Archive for the ‘news’ Category

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

The very first words of the very first amendment to the US Constitution. These words are very important. The founders understood over 200 years ago that the freedom to practice your religion, whatever it may be, or no religion, is essential to securing all other freedoms.

This is just as true today as it was then. That’s why it bothers me when people from all sides of the political spectrum are calling for the community center (which is mistakenly referred to as a mosque) to not be allowed to be built two blocks away from the former WTC site. These supposed lovers of freedom are calling for two of the most basic freedoms, freedom of religion & the right to private property, to be denied to a select group of people based on what happened nine years ago (yes, it was a tragedy) perpetrated by a small group of terrorists from a country not even remotely like ours.

And it’s not just happening in NYC. Just an hour or so from my house, a community center (also referred to as a mosque) is finding opposition to a planned expansion in Murfreesboro. The kicker? The group has had a community center in the county since 1997. The reason for the epansion is because they’ve outgrown their current facility. Luckily, despite the opposition, the expansion will be allowed.

This battle is being fought all over the country. Newt Gingrich says that we shouldn’t allow mosques in this country until Christian churches are allowed in Saudi Arabia (or something along those lines). Howard Dean says it’s an affront. He also says those doing the project in NYC are doing it in good faith (that’s a little contradictory).

The fact is that none of these projects are in violation of any zoning laws, they’re being built on private property, and are run by those who have proven to be good citizens. Why should we deny them their constitutional right to practice their religion, especially on private property?

Do you disagree with Islam as a religion? If so, why? Are you aware that Islam, Judaism, & Christianity share many of the same tenets? Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, & the angel Gabriel all appear in the 3 religions, among other figures.

But Muslims stone people to death, right? Well, it’s allowed under their laws, but the majority of Islamic nations have ceased this practice. And don’t forget, stoning was an acceptable punishment in early Christianity & Judaism. 

Look, we all have our differences. But the fact is they have the right to practice their religion, especially on their own property. We have no right to take that away. And when you insult their religion, you most likely insult your own (unless you’re an atheist).

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The feds finally filed a lawsuit to block AZ’s ‘tough’ immigration law, not on grounds that it unjustly discriminates against immigrants (as many have argued), both legal & illegal, but on the grounds that it usurps federal authority.

But answer me this: since there are federal laws setting minimum wage, why hasn’t the federal government sued the 5 states (AR, CO, GA, MI, & WY) with minimum wages lower than what the feds say it should be? (According to the Department of Labor, the higher of the 2 is the effective minimum wage, eg. since CA’s minimum wage ($8/hr) is higher than the fed’s ($7.25/hr), CA’s effective minimum wage is $8/hr)

Federal laws, when expressly granted the power by the US Constitution, trump state laws. There is no constitutional provision granting them authority over pay rates in the different states.

They are granted authority over immigration, however. But since the ‘controversial’ AZ law says basically the same thing as federal law, and the feds aren’t enforcing said law, what’s the problem? In my opinion, the AZ legislature only did what they felt they needed to.

But in order to truly curb illegal immigration, federal law needs to be changed. 1st, a temporary guest worker program that is truly temporary, should be instituted. And for those who have overstayed their visas, if they’re in the process of becoming a US citizen, they should be given amnesty. Not becoming a citizen? Well, you’re going back home. (Same should go for those on student visas, also).

2nd. End birthright citizenship. Yes, it’s guaranteed under the 14th amendment, which was ratified in 1865 to give slaves & their children citizenship, which means we would need a constitutional convention to overturn this part of the amendment.

3rd. You come here, you pay taxes, period. No grace period. (I would also do away with the progressive tax system & institute an across the board flat tax, but that’s different legislation)

4th. Encourage skilled workers that we need to come here, workers that the US needs & can’t find within its borders. (Also lower the corporate tax rate & eliminate the capital gains tax to encourage businesses to stay here or move here from other countries, but that, too, is separate legislation)

5th, and perhaps most important: End the drug war here & encourage Mexico to do the same. >23,000 Mexican people, some involved with the drug trade & some not, have been killed because of this failed policy since 2006. That’s almost 380% higher than how many US servicemen & women have been killed in Iraq & Afghanistan since 2001. Wouldn’t you leave if you could? No matter what?

And contrary to popular belief, the crime rate, even violent crimes, has declined over the last ten years in AZ, even though the immigration rate has risen.

My conclusion? Both the AZ immigration law and the federal suit to stop it are purely political. Neither are designed to cure the disease, & only one is designed to treat a symptom (for lack of a better analogy. I don’t think of immigrants as a disease.)

By the way, if you read my previous post(s) on immigration, you’ll see I’ve changed my view quite drastically. This is because I’ve done more of my own researching & less listening to talking heads.

Violence. War. Sex. Gore. These are a few of the mainstays of the movie industry. Also graphic novels & art. Three largely unregulated, and highly profitable, industries. Most people consider all three as forms of art.

But what of video games? They have the same characteristics of art, movies, & graphic novels, yet only gamers see them as an art form. From political intrigue to war to education, there is a slew of video game genres out there. Some even cross over into movies & graphic novels, and vice versa.

And they’re also highly profitable. In 2009, though profits were down slightly, the industry made $19.66 BILLION, down from the 2008 record of $21.4 billion.

The video game industry is to California what the insurance industry is to Connecticut. California employed, in 2006, around 40% of the nations video game employees.

Why do I bring up California? They’re at the center of the reason for this rant. Cali is the latest in a string of states trying to regulate the sale of violent video games to minors.

Sounds noble, right? Not really. The other industries & the retailers that move their merchandise are in charge of regulating the sales themselves. Take the movie industry for example: movies are submitted for rating (voluntarily) to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America); they rate the movie based on content–language, situations, violence, etc; theaters then have a guide to let them know if certain movies are suitable for minors. It’s up to the discretion of each individual theater to decide if they will follow that guide, with no fines or repercussions from law enforcement if they don’t. The same goes for stores who sell the DVDs.

As with movies, video games are submitted to their own rating board, ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board). Games are rated from EC (early childhood–ages 3 & up) to A (adult–18+). As the ESRB’s website says, these ratings symbols “suggest age appropriateness”.

Governments, state & federal, have been trying to regulate, and in some cases ban, video games. California, however, is unique in that even though the state is strapped for cash and the video game industry brings in much needed revenue, they continue to fight for a law that could hurt the state financially, more than they are now (other states tried to enforce similar laws but they were ultimately found unconstitutional). Now the Supreme Court of the Unites States (SCOTUS) has agreed to hear arguments on the law.

And there’s no need for this law anywhere in the country. A recent study found that video game retailers stopped 80% of violent video game sales to minors.

Ultimately, the decision to purchase a video game, violent or not, rests in the hands of parents. They have ample information to make the decision on what’s suitable for their children. And the decision to sell a video game, violent or not, rests with the retailer. They know there are consequences to selling video games not rated for minors to minors, and those consequences hurt their bottom line. That’s why we’ve seen a decrease in the sale of certain games to minors.

In the end, the final decision on the law lies with SCOTUS. Their recent decision (8-1) protecting “animal cruelty” videos as free speech bodes well for those of us opposed to the law. Let’s hope they make the same decision on video games.

One thing I don’t understand is the left’s displeasure with Tea Party activists. The political definition of liberal is “Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others”.

Every time a democratic member of congress discusses the Tea Parties, they take every chance to denounce them as an arm of the Republican party, call them astroturf as opposed to grass roots, call them racist, Nazis, use sexual slurs to describe them (teabaggers), etc. Doesn’t sound very tolerant to me.

In all actuality, the Tea Party movement was borne from not only classic conservatism–fiscal responsibility & states rights–but also classic liberalism–individual rights and freedoms.

So really, both liberals and conservatives should be embracing the Tea Party movement. Instead, big spending conservatives have “denounced” their old ways (yeah, right) and are trying to co-opt the movement while liberals denounce the entire movement based on the lunatic fringe.

The only political party truly supporting the movement is the Libertarian Party. While they denounce the lunatic fringe of the movement, which every movement/party has, they support the principles the movement was founded upon.

Don’t let the media reports fool you. The Tea Party movement isn’t all racist and full of hate. News programs only run stories that they believe will get them the highest ratings, just like newspapers will run stories they believe will sell more papers. The vast majority of the movement are sensible people who want a smaller and fiscally responsible government.

$1,115

Posted: March 9, 2010 in healthcare, news, politics
Tags: , ,

So, the White House has started a by-the-numbers campaign on their blog in which each day they’ll use a different number to make their case for healthcare reform. Today’s number: $1,115.

Why $1,115 you ask? Well, that’s the average monthly cost for employer-sponsored coverage in America, costing over $13,000/year. What they fail to mention (credit to Mark Knoller for reporting this) is that employees pay about 28% of the cost with the employer paying the rest. So, the employee pays an average of $292.92/month.

Kinda puts things in perspective. $1,115/month doesn’t sound so daunting anymore, does it?

Can someone please explain this to me? Obama  wants to cut $313 billion dollars from Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs to pay for health care reform. We’re gonna take money from health care to pay for health care? Isn’t this like the Fed buying Treasuries?

$110 billion will come from reducing scheduled increases in Medicare payments. $75 billion will come from “better pricing of Medicare drugs”. $22 billion will come from adjusting payment rates for physician imaging services and cutting waste, fraud, and abuse. But the most appalling thing in the article says that $106 billion will come from cutting payments to hospitals to treat uninsured patients. They assume those numbers of uninsured patients will decrease as health care reforms kick in. We’re going to take money for treating uninsured patients to pay for insurance for said patients? The money comes from the same place and goes to the same place. How is that a cut?

I read this in an article on Reuters (one of the few respectable news sources left), and I couldn’t believe it. Do they think we’re that stupid. Apparently they do, if you listen to Charlie Rangle. Reportedly, he doesn’t want us to concentrate on the cost of a single-payer health plan. He wants us to get used to the coverage first, then they’ll talk to us about the cost.

I am so sick and tired of these clowns in Washington telling us how we need to live our lives and what our money needs to go for. It’s time for a revolution. Not a French Revolution, but an American Revolution. Let me elaborate. Every two, four, and six years we have a revolution in this country…at the polls. No bloodshed. We peaceably voice our opinions and revolutionize this great country. Here’s a novel idea: instead of Democrats & Republicans, why not fill both houses with Libertarians and Independents? Democrats and Republicans are on the same team right now, with a few dissenters on both sides. This graph (which I drew, sorry for the poor quality) is exactly where we’re at right now: government_graphIs that where you want this country to be? If we keep giving them the power, then we’ll be all the way to the left, which is just as bad as all the way to the right. Here’s where we need to be:ideal_gov'tA little to the left, a little to the right: that’s perfectly fine. But when the pendulum swings to the extreme one way, it’s going to swing to the extreme the other way. Look what happened last weekend in the EU. Far right extremist groups won several seats because of the way the extreme left has been handling this crisis. So are you sure you want to keep giving the gov’t more power with health care, cap & trade, VAT’s (value added taxes), etc.?

With Obama naming so many czars (some say it’s sixteen while others say it’s closer to twenty-one) answerable only to him, can someone please tell me what’s happening to our system of checks and balances? Let me name off the ones I know of so far:

There’s a Great Lakes czar, an economic czar, regulatory czar, government performance czar, drug czar, terrorism czar, intelligence czar, urban affairs czar, technology czar, cyber czar, car czar, health czar, border czar, stimulus czar, pay czar (or compensation czar, whichever you prefer), Iran czar, and a bailout czar.

That’s seventeen so far, and those are just the ones I know of. Just to be clear, I got about twelve of them from Glenn Beck and the others from Thomson Reuters (who also named the ones Beck did). So back to my original question: since they only answer to the president, where are the checks and balances? Where’s the transparency we were promised during the campaign?

This all started, as far as I know, with FDR and his “dictators”. And then Nixon, good ol’ Tricky Dick himself, appointed the first “czar”. I heard yesterday how much money they will be in charge of but for the life of me I can’t remember the exact number or find it on the web, but I do know it was in the trillions of dollars. What’s next, a food czar? Or does that fall under the health czar’s jurisdiction? Maybe a home czar. Or perhaps a czar czar, someone in charge of all the czars? Wait, that would be Obama.

Answer me this: is he just overwhelmed by the many facets of his job? Or is this a power grab? Either way, this does not instill confidence in me. If he’s overwhelmed, I have a cure but it’s just too new, too radical. I don’t even think I can write it down. No, I must. I have to. Otherwise no one else will say it. Perhaps the federal government should start focusing solely on national security and commerce with other nations. There, it’s out. I know, it’s just too radical an idea. Damn me and my conservative ideology. Wait a minute, that’s not conservative ideology. It’s closer to libertarian. But more than that, it’s what our founders had in mind when they broke away from the repression of Britain.

How have we gotten so far away from this ideology? Many people blame progressives, starting with Teddy Roosevelt. I’m not sure. I don’t know much about progressives, but I soon will. I don’t know who to blame, but I know that there is no provision in the Constitution allowing for the circumvention of our system of checks and balances, which is what these czars do. No one in the government should be answerable to only one person. If you believe they should be, may the Lord have mercy on us all.