Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Olympian

We've had Obama the god. Obama the gifted orator. Obama the towering socialist. Now we have Obama the Olympian. We've got Iran building nukes. Russia rebuilding it's power base. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq is falling apart. Pakistan near civil war with nukes. Unemployment driving steadily upward. Health care reform is stalled and now appears to be a miss-mash of glued together deals struck in the House cloak room. 200 citizens died in a tidal wave in American Samoa. And the Obama team heads for Denmark to champion his home town, Chicago, for the 2016 Olympic games. (Cost is estimated at $50 Million for this junket. Is the Chicago Olympic committee reimbursing the government for this "assistance"?) What next? A sales trip to Syria representing Disney?

But all that aside, the question is what will happen should the International Olympic Ccommittee not select the Obama led Chicago bid? Answer: it will further erode the power and prestige of the Office of the Presidency and embolden our enemies. Still, the 'fix' might be in with the IOC (check ACORN fund transfers, eh?)and he knows they will get the nod. Or if the bid fails he can blame Bush for creating hatred against America. Might be personally for him a win-win.

While Obama seems to be all to all, he doesn't seem to understand he is to be Presidential, not Billy Mays.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Busy with Year-End Spending

If you are a regular reader of Red Flag Days it is apparent I've been negligent to update the blog with my latest thoughts, impressions, and generally wild radical rants of current events. That's because at work, as a U.S. Federal Employee, I am duty bound to spend every last possible dollar in our organization's budget by 1 October so we can claim to need even more mountains of taxpayer funds for next year. And indeed, I can report to you we've been able to not only meet the expectation of spending all our allocated funds, but we've been successful in 'robbing' from other directorates as well. However, I want to assure you we've spent these funds on true environmental bona-fide needs. Example: To meet an IT Command requirement of upgrading computers to enable use of Vista, of which we have no choice, we initiated a purchase of new Vista compliant computers/printers to replace outdated ones. Now we can create new rules, regulations, and program requirements without delay. I did reject a proposal for purchase of a fish shocker, $9,845.95, our biologist claimed was needed to inventory fish in installation rivers. The kicker? We don't have rivers on our installation. In fact, with less than 4 inches of rain/snow per year we usually have dry creek beds!

So stand by friends, things will be back to normal in a few days.....I feel a rant coming on about children's worship songs to Dear Leader, "Barack Hussein"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weasel Words

The Federal Reserve Chairman, this week said: "...the recession is very likely over." He maybe very likely right, but equally, he may be terribly wrong. When our leaders use weasel words to shade reality it undermines the people's confidence. to react. Personally, I wouldn't run out and bet the farm on the end of this recession. Mark Lieberman, a Fox News Business analyst, pointed out five weaknesses of the Chairman's prognoses:
1) One shot incentives - i.e. Cash for Clunkers makes it appear a lot of activity in the industrial sector will result because of this "demand". However, industrial planners have long learned not to make too big of an adjustment in production in the face of artificial created demand. Result: No new jobs.
2) Skewed numbers in official reports - Lieberman indicates many official Dept. of Labor reports contain data buried in the details that few understand how it impacts the overall report. Statistics can look good, but contain hidden bad news. Most of us don't have the time to delve into the details and depend on a sound-bite from leaders to make us feel good or bad depending on the desired out come. He points out that sales data is especially subject to being misread:
A. Gas sales - heralded as a sign that consumers were once again traveling. No gasoline prices rose by the same percentage as the sales figures.
B. Retail sales - Hurrah! Consumers are back in the stores. No - back to school tax holidays drove sales for a temporary rise in sales.
C. Restaurant sales - Increased sales of not-at-home food consumption rose 0.1% last month. But it is the same situation as gas sales. Food prices rose the same amount.

3) Unemployment - At 9.7% - Still 15+ million can't find work. The rate doesn't take into account those who's unemployment has run out and quit looking for work. Might we add the unemployment rate plus the welfare application rate?
4) Consumer credit - Consumers decreased credit card purchases by 5.2% and savings has risen 5%. The recession can't end until consumers start spending, creating the demand for goods and services.
5) First Time Home Buyers - Again due to special one time incentives, an artificial blip of increased home sales occurred, making it appear the housing market is back on the upswing. Once the incentive money is gone, so will the home sales. Also Lieberman pointed out that who gains in home sales? Not many in the economy, especially if it is a "used" home. It may be good for home values, but will not bring back jobs as in previous years.

So the lesson learned here is to carefully listen to what is not said and don't be jumping for joy too soon. We all hope the economy rebounds soon, but not under false pretenses, please.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Government Can't Run Health Care: Or anything else for that matter!

The Watchman has not had a good day. In fact it was a disaster from the start, didn't get any better and resulted in the downing of a double martini upon arriving home. What, you may ask, was the cause of such a horrific day? Government operating at its very finest. Yes indeed your government, the one you all pay boatloads of taxes to, managed to enter into the twilight zone and create the proverbial do-loop. Let me explain.

For a number of years, Fort Carson's environmental group has used the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to aid in our development of management plans and perform necessary environmental impact studies and assessments under the National Environmental Protection Act. This work was done by recognized agency experts, USFWS employees who are federal government workers. Earlier this year it was discovered our former director had improperly developed an inter agency agreement to use the USFWS. In other words he'd by-passed the 20 person approval chain. In response our director was relieved of duty and then the hassle began that has turned into a nightmare. What was simple before, became a miss-mash of many cooks in the kitchen, with lawyers arguing over the jots and tittles of law, financial types arguing about the color of money (which I will not explain in this blog), and what template should be used for the blessed agreement.

Now here is the kicker: Our division staff prepared a draft agreement that didn't pass muster with the gnomes of higher HQ. So we re-did it in their desired template. Basically rearranged paragraphs and changed a few adjectives. This new draft was approved by the higher beings at HQ and we were told to have our commander sign it. That we did, and quickly too as time was running out. Remember, in most state and federal governments if you don't spend money given to you, then it is 'lost' for use the day after the end of the year. And we're not talking about parking meter change here either! Now get this: We send the SIGNED agreement by both our commander and the USFWS to higher HQ, who then shreds it apart with at least 20 new issues or questions! This is death by a thousand cuts and our staff is ready to throw in the towel. We are now redoing and justifying the previous justifications to satisfy someone in higher HQ who apparently doesn't want this thing to go through.

We would have given up a month ago, except for the 13 highly skilled and award winning USFWS staff who have worked in partnership with us for well over 10 years. To be treated this way and face the threat of unemployment in the middle of a recession is a travesty. Not only that, but without their support, our existing staff can not do the work these experts do and we may in the end subject the Army to fines and harsh public opinion for violating the environmental laws.

The Watchman tells this story to illustrate the governments total incompetence at running such complex activities. If they can't get it straight for saving the wildlife, how can we expect the government to run a mega trillion health care program? How can we have confidence that there won't be some glitch in the process that will totally screw up the system to the point where not only are people out of work, but people die. The Cash for Clunkers still haven't paid dealerships for price reductions due to bureaucratic bungling. Again, ask your self, based on your experience with government, do you really, really, believe the government can be trusted to run the single most important aspect of you and your family's life? Really?

Thomas Pain wrote: "That which governs best, governs least." His sentiment needs to be followed to day, as it doesn't appear our government can run much of anything well.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Personal Invectives - Part II

Hardly had the electronic ink dried on the Watchman's blog of September 10, when indeed a group of black publishers, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) shouted from the roof tops "Racism" over Congressman Joe Wilson's calling President Obama a liar in the congress.(Black Publishers Cry Racism...) The direct quote of Wilson's is: "You lie." Nothing more was said by Wilson. No other pejorative was used in conjunction with the statement. He immediately apologized to the President. In the end, where is the "racism" claimed by the NNPA? Do they possess some supernatural god like power to access the intent of a man's heart? I think not. It appears the NNPA and others like them, see the bogeyman of racism at every turn and in every shadow. A sad commentary on the progress of race relations, don't you think?

Where was their out rage when during the presidential election campaign, Senator Reid and other democratic leaders charged candidate Obama with lying? Is the invective of racism only to be applied when convenient or invoked against individuals from the other party? Was it racism when most of the leaders within the democratic party called President Bush a "liar" over Iraq issues? Crying racism in the Wilson case demonstrates the inconsistency and resulting loss of power the word holds. Bull Conner and George Wallace standing in the doorway of southern schools to prevent entry of black children is racism. A no-name congressman embarrassingly loosing control of his emotions in congress saying two words is not.

The other sad part of the Wilson outburst is the lack of analysis into his charge by the main-line media. The puffed up indignation by Congressional leaders over Wilson's breech of protocol may be a dodge to deflect consideration that our President was less than truthful in handling the facts of the health care issue. has a good review of the issue. Of the five items the President addressed, he was pretty loose with the facts on 4 of them. So is he only 25% truthful? Credibility on this topic is not his strong suite.

The NNPA in response will boycott South Carolina to punish Wilson. Huh? Yes, they plan on canceling their annual convention there to demonstrate opposition to South Carolina's continued use of the confederate flag as a state symbol. Only problem is the impact of their decision actually punishes the very people they represent, hardworking black and white poor who cook and serve in restaurants, do hotel laundry, work in the convention centers, or the small black business owner who just lost a catering contract.

Again, the over use of personal invective so easily undermines right thinking and results in innocent people being harmed. The knee jerk reaction by the NNPA demonstrates how thin skinned our fellow countrymen really are and how easy it is to use an invective to perpetuate negative political agendas. As the Watchman sees these things play out, he fears a return of old prejudices that keep us slightly ahead of savage barbarity.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Easy Use of the Personal Invective

Back on July 28th the Watchman wrote a blog on the intemperate charge "racism" and how such over use dilutes the terrible meaning of the word. The same needs to be said for calling people "liars". It wasn't effective against President Bush when used by the liberal left and I don't believe it should have been spoken of President Obama during last nights address on health care to a joint session of Congress. The comment came from Rep. Joe Wilson (R) South Carolina, who in his agitated state of emotion uttered the invective loud enough that all in the chamber could hear it.

No, that was not the way Americans should treat their president when in a public setting. Even if it is believed the President purposely was miss-stating or was being misleading on the issue of coverage of illegal aliens, conservatives and moderates need to remain in control of their emotions. In the book, Letter of Lincoln, it is clear President Lincoln was subject to daily doses of personal invectives against himself, his cabinet, his family, and closest friends. Yet, he remained a steadfast gentleman who spoke or wrote in such a graceful manner that many of his enemies were totally disarmed. He used humor and calm logic to dissuade his detractors, and only occasionally leaned on someone with his sharp wit and knack for a subtle put-down. Even then he frequently would later write or speak an apology to that individual.

The tendency today is to let loose with all kinds of personal invectives in an attempt to demean and derail the opportunity of real discussion. Its easy use of personal invectives that render their use meaningless when it might really count. Hyping up issues with words like liar and racist reduces their impact and tends to turn people off when heard too much. And doing so in an official settings such as in congress or in a court room is beyond the bounds of civility.

Congressman Wilson, immediately recognized his error, apologized, and the President accepted. That is a Biblical approach to resolving the issue. Now lets move on to discussion of the substance of these issues in a likewise civil manner. Then maybe we could get somewhere with resolving the impasse.

ACORN - New Style of Community Organizing

Back in the late 1800's it use to be a town grew from a wild and lawless collection of misfits into a city of citizens devoted to organizing a community based on virtue and solid moral values. Then community organizing meant building a church, a school, a public library, or a medical clinic. It meant the establishment of law and order, adherence to a code of citizen safety and dedication to civic duty.

Yet today, the single largest community organizing entity, ACORN, was discovered to be engaged in a organizing effort that would have promoted prostitution, sex enslavement of under-aged illegal women, and encouraged tax evasion. The leaders claim this was just an aberration, yet in several other instances through out the past campaign ACORN was found to have violated numerous election registration laws and is under DOJ investigation. The State of Louisiana is investigating the organization's founders and leaders for the disappearance of millions of dollars of charitable contributions as well as funds provided from taxpayers.

So where there is smoke, most likely there is fire. The kicker in all this is the proposal for ACORN to conduct the U.S. Census on behalf of the Department of Labor/Commerce. Every concerned citizen should contact their congressional delegation and demand ACORN have no part in the census collection. They are a community organizing agency that have disgraced the term and not deserving of this responsibility.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can We Afford It Right Now?

As the Watchman listened to the President's speech on health care reform in an attempt to sway the congress to see it his way, I couldn't help but refer to my own situation regarding my beat-up old 98 Jeep. The President made a reasoned call for buying into a new system as the old was sorely out of condition and costing huge sums of money to continue. He promised the cost would be less than $90 Billion dollars over the next 8 years and would not "add one dime to the Federal deficit". One commentator mentioned the President may wish he hadn't said those words, referencing Bush 41's famous "Read my lips: No new taxes." line that killed him in his reelection attempt. Almost all agree, the President's math is flaky and who is he kidding that his program won't add to the deficit. However, I digress from the Jeep issue.

Here is the analogy: My old 98 Jeep has 137,658 miles on it. It runs okay, but I sense its age and at 53 mph a slight shimmy develops that is a bit disconcerting until it disappears at 64mph. The windshield is pitted. It has a deer dent on the left passenger door. The tires are showing signs of wear and the rear differential now drips, leaving a HOA unapproved grease spot on my driveway. Continued operational costs only continue to climb as it ages. By every account, this old system needs to be reformed, junked out in the parlance of used car sales. I know this fact and I know I could correct the problem by playing let's make a deal at the local new car dealership. The question is can I afford to do so now?

Our 'get it now' society demands full coverage and complete error free operation. And we like our stuff all shiny and new. We don't like rusty deer dents in our cars. Thus we look for a 'reformed' system at our earliest convenience. But can I afford to purchase a new Jeep now? Already my own personal budget is nearly maxed out. Unlike our Federal government at least I have a positive net worth, but still it is so slim that one false move could plunge our household finances down the tubes into bankruptcy. So do I take the risk to add on more debt load to an already heavy loaded system? I think not. Instead the wiser or more prudent move is to shore up those components that make the vehicle run safely, while I endeavor to reduce overall debt load, and one day, two or three years down the road, take on buying a newer vehicle.

Why can not our government do likewise and ask: Can we afford this level of health care reform right now? The President is fond of telling us he took over a government that was 1 Trillion in debt, yet in less than 200 days through his party's control of congress he has quadrupled this years debt and it is projected these debts will multiply to 12 to 15 Trillion over the next 10 years! Again, as badly as reform is needed, is the reform he is proposing affordable right now? I think not. So wouldn't it be more prudent to invoke reforms that could make the system better without breaking the bank? How about tort reform? Savings estimated at $38 Billion per year! Reducing waste and fraud with the existing systems? Saving over $200 Billion per year NOW! How about allowing true insurance competition through inter-state purchases policies? Driving down premiums by %20 to 30%. How about certifying drug importation from other nations? Saving close to $300 million in drug costs. These are just a few of the things that could be done NOW and are very affordable. However they are not being proposed by the Democrats. Why?

The Watchman's fear is enough of the 'get it now crowd' will ban together and shove through something that will jeopardize the entire US economic system's stability. When the nexus of insolvency, medicare and social security, is over-topped by some form of government health care system it will so undermine the foundations of our economy we will stagger under the load much as the old Soviet Union. The President proposes to buy today what we can't afford, in the hopes that we can afford it tomorrow, when most likely we'll be unable pay the loan? That is the sales pitch we heard tonight. Cheap credit along with a free lunch. We'd be wise to consider a more prudent approach.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

No One Should Die

A comment written on Face Book caught my attention.
"No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day."

On general principles I agree with the thought. People shouldn't be dying because of cost and neither should they go broke over health care in our 21st century North American society of obscene materialism. Although I suspect the frequency of both end results occur less than is generally thought. Also hospitals are pretty user friendly in setting up payment systems for folks who truly have no other way to pay.

However, universal health care isn't really that easy. From another paradigm I disagree with the comment as it leads to outcomes and consequences we might not desire nor be able to prevent once such a concept is brought about in society. The comment basically enshrines health care as a "right". Again, a seemingly beneficial aspect, but fraught with all kinds of issues. Lets explore a few of them:
How? How is the right implemented or ensured? To guarantee this right some one has to set up a system and it has to be paid for. The free-market system can do so by transferring the cost for those who can't pay over to those who can through their insurance premiums. For the most part this is what is happening now, but not in an organized manner. An illegal immigrant who can't get health insurance walks into an emergency room, gets treated (by law no one can be denied services), pays what they can and walks out the door. Other users who pay, eventually pick up the loss incurred by the hospital. One idea floated by a conservative is to create a "insurance pool" that all insurance companies pay into for coverage of the uninsured. Some health providers are already doing this like Walgreens. If we turn our health care over to a government run system, we who can pay will pay through our taxes AND our premiums.
Who? Who should be responsible for this right? The Bible teaches we are to be our brother's keeper, to protect the innocent (although another right guarantee kills the innocent), and to feed/care for the less fortunate. Are we, American citizens, responsible to care for someone who chooses to either abuse their health, illegally crosses the boarder, or make life style choices contrary to their physical health. One statistic generally accepted of the uninsured, is about 12 million folks earn greater than $74K a year and choose NOT to have insurance! Many in the 18 to 30 age group likewise opt out, especially if single, preferring to spend their money on other luxury items. So should the other 300 million of us foot the bill for others to have their cake and eat it too? Where does individual responsibility come into play in this right?
Why? Why this right? I've alluded to why in the last point, but in this point lets consider why this right over other possible rights? Try these: No one should die because they can't afford a house; No one should die because they can't afford a car; No one should go broke because they don't have a car; No one should go broke because they don't have cable TV; No one should go broke because their taxes are too high; Do you see where this is leading? If you grant one type of life style right then why not others. Our constitution mentions nothing about these kinds of 'rights' because the founders believed in setting general principles, and at that time, trusted the people to responsibly provide for themselves.
Reality? The sad fact of life: life is not fair. The comment implies all should be fair in the life we live. Life is not fair, in fact it can be down right brutal, especially if we make wrong choices. Most of the world lives in a day to day struggle for survival, where even the hope of health care is but an out of reach dream. If you live in North America, you have a number of safety nets that will help in times of need, but in the other 98% of the world that isn't the case.

These are but a few aspects of the implied 'right' to health care. There are consequences to enabling this as an universal right in our nation.
Loss of Freedom I: Others will choose for you. As suggested, a universal health care right paid for by the government, will ultimately involve loss of individual freedom to choose your health care direction. Oh, at first you'll be able to keep your current doctor, but as time goes along, inevitably for cost control purposes you'll be shunted off to another doctor. That doctor will be strictly limited as to health services you can choose from. He'll have a guidance table that will have age across the top and symptoms down the first column and where the two aspects intersect, that will be the health care provided. Too young or too old and your choices (freedom) will be limited by cost and availability. If you appeal, some faceless government gnome with a green shade cap will access your cost-effectiveness to receive treatment. There is no other way to reign in health costs but to ration and truncate care.
Loss of Freedom II: Health Nazis You laugh. But there are already legions of health nazis who are ready and able to police your life style choices and insert that info into your national health record. Doubt me? Think of this one aspect: Labor day pic-nic - You go to local grocery story, place on the checkout conveyor the following items: a bag of chips, 80% hamburger, 12 pack of hot dogs, sour cream dip, white buns, two cartons of cola, pack of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars, and for dad a six-pack of beer. You then hand the clerk your "FOOD CLUB" card registered in your name! How hard do you think it would be for a nationalized health care system to require that data transferred into a "health risk factor system" and placed into your national health record. Then when you need a triple by-pass, all those data points will be summarized in a model formula and bingo: DENIAL OF TREATMENT! (And think on this: Will you go broke seeking private treatment in another country offering better care?)
Quality Vs Quantity: Mediocre care A national health care system will ultimately result in mediocre care. Take a look at Veteran's medical care. Overall it's pretty crappy. I should know I've used it for my military service related disability. Long lines, long waiting, examined by a PA rather than a Dr., weeks to get service or appointments, paperwork out the wazoo, and rude treatment by the sizable army of clerks. Remember, you get what you pay for. If it is free, then it cost you nothing and that's the kind of service you can expect. We will be herded in mass to local doctors who will be under-paid and over worked. If you need something routine, you'll probably get seen in a few weeks and handed your pills. But God forbid should you need any other kind of special treatment. You just might die before the system can meet your need. Also this will impact research and development of new techniques or medications. For what incentive will there be for those who work in this arena to go that extra mile if the rewards are not there? Mediocrity will become the standard mode of operation.

My last point goes to the end of the previous concept. Motivation. Why will individuals take care of themselves if they know they have no responsibility to do so? Where is the motive to move people to become doctors and surgeons if they know in the end they'll be part of giant industrial-medical system that dictates who, where, and how they will treat patients? The lessons of attempted socialism is rife with failure. One of the best examples on record is that of Jamestown of 1607. When the colony was first formed, it was done under the idea of 'communal' sharing of work as well as the benefits derived from that work. All would work together and all would share in the resulting bounty. Except human nature came into play. Those who were lazy, greedy, and/or thought of them selves as higher class didn't work. They expected to receive their share none-the-less. As the colony began to decline in output, people died from starvation. It was obvious the socialized effort wasn't working so Governor Dale canned the communal system, assigned 3 acre plots to colonists and told them "plant or die". Amazingly, the colony began to grow and thrive. Harsh? Indeed. Yet necessary for civilization to become civilized.

No, people shouldn't die or go broke from a lack of health care. But they do, and would continue to do so even if made a 'right' via a government system. That said, we need to exercise caution in assigning life-style rights for the consequences can be what we never intended, and may be far worse than what we have now.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

We Knew This was Coming

This will be quick as it is late and we just finished canning 52 pints of salsa. But the Watchman had to publish this observation: We knew this was coming. What am I talking about, you ask? Representative Rangle's claim that all the resistance to Obamacare is about racism. Check out the Fox News story, Rangle: "Prejudice a Factor"

When liberals, and especially Black liberals, can't win a debate on the grounds of fact and logic, they pull out the race card. Indeed, this was Obama's standard ploy when he would get into trouble during the election. And like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he'd look around all wide-eyed innocent like and say, "Who me?? No it was Bill who threw out the card."

The marxist-socialists have been totally floored by the reaction to Obamacare. Never in their wildest dreams after such a stunning election would they imagined citizens rising up in such loud opposition to the proposal for government run health care. They were so dreamily led along by the President's own euphoric rhetoric they totally miss-read their fellow Americans.

So they tried to win the argument by illogical, obfuscation, and misrepresentation of facts within the legislation (which they hadn't even read!!). When that didn't work they switched emphasis, it's about health insurance reform not health care. When that didn't work, they tried the do it for Teddy "The Gipper" Kennedy approach. When folks found that obscene to use the dead in such an overt political power grab, they now have fallen back on the tried and true guilt trip: We're all a bunch of white supremest after all. We now will let this monstrosity of a bill go into law because we all feel guilty of some kind of subconscious repressed prejuice that continues to burn in our white souls.

Well here is one person who isn't fooled by that old song. If you will take a few moments to read my blogs on the subject, as well as references to other articles on opposition to Obamacare, you will not find one mention of our President's race. I and those who oppose Obamacare do so, not because the color of his skin, but rather because the conduct of his character does not marry up with our values, of liberty and freedom from government intrusion into one of the most intimate aspects of human life, an individual's personal health.

Message to Congressman Rangle: Charlie, this is 2009 and we're in the post-racial period, so can that tired old tripe. We're looking for the real deal, and buddy, you ain't it.