Tag Archives: congress

Pitching the Vote

As we head into the big election week for the congressional midterms, the media is all aflutter trying to predict the outcome well in advance of actual voting. This is ostensibly in keeping with a trend of trying to be the first media outlet to accurately announce the winners. I think it is more than that, however. I believe that the media—ever so left leaning—is trying to use the cover of prognostication to actually effect the election results.

It is human nature to want to be on the winning side in any contest. No one wishes to be associated with a losing team, or losing effort, and those who find themselves in this unenviable position often try to distance themselves from the team to avoid embarrassment. If a candidate is predicted to win, this prediction may actually swing undecided voters to support the candidate based on their chances of winning, rather than voting for a candidate that more closely aligns with the voter’s ideology.  No one wants to vote for the losing side.

Look for numerous ads paid for by campaigns and political action committees designed to sway voters, but also, be on the lookout for articles run in newspapers, magazines and on TV that ostensibly are trying to cover the race, but are actually casting one side or another in a negative light—even if it is only saying something banal such as “this campaign is struggling with funding” or “this campaign is x number of points down in polls.” Those supposed news stories are nothing more than attempts to get voters to vote against those campaigns by painting them as losing propositions.

Also, look for stories that tout as successes that which has previously been panned as failure. An article on Yahoo from Business Insider this morning praised the successes of Obama Care even though it is pretty much recognized as an abysmal failure by both parties. The article says that it is a success because more people have insurance than had it before. It doesn’t mention any of the controversial issues that have arisen from the measure.

The most egregious issue with campaign ads are the blatant lies and obfuscations that campaigns issue during the elections. One candidate has taken an opponent’s words on abortion out of context to make it appear as if he supports rape. Ridiculous. Another ad for another candidate tries to intimate that the opponent would be a bad representative because he made millions as an insurance salesman. I’m sorry, but I think a person who earns millions of dollars in their job is a success and would probably make a pretty good representative. If he were running in my district, I’d vote for him.

People have been calling for campaign reforms for decades. Unfortunately, this will never happen. The first amendment provides for free speech and, aside from some case law that prohibits out-and-out lying, a candidate can say pretty much whatever they want in an advertisement and can buy as much air time as they can afford. What this means for you and me is that we get deluged in political advertising from TV, radio, internet, mail, email, and even phone calls from all directions until election day filled with some of the most inflammatory statements of dubious veracity ever imagined.

I would love to recommend a law prohibiting such commercials, but again, it is provided in the first amendment and I am an unrepentant supporter of the constitution and the bill of rights. The only way to combat this onslaught of lies is through education. Research the candidates and find out through their voting record what is fact and what is fiction. Caveat emptor applies to the electorate. Do not blindly accept the advertisements of political candidates any more than you would blindly accept a salesman’s pitch. But also, do not listen to the news media telling you who will win. You determine who will win only when you vote.

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Citizen Who?

There is an important discussion in progress that promises to inform the debate and be a hinge pin in the midterm elections next year continuing to the presidential elections in 2016.  Immigration reform has been a topic in the public sphere for several years now, decades, even, but no one has really driven the issue to the forefront until this administration.  The left has been crying over what they perceive as a wrong that needs to be righted while the right decries the move as nothing more than an attempt to drum up more democrat-leaning voters.  While there are salient arguments to be made both ways, the underlying issue has nothing really to do with immigration or reform.  It has to do with something much more fundamental and much more important to the American way of life.  It has to do with rights and responsibilities.  It has to do with the foundational tenants of political affiliation.  It has to do with what it means to be American.  It boils down to one word: Citizen.

The Seattle Office of Civil Rights last week issued a policy letter to the city workers striking the word citizen from all official documents and replacing with the word with “resident.”  They claimed that the word “citizen” was offensive to residents who were living there without citizenship.  This is part of a larger language guidance that removes the words dinosaur and birthday among many others from official documents for the same “offensive” concern.  This is the most egregious case of political correctness run amuck to date.

The Eugene, Oregon city council in 2011 voted down a measure that called for reciting the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of all council meetings.  While many opponents claimed the words “Under God” violated their understanding of the separation of church and state, Councilman George Brown said that said that he did not feel any allegiance to the country, but rather to the world.

Is a citizen an integral component of controlling government, or does government exist to control the citizen?  This begs the question: what does it mean to be a citizen?  If you ask the average person on the street you might get answers like “to be born in the country” or “someone who pays taxes.”  These seem like good answers on the surface, but that is the point.  They are superficial.  They are easy to spit out and don’t require any thought.  But if you look deeper, there is a significant difference to how the word can be defined, and that difference, not surprisingly, can be drawn along the same ideological differences that separate liberals and conservatives.  Liberals tend to think that the citizen gives the government a reason for being; the citizen is dependent on the government for guidance and support.  Conservatives view citizenship as a duty to the greater good; that the citizen guides and supports the government.

This dichotomy is why compromise seems so hard to come by in politics.  The force behind any change in legislation is fundamentally opposed by the opposite corner.  When a politician from one side of the aisle reaches across to work with the other camp, they are accused of “selling out” and abandoning their principles.  This idea, while often harshly stated, is not far from true, but that is the definition of compromise.  No one wins the debate.  And as is true in so many polemic debates, there can be no clear winner.

So who wins in the citizenship debate?  Is a citizen an integral component of controlling government, or does government exist to control the citizen?  That is the idea that really drives the political debate and will continue to do so for as long as we have participatory government.  Once we lose the ability to debate, we have lost our government, our country and ourselves.  We would be a country of nothing but residents and no citizens.

Some conspiracy theorists have postulated that the Seattle initiative is related to the immigration reform “amnesty” that is before congress.  The thought is that if Americans come to believe that there is no such thing as citizenship, then “THEY” can come in and take over our country.  The “THEY” being socialists, communists or any other nondescript non-American entity.  While entertaining to consider, most people dismiss these allegations as extreme.  But as entertaining as it is, these theories are borne out of observation of real events and they are not all so farfetched as to be ignored.  The founding fathers warned that freedom requires diligence on the part of the citizen in watching the government, lest the freedoms so fiercely fought for would be willingly surrendered.  It would be so much easier to take the freedoms from residents than from citizens.

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Big Government Strikes Again

I sit this evening puffing on a new blend I found in a new pipe store my wife found. Smoking is not a new phenomenon. People have rolled or shredded tobacco leaves and burned them for hundreds of years. The widespread use happened after Christopher Columbus brought tobacco leaves and processes back to Europe from the Americas in the 1500s, but Native Americans had been cultivating tobacco for generations before that. The Indians used it for medicinal and ceremonial purposes and made elaborate pipes to smoke it. Of course, with anything good, human nature will find a way to make it bad—which is how the cigarette came into being as well as tobacco taxes.

As tobacco use increased, a huge industry grew out of what had been local farm-based businesses. Taxation soon followed and municipal revenues were soon dependant on the business. If taxation were still used only as a revenue stream, there would be no problems, but in today’s market it is no longer about money.

No one since the 1800s could reasonably believe tobacco held any true medicinal uses, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that the true health concerns came to light. Since then, there has been an active effort to force people to quit smoking. First it was public service announcements, then it was package labeling requirements, then they forced tobacco companies to stop TV advertising and then forcing them to use only text with no graphics in print ads. The results have been an unmitigated success. Cigarette sales have dropped by double-digit percentages since the new requirements. The antismoking lobby has even gotten Hollywood to stop putting product placements in movies and TV shows and cut down on the use of tobacco by the characters. Stars who smoke are regularly ridiculed by the media for setting a bad example for kids.

If cigarette smokers were the only people affected by these efforts, they would be the only people worrying about it. There are, however, other uses of tobacco that are affected by the antismoking lobby. The Indians created beautiful artistic pipes to smoke which is still a popular method of smoking. While cigarettes are the most common tobacco product, pipe tobacco is a distant cousin. The curing and manufacturing processes are quite different, as is the taste. Congress understood these differences for years and while they taxes cigarettes to near extinction, pipe tobacco was relatively ignored. Now, several liberal senators and congressmen have set their sights on all forms of tobacco with the Tobacco Tax Parity Act of 2010, known as HR 4439. Enacting this tax would raise taxes on pipe tobacco 775 percent.

Now, to be fair, I do not smoke cigarettes and I would shed no tears if they banned cigarettes altogether. But I do enjoy my pipes. I have several and I enjoy different blends of pipe tobacco. I am not at all happy about the prospect of paying $2 more for an ounce of tobacco. I would, however, gladly pay it if it was anything other than a liberal ploy to interject government into my private life. We do not need “Big Brother” telling us what to do in our homes, especially when it is something that has existed legally and was supported by the government for more than 200 years.

If we do not reign in big government, they will regulate every aspect they can. The liberals believe they know what is best for the people and will legislate our freedoms away if we let them. Even if you do not smoke, even if you rightfully believe you should not be subjected to second-hand smoke, it does not mean that smokers should not be able to smoke in their homes and in appropriate public places where smoking is limited. This matter should be left up to local city councils or at the most, state governments—not federal laws and not the IRS. Contact your congressman and tell them to vote No on HR-4439.

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But Is Reid Wrong?

Racism is generally considered a bad thing. If you poll most Americans, they will tell you that they do not support racism or racist views. If you consult leading media experts they will denounce racism as cutting the very underpinnings of a society based on equality for all. While there are many who do embrace a racial bias, whether because they truly believe in any racial superiority or simply because that is the way they were raised, most people do think that everyone should have the same rights regardless of the color of the skin.

Having said that, there is a difference in the color of skin.

We are not all made up the same way. We are not all carbon copies of one another and to ignore the differences that do exist is foolhardy. We all make decisions and judgments based on any number of factors, and yes, one of those factors is color. We may not want to—we may deny that we do, but all the same, there it is. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has been raked over the coals for remarks he made during the 2008 Obama campaign. He asserted that Obama only got elected because he is a light-skinned black man who does not speak with an ethnic dialect.

His actual words were: ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Horror of horrors! How dare he say that! Not about Obama!

How about the fact that every word he spoke was the truth? Barak Obama would not have gotten elected if he looked or spoke like Flavor Flav. But it is not just a racial issue. No person would get elected if that person did not speak with articulate eloquence that indicates intelligence. Even George W, who admittedly is not the brightest bulb in the pack, did not speak like a hick redneck when running for office. If you aspire to high public office, you cannot speak with any dialect that belies ignorance, whether you’re black, white, brown, yellow or purple.

Many black (African American) people have thrown their hats in the presidential ring over the years, but none of them managed to garner their party’s nomination. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson regularly attempt to run, but fail to get very far. Obama pulled it off because he did not speak with any hint of an ethnic dialect. During the campaign, some in the black community accused him of selling out—of talking like a white man in order to get elected. This is true—and not. He didn’t talk like a “white man,” but then again, he didn’t talk like many black men. He spoke the English language the way it was meant to be spoken. He used the language properly, something that many people have forgotten how to do. That is not denigration, it is a compliment. I do not like Obama as president—he did not have enough experience for the job (a fact that is being borne out by this mess of an administration)—but I like that he is intelligent and articulate. He speaks with purpose and clarity. He does not muddle his sentences with mindless rhetoric or inane colloquialisms. He is a great public speaker.

Not a great president, but a great speaker.

If he were not as good a speaker as he is, he would not have gotten elected. It is as simple as that. That is what Harry Reid said during the campaign and that is what he is apologizing for.

Now, I am a conservative Republican so it may come as a surprise that I do not think Reid should be fired. Of course, the GOP just wants a shot at filling his vacated seat if he were fired, so that is understandable. The democrats, however, are closing ranks around Reid saying that he didn’t mean any harm by his comments, that he meant it as a compliment. Obama says he didn’t mind the remark and he accepted Reid’s apology and wanted to put the whole incident behind him.

Should he have apologized in the first place? If so, why? He spoke the truth. What is wrong with stating the obvious?

There is too much emphasis on being “politically correct” and “racially sensitive” these days. People are afraid to speak their minds for fear of offending someone. Even the movie “Avatar,” a fantasy film set in the future in a foreign planet, has been targeted as being racially insensitive. Get a grip people! If you are not white, it does not mean that everyone is out to insult you. People are too sensitive these days. We need to develop thicker skin and let things slide. It’s not all about race. Heck, we have a black (almond mocha?) president, so stop playing the race card and focus on the issues and problems facing this country.

Judge Obama by his actions and his policies. He may be a bad president, but he is a great speaker. Look past the color of his skin and if you do, you will see Harry Reid was entirely correct. Obama is a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect.’

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How Much For That Vote In The Window

The biggest political debacle with the most potential social impact is well under way and could affect every American when it is enacted. Health care is a hot button topic in this Democratic-majority government in which we find ourselves. The socialist-leaning democratic party under control of uber-socialist, ultra-left Pelosi and Obama have force-fed their agenda to the American public for the past year and many who voted for them are finally waking up to the realization that they made a mistake. Even the democratic congress is fracturing under the strain of a ultra-left administration.

In order to push their issue through the senate and the house, Obama and senate majority leaders have used several tactics to garner the votes needed to over-ride republican attempts to block the legislation. In the end, these tactics worked as several democratic hold-outs changed their votes to support the measure, despite their well-justified concerns about its impact. Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Ben Nelson of Nebraska all initially indicated their intention to vote against the measure, but changed their mind at the last minute after constant haggling with party leadership.

Now, ideally the political system is designed to have individuals represent a group of people who live in a state in this country. This is to simplify the voting process. Senators are supposed to enact the will of their constituents in government. They are to vote as their districts wish in all things. The same holds true of the House. But in both cases, it is exceptionally rare that the will of the people is actually considered in voting. Many Americans have grown quite cynical about the process and consider all politicians crooks.

A comic strip set it into perspective this way: you are a die-hard sports fan and you always support your team. You root for them all the time and cheer loudly for them during games. I offer you $1000 dollars to root for this other team just once. You say ‘hey, it’s a thousand bucks and I can still root for my team next week. Besides the outcome of this game is pretty much set, so my cheering won’t make the difference. Sure, why not, just this once, root for the other guy.’ This is the modern political scene. Never mind that you have forsaken your team. Never mind the fact that you just sold your vote; you got a thousand bucks.

Ben Nelson sold out his constituents of Nebraska in order to appease party leadership. Maybe just so they could be home for Christmas, but we will never know everything that the dems used to entice these senators to sell out their states; suffice to say it must have been a good deal. The only way we can prevent this kind of force-fed legislation is to put people of character who remember where they come from and who put them into office in the first place.

Calling your senator or congressman is one step in getting your vote considered, but in the end, those we elect will cast their votes their way. Think about this when casting your vote in the senate, congressional and presidential elections. Only vote for those who remember the mandate written into our founding principles: Of the People, By the People and For the People.

On a side note, has anyone asked of Obama and the Dems what the rush is? Why is it so crucial that this measure be passed now? Why can they not publish a fully detailed plan written in simplified language so that everyone can read it before calling for a vote? It is simple. This plan is not just about health care. It is either so loaded with pork-barrel items or it is masking a law that the Dems know the American people won’t support that they want to hide it in this legislation. It is a tried and true ploy of misdirection. Make a big fuss with the left hand so that no one knows what the right hand is doing. The sad fact is that we won’t know what our politicians voted in until it is too late. We can only hope that once these mongrels are finally voted out of office, that we can undo the damage they are about to enact.

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Someone Call For A Doctor?

The time is coming when getting health care will be a simple and inexpensive matter. No matter your illness, you will find the proper treatment, with affordable care and the finest doctors. All you have to do is sign off on this new plan put forward in congress. It is so simple, how can anyone disagree with it?

Well, for starters, there is an old adage: you can’t get something for nothing. There is another one that goes along the idea of “you get what you pay for,” but you get the gist. Healthcare is not an inexpensive proposition. In fact, it is one of the costliest expenses anyone can face. Child birth for example costs in excess of $6000 just for the hospital bill alone. This doesn’t include the sundry items that go along with it or the cost for complications with the delivery. A C-section can double that charge. Doctors charge for their time as well. Doctors earn on average anywhere from $200,000 to $700,000 a year depending on their specialty and expertise.

Do they deserve it? That is a blog for another time, but the short answer is yes. You go through eight or more years of college and then work almost 24 hours a day as an intern while learning your job and see how much you charge for your time. But they do not always get what they earn. Insurance companies force doctors to accept less than the amount they bill. It is like the Wal-Mart mentality. Buy in bulk and you can name your price. Insurance companies have thousands of clients that need care. If the doctor wants these patients, they have to accept a smaller amount per patient in order to get the volume.

This is where insurance companies get their power. We hire them to pay our medical bills for us. They negotiate a rate that is much more affordable than we would otherwise have to pay. But the trick is that they don’t actually pay a whole lot when you average it out over their client list. Only 40 percent of us will visit a hospital or ER this year, yet we all pay our insurance premiums. Some of us go a lifetime never stepping foot in a health care facility. This is money the insurance company banks. It is straight profit. They don’t actually want anyone to go to the hospital so they can bank more premiums without having to actually pay a medical bill. They also deny coverage whenever they can to maximize their profit. This is where the problem begins. They are a business after all, and businesses exist to make money.

People hate being told “no” to medical care. Seeing someone ill or dying is a tragedy that no one wants to bear and it is made worse when they do not have medical coverage. Very few people can afford medical care on their own. Why? See paragraph one. Why is it so expensive? Education is not cheap, nor is research and development of procedures, equipment and medicine. Yet society is under the impression that everyone is entitled to medical care, no matter if they can pay for it. It is like they think it is a basic human right.

Nothing is farther from the truth. Medical care is expensive and rightfully so. Before the advent of modern medicine, people died by the thousands from things we today cure with a pill. A doctor is a businessman who performs a service. He or she deserves some compensation for their service. Should we expect that they render their service with no pay? Should we expect a plumber to fix our pipes when we cannot afford to pay them? Of course not. If we think the plumber charges too much, we can shop around for a cheaper one. You can do the same with your doctor. It’s economics. Sure it is tragic when someone dies, but there is no government regulation or law guaranteeing a stop to death. Nor is there a guarantee to good healthcare. Nowhere in the constitution does it say all citizens are entitled to health care.

The liberals think otherwise. They are under the impression that the first order of business is ensuring that everyone has medical coverage. This seems like a good idea on the surface. Sickness and death are bad things and we as a society should do what we can to mitigate bad things. But since health care is so expensive, how do we provide care to those with no money? Who shall pay for it? You? Me? That is the root of the debate. Since liberals think that the government coffers are filled with an endless supply of money, they love the idea of putting health care on the government dole. Our tax dollars will pay for every person to have health care, no matter that in reality less than 17% of US citizens are uninsured or underinsured. That 17% will drive our taxes up and raise the cost of healthcare for everyone.

What can the government do? Force doctors to charge less? That will drive people out of the medical profession. No one will want to make the investment in education if they are looking at a federally mandated capped income. Those who do become doctors will be the equivalent of the lowest bidders for a contract; probably not the best people to be poking around inside you. How about if the government just monitors the health care plan? That would be worse than an HMO. The federal government would be denying treatments left and right and letting people wither and die while they or their family file appeals.

Should everyone have access to health care? Sure. Should someone pay for health care? Of course. More than 83% of us have health insurance the majority of which is paid for in most cases by our employers. Simple idea that: want insurance—get a job. No job? No insurance. Sad situation to be in to be sure, but just because you get laid off or fired doesn’t mean that everyone else should pay for your health care. Consider it motivation to get a new job, or a better job.

Is the health care system in our country perfect? Far from it. Does it need reform? Sure, why not; let’s make some changes. Health care should be a simple and inexpensive matter. No matter your illness, you should expect the proper treatment, with affordable care and the finest doctors…in a perfect world. We cannot just say that the federal government is the best entity to manage our health care and be done with it. Medicine is and should remain a private business. This ensures that doctors and patients can continue to expect privacy in their dealings and that the doctors can make their assessments and diagnosis and treatment plans without government interference. Government has no business in the treatment room. Remember, this is the same government that pays $700 for a toilet seat. They cannot make our healthcare system work any better than it is now. They will probably make it worse.

This matter is before congress now. Many senators and representatives have spoken out against this bill, but the proponents still insist on hammering it home to get it passed before Christmas. In my next blog, I will discuss these flip floppers. Stay tuned.

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