Sunday, August 30, 2009

No Matter What Happens ...

... the America that we have known and loved will soon cease to be.

It's inevitable and it's coming. Change that is. We elected a man who promised change, a man who promised if elected, to remake America. With the help of Congress and a sizable cadre of unelected, unvetted, and nearly unknown czars, he is doing it.

And it isn't only our president and his Democrat accomplices. Do you recall the summer of 2007 and the tough political struggle over amnesty for illegal aliens? Do you remember the millions of phone calls and faxes and emails to our congressional representatives? Have you forgotten that President Bush was for a bill that he could sign into law that would grant those entering our country illegally, a path to citizenship? Can you picture Lou Dobbs on CNN every night carrying on about the North American Union and how the dollar was going away and would be replaced by a new form of money, the Amero?

This isn't about political party. It isn't about conservative vs. liberal. It's about a radical shift in the way America works. It's about a government in Washington, DC that is muscling its way into every nook and cranny of our lives. It's about Washington, DC vs. the American people.

Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

Yet with each passing day, and each new revelation, or proposal in Congress, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that our economic downturn is not typical, that our government's actions are radical, and that the people making decisions are only telling us half the story. Far too much evidence has emerged to think that everything going on is coincidence. It cannot be detailed here. If you think I'm nuts, please do yourself one favor before you cast me aside. Do your own research on just a few things and see if you don't find yourself scratching your head in wonderment. How about a few questions?

  • Why did thousands of banks and mortgage lenders make "toxic" loans to under-qualified borrowers?
  • Why did Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other secondary mortgage market businesses buy up these "toxic" loans from banks?
  • Who is Franklin Raines, where did he work between 1999 and 2004, and how much money did he make during those years?
  • How come Goldman Sachs received a huge chunk of TARP bailout money and their large competitor, Lehman Brothers, did not? (Hint: How many high level government employees once worked for Goldman Sachs before they came to work for the Federal Government?)
  • How can the billions of dollars given to ACORN in the March 2009 Stimulus Package, stimulate the economy?
  • Who or what is ACORN anyway?
  • Who actually wrote House Bill HR 3200 (the healthcare bill that everyone is up in arms about)?
  • Why do we need a national, civilian, quasi-military force?
The above list represents just a few questions of the hundreds that people should be asking.

So, what's coming?

No one can say for sure, of course, but it is evident that when the dust settles from all of this upheaval, the party we call America will be over. Yeah, I said "party." Why? because most Americans have been cruising along now at a pretty good clip at very little personal cost. The payment is about to come due.

Our house is dividing, splitting apart. Jesus said, and Lincoln echoed it during the Civil War, that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

The two extremes of what may come are:

1. A nationalizing of more and more American industries and a super-sized, big-brother central government (as in the Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.)
2. A civil war (hopefully only with words and declarations and secessions) that leaves us with several smaller countries made up of collections of states.

It is possible that something in-between could emerge, but we sort of already have a mild form of No. 1 now. Some people are calling what we have now a "soft" tyranny.

So, if you have made it to the end of this little blog, you probably have at least somewhat of an open mind. Use it to explore the few questions I posed above.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Grassroots or Astroturf?

Here is a link to the real story (with many great pictures) of what happened when Nancy Pelosi went to Denver on Thursday, August 6th to visit the Stout Street Clinic. About 200 pro-freedom, anti-Obamacare protestors showed up with home-made signs. About 40 supporters of the dastardly plan came to counter-protest. Most of their signs were printed. They had bullhorns. One Obamacare supporter said that folks on their side had to leave because their bus was waiting to take them all to another event.

Which group do you think is organized by outside interests?

Mark Steyn writes about the right kind and the wrong kind of community organizing. He explains the "right" kind of organizing.

"Obama’s a community organizer. We’re the community. He organizes us. What part of that don’t you get?"

Maybe this is what they are planning to do with all of us rabble rousers. Just what is a "resettlement" specialist anyway?


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Our Republic and the Shade Tree Mechanic

I used to be somewhat of a "shade tree mechanic." If you are not familiar with the phrase, a "shade tree mechanic" is one who "attempts" to perform routine maintenance and make minor repairs on his car. Generally, the motive is to try and save money. But sometimes guys, and even gals, just like to tinker. My motive always fell under the saving money category. And I say "attempts" because sometimes the "shade tree mechanic" gets in over his head and ends up costing himself more money than he would have had he just taken the car to the shop in the first place. It's happened to me.

At one time, I somewhat knew my way around my cars. I used to change my own oil and air filter, and flush my own radiator. I have changed disk brakes. I have replaced more than one alternator, a regulator, a water pump, mufflers and tailpipes, and starters. Batteries are fun to mess around with. And then there are all those hoses and belts and cables. I've replaced two radiators, one heater core, and a vacuum-driven windshield wiper motor. I have gapped my own spark plugs and reset the points on my distributor.

I made many a trip to the junkyard in my day, seeking a bargain on a used part to switch with a worn out part. I've made attempts to adjust carburetors with mixed results. With the help and guidance of one friend, I replaced a worn out clutch plate. And with the aid of another, I even removed the valve cover from my car's engine and performed a valve job.

My dad on the other hand was what I call a "spray can mechanic." Dad, it seems, had a spray can for every automotive malady. If I had trouble starting my car Dad would suddenly appear from out of his basement with a spray can containing a magical chemical. "Here, try this," he would say. Squirted in just the right amount, and in just the right place, Dad's miracle spray sometimes actually fixed the problem. At least temporarily.

I'm no mechanic but I have somehow managed to keep my lawnmowers working beyond their normal life-span. By picking up various tricks along the way, I have been able to nurse another summer of service out of mowers that should have given up the ghost.

These days about the only thing I do with my cars is change the windshield wipers, replace the city stickers on the windshield, and the DMV stickers on my license plates. Everything else I leave to the "experts." And it's not because I have lots of spare money, it's because there isn't a whole lot left for the "shade tree mechanic" to do anymore.

Gone are the large dashboard instrument clusters with oil pressure gauges and the like. Today, our vehicle's computer sends us warnings via electronic icons that suddenly light up on our dash. And our only recourse for that pesky "check engine" light is to drive to the shop and have the mechanic plug in his electronic reader. A code pops up and the problem is identified.

If you are the owner of some late model vehicles, you can't even manually check your oil or transmission fluid anymore. Manufacturers are eliminating dipsticks. Your car's computer tells you when your reservoir is low.

When it comes to cars these days, little is left for the regular guy to do. Your toaster breaks, you throw it away and get a new one. Same with vacuum cleaners and blow dryers. Just about all of the smaller appliances and electronic gadgets are throwaways. We are forced to let the experts, with all of their high dollar diagnostic equipment, evaluate and repair.

In the quest to fix an errant television my dad would unscrew the pegboard panel from the back of our television set and remove the vacuum tubes. Then we'd hop in the car, drive to the nearest drug store and test them one by one in that big, yellow vacuum tube tester in the corner of the store. Dad couldn't tell you how a television worked, but he could usually get ours up and running again when it went on the blink.

Some people look down their noses at blue collar workers. Last year, Joe the Plumber clashed with the Obama campaign and came under scrutiny and suffered mockery. And Sarah Palin, then governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate, found herself scorned, ridiculed, and labeled as stupid. These people weren't, you know, educated in the right institutions.

But if a pipe burst in the home of one of these elite critics, the ones that went to Harvard or Princeton or Columbia University, Joe the Plumber could fix it. Those very smart, highly educated snobs would call someone with the skills to diagnose and repair what's broken.

What many fail to realize is that fixing things requires cognitive activity. "Ah, there's your problem," cracks the mechanic, eyeballing that mass of steel and hoses and wires and belts under your hood. Understanding the way things work and making them work again after they break engages the brain. Logic, reason, and rational thought serve the technician.

Today with our dashboard, light-up icons and our throw away televisions, the everyday American is deprived of the cognitive processes that our dads enjoyed. And I say enjoyed because although frustrating, there is little to match the satisfaction that comes from figuring out how to make something work that wouldn't.

Our republic is broken and broken badly. We all know it but we don't know what to do. We rally, carry signs, raise our voices, write letters and make calls. But we still feel helpless.

We don't know how to fix it because we don't know how it really works. Some of us know how it was designed to work, how it used to work a long time ago. And many don't know that, or even care to know. We no longer comprehend how power is really wielded in Washington. Our check and balance system has failed us. Accountability for office holders faded away a generation ago, or more.

We have left our self-governing republic to the experts. We no longer have the cognitive tools to diagnose and fix our problem. As a nation, we flail around in the dark.

Ironic, isn't it? In this age of exponentially expanding knowledge and technology, we employ far less diagnostic capability than our parents. We push a button or flip a switch. If it doesn't work we call somebody or buy a new one.

Can't do that with government.

We aren't nearly as smart as we think we are. Technology leveled the playing field, stripped us of our need for critical thinking and analysis, lulled us to sleep, and is slowly stealing our souls.

Ben Franklin said that our founders gave us "a republic if you can keep it."

We haven't.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Success and Failure Redefined

I have added a new post regarding success and failure on my Kingdom>>> Church>>> Culture blog. Check it out.

Monday, July 27, 2009

American Idol vs. Obamacare

Who won American Idol this past spring? If you answered Kris Allen you are correct. Who was the runner up? It was the young man that many thought would win it all. But Adam Lambert came in second.

Here are some other Idol-related names you no doubt know:
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Ruben Studdard
  • Clay Aiken
  • Fantasia Barrino
  • Jennifer Hudson
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Taylor Hicks
  • Katherine McPhee
  • Jordin Sparks
  • David Cook
  • David Archuleta
They are all pretty much household names now to most Americans.

Isn't it amazing how quickly we can rattle off these names and yet we do not have a clue about what's REALLY in the Obama Health Care plan?

I downloaded a PDF of HR 3200, the America's Affordable Health Care Choices Act. I am not a lawyer and the bill's language is almost incomprehensible. But around the Internet and in various emails, a list of some of the most egregious elements is making the rounds. Perhaps you have already seen it. Here are a few highlights:

Pg 16: If you lose your job or your employer cancels their health care plan, you must go on the government plan. You have no other choice.

Pg 30, Sec 123: THE GOVERNMENT WILL decide what treatments and benefits you get.

Pg 59, lines 21-24: THE GOVERNMENT WILL have direct access to your bank accounts for funds transfer.

Pg 72, lines 8-14: THE GOVERNMENT WILL create a Health Care Exchange to bring private health care plans under government control.

Pg 127, lines 1-16: THE GOVERNMENT WILL determine how much doctors get paid for their work.

Pg 167, lines 18-23: THE GOVERNMENT WILL tax any individual who does not have acceptable health care at a rate of 2.5% of their gross income.

Pg 429, lines 13-25: THE GOVERNMENT WILL specify which doctors can write an "end of life" order.

Pg 503, lines 13-19: THE GOVERNMENT WILL build registries and data networks from your electronic medical records.

Pg 660-671: THE GOVERNMENT WILL tell doctors where their residency will be, thus where they will live.

Pg 711, lines 8-14: THE GOVERNMENT WILL have broad powers to deny health care providers and suppliers admittance into the Health Care Exchange.

Pg 876-892: THE GOVERNMENT WILL take over the education of our medical students and doctors.

Pg 936: THE GOVERNMENT WILL develop “Healthy People & National Public Health Performance Standards."

Pg 1001: THE GOVERNMENT WILL establish a National Medical Device Registry.

Original Source: Common Sense from a Common Man
Readable List: Debate Both Sides

And those are just of the few of the many egregious elements of this radical legislation.

Why is it that we Americans spend more time focusing on who's winning American Idol, who's the best dancer on Dancing With the Stars, or what happened to Michael Jackson's prosthetic nose, than we do with the government's radical plan to manage every detail of our lives?

Are we really that stupid? If so, maybe we deserve to lose our freedom!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Are You Presuming ... ?

Are you presuming that your life in America will go on forever as it always has? Do you just take it for granted that the freedoms you enjoy and the relative prosperity that has accompanied life here in this wonderful country just happen by themselves?

Following the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin stepped out of the meeting hall and on to the street. A woman's voice immediately caught his ear.

"So, Dr. Franklin, what have you given us?"

"A republic, if you can keep it," came his reply.

IF YOU CAN KEEP IT. Five simple words that describe the reasons behind our nation's current troubles about as well as anything that could be said.

You see, freedom is not forever automatic. It is contingent upon us doing certain things.

And we have failed to do them. We have not maintained our republic. We have not kept it in good working order. We've become lazy, self-absorbed creatures bumping along life's road with minimal thought given to the idea of self-government.

Self-government is not a spectator sport, you know. It is not something for someone else to do.

Over the past couple of weeks our Congress has become gummed up with a host of questions and doubts about our president's "Health Care Reform" legislation (oh wait ... I forgot ... it's now "Health Insurance Reform"). A bill he hoped would skate right through has suddenly become bogged down.


Because there is a small minority of Americans who are raising their voices in opposition.

After digging a bit into the bill (which most in Congress have not read ... even the president acknowledged his unfamiliarity with certain provisions) we find that it is more of a machine for "big brother" to manage minute details of our lives than it is a program to provide us with insurance coverage. And after familiarizing myself with pieces of it, I guarantee that you do not want this monster on your back.

But it's THE FEW who see self-government as a responsibility who are to be credited with derailing (for now) both health care reform and the cap and trade debacle. And if by some miracle THE FEW are successful in stopping this runaway government behemoth, THE MANY will still reap the benefits.

Self-government is not a spectator sport.

Do not presume that the wonderful life you enjoy today will be here tomorrow. And although much has already been destroyed, we still have somewhat of a republic left. But what's left will only remain IF WE CAN KEEP IT.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Response to Webb

Senator Webb,

Thank you for your canned response to my email dated 7/19/09. I realize that you are very busy and cannot personally respond to every communication you receive from your constituents.

Although you did not directly answer my two questions (Are you a statesman? Or are you just another run-of-the-mill politician?), your tepid and ill-informed response leads me to believe that you are the latter.

In your form letter, you claim the following:

"... the United States ranks 42nd in the world in life expectancy, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and our health care system ranks lower than many countries on quality, access, efficiency, equity, and preventative care."

Sir, you are quite incorrect. Here are the facts:

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists the U.S. 37th out of 191 countries for quality of healthcare. Our life expectancy isn’t even in the top five. Isn’t that pathetic-why even Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than us!

Oh ... wait a minute... what standards and guidelines does WHO actually use for measuring quality? How about these? level distribution
4.responsiveness distribution fairness

Yeah that's right. In order to "balance the playing field," WHO ranks health care systems around the world based upon some things that have absolutely nothing to do with health care at all.

For example, WHO counts car accidents and murder rates when factoring life expectancy. Murder and accident rates indicate social ills, not the quality of one's health. And if these two factors are removed from the equation, guess what? Yep! The United States has the highest life expectancy in the Western world! Who could have imagined?

Infant mortality? The United States actually saves more premature babies, and counts them as live human beings. Some European countries do not even count a baby born alive if under a certain weight. And both Cuba and Europe have higher abortion rates than the U.S., so we are penalized for not aborting babies with more life threatening anomalies and problems.

WHO's rankings include factors like “fairness” and “equality. Do all citizens pay the same percentage of their income for health care? No? Oh sorry, you lose points USA because in your country some people make more money than others. And that's a bad thing.

So, because of all of these "skewing" factors in WHO's measuring system, the United States, even though it beats every country in the world in regards to cancer survival, technology, and many other treatments, is ranked low.

Even Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are counted as "unfair" in WHO's rating system.

Finally, if the "skewing" factors in WHO's measuring system are removed, the measure of how quickly patients can access care, the manner in which they are treated (dignity, confidentiality) and the choice of doctors and treatments (ie: responsiveness), the U.S. is actually number one again!

Sir, I understand that for any number of reasons, many in America do not have health care. I also understand that America's health care system is not perfect. But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater, OK? We don't have to completely replace something to improve it.

Well, that is of course unless we are talking about our representatives in Washington.

READ THE BILL before you vote!


Mark W. Weaver

Thanks to my good friend, K.S. for researching this topic. Information in this letter is taken from the following sources: “The Misleading WHO Health Care Rankings” by Chris Rangel, M.D.;; August 25, 2007 “WHOm are They Kidding?” by Glen Whitman “Popular Ranking Unfairly Misrepresents the U.S. Health Care System” by Richard Fessler, PhD Policy Analysis: The Grass is Not Always Greener, A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World, by Michael Tanner; Cato Institute; March 18, 2008 “The Misleading WHO Health Care Rankings” by Chris Rangel, M.D.;; August 25, 2007 “WHOm are They Kidding?” by Glen Whitman “Popular Ranking Unfairly Misrepr esents the U.S. Health Care System” by Richard Fessler, PhD Policy Analysis: The Grass is Not Always Greener, A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World, by Michael Tanner; Cato Institute; March 18, 2008