it is easier to do that than to provide for one’s self.

We should take advantage of refocusing our efforts to pinpoint where the needs are and figure out the best way to deal with those needs.  As one of Obama’s right hand advisors so apply pointed out: “do not let a crisis go to waste,” or something to that effect.  However, he meant the meaning of the phrase to be: now is the time we can cram more government down the throats of all Americans.  I mean it to say, now is the time to regain our sanity.  Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by.

 

Infrastructure Improvements? Are Your Sure?

14 Sep

As an ex-highway engineer you might think it strange that I’m opposed to H.R. 2887, a bill to reauthorize expiring aviation and surface transportation programs for a few months.  Some of the funds will be targeted at long needed infrastructure projects.  But as usual, congress stretches the limits of what that money can be spent on.

There is a section in the bill that is extremely troublesome to me.  It’s called “Transportation Enhancements.”  What exactly is a transportation enhancement?  Well, it could be an eco-passage (a bridge or tunnel for eco’s to cross the roadway).  Seems many congressmen and women are still struggling over just why the chicken crossed the road.  But if they want to cross then they figure we had better provide safe passage for them.  I wonder just what they will come up with to provide safe passage for bugs and such.  Perhaps they can use the money to do a little research on the issue.  They can also restore historic buildings with this money, build trails on old abandoned railroad right of ways, do archeological planning and research and establish new transportation museums with the money.

Now all of these things might be good things to do, but to use money generated by the fuel tax on motor vehicles is dangerous.  Why dangerous?  Because it further erodes the integrity of the highway program.  This program was begun to get highways out of the mud and provide a safe and reliable roadway system.  A system by the way that nearly every citizen uses to move about and that delivers the goods we consume.  In the beginning the people were willing to put up the money needed to construct and maintain the highway system because they could see the results of their investment.

Then in the late sixties or early seventies, congress began to syphon off some of this money to accomplish other goals.  Again, many of these goals were good, but they certainly didn’t benefit the motorists.  As time went on and our highway system aged the money needed to take care of the problems wasn’t there.  It wasn’t there because of bills like H.R. 2887 which, first gradually, then almost feverishly diverted large chunks of the funds elsewhere.

This diversion of money, coupled with tons of new regulations (designed to social engineer us away from the automobile) nearly brought the highway program to a halt.  Some would say, “Hurray, right on.  Let them take the bus.”  Of course they say this as they drive their kids to ballet lessons, tennis lessons, or whatever.  All, by the way, in the comfort of a self contained vehicle that is available to them 24/7.  And on a roadway system, albeit a tad bit crowed at times.

The time for attaching non-related issues onto popular programs simply because that’s the only way they can get them passed must come to an end.  Let’s hope the Senate will amend the Transportation Enhancement portion out of the current bill.  At a time when we are so deeply in debt we can ill afford to fritter our money away.

 

The Tap Root of Our Democracy

10 Sep

The majesty of a Giant Sequoia tree overshadows all that surrounds it.  Its age seems endless and its spreading branches, treelike in their very size, cast a shadow of safety and protection far beneath them.  Through the centuries it has sent its tap root burrowing deep toward the center of the earth.  Other roots radiate out near the surface gathering food supplied from the ground blanketing the land in which it thrives.

In addition it also receives life sustaining gifts from the tiny microcosms nestling aboard its  more lofty limbs.  Entire cultures are born, thrive and die there without ever tasting the earth below.  Warmed by the sun above, its thirst quenched by an ever present fog flowing off the Pacific Ocean and protected by the fortress itself, the life cycle goes on year after year, century after century.

But it could not long survive should the depth and strength of its tap root erode.  The spectacular heights it achieves brings with it the brutal battering of ocean driven gales and heavy laden snows the forces of which would surely topple it were it not for the persevering strength of its tap root.

The tap root of our democracy is the Constitution.  Without continual nourishment and obedience this very pillar of strength will surely wither and die.  And with its demise, so also will our country succumb to the ravages of decay and abuse.  Each entitlement delivered to our populous, each dollar we borrow to support our enormous debt, each regulation thrust upon ourselves, and every deviation from our Founding Father’s prescription for success, we chip away at our fundamental freedoms.

While we must provide for those unable to manage on their own, we must guard against building a system that encourages a high level of reliance on our government.  I fear in our zeal to stretch the boundaries of those we seek to protect, we may end up creating a nation of takers rather than providers.  And were that to happen our tap root will be no more and with little doubt also the very existence of our country will be in jeopardy.

 

Healthcare & Higher Education–Commonalities?

07 Sep

Ever wonder what Healthcare and Higher Education have in common?

First of all, they are essentials.  That is to say without them it is less likely that one will reach the pinnacle of their hopes and dreams.  Admittedly, there are those among us that can do very well without drawing on the benefits offered by one or the other or both of them.  But, for the most part it is nice to have them in our hip pocket as we traverse the trials and tribulations that life throws at us.

Secondly, the cost of each of these programs is skyrocketing.  More so than nearly all of the other budget items in our list of needs, or even desires.  Sure, the demand is growing but that isn’t the primary reason that their costs are spiraling out of control.

The third commonality between the two is–they are heavily financed and controlled by government.  In fact the Obama administration has moved heaven and earth to bring as much control as possible under his wing.  Whether it is Obamacare or his pirating Pell Grants and the like away from private industry, the results are the same.  Bigger Government.

These government takeovers give the green light to hike prices as high as they can possibly go…and with big government you can get away with a lot.  No longer does the consumer have the responsibility to ferrite out “the best deal possible.”  Just go along with the higher prices because Uncle Obama will be there to cushion the fall.

When is the last time you asked you physician how much a test or procedure will cost?  More likely you asked, “will by insurance cover it?”  That is if you even asked at all.

When was the last time you went over your doctor’s or hospital’s bill, line by line?  Or where you even given a detailed bill to peruse?

The more you let government control things, the further you get away from searching out the best deal or reviewing the mountainous paper work.  The bigger the government, the larger the amount of money changing hands, the less checking to see if the work was correctly charged or even done at all.

One other thing these two programs have in common.  That is the demand to raise more and more taxes.  And, with less money in your pocket, the harder it is for you to take on the responsibilities that are rightly yours, not the governments.

That may be the way Obama wants it to be, but it is not the way I want it to be.  How about you?

 

Can We Move Ahead By Stepping Back?

03 Sep

Sometimes it is necessary to step back and consider what has just transpired.  Now just might be such a time.

We’ve seen unemployment rise precipitously, drop back ever so slowly and now come to a complete standstill.  During this time our illustrious leaders have gone on the biggest spending binge of all time.

President Bush kicked things off by trying to stabilize the money changers that had grossly mismanaged lending in the housing market.  Some felt that a few of these firms were “too big to fail.”  Bush and company may have been right, but who knows?  He was presented with a set of facts painting a picture so horrifying that it seemed the entire world was on the edge of total financial destruction.  Worse, he was given virtually no time to step back and look at a broader set of possible approaches.

Throwing all that money at the banks may have worked to stabilize the market place, but it came about because the banks hoarded the money rather than spread it around to those facing a mortgage nightmare.  Would a step back have generated a better solution?

Then along comes President Obama.  He certainly had plenty of time to step back and develop a plan to address the problem.  But did he?  Well if he did it certainly wasn’t evident.  He went on a spending binge that made Bush look like a tightwad.  Actually it wasn’t a binge at all since a binge by definition assumes a short duration.  His spending spree has gone on and on and on.

Maybe even worse, he gobbled up car companies, plunged headlong into a maze of healthcare issues,  attempted to legalize future supporters, tried to make unionization almost a mandatory requirement for businesses, and a whole host of regulations that smothered man and beast alike.  Indeed, if he stepped back at all the result shows quite clearly that the man is nothing more than a manure machine spewing forth redistributive initiatives galore.

The Tea Party has forced politicians of all ilk to at least stagger to a halt.  Some politicians have already stepped back and come forth with some logical solutions.  Solutions founded on solid economic principles, not Keynesian dogma.

Continuing pressure will be required to wrest the damage done by Obama and then reverse the tide of his spending tsunami.  A step back may very well be the way to move ahead in a way toward fiscal solvency.

Let not us wait a moment longer to push back against the spending snowball crashing down the hill of American history and “transform” this great nation back into the economic giant it once was.

 
 

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