Friday, July 31, 2009

Body Count

I recently saw an article reporting that the body-count of insurgents and combatants killed in Afghanistan is not published. The body-count of U.S. soldiers killed in action is also not published; even after admitting that the death toll has spiked. As a military strategy, I believe that is a very sound policy because if the number of our own killed and injured is blasted across the world stage, it might lower morale at home and lift up the enemies' morale.

And if only one of the enemy, who might have teetered on the edge of giving up, gains renewed impetus and kills a U.S. marine, that blood rests on those who sought a story above life in a time of war. Look it up, it has a specific definition.

Remember how the media with great fanfare tracked the flag-draped caskets coming home when George Bush was president? Remember how they kept a daily tally of deaths, U.S. and Iraq, despite numerous calls not to further endanger the troops?

Has the media, who so eagerly trumpeted the casualties before, suddenly became conscious of the risks such irresponsible behavior poses, or sensitive to the occupier of the White House? You know, the one who said that he doesn't like the word "victory" for it reminds him of Japan's surrender? Remember that?

Why aren't conservatives now causing a ruckus and count the dead as the liberals did during the Iraq war just to even the score? Conservatives are eerily silent on the matter, don't you think? I wonder why?

Is it perhaps because they believe that the lives of our soldiers are more important than the person who pushes his feet under the desk in the Oval Office? Is it perhaps because they desire for the U.S. to win the war regardless who is president or who gets the credit?

Then, why all the noise when Bush was president? Is it perhaps because they believe that conservatives need to be defeated regardless how many American lives it costs? Is it perhaps because they believe that it would be a good idea if the U.S. loses the war while a conservative president can be blamed for it?

Makes one think, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Old People

As information start leaking out what the new health care bill before congress is all about, the more worrisome one ought to get. Forget for a moment that the Obama administration already borrowed more than one trillion dollars, there is a provision where "guidelines" will be developed to determine "what works best" in terms of treatment.

That is code-speak for determining one's probability of giving the health care system "bang for its buck" in the dollars employed for treatment. Older people will be told, it's your duty to die; your life is behind you and spending any more money on you would rob a younger person of care.

If people were equipment or dispensable, that would make sense. Replace the old with the new. But, we are dealing here with people, people who spent their entire lives in the economic system; people with fears and desires just as younger people have.

Take my mother, for instance. At around age 86 she broke her leg just above the ankle, twisting to get out of bed and into her wheelchair. It was a clean break and five years since the break it hasn't healed yet rendering her bedridden and totally dependent on constant care. At that stage, Obama's plan would, according to these "guidelines," have dictated that her care be stopped, giving her "pain pills" until the end.

Instead, out of our own free will without reference to any government guidelines, we upped her care, not to prolong her suffering having to deal with a body that is so frail that it is a substantial risk taking her to the care-facility's hair salon for her weekly spruce-up, but because we love her. We saw the fear in her eyes having to leave her familiar surroundings, pet, and other comforts she enjoyed in my brother's house, and be committed to a full-time care facility with only a room with partial privacy. She soon realized that she wouldn't be able to return to her "home" and quickly comforted us that she has resigned herself to the circumstances, thanking the Lord for His providence.

She quickly mastered the computer (having never before touched a computer) we gave her and it wasn't too long before she Skyped her family, friends, kids, and grandkids living around the globe. It's a treat to receive a daily letter from her and the often video-chat has become the most precious moments for us all. We appreciate her zeal when we realize that her type-rate is more than one second per character, typing up letters for many people every day.

Obama's guidelines would have robbed us of these precious moments with her because allowing us to provide for the person who gave us life, character and direction in life would have been against the "guidelines."

That there are people in this country that are even considering this bill, is shameful. If they vote for this bill without reading it, it is criminal.

Monday, July 27, 2009

We have learned

The words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared unambiguous and stern when she said, "What we want to do is to send a message to whoever is making these decisions, that if you're pursuing nuclear weapons for the purpose of intimidating, of projecting your power, we're not going to let that happen." But, wait a minute, what are the words "for the purpose of intimidating, of projecting your power" as a qualifier doing in there?

We have learned by now that we should never underestimate the careful placement of words of any politician. It's fair to say that even subtle word use has to raise skepticism and questions because there is no way anyone can predict what politicians mean with sentences constructed in a certain manner.

This qualifier is particularly worrisome since Iran has stated repeatedly that it seeks nuclear power for peaceful purposes, which nobody really believes. So, even if Iran develops nuclear capability, fronts it with reactor-use while stockpiling weapons underground, the way Hillary's warning is constructed, the "we're not going to let that happen" part of her stern warning will not be triggered.

Remember North Korea and their promises? During the idyllic period the Clintons bathed in the sunshine of having resolved the North Korean issue, North Korea built their nuclear arsenal with our fuel and money.

Remember China? They couldn't get their rockets off the launching pad. It was only after the 1995 sale of Magnequench, the only U.S. manufacturer of rare-earth magnets, critical in advanced weapons systems, to China, that their rockets suddenly managed to stay aloft and on track. Who approved the deal? Our dearly beloved president Clinton of "is"-fame.

Now the U.S. is pressuring Israel not to protect itself in manners and with means it deems fit, urging it to wait till September this year for the negotiations to take hold. Negotiations that will have as much ingenuity and foresight as the prez showed the Cambridge Police Department.

I hope somebody asks Madam Secretary about this. I am not holding my breath.

One degree?

I always wondered about that. Global warming, I mean. There is, supposedly, the empirical evidence that the planet's temperature has increased by 1 degree Centigrade over the past, what, hundred or so years? One degree?

How would one determine that? I drive about 10 miles to play tennis in an adjacent town on a regular basis and the temperature varies dramatically between the house and the tennis courts, sometimes as much as 20 degrees F. When a breeze blows, the temperatures are about the same.

On my patio the temperature can be 30 degrees more than where there are some trees and vegetation nearby, hardly 20 paces away. This is where my mind has a hard time getting around the "one degree" business of this statistic. Where were the thermometers, with which these readings were taken over the past, say 100 years, placed and how were they influenced by surrounding factors, such as vegetation, wind, people, reflections off other structures, and so on. If the rise was substantial, I'd say, okay, you may have a point, but ONE DEGREE?

Think about it for a moment: if any of these instruments were moved from one location to another, or replaced, or new ones added to the grid, the readings would be off. Perhaps over time it averages out. But only ONE DEGREE? That's within statistical margins of error.

How about the instrumentation? Who maintained them and how often were they maintained? How accurate were they? Ordinary mercury thermometers cannot display fractions, which is what would be required to make such a precise determination. Temperature charts, you know, those circular paper discs that go round and round with a pen drawing wavy lines on them, cannot record accurately within a two-degree range, not counting the width of the ink line, which must represent one or two degrees on its own.

It just doesn't make sense. Bill O'Reilly (the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel) bought into this nonsense. That's disappointing to say the least. I like Bill but I believe he's dead-wrong on this issue.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Light bulbs

We are all aware of the push to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs because they are supposedly 'more efficient' and, get this, safer for the environment.

In spite of the fact that some experts are now stepping forward accusing “energy zealots” of using faulty science to determine the efficiency of light bulbs, there is a far greater danger using compact fluorescent bulbs than incandescent (regular) light bulbs not only to the environment, but to you and me.

Fluorescent light bulbs contain sufficient levels of mercury that, when a fluorescent light bulb should break in your house, a hazmat situation has occurred requiring you to get a clean-up team with the accompanying evacuation, ventilation and paperwork.

Or, you could just dump the sucker into the trash and avoid having your life disrupted because you foolishly believed the rhetoric. At least you would after breaking the second bulb, right? Not making that mistake again.

Guess what? Not a peep from Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, about the fluorescent light bulb threat in her current rulemaking initiatives to combat mercury emissions at coal-fired power plants.

Conservatism

Why am I offended when people say conservatives are "right," politically speaking? Because that implies that there is something nobler to the left of us; that we hold to a position that is ignoble and mutable and that we ought to move to an indefinable, utopian middle ground.

Reality is that conservatives are the only group that is identified by a visible, clearly defined, universally accessible doctrine to which they strive to be obedient - out of their own volition: free to walk away from it if they so choose. That Doctrine is the U.S. Constitution. It's the only doctrine in the history of mankind that, according to empirical evidence, produces universal wealth and liberty. All other models have failed on both counts. And models that started out similar to the U.S. Constitution that changed later to something else also failed on both counts.

This makes conservatives a reflection of the excellence, beauty, and power of the Constitution, image bearers of it, if you will. Calling an offending conservative a hypocrite is a verifiable judgment, which would have been impossible had there not been a clearly defined, universally available doctrine against which to measure the offending image bearer's doctrinal image. Offending conservatives usually repent of the error of their ways and resolve to tighten their obedience striving to be more perfect ministers of universal wealth and liberty. Conservatives are, therefore, subjects of conservatism and criticizing their beliefs is to criticize their Doctrine, not them.

Diverse peoples who bond in the Constitution and the enjoyment of its wealth and liberty, are like people who travel to the same destination from widespread origins: they cannot escape converging closer to one another, becoming united as brothers and sisters in a common Doctrine. They are an afferent people.

Therefore, to suggest that conservatives ought to move to the left, politically speaking, to be more accommodating to others, implies that something about the Constitution is not honorable, which should offend any American.

That is why conservatives don't see blacks or whites or Latinos or poor or rich or women or men, they just see people who share with them the pursuit of the Doctrine, having in them the potential to all be completely free and as wealthy as each one chooses to be.

So, true conservatism is the noblest position and everything at variance with that position is at variance with the Constitution. At variance with America. Ergo, anti-American.

Now consider those to the left of conservatives. Where is their doctrine? To what standard are they obedient? How can one look at their behavior and judge whether they are hypocrites or not? I don't know of any such doctrine. If they are not visibly subjects of the Constitution, how can they be subject to the law that flows from it?

In the absence of the law there are no criminals and tyranny rules. In the absence of a doctrine there are no hypocrites and immorality rules.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Careful Hillary!

Be very careful, Madam Secretary, very, very careful.

You speak about a security umbrella over the Arab world similar to the umbrella that existed over Europe during the Cold War, right? The Cold War Umbrella rested on one important pillar: mutual destruction. You hit us and we will turn your country into a heap of ash. Period. The Russians knew we were serious, so they behaved. We knew they would retaliate if we tried anything and we behaved, fearing death as much as the Russians did.

That balance/counter-balance does not exist in the middle-east, Hillary. We fear death; actually, we pursue life, to be more exact. The ones you hope would fear death, too, actually shun life and actively pursue death. The destruction of the region is to them the introduction of eternal world peace which can only happen when the world has fallen into chaos and civil war exists between the human races. So, a threat of total destruction is the manifestation of their belief that their prophecies are ready to be fulfilled. Your Umbrella sets the stage to trigger the violation of your promised Umbrella.

Madeleine Albright apologized for believing the North Koreans, which allowed them to become nuclear. How much blood will have to be spilled to fix that oversight? We don't know yet.

Madeleine Albright claimed she didn't get the embassy's letters sent to her warning about the security vulnerability in Kenya and the chatter that an attack was imminent. Actually, Usama Bin Laden said as much in an interview six weeks prior to the attacks. How much more blood will be spilled to fix that ignorance?

Don't fall into the same trap, madam Secretary. Your statement already alludes to a willingness to risk Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fearing death more than being the one who raised the 12th Imam.

There would not be an opportunity to apologize later or claim that you didn't get the letter.

Battlefield abuse

Are we listening to ourselves?

Photos taken of violence on the battlefield are a disgrace to our troops? Perhaps it's better that I am not a soldier today.

Consider this. You have lost friends due to an enemy that have only one motive: kill you and anybody with you. After all, what's war about if it's not to kill people and destroy things?

So, you are on the front lines and your battalion is engaged in house-to-house combat, clearing the area of combatants. You kick in a door to make sure it's cleared and you and your brother rush into a hail of bullets. A bullet strikes your brother in the neck and you could hear him go down with the most god-awful noise. The last two of the combatants in the room throw down their weapons and raise their arms. While you franticly tend to your dying brother, the other soldiers descend on the remaining enemy.

What happens next is captured on camera. I mean, not what happened to you and your brother, but to the soldiers and the remaining combatants. We have since learned it would be those images that become shameful battlefield abuse. It would be the information extracted on-site from those surviving combatants that sent our troops in the right direction to complete their mission, preventing another's brother from going down in a pool of blood.

I saved about $150,000

That's entirely true.

More than 10 years ago we were forced to look at our health insurance because of a premium hike. We paid almost $1,200 per month to BlueCross for a family of three. We decided to cut the costs for reasons more compelling than free-market principles, and canceled our insurance. We figured that the benefit doesn't add up to the costs. It wasn't only the premium but the co-pays, the stuff they didn't cover, exclusions, and so on, added to the premium that would, at average, come to more than $1,400 per month. That's $18,720 per year, or a small car, cash, every year.

At first we thought it would be a bit of a shame to admit that we don't have insurance. But, we quickly learned to say that we don't have insurance, we pay cash. Not a single of our health care providers refused to give us huge discounts. Now, we were flying solo, so to speak. Our costs immediately plummeted to about $100 per month or even less on some months.

There was a constant fear that something serious might go wrong and, sure enough, it did. My daughter had migraine headaches and my wife contracted a rare skin disease that made her skin just fall off leaving large, gaping wounds. The medication she took caused cataracts and rendered her legally blind within three years.

Ta-da! Progress report: Her skin condition will, according to all expectations, finally clear up this year after more than four years of daily dressings, hospital stays, in-home nurse care, and so on. My wife has brand new lenses in both eyes done by the best surgeon in the country (we didn't skimp and chose the best), my daughter's migraines are way down, and our medical bills are plummeting.

Not wanting to bore you with gory details, our medical costs for the entire family for the time since we quit our insurer came to about $50,000. For 10 years! Doctors would sometimes cut their bills by 60%; some would say, if you come in now, or between those hours you can get it at such and such a discount. Some would not bill us at all if it's just a consultation; you know, just talking for 10 minutes. (When we get hold of rare wines, we'd make up a package and send them some. We call it good customer relations.) I guess they figure it's sometimes a bit slow and seeing someone at a reduced rate is better than not seeing anyone at all, or sometimes it's just not worth the administration to punch up a bill for a short chat in the office. I don't know. (We are likeable people, too, so that might be a reason. ... ... ... Perhaps not.)

Let's do some math here. If we had to pay the premiums, pay the co-pays, additional costs to cover limitations, and those bills that were not covered, we were looking at about $20,000 per year with insurance, or $200,000 for the past 10 years. Without insurance, our health care cost us $50,000 for the 10 years and we didn't skimp on the important stuff.

I cannot show the money we saved today, but I sure as heck know that there was no way we could have afforded having insurance. Would it have been fair to ask the tax payers to help me keep my home or car or insurance if I stayed insured? Heck, no.

If the free market could work so well for us, living proof of that reality, why would it be bad for others?

You tell me. I don't get it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A good laugh

Hahaha. Well, I had a good laugh at the final rays of sunlight here in the western U.S. this Wednesday. I just received a brand new pitch on the Nigerian Scam. Here, take a look, bad English left intact. Just to think some folks still fall for this. Scary.

Hello,
I am the boss of economic & financial crimes commission, we fight cyber crime fraud scam money laundering in Africa. Our commission has been in existences since 2004.
Our duties are to stop internet fraud scam. As for today we have put a lot of fraudsters behind bars.
we have recovered over $322 million from them, reason for writing you this letter is because your name was given to us by one of the fraudsters in the jail.
Get back to us.

Hoodwinked!

Folks, there is a perception crisis in the health care resolution attempts currently ongoing in Washington. I argue from a position of never underestimating one's opponents. Never. Obama and his gang in the White House are no exception.

Pushing a totally outrageous plan, which was designed specifically to flare anger throughout the country, would prepare everybody for a lesser but still nationalized plan. Already GOP members are leaning to accept a watered-down plan based on the current premise of a single payer, government controlled system. That's not victory, folks, that's to be hoodwinked. Obama is known for his Chicago tactics: annihilate your opponents, don't talk to them. Or, in the Don's vernacular: send them a dead fish.

Advice to GOP talkers in the inner chambers: Overhaul the health care system by free market principles. That should not be negotiable. Don't be hoodwinked -- again.

Health Care

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, paraded real world witnesses of health care "disasters" in front of the media this morning. The one lady recounted her experience with cancer, which, she says, has changed her life. So far, I agree, it would.

However, her first thought upon hearing that she has cancer, was that she couldn't afford it even though she has bought "if I am hit by a bus" insurance, or, as I understood it, disaster insurance. That's a rather weird knee-jerk reaction, don't you think? Her insurance refused treatment at some point, as she feared, and her financial situation worsened, as she predicted.

Let's reason this out for a moment. If she had purchased disaster insurance that had limitations, wasn't that the choice she made when she bought the policy, putting her at risk should her medical situation exceed her chosen policy limitations? How is it your and my responsibility to prevent her from losing those assets (her home among other things) that she chose to put in peril by opting for other benefits, such as a lower premium?

Ordinarily, stage 4 cancer of anything would bring up thoughts of end-of-life choices, right? I am asking because I don't have any experience with this, but it seems as if affordability is not something that would trump thoughts about life, death, pain, suffering, and eternal things. It is significant that her first thought was affordability because she must have been troubled by the limitation choices she made on her policy. It was a calculated risk she took and lost when "the bus hit her," as she put it.

I don't blame her for trying to mitigate her losses, but the imposition of guilt onto all of us is shameful. Especially by our leaders.

Company Taxes

Have you heard the term "company taxes"?

They are taxes levied on businesses and are favorite targets for politicians associating businesses with demonizing concepts such "greed" and "exploitation." Not denying that some people, business or otherwise, are greedy and do exploit others, demonizing the entire community of business owners because it creates a vehicle to impose taxes and other restrictions for political expedience, is deceptive at best.

Taxes levied on businesses are not really taxes on business but on consumers: you and I. If a business has shown a single dollar net profit, all of its taxes have been paid by its customers. Any increase in costs, taxes or otherwise, are paid by its customers if the business shows any net profit. If it doesn't, well, it won't be around much longer.

Think about it the next time you hear that corporate taxes should be increased so that "they" could pay their fair share. It's you and I who are hit again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Figure this out

The New York Times reported the following story today:

Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program set up by the Treasury Department, came up with the largest number yet in testimony prepared for delivery Tuesday to a House committee, The New York Times’s Floyd Norris reported. “The total potential federal government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion,” he stated.

Mr. Barofsky explained that the estimate did not take into account recoverable assets but is rather a total risk estimate (my paraphrase.)

Let's do some math to put the size of such an amount in perspective: Say it's $24 trillion. (What's $300 billion between friends?) If one person has to pay for this, he will have to fork over all of the $23.7 trillion. Right? If a hundred million people have to pay this bill, it will cost each one $240,000. If three hundred million people have to pay, which is every man, woman and child in the U.S., each one would have to pay $80,000. So far, so good. (The math, that is.)

The administration argues that the bailout money will be raised from rich taxpayers; rich being those who earn more than $300,000 per year. They are members of a group no larger than 10% of the population. If it's up to them alone to carry this risk, they will have to pay $800,000 each, NOT counting the interest on it.

I don't know, but somewhere somebody didn't think this through.




Have you read it?

Something troubles me greatly with some issues that surfaced during the recent political turmoil in the U.S. That is that some congressman and senators vote on bills that they haven't read.

Who drafted these bills if our representatives are not familiar with the contents? Staff and aides, they say. They rely on congressional aides to research, write, read, argue, debate, and approve their bills for a vote. Congressional aides have not been elected to represent us.

Granted, aides can do most of the heavy lifting, but, folks, our representatives are entrusted with our trust, our future and our lives. They ought to know what they are voting for; it is the least they can do.

Let's propagate a slogan to as wide an audience as we can, right now: "You received our vote, read the bills before you vote." Or, if you have a better slogan, please send it along. I'll put it in here.


My first blog

Finally, I started my first blog. Having been in the IT industry for a long time, resisting new fads such as blogging, I finally succumbed. So, some latitude while I get my head around this thing they call the blogosphere would be appreciated. Send some feedback if you believe that I'll go off the edge of a cliff.

If you stay with me for a while, perhaps my perceptions will start making sense as I pour out my mind on varying issues from business and politics to religion and travel, and anything in between.

Regardless what I decide to talk about, I promise to always give you my honest, non political-correct opinion, and strive to inform, liberate, and even educate some.

About Me

Seeking the truth until I find it.