Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back tomorrow with new posts...

  I hope to be back on line tomorrow. Performance schedule plus other commitments have made it difficult to blog. Plus, its been a little quite of late. What's happened this week? Pawlenty gets some points for getting his foreign policy speech out front of everyone else. Bachmann is making some unforced errors of her own ala Obama. New Yorkers vote to approve gay marriage and President Obama gets a little pissy with the GOP, which suggests to me that the hopes for a bipartisan deal on the raising of the debt ceiling is just about gone. Mitt Romney gave a speech in Allentown this afternoon which I thought was weak. Apparently his plans to create jobs is to criticize Barack Obama at every turn. A Conservative Court ruled the Affordable Care Act and the Individual Mandate within to be Constitutional, which has to bum out Conservatives. Also, Glen Beck is off of Fox News now, curious to see how many of his fans really follow him GBTV.

 I thought it was a class act by President Obama to award outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom at his retirement ceremony today. Gates is a legend in the defense biz. Been around since the mid 1960's, served under 8 POTUS's...that's quite the career.

  Blogging will continue to be light over the Holiday weekend except for the GOP Power Rankings. Unless something big goes down, that is.

  Have a safe, Happy 4th...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: The Interrogator -

Book Review: The Interrogator -

More evidence from an insider that "enhanced interrogation techniques" are not the optimal way to obtain information from those we have captured.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Barack Obama or Michelle Obama Could Run for President in 2016, and Beyond - The Daily Beast

Barack Obama or Michelle Obama Could Run for President in 2016, and Beyond - The Daily Beast

I just don't see Michelle Obama running, do you?

Republican Candidates Power Rankings (Debut Edition)

It's early. Really early...

The first primaries are still months away, the debates don't kick in with a vengeance until after Labor Day but already we see some reshuffling of the GOP deck. Upwards of ten Republicans are thought to be in the mix for the party nomination in 2012. If history teaches us anything about presidential politics, its that more often than not, pundits are wrong, polls are wrong and the candidate left standing after all others have been vanquished isn't a name we were told to watch out for 18 months earlier. 

Weekly, I'll try and make sense of what's happening in the GOP field. Who's up and who's down. There's no impressive mathematical formula being used here. I'm not Nate Silver. Rather, I'll look at the stories of the week, glance at the polls, and see what the candidates are focusing on to come up with a ranking I think makes sense for now. Over time, we should see a fairly solid order develop. 

The top dog each week isn't necessarily the person I predict will eventually win the nomination, but rather a snapshot of where the field stands right now. Over time, we'll see the field shrink and as fewer candidates are left standing, the more closely we'll follow the survivors and also keep an eye on who's endorsing whom. Its very fluid. I think we'll see at least one name drop out because of an alleged scandal. Who runs out of money? Who does the GOP "pack" turn on first? 

Here we go...

1) Mitt Romney-The widely acknowledged front-runner has more money, a larger organisation and strong name recognition scores. Romney does well in the recent Gallup Poll's overview of the GOP field, ranking 1st in ballot support (electability) and 3rd in name recognition behind Palin and Gingrich. He avoided any direct hits on the recent debate and seems to be running an organised, disciplined campaign thus far. He is, by any measure today, the man to beat. Won the Iowa straw poll by a single percent over our #2 ranked candidate...May be painted as a flip-flopper after changing stance on abortion, plus his greatest political achievement, universal healthcare coverage in Massachusetts, may hardly be seen as a blessing than a curse when its all said and done with. 

2) Michelle Bachmann-Came in a strong 2nd in the Iowa straw poll right behind the prohibitive favorite, Mitt Romney. Made a splash at the debate two weeks ago and seems to be riding a wave of popularity. Trouble is she was starting from so far behind the other names in the field that she's climbed to a middle of the pack status, no better. Yet. She has poor electability scores that should improve as/if people take her more seriously over time. Officially announcing her candidacy for POTUS on Monday in Iowa, she is a Tea Party favorite who projects to be an interesting figure to follow over the early stages of the '12 campaign. 

3) Tim Pawlenty-A surprisingly weak showing at the Iowa straw poll (sixth place with just 6% of the vote) follows a unsatisfying performance in the debate two weeks ago. Many in the party are concerned if he is a strong enough candidate after passing up an opportunity to engage Romney head on about his Romneycare comment. Pawlenty tried to polish that up by admitting it was an opportunity lost, but these two events combined are not the solid start his campaign wanted and probably needed. There's no particular area that he does better than anyone else running. 

4) Herman Cain-The only other candidate to get at least 10% of the Iowa Straw poll vote. Cain did well against a weak field in the first debate in SC, less so in the second with the heavy hitters on the same stage. His issue is name recognition. If he continues to hold his own in the debates, that should improve and he might benefit from the under dog label. Has strong favorables among those that know him, but I wonder if he has the organisation and financial support to be around, meaningfully in a year from now. 

 5) Sarah Palin- No one seems to really know is she will run or stay on the sidelines and play kingmaker. Through the roof name recognition but has dropping popularity numbers to deal with if she enters the race. There's no reports of a strong, nationwide organisation being constructed, (an office in Iowa doesn't count,) and rather than improve her policy chops the last few years, she's been more of a media darling than an Executive in training. Not viewed by many to be a serious politician. Leaving the Governorship in Alaska is also a huge obstacle to overcome. She's got lots of money and a role to play in who takes on Obama in 2012. I think she does not run.

 6) John Huntsman-Threw his hat in the race a few days ago and already being portrayed as the outcast by many on the far right of the Party. His association and complimentary letters towards President Obama hurt him as do his non traditional stances on gay marriage and a faster withdrawal of our troops. While his name recognition is improving over the last year, it seems the more Conservative voters learn about him, the less they like him. I think Huntsman is pursuing the Independent vote more than the traditional GOP vote. The thinking is that if the higher profile candidates destroy each other, Huntsman could emerge as a reasonable, electable Conservative. We'll see...

 7) Rick Perry-Another undeclared name who continues to be mentioned as a possible late entry to the field. The long time Governor of Texas is very well thought of by the more conservative elements of the party, but nationally, not well known. The latest odds I've seen seem to put him at 50/50 he enters the race. I can't see how he can make up lost ground on the other announced candidates or secure enough finances to cover the costs of a long campaign. If the former Gov. of Massachusetts wins the nomination, who better to join him on a powerful ticket than another successful Governor who could bring with him a lot of SW votes? Romney/Perry would'nt have much in the way of any Foreign Policy chops but did Senator Obama?

 8) Rick Santorum- Aligned strongly with the far right of the Conservative movement, Santorum did poorly in the Iowa straw poll, with just 4% of the vote. He's been around for awhile, does well with hard core Christians but not an "A group" candidate. Unless he catches fire early, I suspect his resources will dry up.Some say he's running more for Vice President than the top job, but I'm not sure what constituency he can provide. PA voters spanked him by 18% in his last State election. Its possible Romney, a Mormon, could see a benefit of having a devout Conservative Christian on his ticket, but I don't see it as a strong ticket. Also, still has that nasty Google issue...

 9) Ron Paul-Good name recognition but terrible negatives are associated with the most Libertarian of the Republicans. Earned 7% of the straw poll vote in Iowa, which says more about Santorum's chances than Paul's. Probably unelectable as he's viewed by many as more of a novelty candidate than a serious Conservative. His platform of smaller Gov't. resonates to a degree with the fashionable Tea Party anti-big Gov't. desires but leaves them cold with his stance on drugs, marraige, etc. The least cookie-cutter candidate to be sure, there are few signs visible that the Party is ready to embrace Mr. Paul as a national best hope to beat President Obama in '12.

 10) New Gingrich-Two more defections this week as the former Speaker's campaign continues to crumble. The good news is that in spite of all of the chaos surrounding his candidacy thus far he did grab 7% of the vote in Iowa, beating Pawlenty and Santorum and tying Ron Paul. Despite falling out of the starting gate, I think Gingrich will improve his standing once the debates kick in. If nothing else, its an opportunity to make up some ground. Then again, he might close up shop before we get to those debates...


Friday, June 24, 2011

Obama flubs on Medal of Honor recipient - Yahoo! News

Obama flubs on Medal of Honor recipient - Yahoo! News

Again? I've lost count on how many times President Obama has committed what I call "an unforced error." Its not at all about perfection, everyone makes mistakes. Certainly, given the amount of attention the POTUS gets his mistakes are magnified. This one insults both families of the soldiers who received the medals, but many others who align themselves close to our broader military family. It, fair or not, suggests a lack of attention and seriousness towards the military that only compounds the general perception that this President is not very supportive of the armed forces. I think he sincerely does care about the military but for every good deed you do (raise pay, benefits for military families, etc...) gaffs like this undo much of the positive perception.

From not putting his hand over his heart at the Iowa dinner while on the campaign, to saying he'd been to 57 States, to saying the police behaved stupidly on the Harvard professor breaking into his own house business, not releasing his long form birth certificate earlier, the Transportation global junkets info coming out days after you announced a big new project to reduce waste, chewing gum at the Joplin Memorial service, the poor execution of the toast to the Queen, to putting the wrong date on the Westminster Abbey guestbook and so on...

As small as many of these things are by themselves, together they begin to create a persona of someone who on some level may be brilliant, but on another level, oblivious.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two articles on Obama's Afghan speech...

One critical from Fox news...

Another more supportive...

 As I wrote in an earlier blog, no one is thrilled with Obama's decision on how best to bring home the troops. Conservatives mostly think he should have gone slower, Liberals mostly think he should've gone faster.

Is President Obama Doing Well Reducing Federal Waste?

Is President Obama making good progress on reducing waste in our Federal Government?

I don't know, is my best answer.

On the heels of the ABC story revealing the Department of Transportation's around the world junkets to observe/study other Countries highways, I wanted to dig a tad deeper on this topic. Perhaps I gave President Obama a rougher ride than he deserved.

The Transportation trips have been suspended effective immediately. That's good.

Ten days ago, this Administration announced "another" taskforce/oversight board to work with Government agencies to increase the effort to identify and reduce waste at the Federal level. I'm leery, yet hopeful of this. The last time the WH created a special group to address a specific problem it was the Simpson Bowles Commission which after months of meetings and hearings, was largely ignored by the President. Talk about waste?

There has been good progress in Medicare and Medicaid fraud since Obama took office. The selling of out of service government buildings is another sensible effort. Same thing with the stopping of the printing of the Federal Register, which is available on line. The Administration claims they've realized 33 Billion in savings this year already, with more savings in sight.

I should add that we're spending two billion dollars a week in Afghanistan, which by the time we're done in a few more years, will provide an additional 100 Billion in savings, over 137 Billion in all. That's a nice chunk. (137 Billion would also cover the cost of almost 10 million families of four, health insurance for a year.) (137B/14K = 9.79M)

Ok, so Obama hasn't done nothing, for sure. He's taken some steps towards an obvious goal of reducing waste. My complaint is that they missed a rather big juicy one in the Transportation trips that makes his Administration look silly. To have a story like that come out shortly after announcing a new waste task force looks ridiculous. For some perspective, I went back and reviewed his first two State Of The Union speeches. Since it seems to be in fashion to count how many times the President says a certain word these days, I search for the word "waste."

In both speeches combined, President Obama said the word "waste" a single time. Once.

I know many readers are thinking if we shut down or at least pared back a few dozen agencies, THAT would save money as well. For better or worse, such moves would save money up front. While many Conservatives view the EPA as pure waste, many people of both sides of the aisle disagree and feel the Agency is on a worthwhile mission. Budget cuts don't necessarily equal a reduction in waste. Look at the Gulf oil spill. Regulations/Gov't. oversight was reduced, which saved some small amount of money in the short term only to be dwarfed in spending in the Gulf crisis costs.

The Federal Government needs to follow through on this Commission and "wow" us with their plans to reduce waste. You can't switch to a cheaper toilet paper in the Capital and expect us to get all misty eyed.

On the other hand, now is not a time to be penny wise and pound foolish...


Tax Dollars Spent on what? (Nice job lame stream media...)

Thanks to my old pal Karen who shared this:

ABC News Reports Millions of Tax Dollars wasted on foreign trips to observe billboards...

  The gist of the story that for at least ten years, the Transportation Department has paid fairly big bucks for groups of  Federal and State employees to travel abroad and investigate how other Countries manage their larger highway systems. look at issues like safety, materials used to construct the roads, climate issues, etc. Basically trying to learn how we can make our roads better, safer and last longer. Sounds reasonable. We can always learn from others, but in the last week or so a particular trip all OVER the world with the purpose of studying how various Countries handle policies related to billboards.

  Reportedly, the employees stayed in high end hotels in Australia and Europe, ate at expensive restaurants, and had a wonderful time. Estimated cost of this particular trip? In the 300K range.

  The program began under George Bush and continued under the current administration until yesterday, when Obama official Ray Lahood, Secretary of the Transportation Dept. ordered it suspended till further notice. Which was, albeit a tad late, the right thing to do.

  A few questions:

1) I thought President Obama had staff working round the clock in every Federal nook and cranny to root out waste. How did they miss this? This seems like a big fat one hanging right out over the middle of the plate. So obvious Ray Charles could've seen it. On this count, there's no excuses Mr. President. Your Administration, and therefore you, Sir, appear inept. Please tell me how a well known expense drain such as Travel wasn't examined well enough to discover this? Clumsy, amateurish and once again, a self inflicted mis-step. (This is getting old...)

2) This story seems to have gotten a charge from the work done by Brian Ross of ABC News. Last I checked, ABC News was firmly in the group of "lame stream media" outlets that were nothing but Obama puppets. One story does not a new trend make, but its nice to see a story like this come from an association connected with "the left."

3) As of 12:15pm today, I couldn't find this story mentioned anywhere on Fox News. I count on Fox News to keep me informed on news such as this, because in all of media history, no other "mainstream media organisation" seems willing to show the President or his Administration in a less than adoring light. Thank God for Fox News. This seems exactly like the kind of story they would do well with. (What I did find on the Fox News home page was a clip alerting me to how many times Obama used the word "I" (or a form of it such as I've) in his Afghanistan speech last night.) Eck...

Its not the end of the world, but its more the principle of the thing. For a man who said " I got this" repeatedly during the campaign, you don't "got this" Mr. President nor did your Sec.of Transportation until ABC News put a story out on it. That's a Fail.

Fox News also gets a Fail on this because this is the kind of stuff they do better than anyone else. If you weren't so busy looking for Obama's imagined mistakes, who knows-you might find even more goodies like ABC did.

ABC News? They get a thumbs up for reporting the story, in spite of their "loyalty" to the anointed one. They should have done a better job providing details as to how and why the program began in the first place. What benefits have come from it that might offset the cost? How long was the program intended to last?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

President Obama makes right call with troop reduction in Afghanistan...

  Tonight, President Barack Obama is expected to announce a reduction of five thousand troops to be brought home from Afghanistan by the end of the year, with another 30 thousand home by the end of 2012.

  There will be criticism from both sides of the aisle. The far left will say its not a fast enough withdrawal of the troops, while the far right will say its too many, too fast. Fortunately, most people find themselves in a more central position. Bin Laden is dead. Al Qaeda is out of Afghanistan and hiding in Pakistan. The Taliban has shown a willingness to shape a deal. The Prime Minister of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai is the corrupt leader of a corrupt central Government that has limited power countrywide. It is a nation of villages, each with its own history and interests. They do not want us there.

  At the price tag of two billion dollars a week, given our economic issues here in the States, the case is easily made to draw down our forces and expenditures and begin to close this chapter of our military history.

  We can only hope the deaths of over 1500 US soldiers and the countless injuries (both physical and mental) will not be proven to be for nothing.

  Time will tell...

  President Obama addresses the nation at 8:00pm eastern time...


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

PolitiFact | Jon Stewart says those who watch Fox News are the "most consistently misinformed media viewers"

PolitiFact | Jon Stewart says those who watch Fox News are the "most consistently misinformed media viewers"

I cringed when I heard him say this. I'm glad Politifact put some resources into this. As popular as Stewart is, his claims deserve to be checked as well...

Good for them...

Graham to block Commerce nominee over Boeing complaint - The Hill's Transportation Report (Why???)

Graham to block Commerce nominee over Boeing complaint - The Hill's Transportation Report

President Obama has nominated John Bryson to be the new Secretary of Commerce. Bryson is a member of the Board of Directors of Boeing, and has been critical of the NLRB's lawsuit against Boeing over a questionable/potential transfer of jobs from Washington State to a new plant in South Carolina.

Nonetheless, SC Senator Lindsey Graham will block Bryson's nomination unless the White House comes out in favor of Boeing.

Does that strike anyone as odd?

President Obama's selected a long time energy expert, attorney and CEO of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison. Strong business background and solid career with a slant to energy issues. Graham hasn't stated Bryson isn't qualified for the position. This is pure politics.

Consider that one of the more common complaints against President Obama has been his penchant for "flying solo" and ignoring the advice of other, more experienced politicians and government and military officials. The National Labor Relations Board is an Independent Agency of the Federal Government, with President Obama holding no power over Agency heads or members. If the President would comply with Sen. Graham's request, couldn't some then accuse the President and this Administration of interfering with an Agency that's supposed to be separate from the Executive Branch of our Federal Government?

Further, if this case does go to trial, (which they usually don't,) wouldn't a sharp attorney representing the NLRB cry foul against the administration's publicly siding with Boeing?

Congress authorizes these agencies to function in a fashion not tethered to the Executive Branch, as in Cabinet positions-which report directly to the President.

Sen. Graham's request is a thinly veiled political stunt which flies in the face of common sense. Its purpose is to pander to his constituency, which he's expected to re-elect him in 2014.


Obama’s Labor Board Defends Workers, Conservatives Freak Out « Talking Union

Obama’s Labor Board Defends Workers, Conservatives Freak Out « Talking Union

Probably the best case I've read yet on the Union side of the Boeing flap.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I hate you, you hate me, we're a happy fam-i-ly?

 I saw on Friday where Texas Governor Rick Perry used his veto pen to kill a new law that would've made texting while driving in Texas a crime. Governor Perry said texting while driving "is reckless and irresponsible" but that he saw the bill as "a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults." It was co-sponsored by two Republican legislators, so its hard to cry some sort of partisan foul has occurred. Gov. Perry just thinks that adults should be left to their own judgement with regard to texting while driving. He doesn't condone it, yet won't permit a law making it illegal. Its not the correct role of Government to formally weigh in on this, according to the Governor of Texas. I happen to disagree with Gov. Perry. I've heard others on the Left say some pretty outrageous things about Perry for not signing this into law. Rather than consider that Gov. Perry is quite within his powers to veto such Bills, he's ridiculed as a nutjob. He's anything but. The comments are uncalled for and do nothing to advance the debate about the risks of texting while driving in Texas.

 Reasonable people can agree there are limits to the role that Government should play in our lives. It is, perhaps with the possible exception of the economy, the largest fundamental issue voters may be considering when they vote in the next Presidential Election in November, 2012. Many feel the Federal Government should be reduced in size, to more closely resemble the scope of Government the founding fathers held. Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln said, " we should do together (via a Federal government) what we cannot do or do so well for ourselves." Typically, Conservatives feel that meant a national army, an organised system of national highways to facilitate transportation and commerce, etc. It never meant Federal agencies involving themselves in the protection of our environment, educating our youth, providing health care on a national level, space exploration, etc. 

 The rhetoric of the last three years or so has become super-heated. People that supported programs protecting the environment, education, health care, space exploration, etc. in decades past were rarely called Socialists by a meaningful percentage of Americans. Yes, there has always been an element to the extremes that engaged in labeling the mainstream something other than it was. But, its just that...the mainstream of people's opinions. Was it a fringe element that put us into the space program? No. Were there protests in the streets against the race to the heavens? No, there weren't. Nor was there much significant outrage toward the EPA, government's involvement in education or providing health care to those oldest and poorest among us. There was some, but it clearly didn't carry the day. Now, people who support such Federal programs and Departments are often the sworn enemy, in some minds, of the United States of America. In the 1990, the controversial "Individual Mandate" requiring every citizen to acquire health insurance was the chosen strategy by the GOP to defeat the Clinton's health care reform plans. Now, its code-speak for a "Socialist" program that will eat away at our God given rights. If Medicare is really a Socialist program as former President Reagan told us it was in 1961, why haven't the good people of the USA voted to get rid of it? Have they been tricked? Duped? Or, has it actually helped many and earned respect over the years?

 It (the political process) has changed from a reasonably polite differing of paths forward to a fundamental battle between good and evil. The "good side" is whatever ideology we feel resonates most closely with our own. The "bad guys" subscribe to a group of ideas NOT found within our hearts and minds. The middle ground of compromise is eroding away at an alarming rate. While the winners assume office, the losers no longer fade away back into their previous careers and small towns. They all too often secure a job with a sympathetic cable news network and offer up ad hominen attacks on the people now trying to serve the people. 

 As witnessed by the last mid terms, when the Country wishes to effect a change on Washington, it knows how to do that. 

 Its very disturbing to me how nasty the rhetoric has become. I do not think its a partisan issue as I think there was just as strong an anti-George Bush flurry of hate speech, insults and name calling as we see today towards Barack Obama. What began as a fairly civil debate in our Congress 230+ years ago has degenerated into a two way battle of demonization. As a result of the toxic campaign advertising and equally toxic talk radio blabber from both sides, we now position our Country to see one of two outcomes. If "our" side wins, Good has prevailed. If "our" side loses, then we've lost our Country, Freedoms and Liberties to the "evil-doers."

 I suggest its going to cause long term damage to our national interests if we persist with this polarization of our political process. If the more inflammatory remarks during the long Presidential campaign are mostly a device to win an election, it positions us after the election to reject coming together under common goals. How does 40% of the voting electorate go from despising and fearing the opponents on Election Day to opening their arms the day after? The act of unification is feigned. The rhetoric may be toned down, but only for a while as there's the Mid terms in two years to begin to undo whatever progress the "other side" has achieved. So it ramps up again. And again. And again. 

 Make no mistake, politics has always been a contact sport. Most Presidential campaigns are rough. A difference I think is that technology today adds an immediacy to what is said. We not only see it and hear it almost in real time, we see the most sensational lines played over and over and over again. The drone of the incendiary comments dulls our collective senses and we begin to want something more heated, more personal, more attacking to the opponent we dislike. Its not intellectual. Its visceral. Its a feeling of a mob that we want to belong to. If Santorum decides to pass on the chance to further attack Romney as in the debate last week, he's immediately criticized by all sides as weak. Which then perhaps compels him to respond more vigorously later last week when Romney chose to not sign a "Pro Life Pledge." Now, Romney must respond and vice versa. 

Is this the best we can do? Or, rather, is this really what we want every election cycle? 


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Light Blogging/ Automotive school for Dummies...

  Between my performance schedule and some fairly intense automotive repairs occurring, time for writing has suffered. Both cars seemed to be afflicted at the same time with some issues that a great neighbor has helped me with. I know little about cars but in the last ten days I've replaced rotors and pads, a control arm bushing, a sway bar, added freon to my wife's A/C, replaced a water pump and fixed a leaking line on her transmission.

  Ok, well I watched. And handed him things. And went to the store. LOL...

  Last night we discovered my wife's water pump was on its last legs. Pure luck as we were working on her AC when he noticed it. From experience with replacing water pumps before, I was expecting to shell out hundreds of dollars to get it fixed. A quick session on the internet and I found two at a local auto parts store, BOTH under $20.00. Ninety minutes later, the new pump was installed, the leak was stopped, life was good.

 For kicks I called the local Chevy dealer today and asked for a quote. $380.00 plus tax I was told.


  Back to politics tonight or tomorrow...

Take care-

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - EXCLUSIVE: Political Insiders Give Debate Nod to Romney, Bachmann - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - EXCLUSIVE: Political Insiders Give Debate Nod to Romney, Bachmann - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Early polling on the Monday night GOP debate...

Interesting results for Ron he still a serious candidate?

Bachmann, Romney have strong showing in GOP debate...

Ok, I've had time to digest tonight's Republican debate and here's some thoughts and my grades:

No one threw any solid shots tonight. All the candidates bashed President Obama at every opportunity. The tactic from Moderator John King of CNN to have the candidates use the honor system with regard to staying within the time limits failed miserably. No shockers whatsoever tonight but several interesting moments.

Mitt Romney: Performed as expected, looked polished and Presidential. Used kid gloves with Pawlenty, stuck to the Party line, played it safe. Got the most questions, but stayed away from controversial statements. I don't know if he acquired any new supporters tonight, but I don't think he lost any, either. Comes off like its his nomination to lose, which it probably is. Doesn't seem prone to unforced errors, he is the anti-Gingrich candidate. Very disciplined performance tonight. (GRADE B+)

Tim Pawlenty: Apparently signed a non aggression pact with the other candidates. Seemed nervous in the first few minutes and bungled his answer about Obamneycare when pressed by moderator John King. The only candidate I heard mention Free Trade but had strong answer citing Obama's mortgage rescue program as a failure. Not as polished or Presidential as Romney appeared. Stated that Sarah Palin is "qualified to be President." (GRADE C)

Newt Gingrich: Had the most work to do tonight but failed to regain much lost ground. His efforts to differentiate himself from the others were either too subtle or simply fell flat. Claimed to be "taken out of context" with his comments about the Ryan Plan for Medicare but then doubled down and said the conversation needed to be slowed down to learn what American really wanted. Scored points on immigration with a call for moderation. Lost points when he said he'd use a loyalty oath for Non Christians. If you're a Gingrich fan, you're probably bummed out tonight. (GRADE C-)

Rick Santorum: Played nice when given an opportunity to comment on Pawlenty's ambitious economic plan. Fear-mongered about the IPAB commencing rationing as soon as 2014. Passed on chance to question Romney's "conversion " a pro-life stance a few years ago. Supports ending the ethanol subsidy. Appeared high strung and tense with his responses. No surprises tonight, but doesn't appear to have the same gravitas as Romney, Pawlenty, etc. possess. I think Santorum is more likely running for Vice President, than the top of the ticket. (GRADE C)

Michelle Bachmann: The most self assured, well spoken, engaging candidate in the debate. Her answers were sharp, contained better content and seemed more powerful to me than those of the others. Announcing her actual (not official) intent to run for office may have been a grandstand move, but it worked. She used it on a question she preferred not to answer, regarding Pawlenty's economic plan. Her quote of former Senator Obama refusing to vote to raise the debt ceiling a few years ago was a nice touch. Her one stumble came regarding the Defense of Marriage issue when she said she'd support an Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but then said she wouldn't overturn any States that had voted gay marriage into law. (GRADE A)

Ron Paul: God bless Ron Paul. Almost every answer of his contained a plea for attention to the Treasury Department and our currency. No surprises from Mr. Paul at all this evening. Advocates for smaller Government with a Libertarian bent. Feels marriage should be left to the States, if not the Church. Wants the troops home ASAP. I can't identify anything that advanced his cause much tonight. (GRADE C+)

Herman Cain: A little better competition tonight, eh Mr. Cain? Performed well but stumbled on the question about a loyalty oath for Muslims who wanted to serve in his administration. Promised no Sharia Law in America if he gets elected. Supported Federal Government (FDA) retaining role in safeguarding nation's food supply. Thinks the States should decide for themselves on gay marriage, wouldn't overturn President Obama's repeal of DADT unless it was necessary. Also feels that the Constitution should be changed regarding birthright citizenship.(GRADE C)

Monday, June 13, 2011

GOP blog...(Cont.)

4th segment:

*Cain says the States should handle marriage laws, Paul says leave it to the churches, all the others say the Federal Government should pursue an amendment for defination of marriage to the constitution.

*Bachman says she supports a Fed amendment but shouldn't overturn state rulings on this. Huh?

*All support in varying degrees repealing the repeal of DADT...

*All are pro-life...(shocker)

*Cain says birthright citizenship should be overturned..

*Gingrich says Immigration problem should seek a moderate solution...

GOP blog...(Cont.)

3rd segment:

*Gingrich says he was taken out of context re: comments on MTP about the Ryan Plan, then doubles down on it...

*Santorum warns of rationing by 2014 via the IPAB...

*Romney, Bachmann say they'd vote against raising the debt ceiling unless Obama conceeds major spending cuts...

*Cain backs off on using purity test for Muslims who want to work in his cabinet...Gingrich says he'd use one...(loyalty oath)

GOP blog...(Cont.)

Second segment didn't; seem to impress me as much as opening round did.

*Ron Paul is hammering at his less federal government in everything...

*All disagreed with the auto bailout...

*All agreed with Obama's decision to cut funding in space program, but none gave him credit for it...

*TPaw's best answer of the night came on question about Obama's mortgage programs failing...

*Romney thinks disaster relief should be more of a state responsibility than the fed...

GOP blog...

Early observations...

*Michelle Bachman has the sharpest answers of anyone. She also unofficially announced her intention to run for POTUS.

Both Romney and Pawlenty pass on multiple chances to criticize the other...

*Pawlenty looks weaker than Romney does so far, looked bad when he dodged John Kings pressing on "Obamneycare" remark over the weekend.

*Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich both look pissed off and terse...

*Cain's done well but not as flashy as Bachmann...

*Santorum looks a little out of place...

*Everyone is bashing Obama at every opportunity...

GOP Debate in New Hampshire...what to look for...

  The second Republican debate of 2011 will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire this evening. CNN Has the broadcast, which starts at 8:00pm and runs for two hours. Participating will be Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann.

 Some thoughts on each participant:

Romney-Home field advantage and considered by most to have the best organisation up and running. He has loads of money, the experience of testing the waters back in '08 and has done well in recent polling. I think he's the guy that the others will try and hit pretty hard. Everyone will hit Obama, but that's low hanging fruit to be sure. I'll be shocked if someone doesn't make a reference to Romneycare and my vote is on Tim Pawlenty to be the first.

Pawlenty-Considered by many as the second most legitimate candidate, T-Paw should be one of the more aggressive speakers on the stage. He has to get out from the shadow Romney has cast and there's no better way than to smack Romney as hard as he can. Pawlenty may have to defend his economic plan which predicts stunning levels of growth. That topic may be Romney's counter punch, in fact.

Gingrich-Days after virtually all of his election team bailed, he shares a stage in a wounded condition. His fundraising has slowed down since he criticized the Ryan Plan for Medicare and unless he has a strong showing, it could be over for the former Speaker of the House. Don't under estimate Gingrich, he is probably the smartest person on stage tonight. Combine his current bad situation and his propensity for making undisciplined statements, there's no telling what he might say. He has to stand out, in a good way, for his campaign to survive.

Paul-Another candidate who is known for controversial statements. In South Carolina's first debate, he supported legalizing all drugs. (At least in getting the Federal Government out of the drug policing business, that is...) Paul isn't considered a serious candidate, so I'd be shocked if any of the previously mentioned men make a target out of him. If he's not a real threat, why waste the bullets?

Santorum-I heard a great line about Santorum over the weekend. He's actually running for Vice President. Low name recognition, hasn't held office in a long time, got thumped in PA the last time he ran for anything. he may try and stand out and lob some bombs or perhaps let others do the heavy lifting tonight and simply try to emerge as unscathed as possible.

Cain-Cain won the SC debate a few weeks ago but it was a watered down field. Tonight, he's the "A Team" to deal with. I see him as the charming outsider who will also try to limit any damage to his own cause. A long shot candidate, like Santorum, he may adopt a strategy of throwing a few haymakers to Romney and Pawlenty, but if he does, they better be good ones. I think he's over his head and tonight, we'll see how he does in the deep end of the GOP pool.

Bachmann-The only undeclared candidate, Bachmann is a brilliant speaker, a quick thinker and intellectually anyone's match tonight. I doubt anyone will tag her too hard, I think she carries a low profile through the debate to give her a little momentum into her official campaign announcement coming up by the end of the month in Iowa. "Do no harm" will be her mantra tonight.

I'll post a recap and my grades after the debate wraps up....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Medicare Saves Money -

Medicare Saves Money -

Krugman comments on Joe Lieberman's proposal to raise the Medicare age from 65 to 67 in an effort to save money. Problem is, it'll cost even more...

E Street Band's Clarence Clemons suffers stroke - Entertainment - Music -

E Street Band's Clarence Clemons suffers stroke - Entertainment - Music -

One of the iconic sax sidemen of my youth...He and Bruce were awesome together...

Blogging resumes tomorrow...

Really busy with a 28 performance in 21 day stretch.Not complaining mind you, I just needed to recharge...

Upcoming blogs this week will include a preview of Monday night's GOP debate in New Hampshire, a recap afterwards, a look at tax rates and general happiness on an international scale, (Tease: Research indicates that the happiest Countries aren't the ones with the lowest tax rates) and a few other goodies...

Hope you had a great weekend....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blue Shield Of California Sets Profit Cap Other Insurers May Not Imitate - Kaiser Health News

"Blue Shield of California’s surprising announcement that it will cap profits at 2 percent and issue millions in policyholder refunds sparked hopes that other health insurers would follow suit, but many experts said yesterday that was unlikely.

The company, which made the announcement Tuesday, is better positioned than most to make that move. For one thing, as a nonprofit, it has more leeway to cap profits than its for-profit cousins who have to meet Wall Street earnings targets, says Peter Kongstvedt, a managed care consultant in McLean, Va."

Read more:

The Case of the Mystery Study -

The Case of the Mystery Study -

McKinsey turns down White House request for details from study that said up to 30% of American businesses would drop health insurance benefits as a response to the Affordable Care Act. That figure matches up with no other legit study released so far.

Boehner’s Monthly $2,000 Tab : Roll Call News

Boehner’s Monthly $2,000 Tab : Roll Call News

"Boehner saw his annual checks jump from $203,400 to $248,500 in January, an increase of about 22 percent."

Glad he's doing so well...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mass Exodus Hits Gingrich Campaign...

Mass defections hit Gingrich campaign

Word came down late afternoon today that mass defections have hit the campaign of Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker of the House, who is returning from a vacation in the Mediterranean, released a statement via Facebook saying, “I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring. The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles.” 

Gone from the Gingrich team are Campaign Manager Rob Johnson, long time spokesman Rick Tyler, several of his top field operatives in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as well as other paid staff members. 

While "a different vision for victory" was cited as the main reason for the exodus, there are several factors that probably played a part in the events of today. 

1) Fundraising: Campaigns are expensive things and whatever streams of donations Gingrich enjoyed early on dried up after he called Paul Ryan's Medicare Plan "Right Wing Social Engineering" and "radical." Even though he called Ryan and apologized, donations had slowed to a trickle. The veteran campaigners who bailed today know there just isn't a comfortable amount of cash coming in to bankroll a 16 month campaign. 

2) Lack of discipline:  As cable pundits weighed in when Gingrich "finally" officially made his campaign announcement for the 2012 GOP nomination, the one thing they all seemed to agree on was could Newt Gingrich campaign in a disciplined way and not shoot his candidacy in the foot by saying something toxic. It didn't take long. When Gingrich appeared (for the 35th time) he made the startling remarks about the GOP Plan for Medicare.  Damage control was initiated quickly, but the toothpaste was out of the tube.  Conservatives united in their rejection of Gingrich's statement. 

3) Bad time for a vacation:  Gingrich's staff felt frustrated that he went overseas for vacation just when he needed to buckle down Stateside and start repairing the damage from the early days of the campaign. The Ryan comment, the matter of an unpaid bill at Tiffany's,  dropping poll results, etc. all contributed to the staff deciding to leave. The trip to Greece cinched it. 

Conservative media sources including Red State took little steps to paint a sympathetic picture of the Gingrich campaign today.  Fox News called his campaign "imperiled." The Hill described his campaign style as "erratic."  Red's Erik Erickson said, "I think the odds of Newt being able to conduct a viable, sustained campaign are rapidly diminishing unless he does something bold quickly or has a knock out performance in the New Hampshire debate on Monday."

Its hard to explain why a candidate, universally hailed as one of the sharpest political minds of this generation could stumble so badly out of the blocks. I see three different paths forward for Mr. Gingrich. Its so bad for him right now that his national campaign co-chair, Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, also announced today that would no longer support a Gingrich run for nomination. Perdue quickly threw his support to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

*Resume a low key campaign and hope that a few of the other GOP candidates slip as he has and then capitalize. 

*Go for the five run home run or some shocking claim or policy that could overshadow the mistakes of the last few weeks. 

*Quit and market his support to the highest bidder in the new GOP Administration. 

We'll know more after his speech in Los Angeles on Sunday and then the debate on Monday evening in New Hampshire. 


New study says 30% of employers may drop health insurance because of Affordable Care Act...(A closer look...)

  The last few days, several of the major media outlets, including (Wall Street Journal and Rueters), have reported the findings of a study done by the McKinsey Group. The claim that up to 30% of employers would drop health insurance benefits is dramatically higher than what other studies and even the White House projected. Turns out there's some reasons to be skeptical of their findings and conclusions.

 TIME Magazine's Kate Pickert did some research of her own into the methodology that McKinsey used. McKinsey's own article described it this way: "...the results were based on a survey of 1,300 employers varying in size from variety of industries and regions." There was no other information provided about how the study was conducted.

Pickert has some basic questions:

* How were the businesses chosen? An unbiased sampling method here is key. If the list of businesses was culled from Chamber of Commerce membership or McKinsey client lists, this is important to know. Ditto if the list was generated in a more randomized way.

* What was the response rate? And how were businesses surveyed? If 13,000 businesses were contacted, but only 1,300 responded, such a 10% response rate could call into question the results. Also, there is, for example, a huge difference between surveys conducted in person, over the phone and over the Internet.

* Lastly, this tidbit was included in the McKinsey Quarterly article about the survey: (Bold mine...)

“…our survey educated respondents about [employer sponsored insurance] implications for their companies and employees before they were asked about post-2014 strategies.”

In other words, those conducting the survey may have primed respondents to say they would keep or drop coverage.

I asked McKinsey if a third party paid for the survey and they said no. On my other questions – about the methodology and what script was used to “educate respondents” – they declined to comment.

With so much dis-information and agendas, both Pro and Con dominating the ongoing discussion about health care reform and the Affordable Care Act, its important we verify the methodologies of any studies, Pro or Con. Its frustrating to me see major news organisations not question the nuts and bolts of a study that seems to suggest an outcome that most other studies of this same issue haven't. If we knew all the details behind McKinsey's study, we'd know better how seriously to take their findings. When they throw down the "no comment" card, it makes me wonder why?

  The knowledge that they "educated respondents" before asking the questions makes me think of a "push-poll." (A push-poll is a type of illegitimate form of polling. Ex. "If you learned that the ACA has death panels in it, would you still support it?") Not very fair or useful in determining actual public or in this case, business attitudes towards the ACA...


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pledge of Allegiance: Two very different versions...

I saw this video earlier this morning. Please watch it...

I like edgy humor that makes me think. I also enjoy movies, music or art that challenge me to stretch beyond my comfort zone. As a performer, I hope that people who listen to my work find some fresh twists on the material that I play. Bottom line, I like artistic innovation, intellectual challenges and the creative process being used to take us places we might not want to go.

I thought about this video for much of the afternoon. I "get" it. We're taught at a very young age to recite, daily, an oath of allegiance to the United States of America. As children, seeking to fit in, the vast majority of us fall in line, learn the words and say them with our classmates. To have a child recite things they don't necessarily comprehend smacks of indoctrination. That's the ugly way to put it. The more standard rationale for it is that the Pledge is a tradition that, for a few seconds a day, perhaps focuses a young person on the symbolic importance of our Flag and Country. Sure, perhaps its hypocritical to say when we do it, its lovely patriotism, but when some other country's children do it, its brain washing and indoctrination. I understand the alleged double standard. I get it.

Videos like this are a form of artistic expression. If art is a form of communication, and I believe it is, that implies the transmission of some sort of a message. To those who question many of the intentions, goodness, etc. of the United States, this video will reinforce attitudes that audience already possess. It will go down smoothly.

To the people who don't share those attitudes, I think they will find it to be offensive. I don't think the way the message is constructed, via the kids in the video and the script; any attitudes, beliefs, etc. will be changed. Its too inflammatory and disrespectful. It doesn't ask the person with a different (traditional) perspective to consider an alternate reality. It mocks them. It mocks something that portion of the audience values in a rather deep way.

So, I wonder what the makers intent was? It wasn't executed in a way that the people who value the Pledge could likely digest and see their attitude be changed because of it.

I was reminded of another famous video, this one much older, about the Pledge...

 We can all agree that there are parts of the Pledge we as a Country don't do so well with. We can debate whether the words "under God" should've been added or not. (I say no...) But there are honorable sentiments within those lines. To crassly mock the Pledge with not something intended to improve, but rather just insult, I think is bad art. Its cheap.

Bachmann strategist blasts Palin: 'Not serious' - Ben Smith -

Bachmann strategist blasts Palin: 'Not serious' - Ben Smith -

The hiring of Ed Rollins tells me Bachmann is definitely getting into the Presidential race. Rollins was the National Campaign Director for Reagan/Bush when they swept 49 of 50 States in 1984. More recently, he helped Mike Huckabee come in second in the 2007 Iowa straw poll.

He's a veteran of elections, he's won some and lost some. He's a guy who's will give her campaign bite, as the comments about Palin suggest.

Look for an announcement from Bachmann later this month when she returns to Iowa...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Resign Mr. Weiner...

  I'm a 50 year old male with what I suspect are fairly typical levels of testosterone, lust, foolishness, ego, etc. It wasn't that long ago I was a single male looking for a good time, a suitable partner to go through life with. Thankfully, I found one and we seem on a path that will see us together until we've drawn our last breath in this world. Two good decades in the books and working on our third, thank you very much...

 Just because we got married way back when didn't mean I stopped noticing other women. A pretty face, a nice shape, etc. simply catches most mens eye, if even for a second. The vast majority of men try not to be idiots about it, but hey, we're guys. That's as far as it goes for most married men, I think. (I'm told that women also "notice" attractive men as well, but aren't as clumsy as we are about noticing women.)

 Late this afternoon Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York went before cameras and apologized to the recipients of his messages/photos. he also apologized to his wife, his family, his constituents, his staff, Andrew Breitbart, the rest of the media. These were sent over the last several years and contained sexually oriented messages and photos of his bare chest and his, uh, junk.

  I just don't get it. I really, really don't get it. Why would any guy send that kind of stuff over the net? Why would a guy with as much to lose as Weiner did, do it for a period of years? WTF were you thinking, Weiner? I could no more fathom taking a picture of uh, my junk and send it anywhere than I could, uh....I don't know. I can't think of something else that could compare to that. Maybe apply for a job as a male stripper? Possibly, cause never going to happen either...Makes no sense, not a damn bit...

 I should say up front that while a citizen of Ohio, I've admired Weiner's legislative work from afar. He seems smart and able to handle the rough and tumble of fighting for what he believes in. I've felt he was a politician with a future. A bright future.

 Well, the admissions today are a game changer. He should resign his seat and move on. He'll land somewhere and do well for himself I'm sure. I think he handled the press conference about as well as he could've. The apology to Mr. Brietbart was a nice touch, I thought.

  At the point that you start zipping sexually laden messages and photos around the internet, you can't be taken seriously anymore. It shows an amazing lack of discipline, self control, judgement and self-image. You lied about it. You can't serve your District, your State, your Party or your Country with such behavior. In your hands voters place a trust, which is supposed to be sacred. Acting so recklessly betrays that trust. You turned yourself and your career into a punchline. An unforced error, which seems to be the new hobby of today's Democratic Party.

  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already called for a Federal Investigation of Mr. Weiner's actions. I applaud her speed and judgement on this.

  Resign Mr. Weiner. Do so promptly and stay friends with your Party. Stay in office and expose the Democratic Party to a daily (yes, it will be daily for a long time,) dose of criticism and abuse from the Right, I think you will lose many party friends. Your seat will stay Democratic, so there's nothing to gained for the Party by you sticking around. There's no appetite or patience for an unneccessary sideshow. Step down, go quiet for awhile, work on your marriage and consider your next career move.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sarah Palin On Paul Revere Ride: I Didn't Get History Wrong (VIDEO)

Sarah Palin On Paul Revere Ride: I Didn't Get History Wrong (VIDEO)

I've been as fair minded as I can be regarding Palin's answer to the Paul Revere question the other day.

She claims it was another "gotcha" question...


How dare anyone of the local media ask her anything about anything, eh? She calls this big bus tour a trip to highlight our american history but screws the pooch when somebody asks her a pretty basic question.

Sarah Palin...victim....again...

New Republic: An Old Approach to Health Reform : NPR

New Republic: An Old Approach to Health Reform : NPR

An interesting article by two long time health care experts. In a nutshell, they advocate adjusting our priorities to focusing on quality not quantity of life years. They support targeting a increase of life expectancy to about 80, increasing quality of life across the board with the highest investment being in children, then the adults that basically run the country and finally, seniors over 80 years of age. They believe the government dollars being poured into disease processes that we've shown mostly small advances in don't equal money well or wisely spent. 

Allocating our scarce assets accordingly, they claim would put us on a healthier path to success. It will involve quite a fundamental mind set change of our citizens. Some would call it rationing and therefore evil.

Give it a read, thoughts?

(Thanks to Dave E. for sending me this article)

New additions to the Blog...

I've hired a couple of ombudsmen to make sure I deliver a quality product:

Grandsons Elzie and Rowan, the new Reasonable Conversation Ombudsmen

Friday, June 3, 2011

Does Palin screw up or did she get it right?

Now I know some people look up to this woman as a hero, but whoo boy...if you don't know, don't try and deal with details, eh?

Look, anybody can get tripped up over the exact details of history, so this is NOT a big deal. However, if I were even potentially going to run for President, I'd have some local talking points ready to roll for everyplace I stopped.

Wouldn't you?

UPDATE: Did some quick research as to some of the language Palin used. She said he warned "...the British" which sounds wrong, but at that time, everyone still considered themselves British subjects, so technically thats not necessarily an incorrect statement. But to say he warned the British makes it sound like Revere was warning the English that the English were coming. Really, he warned the Americans that the English were coming across the Charles River into Charlestown. When we have to split a hair this finely, I call it a mistake.

Revere did not actually say, "The British are coming, the British are coming!"  When a local asked to him to not make so much noise as he rode through the countryside, he said, "Noise!" cried Revere, "You'll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!"

No account I could find described Revere firing warning shots or ringing bells. Actually, he and the other Patriots who were trying to get the word of the British advancing on the city were trying to do so as quietly as possible. I have no idea where she got warning shots and bells from.

To the claim she made that Revere gave the British a warning that they weren't going to "take our arms," is possibly a reference to a weapons store in Concord. Its an awkward way to describe it. Its possible that's what she meant, or its possible she wasn't sure. I can't tell.

She said he rode through town, when he actually road from one town (Boston) to another (Lexington). Technically, some of his ride occurred in both of those towns, so make of that what you will.

She said Revere showed the British that "...we were going to be secure and free." I also couldn't find anything that remotely suggested that Revere had said anything of that nature to the British soldiers who had captured him and questioned him.

The nicest spin I can put on this is that Palin gave a partially inaccurate description of Revere's ride. She chose an odd way to refer to the British being warned. The gunshots and bells things-I have no explanation for.

A harsher spin would be that she really didn't know what the hell she was talking about and winged it, getting some of it kind of right, some of it totally wrong and added five "ummms" in 19 seconds. Which suggests she was making this up as she went along.

All of us have tried to describe something and gotten it correct in a kinda/sorta way. Palin's guilty of this, joining a long line of speakers who stumbled on tape.


Jack Kevorkian, crusader for right to assisted suicide, dies aged 83 at Michigan hospital - The Washington Post

Jack Kevorkian dies...

Jack Kevorkian, crusader for right to assisted suicide, dies aged 83 at Michigan hospital - The Washington Post

I think he had it right.

I say if we have a right to live in this world, we also have a right to not live in this world, especially those with a terminal disease process. If a person feels prohibited from ending his or her life because of a faith based reason, that's one thing. Government has no place, whatsoever in a terminally ill person who decides they've had enough.

There's quite a bit of talk these days about Government being too big and too intrusive. Currently, most Conservatives feel Progressives have expanded Government's reach to new levels. They're not entirely wrong.

I recall a young lady named Terri Schiavo who was terminally ill and our Government, which was led by a Republican President, George W. Bush saw the question and the case of her right to die in a different light. Mr. Bush signed legislation to keep her alive and her feeding tube place back in. Over a dozen failed court appeals later, her tube was removed and several days later, she passed away.

If we think about the debate on government death panels and the faux controversy about end of life directives, we obviously aren't comfortable with the idea of death. Someone who was totally in a vegetative state, was forced to stay alive longer than she perhaps needed to. An effort to see that Physicians are able to be compensated for their time spent with patients explaining end of life issues and options, was scuttled by an ignorant mob in the Affordable Care Act.

And in Dr. Kevorkian's case, a physician who was compelled to assist terminally ill people, to facilitate their choices and end their suffering, was ridiculed, imprisoned and turned into a punch line.

I guess that's one instance where many Conservatives had and have no problem with Government getting in between a patient and their doctor.

Funny, I just don't remember their outrage.

Some thoughts on our Wars...

This isn't going to be a long essay on how I feel about the wars we find ourselves in. I'll have something more formal over the next few weeks. Today, I want to share three things that I feel resonate with me about our military involvement in Afghanistan and to a lessor degree, Iraq.

This is a recent comment from a US Army Captain, who currently commands a company in Afghanistan: 

"Although American citizens should definitely be more interested in what their military is involved in, they should not think that their military is somehow "standing watch" to protect the citizens' freedom just because the politicians say it is so.
But standing watch in Iraq, Afg, etc, etc is not protecting Americans freedom IMO. This just seems like some sort of romanticized feeling about loving one's own military no matter what. While that is not necessarilly bad, it sometimes misleads people into thinking their military is actually defending freedom (the military's real job) instead of just being grossly misused by ineffective political leaders (the military's current job).
A draft or mandatory public service (military or civil option) would do much to bring normal citizens into the fold on caring about public policy.
Remember your military on Memorial Day, yes. But don't say we are doing something that we are not. As I'm standing in the TSA security area of a major airport right now listening to a detachment from the local police play The National Anthem, it strikes me ironic that we are "the land of the free" but also the land that strip-searches old women and relies on big brother to ensure we fly safe.
Some might take these comments as un-patriotic, but you'd be sorely mistaken."

Matthew Hoh's resignation letter: 

"I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."   Matthew Hoh

Great article on his resignation and the effects it had...

His actual resignation letter:

The video the US Military doesn't want you to see:

Take a few minutes and digest the content of each. They are examples of other people's opinions of our involvement in these wars. I give the most credence to Hoh's resignation letter. The Captain's comments are on one level anecdotal yet a very common theme reported by our returning servicemen. The video I thought was a bit over the top. Its too sensational as it comes across to me as "let's find the worst clips possible and edit them together and make a video." 
There is no evidence that our military presence is really making us safer. We have hundreds of thousands troops chasing hundreds of Al Qaeda terrorists. All indications suggest they aren't even in Afghanistan any more and have departed for Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. We're not at war with the Taliban. The Taliban didn't blow up the World Trade Center, fly a plane into the Pentagon nor attempt to crash one into the Capitol. 
What are we doing there?
At a time when elected officials are saying we don't have enough money to help the victims of the Joplin, MO tornado, we need to ask ourselves is this military action worth two billion dollars a week to continue? If you feel we should remain in Afghanistan indefinitely, I'd love to understand why.