Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Comparison


'Tis once again the season when we gaze back on the previous annum and ponder the changes for good or ill that have overtaken both the republic and ourselves. Your humble blogster confesses to never having been a huge fan of the previous occupant of the White House but simply considering him to be the less objectionable of both of the likely alternatives offered by the Democratic party. However, a survey of the occurances of 2009 forces me to admit to a degree of nostalgia for the comparatively "not so bad" old days of GWB. The following is a short list of contrasts of a year ago courtesy of Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere:
A year ago, the government wasn’t the owner of two previously privately held auto companies, the largest insurer in the nation, or a large mortgage bank.
A year ago, our President wasn’t buddy-buddy with Chavez or Castro.
A year ago, we didn’t have a tax-cheat as Treasury Secretary.
A year ago, we didn’t have an Executive Order authorizing the immigration and placement of thousands of Palestinians in the U.S.
A year ago, U.S. taxpayers weren’t funding and facilitating abortions in other countries.
A year ago, five percent fewer federal employees made over $100,000.00 a year.  It must be nice to get a raise in the worst recession in my memory…especially when you already have the job security of a federal employee.
A year ago, we had a President who wasn’t on record as thinking that the Constitution is “fundamentally flawed”.
A year ago, we had a President who did not bow deeply to the Saudi King and the Japanese Emperor.
A year ago, we had a President who did not avoid the Senate’s advise and consent role by appointing czars in places where they had never been before.
A year ago, we had a President who did not go out of his way to insult average Americans by casting aspersions on their values and the values of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
A year ago, we did not have a Supreme Court Justice who completely and utterly disqualified themselves before appointment with repeated statements calling their integrity and impartiality into question.
A year ago, we did not have government officials threatening private investors who were trying to protect their legal rights in bankruptcy.
A year ago, we did not have a presidentially appointed self-admitted Communist in government.
A year ago, a government official would not have dreamt of quoting Mao in public as a favorite philosopher.
A year ago, our elected representatives would not have dared to ask constituents for ID before answering their questions, or used union goons and police to silence and remove constituents from public meetings.
A year ago, the conventional wisdom would have laughed at the notion that we need hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus spending that stimulates nothing in order to turn the rising tide of unemployment.
A year ago, the government did not deign to set compensation levels for employees of privately held companies.
A year ago, the idea of government health care for all was the punchline of a Hillary Clinton joke.
A year ago, we didn’t have a President who has informed a whole sector of the energy industry that he wants to put them out of business.
A year ago, the EPA was not threatening to regulate carbon dioxide emissions if Congress doesn’t.
A year ago, INTERPOL could not operate on American soil without regard to the American Constitution and American due process.
A year ago, we didn’t have an attorney general who believed it was appropriate or necessary to try foreign terrorists in Article III courts.
A year ago, we had a President and administration that recognized that we were already in a war on terrorism, because the terrorists had already declared war on us.
A year ago, a statement to the nation about a terrorist act committed against Americans by the President was a duty, and not an annoyance.
A year ago, carbon dioxide was good because it helps plants grow, and not a pollutant requiring taxes by Congress that will be paid by energy consumers.
A year ago, in was understood that the government cannot force me to buy a government-approved health care plan with the threat of exorbitant fines and/or jail time.
A year ago, it wasn’t the priority of one political party to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to a group of community activists that have engaged in voter fraud and other criminal enterprises…time and again.
A year ago, the government didn’t fire watchdogs who caught influential friends of the government with their sticky fingers in the government till.
A year ago, we had a President and Leader of the Free World who didn’t sit on his hands and “bear witness” to the brutal repression and murder of people resisting a totalitarian regime that is determined to destabilize the region it is in.
A year ago, we had a President who did not support a leader attempting a coup by vilifying the people who lawfully prevented it.
A year ago, we did not face a government that grows fat and belligerent on our tax dollar, while constantly threatening to take more of our money and freedom from us.
A year ago, we [did not have] a President that accused our soldiers of perpetrating war crimes for political gain, or declared police guilty of acting stupidly while admitting in the same breath that he didn’t have all the facts.
A year ago, dissent was the highest form of patriotism; now it’s racist!

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The End Times for Liberty?


Those readers who have been following the scribblings of this fearless blogster (both of you know who you are) have noted a somewhat tapering off of his screeds recently. He is tempted to attribute the lack of cogent production to "burnout" but that would be less than candid of him. The truth of the matter is more mundane. He is much less "fearless" than heretofore.

Included among the blessings of youth is the assumption that one is invincible, immortal; bulletproof as it were. This and forced conscription I believe, are two of the contributing factors toward the ability of rulers to mobilize cannon fodder in order to achieve this or that political objective.

As youth fades and the sum of worldly experience increases, the reverse of the coin of life begins to manifest itself to wit, the observance of long term trends. The most depressing trend that Leonidas has witnessed over yea these threescore and thirteen years is the inexorable advance of collectivism to the detriment of individual liberty.

Intervening between the current progress toward collectivism and the re emergence of the value of individual liberty appears to be a descent into what many would characterize as a "dark age" similar to the conditions obtaining subsequent to the collapse of the western Roman Empire in the sixth century AD.

Indeed, as western/Roman civilization disintegrated due to corruption of the political/economic system your humble blogster sees similar forces at work today.
This past week yields on [Greece's] 10-year bonds surged in the wake of downgrades by the bond rating agencies, which finally recognized that Greece does not have the financial resources needed to repay its debts, which now stand near junk levels.  Not far behind are Latvia, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom and almost every other country in Europe, even though they may still flog paper rated as “investment grade.”  The reality is that the rating agencies just have not yet come to grips with the breadth and depth of widespread government insolvency, or have willingly turned a blind-eye to it.  And don’t forget Iceland which of course has already collapsed.
How did we sink to this state of affairs?  Nobel Laureate Friedrich von Hayek provides the answer in his brilliantly insightful and prescient book, The Road to Serfdom, penned during the waning years of the Second World War.
Hayek’s central theme is that wars expand the power of the modern state because the national planning to fight the war continues even during times of peace.  This perennial government planning then expands the social-welfare state over time, with harmful results.  Most importantly, economic activity is impeded by the growing state as people and resources become less productive.  In other words, because the government does not create consumable goods and services, it is an economic burden to the productive sector of the economy.

The insolvency of socialist governments invariably results in rioting and chaos in the streets as the proletariat demands the fulfilling of promises made by collectivist politicians who have assured them that there is in fact a "free lunch".

"More people depend on the state than those who provide it with the money the state needs to meet its promises.  Most of Europe long ago passed the 50% threshold with more people depending on government than the private sector, but even in the United States – long reigning as the bastion of capitalism, free-markets and limited government – 58% of the population derives their income from government at some level. "

The precise details of how the train wreck is to be played out remain to be seen. This old Spartan is not sanguine as to the medium term outcome and is carefully husbanding his last cartridge.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

cross posted at: Eternity Road

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's A Religion; Stupid

If there were ever ever any doubts that the AGW movement is a religion, the below video dispels them. Is it only a matter of time before the imams of the religion of "peace™" commission their own "scientific" hacks (as the warmistas have) to create computer models proving that the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock aboard a huge white horse?

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Joys of Government "Health" Care

The below video was shot at Havana's Hijas de Galicia maternity hospital in June of 2009. It seems to have escaped the final cut of Michael Moore's production of "Sicko". Guess he just couldn't work it in.



ht: The Real Cuba

Monday, December 07, 2009

Follow the Money


In the words of "Deep Throat" during the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, in order to determine the depth and breadth of corruption and locate its sources one is well advised to "follow the money". It is not always the case that the ultimate motives of the real corruptors are pecuniary but lucre is the most convenient tool for achieving the true objective which is power.

The revelations of the recent "climategate" scandal teach us that virtually any human endeavor dependent on the species homo sapiens can be directed toward the achievement of power by the prudent application of cash. Evidence of the practice of the government commissioning scientific studies with a pre determined outcome surfaced in the fallout from a 1992 report by Dr. Edward C. Krug.

Krug had been been commissioned as part of the National Acid Rain Precipitation Assessment Project (NAPAP) to determine the causes of acidic lakes and watercourses in the Northeastern US. The findings did not support the assertions of the environmental movement and (redundancy alert) the EPA, assigning the cause of these conditions to pollution by power generation facilities' use of high sulfur fuel. Instead, the real cause of these conditions was found to be runoff from acidic soil in the applicable watersheds.
During the late 1980s, acid rain was a hot topic. Environmentalists said that it was an ecological catastrophe. George Bush made an acid-rain policy an important part of his "kinder, gentler agenda". Together, the president and environmentalists helped push through Congress the Clean Air Act of 1990, the most sweeping regulatory law in history. Some important people had their reputations staked on this legislation, and they didn't need Ed Krug telling taxpayers acid rain is no big deal.
As a result, Dr. Krug ceased to be able to find employment in his field.

The recently published "purloined" emails reveal the continued machinations of scientists corrupted by the application of copious amounts of government directed taxpayer cash toward the end of massive accretions of political power. The long term effects of this massive program by political players assisted by the mass media have resulted in the emergence of what amounts to a religious movement which this writer choses to designate "the warmistas". To summarize the resources directed toward the goal of total political control of the planet's economic engine:
• The US government has provided over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, foreign aid, and tax breaks.
• Despite the billions: “audits” of the science are left to unpaid volunteers. A dedicated but largely uncoordinated grassroots movement of scientists has sprung up around the globe to test the integrity of the theory and compete with a well funded highly organized climate monopoly. They have exposed major errors.
• Carbon trading worldwide reached $126 billion in 2008. Banks are calling for more carbon-trading. And experts are predicting the carbon market will reach $2 – $10 trillion making carbon the largest single commodity traded.
• Meanwhile in a distracting sideshow, Exxon-Mobil Corp is repeatedly attacked for paying a grand total of $23 million to skeptics—less than a thousandth of what the US government has put in, and less than one five-thousandth of the value of carbon trading in just the single year of 2008.
• The large expenditure in search of a connection between carbon and climate creates enormous momentum and a powerful set of vested interests. By pouring so much money into one theory, have we inadvertently created a self-fulfilling prophesy instead of an unbiased investigation?

To ask the question, is to answer it and the above figures of course do not include the funding of other Western governments.

Today the Obama Administration's EPA Director Lisa Jackson announced the administration's final determination that greenhouse gases are a hazard to human health – a widely expected move whose less-than-expected timing came on the first day of climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is an end run around the legislative function of the Congress. The politicos have chosen to direct their warmista jihad against carbon dioxide for strategic reasons of taxing/regulation. What will happen when these tyrants decide to address the real greenhouse gas H2O? Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Not Michael Moore's Cuba!


Hospital Patient at Marina Azcuy, Cuba


Lost in the debate on "Health Care Reform" here in the US is one of the most important reasons to reject government collectivized  delivery of medical care. Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban blogger who lives in Havana eloquently describes the circumstances obtaining in a society where health care is collectivized:
It delights us to cure ourselves of that stage of life we call adolescence and, in particular, to become independent. Finding an answer to that question we have asked ourselves so often: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Able to leave home without explaining ourselves, being responsible for our own destiny, and, above all, not having to listen to any parental admonition: “As long as I am supporting you, you must do what I tell you.”

Nations that develop under the guidance of a paternalistic state run the risk of leaving their people in a kind of stagnated adolescence. The case of Cuba is one of the paradigmatic examples. We live under the national authority of a government characterized by the continuity of the people in power, who have tried to subsidize a portion of our basic necessities. With great pride, the official media touts that medical care and all levels of education are free, as well as the existence of rationing which supposedly guarantees a basic market basket.

It is understood that public funds defray this maintenance, funds generated by workers who produce what they themselves cannot touch and who are not compensated for doing so. Obviously work is not stimulating and what is earned barely stretches to cover what is subsidized. Papa State does not allow the expression of divergent opinions, much less that people organize themselves around these ideas or reach economic independence; what is worse is that he demands infinite gratitude. Fortunately, as the familiar paternalistic model has taught us, everything tends to change with the passage of time. The children grow, turn into adults, and nothing can stop what the youngest will do with the keys to the house.
As Yoani points out so cogently, when the government controls the system by which health care is delivered it can will control every facet of its subject's lives.  We here in the US have already experienced the camel's nose under the edge of the tent. You must wear a seatbelt while traveling in a motor vehicle and wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle even though the person likely to be harmed by omitting these practices is only yourself. The rationale for these ukases is that the public at large is likely to bear the expense of the treatment for your injuries. In some communities this philosophy has extended to the ingestion of food substances which are believed to place the consumer at risk of obesity or circulatory diseases.

Yoani lives in a society in which every facet of one's life is controlled by the reigning political regime and the lifestyle of members of the ruling class occupy a strata far above ordinary citizens. This control extends to even access to the internet which we take for granted. The government prohibits home internet connections for all except its ruling elite and resident foreigners. In order to post on her blog Generación Y  Yoani must buy computer time at a tourist hotel. The hourly fee for such service is equal to one third of a month's salary for the average Cuban worker. Only in the last two years has the regime even allowed access to tourist hotels by citizens not employed in them.

This humble blogster has heard interviews and reports by visitors to Cuba who have returned to sing the praises of the "worker's paradise" in the Caribbean. For the most part these "visitors", be they celebrities or members of the Congressional "Black Caucus" are known as "useful idiots" by ordinary Cubans as well as those of us blessed by  having viewed the "Real Cuba" as described here , herehere and especially here.

I urge all readers to visit Yoani's blog and especially to click on the tab in the tool bar entitled "how to help".

cross posted at: Eternity Road

Thursday, December 03, 2009

New Green Al Gore Cultivator



Don't Laugh (cry?). These plough pullers have been bred to refrain from farting.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

They Never Sleep!!


Your humble blogster was once upon a time elected to the board of directors of an international association of sailors who live aboard and cruise their own sailing vessels. The gig was a non paying one (not even expenses) and the term was of two years. Understandably, the members of this association were generally a staid, conservative and self sufficient lot with a potential membership worldwide numbering in low 5 digits. There were however literally many more thousands of "wannabes" who fantasized in participating in such a "sailing off into the sunset" lifestyle.

The monthly publication of a newsletter by the organization included valuable information containing "local knowledge" and gradually pressure began building to sell the newsletters in the form of "associate" (non voting) memberships. As you, dear reader can imagine the potential for serious political metamorphosis of such an organization was enormous.

Selling subscriptions/memberships, merchandise in the form of flags, clothing, coffee cups etc resulted in the generation of cash flow sufficient to not only edit and distribute the newsletter but to hire staff, pay rent and generally evolve into another "yacht club".

At about this juncture, along comes "Commodore Charisma" who has marine insurance buddies and gets himself elected to the presidency. With the aid of an ally he embarks on a campaign to "reform" the organization along the lines of a yacht club/insurance agency, a 180 degree departure from the intent of the original founders. Sound familiar?

The ensuing struggle caused your embattled author to remark to his first officer: "These a**holes never sleep!" Although the above described skirmish was won by the "conservators", (a phyrric victory by the way) your humble blogster moved on to other shoreside pursuits leaving the struggle to others.

The moral of the above tale? They never sleep. For example, we have for many (7) years used a Berkey water filter, Originally to remove contaminants (including lead) from the spring water at our ranch, ΣΠΑΡΤΑ in Kalifornia:
California, has adopted AB 1953 / SB 1334 & 1395 / HSC Section 116875. This revised “no lead law” as it’s commonly known, goes into effect January 1, 2010. The law stipulates that any “end-use device intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking,” as well as each of their individual components, materials and “pipe, pipe or plumbing fittings, or fixtures,” or flux, must be “lead free” as defined by California law. Under SB 1334, certification MUST be performed by an “independent ANSI-approved third party testing organization.” It appears that even if a product and each component of that product has no metal alloys and if a purification system actually reduces lead, under Section 116875, it must be be certified.

This idiotic regulation effectively bans the sale of Berkey products in the state.We continue to use the Berkey today (it works!) here at ΛΑΚΕΔΑΕΜΟΝ and intend to continue doing so until the enviro nazi driven government forces the company out of business. Additionally, those of you who may have the misfortune to reside in the People's Republic of Kalifornia had better acquire your HD flat screen TV before Jan 1, 2011. The ban on sales of those items becomes effective on that date.
Last week, the California Energy Commission approved a groundbreaking series of efficiency standards for televisions, the first time government at any level in the United States has meddled in the details of how our boob tubes are made. The new rules set maximum power-consumption standards for TVs of up to 58 inches, starting in 2011 and becoming considerably tighter in 2013, and prohibit California retailers from selling sets that break the rules. Only a quarter of all televisions currently on the market would comply with the new regulations.

If your humble blogster were 20 years younger he would upgrade his defensive (Kalifornia illegal?) fire power and apply to the local Constitutional Militia for enlistment.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

ht: Ol' Remus

cross posted at: Eternity Road

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Personal Responsibility

For those of you gentle readers who haven't noticed it, times are becoming a little "dicey". Law enforcement agencies around the nation are becoming a little, shall we say; "stretched?" With the economic downturn, governments at all levels are experiencing a decline in revenues. Among the methods utilized for addressing this problem are all too frequently the famous "Washington Monument" strategy 
It’s true that most local governments have some fat that can be cut from less visible programs and services. However, when the goal is to get constituents riled up and preserve popular programs at all costs (including possible tax increases), it’s much easier to target highly valued services: fire and emergency, trash and recycling, education, parks, and police.

At levels below the Federal government (which has control of the official counterfeiting system (printing presses), local governments, when unable to raise taxes, routinely cut back on emergency services such as fire fighting and police. Additionally, as is the case in the suburban area where this humble blogster resides, police are assigned to "revenue enhancement " duties such as speed traps and code enforcement, often to the neglect of public safety. We have witnessed  officers assigned to speed trap and seat belt enforcement neglect to enforce serious safety violations of careless and inattentive motorists.

Recent high profile events have tended to drive home the fact that "when seconds matter, the police are only minutes away"; or as in the case of many urban environments perhaps hours.

Ultimately, the citizen must rely on himself for his and his family's safety/defense against predatory criminals even though police personnel are experts at arriving on the scene and making chalk outlines of victims bodies and festooning yellow tape around crime scenes.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Voilá, It's Solved

The Obama administration's efforts at addressing the "unemployment" problem have resurrected memories of observations of similar efforts by another Marxist regime that your host had "contact" (read arrested by) with, in January of 1980.

During our transport to Managua to be interrogated by the Sandinista officials as spies, we had conversations with several Sandinista revolutionaries. Being able to converse in the local tongue has many advantages.

One of our guards explained that since the exile of Anastacio Somoza, the problem of "unemployment" had been solved. The Sandinista Revolutionary government had simply inducted all of the unemployed Nicaraguans into the Revolutionary Army and voilá, the problem was solved. The local population including the "Army" were still short of food, clothing and basic necessities, and all private businesses had been seized or closed but the "unemployment problem" was solved. How wonderful.

During our journey to and from Managua we observed the appalling conditions at various towns and villages where there were intersections of the type we know here as the "4 way stop" variety. At these intersections we observed 4 "soldiers" posted at each approach to the intersection. As a vehicle approached the intersection the assigned "soldier" would monitor if the motorist stopped at the marked limit line, and if not, the soldier would force the motorist to back up and come to a stop short of the limit line painted on the roadway.

As you can imagine, this is an extremely inefficient use of human resources but rather ordinary in collectivist societies. Remember this when statistics are trotted out regarding the "creating and saving of jobs" by the messiah's collectivist minions.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Coming to a Community Near You?"

Item in Atlanta Journal & Constitution
Sunday 20 April 2014 Press Release Atlanta Field Office Federal Bureau of Investigation

Yesterday 4 Deputy US Marshals were detailed to serve an arrest warrant on Philip Gordon 63 of Carroll County in west Georgia. Mr Gordon refused to allow the Marshals entrance to his gated property whereupon the gate was breached using necessary force. During the process Mr Gordon's 2 Labrador retrievers charged the federal agents and were dispatched. Mr Gordon refused to submit to arrest and brandished an assault rifle accusing the Marshals of trespassing before retreating into his home. The Marshals summoned backup from the local Carroll County Sheriff's office and two of the 6 responding deputies refused to cooperate in serving the lawful warrant. They were immediately relieved of duty. Additional backup from agents in the Atlanta field offices of the FBI and BATFE surrounded the Gordon residence. Repeated demands for Gordon to surrender went unheeded and chemical agents were introduced into the structure. An hour later an unconscious  Gordon was taken into custody and booked into the Fulton county jail on the warrant charging refusal to pay the $15,000.00 penalty for failure to maintain a government approved medical insurance policy.

Something to ponder: What will be your reaction dear reader, when you read the above news item?

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Sunday, November 08, 2009

None Dare Call it Treason

It is now the fourth day since the Ft. Hood shooting incident and additional data are released daily. Missing from the releases on the investigators' efforts is a "possible motive" for the rampage. Are we to consider (hyperbole alert) that a "possible motive" for Major Hasan's action was to collect on the life insurance policies of as many military personnel as possible? Or was it that this "officer and gentleman" concluded that he could avoid being deployed to a combat zone by utilizing his colleagues for target training?

Major Hasan is a first generation natural born citizen of the U.S. and a lifelong practitioner of the "peaceful religion" of Islam. Surviving witnesses of the shooting spree report hearing him shout "allahu akbar" before going about the business of fulfilling his duty to eliminate as many infidels enemy combatants as possible.

According to another source Hasan had attempted to locate (unsuccessfully) a suitable female muslim to marry. Perhaps due to that failure he opted to go for the 72 virgins. We can only speculate however, how long it will be until he is able to consummate those 72 liaisons.

We here in the West have become so inured to the routine viciousness of murderous jihadis that this outrage is mistakenly referred to as "terrorism". Nothing could be further from the truth. This event is a classic example of treason. The casualties were almost all sworn military personnel and on a military installation. Major Hasan is therefore guilty of waging war on the United States. The Constitution defines treason in Article III section 3: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only of levying war against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort...." Come to think of it; he will doubtless qualify as a one up candidate for membership in the Jane Fonda patriotic society.

Nevertheless we all know don't we, (wink wink) that the political doctrine masquerading as a religion had absolutely nothing to do with this outrage.  

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

cross posted at: Eternity Road

Monday, October 26, 2009

"It Can't Happen Here"?


In 1935, the avowed socialist Sinclair Lewis' novel "It Can't Happen Here" was published. At the time, Germany's NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) had been in power for two years with its party leader, Adolph Hitler occupying the office of Reich Chancellor. The policies put in place by the German government were already generating outcries in western societies and the title of Lewis' novel appeared to refer to those events as they might apply to the American experience. Interestingly enough, Walter Duranty garnered a Pulitzer prize in 1932 for his hagiographic treatment of Joseph Stalin and his policy of collectivizing the Kulaks in Ukraine which resulted in mass starvation.

During the fourth decade of the 20th century few were the number of scholars who connected the dots and could conclude that the political/economic philosophies of Fascism and Communism were joined at the hip by an adherence to totalitarian collectivism. Most assumed that given the mutual enmity professed by the two collectivist political parties it was evidence that they were polar opposites. That error continues to this day.

Mr. Lewis' inference that the trappings of totalitarian collectivism "Can't happen here" would today fail the test of objective observation. Given the provision in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution that "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." it is difficult to reconcile the practices of the Federal Transportation Security Administration at the nations airports with that proscription. It is one thing to assert that the possibility of a "terrorist's" hijacking of an aircraft for an attack justifies the current draconian procedures at airports of strip searching at random senior citizens and infants; but in the opinion of this writer quite another to extend this policy to include various forms of surface transportation such as busses and trains.

Although the TSA is best known for its agents at airports, the agency's Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, or VIPR, teams stage periodic operations at bus and train stations, ports and other transportation centers. They began work in December 2006.

Thursday's daylong event was the first at a Greyhound station in Florida, said John Daly, TSA security director for the Orlando region.


The below graphic is eerily reminiscent of the scenes above in the Soviet Union and Nazi-occupied Europe of civilians being forced to submit to arbitrary searches and questioning by government officials.
One subject of the activities in Orlando who stated that he had chosen the bus over air travel to Minneapolis in order to avoid the airport indignities stated that he would "drive next time". One should not be surprised however, to, in the not too distant future, encounter highway checkpoints. In other words dear reader: "it's already here" and there is very little outrage manifested.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Run for Cover Updated


Today precious metals continue their rather steep and steady market climb with gold trading in the $1064.00/ oz range. Various pundits and gurus offer a litany of reasons causing this increase not the least of which is the continuing inflationary policies of the world's central banks led by the US Federal Reserve Bank. Some of the "experts" have been hinting that the inventories published by the various depositories are in all probability inflated. It is beyond the scope of this post to describe the so called "leasing" out on paper of these deposits and the trading of these leases in order to keep the price depressed. Suffice it to say that it is not above the scruples of the banksters in collusion with politicians to engage in such schemes to prop up the "value" of various fiat (unbacked paper currencies).

The actual amount of gold bullion on deposit at various central banks is not known with any precision but what is known is that the two major depositories of foreign gold bullion are the Bank of England and the Bank of NY. China has of late been steadily acquiring the metal in the form of bullion "bricks".
A London Good Delivery Gold Brick is a 400 oz gold brick, stamped on the bottom with the assayer (e.g. Johnson Mathey). The stamp would have the serial number and the weight of the bar to 3 decimal places.

If I were to buy gold from London and ship to say the bank of Nova Scotia, Scotia Macotta, the agent for the bank and for me would guarantee to me the purity and the weight.
For this I pay insurance, shipping fees and storage fees. If the gold comes from their own inventory, they would not assay. If it comes from another vault, then one or two bricks would be assayed.

The assay requires a hole to be drilled to make sure that gold is uniform. The core and the brick is then heated and reweighed and stamped and that new brick would have Good Delivery Status.

It would be a nightmare to assay every brick that comes to a bank.

It now seems that the Chinese asked for an assay on some of their bricks and lo and behold, some were filled with Tungsten. You can imagine the nightmare that this presents itself.

If this in fact is true, the fecal matter is about to hit the rotating ventilating device. Unless of course, it can be covered up and the "value" of most fiat currencies will not fall precipitously in relationship to gold i.e. gold at $2500.00+/oz.

Update 10/21/09 @17:04 EDT:

GLD gold bullion inventory is principally held in London
- I’ve already written about some large [allocated] physical transactions that were settled last week in London under VERY strange circumstances indicative of a shortage of physical gold bullion for good delivery.
- At the same time, significant irregularities appeared in the GLD bullion bar list

These circumstances suggest that a VERY REAL physical short squeeze is in progress RIGHT NOW and a gang of fraudsters from “fiat-crack-houses” [Central Banks] are attempting to finesse their losing over-sold hand in an elaborate Three-card Monty. With reports of independent physical audits now being conducted and mysterious happenings with GLD’s bar list – GLD has NEVER looked more suspect.
Hope you’ve all got some physical gold already.
By Rob Kirby



ht: Ol' Remus

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coming to a Jurisdiction Near You or: As Kalifornia Goes, So Goes...?

Beginning in February, 2011 all purchasers of handgun ammunition in California will be required to provide identification and a thumbprint for the state database to be monitored by Officer Friendly. Additionally, all new firearms sold in the state subsequent to that time will be required to be "micro stamped" to imprint all ammunition utilized. The law ukase was signed yesterday by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Rino) in Sacramento.

The new law (AB 962) is a huge victory for The Brady Campaign to reduce gun violence disarm law abiding citizens.

The "good news" you ask?

The state has not yet enacted AB 602 introduced a few years ago by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D) of San Francisco South West Hollywood. Assembly Bill 602, would have enacted a modest 10-cent fee on
each bullet sold at the retail level. "Revenue raised through this fee would
be deposited in a special Trauma Center Fund to reimburse emergency service
providers for the cost of treating firearm injuries in the state." The prior history of these "special funds" brings a smile to the face. About 95% of them have been raided for "other purposes". Think tattoo removal for former gang bangers.

Your humble blogster counts himself fortunate to have escaped Kalifornia late in 2004 but views with alarm the cancer metastatizing from that hapless land.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ!

Hat tip: Nicholas Noel

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Fractional Reserve Bankster Scam Updated


Long time followers of this blogster's rantings understand that ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ has so many miles on his old carcass that he is often able to weave personal experiences into some of the events and issues emerging in what passes for todays media. On the other hand a few casual observers have cast doubts as to his veracity; C'est la vie.

Many years ago ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ' family was involved in the "oil patch" in California. To illustrate just how long ago we are referencing, suffice it to say that the highest quality (26 gravity) crude oil was trading at $3.60 per barrel. At that time there were active in the "business" what we called "promoters". These individuals would buy or, in most cases, lease land in areas believed to be potentially oil producing. In order to raise the capital required to drill for and produce crude oil they would form corporations or partnerships. The resulting "wildcating" more often than not produced a "dry hole" and the promoter who lived for several months/years off the capital raised would go belly up and move on to the next project.

One such individual was apparently careless in drawing up a partnership agreement and wound up serving time as a guest at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo. It seems that the ownership percentages of the several partners in his firm totaled something over 120%. This is a definite no no for ordinary citizens as such activity is reserved exclusively for governments and their "licensees" in the banking business.

The only similar fraud that is perpetrated without penalty is the banking industry which operates under license from the government. The government allows banks to accept deposits, lend out 90%+ of the funds while depositors still "own" 100% of their deposit. At the same time, the borrowers of the "money" have leased the same funds subject to their loan contract which in old days could be "called in" by the bank if too many depositors demanded the cash to which they were entitled. This is called fractional reserve banking and has been engaged in since medieval times in Europe when goldsmiths issued receipts for more gold than they kept in storage. Often these goldsmiths when discovered committing this fraud were dealt with severely by the local prince. That is, until 1694 when the English crown, William III decided to be cut in on the action and issued a charter (license to commit fraud) to the Bank of England. Since then most governments have decided it is a dandy way to augment tax revenue in order to finance wars, welfare and other grandiose perks.

This was the manner in which bankers were able to create money from nothing during the era of the gold standard. At least most depositors could redeem the "receipts" for their cash (gold or silver) unless word got out that the bank had issued more receipts than it had precious metal on deposit. When this unfortunate event occurred, there would be a run on the bank and it would be in deep doo doo. Hence the origin of the term "bankrupt".

Fairly early in the twentieth century (1934) the banksters were successful in convincing the US government to assist them in the elimination of the inconveniences associated with too many depositors demanding their cash simultaneously (bank runs) and gold was also withdrawn from circulation with Federal Reserve notes being substituted. Voilá; enter the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp which is now more or less insolvent). This whole convoluted scheme worked moderately well as long as the counterfeiters Fed did not overprint notes and confined the money expansion (inflation) to under 3% per annum. The seeds of the serious problems we are experiencing today were sown when the need arose to finance various foreign adventures (wars) and the welfare state.

Much more detailed and intellectual explanations of these events are contained here and here as well as that by my esteemed colleague Scott Angell here.

In any event, I hope to have provided at least a modicum of insight (as well as amusement) into the criminal class known as government and how it compares to the private variety.

Update: 1037 hrs EDT 10/10/09 A mere few hours after this essay was posted, Gary North published part V in his series entitled "What is Money?" here. For a more detailed and scholarly exposition on the subject of fractional reserve banking and government counterfeiting you are urged to read it.

cross posted at: Eternity Road

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Rx: More Collectivism?


Recently your humble blogster was engage in a debate on another blog comment thread with a "progressive" over the issue if California's recent and ongoing crisis caused by a flight of capital. As is predictable with most debates with many "progressives" over substantive issues the discussion ultimately degenerated into insults and personal attacks (duh).

Please forgive ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ for his concern regarding the fate of California, for that hapless state is his native land and it is depressing to witness its descent into the predictable abyss resulting from an adherence to collectivist/environmentalist policies.

A recent article in the Observer of the UK Guardian reports on the plight of the state. In typical UK leftist parlance, the "recovery" from California's woes will be the result of pursuing the very policies that have arguably resulted in the present crisis. For example the following quote:
Take Anthony "Van" Jones, [an avowed communist] a man now in the vanguard of the movement to build a future green economy, creating millions of jobs, solving environmental problems and reducing climate change at a stroke. It is a beguiling vision and one that Jones conceived in the northern Californian city of Oakland. He began political life as an anti-poverty campaigner,

["Jones continued, "Yes, the Great Revolutionary Moment had at long last come. And the time, clearly, was ours! So we stole stuff. Y'know, stole stuff. Radios, tennis shoes. Well, not everybody, of course."]

but gradually combined that with environmentalism, believing that greening the economy could also revitalise it and lift up the poor. He founded Green for All as an advocacy group and published a best-selling book, The Green Collar Economy. Then Obama came to power and Jones got the call from the White House. In just a few years, his ideas had spread from the streets of Oakland to White House policy papers. Jones was later ousted from his role, but his ideas remain. Green jobs are at the forefront of Obama's ideas on both the economy and the environment.
The question remains: "if environmentalist policies are so wonderful, why can they only be implemented at the point of the state's bayonet?"

The piece goes on to state: "California may have sprawling development and awful smog, [no clue as to what air the author is breathing] but it leads the way in environmental issues. Arnold Schwarzenegger was seen as a leading light, taking the state far ahead of the federal government on eco-issues."

However, here is the rub; by using the force of state government California has imposed costs on doing business within its borders far in excess of its 49 colleagues and diverted untold resources into the subsidizing of inefficient energy sources while prohibiting development of vast proven petroleum resources both on and offshore. Couple this with a confiscatory taxing policy on both businesses and individuals and is it any wonder that California is in serious fiscal and economic difficulties?

The editors at the Guardian appear to believe that the way out of California's woes is to pursue the policies that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Good luck and ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Green is Red

Occasionally ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ reads an essay on another site that leaves him aghast at its eloquence and the realization that: I've been attempting to deliver the exact same message for years. With that preamble, I herewith present for your illumination the following by William Buppert:

"When the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power"

~ Alston Chase

I am sick to death of the economically illiterate environmental nonsense peddled in the media in an endless parade of bad thinking disguised as scientific discourse. The Green movement is a collectivist enterprise hell-bent on bending every knee in obeisance to a religious orthodoxy that will cripple the advancement of mankind and create third-world nations where first-world countries used to be, exponentially increasing infant mortality rates and reducing standards of living to make all of us look back on envy at the gold-plated living conditions of medieval serfs. The movement is a nasty brew of National Socialist "blood and soil" (see Anna Bramwells’s books), Marxist bromides and a child-like vision of how the universe works.

Central planning does not work. Larger entities that use force and coercion to make others do the right thing lead to national prison camps disguised as nation-states. Here’s a short quiz for you: grab the nearest envirus and ask him how would he suggest we improve the care and feeding of Mother Earth absent government intervention? He will splutter and get a very blank look in his vapid face as the synapses collapse and fail to function properly.

Use this rule of thumb: cost and benefit analysis will usually determine the economic efficacy of a given course of action. Prices are, among many attributes, the keenest indicator of scarcity or abundance of commodities or services. If recycling is such a great idea, why don’t they pay you to do it? If wind and solar energy are such ideal means to deliver power, why do they require massive subsidy and inevitably, the theft from private owners through eminent domain and other tools of economic oppression?

Speak truth to power because the Greens now have the upper hand. The government-media complex is now fully captive to the entire Green orthodoxy. Excepting shows like Bullshit! on Showtime, none questions the prevailing belief system; it is like a form of national psychosis although I feel the same way about the worship of the State. The environmental agenda is nothing less than a total renunciation of Western civilization and the requisite privileges of clean water, electricity, effective farming and a host of other modern conveniences.

The envirus views nature as a snapshot picture of the world frozen in time and unchanging; a static portraiture of life that possesses no adaptation and dynamism. Infantile views of nature which are most likely a result from having never tread upon it or lived in it. Rarely is the hunter or long-time ruralite seduced by the Disney visions of nature that dance in the heads of the Greens. A perspective further informed by the academic and media professionals whose worldview is shaped by a hive-like collectivist vision of human society in which all individuals are to be subordinated to the whims of what’s good for the herd as directed by omniscient strangers whose fatal conceit is that they are smarter than us so they know what is best for you.

Nature is cruel and dynamic. It is a daily massacre for the lame and the newborn. Vicious spasms of violence red in tooth and claw tempered by turns of weather that can kill and nourish in the same pastoral event. Most importantly, nature is capricious in the most practical sense: the complexity is so immense as to be almost incomprehensible to human cognition. Complexity theory has tried to capture the distillate of what appears to be random phenomenon but is actually a spontaneous order much like economic market forces. Which brings us to the cruelest joke of all on the Greens: they can’t possibly know what they are talking about.

Here’s the rub: there is no question of climate change, the riddle is to what extent man is a culprit. Once a given problem set has three or more variables, it becomes impossible to establish with any certitude correlative or causative connections between A and B and C. The global climate is a complex system far too large to isolate variables and know with pinpoint accuracy what makes it tick or respond to human influences. I don’t deny that humans have an impact on the climate but no one can prove to me what the extent is. No evidence emerges that the ice ages in medieval times were anthropogenic, they were simply within the observed cycle of cooling and warming that one would expect of a planetary ecosystem dependent on solar energy as a driver and engine of weather and life. There is a reason increased sunspot activity is coincident with warming trends. Man is not apart from nature, he is a part of nature. We are part of the infrastructure and no one can even address why carbon dioxide, if a pollutant, nourishes all earthly plant life excepting certain anaerobic moss. The government does not even want to have a discussion since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently muzzled one of its in-house climate skeptics.

Stand up to the Greens and call them on their idiocy. Question all their assumptions. Stand athwart their diktats and directives as they attempt to rule you as cattle. They are shutting down coal-fired plants by the dozen and seeking to bankrupt the nation by pursuing green technologies that the market has proven to be a technological & economic dead-end. Curiously, they object strenuously to the purest solar energy of all: nuclear energy which harnesses the power of the sun in a relatively clean fission package. One small ray of hope is the fact that the EPA will strangle and mangle all the emerging green technology. They will get all bureaucratically befuddled as the contesting envirus schisms like bird enthusiasts and wind generator proponents do battle. Pollution activists will discover the immense smog component of mass transit buses and the maintenance infrastructure. Electric car boosters will stand dumb-founded in their garages as the AC outlet fails to deliver power after the coal-fired grid is shut down through rolling brown-outs or blackouts. All done, of course, at taxpayer expense.

Under Obamunism, we have a wild ride ahead of us as the Green Reds at first have a terrific honeymoon with Middle America but soon discover the combination of economic illiteracy, scientific buffoonery and collectivist tyranny make for a lethal cocktail. It would be wonderful if we could just sit on the sidelines and observe the circus but the future of America is in the hazard. Indeed, the collectivists have other plans for us.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

~ Philip K. Dick

October 3, 2009


ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Comming Collapse?


Greetings gentle readers. The old Spartan is back after a week's hiatus sans internet, electrical grid, community water, land line telephone and other electronic broadcast media other than a solar powered radio. In many respects the experience resembled the years spent sailing aboard Leonidas and living off grid in the mountains of northern Kalifornia but with some important differences.

The Great Flood of '09 in north Georgia was indeed an eye-opener even for those of us who had lived many years a more or less self sufficient lifestyle. The main differences between choosing such a lifestyle and having it forced upon us by emergent events are of course the elements of planning and preparation.

The global financial, political and economic events of the past year have awakened an interest in the unfolding of various scenarios and how they might impact our very survival. This is evidenced by the emergence of a plethora of web sites and blogs devoted to the "preparedness" mentality. For the most part the scenarios described follow what I would choose to categorize as the "Hollywood" mentality. The scripts for some of these scenarios occasionally involve the "bug out" option. That is, for one reason or another one decides to flee an area impacted by a disaster and seek refuge in another geographic location. There are valid reasons for choosing such a course when the chaos attending a serious breakdown of society impacts an urban environment.

I would submit that in most cases the decision to opt for the "bug out" choice should if possible be made and executed in advance of a SHTF situation for several reasons. Firstly, instead of visualizing world peace, picture being trapped in a miles long parking lot of frantic motorists continuously burning valuable/irreplaceable fuel while waiting to creep 25 feet before stopping again. The gridlock associated with such a situation is often the result of a roadway closure caused by either natural or man caused events.

I hesitate to extrapolate the situation obtaining here in north Georgia to other areas of the nation but have discovered to my chagrin that suburban sprawl here during the last few decades has resulted in the proliferation of residential developments/tracts containing only a single access road. This situation has resulted in a dangerous condition wherein very few detour routes are available and access for emergency/rescue crews are severely hampered. So much for the "urban planning" in vogue with progressive local permit issuing jurisdictions.

Your humble blogster recalls observing a gridlock event once while ashore in Venezuela. A motorcycle with two occupants proceeded between two lines of gridlocked motorists. The passenger on the motorcycle occupied himself by robbing the trapped motorists at gunpoint whereupon the dynamic duo would escape between the lines of hapless motorists. The Venezuelan government (this was prior to Chávez) addressed the situation by prohibiting all motorcycles with two MALE riders. Two females, OK. One male one female, OK. I doubt that such a robbery modus operandi would succeed in the U.S. (outside of Chicago, NYC or DC) as the chance of an armed motorist would raise the occupational hazards for such perpetrators.

But alas I digress. For those who opt for other than the "bug out" scenario, the debate continues to rage over the best strategy to adopt for a SHTF situation. I would suggest a perusal of the posting here for a check list of appropriate preparations.

In any event, due to the recent actions of our rulers there are those who posit that the SHTF situation is in fact the "rosy scenario". If (when?) the coming collapse results in a declaration of martial law, most bets will be off and may God have mercy on all of us who will be declared "terrorist enemies of the state".

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

cross posted at: Eternity Road

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Greatest Theft in History

During the last nine months 9 TRILLION dollars has been created out of thin air and disappeared into the labyrinthine maw of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. One would assume that the "owners" of this vast wealth (the taxpayers of the U.S.) would be entitled at the very least to know the identity of the beneficiaries and recipients of this largess. Such an assumption would be wrong! Dear reader, please take the five and one half minutes required to view the following video. By the way, the legislator posing the questions of the representative of the Federal Reserve is a Democrat, Alan Grayson. The most astonishing part of the video begins at 1 minute 25 seconds.

hat tip: Daily Bail

Monday, September 14, 2009

How's That "Nation Building" Working Out?


Regardless of what we hear concerning our "overwhelming" advantage in the availability of force and the technology associated with its application, it is obvious that the west in general and the U.S. specifically lack the moral will to prevail against a determined opponent who does not hobble himself with such inconveniences.

Our former commander in chief campaigned prior to his election on a platform which among other assurances pledged an avoidance of "nation building". As is so often the fate of campaign promises, it was less than a year until the policy of installing a "democratically elected" government in Kabul was being implemented to be followed shortly thereafter by a similar action in Iraq. This humble blogger will not here address the issue of needing to dissuade any external power by all reasonable means from attacking the vital interests of the United States. That concept appears to be a no brainer, but as always "the devil is in the details". For example, how should the issue of vast cultural and religious differences be addressed? What is the policy to be concerning the existence and definition of non combatants or so called "innocent civilians"? A case in point although anecdotal is illustrative of our point. It relates to the enormous cultural and religious chasm existing between our western Greco-Roman culture as opposed to the subject of a recent exercise in "nation building":

In Kabul, the [Afghan] capital, an American service member and an Afghan police officer got into an argument because the American was drinking water in front of the Afghan police, who are not eating or drinking during the day because of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, said the district chief, Abdul Baqi Zemari.

The police officer shot the American and seriously wounded him, while other American troops responded and seriously wounded the police officer, Zemari said.

Lt. Robert Carr, a U.S. military spokesman, confirmed an incident between Afghan police officers and a U.S. police mentoring team. He could not provide information on the conditions of the two men.

Dear reader, please remember we are viewing the interactions between our own (western) concept of appropriate behavior as opposed to that of a supposed "ally". This incident speaks volumns concerning the probable success of a "nation building" project in the current theatre of operations.

Under such circumstances many of us are at a loss as to how to proceed. In consulting history we learn that earlier civilizations have confronted similar situations. Several millenia ago the ancient Assyrians had an interesting policy in the treatment of conquered peoples. After a military victory the Assyrians made the usual demands of tribute in the form of treasure, slaves and foreign policy on the defeated people and withdrew without leaving an "occupying" garrison. So long as the defeated population complied with the Assyrian demands they were left alone. Contrary-wise, if the subject city after being left alone attempted to rearm and renew the conflict it was subjected to the full fury of the Assyrian military machine and completely obliterated. This policy in the long run resulted in minimal inconvenience to the Assyrians as word inevitably spread of the fate awaiting any rebelious cities.

A similar policy was adopted by the Mongol invaders of eastern and central Europe during the 12th century:

The term by which this subjection is commonly designated, the Mongol or Tatar yoke, suggests ideas of terrible oppression, but in reality these nomadic invaders from Mongolia were not such cruel, oppressive taskmasters as is generally supposed.[3] In the first place, they never settled in the country, and they had little direct dealing with the inhabitants. In accordance with the admonitions of Genghis to his children and grandchildren, they retained their pastoral mode of life, so that the subject races, agriculturists, and dwellers in towns, were not disturbed in their ordinary avocations.


Could it now be appropriate for the U.S. to consider a similar policy in lieu of attempting to "democratise" those powers whom we consider a threat to our vital interests? Is it really important what form a foreign government takes so long as our vital interests are not threatened? At present we seem to be pursuing a policy similar to that of Athens during the Peloponnesian War of BC 431-404. That was to impose democratic governments upon its imperial allies and conquered cities. That strategy did not work out so well for Athens which had its butt handed to it by the Spartan oligarchy and its allies.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Arrogance of Power II

This posting consists of an exchange betweem ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ and his congressional representative one David Scott (D district 13, Georgia). Mr Scott is the very same congressman seen in this video. He appears to be in "damage control" mode. The first section is the complete email I received in "response" to my concerns. Read it if you have the stomach, otherwise skip to my rejoinder:
Dear ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ:



Thank you for contacting me regarding reform of America's health care system. I appreciate your thoughts on this issue.



At the beginning of his term in office, President Obama articulated eight reforms needed to improve the health care in America. These reforms were drafted by into legislation three committees in the House of Representatives: the Ways and Means Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, and the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health. The proposed health care reform bill, titled H.R. 3200, the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, would reform the current health care system to improve health care quality, price, and services. The bill is currently being debated in committee and has not reached the House floor for a vote. While I am not a member of any of the committees with jurisdiction over health care, I would like to address some of the concerns raised about the bill.



Throughout my years in public service I have continued to support initiatives that seek to ensure quality health care programs and services for the constituents I serve and finding innovative and effective ways to ensure American's access to first-rate health care and insurance options is of utmost concern. I am in support of an agenda to raise the standard of health care in this country, while also ensuring fiscal responsibility. We are experiencing a shortage of qualified medical personnel, hospitals are underfunded and experiencing budget shortages that will have ramifications for years to come, and the uninsured are inundating our nation's emergency rooms as they have no other place to go for care.



As a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, I believe fundamental reform of our health care system is needed to control rising health care costs, increase quality and value, and improve access to coverage and care. However, comprehensive health care reform must be deficit-neutral and bend the cost curve in the long run. I also believe health care reform must preserve patient choice of provider and maintain competition within the marketplace. Progress has been and will continue to be difficult, but getting it right is more important than getting it done right away. Before the full House considers a bill, the Blue Dog Coalition will assess the scoring by the Congressional Budget Office and ensure it appropriately reflects the principles we have articulated. While it appears ongoing negotiations at the committee level have yielded a number of important concessions in the direction of our principles, many Blue Dogs remain concerned with various aspects of the bill draft. I remain committed to being a positive and productive influence in the process and improving the bill even further.



Reforming the current health care system is not without its controversies. Many constituents have voiced their satisfaction with their current health insurance plans and their concern that health care reforms would take away their health care choice. The cornerstone of health care reform is to improve the quality of health care not to force Americans off of their current insurance plan. If you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. However, if you are one of the 47 million Americans and the18 percent of people in Georgia who are uninsured, you will be able to find high quality, affordable coverage through either a public option or various health care "co-ops" throughout the country. The public option is only one choice of many in the new Health Insurance Exchange. No one - not the government nor an employer - can force an individual or family to enroll in the public option. Many constituents have inquired whether Members of Congress will participate in the public option plan. Again, the public option plan is only for Americans without any form of health insurance and not for Americans who currently have health care. The bill also explicitly limits eligibility for subsidies to individuals who are lawfully present in the US and denies coverage to illegal immigrants.



You should know that I supported the legislation that offered health savings accounts (HSA) because it was the largest effort in many years to address some of the shortcomings of those plans. Health care has become so expensive that many employers are forced to make their employees either contribute to their coverage, or worse, pay for it all. By combining a high deductible plan with a special account into which consumers can place pre-tax dollars, HSAs will help consumers realize savings. Furthermore, some experts believe that this new option will lure many new entrants into the insurance market who lack the means for traditional coverage, such as recent college graduates who have low-paying jobs and no longer qualify for coverage. That being said HSAs do not help to address the larger problem with providing access to affordable health care for the under and uninsured in this country.



Another concern regarding health care reform is the supposed "rationing" of care and end of life services for seniors. In a recent town hall meeting with members of the AARP, President Obama addressed these questions directly by stating that the reforms will make it easier for people to fill out a living will and learn about their choices for palliative and hospice care. This counseling will be an optional service. The living will is only used if the individual has become unable to give informed consent or refusal (i.e., "individual health care instruction") due to incapacity and allows the patient and their doctor to make their own long term health care decisions.



The insurance market reforms in H.R. 3200 will also lessen the rationing of care that happens today. Insurance companies will no longer be able to retroactively cancel an enrollees' insurance policy when they become sick (unless there is fraud) or refuse to cover important medical services; patients will no longer have to split pills in half because they can't afford their prescriptions; and no one will go bankrupt because they cannot afford their prescriptions, because of extraordinarily high out-of-pocket costs for health care.



As you know, abortion is one of the most controversial public policy issues facing me and other members of Congress. Reproductive choices are deeply personal in nature and should rest with the woman, her physician, and the family or friends she chooses to consult. However, recently many constituents have expressed their belief that abortions should not be covered under any federal health care plan. Beginning in 1976, federal law banned public funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment for certain federal programs such as Medicaid. The TRICARE system, which covers active and retired members of the military and their families, pays for abortions only when the mother's life is in danger. Military hospitals are not permitted to perform abortions, even if they are privately paid for, except in cases of life endangerment or rape or incest. Similarly, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which covers nine million federal workers and their dependents, is prohibited from paying for insurance coverage of abortions, with the same exceptions as those in the original 1976 law. Within the debate of health insurance reform, there has been a lot of misinformation about the federal plan and coverage of abortion procedures. Let me be clear: nothing within the legislation mandates abortion coverage.



Payment reforms are also addressed in H.R. 3200. All payment reforms in H.R .3200 carefully consider seniors' access to and quality of care. H.R. 3200 restores fiscal responsibility to payments to certain Medicare providers that are currently being overpaid relative to their costs. The payment reforms are based on recommendations from the President in his 2010 budget or from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). Some of the payment cuts to providers are reinvested back into the Medicare program, for instance to pay for closing the Part D donut hole or assistance for low-income Medicare.



As I stated before, these reforms are currently being debated in committee have not reached the House floor for a vote. We must continue to have a robust debate concerning the issue but let me clear that it is imperative that reforms be put in place in order for our country to curb the rising costs crippling families across the country. Inaction will only lead to high premiums with less coverage and will lead Americans further and further into medical debt.



Again, I thank you for sharing your views with me. I hope you will continue to give me the benefit of your opinion in the future. In addition, I encourage you to visit my web site at http://davidscott.house.gov, where you can view the latest news and obtain information on issues and legislation that is important to you. You can also sign up for my electronic newsletter, and receive periodic updates on my activities as your representative in Washington. Thank you again for contacting me, and I look forward to continuing to serve you.





Sincerely,

David Scott

Member of Congress
Dear ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ:
Thank you for contacting me regarding reform of America's health care system. I appreciate your thoughts on this issue. 
 
           At the beginning of his term in office, President Obama articulated eight reforms needed to improve the health care in America. These reforms were drafted by into legislation three committees in the House of Representatives: the Ways and Means Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, and the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health."


The sentence above is somewhat confusing but I understand and will address it. As you are aware my letter to you was in opposition to the reforms contained in HR 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 whose title is vague and deceptive as nowhere in the bill is the term "affordable" defined nor is the manner in which medical care will be improved and reduced in price without the use of government compulsion. I furthermore understand that you have not as yet been afforded the opportunity to vote on the bill but nevertheless express support for it.  
"Throughout my years in public service I have continued to support initiatives that seek to ensure quality health care programs and services for the constituents I serve and finding innovative and effective ways to ensure American's access to first-rate health care and insurance options is of utmost concern." 
Your desire that Americans have continued access to "quality health care" is indeed admirable. In pursuit of this desire I would assume that you have consistently introduced legislation to end arbitrary regulations designed to dictate the coverage health insurance companies offer in order that Americans can exercise "choices". I would further assume that you have supported legislation to enable private insurance companies to offer policies across state lines in order to encourage "competition".  
"I am in support of an agenda to raise the standard of health care in this country, while also ensuring fiscal responsibility."
I share your wish for a higher standard of medical care here while engaging in "fiscal responsibility". Unfortunately, I have discovered to my chagrin that there is no such thing as a "free lunch". Lunches (and health care) are always paid for by "someone" and are never "free".
"We are experiencing a shortage of qualified medical personnel, hospitals are underfunded and experiencing budget shortages that will have ramifications for years to come, and the uninsured are inundating our nation's emergency rooms as they have no other place to go for care."
You are correct in your above observations. When government actions dictating in minute detail the terms of conducting business in any field including the prices for goods and services the result has historically been a shortage of the goods and services. When has it been otherwise?
 
 "As a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, I believe fundamental reform of our health care system is needed to control rising health care costs, increase quality and value, and improve access to coverage and care.  However, comprehensive health care reform must be deficit-neutral and bend the cost curve in the long run."
I would be pleased to learn of ANY instance where politically driven "bending of the cost curve" has resulted in any outcome other than rationing and increased scarcity.
  "I also believe health care reform must preserve patient choice of provider and maintain competition within the marketplace."
I agree wholeheartedly with you. A good start for such reform would be the removal of regulations prohibiting insurers from offering policies across state lines and adopting tort reform to reduce frivolous malpractice lawsuits. The introduction of the so called "public option" is in fact a means to eliminate competition. When one competing party need not make a profit and in fact is able to raise capital through its monopoly of the printing press and use of force, "competition" is driven from the market.
"I remain committed to being a positive and productive influence in the process and improving the bill even further.
 
Many constituents have voiced their satisfaction with their current health insurance plans and their concern that health care reforms would take away their health care choice."

I am indeed one of those "constituents". With the implementation of the "public option" our concerns are indeed valid.
Your 47 million "uninsured" figure has been shown to include 12 to 20 million illegal aliens as well as those who choose not to purchase medical insurance and those who are between jobs. In order to determine the advisability of tampering with the finest medical system on the planet, a determination of the true number of those who desire insurance and are unable to obtain it should be made rather than proceeding to use governmental duress to adopt a one size fits all system as envisioned by HR 3200.
  "If you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan." 
The above statement ignores the inevitable scenario that my medical insurer will be driven into bankruptcy by being unable to compete with a government which operates the money printing presses, raises capital through the IRS and writes the rules of the game.
"Many constituents have inquired whether Members of Congress will participate in the public option plan. Again, the public option plan is only for Americans without any form of health insurance and not for Americans who currently have health care."
Mr. Scott, you are intelligent enough to understand the fatuousness of the above statement. The "gold plated" medical insurance plans enjoyed by those who wield political power in DC will of course continue as cost is not a consideration. Political operatives need not "negotiate" the terms but simply enact them as perquisites of office by legislative fiat. It would appear that this issue has struck a chord with a growing bloc of the voting public. As a corollary, (one would hope) the distinct possibility exists that members of the political establishment, in order to continue enjoying the perquisites of power will "bend their ideological agenda curves" in their own interest.
Of course this entire "debate" proceeds from the premise that the federal government is delegated the power to intervene in the matter of our health care. I can find no such delegation in my copy of the Constitution or its 27 Amendments. Indeed, this issue along with 95% of the contents of the Federal Register relies on a tortured interpretation of the Commerce Clause (Article I section 8) which has in effect mooted the entire document and transferred issues of a legal nature to the political arena. 
I hope you will understand my decision to make this communication in the form of an open letter. You may also be assured I will continue to follow these issues and others before the Congress.
Sincerely
ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ
Douglasville, GA

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Tale of Two "Vacations"


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." So goes the quote from the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens was of course using an invidious comparison of the events obtaining In England versus those in France during the closing years of the 18th century. For your amusement, dear reader, this humble blogster hastens to illustrate the continued use of invidious comparisons. One such example has recently found expression in the "Newspaper of Record", The New york Times in covering the present vacation by the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The smile on his face, along with a cheerful wave, offered an unmistakable sign of relief that he was getting out of town not a moment too soon[...]The White House press secretary said, “I don’t think the American people begrudge a president taking some time with his family that’s well earned and well deserved.”


One should not begrudge the chief executive a deserved break from his strenuous efforts to socialize the US society during a depressed economy, the unemployment rate approaching double digits , the skyrocketing budget deficit/national debt and deteriorating conditions where our military is engaged. After all, he remains in continuous control of the levers of power wherever he may be located; be it at Martha's Vineyard or a $1million dinner date in New York with his wife.

Be that as it may, note the following portrayal of a similar "vacation" by his predecessor. The New York Times, July 9, 2001, reports on George W. Bush's first summer vacation as president:
On Friday, as new unemployment figures [4.5%] painted a newly troubling portrait of the American economy, Mr. Bush placed himself in the same scenes--golfing and fishing in a New England paradise--that once caused his father electoral grief.

Can't these people at the "Grey Lady" learn the definition of the words "petty partisanship"?