Friday, August 27, 2010

Chipping Away At US

You have to hand it to the "other side". Once again they have managed to create a narrative about the nature of a group of people and made it stick. Who, you might ask, is the other side? Well, in this case and in most cases it is the liberal intelligentsia and their media mavens projecting a completely warped idea of what America is.

This time it's the so-called Tea Party they have so skillfully defined. I was there at the beginning, I attended the first rally held in my state of Minnesota, and I can tell you what the Tea Party is. First, however, let me tell you what it isn't.

The Tea Party is not a hate filled, red necked racist, homophobic Christian Right movement. This is what the leftists would have you believe. While they blatantly accuse the right wingers of fomenting fear of the coming Jihad (even after 3,000 innocents perished in the flaming wreckage of the Twin Towers at the hand of real Jihadi's) they spread tales of racism and hate among the Tea Partiers where nonesuch exists.

The goal of course is to split the Republican base and to scare moderates and independents from even considering what's really behind the Tea Party. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. The liberals can't run on what they've achieved. Despite the fact that they have actually won nearly every battle since President Obama was sworn in - almost none of it was popular with the people. The single most important thing the good and decent citizens of this country counted on them for they failed spectacularly at- namely turning around a sinking economy. No one, including myself should have expected miracles, but for God's sake the only thing that has improved is some corporate balance sheets and the fortunes of a million Federal workers and their unions.

So, here is what the Tea Party's beef is: The real and perceived chipping away of a way of life. It's as simple as that. Everyone has seen it, everyone has felt it. Those who didn't like what was becoming of America have stayed in the shadows, have quietly gone to work, grudgingly paid their taxes and accepted what the powers-that-be had done to a great country. It's been a long time in coming to be sure. When Obama, Pelosi and Reid stomped on the accelerator pedal they had simply had enough.

Watching helplessly as the Federal government confiscated more and more of American society while China took our manufacturing jobs and Mexicans flooded in to fill the kind of jobs that can't be shipped out was about as much as these good and decent people could take. They had sat back quietly for years while Hollywood and television mocked them and their faith. They cringed as pop radio coarsened the youth culture all around them with ugly and violent "gangsta" music. They bent over and bared it when their health insurance got more and more expensive as their benefits shrank. They worried as Medicare/Medicaid and illegal immigrants, amongst other things, sucked up the health care dollars. They watched their neighborhood schools degenerate into a state run jobs program for teacher's unions. They had simply had enough.

The Tea Party is a reaction, just like the original Tea Party.

Things change, cultures change, countries change and that's a fact. Change doesn't have to mean destruction. That's what we face right now, the destruction of a way of life. The good and decent people of the Tea Party "movement" are not the problem here, and that's a fact too. The problem is a bloated professional bureaucracy that is completely out of control and the self-serving politicians smack in the middle between us and a global corporate structure that is content to crap where it lives, in this case it is content to crap where we live.

The jury is still out on whether the leftist intelligentsia and their major media brethren have succeeded in painting the Tea Party as mouth-breathing, racist Christian troglodytes, we will know in November I guess. So far, considering how the Democrats have handled the economy and the results of the handful of elections since November 2008 I wouldn't bet on them!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Right on, Target!

Let me just ask... What would happen if Target Corporation had donated to a PAC that was supporting Mark Dayton's gubernatorial bid for the Democrats in Minnesota? Crickets...

Yeah that's right, nothing would happen. But it seems that Target should be scorned and boycotted because their executives made a political judgment that Republican Tom Emmer would be better for their business, for their customers and better for their shareholders.

Today we find out that at least one network will have none of it. MSNBC rejected political ads from the leftist crowd. FTA: MSNBC spokeswoman Alana Russo said Thursday that the commercial submitted by the liberal advocacy group violates its advertising policy by attacking an individual business directly. The ad features Target's bullseye logo and accuses the chain of trying to buy elections.

The predictable backlash from gay-rights supporters against Target Corp.'s political donation drowns out all reason. In this era of ultra sensitive political correctness and multi-culturalism has some institutional shareholders raising their eyebrows.

Three management firms that collectively hold $57.5 million of Target stock namely, Walden Asset Management, Calvert Asset Management and Trillium Asset Management, have filed a proposal asking Target's board members to undertake a comprehensive review of Target's political contributions including the criteria used for such contributions.

The facts: for one, $57 million is a minuscule fraction of Target's public stock, and two, these three firm's investment strategies have less to do with effective investing as much as promoting knee-jerk leftist causes. For obvious reasons you will never read about this in the StarTribune, Washington Post or the New York Times .

It seems these firms also questioned Best Buy who contributed to the same PAC. But what of the companies that donated to Dayton's PAC's? Crickets...

It comes down to this, supporting the definition of marriage, a definition that is thousand's of years old, as one man and one woman is radical. Politicians who hold such a view are radical. Worse than that they are evil. Ola Fadahunsi, spokesman for New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the sole trustee of the state's pension fund which hold's millions in Target stock, told the newspaper. "It's troubling to think that they [Target] can fund controversial candidates without properly assessing the risks and rewards involved."

At least thirty two states have put the definition of marriage up for a vote and thirty two states have declared that a marriage is one man and one woman. Repulican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer wants to allow the voters of Minnesota to have a chance to decide this question and Mark Dayton doesn't. Simple as that. Apparently this is what makes Emmer radical and evil and undeserving of ANY political contributions.

Mark Dayton has only one theme and one solution - soak the rich. To me he is controversial and quite frankly simply nauseating. Unfortunately, Mark, there just aren't that many rich guys.

As I told a friend, I'd vote for a moldy tennis shoe over Mark Dayton.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Like the Amish - Medical Expense Sharing

I learned that the new ObamaCare bill has a loophole that should be utilized to the point of collapsing the whole charade of "government" mandated health care insurance.

There is a religious exemption in the bill based on the Amish (and other Christian sects) belief it is the religious duty of communities is to provide for one another when they are sick. There has been a long-standing historical tradition to grant exemptions based on religious beliefs. The bill uses the same religious exemption that was used for Medicare, which exempts certain groups if they have religious objections and they belong to a recognized religion. The existence of the exemption, would release an Amish person or Old Order Mennonite from the individual mandate.

To qualify for the exemption, a person will have to prove he is a member of a qualifying religious group that has been in existence continuously since 1950. The details of the bill, such as how to apply for such an exemption, have yet to be determined.

The interesting thing is that it would be unconstitutional for the government to reject, let's say, a mainline Christian medical sharing organization the same exemption.

Largely unknown to the general public and surely not examined during the "health care" debate is the fact that there exists serious alternatives to standard health insurance that have been around since the 90's when health care costs started rising into the stratosphere. One is a medical sharing plan. In short, the participants in the plans assume responsibility for paying the medical expenses of the program members. This is done by averaging the cost of health care and dividing that into a monthly premium or pledge that each participant is required to make. Instead of pooling the money, the participants send their monthly pledge directly to another participant who has a current medical expense. Participants pledge that they are church-going Christians and that they abstain from alcohol and tobacco. This helps keep the health costs lower than those of the general population.

As many as five Christian-based medical sharing programs have been successfully administered for over a decade. Almost all participants are generally satisfied and find the medical sharing programs equal or superior to standard health insurance policies.

There are some downsides to any of these programs, not the least of which is the problem of dealing with health care providers without standard insurance. Most of these plans have indicated that this is not a serious problem. As it happens many hospitals and doctors already have experience with one or more of the medical sharing plans. Additionally it is not uncommon for hospitals and doctors to give very decent discounts because they are being paid in cash rather than having to deal with insurance companies.

One serious problem has been if expensive health care is needed the hospital and doctors have not wanted to perform costly procedures without a substantial down payment. It seems to me that this could be worked out by creating a reserve in advance. Also, in some of these plans there is little in the way of maternity care. If there are complications for mother or child in childbirth, or within the first six months of the child's life one could be stuck with a bill of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, with no way to pay it.

Obviously someone gaming the system and the good will of the "Plan" could sour the whole concept. It is a voluntary system and it is my understanding that no contracts are signed. Looking at the Samaritan Ministries program: (PLEASE NOTE, THIS INFO FOUND ON THE INTERNET...) the cost is $85 per month for single, $170 for married, and $195 for a family with three or more children. There is also a $150 per year fee that goes to the operation of Samaritan Ministries. The subscriber pays for the first three medical incidents per year under $300, and the program shares the cost of treatments over $300 (up to $100,000). Simply put, based on what I pay for health care through my employer this is comparable. My guess is that if this practice of medical sharing became larger these costs would come down simply because no one is trying to make a profit. Since the hospitals an doctors get paid as a fee for service the free market system would be preserved. There would be more cooperation between the patient and the provider to keep the costs down and the need for the government to control every aspect of the delivery of medical care would disappear.

In my mind this sort thing is closer to what we should be doing than a Canadian style government owned health care system. Doctors, nurses and hospital workers all across this country do not want to be federal employees - and nothing good will come if they are.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque

I've heard all the arguments for and against allowing a Mosque to go in so very close to the 9/11 Ground Zero site. Mayor Bloomberg particularly makes my stomach turn. His vitriol in support of it is more about chastising understandably sensitive Americans than it is about so-called American ideals. On the other side I feel like I'm watching Charlton Heston's hit movie - The Planet of the Apes when he mumbles "get your hands off me you damn, dirty Muslims".

Well, the two most compelling arguments for and against I've heard came at me out of left field (or was it talk radio). On one hand radio host Hugh Hewitt likens Ground Zero to the killing fields of Gettysburg - it is a graveyard. Some 8,000 people lost their life in The Battle of Gettysburg. Plans to open a casino near the Gettysburg battlefield were defeated in 2006 on the grounds that it is a graveyard and that commercial use and exploitation of hallowed grounds is unseemly and inappropriate. Ground Zero is no different. The Mosque being considered is there for no other reason than its proximity to the site of the 9/11 attacks where 3,000 people lost their lives. There is no reason the Mosque couldn't be built elsewhere. To put such a symbol of Islam adjacent to a "battlefield" in the Islamic war against the West is unseemly and inappropriate. I find this a compelling argument against allowing it.

On the other hand, radio host Jason Lewis says hold on a minute. This is a nation whose government has deployed troops to every corner of the world, erecting the equivalent symbol of its religion - militaristic power - with every military base we build. The citizens of the hosting nations are never comfortable with the American military flexing it's muscle, or staging military strikes against their neighbors from their lands.

Face it, we won WWII 60+ years ago and yet we still have bases in Germany and Japan. If you think the Japanese are happy with that think again. Japan's prime minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned in June for failing to fulfill a campaign promise. News reports say the premier takes responsibility for a broken campaign promise of moving U.S. marine base off island of Okinawa. Locals for years have claimed mistreatment and rape at the hands of American soldiers.

The countries that sport a U.S. military presence includes Bulgaria, Greenland, Guam, Italy, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Kosovo, South Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and now Afghanistan and Iraq, and in all these places there was or is vehement opposition by the citizens. Did it ever stop us? No, not for a minute. How is this different than Islam building a controversial Mosque in a nation that makes religious freedom a hallmark of its founding?

The argument Jason Lewis put out there is not to argue for the construction of the Mosque at Ground Zero just a pause to think about what we - the U.S. - has done almost without regard to local sensibilities all around the world.

Good arguments, both of them. Personally I am siding with the former. Since no one is saying the Mosque should not be built at all then why not insist it be built somewhere else? I don't think the proponents for this Mosque - including the President - are fooling anyone. This is a provocative, in your face move by the Islamists. As for the U.S. being the world's policeman with a military presence in every slice of the globe, well that's a subject for another discussion just not this one.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Times Square

A new painting to feast your eyes upon...

"Times Square"

24" X 30"
acrylic on canvas
by Craig Willms

This scene is another submitted to my Vacation Photo Project. Taken in 2009 by a friend at work I was instantly drawn to the colors and the multi-point perspectives. The other thing I liked was the aspect that this is a moment in history with its timeless commercial icons and the in-the-moment Broadway productions being advertised. I hope you enjoy.

Source photo by S. Oakland

Visit my gallery at


Ruled by the Intellectuals

I would like to consider myself an intellectual if for no other reason than the self flattery aspect of it. (You can stop laughing now.) Actually, since I have no advanced degrees and haven't deemed to make myself an expert in any one area such a label would never stick. Regardless, I don't for one minute really believe that I have answers for all the troubles that exist in the areas that interest me. This is not necessarily true for all so-called intellectuals.

The problem for intellectuals is that so many have very little experience that would belie what their simple high-minded solutions would wrought out in the messy, chaotic real world.

The Hoover Institution's Thomas Sowell, an intellectual in his own right, having had some experience in the day to day corporate world see's his fellow intellectuals in a different light.

This is a paraphrased Sowell quote from an Uncommon Knowledge interview:
"For those who ascribe to the belief in free markets, judicial restraint, traditional values of what is called the tragic vision, there's no personal exaltation from those beliefs. But to be for social justice and saving the environment puts you on a higher moral plane."

So therefore everything, everyone on the "lower plane" can be readily dismissed by simple rationalization. The notion that they (the intellectuals) are better, wiser and more capable to know what's best than millions of boots on the ground everyday people is purely an exercise in self flattery and self pleading. This is because they rarely have any real experience (read: President Obama) making things work in the day to day world.

Again Thomas Sowell:
"Like so many things that intellectuals believe it is not subject to any kind of emperical test... For example between the two world wars, there were all these arms agreements and renunciations of war in the West (by the intellectual class) which only encouraged the Axis powers to believe they could win a war, because the West was too gullible to actually arm themselves and defend themselves."

Today with 29% of Americans now having a college degree, up from 9 % in the 1960's are we becoming a nation of intellectuals?

Sowell: "It's a chilling thought. We are becoming a nation of people who are propagandized from elementary school right on through graduate school with a certain vision of the world... There are a few for whatever reason, experience or insight (or skepticism I would add) leads them to say wait a minute! They are the ones we have to depend on"

These are the ones we have to depend on to apply the brakes to this train. As Sowell describes, we are putting the ultimate power of control for this nation into the hands of the "intellectuals" like President Obama and his advisers as well as those influencing the Congressional leadership is basically allowing those with 1% of the knowledge rule over those in the day to day world with 99% of the knowledge.

See the whole interview here:


Monday, August 02, 2010

Conspiratorial Nonsense???

In the popular media a "birther" is a nickname for the people who question Barack Obama's claim to have been born in Hawaii Aug. 9th 1961. Since he has never offered a birth certificate that would have simply shut these people up the speculation of a conspiracy continues. Even if he wasn't really born where he says, he was supposedly born to an American woman and a Kenyan father - is he not an American then? Of course, we don't really know anything to be sure since President Obama will not cough up a real birth certificate.

So what if he wasn't born in Hawaii? He was elected by the people and he is the President, we just have to deal with it. I would agree completely if it ended there. It doesn't...

On top of the birth certificate flap there is curiosity after curiosity regarding the origins of our 44th President. For example Barack Obama's Social Security number was drawn from the Connecticut pool of numbers. The Social Security Administration issues numbers for each person from a pool of numbers based on a state code. In Minnesota SS numbers begin with 47 Connecticut has a different set as does Hawaii. Why wasn't Obama's SS number drawn out of the Hawaii pool? The SS Administration says these things can happen based on the movement of the parents and so forth, but there is no evidence any of Obama's family had any ties to Connecticut. Remember by 1961 Hawaii was officially a state, so that can't be the explanation. The SS Administration says mistakes happen but are rare. OK maybe it was a mistake.

President Obama has never released transcripts from his days at Columbia University despite repeated requests by media outlets. Interviews of people who would have been students at Columbia during the years Obama was said to have been enrolled claim to have no recollection of him at all. That is just odd. All by itself you could say so what, but when these sort of things begin to pile up one has to wonder.

Now we learn that of all the people the State Department can't find any passport records for (realizing they have passport records for everyone going back to 1925) it just happens to be Stanley Ann Dunham - Barack Obama's mother. The specific period her passport records are missing is of course the 1950's-60's.

Is this all conspiratorial nonsense? Coincidences? Perhaps, but I don't like coincidences.