My friend Brian and I were conversing over lunch yesterday and I mentioned I was working on a post about last Tuesday’s State of the Union Address.  I mentioned that while researching reactions to the speech, I had responded to a single question survey.  The question was, “In your view, what is the current state of the union?”  We discussed my response and I said I would email it to him.  It follows:

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Sad.

We are sad to see so many people unable to find jobs because politicians think it is more important to build bureaucracies and power than to get out of the way of hard working people.

We are sad because we see teachers who must close their minds and lead children to believe what the politicians want rather than to help children drink in the knowledge that comes from open minds and discovery.

We are sad because a once proud and strong nation sees more of its people cowed each day by mindless rules, regulations and the actions of a nanny state that knows better than its citizens what they need.

We are sad when we have politicians who look down their noses at us and see lesser beings while we no longer look up at them and see leaders worthy of our respect.

To which, Brian responded with an expansion on the theme:

We are sad that our political leadership fails to seek, understand, and heed lessons from the past to avoid the costly mistakes which consumed much of the treasure and blood of prior generations.

We are sad that political expediency has trumped the balance of powers so beautifully constructed in the US Constitution.

We are sad that the sacrifices made by our founders and patriots over the last past two centuries are not dignified or respected by the peoples’ civic and political involvement, as evidenced by appallingly low voter participation in elections.

We are sad that so many of us seem to be willing to forego freedom in exchange for security in the form of enhanced entitlements.

We are sad that the line which distinguishes political leadership from celebrity has become blurred….resulting in us electing politicians who tell us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear.

We are sad that politicians enable us in self-indulgence, as evidenced by us saddling the next generation with unsustainable debt in order to keep today’s party stoked.

We are sad that the media rewards the deviant, the arrogant, and those who call attention to themselves by pandering to base instincts while ignoring the humble and noble virtues which ultimately lead to a “good life” as defined by thinkers over the ages.

What do you think?

The discussion below was posted in October of 2009.  I would like to update it with the following graphic:

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Previous post:

A friend sent me an email yesterday with some interesting insights to the differences between conservatives and liberals.  I have copied it below.

ying_yangredblue

Conservative vs. Liberal

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.  If a liberal doesn’t like guns, then no one should have one.  If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.  If a liberal is, he wants to ban all meat products for everyone.  If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy.  A liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.  If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly enjoys his life.  If a liberal is homosexual, he loudly demands legislated respect.  If a black man or Hispanic is conservative, he sees himself as independently successful.  His liberal counterpart sees himself as a victim in need of government protection.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.  A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.  Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.  If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.  A liberal wants all churches to be silenced.

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.  A liberal demands that his neighbors pay for his.

I’m not sure that all the points are good ones, but, I think this sheds some light on the direction a liberal administration is taking our country.  It is worth thinking about.  There is a good summary of the differences between liberals and conservatives that is a bit more serious here.

I hope to soon post more on each of the below issues, but for now, here is my quick take on a few key issues.  Feel free to comment.

benghazi

Benghazi:  It seems to me that it grows clearer each day that the Obama Administration’s response to questions about the Benghazi Incident amount to a political calculation – nothing more.  Mr. Obama wanted to win the election.  His advisors convinced him (don’t know if it took much convincing) that his constant claim that “Al Qaeda is on the run” would be exposed for the fiction that it is unless they could show the attack on Benghazi to be unrelated to terrorism or Al Qaeda.  The political operatives and Mr. Obama compiled a series of lies and deceptions intended to dodge this bullet until after the election.  Kudos to Mr. Obama and his people as it appears that their plan worked well.

ObamacareObamacare:  The mess that is Obamacare (the “Affordable Care Act”) was a very hard sell to the majority of Americans.  Mr. Obama needed to convince a large group of people to abandon their current health care situations.  To do so, he promised time and again that “If you like your Doctor, you will be able to keep your Doctor.”   He told us time and again that Obamacare would save people money and would cost taxpayers nothing since it would be self funding.  He went so far as to claim, often, that this would save businesses money and would help cut into the National Debt.  Again, he only had to keep this act up until after the election.  The totality of this deception was understood by many, but not enough to keep him from winning a second term.  Large numbers of those who believed Mr. Obama and his minions just 3 or 4 months ago are now having serious regrets as I predict we all will, before he leaves office.

Common CoreEducation:  The top two tools of those who would subjugate a citizenry are, in my view, control of a system of universal taxation and control of a system of universal education of minors.  Our education system was first designed to ensure an informed public able to read, understand, and discuss the issues of the day.  Under the guidance of far too many in Government leadership over the past 50 years, we have turned our public education system into a public indoctrination system.  The final straw is the adoption of the Common Core Curriculum which basically dictates what we are to believe and what is to be taught.  For an interesting look at this issue, I recommend this article sent to me yesterday by a good friend.

IRSTaxation:  The purpose of the Internal Revenue Service (what a lovely euphemism for Tax Collectors) is to facilitate the collection of the taxes imposed by the government on its people.  Even when used in a consistent and legal manner, it can be a source of pain for most citizens.  The entire system of taxation seems to me to be slanted toward making it easy for our government to raise whatever funds it “wants” rather than collect the funds it “needs.”  This, in itself, is a very serious problem and one that cries for a complete reform of our system of taxation.  However, when it (the IRS) is used as a tool against political opponents, it becomes both a dangerous and effective weapon.  J. Edgar Hoover gave a face to the problem of government officials misusing a government agency.  For over 40 years, as head of the FBI, Hoover used his agency to collect information on his enemies (and friends) which he later used to intimidate them to do his bidding.  Since, Presidents, Governors, and others with powerful positions have used similar methods to gain and retain power.  The most recent example is the current administration’s use of the IRS to intimidate political opponents.  The suppression of right wing groups by the IRS can be argued to have taken just enough power and money from the Romney campaign to have turned the election to Mr. Obama.  Though he pleads complete innocence, it is beyond belief to think that he did not encourage, or, that his supporters did not direct the inappropriate IRS activities.  It is beyond belief because as this is written, the Democrats in Congress are busy rewriting the rules for 501(c)(4) organizations to further restrict the activities of mostly conservative groups in time for the coming elections.

lazyA Lazy, if not Complicit Media:  It is a sad state of affairs that our largest media organizations have chosen not to investigate and report on the activities of the IRS, or the Benghazi incident, or NSA abuses among others.  If you want examples of just how lazy/complicit the major media outlets have been, read this, this and this.  It seems that “lazy” is the nicest thing that can be said of our media and its current inability to investigate scandal after scandal in government.  With media help, the Obama Administration has earned the title as the Least Transparent Administration Ever – a well deserved title.  Wouldn’t it be nice if our “Main-stream Media” would shed some light on these scandals?  Don’t hold your breath.

What do you think?

Mr. Obama is disgusted that some people earn so much more than others do.  He thinks it is unfair and is doing his best to create more income equality.

Or is he?  Let’s see.

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Thanks to TCF.org

Thanks to TCF.org

In early December last year (2013), speaking of Income Inequality in a speech hosted by the Center for American Progress, a pro-Obama think tank, he said, “I believe this is the defining challenge of our time.”  “It drives everything I do in this office.”  Everything, Mr. President?

Right now, Mr. Obama is backing a Democrat plan (the Harkin-Miller Bill) to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 over two years.  Mr. Obama claims this will allow millions of workers to earn a living wage where they can’t with today’s Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25.  Businesses work by the rule that they can’t pay more for something than it will earn for them.  By passing legislation that will raise the wage by $2.85 per hour, does Mr. Obama think it will magically raise the wage earner’s output value by $2.85 per hour.  The end result will be people will lose jobs and more low input value jobs will go overseas.  Is this how Mr. Obama will meet the “defining challenge of our time?”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that for the month ending November 30, 2013, D.C. had an 8.6% unemployment rate, 47th of 51 areas surveyed (the 50 states and the District).

Is it irony that Washington, D.C. has a higher income inequality than that of any state? (see http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acs-16.pdf , table 3 – worst in the nation on all three measures of income inequality)

If Mr. Obama is working constantly to overcome income inequality, why does he exempt Congress and Unions from many of the costly requirements of Obamacare?  Why does Obamacare  impose the greatest proportional burden of the cost on young people, a disproportionate number of whom are in the ranks of the poor?

If Mr. Obama really wanted to resolve this “defining challenge of our time” he would do more to lessen the burden on employers so more people could find work.  Is it possible that he continues to foment class warfare to detract from the facts that on his watch the IRS is being used as a political tool, the entire Obamacare roll-out was a disaster, and the NSA is spying on the citizenry?

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 330,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 14 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Last Saturday Evening, my wife and I took a break and watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  It is a movie from the late 40′s that was given to us by friends.  Neither of us had ever seen it.  We both enjoyed it and it made us think of times gone by.

Most striking to me was the hard-working Italian immigrant family that was able to move out of their tenement apartment into a new home of their own.  It made me think about the Italians and the Germans and Poles, etc. who immigrated here 100 years ago.  Most are today part of the society just like those who came over on the Mayflower.  They have no distinct disadvantages or, for that matter, advantages in making their way in American Life.

The Martini Family moving into Bailey Park - thanks to Treehugger.com

The Martini Family moving into Bailey Park – thanks to Treehugger.com

When they arrived, they did not speak English.  They did not know our customs.  Their clothes were different.  But, they knew that they needed to learn our language and customs if they were to fully enjoy the freedoms of this nation.  To my knowledge, there were no ESL (English as a Second Language) programs. Ballots were printed in English since to become a citizen one was required to have a working knowledge of our official language.  The immigrants learned the language and our customs.  They had to.

Unlike our government today, in the last century (at least the first half of it) our government treated immigrants like normal people.  If they were good and/or talented workers, they could get and hold a job. They paid taxes and obeyed the same laws as everyone else.  Special programs to assist with food, transportation, education, health care, etc. did not exist.  All members of our society were free and independent to do what they thought was best for them, within the laws of the land.  Most chose to learn the English Language.  Most took whatever jobs they could get until they could find something better.  They saved and planned and made a better life for themselves than the lives they left in Europe or Asia or Africa.  It wasn’t easy, but they were better for effort.

Somehow, they managed to survive and thrive and integrate into the American society.  Doesn’t that indicate that we don’t “Need” all the government programs that we now have?  Is it not possible that we are actually taking away incentives to integrate into our society and making it a slower, longer process for immigrants?  Couldn’t we spend our tax dollars more effectively?  Or at least overspend our income a bit less?

I also really liked the welcome that was given to the Martinis by Mary and George Bailey.  they gave them a loaf of bread, so they will never know hunger, salt so that life will always have flavour and wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever.  Nice.  Can’t recall welcoming any new neighbors that way (but we do give them a bottle of our wine).

My apology to those of you who expect to see a new post to this blog weekly or more often as was the case previously.  I’ve not been able to pull the trigger on many posts for a while, not that I haven’t started a few posts (8 drafts in the past three weeks – all even less complete than this).  There is so much going on, particularly in Washington, DC, that I just don’t really know where to start.

Maybe it’s time to get back to the main theme of this blog – Responsibility.

We Americans are a very fortunate people in that we (still) have certain freedoms.  However, with those freedoms come responsibilities.   For example, we believe that we have the right/are free to vote for the candidate of our choice to represent our views in directing our government.  Should we fail to vote, or should we fail to inform ourselves prior to voting, we will not have lived up to our responsibility and could lose this right/freedom.

Our elected leaders have been given power by virtue of being duly elected to office.   And, that power is generally defined by the Constitution such that there are limitations and checks and balances to that power.  With power comes the responsibility to wield the power in a just and legal way for the benefit of those who gave them the power.

Today we have a crisis of power abuse and lack of responsibility.  We have elected leaders to whom we have granted huge powers to effect our lives and many, if not most, of them have failed to live up to the responsibilities that go with the power.  And, many of them have usurped power beyond the limits set by the Constitution.

For illustrative purposes, here are some examples of elected leaders not living up to their responsibilities and/or usurping power not granted under the Constitution.

LBJ taking oath on board Air Force One - courtesy of usliberals.about.com

LBJ taking oath on board Air Force One – courtesy of usliberals.about.com

Take Lyndon Johnson who used an Executive order in 1965 to require contractors to the Federal Government to create programs to hire increased percentages of ‘minority’ workers.  The political climate at the time meant that there was no successful challenge to the constitutionality of this clearly legislative action.  The Constitution states that legislation (creation and modification of laws) is the purview of the Congress.  By creating a ‘law’ that suppliers and contractors must follow, Johnson was acting as a legislator, not an executive.  He was usurping power not granted in the Constitution.  It was the responsibility of the Congress to thwart this power grab with any means at its disposal, including Impeachment.  Congress did not live up to its responsibility.

Mr. Obama has done the same thing as Mr. Johnson did, by changing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  When he ordered the employer mandate (to comply with the law) be moved from 1-1-2014 to 1-1-2015, he modified the law.  He acted as a legislator.  He was usurping power not granted in the Constitution.  “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” – Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution.   Not only was he changing a law (a legislative function, not an Executive one), but, he was also changing taxation of the citizenry, another power clearly reserved for Congress.

Under the Presentment Clause (Article I, Section 7), after a bill has passed both Houses, but “before it becomes a Law,” it must be presented to the President, who “shall sign it” if he approves it, but “return it,” (“veto” it) if he does not. Nothing in this clause authorizes the President to amend or repeal a bill.

Congress, for its part, has not lived up to its responsibility to protect its constitutional duties from the other branches of government.  “The House of Representatives…shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. -Article I, Section 2, Clause 5.   Why has Congress not lived up to its responsibility?

Members of Congress swear an oath,

      “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Sounds to me like our Congress Members are not living up to their Oath.  Same goes for the President.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  “…he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed,”

Celebrate our Veterans and what they have done to help preserve our freedoms and thank them for their service on November 11.  Below are four brief video messages that I think are appropriate for the day.  I hope you enjoy them.  And while you are at it, say thanks to a veteran on 11-11.

See my related posts here (11/18/2011),

here (11/09/2010), and,

my favorite, here (11/11/2010).

thanks to telegraph.co.uk

thanks to telegraph.co.uk

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Do you remember when Nancy Pelosi said, “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it?”  That’s the dictionary definition of a Stool Sample…. Pretty well sums up Obamacare, doesn’t it?

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To help save our economy, the Government will announce next week that the INS will start deporting seniors instead of illegals in order to lower Social Security and Medicare costs.  A side benefit is that seniors are easier to catch and won’t remember how to find their way back home.

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In case you are having a rough day, here’s a stress management technique recommended in psychological journals.     It really works and will make you smile.

1. Picture yourself lying on your belly on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal clear stream.

2. Picture yourself with both your hands dangling in the cool running water.
3. Birds are sweetly singing in the cool mountain air.
4. No one knows your secret place.
5. You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called the world.
6. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.
7. The water is so clear that you can make out the face of the Congressman you are holding underwater.
(See it worked: You ARE smiling, and you feel better already – much better!)

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“That means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people:  If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.  If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” -  Barack Obama, in a speech to the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009.

“And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you.  It hasn’t happened yet.  It won’t happen in the future.” – Obama, remarks in Portland, Ore., April 1, 2010, after the bill was signed into law.

This last joke was on all of us.  And it’s a cruel joke, not humor.

Jimmy Hatlo was the famous San Francisco cartoonist who wrote the strip, “They’ll Do It Every Time.”  It was among the most popular strips from about 1929 until Hatlo’s death in 1963.  The strip often focussed on the things that people in power did that caused problems for the rest of us.  The strip kept running until 2008.  Hatlo was so popular that he attracted imitators, the most successful of which was “There Oughta be a Law.”  It was written by Harry Shorten and Al Fagaly.  It ran from 1948 until 1984.  Both strips were funny but in a way which made you think that you might be guilty of the same thing as the strip’s characters.

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There Oughta Be A Law

There Oughta Be A Law

A typical There Oughta be a Law strip showed someone not living up to their responsibilities or not respecting the rights of others or just being pig-headed.  The panel usually concluded with  someone shaking his or her head and saying “There Oughta be a law.”  The cartoon got its material from its readers.  It regularly solicited its readers to submit their pet peeves and used those as the basis of each strip, giving credit to the contributor of the idea.

So, in a roundabout way, Jimmy Hatlo, through his imitators Fagaly and Shorten is responsible for today’s belief that every transgression warrants a law and all problems can be solved by just writing another law.

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ObamaSignature

President Obama and his Democrat controlled Congress fully believed they could fix everything that was wrong with our health system.  They thought there oughta be a law so they created a law and were able to pass it.  Now, like most laws written to solve a problem, Mr. Obama and the Democrats are hard pressed to really understand the problem, let alone solve it.

I wonder, and time will tell, if instead of creating a huge law, building new bureaucracies, and radically changing the country’s health care system, what might have happened if they had taken off the books about a dozen existing laws that have proven to be counter productive instead.  Here is an example of a law, not unlike Obamacare, that proved to be an overreach as I believe Obamacare is already proving to be:

The Volstead Act of 1919 – it was the huge law of its day to promote public health, just as the ACA (Obamacare) is today.  It was the implementation of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.  You know of it as Prohibition, as it was the Federal Law that outlawed the consumption of Alcohol.   During the almost 14 year experiment, the unintended consequences of the law created huge problems for the society that far outweighed the ‘health benefits’ envisioned by those who passed the law.  Not the least of these unintended consequences was the fact that the law led the people to disrespect the law and the lawmakers.  The law was filled with special exemptions and exceptions – loopholes to allow the powerful to continue to have access to the liquor they wanted.  At one point, the American Medical Association began to lobby against the law and then they presented a bill that would remove the limits on the amounts of various spirits that could be consumed by any individual.  The AMA questioned, in public, the Legislator’s ability and qualifications to let them determine the therapeutic value of any substance for the health of the average person.  All this is not unlike the ACA.

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norml_remember_prohibition_

The 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were repealed by the 21st Amendment to the Constitution in 1933.  Will this be the fate of Obamacare?

What do you think?

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