Thursday, January 27, 2011

Leave Obamacare Alone!

What is with those Troglodyte Republicans? They just voted to overturn President Obama's signature legislative success, the Affordable Health Care and Something-Or-Other Act. This is the one that gives free healthcare to 30,000,000 nice folks who just don't happen have any right at the moment. It also does a bunch of other stuff, because as you would expect you can tuck a lot into 2,700 pages without even half trying. But instead of just accepting their defeat like good little legislators – and it was a defeat, make no mistake, considering that not even one Republican voted for it – the House actually just voted 245 – 187 to simply overturn it. To make it like it never existed! How rude!

I mean, really! What's not to like about this fine legislation, which has come to be called Obamacare? Just because it takes $500 Billion Dollars from Medicare, that entitlement we all have paid into for our entire lives, and gives it to Obamacare, that entitlement that no one pays into at all, is that a reason, I ask, not to like it? The Democrats have told us that taking that $500 Billion from Medicare, which we all know is nearly broke, will make it stronger. I believe them, don't you?

And just because it enables you to keep your adult children on your health insurance policy until the age of 26, is that bad? Of course, some say that just gives them another reason to put off leaving home. And we know that several health insurance companies have already ceased writing health insurance policies for children as a result (profit mongers!), but we like it so it ought to be in there, right?

And it prevents those evil health insurance companies from being able to increase your premiums or refuse to insure you for pre-existing conditions. That makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, after all, so you contract brain cancer and Myasthenia Gravis and Multiple Sclerosis and gangrene. And dealing with all of that will cost a fortune, but we live in the "someone else pays" entitlement society, so why shouldn't someone else pay? Just because it would put insurance companies out of business, why should we care? They shouldn't be in business anyway. Health care is a right, isn't it? Let them all fail and then the Government will take care of health care. You know, like they take care of the IRS, the EPA, the EEOC and Amtrak and the Postal Service and the FDA. I mean, just because they can't find 20,000,000 illegals, they do a pretty good job of finding that one bovine out of millions with Mad Cow Disease.

And then there's the part about everybody you do more than $600 per year in business with will require you to issue them a Form 1099. That's supposed to raise another $19 Billion a year in revenue to help pay for all this wonderfulness. Oh, I know, they don't mention the billions of dollars and millions of hours it will take business to comply, but hey, they're businesses. Screw them. We don't care about businesses, do we?

Then there's the 159 boards and commissions which will necessarily be created with tens of thousands of bureaucrats to write all the regulations about who gets what care, and when. That should do a lot to lessen unemployment, right? And yea, I know, the legislation requires that another 16,000 IRS agents will have to be hired to run down all the scofflaws who simply refuse to follow the new rules. It'll be a fee, you see, for failure to comply. That's what Obama told us. Oh, wait a minute. Obama's Dept. of Justice is now arguing in the appeals courts it's a tax. Well, it's one or the other and those of us who won't have to pay don't really care, do we?

And the Chuckmeister doesn't want to hear from any of those Gun- and God-Loving right-wingers about trial lawyers fighting like Hell to keep tort reform out of Obamacare. After all, 99% of all their political contributions go to Democrats, and Democrats need the money to keep electing Obama and his minions, so let's leave it the way it is. "Loser pays" be damned. And yes, I know that England and France and Spain and Germany and Switzerland, etc., have all enacted "loser pays" tort reform, which has reduced the number of frivolous malpractice lawsuits by more than 80% in their countries, but like I said, the Dems need the money.

And one other thing. Yes, it's true that 729 American organizations as of this writing have petitioned to opt out of Obamacare, including the AARP and McDonalds and unions such as the SEIU. They really believe in it. Yes they do. After all, the SEIU gave Obama $60 Million they collected from the dues of minimum-wage immigrant workers who clean hotel rooms to get him elected so they really like this "progressive" legislation. They just need a little bit longer to read it. It's 2,700 pages, don't you know.

And what about Sarah Palin and her "death panels?" Of course, health care will have to be rationed, just like it is in England and Canada and Germany, and that rationing will necessarily mean that we won't get to see doctors when we need to see them and get the care we need when we need it, and it will no doubt result in premature deaths, and lots of them, but calling them "death panels" is just plain wrong! Maybe "Pre-Exipiration Consultations" would be a more politically correct term.

And giving 30 million people health insurance is nice, but what about the other 15 million who don't get it with this new legislation? I mean, like the illegals and those who would otherwise qualify but just can't sober up long enough or turn off Jerry Springer and get out of bed to go register for it? Maybe we can have some more laws next year to expand Obamacare to include these poor lost souls. After all, we don't pay for it, do we? It's free, right?

And then some right-wing knuckle-draggers want to dredge up the factoid that we might have a problem finding enough doctors and nurses to refer those 30 million new customers to. Without more docs and nurses there might not be anybody to see these newly-minted healthcare recipients, the evil Republicans chant. And it's woefully true, many more doctors are now refusing to see Medicaid/Cal patients because they get paid bupkus for their time. How much? Something on the order of one-third of Medicare reimbursements, which is roughly one-half of fee- for-service rates. Well, it's simple! Just make the existing doctors and nurses work harder and longer! After all, they're rich, right? And we let them keep their "Bush-era tax cuts for the rich," didn't we? So the very least they can do is work a few more hours a week, right? I mean, doctors in China and Russia and Cuba make just about the same as garbage collectors, and cutting these privileged folks down to size is a good idea! I mean, we're all equal, aren't we? Let's start acting like it!

And yes, I know that Obama guaranteed us that our health insurance rates would go down and that if we like our doctors we'd be able to keep them and if we liked our health insurance policy we'd be able to keep it. But hey, he's a politician, right? Politicians lie all the time, don't they? Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction, didn't he? Well, I just have to report that Medicare's independent economic expert, Chief Actuary Richard Foster, just testified before the House Budget Committee that, um, well, none of the above guarantees will be kept. At least that's better than lying about WMD's, right?

And let's finally dispose of the argument by all those nay-sayers about that analogy concerning health insurance and car insurance. Obama has told us repeatedly that we shouldn't complain about being forced to buy health insurance because people are forced to buy car insurance, and that makes it okay. Well, I have to admit it's true, the only people who have to buy car insurance are those who buy cars. No car, no car insurance necessary. And yes, I will admit that the only reason we buy car insurance is to protect those folks from the damage our car might do to them. So, it must be true that buying health insurance will help protect those folks from any damage our health might cause them. Sort of like, if I got drunk and tripped over somebody's leg in a bar and broke their foot, maybe my health insurance would pay for their medical bills. Maybe that's the way Obama and his czars should explain it. Yea, that's the ticket.

And while I'm on the subject, I don't want to hear any of this 14th Amendment crap about being forced to buy something – anything - by virtue of simply being an American. I don't know about you, but I think this might be a really good deal, especially when it concerns products and services that the Government bailed out. Think of it this way. GM and Chrysler took TARP money. Ford didn't. Yet, the best-selling vehicle in America is once again the Ford F-150 pickup. Well folks, we have an investment in GM and Chrysler and I say if people don't buy their products, maybe we just simply outlaw Fords! Force everyone to buy a Government Motors car just like we now do with health insurance and Voila!, we get out money back. Don't thank me. It's why God put me here.

So, I don't know about you, but I'm all for leaving well enough alone. I have confidence in the leaders of the Democratic Party. I'm sure they wouldn't pass legislation and subsume one-sixth of our Country's economy if it wasn't good for us citizens, would they? Would they?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Hu's Picking up the Tab?

Tonight the President and his staff will welcome China's President Hu Jintao to a State Dinner at the White House. It will be filled with pomp and circumstance and lots and lots of toasts and feasting and mutual congratulations about our two great nations. No doubt it will be quite a lovely occasion enjoyed by all. But I have one question which has yet to be answered by the Mainstream Media.

Just WHO is going to pay for HU's dinner?

It's well known that fully 40% of every dollar our Federal Government is spending these days is borrowed, mostly from China. In fact, they are our single largest creditor, owning some $900 Billion in our owzies. And it's well known we're up to $14.1 Trillion Dollars in Federal debt, and that debt is growing at the rate of $5.2 Billion Dollars per day.

That means that the cost of tonight's soiree will have to be paid for out of borrowings from somebody somewhere. And since it's likely that somebody will be President Hu, I'm wondering whether instead of Obama whipping out his Visa Card to cover the charges, wouldn't it be more expedient to simply pass the plate to Hu and have him pick up the tab directly?

You'll have to forgive me. I'm a simple guy who eschews wasted motion and believes in expedience whenever possible. Therefore, I say the "who" should be "Hu." Just thinking out loud…

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Massacre is a Terrible Thing to Waste

A horrible massacre occurred this past Saturday morning at a "Congress on Your Corner" political rally in Tucson, Arizona. A crazed, pot-addled, Devil-worshipping, paranoid- schizophrenic, antisocial, anti-Semitic scary loser pulled out his Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun and shot U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the head at point-blank range. He then went on to shoot another 20 people, killing 6 as of the last reporting. Fortunately, a few brave souls in the crowd estimated at several hundred jumped the murderer, holding him down until the police could take him into custody. That would seem to be the end of it. In fact, it's proving to be just the beginning.

The Sunday morning "talking head" political programs were ablaze with the world-class spin being offered up. Jared Loughner, the 22 year old killer, was, they almost universally stated, a right-wing Tea Party member who was incited to take this unspeakable action by the exhortations of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. His actions were the direct result of the hateful rhetoric so popular with those on the right, we were told. We have to tamp down this propensity for hate speech, they offered, or we will have many more such massacres. How do we do that? Oh, let's see now. Maybe we take charge of the Internet to insure "Net Neutrality," some suggested. Then we rejigger the First Amendment to prohibit inflammatory speech. And, most of all, we rewrite the Second Amendment of the Constitution to outlaw the private ownership of guns. Very predictable reactions from these knee-jerk lefty weenies. As ex-Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel once famously stated, "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste." I submit they've now expanded this approbation to include stepping over the bloodied and twisted bodies of men, women and children shot down like rabid dogs to finally get their way.

Arizona has among the best, meaning least intrusive, gun laws in America. Any person over the age of 21 who is felony-free may buy and keep a firearm. So it is in California and most of our other states. But in Arizona last year they passed a new law making it unnecessary to obtain a permit to carry a weapon concealed. In fact, Rep. Giffords supported such laws, and is herself a concealed carry supporter. In California, as an example, it depends upon which county you reside whether you have this same right. Riverside County? No problem. Visit your local Sheriff and you'll walk away with a permit. Orange? Unfortunately, our Sheriff was schooled in L. A. County where only gang members are armed, so qualifying to carry concealed here is almost impossible. But back to Arizona. There's no reason why many or even most of the attendees at this political function on Saturday weren't armed. They should have been. And before this cretin could get off the second shot in front of that Safeway store someone in the crowd should have dropped him like a bad habit. Extreme?

Remember back to November, 2009. Maj. Hassan, the Army shrink who loved Islam and wanted American soldiers to die at the hands of homicide bombers started shooting up Fort Hood. He was armed with more than 250 rounds of ammo. You would think the last place a killer would wish to begin such carnage would be at a military fort. Yet, President William Jefferson Clinton, in an executive order signed into law in 1993, declared all military posts gun-free zones. The only soldiers armed at Ft. Hood that day were Military Police, numbering a dozen or so who generally guard the gates and knew nothing of the shooting by then underway. Maj. Hassan wound up taking four bullets from a pistol being carried concealed by an off-duty civilian female police officer who just happened to be shopping in the Post Exchange that day. Otherwise, this poster child for peaceful Islam would still be shooting up Fort Hood.

I find it astounding that bad guys have a better chance being shot down in a Texas Wal-Mart than they do in a Texas Army fort.

I say arm everybody. And especially arm our Representatives and Senators and their staff members. Don't you think it might make a prospective evil-doer think twice about his proposed actions if he knew he'd likely be dead before he could get off the second shot? Good luck to Rep. Giffords and the others who were so needlessly assaulted in Tucson. Bad luck to Jared Loughner and anyone else who chooses such a course of action. And bad luck to the media who seeks to place the blame for the actions of the Loughner's of the world where it doesn't belong…

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Turning Over a New Leaf

Gasoline just zoomed past $3.00 a gallon nationally, and over $3.40 here in California. And when that happens, as it does every couple of years, the hot topic of cocktail conversation tends to turn to more efficient automobiles. But unlike previous gas price spikes, it's no longer "…do I buy a Honda Civic instead of a Chevy Tahoe?" Now it's "…do I buy one of those new-fangled hybrids or even an all-electric vehicle?" And at first blush, there would seem to be little in the way of negatives to so doing. Even Motor Trend and Car and Driver just anointed the Chevy Volt as their Car of the Year. And surely these fine magazines wouldn't give their blessings to less than stellar efforts, would they? Umm, yes, in my opinion, they would. And here's why…

It should be noted that the concept of all-electric vehicles is not new. In fact, the earliest vehicles were powered solely by electricity. American and French manufacturers were producing electric cars as early as the 1890's. And the reason they didn't catch on and become the industry standard back then is the very same reason they will fail this time around as well.

First of all they are expensive. The new Nissan Leaf, an all-electric just debuting at your local showroom, stickers at $32,780. Vehicles in the same class available from a couple of dozen different manufacturers are priced in the $16 - $18,000 range. But wait, you say. What about the $7,500 you get back from the Feds and the $5,000 returned to you from the State? Wouldn't it make you feel just dandy to have your neighbor drive up in one of these new-fangled devices and realize that YOU helped him pay for it via your tax contributions? If these buggies are so desirable, why, I ask, should the gnarly hand of government prove necessary to coerce you or your neighbor into buying one? This same bribery is under way with the new Chevy Volt, an electric-internal combustion hybrid due in showrooms as this is written. Priced at $41,000, the Volt will cost about $33,500 after government rebates. The Volt sits on the Chevy Cruze platform, a nice little economy car which generates about 36 mpg highway and boasts a base price of $16,800. Imagine how many miles you'd have to drive at the higher relative mpg these cars offer in order to make up the difference between the Leaf's and the Volt's window price and the much less expensive machines upon which they are based. This is nothing more nor less than the Government picking winners and losers. Our masters in D.C. have decided it's a good thing to use our tax receipts to incentivize us to buy and operate these alternative vehicles, whether it is or not.

It was just reported in the L.A. Times that utility companies are working feverishly to build a network of charging stations which might (emphasis mine) enable an 80% charge in as little as 25 minutes. Until or unless that happens, buyers of the Leaf and other electrics are no less limited in range than if they had a really long extension cord dangling from back window. The net result is "range anxiety" which will I submit will never go away. Then there's the investment one must make in order to establish a home charging station. By the time all costs are in, you can figure on at least $2,000 in charging equipment, inverters, fees and permits before plugging in at the end of the day becomes a possibility. And what happens when tens of thousands of Southern Californians all plug in at the same time? Is a blackout at night when it's black out, just in time for prime-time TV viewing, in your future? And who, by the way, decided that the Leaf gets the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon? It uses no gasoline, so why not 200 mpg? Why not 1,000? The Leaf's mpg is very simply a marketing ploy foisted on us by the EPA and the DOT. But once you've driven the Leaf that 73rd mile, its reported range, I'd bet you'd be willing to give a fair chunk of change for a real car and a gallon of ordinary petrol.

And then there's the batteries. Those who've decided to do their part and help save the planet (puleeeeze!) by buying a Leaf or something similar need to know that the raw materials for the batteries they use were strip-mined in Canada and China using techniques that are among the least eco-friendly imaginable. These batteries weigh several hundred pounds and have a limited life expectancy. And the technology is so new no one knows just how long they will last. And what do you do with them when the time comes for a replacement? They will pose a major problem in terms of disposal as recycling is not possible. And what happens if you're in an accident and the first-responders need to whip out their trusty Jaws of Life to extricate you from a mangled mess of steaming steel? The jury's still out as to whether they will choose to do so, as many believe a nasty electrocution could well result.

And finally, where do those who choose this type of vehicle think the electricity they need to recharge actually comes from? Half the power plants in this country are coal-fired. The remainder are powered by natural gas or nuclear. No new nukes have been built in the last 30 years, and none are on the drawing board. And since it's generally believed by the greenies that coal is to be shunned as a future power source, don't plan on any new coal plants being built either. So it's quite likely that the electricity you have to have before your new tomorrow's-technology Leaf coasts to a stop might be as hard to find as a Simon Cowell compliment. Electricity is not hanging out there in the space waiting for us to reach out and grab it. It has to be manufactured and we have to factor in the cost of doing so in order to know the real price of acquisition, ownership and operation of the new Nissan Leaf or others of its ilk.

We're sitting on oil and gas reserves at least equivalent to those in the Middle East. We can't get at them, of course, because that might wound Mother Earth and cause the ecology-conscious among us to get all woozie. Even so, from a pure dollars and sense standpoint, there's really no comparison in terms of the cost of ownership and operation between an ordinary predictable, efficient, proven and reliable internal combustion vehicle and any of the shiny new alternatives like the Volt or Leaf.

Oh yea, back to the magazines. So why, you ask, would Motor Trend and Car and Driver salivate to the extreme about these cars if there's so very little to like about them? Simple. They're in the business of selling advertising. And who buys advertising in automobile magazines? Car companies. The same car companies who are being forced by the Feds to build overpriced cars we don't need, don't want and cannot be made to buy. The Chuckmeister, dear reader, has spoken. Only time will tell how prescient he proves to be…

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Resolution Kept

'Twas about a year ago when I decided that ordinary New Years' resolutions were a colossal waste of time. You spend hours deciding what to resolve, and then several tortured days or weeks trying to keep those resolutions before throwing up your hands and giving up in disgust.

No more, I decided. Instead, I, the Chuckmeister, decided I'd make and keep two relatively simple resolutions: One, I'd try to gain ten pounds, and Two, I'd start a blog. Gaining a few LLL BBB's shouldn't be too tough, I figured. I have been plagued with a bad back for years so my exercise level is nil and my caloric retention level is quite high. As to the blog part, I thought that might be quite a bit tougher. But my friend Geoff West, who just happens to be a blogger extraordinaire and purveyor of "A Bubbling Cauldron," a blog of some considerable repute and influence around these parts, suggested to me that I had a lot more to say than there was ink at the local paper to print it. So, I took a deep breath and began to compose my first entry. January 6th, 2010 it was, and I haven't looked back. Since then I've posted some 47 times on every subject I thought worth the trouble. I'd like to say that each and every one of those blog entries was incise, pithy, well reasoned and breathtakingly lucid. I'd like to say that, but I can't. What I can say is that each and every one gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling when I pushed the "Publish" button, sending my humble thoughts out on an Internet mission in search of a reader somewhere - anywhere. And rest assured, dear reader, I take my responsibilities seriously. These ramblings of a troubled mind will continued unabated well into the future if the Great Gods of Electrons prove willing.

So, fellow carbon-based life forms, I send these thoughts along to you with the hope that your 2011 proves happy, healthy, productive and enjoyable. And remember, never take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive...