Friday, November 5, 2010

A few days after the election

The greatest and most satisfying thing about the mid-term election isn’t who won or lost, but that it is finally over.

Perhaps the worst thing about elections is having to endure the endless campaign ads on radio and television. Living near the state line, if you watch the local TV stations, you have to contend with double the ads. While Texas ads can be nasty, I think those from Oklahoma contain the most mud, unsubstantiated accusations and cleverly worded lies. The absolute nastiest ads are reserved for the night before the election. Everyone’s opponent is the worst kind of no account, low down bed-wetting, embezzling scoundrel. The guy paying for the ad; however, is a good guy, “one of us,” a family man and veteran who will fight for jobs and less government spending—unless he’s for more spending. Then, he’s for improving education, a better life for the poor, more parks, bike paths, going green, and the usual politician’s proposals for wringing more money out of the taxpayer to blow on schemes to get people to vote for him.

Nearly all the candidates say that, unlike their opponents, they want to discuss the issues. They repeatedly say the word “issues”, but none of them ever say anything about any issue that they can be pinned down on later. They say that they are “for this” and will “fight for that,” but never say precisely how they will do any of these things. I suppose the first thing they learn from Politics for Dummies is to never answer a question directly, be evasive; ignore all questions and instead answer a question that hasn’t been asked—one they know the answer to.

The outcome of this election wasn’t too much of a surprise. The polls predicted it pretty well. The GOP picked up over 60 seats in the house, which gives them not only control of the House, the ability to prevent any more of Obama’s socialist schemes from getting off the ground. The exact number still isn’t known. There are precincts in certain states where ballot boxes, in election after election, are discovered in the trunks of Democrat election judges’ cars and in their basements. Until the arguments over whether or not to count the fraudulent ballots are decided, no definitive total can be accurately tabulated.

The Democrats, as expected, kept control of the Senate, but without the House, they can’t get any of their or Obama’s legislation enacted. Gridlock is not always a bad situation. How bad could it be if a few thousand pages of new laws are not passed in the next couple of years? John Boehner (R-Ohio) will become Speaker of the House, and Nancy Pelosi will have to surrender her personal government jet and go back to her broomstick.

The president, disappointed as he surely must be with the turn of events, has to console himself with a junket to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. “The primary purpose is to take a bunch of U.S. companies and open up markets so that we can sell in Asia, in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and we can create jobs here in the United States of America,” Obama said Thursday (Nov. 4). I think the companies could handle that job better themselves and at considerably less cost to taxpayers, but if it gets him out of town for yet another vacation this year, some see it as a plus--despite the millions it will cost for he and his entourage.

Too bad the incoming office holders won’t take office until the first of the year. That leaves two months that the bitter outgoing Democrats can wreak more havoc on the country before starting their nice retirement at taxpayer’s expense. But on the bright side, there won’t be any more annoying campaign ads on TV for the next couple of years.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Renaming the Bush tax cuts

Since the tax cuts were enacted in the early days of George Bush’s first term in office, Democrats have called them “Bush tax cuts for the rich.” The term has been parroted by the so-called “mainstream media” so often that there doesn’t seem to any alternative title to what was actually The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 or EGTRRA for short. I remember getting a check from the government when this bill became law. I was working for an hourly wage and couldn’t be classified as rich under any recognized method. At the time, many of us were suffering from the recession that was caused by the bust of the “dot-com bubble.” My 401K took at big hit and a lot of my friends who had planned on retiring decided to continue working as long as they still had jobs. Maybe you remember those times as well.

In order to get this bill through congress, the Republicans had to agree that the tax rates would revert to their previous rates at the end of 2010 unless congress extended them. Now that that deadline is looming, the question of the day is “Will Obama allow the rates to be extended, or will he insist on socking it to the taxpayer in the middle of what has become his recession.” The division, predictably, goes right down party lines: Democrats, Obama supporters and those who don’t pay any federal income taxes want taxes to go up—that’ll bring in more money for welfare, while Republicans and others who earn a living want them extended. Republicans pointed out early in the argument that it would be stupid, if not disastrous, to raise taxes during a recession.

Lately, the Democrats have changed their strategy. Now some of them are saying that they are for keeping some of the tax cuts—those for the middle class, but not for those earning more than $250,000. That amount seems like a fortune to those who work for some company or corporation, excluding top management. But the owners of plenty of small unincorporated businesses are included under the classification that leaves them liable for a big tax bite if the Bush tax cuts are not extended. These are the very same people that hire others and will be responsible for bringing the country out of its present economic woes. The president appears to be deaf to his critics and says he’s not going to grant any relief to those making over $250,000 per year no matter whether they are individuals or small business owners. His line now is that the government cannot “afford” to spend the amount of money required to “give” the rich a big tax cut. One might get the idea that he believes that all the money belongs to him and that allowing people to keep some of their own money is somehow a gift from the government to wealthy individuals.

I heard the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, say the other day that Obama’s current plan, if it doesn’t change between now and whenever he acts on it, will now be known as the “Obama tax cuts for the middle class.” But don’t expect to see any actual new tax cut. The actual tax cut happened back during the Bush administration in 2001 and 2003. The new “Obama tax cut for the middle class” will be like most of the good things his benevolent leadership has given us—mostly imaginary.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Federal appeals court agree with American Atheists Inc.

In Utah, there are 13 crosses along the roadside in various parts of the state that are memorials to officers of the Utah Highway Patrol who died in the line of duty at the spot where the memorials are located. Each cross is white, 12 feet tall with a picture and short biography of the fallen officer, and the insignia of the Utah Highway Patrol. The presence of these crosses drew the ire of a Texas Atheist group that sued to have them removed from pubic property. It isn't that the alleged offending memorials are anywhere in Texas. They obviously went out of their way to target Utah. A federal judge properly threw the case out of court, but a few days ago, the 10th District Federal Appeals Court reversed the ruling and sided with the Atheists.

In a 35-page ruling, the court said, “We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the state prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion. They therefore violate the establishment clause of the federal constitution.”

The notion that there is such a thing as separation of church and state in the constitution is nonsense and the notion that a cross on the side of the road erected by a group of private citizens at their own expense means that the federal government is establishing a religion is patent twaddle. Only a liberal activist judge or group of liberal activist judges could put forth such an idiotic ruling with straight faces. I don’t believe that they even believe what they have written. The ruling goes on to say, “We conclude that the cross memorials would convey to a reasonable observer that the state of Utah is endorsing Christianity,” they said. “The memorials use the preeminent symbol of Christianity.” Well, what do you know, does it take a cross on the highway to make one think that the state of Utah, the home of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) endorses Christianity? When I think of Utah, I think of Mormons and did so long before this imbecilic court decision. When I see a cross on the side of the road, I immediately know what someone has died there. It never enters my mind that the government is announcing a national religion.

Now that I've made it clear what I think about this federal appeals court, it’s time to talk about atheists in general and American Atheists Inc. in particular.

There are atheists everywhere and there are probably more of them about than one might expect. However, most of those who eschew religion keep it to themselves. That’s their business and none of mine. On the other hand, organized groups of atheists who stick their noses into the religion and religious practices of the majority of Americans are people with too much time on their hands that need to mind their own business.

The American Atheists Inc. is the Texas based outfit founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, a Maryland transplant who was responsible for the ban on school prayer by the Supreme Court. She was eventually murdered and dismembered, along with her son and his girlfriend by a thieving employee of her organization. She proudly wore the title of "The most hated woman in the United States. The followers of Miz O’Hair exist for the purpose of antagonizing religious people and preventing them from exercising the practice of their religion in public—using the federal courts in the name of the First Amendment to go around the First Amendment. This outfit has a website, blogs, a Facebook page and other modern communications means of spreading the word. Their website has on online store where a disbeliever can buy trinkets. They are selling memberships for $20/yr, or $1200 for a life membership, which includes a life member pin and your name in the magazine. With all their evangelistic proselytizing, one might get the idea that atheism, like the groups
they furiously attack, is itself a religion.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Monument to the Muslim massacre of 2001

The question of whether or not Muslims should be allowed to build their victory monument to 911, two blocks from the scene of the carnage is getting a lot of attention in the news lately. It was only a matter of time before Obama offered his unsurprising opinion—it’s okay build the mosque in the name of religious tolerance. Why is it that when dealing with the most intolerant people in the world, we Americans are expected to take the high road, turn the other cheek, and bend over for these paragons of intolerance, in the name of tolerance?

It’s not that there is a shortage of Islamic places of worship; on the map, I counted 37 Mosques and “Cultural Centers” in the NYC/Newark area. So why do they want a 16 story Islamic building two blocks from Ground Zero? I think the answer may be in the original name of the project, The Cordoba House. Once the significance of the name was discovered, they changed the name to Park 51. I found the following on an Islamic website,

By the tenth century, Cordoba could boast of a population of some 500,000, compared to about 38,000 in Paris. According to the chronicles of the day, the city had 700 mosques, some 60,000 palaces, and 70 libraries - one reportedly housing 500,000 manuscripts and employing a staff of researchers, illuminators, and book binders. Cordoba also had some 900 public baths, Europe's first street lights and, five miles outside the city, the caliphal residence, Madinat al-Zahra. A complex of marble, stucco, ivory, and onyx, Madinat al-Zahra took forty years to build, cost close to one-third of Cordoba's revenue, and was, until destroyed in the eleventh century, one of the wonders of the age. Its restoration, begun in the early years of this century, is still under way.

It took about seven hundred years before Spain was able to regain control of their country and oust the Muslims. Is it possible that they (the Muslims) have similar designs on New York—to conquer the infidel incrementally?

I think this project, if built, will be considered by Muslims as a monument to their first major victory, a mighty act of war against the infidel. If not a symbol of victory, why did they intend to name it The Cordoba House?

Nobody is disputing the legality of going ahead with this project. They own the land—or part of it anyway, and the Jewish Mayor of NYC thinks it’s a good idea. He’s another one who thinks that every gesture of surrender to the Muslims is showing the world how fair and tolerant we Americans are. The world, on the other hand, thinks we are soft, easy pushovers. They’re right in a way. Our government is far too soft and someday we’ll pay a heavy price for the government’s lack of backbone.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A border encounter in Borneo

It was sometime in 1974, I think. Peter Rowles, an Australian driller and I were leaving Nunukan Island, off the East Coast of Borneo, working on a seismic exploration crew. If you have Google Earth you can find where we were camped. We were located about 3° 58’ 50.45” N, 117° 38' 17.87” E. Not long after our chartered taxi, a local boat with 3 40 HP Johnson outboard motors on the stern, left the island, we were intercepted by a steel-hulled Indonesian Navy boat containing several armed men. They escorted us to their ship, which was about a mile away. The “ship” was about the size of a torpedo boat. It was clear that it was an Indonesian Navy vessel because it had wet laundry hanging from the signal halyards where signal flags would normally be found.

Once aboard, we were taken to a cabin where two officers sat smoking and drinking coffee. We were offered coffee as is the custom of refined Indonesians. Eventually they got down to business. They wanted to know who we were, what we were doing so close to the Malaysian border and they demanded to see our passports, visas and police clearance papers. In our halting Indonesian, we attempted to answer their questions but we couldn’t produce any paperwork, because all of our documents were back at the base camp in the office safe. “A likely story,” their faces said as they glared at us skeptically.

What we didn’t do was call them pigs and racists. We didn’t say that we had a right to sneak into/out of Indonesia and that they could kiss our white, albeit rusty, behinds. No, such behavior is unacceptable outside the United States. Other countries have borders and authorities that enforce their immigration laws.

In our case back then, eventually they gave up any hope that they had nailed a couple of desperate criminals. They turned us loose. I left a fresh pack of cigarettes on the table when I got up to go—such courtesies were expected then, and probably still are.

We learned later that they went down to our camp, located a couple of our labor contractors, and shook them down for whatever they could get out of them. Such customs and practices were common then—and probably still are.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Moving Along

Over the past three years, I’ve written a weekly column for The Lindsay Letter, a small weekly newspaper in Lindsay, Texas. For the most part, it’s been an enjoyable experience and an opportunity to get to know a number of good people who read my column. In a way, it reminded me of being in school again. Each column was an assignment—with a deadline. Fortunately, when I couldn’t think of a subject to write about, I could often rely on my brother Phillip to write something in my place.

Clay and Kelly Corbett have sold The Letter to Scott Wood, owner of the Whitesboro News Record and the Muenster Enterprise. I’ve been thinking of giving up the column for some time and since I haven’t been contacted about staying on, the last column was my last at the paper. That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up writing. I've been at it a long time and seem to be addicted to offering my opinion irregardless of whether it's wanted or not.

Before I started the column, I wrote what is now called a “blog” under a pseudonym for several years. I intend to go back to writing a blog on an irregular basis, but under my own name. If you’re interested in reading what will essentially be the same column, bookmark (Control-D) this URL: I can’t promise a weekly schedule, but I’ll make an effort to do the best I can. It seems like longer I stay retired, the more things I have to do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Manufactured crises and demonized industries

Remember when gasoline was around $4 a gallon? Politicians wasted no time in rounding up oil company executives and bringing them before congressional committees to browbeat them, accuse them of greed and make sure the honorable members of congress were seen scowling into TV cameras for the folks back home.
They cited dollar amounts that EXXON raked in, neglecting to mention that these figures were gross income before expenses and federal taxes. The oil company execs didn’t set the price of oil--that was done on Wall Street and other world money markets by speculators. When the prices went down, the politicians didn’t round up the executives and publically pat them on the back. The truth of the matter is that EXXON paid the federal government in taxes more than they made in net profits.

In trying to get his ObamaCare takeover travesty passed through congress, the president has been using the same tactic. He has been demonizing the health insurance companies, accusing them of denying peoples’ claims and raking in billions in excess profits. Here’s some interesting information about health insurers that the president is omitting from his attack on the insurance industry that I found a few days ago on Facebook, written by author, freelance writer and not so little brother, Phillip J. Hubbell:

“According to the most recent Fortune 500 rankings, health insurers are not even among the top-30 United States industries in profit-margin. Health insurers rank 35th, with a profit-margin of just 2.2 percent -- less than one-fifth the profit-margin of railroads. None of the ten largest American health insurers made profits of more than 4.5 percent, and two of them lost money. Health insurers' collective profit-margin is less than one-eighth that of drug companies and less than one-seventh that of companies that sell medical products or equipment. It's also less than that of medical facilities. Yet when was the last time you heard President Obama rail against greedy hospitals?

The combined profits of America's ten largest health insurers are $8.3 billion. That's less than two-thirds of the profits of Wal-Mart alone, less than half of the profits of General Electric alone, and less than one-seventh of what Medicare loses each year to fraud. Health insurers collectively have one-eighth the profit-margin of McDonald's or Coke, one-ninth that of eBay, and one-fifteenth that of Merck.

The Healthcare debate continues to grow as Obama demonizes those evil profit-making insurance companies--meanwhile Nancy Pelosi says, ‘But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.’"

The Obama alternative to those “greedy” insurance companies is the federal government. We are to believe that the owners of the post office, Medicare and the IRS can create a health care monopoly that is cheaper and more efficient than the private sector.

Anytime the government gets involved in anything, the costs always skyrocket. Back in 1970 the government forecast the cost of the hospital portion of Medicare would be $2.9 billion per year. The actual cost was $5.3 million. The same estimate in 1980 was $5.5 billion while the actual cost was $25.6 billion. To pay for it, the government created 23 new taxes in the first 30 years of Medicare. From this information, I am confident that if Obama can get this bill passed, the cost “savings” that he touts will disappear and in its place, huge tax increases will be substituted. I think he wants this as his legacy, no matter how bad it is, no matter what it costs, and no matter if it costs him his job and the jobs of Democrats in congress that voted for it. He believes in socialized medicine and it doesn’t bother him that an overwhelming number of Americans hate the idea and don’t want the federal government intruding into their personal affairs. He thinks he knows better than everyone else. He also knows that once a large number of people—his people, start getting free medical care, congress will not have the political will to repeal it. Our only hope is to stop it now.