Tuesday, January 31, 2006

NOLA West 

NOLA Hasn't Quite Cornered The Market On Stupid Politicians

Here's the quote in the San Francisco Chronicle:
"I think it is just insane that we would be building houses below sea level"
Was this a quote from some Bush Administration official? Maybe from some Libertarian trying to save us some government dollars? Perhaps it's from a FEMA disaster official concerned about us repeating mistakes.

No, it was by, "Mathias Kondolf, who is organizing a conference on delta development this spring at UC Berkeley, where he is an associate professor of environmental planning", in response to this statement:
"It's like comparing a brand new Mercedes with a horse cart," said Rebecca Willis, Oakley's director of community development. "Levees today are structurally sound. Levees built 100 years ago were not."
Oakley? Where the hell is Oakley? It's right down the road from where I live. It's a small bedroom community. Apparently, they want to increase their tax base by any means available.

Here's the problem: Most of the levee's in this region are old, probably at least a hundred years old. In the past two years, we've had two significant breaches to the east of us. Suddenly, planted fields were under 10 feet of standing water.

One good thing, I guess, is that in order to buy residential real estate where you are borrowing money for the purchase, you must get a flood certification for the property. If it's in a flood zone, you must get flood insurance (at least here in California). If it lapses, the lender has the ability to force-place the insurance. At least FEMA (that means you and me, taxpayer) won't have to foot the bill if someone's house gets swept away.

I just don't understand why someone would knowingly purchase a home that was below sea-level. I guess if the price is right, people will do pretty near anything. And we know government is a whore for a new buck or two...


Help Mad Mikey 

This will stay on top thru January

Mikey is making progress, but his family needs help. Emotionally and financially. Please help out with both. Click here to help. A little bit from a lot of people will go a long ways.



Monday, January 30, 2006

Another Reason To Leave 

This State is an armpit

The Nanny Staters in the California Environmental Protection Agency have, for all intents and purposes, succeeded in banning cigarette smoking in California.
The ruling by the Board now places secondhand tobacco smoke in the same category as arsenic, benzene, and diesel exhaust. Thus, in California at least, secondhand smoke is now considered a "toxic air contaminant" under state law. This new classification could lead to even tighter restrictions on smoking in what is already the nation's toughest state in terms of anti-smoking laws.
Now realize, I'm a former smoker, so I know the evils of smoking. It is a horrible addiction that took me over 24 years to shake. Starting and stopping smoking were my choice, because I'm an adult. To place second hand smoke into the same category as diesel exhaust is simply ludicrous. It is just another step in Nanny's forward march to run every aspect of our lives.

That's The People's Republic for ya.

I'm just curious how these fucktards running this asylum will pay for anything. All of the people that actually earn a taxable income are leaving the state. They're right behind the businesses that have already left. The tax revenue from cigs is drying up. I'm sure they'll try and ban alcohol next, 'cause that shit is just pure poison.

There have long been jokes about how California will snap off from the mainland and disappear into oblivion during the next big earthquake. That's not going to be necessary. The People's Republic is going to shrivel up and die of it's own ineptitude long before that.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

If You Can't Beat 'Em 

Kiss Their Ass

Some of you non-Californians may remember all of the hub-bub when we had a recall election for our governor, Gray Davis. Arnold Schwarzenegger came in and "terminated" Gray and became our guv. It was a good time for those of us that were tired of Davis' tax-and-spend policies that were driving us further and further into the hole.

Arnold promised us a change.

And change we had. He fought the Special Interest groups. He got the state deficit identified and patched up. I really felt that he had us going in the right direction.

Then, it all began to unravel.

It started with the special election that was held this past November. Arnold had placed 4 propositions on the ballot. Propositions that would help rein in special interests (primarily the teacher's unions) and make the state act fiscally responsible (I know: what a concept!).

Arnold got his ass handed to him on a platter.

All four propositions went down in flames. None were even really close. He did virtually no campaigning for these items, and the labor unions, in particular, spent tens of millions of dollars.

So, instead of licking his wounds, picking his ass up from the curb and planning his revenge, he has caved in. Badly. For all intents and purposes, he has become just another Democratic tax-and-spend politician.

But it's not all bad. People are beginning to like him again. For a price.
The uptick in numbers reflects public support for the governor's two main policy proposals this year: a budget that spends extra revenue and does not raise taxes, and a $222 billion investment in infrastructure over 10 years.
Now isn't that special?! $222 billion. With a "B". That's a lot of commas and zeros. The neat trick is the part about no tax increases. I wonder how you go about issuing new bonds with no new funding source to pay for them.

California has the worst credit rating of any state in the union (bar none), so the bonds involved with this "investment" are going to cost us a left nut. Maybe the right one, too. Unless we invoke steep spending cuts (ROTFLMAO - this is The People's Republic of California, we don't do stuff like that), there is absolutely no way to accomplish this dream. But we Californians sure like the idea of it.

Personally, in a couple of years, I'll be able to view the collapse of this state from next door in Nevada. It will be a melancholy moment, watching the state where I was born and raised, going down the tubes. But we (they) will have no one to blame but ourselves (themselves).

Way to go, Arnold. I like a guy who sticks to his principles. I'd sure like to see one running this state.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fat Ass Nanny 

"Nanny, oh Nanny. Tell me what to do...."

A supervisor in my county of residence is proposing a policy whose goal is, "to protect the children". As I've said before, whenever a politician says they want to protect children, increase public safety or protect the environment, you need to prepare for a good old fashioned reaming. This case is no different.
Alarmed by rising rates of childhood obesity and the disease it often brings, a Contra Costa County supervisor who also owns a restaurant wants to limit the number of fast-food joints in the county.

"Childhood obesity is really, I believe, an epidemic in this country," he said.
Where do these politicians get the idea that part of their job is to limit the availability of legal goods to their constituents? In recent times, we've seen it with cigarettes, candy and sodas in public schools, self-defense weapons and proposals by the FCC to limit access to content on pay TV.

I thought the welfare of a child was the responsibility of his or her parents. If this passes, where does it end? Should they be able to tell you what kind of video games your kid can buy? Should they be able to tell you what kind of movies they can attend? Should they be able to tell you what type of music they can buy?

Oh, wait. Nanny has already placed those limits on parents, and we didn't even blink an eye. Our power-grabbing public servants simply see this as another chance to flex their political muscle. We need to kick these idiots to the curb and put them back in their place. We tell them what to do, not the other way around.

For my part, I'll be firing off a letter to this pinhead, and I'll be attending the next Board of Supervisors meeting. I've gotta walk-the-walk....


Friday, January 20, 2006

You Reap What You Sow 

Bend over, you socialist scum

I've written quite often about the Capital of the People's Republic of California. Of course, I speak of San Francisco.

I've written about their labor troubles. I've written about their gun control troubles. I've written about their business-flight troubles. I've written about their asinine tax codes troubles. I've written about their residents-flight troubles. I've written about their pissing away tax dollars coddling the professionally homeless troubles.

Well, some of the first tangible manifestations of the City's socialist policies are here. Because everyone is leaving San Francisco in droves, they suddenly have a "wealth" of school space. Space that used to be filled with kids.
San Francisco Unified School District officials say they have lost 800 to 1,000 students every year for the past five years, a trend expected to continue for the next five years. The board and district staff agree they cannot continue to operate the same number of schools with such a severe drop in the student population.
Now, for some cities, that may not be that big of a deal. But San Francisco is a small place. It's only 49 square miles and holds about 750,000 residents. Since 1998, SF has lost nearly 7,000 students. At over $10,000 per student, that represents a loss of at least $70 million in state allocations, each year from 1998 levels!

The school district is trying to save money by closing schools.
The 26 schools were chosen by district staff because they have fewer than 250 students and use less than 75 percent of their building capacity. The seven-member elected board was charged with deciding which schools from that list should actually close or merge in June.
Wow, what a concept. Close or merge the schools that are grossly underutilized and inefficient. Of course, the race baiters and socialists come up with their usual tripe.
"To target the same community we did last year is not right," said board member Mark Sanchez, who tried unsuccessfully Thursday night to, once again, delay the school closures.

Tiona Mitchell, 18, a senior at International Studies Academy who lives in the Western Addition, said it was unfair that so many predominantly African American schools were targeted.

"I think it's unsafe,'' Mitchell said. "We want to stay in the communities we live in and grew up in. They (the board) don't understand because they don't live near us. They live in nice neighborhoods."

Hey Tiona. If your parents had given a shit about you, perhaps they would have bettered themselves and you, too, could be living in one of those, "nice neighborhoods". It's a pity your government subsidized housing in the Western Addition projects has gone to hell and your school is under-used.

A hat-tip, though to some of the blacks that are feeling abused. They're actually doing something! Instead of waiting around for Nanny to tell them what to do, they're taking the bull by the horns, so to speak:
Omar Khalif, a resident of Bayview-Hunters Point with four children in the schools, told The Chronicle he is helping organize a withdrawal from the schools by African American families [Why not all families? To do otherwise would be racist, would it not? Ed.]. He said the children would instead go to charter schools, private schools and schools run by African American churches.
That's exactly what I did with my kids. At the time when my boys were in elementary school, we moved them to private parochial school. We could not afford it at the time (in fact, I was unemployed for a portion of the time, and under-employed for a good deal more), but we saw the alternative - public schools - as being unacceptable, so we scrimped and saved and did without so our kids could have a better life. Good on ya, Omar, for at least taking a stab at it.

Anyway, the consequences of the socialist policies of San Francisco have come home to roost. You cannot continue with the tax-and-spend policies, and expect people to take it forever. The accountability for spending is non-existent. I've got horror stories I tell about watching 5 Public Works employees take 4 hours to put up a single traffic sign on a downtown street corner.

The people with the money will leave, and never come back. What you will have left is this empty shell, full of angry people that are used to having all of their needs taken care of, but no funding source to keep them sated. It sounds like a recipe for disaster.

It is. But the leaders in San Francisco continue to be tone deaf to the evils of socialism, and are doomed, I fear, to the same end result as was experienced in the former Soviet Union. It won't be pretty.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

What Price Liberty? 

Consider the alternative

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
---Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.
This oft repeated quote from Benjamin Franklin is truly one of my favorites. To me, it summarizes the attitude and actions of our Founding Fathers. These people laid it on the line, risking life, liberty and personal wealth.

I think it is about courage, more than anything else. The sentence makes it clear that liberty is not something to be taken lightly. That liberty has a price. It makes it equally clear that Franklin believes the price is worth the risk. I concur with those sentiments.

It troubles me, then, when I hear people defending certain actions of our government.
"You shouldn't mind the [wiretap, DUI checkpoint, warrantless search, etc] if you have nothing to hide."

"If the [FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA, etc.] needs to snoop in our email and it will help catch Bin Laden, I say let them do it. I want my kids to grow up. I don't want to bury them after another 9/11."

"These people [terrorists] want us all dead. DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?! If the President needs to bend the rules a little to keep us safe, I'm OK with that."
A lot of people I respect very much, hold these general views. I want to ask them, WWJD (What Would Jefferson Do)? What would Washington do? What would Adams do? What would Franklin do?

What has become of our pride, of our spirit, of our courage? I truly believe that honor and principle are ideals worth dying for. Isn't that what this war against terror is all about? About standing up for our principles and not letting the Islamofascists force theirs upon us?

If the war is about that, then how can anyone justify subordinating our principles to defeat an enemy that is attempting to do just that - subordinate our principles to theirs? Isn't this a time when adherence to principle should be paramount?

We're fighting for the soul of our country and our way of life. I would ask my friends that call for even minor diminutions of our standards, of our Bill of Rights, to rethink their position.

Does not liberty have value?


Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Has this administration no remaining national pride?

According to a story in the Washington Times, we've been invaded. More than 200 times since 1996. Huh?
Mr. Seper reports that: "The U.S. Border Patrol has warned agents in Arizona of incursions into the U.S. by [heavily armed] Mexican [military units]... 'trained to escape, evade and counterambush' if detected..."
Well, well, well. Let's just send down a division or so of Rangers or Marines and do some serious ass-kicking, right?

Not, quite....
The Border Patrol also cautioned its agents to keep "a low profile" to use "cover and concealment" in approaching the Mexican military units, "to employ shadows and camouflage to conceal themselves and stay as quiet as possible."
Where were the orders to suck their thumbs and whimper quietly in the dark?

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

How about we give them instructions on how to call in an F-16 attack. Maybe a little cluster/carpet bombing just to clean things up.

What has happened to "the spine" of this administration? Are they so beholden to business interests and the Mexican government, that they are actually turning their backs on a foreign government incursion on our soil? Now that their backs are turned, they simply need to grab their ankles to finish the act.

My God, these guys make me proud to be an American...


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mad Mikey 

Send a Prayer and Cash If You Can

Many of you know Mad Mikey. He's a blogger down in the San Diego area. He's the one that talked me into starting this site. He's been having some problems with his kidney function, but things seemed OK.

Well, they're not.

Mikey had a stroke this weekend, and it sounds like it was pretty bad. Pressure on the brain, the whole shootin' match. He's only 38 years old.

Da Goddess is keeping updates both on her site, and on Mikey's site. They're trying to get his mom flown out here from Colorado. If you can help with some cash, contact Da Goddess through her site.

God bless and good luck, Mikey.


Chocolate NOLA 

The Silence Is Deafening

Pinhead extraordinaire and Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, has stepped in the dung again. Nagin, during a Martin Luther King Day rally stated:
"We ask black people ... It´s time for us to come together. It´s time for us to rebuild — the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," Nagin said Monday. "This city will be a majority African American city. It´s the way God wants it to be. You can´t have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn´t be New Orleans"
Let's recap: The mayor of a major American city makes a blatantly racist comment. He makes said racist comment at a celebration of the life of the man who commented, "content of his character, not the color of his skin". He also makes a Pat Robertson-esque comment that he knows what God wants.

And where is the outcry from the black community? Hello Jesse Jackson! Hello Al Sharpton! Hello Julian Bond! Hello Bruce S. Gordon (President and CEO of NAACP)!

I hear nothing but the chirpping of crickets.

At least when Pat Robertson popped off about Sharon in Israel, the American religious community slapped his silly ass down to the curb. Nothing of the sort is happening when a minority makes a blatantly racist comment. Again.

And these clowns wonder why no one takes them seriously any more....


Monday, January 16, 2006

MLK Day 

A Lone Voice?

MLK and I have something in common. No, I'm not a civil rights leader. We were born on the same day, exactly 30 years apart. So every year, I get a holiday day off for my birthday.

Each year, I tend to pay a little bit more attention to the throngs of Race Baiters that come out and spout how blacks are oppressed, never have a shot at making something of themselves, blah, blah, blah. Stuff like this:
Today [shortly after hurricane Katrina] I saw 5,000 African-Americans desperate, perishing, dehydrated, babies dying. It looked like Africans in the hull of a slave ship. It was ugly.
--the Rev Jesse Jackson
Or this:
You'’d have to go back to slavery, or the burning of black towns, to find a comparable event [again, hurricanene Katrina] that has affected black people this way.
--Darnell M Hunt, head of African-American studies at UCLA
Now, these quotes weren't said yesterday. They are just representative of what I expected to hear. So imagine my surprise when I heard a voice - a black voice - make statements like these:
But before the 1960s the kinds of behaviour so common among the blacks stranded in the Superdome, possibly including multiple rapes, was a fringe phenomenon. Only after the 1960s did it become a community norm.
--John McWhorter
I was watching the Talking Heads on Sunday, and clicked on Meet The Press. Tim Russert has on some guy that has written a number of books on MLK. There is a woman to talk about American Race Relations and some other guy, just identified as a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

After some chit-chat with the MLK author, Russert turns his attention to the woman:
Mr. Russert: Marian Wright Edelman, you picked up on that very theme in your book, "I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children." And then also you are working on a report which the Kansas City Star wrote about and it says that you gave a--excuse me--"a preview to a report on what she called the cradle-to-prison pipeline. She believes the non-level playing field exists for many African-American males from the day they're born. A black male born in 2001 has a 1-in-3 chance of ending up in prison. A black girl born the same year has a 1-in-17 chance, she said. `I want to get a debate going on the cradle-to-prison pipeline, the set of odds that are set in front of our black children. The most dangerous inter section of America is the intersection of race and poverty.'"


Oh great, I'm thinking. Russert is pitching up Racial Softballs. Give her one right over the middle of the plate, Tim....
Ms. Marian Wright Edelman: Well, we live in the richest nation on Earth and we let a child be born into poverty every 36 seconds. A majority of their parents are working, playing by the rules, cannot get jobs at decent wages that allow them to escape poverty.
I start yelling at the TV. The dogs cower under the couch. My wife begins worrying about me having a stroke.

I start with, "Do you know how you get decent wages? By getting an education and giving a shit about your future. You don't get it by sitting on your ass, waiting for the welfare check to show up."

She follows up with,
We let a child in the world's leading nation on health technology be born without health insurance; 90 percent of those children are born in families where they're working and playing by the rules. Their employers don't cover health care.
Where in the hell does it say our government is supposed to pay for health care? Where does it say their employers are supposed to pay for health care? This is nothing more than an extension of a lifetime of expecting Nanny to take care of all of their woes, and not taking responsibility for the direction of their own lives.

Ironically, my wife checks that she has my medical card number handy, as she is sure I'm about to "stroke out".

She goes on with "Blah blah poverty. Blah blah prison. Blah blah education." She has nothing but platitudes, with the underlying message being, "give us more money". I feel the throbbing vein in my forehead beginning to tear through my skin. She's gonna blow! Gratefully, she stops her blathering, and Tim turns his attention to this McWhorter fellow. I'm not hopeful.
Mr. Russert: John McWhorter, your new book, "Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis of Black America," has some quite interesting observations, and let me share one with our viewers. It says, "Young blacks started checking out of the work force in the 1960s when the economy was roaring. The unemployment problem among them barely moved for decades regardless of how the economy was doing. At the exact same time two things happened. One, rejecting mainstream norms became vibrantly fashionable in young America and in black America this often translated in a bone-deep wariness of `white' norms. Two, welfare became an open-ended opportunity led by people actively seeking people to bring them onto the rolls. From now on millions of poor blacks grew up in places where few people worked regularly and even fewer considered this especially unusual."


Huh? This guy, this black guy, is placing responsibility on blacks and welfare?! Get the paddles honey, because clearly, I've died and gone to heaven.
Dr. John McWhorter: Well, what I mean is that I see Dr. King's legacy being followed. And I think it's very important that we do it, but sometimes I worry that people follow it in ways that have questionable values.

So, for example, you look at the early '60s with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and you see people doing very serious work, such as Ms. Edelman in Mississippi. One of my favorite scenes is her standing up to Senator Stennis and telling him simply that he is wrong when he tries to claim that poverty legislation is some sort of fraud.

But you see something symbolic at that time because starting in the late '60s, SNCC starts being taken over by people who are more interested in the drama than in doing the hard work that the people who started it were interested in doing. And that sense of civil rights activism being about drama is our problem today because it means that an awful lot of people seem to think that it's important to say that we need a second civil rights revolution rather than teaching people who've been given a bad hand how to make the best of the worst.

And it seems to me that that particular kind of change becomes especially impenetrable in black America starting in the late 1960s. We're often told that the reason that, for example, the inner cities took such a hideous turn starting at about 1970 was because of the economy or because of racism in general.

Now, we certainly don't have a just society. But I think that those changes were not due to the things that we're often told. For example--very quick example, we're told that when factory jobs moved away from the city center, then it left people without opportunities to work, but we don't ask the questions. Once immigrants started coming in after the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, why wasn't the story that the immigrants were complaining that lower-class blacks were outcompeting them and grabbing the jobs that were available despite the factory jobs?

How come that didn't happen? Why is it that now it's often said that immigrants are taking over jobs from disadvantaged black people? These are complex questions, but I'm not sure that we're always taught to look for the answers that might be as constructive as I would prefer.

Well color me shocked, no pun intended. His premise that blacks need to help themselves and quit waiting for someone else to fix their problems, was like a slap in the mug to the other guests. By the end of the show, I swear Ms. Edelman wanted to knock the hell out of McWhorter (read the entire transcripts at this link - they start about half way down the page).

Of course, he's right. Whether you're talking about individuals, a slice of society, or an entire race, you can't expect an outside source to fix your problems. You have to take responsibility for your lot in life, and make the best of it. That act, all by itself, will encourage subsequent generations to see the value of hard work and self-determination, and they will strive to make themselves even better. Success breeds more success.

Hopefully, more blacks will listen to the likes of McWhorter than to Jesse Jackson. Bill Cosby instead of Al Sharpton.

Like MLK said, I have a dream....

By the way, take the time and read the article from which I gleaned the quotes from early in the post. It can really give you hope that blacks in America may slowly but surely be seeing the evils that welfare brings to their communities.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Cross Those Ts 

Quit yer whinin'

A big part of my job is making sure that my bank is in compliance with the myriad rules and regulations that are out there on banking. City, state, federal - they all want a piece of the action. I was reading the Federal Register this morning to get some clarification on a recently updated law.

Now, for those of you that have never read the Federal Register, DON'T DO IT unless you absolutely must. It is the public notice of laws or regulations that have been suggested or approved. The organizational structure of this document is, uhm, confusing, to say the least.

OK, it's a cluster-fuck that is damned near impossible to dig through. It's like a big-assed run-on paragraph. You get stuff from the Agricultural Marketing Service (WTF is that?!), followed by the Department of the Treasury, followed by the Department of Transportation. Hell, alphabetical would have been nice....

Not my point though. Sorry. My point was how normal people and government people regard money.

I was finally able to find my section and the part right after it had this notice:
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

[Government Banking Department] has determined that the requirements of this final rule will not result in expenditures by State, local, and tribal governments, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. Accordingly, a budgetary impact statement is not required under section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.
Translation: If our stupid-ass rule won't cost the private sector or non-federal governments at least $100 million to comply with, we don't have to tell anyone about it.

Further bigger picture translation: If it ain't at least $100 million, it's the "small-stuff", and we don't sweat that shit.

Think about what the cost of regulation is doing to this country. Some bureaucrat in DC can get a regulation approved, and if it adds $90 million in new costs to the private sector, tough shit. Deal with it. Oh, and shut the fuck up, while you're at it.

Of course, that is money that could have been used to hire new employees, or return to investors as dividends, or be loaned out to someone starting a new business. But it was spent making sure the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted.

Government efficiency at it's best.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Concierge Doctors 

It's all the rage, Madge!

I'm driving home last night, later than normal. It's late enough so I can hear my hero's radio program. His name is Gene Burns, and he's a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian. He was even the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate. Twice.

Normally, I'm home and in front of the tube or on the Internet by the time his show airs. As I mentioned, I was late last night, so I flipped on his show in my car. Oh, how I was disappointed.

Gene is on vacation this week. In his place, they've put on some screeching moonbat by the name of David Lazarus. I nearly puked.

His first issue was on some mundane topic, and I actually, partially agreed with him. Starting in his second hour, he had me screaming at the radio. His topic was Concierge Doctors.

What's that, you ask? It seems that some doctors have altered the fee structure with their practices. The doctor that he was interviewing has a practice of 3,000 people. He has notified all of them that it is just impossible for him to provide all of them with the high levels of care he requires of himself. To that end, he is now offering a new service, which allows certain patients - for a fee - to be guaranteed they will be seen by him, there will be no waiting, and their average visits will be extended so he is able to get a fuller picture of their health. He will also be available via cell phone, and email for these folks.

Those that want to participate must pay an annual retainer of $2400. Those that don't want this service will be seen by a nurse-practitioner. If he/she runs into a diagnostic wall, they will consult with the doctor.

So the doctor is letting economics help him manage his practice. He can't see so many patients and be effective, so he raises his rates to help "thin the herd". He could raise them on everyone, or give his patients an option. The option to pay more for more service.

What was Lazarus' response? The doctor was a racist, poor-people-hating, money-grubbing SOB that should be forced to provide the same level of care to all of his patients. Health care in America is a right.

In my rage, I still managed to make it home without running too many people off of the road. I jumped on my PC and fired off an email. It went something like this:
Health care is a right in America? Would you mind pointing out the amendment or the legal interpretation upon which you base this assertion?

I thought America was a free country. I thought it was based upon the capitalist economic system. I thought the doctor had the right to set his fees at whatever rate he chooses, just as the patients have the right to choose another doctor if they don't feel they're getting their money's worth. Or they could go to Canada and avail themselves of the socialized medical treatment that fine country provides. Just be sure to stay out of the way of those heading south to the US.... to get medical treatment.

To support anything else would be communism. 'Nuff said. Dumbass.
He continued to argue that doctors, for some reason, are held to a different economic standard than all other businesspeople. They can't price their services like a painter or a mechanic or a dentist. No, their practice must be regulated and controlled, "for the greater good". Whether you are the greatest doctor ever to step foot on the planet, or a C- graduate from the local University of Podunck, you both can only charge the same fee.

I wonder if Mr. Dumbass has noticed the decline in General Practitioners and the increase in "vanity" practices such as tummy tucks and breast lifts. Doctors Like Money, Too! Like anyone else, doctors want to be compensated for their skill, background and quality of product. They can make what they believe to be a proper wage by getting out of the government regulated (via Medicare, et al) practices, and going into the private payment fields.

Mr. Dumbass doesn't realize that regulating what a person can earn will reduce the pool of eligible practitioners to those people that can't get paid better elsewhere.

Yeah, I want Joe Average, MD, cutting my guts open...


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Can You Hear Me? Can You Hear Me Now? 

What a concept: Expect Results

I've made no bones about the fact that I think George W. Bush is a horrible president. Regardless of that fact, I think he handled the Katrina and other hurricanes as well as could be expected. My God, he declared a state of emergency two days prior to Katrina hitting land. I don't know what else he could have done. Some of his underlings screwed-the-pooch, but that wasn't the root cause of the problems.

As it should be, the preparedness burden falls on the state and local officials. They are responsible for the health and welfare of their citizenry, not the feds. Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagen were the ones that should have known the state of their respective jurisdictions. They were the ones that were responsible for emergency evacuations, housing and general care. Not Bush and the feds.

As such, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction that a recall petition has been started against Blanco. This blithering, blubbering idiot showed the courage of a mouse and the backbone of a worm. As an old boss of mine used to opine, "She was worthless as tits on a bull".

I don't know if the recall will succeed. Louisiana has an incredibly high standard to meet to even get the recall on the ballot (one third of registered voters must sign the petition). But maybe the message will get sent that we actually expect results from our elected officials.

Here in California, Gray Davis sure got the message. Hopefully Blanco will get the same one.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Rise of The Theocons? 

Dogma is a terrible thing to waste...
theocon (THEE.oh.kawn; TH as is thin) n. A conservative who believes that religion should play a major role in forming and implementing public policy.
I've had an email conversation with a conservative talk-show host here in the SF Bay Area (yes, Virginia, they do exist), and he proudly gives himself the title of Theocon. When he discusses smaller government, lower taxes, a strong military, and illegal aliens, I like what this guy has to say. When he strays into the social policy arena, we tend to part ways.

Our email discussion was about his show this morning. He said in one breath that Harry Belefonte should be tried for sedition or treason for venting his views about how the US sucked and how Bush was a crook. In his next breath, he was chastising Microsoft about pulling the plug on a blog of a Chinese dissident.

I noted the apparent contradiction, that in one instance he felt someone should have their views silenced (via jail), and in the other instance, was chiding a corporation when they silenced the views of someone on behalf of a foreign government. To his credit, he agreed with me.

I find it disturbing that this mindset - "Think like I do or go to jail (or worse)" - is becoming more and more prevalent among many conservatives. What is frightening is that it is just like the drivel coming out of the mouths of Osama bin Laden, Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. They all allow theology to drive their view on society (which is OK) and they desire to make those views into the law of the land (definitely not OK).

I can't understand how Fallwell and Robertson - life-long Americans - could have come to this political position. America has a strong tradition and basis in the belief that the individual can do as they please as long as those actions do not impose on the rights of others. See the 9th and 10th Amendments for clarification.

We've had this "morality creep" from the right-side of the aisle since the early 1900's. It seems to have really started with drug and alcohol consumption. Opiates, marijuana and cocaine were regulated, and we got our first drug smugglers. Prohibition created The Mob. Instead of allowing someone to ruin their own individual life, Nanny has taken on the job of saving all of our souls. It has resulted in a grotesquely bloated government that attempts to regulate every aspect of our lives. To our collective credit, not a single morality-based law has ever successfully ended the use or pursuit of the prohibited item. But that does not stop Nanny from trying.

What drugs you can take. Who you may marry. What TV content you can watch. What classes are taught in grade school. With whom a consenting adult may engage in sex. What music you can listen to. What guns you can own. What land you can keep. What places you can smoke cigarettes. How much alcohol you can distill. The list goes on and on.

And Theocons are OK with this.

I guess, just like my talk show host choosing what types of speech should be quelled, his fellow theocons will decide which parts of government are OK to be bloated. If they get their way, that is.....


Friday, January 06, 2006

Circle Jerk 

This lobbyist scandal involving Jack Abramoff is another snapshot at how politics are run here in America. Different River gives a very insightful and scary description of how lobbyists work and get funds into the hands of our elected leaders. Truly fascinating.

What has got my panties in a wad is how we keep hearing the guys that got busted - in this case Republicans, mostly - attempt to deflect the damage by saying, "Well, they (Democrats, in this case) did it, too!", as though by having both parties sullied somehow makes it right.

As I discussed yesterday, we are seeing the same thing happen with the spy scandal. One of the main Talking Points for the Republicans is that Carter and Clinton did the same thing.

Why is that even relevant? It's like say that it is OK that you murdered someone simply because it's happened millions and millions of times before.

I know why they do it, though. And the Democrats are just as guilty of this as the Republicans. They do it because it does deflect some of the damage to the reputation of those involved.

We've become so desensitized to scandal and graft and corruption, that it only catches our attention if it is somehow unique. Was this a lone wolf operation or a circle-jerk? We apparently are OK with circle-jerks, and the more, the merrier. "If everyone's doin' it, it can't be all that bad".

There are a few stand-up Republicans that are saying these guys must go. From all accounts, the White House has not attempted to hinder any of the investigations (personally, that sends up a red flag for me, but I'm jaded about this administration).

We'll see how this whole thing shakes out, but the lack of ethics in our elected officials is appalling. It is systemic. It is in the very core of our elected bodies.

Maybe this will excise some of the demons. I'm not optimistic.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

No Need For A Police State 

Baaaaaa Baaaaaa

One of my brothers came over this weekend and as usual, we got to talking about politics. We see eye-to-eye on most fiscal issues, race issues and smaller government issues. We part company on Bush and Iraq.

Our Battle Royale this time was over the spy scandal. He thinks it's OK the way Bush handled himself. He was doing it in defense of the country. Bull shit, I countered. Bush could follow the law and protect the country at the same time. We went 'round and 'round, with neither of us budging from our positions. He threw out the right-wing canard about Article Two powers. I asked him to send me the link that says the president can usurp American law. Ever. The only ones granted that power is Congress. Here's the relevant passage from Article Two, Section Two:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;
My bitch about this whole thing has been that Bush is trying to extend his powers into areas where they've never been before. Oh, my brother pointed out that Carter and Clinton had done the same thing. From what I read, they had authorized physical searches, which are covered by other statues. Regardless, if they had both broken the law as Bush has done, I say handcuff their asses, too. The three of them can share a cell and save us taxpayers a couple of bucks.

What is most disturbing to me is this continued acceptance of government encroachment on our liberties. "Keep me safe, and you can do whatever you want".

A recent article, What Police State?, further amplifies this troubling trend.

In it, the author chides liberals (and I guess us libertarians, too) for even suggesting we live in a police state. His whole premise is that as long as we don't have cops on every corner, what is everyone whining about? He provides what he believes to be all-proving examples of why we are not even close to a police state. What's absurd is that all of his examples are of people exercising their right to freedom of speech - one of our few explicit rights from the original Bill of Rights that hasn't been trampled upon.
If this were a police state, don’t you think that an officer whom Linda Evans had called a pig and a Klansman during the day would follow her home to Marilyn Buck in the evening? And if this were a police state, would the New York Times be revealing classified information with impunity? Would Senator Durbin liken our armed forces to genocidal monsters? Would Senator Kerry accuse our troops of terrorism? Would Howard Dean say that we are bound to lose the war in Iraq? If this were a police state, would liberals be allowed to call it a police state?
We've got 9 others from our original Bill of Rights. They haven't all fared nearly as well.

First Amendment: Bruised, but still functional. The religious freedom clause is constantly being debated, but on the whole, the First has remained pretty well unblemished.

Second Amendment: In differing stages of despair depending upon your state, but this one has been pretty well destroyed. Our right to keep and bear arms has been badly infringed upon, from the requirement to register your weapons, to the outright banning of handguns in some uber-liberal localities. If you doubt what I say, try and buy a gun and get a carry permit (which is oxymoronic considering the Second already provides that right) in San Francisco. Hell, try and get a permit anywhere in California, New York or in any of the other 13 states which do not have "must issue" laws.

Third Amendment: This one is wholly intact. I can recall no occurance of a homeowner being forced to house a soldier.

Fourth Amendment: "...against unreasonable search and seizure..." "...but upon probable cause..." "...supported by Oath or affirmation..." Pretty straight forward, but this has been totally dismantled. Not all of it has been done by Bush, but his administration has driven home the death nail with the Patriot Act. If his refusal to adhere to FISA when surveilling people in America is not strongly punished, we can kiss away any pretense of privacy we ever thought we had. And how could DUI checkpoints be considered anything BUT an unreasonable search? If you have no probable cause, you would have no reason to search. Yet Nanny sees fit to place the nebulous "public safety" above unprovoked searches by the state.

Fifth Amendment: Three fifths of this amendment are still intact (Grand jury for capital charges; Double jeopardy; Self-incrimination). The fourth leg has been seriously damaged,("...nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without the due process of law..."). Otherwise, how can you say it's constitutional to seize a person's property (primarily during drug raids), and when the person is found to be not guilty, having no requirement to replace the accused's property? The RICO statues are nearly as draconian as USA Patriot. The fifth and final leg of the amendment has all but been totally erased (...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation..."). How in God's name could any court in this land consider the state taking a person's property and selling it to another private entity as being "for public use"? Until this is overturned or new laws written, no one in America actually owns their property. The state does.

Sixth Amendment: This is in pretty good shape (right to a speedy trial, and the ability to confront witnesses testifying against you).

Seventh Amendment: Trial By Jury in Civil Cases is still very well intact.

Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual treatment laws and practices are very will intact.

Ninth Amendment: Construction of the Constitution. This one is the core of my libertarian belief system. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. The Constitution does not grant us rights, it limits the government in what it is allowed to do. I should be able to do whatever I wish, as long as that does not infringe on the rights of others. So simple, yet so foreign to most Americans. Virtually nothing left of this Amendment with the federal and state laws which control all aspects of our lives. The loss of this Amendment is the reason we are now Sheeple.

Tenth Amendment: Powers of the States and the People. This has been laughably destroyed. The federal government controls virtually every aspect of our lives. They are supposed to be our support, not our masters. For example, why should the federal government be able to tell a state what drugs can or cannot be used legally in their own state? Why would the feds even have a desire to control such a thing? Because it is not specifically granted to the feds in the Constitution, it by default becomes the purview of the state or the individual. Well, that's how it's supposed to be. Why would the feds try and intercede in the Shiavo case? It was clearly a spousal rights case with hundreds of years of precedent. It's pretty disgusting.

So where do we stand? Six of ten totally gone, or seriously undermined. Are we a police state? I'd say "No", but we are clearly heading down that slippery slope. More and more, people ask our government to run their lives, protect them from all evil, and let them know what they should see and hear over the airwaves.

We are indeed Sheeple and the government has become our shepherd. No need for a police state: We gladly do what we're told.

Update: Gunner, over at No Quarters provides his views on the Nanny State, which coincide with this rant, particularly on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Why does the government feel it has the right to intercede into the lives of consenting adults when the Constitution clearly states that all rights not granted to the State are automatically granted to the people? Did I miss the, "Drugs You Can Take" amendment?


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