Thursday, October 29, 2009
FOR THE PAST TWO DAYS and several to follow, Investor Business Daily is featuring an editorial series on the economics of healthcare, written by Dr. Thomas Sowell, of the Hoover Institute, and taken from his recently published book, Applied Economics. These daily writings are from a chapter in his book on the economics of healthcare. It is neither shallow nor easy reading.
I would like to say that every thinking American needs to read Sowell's long and extremely well-written series in IBD. It presents compelling argument after argument against nationalizing medicine which so far exceeds anything written in the MSM about the true costs of such government run programs.
For now, I'll link to the separate pieces, including Friday's, and continue linking as they come out in IBD. Later, I'll discuss what I consider the most salient points. It is well worth the read for anyone willing to put the time and effort into the whole series.
Part 4. Monday: Costs of Malpractice Insurance Go Beyond Doctors' Premiums
Part 3. Friday: How Payment by Third Parties Distorts Health Care Decisions.
Part 2. Thursday: How Quantity of Medical Care Is Influenced By Price Controls.
Part 1. Wednesday: The Economics of Medical Care.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I could tell you some stories, but mercifully won't. For now, let it suffice, rather than blogging, I'm using all my excess life-energy to keep from being pulled into someone else's black hole. It never helps and always hurts when we let ourselves go down with them. We think getting dragged down is love and compassion, but it's anything but.
We can love someone---especially a family member---with a passion and want the best for them and their life, but when their black hole wants to eat our emotional sobriety, then we--I--have to let it go, sooner rather than later. I'm no good to anyone if I'm not coming from a fairly steady state of emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual sobriety. I'm a goner when I get hooked and take the bait. When someone makes me or not-me the answer to their life and problems, then I know I'm in a no-winner. When they ask me to do something I firmly believe is not in their best interest at the moment, and I refuse to go along to get along then I have to step back and let them get someone else to do their bidding. That's when prayer is the greatest gift we can give, and letting go.
Have you noticed the light is changing and every one and every thing is becoming more intense, and it's just the beginning of the season?
Welcome to fall and the darkening time of the year. We all need to do our own work and be more than willing to do specific things to help others when they ask or when we see a need we can meet. Sometimes we can only give a token of what's a much greater need, wishing we could much more. In the end, only God can fill that hole and there are simply no substitutes.
It's been one of those days, and it's still not over, though a good night's sleep will go a long way.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
I'VE NEVER BEEN A FAN of Dave, and liked him even less after his drubbing of Sarah Palin and her family. So when he revealed recently that he was being extorted for having an affair with a female staffer, I wasn't so much surprised by his confession as intrigued by its irony.
Here before our eyes was a pot who'd been calling quite a few kettles black for years.
Tonight, while cruising the Web after being away today, I saw a link at Big Hollywood to this piece on the saga of Dave, and ended up reading the whole piece in New York Magazine. It's well written and frankly I found it fascinating.
So I thought I'd link to it here: The Devil in David Letterman.
Dave's world, like that of so many rich and famous, of course, is an enclave of specialness, secrecy and isolation from the flotsam and jetsam of the world. I can't imagine envying it in the least and also don't believe anyone could be shocked by reports of his infidelity and the many temptations he succumbed to over the years. I'm quite sure his life and his marriage---if not his ratings----are in deep crisis today. Only time will tell how it all plays out.
One thing is certain: Dave can no longer point his judgmental, witty finger at others with impunity again. That holier than thou attitude won't hold water with his audiences, if it ever did. I was never a fan of Dave. And now, I have zero interest in tuning in for his next ironic monologue.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
(TODAY, I'm happy to link directly to Tim Keller at Redeemer and his most recent sermon: Hope for the family. Not sure it plays all the way through, but am linking anyway.)
LAST SUNDAY, after attending McLean Bible Church, in Virginia outside D.C., I was chatting with some friends in the lobby when a man named Lee Vaughn introduced himself to me. Lee is now working to complete the mega-project called Jill's House that McLean---under the tutelage of Brenda and Lon Solomon who have a very handicapped and special needs daughter named Jill. He and his staff are now in the final stretch of completing and opening this facility next year to help families and children of severe disabilities.
My conversation with Lee took several twists and turns and included a lament about a couple I know whose marriage is currently in deep crisis. When Lee found out I'm from Nashville, he asked if I knew of the Jacksons, that would be Denise and Alan. I told him they were not exactly in my inner circle, but I certainly knew who they are. I had to confess, I know almost nothing about the country music industry here in Middle Tennessee, except to occasionally listen to something I like on my car radio or see the occasion star in Whole Foods Market. (Usually I just hear they passed me in the lettuce aisle.... Mom, did you see....that was Nicole Kidman that just walked past you!!!) I never see them....I'm too focused on the fennel.
Lee went on to tell me that his wife Ellen had co-authored a book with Denise Jackson several years ago about the Jacksons' life, love story, marriage and near collapse of their union after Alan's mega-success left him empty and tempted to call it quits with Denise after 19 years together. Alan moved out from his family and later told Denise he was involved with another woman.
The story of the Jacksons' life and relationship with all its ups and downs is a hopeful and inspirational one, Lee said as he then introduced me to his wife and co-author Ellen. May I have your address and send you a copy? I'm on my way to Israel next week with Lon, but will get it in the mail to you before I leave.
I gave Lee my address, thanked him, though I wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as I could have been.
This week, sure enough, only hours after arriving back to Nashville, the UPS man was at my door carrying the promised package from Lee Vaughn, the book on the Jackson's life together and marriage, It's All About Him, Finding the Love of My Life.
After opening it, I tossed it on a pile of books on my bedside table, never intending to read it. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the trash heap: I woke up early the next morning and actually picked it up as a part of my early morning devotional. I read the first few pages. Then I ended up reading the whole thing over the next day-and-a-half.
It's a simply but clearly written, uncomplicated tale of two kids growing up in a small town America, working hard to be their best, falling in love and getting married. It's the classic story of going from middle-class America to fame, fortune, power and status beyond their wildest dreams when Alan became a mega-country music star after they moved to Nashville from Newnan, Georgia. Along the way the Jacksons had three daughters. To the outside world, their lives were perfect in every way, but on the inside the pressures of too many good things were causing cracks on the deepest levels of their souls.
I loved this book and can only say it reveals the age-old truths that ultimately nothing---no amount the of adoration, fame, fortune, star status or even family and friends can ultimately bring lasting happiness or satisfy the human heart outside of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Sure, all the trappings may seem to make us happy for a while, but they are only illusions and never can---nor were designed to-- fill the empty hole in our hearts. Without Christ as the center of our lives, all that we hold most dear only become addictions, idols and shabby substitutes for the only real relationship that matters first and foremost.
Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have gone through the fires of brokenness and deep heartache and come out the other side, understand this. Others will. And all will be given the chance, though all will sadly not choose to take the gift of God's saving love and salvation.
The Jacksons reunited a year after they separated and are now living one day, one hour at a time within the Grace of God's will for their lives. I am so grateful that Lee introduced himself to me last week, and even more grateful that I picked up the inspirational book he sent me on the Jacksons' life story up to now. While their story is far from over and they certainly don't have the perfect lives, I know they will make it with their deeper commitment first to their walk with Christ and second their recommitment to each other. I ended up liking these people more than I ever thought I could. May God bless them--- their marriage. family and lives together. Each has given the other the forgiveness---painful as it's been---that Christ extended them, and both know the Grace that involves.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I told her it was not mace but red pepper spray and that she needed a little larger version than the one on my key ring---the medium size (but not my industrial grizzly bear edition) for her late night waits at the bus stop. I said I'd gotten it either over the Internet or out west. Then I asked if she ever ordered anything over the Web? She looked disappointed and said she didn't think she could do that.
Well, in that case, I told her, I'll run home and see if I have an extra one laying around in one of my drawers or backpacks. When I got home, I found one in the first drawer I opened---the perfect size for her fram and her needs. I grabbed it and ran back to Kroger's where this 18-year old was still sacking.
I handed it to her and said it was a gift from me and warned her to be aware of how the wind might be blowing so that it wouldn't blow back into her face if she ever had to use it. She was ecstatic and thanked me profusely. Then she came around a shopping cart and threw her arms around me. I was touched but most of all glad I could provide this young woman with a small bit of self-protection on dark nights when she is alone at the bus stop after a long day at work.
Wish I could do something this helpful every single day for someone, don't you?
Below, after the red pepper spray comes the chili. It's better the second day and even better the third, but, alas, it never lasts that long.....
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I WANTED TO FINISH A POST YESTERDAY AND WRITE AFRESH TODAY. Alas, I got bogged down playing catch-up since I got home with myself, family, friends and duties at home and various business interests.
Fell asleep last night early and slept like a baby for over 10 hours, not my usual 6-hour style. Hope to be back soon. Maybe later tonight, but perhaps not till I play catch-up a little longer and process the many amazing, interesting, scary and outrageously fun, rich experiences over the past 3-4 weeks on the road, hopefully soon.
Thanks most kindly to my readers who put up with me and come by in spite of my life which seems to span the country from Wyoming through Tennessee and on to Washington and New York. It's a lifestyle I resisted for decades while I told myself, my former husband (a liberal who travels the globe) and God I wanted nothing more than to live peacefully all my days in the state of Tennessee.
Evidently, there was another plan for my life. Who knew. I was the last to know and to agree with it. I finally started going along, literally kicking and screaming for decades. What has unfolded was far, far different than my vision for my life, and still catches up with me. Sometimes I just have to rest, sweep the floor with a broom and take out the garbage for a while in spite of my best intentions.
One of the most wonderful things I've learned in the process is how truly expendable I am. Some people find that a horrifying thought. I have come to think of it as wonderfully freeing. And it certainly allows me to play catch-up and restore myself with lots of sleep and exercise.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
THIS FROM Rep. Marsha Blackburn on women and health care reform:
I'd like to call your attention to this story in the POLITICO. It points out that women are split on the liberal health care plans and advocates in Washington are urging politicians to target women in order get their reform plans passed. This is completely off base. Most women aren’t uninformed about liberal health care plans, they are unimpressed.
I would also call your attention to a poll released by WhyMomsRule.com right here in Tennessee. It points out that only 7% of mothers think that they have a voice in Washington.
Women are the primary family decision maker where health care is concerned. If they don’t think that Washington is listening to them, why would they turn over their decision making power to a big government bureaucracy? Plans, like the ones I am co-sponsoring with Rep. John Shadegg would give moms more decision making power by allowing them to pool together and design plans that fit their family’s needs.
Women make up the core of America’s small business owners. They know that plans like the Baucus bill would impose a $554 billion “surtax” to fund a government takeover of healthcare. More than half of the people targeted under this “surtax” are small business owners. That tax would cripple our economic recovery in the name of a health care system that will ultimately drive up prices and reduce quality and access.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Tonight is Day 1 of our war on the false, green religion of global warming being taught in our schools.
Furthermore, Ann said, You like to say in America that religion can no longer be taught in your schools, but I'm saying religion IS being taught every hour of every day here and England too.
It's the apocalyptic Green Religion of false prophet Al Gore who's declared carbon dioxide the devil and human beings both its cause and unwitting victims. The doctrine says only big government, new taxes and global regulations on everything that breathes, works and emits can save us from ourselves. It's indoctrinating every school child in America from the first grade on and based on false and highly politicized science that is far from settled. We're all supposed to be believers, or else.
Think Al has met his match.
She's my kind of woman. Evidently Andrew Breitbart's kind too: I want to get her an RV so she can go around to every school in America with this message.
Breitbart hosted the event and panel discussion---with other notables including John Fund of the WSJ---at Heritage Sunday night and shone his new media breit lights on Ann and her message. She couldn't be more fortunate. Ann is as fortunate as ACORN and NEA were unfortunate to have Breitbart take an interest in what they were doing and how they were doing it---much to their detriment. I sure wouldn't want to meet Breitbart in a dark alley with my hand in the till or my pants down.
Meanwhile, Ann's PM dispenses the latest global warming hysteria.
A brief critique of Not Evil Just Wrong:
This documentary film makes the much needed point that man-made climate change hysteria is based on science that's far, far from unanimous but has nonetheless been politicized into a green religion by many politically-correct scientists, educators, politicians and economists.
The movie contends that the current demonization of carbon dioxide emissions has its counterpart in recent history: the indictment of DDT in the 40s after the release of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.
It further argues that CO2 is the new DDT. When DDT was banned, mosquito-born malaria throughout the world, especially in Africa and under-developed nations, increased rapidly and resulted in untold misery and death. These claims against DDT were ultimately based on faulty science and reasoning. Today the World Health Organization has restored its rightful place on its list of safe, useful, life-saving chemicals that save lives and are not a threat to the environment.
The movie also shows how the banning of fossil fuel production and use in America will destroy countless middle-class jobs and upward mobility by sentimentally focusing on a working family in Vevay, Indiana who fears Cap-and-Trade legislation as much as it fears Al Gore.
The film provides a much needed antidote to An Inconvenient Truth, I would only point out a few criticisms to make it more effective and watchable.
1. The movie needs some more editing. Cutting here and there can only make it more effective.
2. The segment on family in Vevay, Indiana gets a little long and sentimental for my tastes. Basically its message is, please don't kill our jobs, Mr. Gore. The wife even drives to Tennessee and hand delivers a letter to Gore's home---right around the corner from me---in Nashville. One of his house staff opens the door, thanks her for concerns then closes the door.
3. A concurrent salient point that needs to be hammered in---along with the movies' claims that man-made climate change is based on false and refutable junk science---is that robust economies and low taxes always produce cleaner and healthier environments. This needs to be drummed into the the current lunatics in Congress and Obama administration, not to mention school kids around the world....it's called free markets 101.
Conversely, economies ladened down with gargantuan government regulations, taxes and spending---like the Cap-and-Trade being proposed here now--- are ineffective against CO2 and stagnate growth and prosperity. We have only to witness the deperate degradation in poverty-stricken African countries to know this is true.
There's more, but for now, I have only the highest regard for Ann and her husband's film. It has its flaws, but is a wonderful start in turning global warming hysteria around (if in fact anything can at this point) especially in our schools, where it is indeed being taught as religion.
Ann, let me know when your RV pulls into Nashville! I'll have a pot of greens and cornbread waiting....and I live just around the block from the false prophet, you-know-who!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
AFTER RECENTLY READING TWO of Pastor Jim Cymbala's books on the supernatural, transforming power of prayer which chronicles some of the many of amazing experiences he's seen over the years at Brooklyn Tabernacle where he pastors---I decided to go to one of their world-famous Tuesday night prayer services while in New York City last week.
While it wasn't easy leaving my children (who had no interest in going with me) or G-boy for the night and finding my way to Brooklyn on the subway from the upper East side, I have to say nothing prepared me for the absolute joy and spiritual grace I found there in the company of believers.
Have you ever sensed the Holy Spirit's presence the instant you walked into a place? I felt it for the first time when I entered McLean Bible Church in Tysons Corner over four years ago. Later I felt it at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC too. And since then in other churches I've attended. But Tuesday evening at Brooklyn Tabernacle, it hit me like a powerful, quickening wind the minute I walked in and sat down. It was as if something was alive there. People were fully engaged and focused on God and prayer. It woke me up instead of putting me to sleep, as so many liturgical services and sermons of old had done.
I can't tell you how glad I am to have gone there last Tuesday. Before the service with Jim began, hundreds of people went down to the altar for one-on-one prayer with members of the church staff and prayer teams. They take prayer very seriously there. I went down to pray with them too. Profoundly humbling and touching.
I can only say, if you're in New York and want a true Holy Spirit experience, then go to either the Sunday or Tuesday evening prayer services. I truly believe you will never completely be the same when you leave. I plan to return every chance I get.
Here are some links to several of Cymbala's sermons:
A Slippery Slope
Quitting on Jesus
Saturday, October 17, 2009
WALKING into the reception area of the Hilton Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, where the Nature Conservancy was having its fall board business meeting, I had one goal in mind: to meet and visit---however briefly---with the new TNC president and CEO, Mark Tercek who had arrived from Goldman Sachs less than a year ago.
I'd already met Hank Paulson, Tercek's former boss at Goldman, in 2006 as he was stepping down as TNC board chairman to accept then-president Bush's offer to become Treasury Secretary. (I won't even go into the ensuing bailout bubble Paulson engineered which greatly profited Goldman.)
Paulson's involvement and fast friendship with TNC frankly left me uneasy in ways I couldn't put my finger on at the time. As Paulson stepped away from TNC, he accomplished another fast feat that left me even uneasier: He managed to have his protege at Goldman Mark Tercek named president and CEO of the conservation organization. Tercek is a man who had absolutely no background, no experience and no prior known interest in land conservation in America. It was unheard of for TNC to name such a man to head its million-member organization. Unheard of. And yet it did it anyway. Why? I wondered.
I kept asking myself, Why in the world would Goldman Sachs suddenly want to be so palsy-walsy with The Nature Conservancy and vice versa? Carbon credits vaguely kept popping into the back my mind.
Then in early July of 2009, I read Matt Taibbi's wildly popular and controversial article in Rolling Stone on Goldman Sachs called The Great American Bubble Machine, chronicling the big financial bubbles of the 20th century and how Goldman had positioned itself ahead of each-and-every curve so it profited wildly, always getting out before the bubble burst. Bingo! I finally understood my undefined unease over TNC being in bed with Goldman and the dots started to get connected:
Gone are Hank Paulson and Neel Kashkari; in their place are Treasury chief of staff Mark Patterson and CFTC chief Gary Gensler, both former Goldmanites. (Gensler was the firm's co-head of finance.) And instead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits — a booming trillion- dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that it gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an "environmental plan," called cap-and-trade. The new carbon-credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that's been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won't even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.
So, Taibbi contended in closing that Goldman Sachs, as the smartest money in the world, smells wads and wads of money ahead of the carbon bubble it will help to inflate. But he stopped short of actually saying some of the ways Goldman is positioning itself to skim the cream off the top of the Carbon/Climate Change bubble.
So, let's see if I can help connect those dots in the next several posts and talk about why Goldman people are especially enamoured with its new best friend, TNC. *************
As I was saying, I wanted to meet Tercek at the TNC meeting and size him up for myself. I didn't have to wait long. As I signed in at the reception tables and picked up my name tag, a very tall, lanky man turned to me and said: "Hello, I'm Mark Tercek, and who might you be?"
To be continued....
TUGS AT YOUR HEART STRINGS, DOESN'T IT?
AND YET. Yet.....could anything be wrong with this picture? Is more going on under the surface that warrants a closer look?
Copenhagen in December: We'd Better Educate Ourselves and Be Ready for a Continuing Push Towards A One World Government....with a new currency based on carbon credits or offsets. The biggest players are lining up for obscene profits and mega-power plays on a scale we've never seen before on planet Earth: Albert the Conqueror, The United Nations, the US Congress, Goldman Sachs and the world's biggest conservation organizations---The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International---along with many other groups and investment syndicates.
Why don't we connect the dots to see why the myth of man-made global warming is central and critical to forming new One World power base to those who are positioning themselves by getting out ahead of the carbon curve for profit and power. The rest of us will be paying the bills until the Second Coming.
IS IT NATURE + PEOPLE = SOLUTION?
NATURE + PEOPLE + MASSIVE GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS/COERCION = HUBRIS?
Friday, October 16, 2009
FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, I've had a pit in my stomach over the direction the mainstream conservation movement (MSC) in America is heading. (I'm not talking about the ever-radical NRDC or Sierra Club.) I'm referring to business conservation groups like The Nature Conservancy. In the same way the mainstream media (MSM) is in the process of crashing and burning, I feel like MSC is jumping the shark and going down a road of no return.
A new obsession is sweeping the world of mainstream conservation and it's called carbon mania related to climate change. The bubble has only just begun to inflate but when it grows too large and finally, inevitably pops, it will take the global economy with it to a degree and scale we've never seen before. It will make the housing, gold and oil and gas bubbles look like children playing monopoly. If we let it happen, mainstream conservation organizations like TNC could be one of the chief villains----as well as one of the chief victims.
After serving a good deal of time on boards and fund raising committees from the 80s into the early 2000s, I began to lose interest and distance myself slowly but surely from MSC. Groups that had prided themselves as uniters of business, private and public interests for the sake of saving the best of species and ecosystem habitats, like the Nature Conservancy, began to become more and more politicized and strident.
It seemed to me that these groups, rather than continuing to work with business, private citizens and groups, and state and local governments, were being co-opted by the agenda of the big fat federal government. This became increasing apparent to me, within the last five years, as TNC took the bait, hook-line-and-sinker for the idea of anthropological global warming, better known as man-made climate change. In order to do this, its science went from being rigorous, to being politicized.
Thursday, as a board member emeritus of the national board of TNC, I was invited to the fall meeting in Arlington, VA. Because it coincided with my visit to the East coast, I decided to make a point to be there, though I've long-since gone off the national board (mercifully for them and me). I very much wanted to hear what the organization was up to from the horses' mouths and also meet the new president and CEO, Mark Tercek, who was recently installed from Goldman Sachs with no background, experience, or prior interest in land conservation.
Tercek is a protege of Hank Paulson who served as chairman of the TNC board until two years ago when then-president Bush appointed Paulson as Secretary of Treasury. Paulson had to step off TNC's board. But I met him at this same meeting two years ago here in D.C. and that's when my sure-nuff queasiness began
Because of time constraints, I'm going to spit this out in bits and pieces. Whether anyone reads it, I want to get it down, sooner rather than later.
Three things I will write about: My conversation with Mark Tercek Thursday; why I'm very uncomfortable with Goldman Sachs' increasing involvement in the Nature Conservancy; and why organizations and businesses like TNC and Goldman have MUCH to gain by seeing Cap and Trade legislation pass, even though such legislation will ultimately devastate economic interests and bottom lines of every business in America. It will also be a huge tax on the American consumer.
Also want to write briefly about the new Secretary of Interior (and former U.S. Senator from Colorado) Ken Salazar's speech at the TNC's luncheon.
Folks, if you're not on board for man-made climate change, especially here in D.C. you're considered a heretic, a lunatic, an idiot and a thorn in the midst of a bed of roses.....And that thorn today---that would be me.
Off I go to Judiciary Square on the Metro!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Also plan to go back to the Solar Decathlon on the Mall soon to find what I consider the best solar design this year. Rain is here and forecast for the next several days.
LAST NIGHT I came back to my computer late, after spending the day with my almost 11-month-old grandson, and read the utterly ridiculous story about the proud 6-year old cub scout suspended from school because his new pocket knife dropped out of his jacket on the school bus. It's the kind my own son cherished and adored for years when he too was a cub.
Now it seems such boyish things have been criminalized by the over-cautious and uber-feminized Nanny state.
If we think this goes beyond the bounds of government intervention gone beserk and psycho, just wait till we let health care reform pass. Again, whatever zero tolerance rule for weapons was passed in Zachery's school system that seemed like a good idea at the time was a farce. It was done by immature bureaucrats for their own protection from sanity and the need for human judgment and intervention . It was also done under the grand illusion that some rule can suspend bad things from happening in schools and in life.
God help Zachery and his family to escape this nonesense and ultimately this school system. And God save us all from the continuing and ever-expanding reach of the Nanny state that thinks it knows what's best for us and how best to effect it. God save us from thinking another rule will make our lives risk-free.
Good news UPDATE
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
HEAVEN KNOWS, we've heard and read enough already about the Nobel surprise last week. I don't want to belabor this subject a lot longer----okay, maybe just a little longer. But I was reading a piece yesterday in the New York Post (yes I love to sneak and read it, especially when I'm in The Big Apple to horrify family and friends!) by former UN ambassador John Bolton that nailed it for me and I wanted to pass it along. Bolton writes:
Unfortunately this year's Peace Prize follows a decades-long series of politicized decisions by the Norwegian Noble committee. The committee has repeatedly rewarded its ideological brethren, the common theme being a desire to produce a more modest role for the United States in world affairs, and a larger role for multilateral organizations, or as some would describe it, global governance.
I agree with Bolton whole-heartedly. The committee wants to co-opt the Obama administration, as it did Al Gore into its cause of creating a One World Government. Not that it took any coercing on their part with Gore. When you think about it, isn't Obama trying to bring the U.S. down a few notches in order to move us all towards the mega-myth of one big happy world family with the U.S. just being one of the global guys in a pick-up basket ball game? Isn't global warming hysteria an attempt to do the same thing? Al Gore is Mr. One World Order and he wants to be the narcissist-in-chief of it. But he has a run for his money against the even bigger narcissist-in-chief, our new president. Bolton nails it for me. When I really think about it in light of this, the Nobel committee's award to Obama really shouldn't come as a surprise at all.
And over the next year, we should look for the person who most tries leading our country and others into the One World Myth for the next Nobel. And then go back and read the Tower of Babel story again in Genesis and remember how it worked out for those people . God scattered their one-world behinds all over the globe and garbled their languages with the message: No One World governments, now or ever.
Now I've said enough about the Noble and will attempt to hold my peace.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
From WSJ Photos
MICHELLE: FINAL NAIL IN THE NOBEL'S COFFIN
GIVING THE NOBEL TO OBAMA PROVES PRIZE IS MEANINGLESS, OBSOLETE
"GASPS ECHOED through the Nobel Hall in Oslo yesterday as Barack Obama was unveiled as the winner of the 2009 Peace Prize, sparking a global outpouring of incredulity and praise in unequal measure.
"Mr. Obama was sound asleep in the White House when the Norwegian Nobel Committee made the shock announcement. It said that he was being honoured for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”.
"In a clear swipe at his predecessor, George W. Bush, the committee praised the “change in the international climate” that the President had brought, along with his cherished goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons."
While Kofi Anan and Desmond Tutu praised this year's Nobel to Obama as creative, Lech Walesa former Polish President who won the Peace Prize in 1983 responded:
“So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far.”
Ridding the world of nuclear weapons sounds like a worthy idea and who is against such an idealist goal? However, in the real world where the nuclear cat is out of the bag, and countries like Iran and Venezuela are chomping at the bit for the bomb, promoting Obama with the Nobel is a major triumph of diplomatic lunacy and appeasement over history and reality. Time will prove this premature adulation a folly of the highest order. Just wait and see.
PICTURE WORTH A MILLION WORDS. Add the Nobel to his growing list of his other recent awards including: Two Grammy Awards, best spoken word albums, Dreams of my Father (2006) and The Audacity of Hope (2008), Daytime Emmy Award, the Yes We Can speech set to music (2008), and finally Time's Person of the Year (2008).
Obama's Mantra: YES WE CAN.......WIN AWARDS!
A few choice quotes:
Obama is becoming Jimmy Carter faster than Jimmy Carter became Jimmy Carter.
---Erick Erickson, conservative commentator
Apparently Nobel prizes are now being awarded to anyone who is not George Bush.
---Ana Marie Cox
I FIND IT UNBELIEVABLE THAT CONGRESSIONAL lawmakers keep pushing any and every idea to save taxpayers money for health care except the ones that really work. That would be tort reform. Of course, it's no secret why: It 's opposed by the country's mighty trails lawyers who stand to gain obscene amounts of payout for prosecuting these unlimited tort cases cases. And it's how the Big Daddy of all trial lawyers (no pun intended) John Edwards made millions upon millions in order to follow his unlimited political and romantic aspirations.
Now the latest released study by the Congressional Budget Office says tort reform could save American taxpayers almost $54 billion dollars over ten years. Jennifer Haberkorn at the Washington Times today reports:
Bolstering what's likely to be a key health care reform argument from Republicans, Congress' budget scorekeeper ruled that limiting medical malpractice lawsuits would reduce the federal deficit by $54 billion over 10 years.
The Congressional Budget Office - in an analysis that projects a nearly10-fold increase in savings over its findings last year - said tort reform would cut costs by limiting the use of diagnostic tests and other services health care providers and doctors use to reduce exposure to lawsuits.
In explaining the increase in savings, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told lawmakers "recent research has provided additional evidence that lowering the cost of medical malpractice tends to reduce the use of health care services."
With such continuing and glaring evidence of savings to taxpayers who support the federal government, how can anyone take Congressional leaders seriously until they include and implement this reform into whatever bill or amendment that is passed?
The American people should rise up in arms to see that this happens and if it doesn't we need to raise unshirted hell until it does. Otherwise, we're all in for a downward spiral deficits at Congress's and trial lawyers' gargantuan expense.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
OF ALL THE THINGS I see running across my computer screen, nothing startles me more than this kind of creepy image featured on Drudge today from a recent Ralph Lauren ad. The linked story is mainly about the accusations that the model's image was grossly photo-shopped and criticisms that Lauren made her look impossibly thin. Of course this is nothing new, but what is new is the fact that our fashion elites are now being called on the carpet for it.
Leading the charge against Lauren is Boing Boing, an Internet site that sometimes takes gross-exaggeration-in-advertising to task. Lauren has cried foul, saying no one can use the above image, even for the sake of criticism. So far, Boing Boing has not backed down from Lauren's intimidation tactics. Good for them. And look here, even Drudge and little Webutante have the nerve to use this airbrushed image too.
Meanwhile, surely a legal scuffle is in the offing which I want to follow it. However, this all begs the larger questions of making people unrealistically thin, young, beautiful and sexy on the covers of magazines in order to sell stuff.
First, let me say I hope that the image of the young model above IS altered. Because if it's not, surely her family and friends need to do an intervention and get her in an eating disorder program immediately, if not sooner. To say she looks anorexic would be a gross under statement. To say she looks like she's suffering from late-stage AIDs is also an under-statement. What sick and demented minds design and edit these images for public consumption, especially the public consumption of impressionable young girls?
Second, does anyone really think she's attractive? I have to wonder if even the Lauren target-market of young puerile pre-teens and teens really, really, really think it's appealing either. And if so, we as a culture need our heads examined as to how we've let ourselves and them be brain- washed into such distorted thinking and images that are supposed to define beauty.
Finally, how can this nonsense be stopped, or at least slowed down? I don't buy anything by Ralph Lauren and haven't for years, but I certainly won't now. I also won't buy anything that has Lauren advertising if I can help it.
This kind of backlash is also happening across the pond:
The U.S. isn't the only place where advertisers are feeling the public backlash over retouching claims. Overseas, a recent Olay ad featuring a virtually wrinkle-free 59-year-old Twiggy caused such an uproar in the UK that the British Parliament recently proposed outlawing retouching in advertisements aimed at teenagers.
But it isn't just teenagers who are getting a fake image in false advertising. How about these Oil of Olay ads aimed at women like us? Take a look at a current Twiggy ad and the real Twiggy at 59. Quite a difference wouldn't you say? I never used Olay products, but you can believe I never will after this silliness.
And what's wrong with some imperfection anyway? Nothing is so bad that a little sunshine, fresh air, exercise and healthy eating won't help. It's always better than airbrushing. Image of Twiggy at 59.
Reality shot of Twiggy at 59 at the grocery store. I'm sure she's still beautiful and much more so than this bad photo shows, but still, this is a long shot from the image above. No thank you, Oil of Olay!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I couldn't ask for a better location or a kinder place to base myself while on the East coast often going back and forth to New York City. My ever-solicitous and erudite host carries on with his own life and leaves me to mine. We often come together over breakfast or dinner sharing meals, good conversation and lots of laughs. He's a historian and man-of-letters and I always learn a great deal while in his company and conversation. (We won't talk about who he voted for for president however, though now he's become tremendously disillusioned with The One.)
Anyway, for the past week, my intrepid host has been in California at a wedding and visiting his grown children and grand-children. He most kindly left me in charge of the house, along with Kay, the woman who lives in the downstairs apartment. We get along famously. He calls every day to amuse himself and ask if we've burned down the house yet?
He also likes to tell me how wonderful he thinks the weather in California is and yet how dull and banal he finds the lifestyle.
"I find California perfectly one-dimensional and dull," he assures me early and often. I have no reason to doubt his earnestness.
But getting back to the east coast, Kay, my partner-in-crime, and I have undertaken some household projects long overdue in his absence. Kay has concentrated on landscaping stuff that we all started last spring.
I, on the other hand, have made a great and major breakthrough inside the house and---with the help of a workman I commandeered last week---have managed to pry open all the upstairs windows which have surely been sealed closed for decades!
Though I'd tried in vain to open them for the past year-and-a-half they simply wouldn't budge. Yet with one grand heave, this strong man opened the first, then the second and then all the windows in the upstairs without much effort at all! I'm beside myself to have fresh air flowing through the upstairs and in my room. Cool fresh air that has moved in with finally cooler temperatures! All the stuffienss has disappeared here!
We also sprayed liquid graphite in all the window hardware and on stubborn door locks that were almost impossible to insert a key into. Now things work more smoothly.
Kay meanwhile has taken what time she can to finish landscape work in the yard, and loves to tell me how Karl Rove power-walks by and comments on how great it's looking.
Ah happiness: living on the dull side of town with fresh air in my room, knowing Karl's in the neighborhood!
Monday, October 5, 2009
UNSUSPECTING TOURISTS to the Mall for the next few weeks who think they'll be getting an unobstructed view of the Capitol from the Lincoln Memorial are in for a surprise. There before their very eyes, twenty supposedly cutting-edge solar houses are going up which form a sustainable living conclave up and down the Mall. This construction mayhem is called the Solar Decathlon 2009. Houses, landscapes, assorted decks and walkways are to be finished by October 9. Then they'll be on public display for two weeks. The Department of Energy will award three prizes for top designs. I want go back soon to tour these houses and make a few awards of my own. Already know the ones I like and dislike from a distance, but want to reserve judgment till the walk-thrus. Stay tuned, I'm not easily impressed. Still I'm interested to see if there is anything I would want to live and work in. So many of these contemporary houses are interesting to look at during the day, but I wouldn't want to live in them at night. Too much glass and exposure to the outside darkness at night. I find them cold and charmless.
From Monday's WSJ: A lawsuit challenging federal coercion in your choice of health care should be of great interest to us all:
A centerpiece of the debate over ObamaCare is government coercion and the right to choose a health-care plan. So it's worth watching a lawsuit now making its way through the federal courts that seeks to let seniors keep their Social Security benefits even if they reject Medicare. This could be a big deal.
Last week, Washington D.C. District Judge Rosemary Collyer handed a victory to three plaintiffs seeking that right. President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services had sought to dismiss the suit challenging so-called POMS rules that say seniors who withdraw from Medicare Part A must also surrender their Social Security benefits. (Part A covers hospital and outpatient services.) The judge ruled the plaintiffs have standing to contest their claim on the merits.
Read entire article
It's a well-organized group of outdoors enthusiasts I've hiked with before and like very much. In general, I've found most of them to lean more left than right politically (after all they're from Maryland). So I am careful not to get myself too tangled up in talking politics on the trail. Still, I was pleasantly surprised with some things I heard walking on the mountain top Saturday. To wit:
Conversation 1, The Education Bubble Will Burst. I chatted with a man who was a recently retired college professor in a small state/community school in Maryland. He said he was relieved to be out of the rat race and decried the growing numbers of students pushed into higher education who could neither read nor write. Not only that, he said, these students were being pushed into courses that they were totally incapable of participating in academically by "educational elites who were building empires based solely on increased numbers going through the system."
He emphasized that these practices of mandating equality of results in education were demoralizing for the high-achievers and hard workers and would come back to haunt us all. He said the education bubble would one day burst, like the sub-prime housing bubble, with similar devastating results.
I stopped short of asking him what he thought of Mr. Obama, but he sure sounded a lot like a conservative to me.
Conversation 2, The Absolute Need for A Single Payer System in Health care Reform: I next chatted with a hiker who's a career staffer with Medicare. She has a lot of experience with the federal system and in fact she with some of her colleagues has advised the Senate Finance Committee on various schemes for health care reform. This was a more difficult conversation for me and so I spent most of this one listening rather than talking. Heaven knows I tried, but she just wouldn't let me!
This conversation went something like this: We MUST have a single payer system in this country. Otherwise, there would be nothing but old and indigent people in the government pool. In order for the government option to work, it must have lots of young and healthy people in it to help subsidize those who can't pay. This is certainly the best, most cost effective way to make health care reform work. She also decried the right's reference to "death panels" as absurd.
I then chimed in about Tennessee's 20-year experience with universal, non-mandatory health care. She looked me in the eye and summarily dismissed me by saying, "I know all about TennCare." Period, end of conversation.
She was extremely opinionated and I decided that this conversation should be left there in the middle of the Appalachian Trail.
Conversation 3, We're raising a generation of "entitled monsters:" Had this fun conversation with a French woman, now U.S. citizen for decades. She is a high finance banking consultant who works all over the world. Her most recent work venue took her to Viet Nam for two months this summer. She loved it and said the people couldn't be more friendly towards foreigners, especially Americans.
Then she started in on the rigors of international flying: The French are raising a whole generation of brats she told me in no uncertain terms. Flying across the ocean with French kids is a nightmare, she said. They are ill-behaved and cry and scream if they don't get their way. T
Then she told me, the absolute best children in the world are the Koreans. They are quiet and well-behaved on long plane rides and without a doubt are the least spoiled children in the world, in my opinion.
Conversation 4, Lyme Disease: One of the strongest hikers Saturday was a woman who is getting over her second case of Lyme disease. Would never have known she'd been battling this infectious disease with antibiotics the past month. I've always been afraid of this tick-related malady, and was most anxious to know what she said had to say about it.
Basically she gardens and says she occasionally picks up these tiny little seed ticks, also referred by her as "deer ticks." She said the first case was treated immediately when she recognized a rash on her back that she knew was often the first stage of Lyme. One round of antibiotics did the trick and she never had any other effects.
Her second tick infection came a year later with symptoms of overall unwellness and high fever, but no rash. She said her first case gave her no immunity from her second. This time, she needed a longer round of antibiotics, adding she was feeling much better but still hadn't gotten her full energy back.
She also said she was now gardening and hiking only in long pants and never again in shorts, even in hot weather.
Something about this conversation and seeing how strong this woman is made me less fearful of Lyme disease. But still it's not something I wouldn't want to contract if possible.
It's always fun to hike with friends and new acquaintances. Like travel, for me it's fascinating to know what's on people's minds and a little of why they think the way they do. I liked these people for the most part and think there were actually some conservative politically incorrect hikers like me on the AT Saturday. Glory Be!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
In many ways it was worse than the German holocaust---which ended at the end of World War II---because it went on so much longer and was perpetuated on a country's own people. Government take-over of its people---including health care, the economy, the banking system--- always, always, always brings impoverishment in the long run.
FOR DECADES Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn painted word pictures of the mass cruelty, dehumanization, starvation, death and decay within Russian forced labor camps from the 20s to the early 70s known as the Gulag. Under Josef Stalin---during the time of communist rule over every aspect of men's lives---these camps and other repressive programs killed tens of millions of Russians. His best-known works---The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich---were written from first-hand experience and incarceration in the Gulag prison camps. Solzhenitsyn was later released, published his descriptive works and was later awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. In 1974 he was exiled from the Soviet Union and did not return to his homeland until 1994.
Later, another Russian artist chronicled his Gulag experience in a group of paintings now known as the Gulag Collection. His story is below.
NIKOLAI GETMAN PAINTED THE GULAG EXPERIENCE THAT SOLZHENITZEN WROTE ABOUT WHICH STANDS ALONE AS A VIVID AND IMPORTANT HISTORICAL PICTORIAL ACCOUNT OF MASS TORTURE AND SUBJUGATION IN RUSSIA:
In 1946, an artist named Nikolai Getman was imprisoned in the Soviet Union's GULAG. During the 1920s, the Soviet Union developed a system of extreme repression and terror that inflicted forced famines, purges, executions, and arrests on the people of the Soviet Union. Under Josef Stalin, forced-labor camps in Siberia became the pillar of that system. They were one of the principal techniques by which Stalin exerted absolute control over the lives and decisions of the Soviet people. An estimated 50 million people died as a result of Stalin's inhuman policies of terror and repression.
Getman's "crime" was that he had been present in a cafe with several fellow artists, one of whom drew a caricature of Stalin on a cigarette paper. An informer told the authorities, and the entire group was arrested for "anti-Soviet behavior". Getman spent eight years in Siberia at the Kolyma labor camps where he witnessed firsthand one of the darkest periods of Soviet history. Although he survived the camps, the horrors of the GULAG seared into his memory. Upon his release in 1954, Getman commenced a public career as a politically correct painter. Secretly, however, for more than four decades, Getman labored at creating a visual record of the GULAG which vividly depicts all aspects of the horrendous life (and death) which so many innocent millions experienced during that infamous era.
Getman's collection is unique because it is the only visual record known to exist of this tragic phenomenon. Unlike Nazi Germany, which recorded and preserved in detail a visual history of the Holocaust, the Russians prefer not to remember what happened in the GULAG. Not a single person has been punished for the deaths of the millions who perished there. If film or other visual representations of the Soviet GULAG existed, they have been largely destroyed or suppressed. The Getman collection stands alone as a most important historical document.
from the Jamestown Foundation