Sunday, August 29, 2010

Elections: looking for "my" candidate

Lying in bed the other night, unable to get to sleep, the question suddenly came to mind, “What would or should I want in a President?” Following shortly thereafter was the edited thought, “Well, what would or should I want in anyone that holds any public office?”

After a brief flurry of the time-tested know...things like honesty, ability, enthusiasm, and the eternal “wants what I want him to want” I decided to clear the slate and try (and I emphasize, “try”) to come at this subject from a different direction. is the result....

The first major concept that I found comfort in was “He or she never looses touch with the electorate.” Someone really smart once said that a good leader knows to stay far enough ahead of his voters so if they wish him ill, they cannot catch him...but close enough so he can sense when they are about to take a hard turn and take it ahead of them, preserving the illusion of  leadership. The concept is not only true, but requires a truly dedicated, aware, intelligent person. A stupid person cannot do this. A narcissist cannot do this. Any office holder needs to have people who he will listen to that can give him accurate feedback on the attitudes and moods of “his” people...and the politician has to “want” to listen.  And he has to be continually looking for new people to do this, to avoid the insular stagnation of being separated from direct voter input.

But that is not enough. Sure, you can swerve with the crowd and appear to lead...but swerve too often and the voters will be forced to see the truth, that you are not leading but following from the front. They do NOT want that. So...what do we, the voters, want? I think we also want a teacher, a professor. NOT a dictator that talks down to us, but a person who is not only willing, but both able and anxious to explain the path that they would like to take, what its benefit to the voters will be, how it will work, how to tell if the idea works or not. AND, if he is unable to convince the voters of the wisdom of what he thinks should be done, then...and only then...change his focus and approach so as to represent his voters wants and desires, not continue blindly and run over his constituents.

And I want this person to be able to promise me that he or she understands all of this, is committed to it as the only proper way to govern and to promise to quietly and thoughtfully listen to voters if they feel that he or she has gotten away from this way of doing serving the constituency. Ideally, he would identify during his campaign 3, or 5 or ten, people that he trusts who he would listen to if they sensed that he was getting away from this promised method of representation and, if he could not correct his course or could not be convinced that he had gotten off track, promise to resign his office.

This kind of representative is someone I could respect even if his plan and concept of government was different from mine because his election would be the result of voters' decisions, not just mine, and elections have consequences. But if he or she does his or her job: reads the bills, discusses details with constituents, listens and reasons on behalf of his voters, and responds to and protects the concerns of his voters, his heart and mind are in the right place and he has earned respect.

Unfortunately, I have not yet found such a person. Perhaps none exists. But...I can hope, can't I.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Health Care simplified (maybe)?

Why does the government always look to solve a problem by starting with the most complicated and controlling approach first (and often never moves on from there)? And that is assuming (a very big and IMHO false assumption) that it can accurately determine whether or not there actually is a problem.

Indulge me by joining in another look at Health care in America. The whole conversation is about two areas: costs and availability of coverage, right? For the sake of argument, supposing we separate the two for purposes of discussion.

Cost. Right now, the individual states control the cost of policies sold in their states...or, at least they have the power to control those rates. So...the federal plan that is going to cost us who knows how many trillion dollars does not really address or improve that factor, does it? Do we really think that federal bureaucrats will do a better job than state bureaucrats? I don't either. But...can we change the factors in a way that might (and I emphasize, might) improve costs? How about allowing cross-state-line sales of different health care insurance products? Instead of mandating a specific model of coverage, as states do now, why not mandate that different policies can be marketed with different scopes and levels of coverage and the consumer can select whatever suits his or her desires? Further, if you thought it would be helpful, research and find out what the profit margin is for Health Insurance Companies, come up with an average and mandate that all Health care Insurance Companies may not set rates that result in exceeding that margin. Adjust that number by inflation, provide for public auditing of compliance. Require that promotional and explanatory literature on the different Insurance policies highlight in bold print and plain English just what the differences are between policies, with emphasis on scope (types of things and illnesses covered AND NOT COVERED) and Coverage (amount of money available by type of service and lifetime of policy).

I think all of this, done at the STATE level, would result in lowest possible (knowing that this does not necessarily lead to an actual reduction in bills, just that the charges are not inflated) costs and allow a family to chose at least some coverage at a cost that they can afford.

Availability of Coverage. Again, let us presume that we want to extend coverage to all citizens. Why not just provide for reimbursement of costs of medical care to citizens who do not have coverage. All Doctors, Hospitals and Medical Laboratories have to do is document the person receiving coverage, why they were not covered by a policy (pre-existing condition, financially unable to afford coverage, etc.) verify that they were a citizen or a legal resident, and the government would cover the costs. There would be no reimbursement for treatment for illegal aliens or non-citizens. Also, these forms would also be required to be audited to prevent fraud.

This would, within a couple or 5 years provide us with a baseline for the costs of covering those who do not have any insurance. If the experience seemed to support it, perhaps a follow-up step would be to replace the reimbursement program for the Health care Industry with a subsidy for lower income families to enable them to buy an insurance policy, leaving the government directly responsible only for those with pre-existing conditions.

Such an approach would provide both more alternatives and more power of choice to the American citizen and family, keeping government control at a minimum while mandating government verification of industry, provider and end user truthfulness, as well as minimizing taxpayer costs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sharia Law

What I find so dangerous and insidious about Muslim Sharia law and Islamic attitudes generally is the assumptive trust that western liberal-progressives have in Islam. Sharia law is accepted by devout Muslims. They accept its absolute nature and the penalties dictated. Islam also calls for the elimination of non-believers where Muslims are ruling. This can be by conversion, demotion to a slave-like position in society, or by death.

What liberal-progressives hang their hats on is that the Qur'an calls for treating non-Muslims equally...the same as believers. They point to this as being proof of non-discrimination by Muslims toward other religions and other groups. And, technically, they are correct in this observation. But their reasoning is flawed. What this proves is that if Islam becomes a majority, they will apply Sharia law to everyone...equally.

That means that adultery and homosexuality, among others, will result in death. Theft will result in amputation of a limb. Women will have to wear various forms of the hijab, or more. So...there will be equal treatment...but not the preservation of different life styles. If they become a majority, they will not allow the Supreme Court or the Congress or the President to frustrate what they see to be their solemn duty as called for in the Qur' insure the Islam is followed by all.

It is a mystery to me how progressive-liberals can remain so sanguine in the face of these facts. Is it that they believe that the Constitution, which they have so successfully suborned, will somehow have more force when it serves their purposes in defending against the Islamic goal? Can they be that obtuse and/or stupid? And I am confounded by the failure of those who instinctively sense the threat to not clearly enunciate the threat in the manner I have described...I haven't heard one analyst comment along the lines that I see so clearly. Am I that wrong? If so, I would dearly like someone to disabuse me of my belief. I would dearly like to be wrong.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Greek Orthodox Church gets pushed behind the Mosque

Everybody seems to have forgotten that a small Greek Orthodox Church was flattened by the disaster on 9/11. The Port Authority reneged on an agreement to provide some money for rebuilding the church, and have refused to meet with the church representatives to get everything on the road to restoration. Have you seen the Mayor, any NY representative or Senator, or the President or anyone in his administration speak out on behalf of this Church? No? Neither have I.

How can this be?

I guess that they will be playing ice hockey in Hades before President Obama will be celebrating a dinner with the Greek Orthodox and speaking out for THEIR right to rebuild (not build, mind you but REBUILD their church. Of course, the President wasn't raised in a Greek Orthodox home, so perhaps it is unreasonable to expect his recognition, much less support, for their interests. And the ACLU is seemingly only interested in groups that attack, verbally or actually, the United States, so they have no interest either. And apparently the Mayor of NY has no interest either...perhaps he doesn't see the Greek Orthodox as part of HIS "inclusive" city. Do we all have to convert to Islam to get "equal" treatment?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Did Internet Journalists instigate "slanted" stories?

CNN today includes an interesting article by Mr. Ferenstein that appears to find that slanted stories on Internet News sites are due to the pre-decided attitudes or interests of the writers. While, to the degree that he analyses the phenomenon, he makes some good points... he seriously errs in ignoring the origin of this tendency and leaves a reader with the impression that non-objective reporting sprang out of the internet of whole cloth.

It is the print media that led the way. As long as newspapers and news magazines were owned, and run by professional journalists, the public was well-served...with cautious, well-researched articles and stories that were professionally written to provide all the facts that were available absent judgment-proclaiming adjectives. The Reader was the judge, not the writer. But with ownership shifting to non-journalists, the pressure shifted from being a good source of information to being a good source of revenue. This often let to pressure from owners on editors to sensationalize both headlines and stories, utilizing and emphasizing adjectives for the sake of boosting readership. In essence, the editorial page now was the whole paper. If it were not for the internet, the public would have forced a correction of this abuse, but they could now get the facts from the internet, so they just stopped buying papers with whose editorial content they did not agree. And, of course, journalist who wished to remain employed quickly discarded their journalistic ethics in favor of the paycheck.

The internet phenomenon described in the article is just an extension of the fact that good, objective, straight news is no longer available in today's America.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Debating Ahmadinejad may be Obama's Best move

He does this every chance he gets, but Iran's President has once again offered to debate our President did he phrase it...”to see who has the best solutions for the world's problems,” I think it was. He was quoted in a Reuters' article as saying, “Toward the end of summer we will hopefully be there for the (U.N.) General Assembly and I will be ready for one-on-one talks with Mr. Obama, in front of the media of course."

He has done this before, of course. Specifically, he challenged President Bush the same way. Of course, one of his statements in the course of the challenge included claiming
Bush was scared to talk, but Iran preferred it, “We have always favored talks, Iranians have never, ever favored war."

On the face of Iran's continued provable terrible record on civil rights, Ahmadinejad's statements and position is laughable, undeserving of response, much less serious consideration.


Maybe...just maybe...President Obama should take on the challenge. Why? Well, things have not been going well for the President recently. He campaigns well, but people are starting to talk. Why isn't he staying in the Oval Office and improving the still stagnant recovery? Why haven't his promised improvements in job development happened? Why are we perhaps on the verge of a “double-dip” recession? And other questions, still un-asked by most of the media remain quietly considered by voters. He is clearly not an accomplished administrator, so staying in the office is not his best option. So...what to do?

Perhaps he could turn support for him into a patriotic thing. Take on Ahmadinejad the a debate. He could put the clear facts that Ahmadinejad denies into a presentation that would be an “in-your-face” moment that would rally all of America to his last, the President standing up for the inherent exceptional-ism and good of America and, in the process, making the idiocy of the Iranian President's claims clear to all...once and for all.

Doesn't it sound great? Of course, it will take a bit of work and preparation. Mr. Obama will first need to get all of his facts in order, memorize those facts and be able to talk on them from many different points of view and in different contexts, all without the aid of a teleprompter...this, after all, will be a no-holds debate, not a formal speech. And he will need to get used to getting into the face of his opponent at close range, dealing with yelling and challenges coming from close range and being able to show his emotion while remaining in control of his argument and presentation while avoiding his proven tendency to calm others by giving them what they want...approval or silence. But...if he can get that part down pat...what a show that would be. Single-handedly, he could bring American's back on board his bandwagon...and he might find out that he likes it, that being and acting strong has more going for it than waiting for others to play "nice."

Just think of it...I had a dream...a President standing up for America and all that is right in the face of one of the proven rights-denying representatives of a dictatorial regime.

Someone should call Rahm.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Al Qaeda is NOT our biggest Threat

The State Department said today that Al Qaeda is America's main threat.

How can they be so obtuse?

Al Qaeda is NOT our main is militant Islamists. Islam is a political ideology masquerading as a Religion. There is no separation of Church and State. When in political power there is no respect for other beliefs or non-believers. Sharia law applies to all in the country, believers and non-believers alike. And their goal is to rule the world. And their Victory Mosque in Manhattan, just like the Dome in Jerusalem, is evidence of still another victory...and we are just too smug and stupid to see what is going on.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What is Religion and Why Should We Care...

What constitutes a religion? What are the requirements? Is it reference to a higher power? Is it spirituality? Is it in the necessity of faith? Just what makes us refer to any belief system as a “religion?”

There are multitudes today that consider themselves spiritual yet would object to being labeled as part of religion. They believe in a higher power identified by a seemingly inexhaustible number of terms but emphasize an individual relationship with that power...not one dependent on organization. So, apparently, in addition to the belief in a higher power there is a requirement of organization.

But it appears that there is more. Arguably there must be a “faith” quotient. Belief systems based on proofs and demonstrable facts may be organized and numerous, but they universally refer to their organizations as “scientifically” based or “logic” based “societies,” not religions. There is, in all religions, a inherent need for “faith,” a total belief in something not proven and not provable. are we doing so far. We need a belief in a “higher power”(by any definition), an organization, and “faith.” Are there any other factors?

I suggest there is one more...a governing code that separates religious excellence or success from secular or human-based measurements of success. There is a disconnect between the two even as each can co-exist. For example, someone who's religion judges him to be a successful believer, may be successful in business and in life, but while that is considered part of his religious standing, should it be absent...if he is poor and unsuccessful in business...he would still be held in high esteem within his religion. In other words, the two existences (religious and secular) are not causal.

So now we need independence from secular success indicators, a higher power, an organization and faith. How about power, as part of a group, and organization or in governance of a political entity? Certainly that has been present over the ages. The Crusades were a prime example of power being used to further a religious belief and try to minimize a competing religious belief.

Curiously, while every religion that has ever found itself in power has never failed to use that power to further its own vision of “truth,” it has never been a requirement for the religious for one: Islam.

While all religions revel in the ownership, no matter how brief, of power the absence of that power does not cause the religion to shrivel up and disappear. It may go underground, as happened in the USSR for decades. Governmental persecution of Christians and Jews over the ages failed to wipe these belief systems from the planet.

So...what are we to make of Islam. Interestingly, the Koran begins, not with Mohammed's birth or "conversion", but with his rise to power...political power, military power, power to rule over others, not by faith, but by force. There is no separation of “church” and “state” in Islam...they are one. There is Sharia law which is to govern the people, there are codes of conduct to control people...even people who are non-believers...all people.

Upon reflection, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that Islam is a political system of governance, a political ideology that boosts its right to power by the declared support of a higher power. And such a declaration tends to put its implied “rightness” at a higher level than those solely secular-based...People-based, if you will. Once you call God by any name into the equation you are declaring a superiority of standing. And that is what Islam does. Think of it as a representational dictatorship where the dictator class rules as the self-declared spokesmen for a higher, infallible entity that may never be challenged. Pretty neat, huh? Wish I had thought of that (but I digress).

But, once political power is removed, it cannot function and achieve its stated purposes and goals, which is to rule all, not just believers. That is the difference. Judaism has many rules for living and conduct...but these are not imposed on others, only on the members of their faith. Certainly they may look down on unbelievers, but the instances are rare indeed of their killing non-believers because of their non-belief.

Yes, I know that the forces of the Crusades certainly did kill un- or non-believers. But that was at least as motivated by desire of conquest and to put down armed resistance as it was to decrease the number of or punish the beliefs of non-believers...and it has never been a constant or even a declared intention of that or other true religions over the centuries.

My conclusion is that Islam is more appropriately defined as a political ideology than as a religion. While there faith based tenets, an organization and a higher power, there is also an inseparable political power element that does not appear in religions generally. It is akin to the Monarchy based governments of old with the Monarch claiming power derived from God in some form or other.

And, in light of its declared intention of eliminating all other forms of worship and governance from the planet, it would seem to be likely to look upon it as a threat to any democratic-based governance...including, most specifically, the United States.

In light of this, it seems most logical to track its existence in the United States as we did the Communist party and any other organization dedicated to the overthrow of our form of government...and the Koran specifically calls for such overthrow in any non-Islamic-ruled country.

Perhaps our “leaders” might “get a clue”, “take a hint”, “get on the ball”, or maybe just do their damn jobs and start protecting our way of life, our borders and our system of government.

Or not.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What are the odds....

The UAE said Sunday it will block key features on BlackBerry smart phones, citing national security concerns because the devices operate beyond the government's ability to monitor their use. Officials in neighboring Saudi Arabia indicated it planned to follow suit. That was the obvious story...but there is a bit more to be concerned about. Remember Iran? Growing unhappiness with the Shaw finally led to his overthrow and establishment of an anti-American regime.

Would any of us like to bet on what this administration's reaction would be if either or both Saudi Arabia and the UAE governments fell to Islamic Extremists? Think it can't happen? Want to bet your oil prices on that?

For the sake of arguments, consider what the Office Temp and the Sycophants (sorry, the President and Congress) would do if such an event took place. What would Reagan do? Probably tell them if the oil stops, so will their hearts.

What would this administration do? My bet is that, after a bit of hand-wringing and speeches at the United Nations, Obama would point out the good news that we now have an obvious need to develop new power sources and that the cost of doing that is much below the sudden pricing of gasoline at $13 a gallon. That's my bet...and I will even give odds...(slow down, cowpokes. I haven't set them yet. I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid)