Monday, July 27, 2009

"A Teachable Moment"

That's how Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons described the arrest of Henry Louis Gates. Only the Mayor of Cambridge could get away with not having a first name.

But she's right. The arrest of Professor Gates by Sergeant Crowley is an opportunity to learn many lessons. Lessons about people. Lessons about the media. Lessons about our society.

Imagine being pulled over by the police, for apparently no reason. You're driving the speed limit, using your turn signals, all that good stuff. You get pulled over, the officer walks up to your window, and requests "License and registration."

And you say "No." What do you think the officer's reaction would be? Even if you gave him/her your ID after that, do you think this officer would be happy with you? Do you think they'd let you go with that broken tail light you didn't know about?

Now let's say the cop misread your license plate and thought you were someone else. So you start yelling at the officer. Do you think the cop would just apologize and walk away?

Notice how in all of these hypotheticals, I never said what color you or the officer were? Because that doesn't matter.

Cops, as part of their job description, are jerks. Not all the time. But just like they carry a gun but don't always use it, they all have chips on their shoulders that they don't always use. Cops EXPECT to be treated with respect. Especially veteran cops. They expect to see a license when they ask for one. They expect you to pull over when they flash their lights. And even when they make mistakes, they still expect to be treated with deference.

That's just the way of things.

Here's what WE KNOW happened in Cambridge on July 16:

1. Gates got home, his door was stuck due to a previous break-in, he and his driver attempted to pry it open

2. Lucia Whalen, who works at nearby Harvard Magazine, walked by and saw this. She then called the police and reported a possible break-in.

3. Sargeant Crowley arrived at the scene. An argument ensued. Not surprisingly, there are two sides to this part of the story.

4. Once asked to bring the discussion outside, Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct

5. The charges were dropped upon the recommendation of the city of Cambridge and the Cambridge Police Department.

6. Barack began practicing yoga so he could properly jam his foot into his mouth.

Plenty of people have commented on this event. And I think most out there realize that this wasn't racial profiling, or racially motivated. Some still think it was, but these clowns also think that the criticism around Barry Bonds was racially motivated, or that everyone who voted for McCain is a racist, or that a term like "Africanized killer bees" is a racially based way to describe overly aggressive bees that come from Africa.

I'm more interested in the aftermath of this fiasco. I think the media's overreaction was a priceless example of how crappy news coverage truly is. I think watching a hyperactive overly sensitive nut like Al Sharpton jump to conclusions further discredits him, if that were possible. And then there was Barack's conclusion jumping, and his inability to apologize for doing so.

Barack assumed this was a racial profiling case. He saw what a lot of people saw: a man being arrested, apparently for breaking into his own home. Normally this would be a cop gone mad with power, unless the guy arrested was black, and the cop was white. Then it's racism. And this is my favorite assumption of all. There was no room for doubt that this was racially motivated. It couldn't just be a dickhead cop on a power trip, it HAD to be racially motivated.

Then Barack was asked some questions, admitted to not knowing the facts, then opined anyway. Imagine not watching a baseball game, not even looking at the boxscore, then answering a question about how the pitcher did.

Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here... The police are doing what they should ...There’s a call. They go investigate. What happens? My understanding is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house, and at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct. I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that...But I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately. That’s just a fact

Two things piss me off the most. #1, calling the police "stupid." That word is completely demeaning. Even if you think the arrest was wrong or a mistake, that doesn't mean that the entire Department is stupid, nor does it mean that Crowley is stupid. Smart people make mistakes too.

#2, that thing at the end about cops. Yes, there are countless incidents of racial profiling, and other racist practices by cops, both in the past and in the present. BUT, it's an unfortunate generalization that Barack is participating in. He's criticizing cops for judging people based on color, and in doing so is a hypocrite because he's discriminating based on a group. Racial profiling is abhorrent, but so is being prejudiced against the color Blue.

Here's Michael Moore criticizing the entire NYPD, which boasts over 37,000 officers, for what 4 dumb, trigger happy, scared shitless morons did. Could you imagine judging 37,000 people (about the size of Norwood, MA or a full Fenway Park) for what 4 people did? Hmmmmm, judging people by the group. What's the word for that? Oh yeah, PREJUDICE!

And Barack did a similar thing. He mentions racial profiling and its unfortunate place in our history. But what does that have to do with anything in this matter? Because racial profiling HAS HAPPENED, it means that when a white officer arrests a black man, it's probably because of racial profiling? Isn't coming to such a conclusion a form of profiling? Because cops have done it in the past, they'll probably do it again. Those cops can't help themselves. It's in their nature to profile.

There are around 700,000 police officers in the US. Not all of them are profilers. I'd venture to say that an overwhelming majority are not.

Then there was Barack's non-apologetic apology:

Because this has been ratcheting up -- and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up -- I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately... gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sergeant Crowley specifically. And I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sergeant Crowley. I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station. I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted as well. My sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved [...] There are some who say that as President I shouldn’t have stepped into this at all because it’s a local issue. I have to tell you that that part of it I disagree with. The fact that this has become such a big issue I think is indicative of the fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society. Whether I were black or white, I think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive — as opposed to negative — understandings about the issue, is part of my portfolio

He can't just say that he was wrong? He makes it seem like by calling the Cambridge PD "stupid" he didn't intend to say anything bad about them. He could have "calibrated those words differently?" How the fuck do you calibrate words? What the fuck does that even mean? He can't even say that he used the wrong word, it was just improperly calibrated.

A politician refusing to admit he was wrong, dodging mistakes, not taking responsibility, falling on his face and pretending to have done it on purpose. Does that sound familiar?

And for all you change loving, hope mongering Obamanauts out there, this is your so-called different kind of President. He's a flim-flam man, a con artist, a politician just like every other politician. You may still think he's the best in breed among politicians, but his breed is the same as everyone else in Washington.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care Reform on Life Support

Barack's latest Hope Crusade: Healthcare Reform. Funny how we call things like this Crusades. The original Crusades started with seemingly good intentions of a pious and religious nature. But when the Crusaders actually went Crusading, they raped, pillaged, killed just about anyone they could. And in the end, only the First Crusade succeeded, with the following 7 failing (and as its supporting Crusades failed, the First one was also essentially a failure). And that's what Barack's Healthcare Crusade will be. Even if it "succeeds" it will only fail in the long run.

Healthcare's expensive, and the Uberliberals hate that. Who doesn't hate that? And being liberals, they think that Government can and should solve every problem in the world.

Healthcare is costly for many reasons. But here are the main ones:

1. It's very good, and very high tech.
MRIs, EKGs, blood work, and that's just the basics you'd get at a routine physical. Microsurgery and all the not-so-regular stuff is even more expensive. Then there are drugs, which take billions of dollars to research and develop. And no, you shouldn't make all drugs generic, because then drug companies would stop making them (no profit potential=no research)

2. We live longer
A 60 year old man needs healthcare much more than a 40 year old man. And a 20 year old man needs the least care of all. As the Baby Boomer generation grows old, they need more care. Which costs more money.

3. We're not healthy
Obesity overtook cigarette smoking as the #1 cause of death in this country a few years ago. Obesity leads to countless heart problems, diabetes, nutritionists, muscle problems, back problems, and so on. All these are extremely expensive to care for.

4. Insurance is no longer a form of risk management
Why have health insurance? In case you fall down the stairs, break all your ribs, you don't want the hospital to break your bank account to pay for the treatment. So you pay small monthly premiums, so just in case the worst happens, you don't have to pay crippling medical bills. In fact, you HOPE to lose money on insurance in the long run. You hope to pay more into your insurance than your medical expenses warrant. But these days, routine and regular visits to the doctor, as well as tests and prescription pills, are very expensive. Yet they're paid for by health insurance. That's not risk management, it's a payment plan.

So how does the government solve problems like our healthcare being so high tech and so good? By making it worse? Lower tech? Leeches were cheap, MRIs are expensive.

How does the government fix the problem of people living so long? Put little diamonds in their palms and kill them when they turn 30?

And what about the problem with the general health of Americans? You can't FORCE people to lose weight, quit smoking, and exercise. You can't make it illegal to be fat. I wouldn't have a problem with the government funding free public gyms and stuff like that, but it's unconstitutional to force people to be healthy.

Then there's that whole insurance/risk management thing. Now there's something the government could solve. You wouldn't expect an auto insurance policy to pay for your oil change, so why should health insurance cover physicals and other routine appointments? Perhaps this area of healthcare should be reexamined.

Is having health insurance an inalienable right? No. Absolutely not. Americans have the right TO BUY health insurance, but it's not something that should be given out by the government. It's not a necessity of life. Before the 1860s, no American had ever had health insurance. Modern health insurance didn't come about until the 1920s.

How did mankind survive before health insurance? Who knows? Scholars maintain the explanation was lost hundreds of years ago.

I do think healthcare could use some reform. But it's important to stay true to that word "reform." An overhaul is not reform. A complete 180° is not reform.

Malpractice law needs to be adjusted so doctors and hospitals are not overly targeted. Doctors should only be held responsible for death or injury if it can be proven that they were negligent or grossly incompetent. They shouldn't get sued for simply making a mistake, which is what humans tend to do. Malpractice insurance is a massive expense built in to health care. But of course, Nanny Liberals think that if someone goes to a hospital, but dies, then it's governments job to somehow fix the problem. And that's where you get frivolous malpractice lawsuits, which are very costly even when won.

There are too many lawsuits in this country as is.

Universal health insurance is not the answer. And I'll give an anecdotal reason why. Currently, government provides us with a free education through high school. Let's say a high school senior, who doesn't legally have to attend school, isn't trying, and fails all his classes. He's kicked out of school.

Now let's say we had universal health insurance. Some person isn't trying to stay healthy, weighs 400 pounds, has diabetes, heart disease, smokes 4 packs a day, and drinks a gallon of Jack Daniels every night. Shouldn't this person be ejected from a universal health care system? Does this person deserve public funds to be spent on their hugely expensive medical costs?

And if you think this grotesque kind of person is a rarity, then you've never been to Alabama.

Alabama Man - Watch more Funny Videos

Universal health care is a nice, pretty, happy idea. But like having a tea party on railroad tracks, it's a pleasant thought that inevitably will be destroyed by the harsh realities of life.

Government organizations are inefficient. This is because the best employees are snatched up by the private sector, and because most politicians are where they are because of who they know and/or how much money they have, not for any real merit.

Furthermore, our government IS DESIGNED to be inefficient. It's called checks and balances. It's an intentional obstacle to quick change. The people have to really want something in order for it to happen.

Adding government bureaucracy to healthcare will make it slower, more expensive, and of lesser quality.

I'm selfish, so I don't want to pay for people I don't know and don't care about to see their doctor. But maybe I'm in the minority. If so, why not put a checkbox on tax returns. Ask the taxpayer "Would you like to donate $x,xxx into the National Health Insurance Program?" See how many people check "Yes!"

Or we could just get the rich to pay for it. Tax from the rich, redistribute to the poor. I thought Barack was from Chicago, not Sherwood Forest.

Taxing the rich is great! And fun! They probably inherited their money anyway. Or if they didn't they schemed it away from people some other way. Then again, these are the people who invest in small businesses. These are the people who buy cars, giving the car salesman a job. These are the people who add guest rooms to their mansions, giving the contractor and painter and plumber and electrician a job. These are the people who hire accountants, lawyers, nannies, maids, butlers, and so on. These are the people who go out to dinner, give their kids $100 to go to the mall, and so on.

Rich people, unlike what liberals think, are not like Scrooge McDuck. They don't keep their money in vaults to swim around in. They do two things with money: spend and invest.

I have no qualms about taxing the rich to improve the public school system, or even heavily taxing inheritance to encourage people to spend more while they're alive. But it's very stupid to view the rich as a neverending pool of potential revenue for endless amounts of entitlement programs.

Social security is faltering, so tax the rich!

Healthcare is expensive, so tax the rich!

Red Sox tickets are too hard to get, so tax the rich!

So be careful what you tax the rich for. Rich people create jobs, just like Ted DiBiase created a job for Virgil.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Imminent Immigration and Entitlement Entanglement

I can trace my paternal family lines from where I live in Massachusetts back through western New York, then back to Germany, then to the Ukraine and Russian steppe, eventually back to Africa. And on my mother's side, through Boston to Ireland, Scotland, and England, then back to Normandy, then Scandinavia as a Viking, and then back to Africa. We can all go back to Africa. Funnily enough, the 2 conquest obsessed sides of my family have frequently fought with each other for domination of northern Europe.

I'm a descendant of immigrants. Everyone in this country is, even Native Americans. The inscription on the State of Liberty reads:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

I don't see where it says "first come, first served."

Why were my ancestors the Zeitlers easily allowed into this country circa 1830? And how about the Kierans about 100 years ago? Why so much hassle about immigrants these days?

I believe America should be open to just about everyone except criminals (unless their crime was something like protesting an election in Cuba). Yet I can tell you precisely why I currently believe in tight immigration restriction. And it's the only problem i have with immigration. It also illustrates many of the difficulties of a socialist/welfare/nanny state.

I remember after a long, sleepless overnight flight from Washington to London; being grilled by the British immigration people. Before allowing me entry to England, they asked me to "prove that I would leave the country." They didn't want me staying there, benefiting from their universal health care and other social services. They eventually stamped my passport, leaving a mark that read "Employment and Recourse to Public Funds Prohibited."

Liberals hate illegal immigration laws. They want to give illegal immigrants amnesty to stay in the country. They fight against any drive to remove/punish illegal immigrants. And you may or may not have noticed that the stimulus packages contain no funds for improving border facilities in Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Coincidence?

And I'm actually with them. I think instead of barb-wire fences and border patrols, there should be Ellis Island type facilities, registering new Americans, and welcoming them to the country. But if and ONLY IF the United States is not a socialist welfare state.

If people are given free health care (actually, we should call it health care paid by others) at the border, it costs everyone money. I don't mind welcoming the tired, poor, and huddled masses of the world. But I'm selfish. I do mind paying for them.

And that's the dilemma of the Uberliberals and what they want. They want there to be no barriers to immigration. But they also want everyone to be given things like health care, welfare, medicaid, social security. That means that the arrival of every new American, typically without a job and with very little in their pockets, will quite literally cost other Americans money.

But of course the liberals don't care. They believe government can and should solve all the problems of the universe. They think everyone should be allowed into this country, and completely cared for by the government.

The liberals will point to semi-socialist states like Britain and Canada as brilliant examples of socialist successes. But do you know how hard it is to get Canadian citizenship? My cousin's been trying for years. He's got no record, works, has family in Canada, impeccable references, but it's easier to get into MIT than to become a Canuck.

It's one or the other. You can't give every American all these wonderful benefits while simultaneously allowing anyone in the world to become an American. That would be ruinous.

And once the entitlements stop. Once social security is either abolished or finally collapses under the weight of its own stupidity, once people decide that people need to take care of themselves, then I'll be one of the first to go down to Texas and process all the new Americans. Unfortunately, liberals tend to fight against reality. A battle they've always lost in the end.