THE SAPIENT SPARROW: conservatism for commoners

"What has always made the State a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."–Holderlin

COMING SOON, ARMAGEDDON! (And it’s no laughing matter)


“I’m not exaggerating. Leaders of the Republican Party called the passage of this bill Armageddon. Armageddon! End of freedom as we know it.”

“So after I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling, some cracks opening up in the earth? Turned out it was a nice day. Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall.” –President Obama, March 25, 2010, Iowa

It was so uplifting to hear the POTUS using opposition to the new Healthcare Law as the punch-line for a joke.  He is just so cool!  Of course, the very next day, Mr. Obama and his cronies seemed to have lost some of their comedic ebullience when, among others, 3M, Deere, AT&T and Caterpillar all announced substantial non-cash charges in the first quarter as a result of provisions in the new Healthcare Law.

Oops!  Armageddon seems to have a sneaky sense of humor, although Henry Waxman, (D-CA), doesn’t seem to be laughing.  A grumpy Mr. Waxman has ordered these evil companies to Congress to be questioned.  He demands that they document how any negative impact from the beneficent new Healthcare Law could have possibly been calculated.  How dare they!

But the real kill-joys last Friday were the Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee.  They released a “Timeline of Major Provisions in the Democrats’ Health Care Package.”

Here are some of the “pre-Armageddon” bits.  The entire timeline is here.

2010-
States and Federal officials review premium increases
Impose 10% tax on indoor UV tanning (7/1/10)
Medicare cuts to inpatient psychiatric hospitals (7/1/10)
Requires plans to cover, at no charge, most preventive care (plan years beginning 9/23/10)

2011-
Medicare Advantage cuts begin
No longer allowed to use FSA, HSA, HRA, Archer MSA distributions for over-the-counter medicines
Medicare cuts to home health begin
Wealthier seniors ($85K/$170K) begin paying higher Part D premiums (not indexed for inflation in Parts B/D)
Medicare reimbursement cuts when seniors use diagnostic imaging like MRIs, CT scans, etc.
Medicare cuts begin to ambulance services, ASCs, diagnostic labs, and durable medical equipment
Impose new annual tax on brand name pharmaceutical companies
Americans begin paying premiums for federal long-term care insurance (CLASS Act)
Health plans required to spend a minimum of 80% of premiums on medical claims.
Prohibition on Medicare payments to new physician-owned hospitals
Penalties for non-qualified HAS and Archer MSA distribution double (to 20%)
Seniors prohibited from purchasing power wheelchairs unless they first rent for 13 months
Employers required to report value of health benefits on W-2
New Medicare cuts to long-term care hospitals begin (7/1/11)
Additional Medicare cuts to hospitals and cuts to nursing homes and inpatient rehab facilities begin (FY12)
New tax on all private health insurance policies to pay for Comparative Effectiveness Research (plan years beginning FY12)

2012
Medicare cuts to dialysis treatment begins
New Medicare cuts to inpatient psychiatric hospitals
Hospital pay-for-quality program begins (FY13)
Medicare cuts to hospitals with high re-admission rates begin (FY13)
Medicare cuts to hospice being (FY13)

By 2013, the provisions of the “Democrats’ Health Care Package” is looking very “Armageddonish”.  Despite this, Mr. Obama repeated a shortened form of his Armageddon joke to Matt Lauer on the Today Show on Monday.  Look around, Mr. President, no one is laughing.

Filed under: congress, POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , ,

GOVERNMENT LAND GRAB

As if we were not concerned enough about the Government taking over the Healthcare Industry, here is another area of concern—Government plans to take additional land from the private sector, to make it off limits for development, energy exploration, etc.  But, what would happen to all these Federal lands should we default on our Federal debts?  I’m just wondering.

Read also the results of this Harvard Study.  Question: Does a Government land grab have anything to do with needing the price of gasoline to rise in order to further the “progressive” agenda?

Filed under: POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , ,

VOTE-A-RAMA: LET THE GAMES BEGIN

I know that President Obama says that “the time for talk is over”, but I just can’t help myself.  So here goes.

Last night on Fox News, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) explained how Republicans could impede the Healthcare Bill reconciliation process in the Senate.  He stated that even though a reconciliation bill requires only a simple majority to pass, there is a way to delay the final vote.  The given time for debate of a reconciliation bill is 20 hours.  However, unlimited amendments can be offered to a reconciliation bill at any time during the debate time, or after the “20 hour clock” has expired.  Time spent in offering amendments during the debate itself are not deducted from this “20 hour clock”.  Hence, offering amendments during debate will actually stop the “20 hour clock”.  After each amendment is voted on, the debate clock would restart.  Amendments can continue to be offered after the “20 hour clock” of debate has ended.  These need to be “germane” amendments.  (The Senate Parliamentarian rules on the relevance of the offered amendment).  To dispense with each amendment, according to Senator Santorum, takes approximately 20 minutes.  As long as amendments are being offered and must be voted on, the final vote cannot be taken.  This is called a “vote-a-rama”.  It can be thought of as a “filibuster by vote-a-rama”.

Jeff Davis, legislative expert, has a thorough discussion of this process at, of all places, The New Republic site.  It is worth reading to better understand the process.  Below is an excerpt of the article from The Patriot Room blog:

Interesting lesson on what the GOP could do if Democrats try reconciliation. Here’s a portion:

Some critics of the modern filibuster process have expressed a “bring it on” mentality towards the prospect of filibuster-by-vote-a-rama, since it would require Republicans to be physically present during their dilatory tactics, like in an old-school Mister Smith Goes to Washington filibuster. But it would also require most Senate Democrats to be present at all times, to prevent any Republican amendments from actually passing and torpedoing the deal. So under the current precedents, the vote-a-rama will last until the opponents of the bill are physically unable to continue standing up and offering amendments.

What a mess – almost sure to widen Americans’ “trust deficit” with government.

President Obama is expected to ask for an “up or down” vote on Healthcare Reform, thus initiating the reconciliation process.  The potential fallout from using the “nuclear option” has been discussed in various places by various authors.  They all agree that the outcome will be grim for the Democrats.  I agree.
In the days to come, however, what is most important is the degree of opposition that the Senate Republicans will offer.  If they can continue to delay the ultimate vote until the Congressional Easter break, we the people will at least have the opportunity for one more shot to make our voices heard by our elected representatives.  Indeed, if that opportunity is given to us, we must take complete advantage of it.

The actions of the House, of course, are still in question.  Should Speaker Pelosi be unable to convince her members that the problems with the Senate Healthcare bill will be fixed, but only after the present version is passed by the House, then the “filibuster by vote-a-rama” may be unnecessary.  We can hope that the original close vote in the House to pass their version of healthcare reform cannot be repeated under the present circumstances.

This is not the time to surrender, Sparrows.  As this process unfolds, stay engaged.  Encourage or shame your elected representatives, as the case may be.  If we are to go down, at least we can go down fighting.

Filed under: congress, LEGISLATION, POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , ,

WAITING FOR GODOT: THE OBAMA AGENDA


In the play, “Waiting for Godot”, a couple of characters perpetually await the appearance of a “God-like” figure who never arrives.  Is life presently imitating art?  We should be so fortunate.

Tomorrow, the much-advertised “Healthcare Summit” will occur, weather permitting.  (Aside: Have you noticed how many recent meetings and announcements have been either canceled or postponed due to unusual winter snows in Washington, D. C. lately?  It’s enough to make one wonder if God is judging these goings-on and finding them wanting).  So what will result from this latest “summit”?  What will the Republicans do?  The Democrats?  The President?  We are waiting…

In climate change news, the Senate had a hearing on the budget for the EPA today.  During the hearing, Bernie Sanders, Independent Socialist from Vermont, compared climate change skeptics to Nazi appeasers.   Shouldn’t all this climate change nonsense be dead by now?  Is a Cap and Trade bill and/or extensive regulation by the EPA still possible?  We are waiting…

Meanwhile, Ben Bernanke testified in Congress today on the economy.  On the one hand, after being pushed by Barney Frank, he stated that the stimulus worked—sort of.  On the other hand, he opined that it is necessary to address the ballooning deficit, sooner rather than later.  Monty Pelerin at American Thinker believes that Mr. Bernanke will need to decide quickly whether to allow spending to continue, or to shut off the spigot.  James Srodes at the American Spectator simply thinks we should all be ready to begin the “Great Recession of  2011-2012”.  We are waiting…

The waiting  for jobs is increasingly trying the patience of all. But the $35 billion “Jobs Bill” (read son-of-stimulus) that passed the Senate this week does no more to create private-sector jobs than did its useless “mother of all stimuli”.  After all, if $862 billion of spending had little affect on job creation, how could spending 4% of that amount help now?  And, why is it that we need this extra spending bill at all, when the balance of the first stimulus has not been spent yet?

The curtain has indeed risen on a play that seems to have too many acts to count.  We keep waiting… but not for much longer.

Filed under: POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , ,

RIP VAN WINKLE & SOAP OPERAS

Rip Van Winkle is a great story, isn’t it?  Guy lies down, falls asleep and when he awakes everything has—changed!  If only that happened in real life.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been out of commission, first with the stomach flu, followed by dealing with snow, snow, snow.  In that time I have really not been following the news.  Yesterday, I began listening to it again and realized that nothing has really changed at all.  In fact, I think that catching up with the news is very like catching up with a soap opera; no matter how many “episodes” are missed, the story line is always a variation on the same old themes.

Here is what I mean:
-Healthcare reform legislation has not really died.  It is simply tied up in Nancy Pelosi’s office awaiting re-introduction into the story in a piecemeal sort of way.

-The Iranian people are again protesting in the streets against their oppressive, and now allegedly nuclear, regime and are once more receiving no support from the “leader” of the free world.  When will they learn that they will never be more than bit players in this plot?

-The banks and Wall Street are still evil, except when they are friends of our “leader”, and will pay the price for following the orders mandated by Congress.  Everyone likes a good villain, but I’m just not feelin’ this one.  (Note to “leader” villain part needs to be recast.)

-Stimulus is back, although thinly disguised as a “Jobs Bill”.  I think they could have camouflaged this character better.  It was easily recognizable from its unemployment extensions, payoffs and money for “infrastructure”.  Wonder how long it will take for it to be unmasked?

-Our old friend global warming/climate change has returned in the guise of three feet of snow.  I have to admit that I didn’t see that one coming!

-Bush bashing is still the favorite sport, but with a twist.  (I just love twists, they keep things interesting).  Everything that is bad is still Bush’s fault. Anything that has worked out well is not due to him, but to our “Dear Leader”.  Got it?

I did notice the development of a plot hole.  “Dear Leader” stated that he is “agnostic” concerning taxes that will affect the middle class.  It may be entertaining to see how he weaves that one into the narrative.  Stay tuned, Sparrows.

Filed under: POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , , , , ,

PEOPLE IN CLASS HOUSES OUGHT NOT TO THROW STONES

Yesterday the POTUS showed rare genuine emotion when speaking.  So, what motivated his heartfelt expression of feeling?  Terrorist attacks?  The Haitian earthquake?  No, it was his plan to tax the banks who took TARP money.  The new bank “fee” is expected to generated $90 billion over the next ten years, although Mr. Obama stated that the “fee” would be enforced, “until they [the American people] are fully compensated”.  Oh, really?  Raise your hand if you believe that any of we commoners will be “compensated” even one dollar from this scheme.  Where will all this money go instead?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Duh, campaigns, lobbyists, pay-offs to special interests, buy-offs of Legislators, etc., etc.

Mr. Obama went on to say that this measure was being taken, “not to punish” the banks, (who, by the way, have paid back the TARP loans with interest, so what would there be to punish?), but “to prevent the abuse and excess” that led to the present economic difficulties.  The POTUS ended by telling the banks not to “fight” his proposed “fee”, but to simply pay it.  Wow!  The King speaks.  We obey.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Obama has not passionately spoken against the “abuse and excess” of Government in general, nor his Administration in particular.  What I would like is for all the Democrats to “compensate” the American people for the recent excessive spending.  They could start by reimbursing us for the party that they all enjoyed in Copenhagen last month.  However, hypocrites never follow their own standards.

Class warfare is a tried and true tactic of the hard Left.  Whether this type of strategy will be successful in dividing us, distracting us and furthering a socialist-fascist agenda is questionable.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  The American people are smarter than they give us credit for being.

P.S.  On a matter somewhat related to those residing in class, (or glass), houses, please take the time to read about what Florida Rep. Buchanan (R) is attempting to do with his discharge petition in the House of Representatives.  It is good to know that some of our elected representatives believe in glass houses that are actually transparent!

Filed under: LEGISLATION, POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , , ,

CIA-TRYING TO CONNECT THE DOTS WITHOUT A PENCIL

Mr. Obama made reference to “system failure” with respect to the nearly successful attempt to bomb Flight 253 on Christmas day.  He further stated that no one agency, etc., etc. was at fault.  However, our Country does rely heavily on our CIA to gather, analyze and disseminate intelligence in order to keep us safe.  How well has the current Administration strengthened, or even supported, the CIA?

Consider that on January 22, 2009, only two days after being inaugurated, Mr. Obama signed an Executive Order that banned “enhanced” interrogation methods, instead opting to use only military-approved interrogation methods, down-grading the ability of those in the CIA to do their jobs.

Next, after the POTUS assured us that no CIA interrogator would be prosecuted, AG Holder announced an investigation of the CIA.  He did not assure the CIA that his investigation would not eventually lead to prosecution or other negative outcome.

Now, a year later, Mr. Obama has signed another Executive Order that gives Interpol, among other things, at least the theoretical ability to prosecute CIA operatives as “war criminals”.

Oh, yes, and finally, it has been announced that CIA manpower is now to be diverted from terrorism activities to monitoring “climate change”.

The POTUS was right about one thing in his speech yesterday, we are at war.  However, his methods in waging this war seem, to me, to be less than effective.  Now that the CIA has had its pencil confiscated, do you feel safer?

Filed under: POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , ,

THE DETROIT CHRISTMAS TERROR MOVIE

photo by Reuters

Even though “The Detroit Christmas Terror Movie” had a happy ending, the fact that it occurred at all was almost inevitable.  Over the past year an environment has emerged that weakens our position both offensively and defensively with respect to the “War on Terrorism”.  It has been noted by others, who are experts on Islamic terrorists, that the Obama Administration has failed to grasp the ultimate goal of our enemies—total destruction of we “infidels”, and the establishment of world-wide rule by an Islamic Theocracy.  By any measure, our enemy is not your average criminal.  Yet much to our detriment, and most probably to the benefit of the terrorists, the Obama Administration insists upon treating Islamofascists in the same way as an American thug who knocks over the local 7-11.  We are told that by acting in this fashion, we are somehow “living up to American values” and applying the “rule of law”.  Somehow, these actions are supposed to so impress our enemy that they will beat their swords into plowshares and use their bombs for peaceful mining operations.

In January 2009, we were told by the POTUS that closing Gitmo would keep us safer from the terrorists bent on destroying us.  Despite many sensible arguments to the contrary, the closing of Gitmo is progressing.  Its closure may miss the deadline set by Mr. Obama, but not by much.  So, my question to the POTUS and his ilk is: “Why does Al Qaeda continue to attack us?  Closing Gitmo is what they wanted, right?  Are we just not moving fast enough?  Or, was closing Gitmo an empty, futile partisan gesture all along?  Do they continue to attack us  for their own evil reasons?”

If one looks at a timeline of the decisions, policies and events during the first year of the Obama Administration, it becomes evident that the Executive Order to close Gitmo was only the beginning of a road leading away from strong National Security.  For example:

 Obama continues to state that he will negotiate with Iran without preconditions.
 Obama makes a fawning speech on Al-Jazeera.
 Obama makes an appeasing speech in Egypt.
 Obama admonishes Israel to freeze West Bank settlement.
 Obama continues his “apology tour” throughout the world.
 Uighers relocated from Gitmo to Bermuda.
 The East European missle shield is scrapped by the Obama Administration.
 Obama expresses lukewarm support for Iranian dissidents.
 As both North Korea and Iran ramp up their nuclear programs, weak or no sanctions are enacted.
 Arkansas Recruitment Center terrorist attack occurs.
 Ft. Hood terrorist attack occurs.
 AG Holder announces his decision to move KSM, et al to NYC for trials.
 Obama Administration announces moving Gitmo detainees to Illinois.
 Failed attack on Flight 253 in Detroit.  Perpetrator to be tried in U.S. court system.

By no means is the above list inclusive of everything that has transpired in the past year that has worked against our safety.  However, these are some of those proverbial “dots” that can been connected.  The picture, or at least pattern, that emerges leads me to conclude that this Government will not keep us safe.  Perhaps, no Government really can without ultimately enslaving us.  Consider the following quotes:

“There are all kinds of devices invented for the protection and preservation of countries: defensive barriers, forts, trenches, and the like… But prudent minds have as a natural gift one safeguard which is the common possession of all, and this applies especially to the dealings of democracies. What is this safeguard? Skepticism. This you must preserve. This you must retain. If you can keep this, you need fear no harm.”
–Demosthenes

“It is, therefore, a fact of law and of practical necessity that individuals are responsible for their own personal safety, and that of their loved ones. Police protection must be recognized for what it is: only an auxiliary general deterrent.” –Peter Alan Kasler

In the final analysis, we must depend upon ourselves, our faith, our good sense and one another to keep us safe.  However, we can certainly expect that our Commander-in-Chief will not actively conduct our Country in such a way as to expose us to more danger than we might otherwise face.  Let us continue to put ourselves and our Country in the hands of God, while staying alert (and skeptical) ourselves.

Filed under: INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE, POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , ,

‘TIS THE SEASON

A couple of days ago, I posed a question that, in part, observed that the POTUS leads in the exact opposite direction that he proposes to go.  In this piece from biggovernment.com, the author asks, “Is it opposite day?”

Scare Tactics: Obama Says USA Will ‘Go Bankrupt’ if Senate Bill Not Passed

Nowadays, my strategy when listening to anything coming from the Left is to remember the famous words of Willie Wonka, “Strike that.  Reverse it.”  Then, surprisingly enough, they actually make sense.

Turning to the continuing fallout from “Climategate”, Icecap has reported that Russian climate data on temperatures was manipulated by the Hadley Climate Center.  A good, but fairly distressing, read.

Finally, since “’tis the season” for gift-giving, here is a list of books that make great presents for you, someone else and especially for your “Progressive” friends and family. HO! HO! HO!

Economics

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek

The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes

Climate Change and Green Policies

Climate Confusion by Roy Spencer

The Deniers by Lawrence Solomon

The Green Crusade: Rethinking the Roots of Environmentalism by Charles T. Rubin

Red Hot Lies by Christopher Horner

Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death by Paul Driessen

U.S. Constitution and Capitalism and Socialism

Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin

How Capitalism Will Save Us by Steve Forbes

The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen

Witness by Whittaker Chambers

U.S. Supreme Court

Men In Black by Mark Levin

My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas

Obviously, there are many great books out there.  However, these are the ones that I know first-hand from reading them myself.  Each has helped to broaden and shape my reasoning, as well as deepen my thinking beyond a “talking-points” mentality.  All are an antidote to the constant “Progressive” rhetoric of the current day.  It is not enough to be against a position, policy, bill, etc.  Not only do we need to know why we are against something, but also why we are for something else instead.  I highly recommend that you treat yourself, or someone you love who shares well, to one or two of these this Christmas to make it a merry one.  Remember, our New Year, with its promise of the 2010 elections is fast approaching!

Filed under: cap & trade, climate change, constitution, economy, healthcare, liberal activism, personal, POTUS, SCOTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , , ,

OBAMA ADDRESSES CENSORSHIP IN CHINA WHILE GAGGING THE EPA AT HOME

Photo by Stephen Crowley/New York Times

(Photo by Stephen Crowley/NYT)

President Obama answered questions during a town hall meeting with future Chinese leaders at the Museum of Science and Technology in Shanghai on Monday.

 

SHANGHAI, CHINA — Mr. Obama addressed an audience of more than 400 Chinese university students from eight different Chinene universities at the Museum of Science and Technology yesterday.

At one point, Obama stated, in part,
“…I am a big believer in technology and I’m a big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.”

The president said that he has “always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I’m a big supporter of non-censorship. This is part of the tradition of the United States that I discussed before, and I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have…unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.”

In a jocular manner, President Obama then observed,
“I should be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn’t flow so freely because then I wouldn’t have to listen to people criticizing me all the time.”

He then stated on a serious note,
“I think people naturally,…when they’re in positions of power sometimes think, ‘Oh, how could that person say that about me,’ or ‘That’s irresponsible.’…But the truth is that because in the United States information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear. It forces me to examine what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis to see, am I really doing the very best that I could be doing for the people of the United States.”

Contrast these words, that purportedly express the beliefs, values and opinion of the POTUS, with what is happening to two EPA attorneys who are opposing the Waxman-Markey “Cap and Trade” legislation.

Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in the Washington Post on October 31, 2009.   At the end of the article, there is a link to their site.  On their site is a discussion paper, as well as a video that is criticizes the “Cap and Trade” legislation now in the Senate.  However, the video is no longer accessible on their site, because the EPA demanded that they take it down, even AFTER they approved it.  It is still available here.

This latest move by the EPA is reminiscent of their action to muzzle another EPA employee, Alan Carlin, Senior Operations Research Analyst several months ago when he questioned “climate change” from a scientific standpoint.  (To refresh your memory on that instance of EPA censorship see Michelle Malkin’s blog here.)

Now,  re-read the remarks of the POTUS.  What are his real beliefs about free information flow and censorship?  To me, his “joking” remark is what rings true, i.e., he wishes that information was harder to access because then he would not be criticized “all the time”.  Well, Mr. President, it does seem that your EPA is definitely working hard to ensure that this desire becomes reality.  Our lesson?  Pay no attention to what Obama says.  Pay attention to what he does.

Filed under: cap & trade, censorship, INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE, language, POTUS, , , , , ,

"His eye is on the sparrow, and He surely watches me." --Mrs. Doolittle, 1905

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