Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year: Watch the Dropping ....

Happy New Year: Watch the Ball Drop in Times Square Parades, fireworks, bowl games, drunk drivers ring in the new year, but the ball drop in New York’s Times square has become a national heritage. It has engendered scores of competitors. Anyone can copycat a dropping ball, so let’s look at other New Year’s droppings, many of which are replicas of living creatures: Acorn in Raleigh, North Carolina Red aoole in Manhattan, Kansas Beach ball in Ocean City, Maryland Beaver in Beavertown, Pennsylvania Stick of bologna in Lebanon, Pennsylvania Buzzards in Perry, Georgia Cannonball in Cornwall, Pennsylvania Carp in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Cheery in Traverse Coty, Michigan Cheese wedge for the cheeseheads in Plymouth, Wisconsin Chicken in Delta, Ohio Counch shells and drag queens in high heels in Key West, Florida Cow in Blair, Pennsylvania 6’ cowboy boot in Prescott, Arizona Crayola in Easton, Pennsylvania Disco ball in Baltimore, Maryland Do-nuts in Hagerstown, Maryland Giant Peach in Atlanta Duck decoy in Havre de Grace, Maryland Gibson Guitar in Niagara Falls Electronic Moon Pie in Mobile, Alabama Flea in Eastover, North Carolina Flying pig in Cincinnati, Ohio Hershey Kiss in Hershey, Pennsylvania Hog in Fayetteville, Arkansas Little red apple in Cornelia, Georgia Marshmallow peep drop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Muskrat in Princess Anne, Maryland Olive in Bartlesville, Oklahoma Orange in Miami Pelican in Pensacola, Florida Pickle at the Mount Olive Pickle Plant in Mt. Olive, North Carolina Pickle in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania Pinecone in Flagstaff, Arizona Pineapple in Sarasota, Florida Possum drop in Brasstown, North Carolina $10,000 potato in Boise, Idaho Sardine in Eastport, Maine Sausage in Elmore, Ohio Sprint car in Port Royal, Pennsylvania Strawberry in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Watermelon ball in Vincennes, Indiana Walleye fish in Port Clinton, Ohio Wrench in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania An orange in Orange County, California. I’ve lived in the O.C. for almost 17 years and never knew it. Which would you rather watch at 12:01AM: one of these celebrations or drunks falling down? Drive safely

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mexico's PEMEX Revolution

A revolution is unfolding south of the border before our eyes, and we don't see it. The drug cartels killings command the media's attention, but Mexico is undergoing a peaceful revolution. It is opening up its energy industries to foreign investment. Mexico had three revolutions in the Twentieth Century, one violent, one economic, and one political. The first was the Mexican Revolution from about 1910 to 1920. Names like Pancho Villa and Zapata become famous to Americans. Political power at the end of the revolution was consolidated in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which governed Mexico for 71 years. The second revolution occurred in 1938 when the government nationalized the petroleum industry into Petroleos Mexicanos, commonly known as PEMEX. The PEMEX monopoly was enshrined in the Mexican Constitution. The political revolution was in 2000, when Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) was elected president. PRI survived as a political party at the legislative and state level, and regained its Presidency in 2012, but Mexico is a more Democratic country now. The purpose of PEMEX evolved over the decades to be the financier of the Mexican government, contributing 40% of the nation’s public spending, as well as becoming over-staffed with excess employees. 60% of its $80.6 billion in revenues are paid out in royalties and taxes. It practices patronage on a large scale with corruption being widely believed. PEMEX is currently the 9th largest oil producer in the world, but its inefficiency and monopolistic practices are catching up to it and the country. Its production has fallen 25% since 2004. Mexico has to import natural gas from Texas to supply its businesses and consumers. The petroleum reserves recoverable by PEMEX are also shrinking because the government monopoly lacks the capital, expertise, equipment and resources to develop the offshore, deepwater Gulf resources and the shale oil reserves. The declining PEMEX is threatening the financial stability of the Mexican government. It needs more production and revenue from the country’s natural resources, especially oil, but PEMEX was threatening to go the way of Venezuela’s nationalized oil industry. The revolutionary response of PRI and PAN at the end of 2013 was to open up oil production to foreign companies. They will be able to retain some of the oil they produce. An estimated 128.7 billion barrels are recoverable with foreign investment. Current production is down to 2.5 million barrels/day. Estimates are that production could rise to 4 million barrels/day by 2025. If Mexico can substantially ramp up production, then North America (Canada, Mexico, and the United States) will become the largest oil producing region in the world. The Mexican left is apoplectic. PEMEX is part of Mexico’s national DNA. The leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) is mounting for 2015 Mexico’s first national referendum to reverse the action while crying out “Treason.” It tried, but failed, though to organize large public demonstrations against the revolutionary act. The future of Mexico, a revolutionary future, is at issue.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

ObamaCare Deadlines

The Deadlines of ObamaCare September – Insurance companies cancel personal health insurance policies October 1, 2013 Signups begin October 1, 2013 Federal Exchange crashes December 22-23, 2013 President Obama’s staff signs him up for the budget Bronze Plan, but excludes his wife and children. He and they are actually covered by the military December 23, 2013 Signups mandatory for January 1, 2014 coverage December 24, 2013 New deadline for January 1 coverage January 1, 2013 Extended new deadline for January 1, 2014 coverage January 1, 2014 The tax on health insurance premiums is imposed January 1 – 15 Deadlines for various state exchanges January 6, 2014 California, Rhode Island January 7, 2014 Vermont January 10, 2014 Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York January 10, January 15 Idaho (depends on insurer) January 15, 2014 Maryland, Oregon, Washington January 10, 2014 Revised deadline to pay first premium January 31, 2014 Loss of pharmacy coverage for many March 31, 2014 Last day to enroll to avoid paying a penalty (for now) Last Half of 2014 Many employers start cancelling Employer Health Insurance Plans November 4, 2014 Mid-term Congressional Elections November 15, 2014 Open enrollment for 2015 January 1, 2015 Postponed Employer Mandate kicks in (for now) December 20, 2013 – January 6, 2014 President Obama’s 17 day vacation in Hawaii January 1, 2018 40% excise tax imposed on “Cadillac” health insurance plans

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Say Goodbye to 2013. Say Goodbye to:

Say Goodbye to: Our medical system as we knew it. It was shattered by ObamaCare and will never be the same again. Say goodbye to your insurance, doctor, hospital, prescriptions, and low deductibles and co-pays in 2014, if not in 2013 Extended Unemployment Benefits (?) Wind Energy Subsidies (?) Boston’s Mayor Menino Candlestick Park (1960-2013). The stadium never should have been built in the first instance, but Charles Harney had undue pull with City Hall. The Astrodome (1966-2013). The demolition process has begun to what was once the eighth wonder of the world. Hollywood Park (1938-2013). 232 acres of prime real estate will now be developed. The Genesee Towers in Flint, Michigan Mr. Stox in Anaheim, again Blockbuster Loehman’s Chicago’s Lincoln Restaurant The Little Rock Peabody Parading Ducks McDonald’s employee website, McResource, the last issue prepared by an outside company recommended going easy on junk food, such as hamburgers, fries and a soda. A previous issue gave recommendations on tipping, especially apropos for employees earning the minimum wage. Alabama’s Threepeat Michigan’s unbelievable 7-6 season. Maybe Al Borges will be canned; he should be. Incandescent light bulbs The iconic VW Van, discontinued in Brazil, but still available from Lego Blackberry Blockbuster Question for 2014 Which retailer will fold first? Barnes & Noble J. C. Penney’s Radio Shack Sears, Roebuck & Co., where America used to shop Talbots

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Guiding Principles to Live By: Wisdom I Have Accumulated Over the Decades

Guiding Principles to Live By: Wisdom I Have Accumulated Over the Decades Over 6 ½ decades, including 41 ½ years teaching law, have taught me many lessons in life First, family and health come first You can never make up the time you didn’t spend with your children Your spouse is your partner in life; your children your legacy Give back Leaders lead, not follow Never forget your roots Dreams can come true, but only if you pursue them Illegitimi non Carborundum Pick your battles carefully Be nice to those you pass on the way up because you may see them again on the way down Keep debates civil; do not demonize your opponents If you prevail, leave your opponents with respect and dignity; you may need to work with them in the future Be a gracious loser; learn from your mistakes You often learn more from your setbacks than successes “Doubters do not achieve Skeptics do not contribute Cynics do not create” President Calvin Coolidge (I believe) Don’t let the minor frustrations get you down Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment Alcohol and drugs cloud judgment Always be true to yourself You cannot satisfy everyone, so do the right thing When one door closes, another opens Accept rejection by thinking “It’s their loss, not yours.” Always have a Plan B There is always a Plan B If not Plan B, then look for Plan C No one is unexpendable If you’re a lawyer, get your fee in advance Trust everyone until you have no reason to trust them again “Ye may forgive, but never forget.” Professor Jorge Carro “Trust, but verify” President Reagan Make the best decision you can at the time. If it doesn’t work out, it’s a learning experience All of life is a learning experience You learn a lot from listening, but nothing from talking You can’t take the path not taken Always be prepared You make your luck in life Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities God helps those who help themselves You can’t always win, but always do your best Keep your eyes set on the goal, but the means remain flexible Always be flexible The future will not work out as planned Someone will always be smarter, prettier or handsomer, or wealthier than you, or charismatic, but just do your best You cannot control that which you cannot control Patience is truly a virtue Do favors for others because it is the right thing to do – not because you expect something in return When you try to build yourself up by belittling others, you simply belittle yourself What goes around, comes around If you are a pessimist, it is always cloudy Pleasant personalities succeed more than dour ones in life A warm smile goes a long way O’Toole’s Commentary on Murphy’s Law: “Murphy was an optimist.” Do not rely on first impressions Neither the boss or customer is always right The cheapest alternative is often just that MapQuest and Wikipedia are often wrong A good reputation, once lost, is hard to regain You will not know who your true friends are in life until you need them You cannot eat at 67 as you did at 17 or 67 Most of all: Go where your life leads you; life is an incredible journey

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Duck, Duck, Duck Dynasty: The Culture War

I wasn’t going to write about Duck Dynasty, Duck Commander, whatever. I have never seen the show nor intend to do so. I disagree vehemently with Phil Robertson’s views on gays. I support gay marriage as long as it is done by the legislature or referendum, but not through judicial legislation. Let the A & E/Duck Dynastic play out as it will. A & E has a right to cancel the show or suspend a star, or it doesn’t. It all depends on the contract to which we are not privy. Undoubtedly A & E and the Robertson Clan are consulting with their lawyers. Phil Robertson has a constitutional right of free speech and freedom of religion, but that does not apply in the private marketplace. People are free to watch the show or not. If they dislike it, then they can stop watching the show and purchasing the merchandise. They can stop watching A & E’s most popular, and presumably profitable, show if they wish. The market could determine the outcome. The outcome is simple. A & E needs the Robertsons more than they need A & E. Would it were that simple. In the few days since A & E “suspended indefinitely” Phil Robertson, Cracker Barrel Family Restaurants proved it can out stupid A & E. The restaurant chain, mostly in Red America, dumped all of its sizable Duck Commander merchandise in protest of the Robertson statement. Cracker Barrel forgot its market. It rescinded the act two days later in response to a flood of complaints by its customers: “Our intent was to avoid offending, but that is what we have done.” Cracker Barrel is still trying to redeem itself after a series of disclosures and lawsuits in the 1990’s revealing its homophobic and racist attitudes to employees and customers. It has been seeking religion ever since. Dan Cathy, President and CEO of Chick-fil-A made clear his religious opposition to gay marriage and financial support for traditional marriage. A backlash quickly ensued, but was then followed by a backlash against the backlash on August 1, 2012. Chick-fil-A supporters mobbed the restaurants, driving up daily sales by an estimated 29%. The Food Network, retailers and her publisher were quick to dump Paula Deen after revelation in a deposition that she had used the “N” word. Retailers, such as Cabela’s, Target, and Walmart are sticking by the Robertsons. They sell. Duck Commander sales at Walmart have risen. Paula Deen’s popularity was dropping precipitously prior to the disclosure. Charlie Sheen, the virtuous Charlie Sheen, the Charlie Sheen known to never duck a controversy, threatened Robertson: “You are now in the crosshairs of a MacSheen style media meltdown.” Sarah Palin came to the defense of Phil Robertson, as did Governor Jindal and Lt. Governor Dardanne of Louisiana. The Lieutenant Governor offered to help the Robertsons find a new network if necessary. They understand the economic value and tourism to Louisiana of the Duck Dynasty success. I have been in Monroe and West Monroe, Louisiana. They can use the tourist dollars flowing into West Monroe. The biggest claim to fame before the Robertsons is a plaque on the wall of the Monroe Airport signifying that Monroe was the birthplace of Delta Airlines. The hypocrisy of A & E exceeds the usual level in Hollywood. A & E has long known of the religious views of the Robertson Clan and that Phil Robertson was quick t express them in public. They were blinded by the green Duck Dynasty brought into the corporate coffers. They had a PR person with Phil Robertson during the GQ interview to prevent any inflammatory statement. Yet, the PR person ducked when Robertson and the interviewer left on bikes. That’s when the offensive statements were made. A & E is so outraged that its release stated “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s statements in GQ.” Yes, A & E is so outraged that it is running, as I write, a Duck Dynasty Marathon, which I am not watching. A & E is so outraged that it banned Phil Robertson indefinitely, but the first 9 of next season’s 10 episodes have been filmed. The only one left to film is the last one. A & E, if it were truly indignant, would have tanked the series. It hasn’t. It needs the money. The rest of the Robertson Clan have threatened to quit the series if Phil is not part of it. A & E is muttering contractual rights, but dares not litigate the issue. The Robertsons have the leverage. All this is interesting, but digresses from my major thesis. The Duck Dynasty is another example of our on-going culture wars. The elites view the Robertsons, Cathys and Paula Deens as unsophisticated rednecks, rubes, hayseeds, hicks, boobs, Bubbas and bigots. Born again Christians, evangelicals, and fundamentalists are viewed with disdain by the arrogant elite on both coasts, who look down upon Flyover Country. They fail to recognize the decline of the liberal Mainline Protestant Churches and the rise of the Evangelical and Fundamentalist Churches. Phil Robertson believes in a literal translation of the New Testament. The cultural elites view the Bible as they do the Constitution, as a malleable instrument to be interpreted as they wish to promote their visions of social justice. The word of Man trumps the Word of the Lord. Justice Ginsburg publicly questioned the United States Constitution and asked Egypt to look elsewhere for a model. President Obama has expressed his disdain for the Constitution and has certainly been ignoring it. They view the values on which this country was founded as fundamentally flawed. Any glint of religion must be stripped out of our values pursuant to their concept of the separation of Church and State. The elites have their Ivy degrees compared to the uneducated or public university grads of red America, or so they believe.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Save an Owl; Kill a Owl: The Northern Spotted Owl Strikes Again

The Northern Spotted Owl is claiming yet another victim: the Barred Owl The Northern Spotted Owl was listed as an endangered species in 1990. The population was down to 5,000 nesting pairs in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. It also exists in Canada. The owl’s listing ran into conflict with the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest. Modern America was built on roughly 350 years of development, resource exploitation, and Manifest Destiny. The American Spirit was development for the sake of development. Laissez faire – the Government should help, but otherwise stay out of the way. Trees, trees to be harvested, became one of America’s valuable resources virtually from the beginning of colonization (Check out Eric Rutkow, American Canopy). (For my historical perspective on the development of America, my Akron Law Review article, “Looking Back to the Future: The Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Future of Environmental La,” is available on ssrn.com, abstract #2351605). April 17, 1970, the first Earth Day, signaled a change in paradigms. The quality of life became as important as the quantity of life. One longstanding fight was over the future of the nation’s forest reserves. Will we continue to harvest the trees, or will we enjoy the natural beauty, ecological and recreational value of the forests? The Wilderness Act of 1964 was enacted to ensure large timber tracts would remain “wilderness,” unchanged by humans. About 109.5 million acres are currently protected as “wilderness.” The history of the timber industry was to deplete the forests, starting in New England, and then the Midwest, followed by a move to the Pacific Northwest, and now the Southeast. “Strip, cut, and out” was often the attitude, with “clear cutting” becoming a common practice. The Wilderness designation, and thus protections, did not apply to the remaining federally owned timberlands controlled by the National Park Service, National Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. About 1/3 of the nation’s land is classified as “forest.” The Northern Spotted Owl became a surrogate in the Pacific Northwest for the paradigm change. The owl, as an endangered species, became the legal basis to shut down up to 90% of the logging on federal lands. Each Northern Spotted Owl needs about 3,000 acres of old growth timber, mostly Douglas Fir trees, as critical habitat because of its somewhat limited appetitive and hard to spot food supply, especially flying squirrels, wood rats, red tree voles, mice and other small rodents. A nesting pair needs 6,000 acres of critical habitat of old growth timber for their survival. The owls rely upon the canopy of the large trees for their life style. 6.9 million acres were set aside by the federal government as critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl. About 135 mills shut down. The restrictions on timber production were very controversial in the Pacific Northwest, especially in the logging communities of Oregon and Washington. Graffiti on a bathroom wall of a bar in Forks, Washington said “If two hippies can make love in a Volkswagen Beetle, then why do two owls need 6,000 acres?” A popular bumper sticker said “Kill a spotted owl, save a logger.” The Northern Spotted Owl was saved, or so the lawyers thought, but the timber industry was not. About 135 mills shut down and employment plunged, especially in the rural areas of Oregon and Washington. The Northern Spotted Owl was not saved. It could legally defeat the old timber industry, but fell prey to the immigrating Barred Owl. The Barred Owl started migrating west in the 1950’s from the east. It reached the Pacific Northwest, which was bad news for its relative, the Northern Spotted Owl. The invasive Barred Owl is larger than the Northern Spotted Owl, more aggressive, and has a wider palate. Barred Owls are known to kill male spotted owls and mate with the females. The Northern Spotted Owl population has dropped 40% in 25 years. The precipitous drop can no longer be blamed on logging. The Barred Owl is the prime suspect. The Northern Spotted Owl is on the Endangered List. The Barred Owl is not. The solution for the United States Fish & Wildlife Service is to start killing Barred Owls. It plans to spend $3.5 million over the next 6 years to remove 3,600 Barred Owls from California, Oregon and Washington. It started a few days ago with the shotgun shooting of 26 Barred Owls in a study area on the Hoopa Valley Indian reservation near Arcata, California. The spread of species is a natural process. Evolution says species have to adapt to changing environs or they will perish. The United States is now interfering with nature to preserve the status quo, which is unsustainable over time. It is playing favorites with species in nature, based on legal classifications, which are not related to the laws of nature. Do you remember Star Trek? The Prime Directive in Star Fleet was not to interfere with the internal development of alien civilizations. The United States is now playing God with owls.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Saga of India's Devyani Klobragade: How to Turn a Minor Issue Into an International Incident

Devyani Klobragade was the Deputy Indian Consul General in New York City until a few days ago. United States State Department security officers arrested her as she dropped her daughter off at school, and then turned her over to the U.S. Marshalls Service. Devyani claims she was handcuffed, strip searched, and thrown into a jail cell with common prisoners, such as drug offenders. The Marshalls say they exercised “standard arrestee intake procedures.” Sangeeta Richard started employment with Devyani in November. She left employment in June and “disappeared.” Devyani accused Sangeeta of attempted extortion. Sangeeta claims she was promised in a contract $9.75/hour in wages if she became a housemaid to Sangeeta in New York. She then asserts she was forced to sign a new contract in the United States paying her only $3.31/hour and had to surrender her passport to Devyani. An Indian Court issued an injunction against Sangeeta, barring her from proceeding against Devyani in United States courts. Apparently Sangeeta has no intention of returning to India to face Indian justice because she has been granted asylum in the United States. In addition, the United States government has flown her family from India to be with her in America. The Richard family must be elated. They’re legally in the United States. The United States has accussed Devyani of Visa Fraud in the misrepresentations in Sangeeta’s visa application. Devyani, of course, denies the charges and says money was sent to Sangeeta’s family in India as well as direct payments to Sangeeta. A similar incident recently occurred here in Orange County. A housemaid leveled similar charges against a Saudi Princess. Local authorities arrested the princess, but subsequently dropped all charges when it became clear that the former maid was lying in an attempt to receive asylum in the United States. Sangeeta’s story can, if true, establish a criminal case against Devyani. It may make sense to a prosecutor, especially an overzealous prosecutor. But it’s stupid. It defies common sense. There has to be an alternative explanation for the government’s action. The explanation that makes sense is that the Justice and State Departments decided to make an example of Devyani because of excessive abuses in the diplomatic corps. She apparently lacks the full diplomatic immunity of an embassy diplomat as compared to the limited immunity of a consular employee. They didn’t think it through. The Devyani Affair has become an issue of class in India. Middle class and upper class women and men should be treated with respect and dignity. Devyani is apparently a Dalit, the lowest class under the outlawed caste system, but she is highly educated and become a distinguished member of the diplomatic corps. She is thereby entitled to respect. Other prominent Indians have been treated “poorly” by Indian standards, especially by the TSA. Former President A. P. J. Abdul Kalum had to remove his shoes at airport security while India’s Ambassador Meera Shankar had the pat down treatment and Indian’s permanent representative to the UN was detained fro reusing to remove his turban. In this respect India should understand the TSA does not discriminate. The TSA has patted down former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and members of Congress. India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khursheed, declared before India’s Parliament that “It is no longer about an individual…. It is about our sense of self as a nation and place in the world.” India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, called the treatment of Devyani “deplorable.” Sensitive cases in the United States are often handled by having the accused discretely surrender out of the public limelight. The State Department could have arranged for Davyani to quietly surrender in private or have quietly requested the Indian Government to remove her from the United States. Not so this time. She was intentionally arrested in public in a humiliating environ, and then treated by the Marshalls as a common criminal. India responded to the arrest of its diplomat by Calling the United States Ambassador into the Foreign Minister’s office for a dressing down, removing the cement barrier/security blocks in front of the United States Embassy, stripping the US Embassy and consulates of their right to duty free alcohol and food, and requesting surrender by American diplomats, including consuls, of their government issued ID’s and airport passes. Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to smooth the waters by calling Shivshankar Menon, India’s national security advisor and empathized “with the sensitivities we are hearing from India about the events that unfolded.” Menon had called the United States’ conduct “despicable and barbaric.” Preep Bharara, then United States Attorney for New York, jumped into the fray by defending the government’s actions, and in effect undermining Secretary Kerry’s efforts to calm Indian. He asked the rhetorical question: “Is it for U.S. prosecutors to look the other way, ignore the law and civil rights of victims, or is it the responsibility of the diplomats and consular officers and their government to make sure the law is observed?” This Administration should not be quoting the rule of law. India reassigned Devyani to India’s United Nations Mission, which will, at least prospectively, afford her full diplomatic immunity. The United States has lost the publicity battle over the Devyani-Sangeeta Affray. It also does not hold strong bargaining leverage with India. The United States sided with Pakistan for decades after the partition of India. Nehru, Jawalarlal India’s Prime Minister, was a socialist and the international leader of the third world, non-aligned nations. The American rapprochement with India is of recent origin and fragile. Another potential diplomatic disaster is about to blow up with the upcoming India elections. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is forecast to win the next national election. The BJP is led by Narendra Modi, who would become India’s next Prime Minister. The State Department denied Modi a visa in 2005. He stands accused of human rights violations a decree ago when religious riots broke out through India. He actions as chief minister of the province of Gujarat as Hindus rioted against Muslims have been called into question. Estimates are that over 1,000 died in these riots. He is on the State Department’s list of those who committed “severe violations of religious freedom.” By not resolving the Devyani saga quickly and quietly, the State Department is more limited with Modi.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Microsoft Exec to the Rescue of ObamaCare: Are You Joking?

The Obama Administration has hired a retired Microsoft executive to oversee the reconstruction of the ObamaCare website? Why Microsoft? Couldn’t they do better than Microsoft? Even the Obama Administration now admits the HealthCare.gov web site is a disaster. The Administration refused to allow computer experts in designing large demand websites, such as Amazon, Apple, EBay, Google, or HP to design the software platform. Instead it turned to a Canadian Company, CGI, which had previously failed in Ontario. The unveiling was a pure, unmitigated disaster. The Administration then asked a proven trouble shooter with managerial skills, Jeffrey Zients, to set it straight. The site is in better shape, presumably able to handle 50,000 inquiries at a time with only a 10% failure rate. That is apparently how the Obama Administration defines success. Zients wishes to move on. The President has now appointed Kirk DelBene to replace him. DelBene is a retired Microsoft executive, highly touted for running the Office Division. He offered to work for free at least through June. A maxim of the legal profession is that you get what you pay for. Does that apply to Microsoft? Why Microsoft? Microsoft has a proven track record, even after extensive beta testing, of producing clunkers. Bob? Vista? OS2? Windows 8? Windows CE? Windows ME? Bing? Zune? Tablet? It will be a perfect fit for ObamaCare. Microsoft: an expert in computer crashes. Microsoft: an expert in vaporwear – overpromising and underperforming. Microsoft: proficient in updating updates to dysfunctional programs of its making Microsoft, whose near monopoly allows it to overcome a series of failures, is now to bail out a proven failure not of its own making. Bill Gates quipped at a Comdex Expo that if “GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25,000 cars that would be getting 1,000 miles to the gallon.” GM responded: If GM developed technology like Microsoft, our cars will have the following characteristics: “1) For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day. 2) Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car. 3) Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no apparent reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this. 4) Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine. 5) Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only 5% of the roads. 6) The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “General Protection fault” warning light. 7) The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying. 8) Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed ahold of the radio antenna. 9) Every time GM introduced a new car, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car. 10) You’re have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off. Why DelBene? He headed the Office Division at Microsoft, and thus can presumably manage thousands of software engineers at a time. The caveat is that he did not create Office, but took it over after a couple of decades of monopolistic success and profits. That is far different than the abysmal failure of ObamaCare. Why DelBene? Is it a coincidence in this overly political Administration that his wife is a Democratic Congresswoman from Washington?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Novel, for now, Affluenza Defense

Ethan Couch was driving a Ford F350 pickup truck with six friends (two were riding in the bed of the pickup) near Fort Worth, Texas on June 15, 2013. The 16 year old Couch started the tragedy by stealing beer from a Walmart. Eric proceeded to tank up, with a blood alcohol content of .24, three times the legal level. His blood also tested positive for Valium. Breanna Mitchell had a flat tire on her SUV. Three friends, acting as Good Samaritans, were helping her change the tire on the side of the road. The drunk Eric, driving 70 in a 40MPH zone, moved them down. They were tossed up to 60 yards in the air. All four died. The four deceased victims were 43 year old Brian Jennings, a youth minister, 52 year old Hollie Boyles, her 21 year old daughter Shelby Boyles, and the 24 year old Breanna. In addition, two of the pickup truck passengers were severely injured. Sergio Molina was riding in the bed. He is now paralyzed from the neck down, unable to speak in a near coma. His family has already incurred $1 million in medical costs, which they cannot afford to pay. They call their life a “living hell” since the tragedy. Justice to a criminal defense attorney is winning an acquittal, pleading to a lesser offense, or receiving a lighter sentence than deserved, Lawyers can be very creative in advancing new theories and arguments for their clients. Scott Brown, Couch’s defense attorney, sprung Affluenza on the courthouse scene last week in Texas. Basically it is a spoiled rich kids defense. These brats are so spoiled and sheltered that they do not know the difference between right and wrong. Their parents do not teach them the limits of acceptable and proper behavior. We know the type. The parents are quick to intervene, even with a lawyer and lawsuit, if their “little angel” runs afoul of school authorities, is caught cheating, or is arrested for drugs or alcohol violations. Criminal defense attorneys often cast blame on the victim, especially if the victim is deceased. Scott Brown called Dr. Gary Miller, a psychologist to the stand on behalf of the defendant. Dr. Miller couldn’t blame the innocent victim, so he blamed the parents. He claimed they gave Ethan whatever he wanted including “freedoms no young person should have.” He asserted Ethan had an intellectual age of 18, but an emotional age of only 12, in other words a case of arrested development. He asserted Ethan Couch was the product of Affluenza. The youth never understood the need to be sorry; instead, you simply send money to rectify a problem. He could not understand the relationship between behavior and consequences. So much for “Honor thy Father.” Dr. Miller’s opinion of the criminal justice system is shown by this statement: “This kid’s been in a system that’s sick. If he goes to jail, that’s just another sick system.” That’s no justification for releasing him back into society. Affluenza rivals the 1979 urban myth of the “Twinkies Defense.” Dan White, former supervisor in San Francisco assassinated Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. White’s defense was diminished capacity and depression, partially manifested (not caused) by a change in eating habits from healthy foods to junk foods, including sugary foods. “Twinkies” weren’t even mentioned in the case. The phrase “Twinkies Defense” was coined by a writer. The jury acquitted Dan White of first degree murder, but convicted him of manslaughter. Dan White spent over 5 years in prison. Ethan Couch gets a free pass, actually a $450,000 pass, out of prison. The problem lies not so much with the lawyer, who was doing his job, but with a psychologist who would give credence to such a crackpot theory, and the Judge who accepted it. Affluenza proves the Golden Rule of Law: “One with the gold makes the law.” Juvenile Judge Jean Boyd reinforces Ethan’s impression that he can get away with it because he has money. She sentenced Couch to ten years of probation after he confessed to intoxication manslaughter. The prosecution sought 20 years in prison for the miscreant. Couch received not one day of prison time. Judge Boyd’s sentence rivals in infamy that of Montana Judge G. Todd Baugh in August who sentenced a teacher to 30 days in prison for the statutory rape of a 15 year old student, who committed suicide two years later. Alex Lemus, Sergio’s brother, responded to the sentence: “That kid killed four people and crippled my little brother and doesn’t even have to serve one year. If he were poor like us, he would’ve gotten 10 years, I bet.” Alex is right. Poverty is no defense to vehicular manslaughter. Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the tragedy said “There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day. The primary message has to be absolutely be that money and privilege can’t buy justice in this country.” Richard Alpert, the prosecutor, predicted a future tragedy will follow upon the sentence: “There can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment he received here.” The law does not accept immorality or amorality as a defense. That’s exactly what the Affluenza Defense is. A spoiled rich kid cannot tell the difference between right and wrong; he is amoral, and thus should be excused from his crimes. Courts never accepted a spaced out Valley Girl defense, a space cadet defense, a village idiot defense, an ignorance of the law defense, or she looked legal and had a phony ID defense, poverty, illiteracy, English as a second language The purpose of the law is to protect victims and society against the wrongful acts of others. The law protects the victim rather than the wrongdoer. Sports stars and celebrities have certainly gotten away with murder and rape, but that's normally with a skillful defense attorney mesmerizing the jury. The concept that Affluenza could serve as a defense to murder, rape or bulgary is ludicrous,just as it is for vehicular manslaughter in the death of four innocent people and severe injuries to two others. Judge Boyd should be booted off the bench. Reagan Wynn, another defense attorney for Ethan Couch, said “If the point of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate these kids and make them productive members of society, then the judge did absolutely the right thing.” Sometimes you wonder if lawyers really believe what they’re saying. Eric Couch will be undergoing rehab in Newport Beach, California. Newport Beach, like Malibu, has several expensive, discreet rehab facilities to service the needs of the local residents. This one runs a little over $450,000 annually, which Ethan’s father, loving, doting father, will cover – as usual. $450,000 is a small price to pay to keep the ungrateful son out of prison, as daddy continues to indulge. The rehab center is not for the average person. It features equine therapy and organic meal options. Newport Beach is known for the spoiled high school students featured in “The O.C.” Eric will fit right in. If the parents do not set proper limits, then it is imperative for the state to do so. Judge Boyd failed the test. In the short term the civil courts may set the limits. Sergio’s family has filed a $20 million lawsuit against Ethan Couch and his father’s business, which is the registered owner of the F350 pickup truck. Lawyers are quick to pick up on successful tactics and arguments. Affluenza will now go viral through the defense bar until judges rein it in.

Friday, December 13, 2013

California's Attack on Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Chili Sauce

California is mugging Sriracha Hot Chile Sauce David Tran represents the best of America. The 68 year old immigrant from Vietnam came to America as the land of opportunity. Like millions of immigrants before him, he created a product Americans wanted and with it hundreds of jobs. California’s recent treatment of him illustrates the anti-business climate of California, its ability to persecute, and sometimes drive entrepreneurs either out of business or out of the state. David Tran is surviving for now, but the lawyers are probably making more money than him. His product is Sricarha Hot Chile Sauce, which is manufactured by his company, Huh Fong Foods. He started making a sauce in a bucket in 1980. It soon became popular. Expansion rapidly followed. His clear plastic bottles with red hot chili sauce with a green wrapper and a rooster on the bottle are found in restaurants around America. It’s found in Subway, Traders Joe, and Lay potato chips. Sales reached $60 million in 2012. The success outgrew his production facilities in Rosemead, California. The neighboring community of Irwindale approached him three years ago with an irresistible offer. It offered a ten year loan with only interest paid during the decade with a balloon payment at the end. Huh Fong Foods would also pay Irwindale $250,000 per year. The new facility would be 200,000 square feet compared to Rosemead’s 68,000 square feet. The loan has since been refinanced with an outside bank. Irwindale has a population of 1,446 with a high unemployment rate. The city is mainly known for the active and abandoned quarries within its boundaries. Irwindale welcomed the plant. The new plant cost $40 million to build. It employs 200 full time employees and 600 seasonal workers. The plant produces strong odors, most of which are removed by a carbon based filtration system. Tang is quoted as saying “If it doesn’t smell, it doesn’t sell.” David claims the secret to his sauce is that it’s processed fresh. The jalapeno peppers are harvested and processed on the same day, with production running for roughly 90 days from August to November. About 100 million pounds of jalapeno are processed during the three month period. The ground peppers are mixed with garlic, salt, sugar, and vinegar to produce 200,000 bottles daily. The first complaint about the odors came from the son of a city councilman. The complaint could be legitimate, but it raises suspicions of a shakedown. No complaints had been made about the Rosemead facility. Huy Fong Foods said several inspectors from the South Coast Air Quality Management District had inspected the Irwindale facility on three separate occasions, and issued no citations. Conversely, Irwindale said its inspectors found air quality issues at the plant. About 30 residents also complained of varied symptoms, which include burning eyes, sore throats, heartburn, and nose bleeds. A father said the odors aggravated his son’s asthma, which were alleviated when he moved his outdoor activities indoors. The city and several residents filed suit against Huy Fong Foods on October 21, alleging the plant constituted a public nuisance. The judge denied a temporary restraining order against the plant, but issued a preliminary injunction after the processing season ended. Judge Robert H. O’Brien held for the plaintiffs even though he held the relationship between the emissions (odors) and the resulting health complaints lacked “credible scientific evidence linking the health problems to the plant.” He wrote though that the odors could be reasonably "be inferred to be emanating from the facility.” Round II came a few days ago: the incredibly arbitrary, bureaucratic inane regulatory state. The California Department of Public Health ordered the company to delay shipping three of its products, Sriracha, Chili Garlic, and Sambal Oelek, for 30 days. The Department tightened the health guidelines for the products after observing the processing plant. The Department wants to “ensure an effective treatment of microorganisms present in the product.” The Department is concerned that ground, unheated chili is added to the sauce. Anita Gore, spokesperson for the agency say “Holding products for a period of time at a specified pH level is one method of controlling those microorganisms.” Three decades of no health complaints pale compared to the dictates of an anonymous bureaucrat. By that reasoning, we should not eat uncooked carrots, apples, oranges, lemons, peaches, pears, plums, garlic, onions, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, mushrooms, or grapes. Sushi, spices and Asian herbal products and medicines should also be highly suspect David Tran’s business is surviving for now; his lawyers are thriving, but he is no longer California Dreaming.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ObamaCare: Drip, Drip, Drip

Drip The IV drip sustains life in a patient Drip, Drip, Drip The Chinese water Torture Trick, drip, drip, drip, is intended to cause insanity in the victim. Which will ObamaCare be? The life giving IV Drip, or the torturous Chinese water Torture? You cannot keep your insurance company? Drip, drip, drip You cannot keep your doctor Drip, drip, drip You may not even be able to get a doctor Drip, drip, drip You cannot keep your hospital Drip, drip, drip You cannot keep your prescriptions Drip, drip, drip You cannot afford your new premium Drip, drip, drip You cannot afford the deductibles Drip, drip, drip Your copay is higher Drip, drip, drip You're paying for coverage you neither need nor want Drip, drip, drip You don’t qualify for subsidies Drip, drip, drip You are a smoker Drip, drip, drip You love in Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, or Oregon Drip, drip, drip The back end of the exchange process, actual enrollment by an insurance company, is not working. People will discover on January 1 that they are in fact uninsured. Drip, drip, drip Your paper, paperwork will not be processed Drip, drip, drip You have been riffed because of ObamaCare Drip, drip, drip You went from full time to part time Drip, drip, drip You will lose your employer’s health insurance next year Drip, drip, drip California has invaded your privacy Drip, drip, drip Volunteer firefighters, the unpaid firefighters, the 97% of the fire districts in America, are told by the IRS that they are employers, and hence subject to ObamaCare. Drip, drip, drip The exchanges, when working, are kicking unqualified applicants into Medicaid. They will be surprised on January 1 to discover they are uninsured. Drip, drip, drip You have been an avid Obama supporter, but just realized you have been shafted on your health insurance Drip, drip, drip ObamaCare advocates keep saying stupid statements that defy common sense Drip, drip, drip Jay leno is having a field day making nightly fun of Obamacare Drip, drip, drip, drip And the answer is Drip, drip, drip

Monday, December 9, 2013

The United States Loses $10.5 Billion on its $49.5 Billion GM Investment: If Only The Treasury Department announced that it had sold its last shares in Government Motors for a net loss of $10.5 billion on the bailout. $10.5 billion was a small price for taxpayers to pay for President Obama carrying Michigan in 2012. The Treasury Department lost $1.3 billion on its $12.5 billion bailout of Chrysler. $1.3 billion was a small price for taxpayers to pay for President Obama winning Ohio in 2012. The Treasury Department will in the future report a loss on the $17.2 bailout of GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corp.)(now called Ally). ‘GM is alive; Osama is dead.” “Detroit was saved” by the President. Detroit meant the industry – not the city. Remember “Cash for Clunkers?” The $3 billion program to bail out Detroit by offering $3,500 or $4,500 vouchers for the trading in of old cars for new, more efficient cars. That was a clunker. 690,411 vehicles were traded in for $2.877 billion in government rebates. Most of the vehicles purchased under the Cash for Clunkers Program were imports, mostly Japanese and Korean. Toyota had 19.4% of the sales, compared to 17.6% for GM, 14.4% for Ford, 13% for Honda, and 8.7% for Nissan. Subsequent studies showed that Cash for Clunkers essentially accelerated the purchase of cars that would have been bought anyway, resulting in no long term gain for Detroit. The forced bankruptcies of Chrysler and GM bankrupted existing bankruptcy law. It subordinated the debt of secured creditors to that of unsecured creditors, the United Autoworkers Union. The UAW was an unsecured creditor for the pension and health funds of its retirees. They received 100% on the dollar, resulting in 55% of the new Chrysler Corporation shares. The Chrysler salaried employees received only 40 cents on the dollar for their benefits, but the traditional bondholders, such as the Indiana State Teachers Pension Plan, were crammed down to 29 cents on the dollar. GM’s bondholders received even less. The new bonds issued to cover the UAW claims carry an interest rate of 18%. The Chrysler and GM bailouts were intended to save UAW jobs and that of President Obama. GM closed its unionized, highly efficient and productive, Moraine, Ohio assembly plant, which manufactured profitable SUV’s because it was a non-UAW plant. It was an IUE and not UAW plant. Therefore it was expendable. The further cost to America was the forced cancellation of dealerships, profitable dealers selling American cars to Americans. Chrysler arbitrarily terminated 789 dealers, or about 25% of its dealers. GM started with terminating 1,100 dealers. Over 100,000 American workers lost their jobs in the dealership closures, while the owners lost their large investments. Many of the terminated dealer properties now sell Hyundai and Kia cars. Chrysler and GM are again making money, by selling pickup trucks and SUVs. America is still paying a high price to fund the President’s reelection victories in Michigan and Ohio.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Build a Wind Farm; Get a 30 Year Eagle Killing Permit Green Energy – Renewable Energy The mantra of the Obama Administration – at any cost Wind farms are notorious for making sushi out of birds. A recent study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin estimates 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats are killed annually by wind farms. Green energy versus traditional environmental protection is an easy balance for the Obama Administration Green energy at any cost Solar farms versus desert tortoises The tortoise is sacrificed to the sun. So too with the Bald Eagle The bald eagle has been the national bird since 1792, over the objections of Benjamin Franklin who favored the turkey. Which looks more majestic on our National Seal: The bald eagle or the turkey? Imagine Thanksgiving: Gizzards of bald eagle on Turkey Day while Tom Turkey looks down from the Great Seal of the United States. An estimated 100,000 bald eagles 100,000 bald eagles inhabited the Lower 48 in 1792, but dropped to 412 nesting pairs by 1950. The pesticide DDT was responsible for much of the loss in eagle population, but hunting, habitat loss, and transmission line encounters also played a major role. DDT was banned 4 decades ago. The bald eagle rebounded in numbers to an estimated 200,000 throughout the United States and Canada today. The bald eagle was delisted on June 28, 2007 from the endangered and threatened list. Other statutes continue to protect the bald eagle. The 1969 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act prohibits the taking, possession, sale, purchase, barter, transport, export or import of eagles, or any part, nest or egg without a permit. The word “take” is expansively defined to include pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, trap, sale, purchase, capture, trap, molest or disturb. It is not illegal to own an eagle or eagle parts, such as a feather, if they were lawfully possessed prior to 1969. However, it is illegal for one in legal possession to sell the eagle or a part of it. The penalties for illegal possession or sale of eagles or eagle parts, such as feathers, include felony criminal prosecutions. But not for wind farms. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act enforces the Treaty entered into initially by Great Britain (Canada) and the United States. The Lacey Act renders it illegal to take, possess, transport, sell, import, or export the endangered birds, nests, eggs, or parts. Native Americans, who are members of federally recognized tribes, are permitted to use eagle feathers for religious and spiritual purposes, but only with a permit. The balance between traditional conservation and renewable energy does not matters to the Obama Administration, which believes in renewable energy. Wind farms have been operating under 5 year permits, which allow the killing of eagles. the five year permits were initially issued by the new Obama Administration in 2009. The wind industry is greedy. It is unsatisfied with the federal tax credit subsidy of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour. The subsidy, if renewed, could amount to $12 billion over the next decade. The Obama Administration is now granting the wind industry 30 year permits, “Eagle take permits,” which will allow the windmill killing or wounding of eagles. David Yarnold, President of the national Audubon Society stated: “It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the bald eagle.” He argued that in the balance between conservation and renewable energy, the Department of the Interior “wrote the wind industry a blank check.” The Department of the Interior claims the permits will be issued to” applicants who commit to adaptive management measures to ensure the reservation of eagles.” Interior also claims that the permits will be reviewed every five years The five year look back and analysis of eagle deaths will rely on self-reporting. The Administration, which fervently supports green energy, and eagerly supports the unemployment of tens of thousands of coal miners, will turn a blind eye to eagles killed in the name of wind energy. Let the windmill killing an eagle replace the bald eagle on the National Seal.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela, Ataturk, and Mahatma Gandhi

Nelson Mandala’s mortal life ended earlier today, but his legacy is immortal. The world is pouring out its tributes for the loss of this great man. Let me look at his life from a different perspective. I love history. I love reading about great peoples and great leaders. The Twentieth Century certainly presented a long list of great leaders and tragic figures: Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Queens, Sultans, and dictators. The United States alone can claim two Roosevelts, Johnson, and Reagan, England has the British American bulldog, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher. France claims Charles DeGaulle. China had Sun Yat-sen and Deng Xiaoping. The brutality of Ho Chi Ming, Chairman Mao, Stalin, and Hitler drown out their leadership. The three I would be most interested in having spent time with are Mandela, Ataturk, and Gandhi. All three led their people or nations to freedom or independence. None sought to use their powers to empower themselves as dictators. Gandhi and Mandela were both lawyers, and men of peace, whereas Ataturk was a man of war who turned to peace. All three brought democracy to their people. Mandela freed his people; Gandhi liberated his country; Ataturk gave his people a country. Mustafa Kemal was a career officer in the Ottoman armies, perhaps its greatest general. He became famous to the Turkish people by defeating the British, AnZac and French forces at Gallipoli. His military victories though could not save the Ottoman Empire from a crushing defeat in World War I. The Allies attempted not only to dismember the Ottoman Empire, but also to occupy and split up Turkey. Ataturk’s victories continued as the Turkish people in their heartland of Anatolia won the Turkish War of Independence. Mustafa became Ataturk, “The father of the Turks.” The man of war became a man of peace. A new secular Republic of Turkey was established. The Ottomans were expelled and the Caliphate abolished without the brutalities and terror of the French and Russian revolutions. His goal was to modernize, westernize, and secularize Turkey. Sharia law was abandoned while a western legal system adopted. Women were given rights unknown in much of the Mideast. The national jewel of the Hagia Sophia, the great Christian Church converted into a mosque, was turned into a museum. The history of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires is one of continuous warfare and shifting borders. Ataturk sought peace with Turkey's neighbors - once part of the Ottoman Empire. He sought peace with the West. Most of all, Ataturk wanted a country with defined borders for his people. His new Turkey eschewed ambitions to conquer neighboring lands. His legacy has continued to these days. Turkey and Israel are islands of stability and prosperity in the otherwise tumultuous Mideast. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi experienced discrimination as an attorney for 21 years in South Africa. He realized that military force could not defeat the British Empire, but a campaign of non-violence might. He led the Indian people to Independence, but foreclosed any political role in governing the country. That fell to Nehru. Sadly Gandhi could not prevent the bloody partition of India, but India has emerged as a vibrant Democracy. India, Pakistan, and Turkey have all had female leaders, an anomaly in that part of the world. Nelson Mandel spent 27 years in prison under harsh conditions for his opposition to Apartheid. His release in 1990 did not unleash a crusade of violence against the whites, but instead the creation of a black, duly elected government, which respected the rights of the whites. He emerged a man of peace. Lesser men would have sought vengeance. The transition was achieved through peace and not armed combat. As the first President of the new South Africa, he established a series of truth commissions, under which those had committed crimes, including vicious outrageous crimes, against the blacks would be forgiven if they fully confessed their wrongs. Truth commissions, not firing squads, awaited the former oppressors. Mandela’s legacy in South Africa should be compared to that of most of the post-colonial governments in Africa, characterized by corruption, genocide and dictatorships. A common, but all too uncommon in much of the world today including the United States, quality of these three great leaders is that they cared about the well being of their people. I would have wanted to know what made these leaders rise to greatness. How and where did they find their higher calling to improve the condition of their people? Others had the opportunity, but seized the spoils of victory.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ohio State 42, Michigan 41. It Was Not to Be

Fall in the Big House. The air is crisp. The sky is clear. The temperature is a freezing 30°. The leaves are turning. The Big House is a sea of maize and blue, scarlet and grey. Tens of thousands Ohio State fans teemed into the Michigan Stadium savoring a smackdown by their beloved, undefeated Buckeyes of the offensively inept Wolverines. It was not to be. Detroit Metro Airport is usually a sea of maize and blue on football weekend. Not this weekend. Only the true faithful showed up. O ye of little faith. If you watched on TV you missed the falcon flying onto the field before the flyover, the rainbow hanging the stadium in the second quarter in the clear sky (Was it an omen?), and Ohio State’s Best Damn Band in the Land performing their inspiring Gettysburg Salute at halftime. 113,511 stood frozen in place for 3 hours, even during halftime, because of the cold and the 42 points split evenly in the first half. 83 points total in the game. Up and down the field the bitter rivals marched, ran, and passed. Ohio State couldn’t stop Michigan’s passing attack (451 yards). Michigan couldn’t stop Ohio State’s running game (393 yards). You missed a great game, the 110th time the behemoths of the gridiron met. The Michigan that beat Notre Dame 41-30 in game 2 showed up to play. Where did that Michigan go? Michigan played a wide open attack. 99, 84, 83, 78 yard touchdown drives. Where was this Michigan hiding in the preceding 9 games? 603 offensive yards. Where did that come from? Not Akron. Not UConn. Definitely not Penn State, Michigan State or Nebraska? Did Al Borges have a secret plan all season to keep the Michigan offense under wraps to fool Ohio State? No more ties in college football. Too bad! Fairness deserved a tie in this evenly matched, evenly played game. But one team had to win and one lose. Thus, after scoring a touchdown in the last 32 seconds Michigan went for two – to win it all. The Wolverines had nothing to lose. Go for it. It was not to be. David did not beat Goliath. Not this time. Ohio State gets the W in the records book and Michigan the L. Ohio State moves on, perhaps to the BCS National Title game. Tressel won the title in his second year at Ohio State. Meyer may match that mark. Go Blue. Go Sparty! Tressel and Meyer have owned the rivalry in the New Millenium, winning 11 out of 13. Michigan controlled the previous Jim Cooper years 10-2-1. Michigan won the game. It won redemption and respect. The players regained their pride. They played equal to the best. The Wolverines gave their all. They left it on he field. Alas. Al Borges called the wrong play on the two point conversion. His conservative DNA returned. He called a play that had no options – only a pass to Drew Dileo, the “hands” receiver. Dileo never had a chance. Ohio State knew it was coming. 4 defenders covered Dileo. It could not reach him. Al Borges still must go. Side notes: Marcus Hall of Ohio State double bird flipped the stadium. Devin Gardner, the banged up, gimpy Michigan quarterback, proved he is worthy of filling Tom Brady’s shoes and wearing the hallowed 98 Jersey of the revered Tom Harmon. Had Michigan defeated The Ohio State University, the fans would have mobbed the field. The game would have entered the lore of Michigan football with that of “Bo, Who?” stomping 24-12 Woody’s great 22 game undefeated, returning national champions – once considered perhaps the greatest college team of all time, or at least until November 22, 1969. It is not to be.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Red Line for Syria; Green Light for Iran: The Obama Foreign Policy?

President Obama drew a red line in the sand two years ago if the Syrian regime used weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Syria crossed that line at least twice, such that it could no longer be ignored by an often-blind Administration (cf. Benghazi). President Obama also said the Assad Regime must fall, but, unlike Libya, did not even supply air support to the rebels. Sand is slippery. The President then threatened to actually take military action against the Assad Regime, but soon weaseled out. His recent foreign policy consisted of National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who was duped by the Benghazi Talking Points, threatening Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai that the United States will pull its troops out of Afghanistan in 2014 if Karzai does not sign the recently agreed to agreement. Karzai would love to see the Americans leave. Threatening to do what your opponent wishes you to do is a stupid form of negotiation. Iran’s President Khamenei calls the United States the Great Satan and that Israel is a “rabid dog.” He wants to wipe the Zionist country off the map. We want to appease. The Obama Administration therefore entered into an interim agreement whereby the effective sanctions against Iran will be relaxed in exchange for the Iranian government temporarily slowing down uranium production from 10,000 centrifuges. The United Nations voted that sanctions should not be lifted unless Iran ceased all uranium production. Remind me the next time President Obama says we should follow the UN. President Obama made no attempt to secure the freedom of the American citizens held prisoner by the Iranian regime. The four page document is full of “creative ambiguity.” Munich betrayed the Czechs, but did not cause World War II. Hitler was hell bent on conquest, lebensraum and the Holocaust. Geneva betrayed the Israelis and Saudis, and may well bring Armageddon to the Mid East. Pity the poor Democrats. The ObamaCare disaster has alerted them that the President is not a brilliant politician, but a Pied Piper of electoral defeat, as in 2010. They are caught between party loyalty, loyalty to Israel, and their reelections. Here are the statements of world and American leaders. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an “historic mistake.” New York Senator Charles Schumer said the “deal doesn’t seem proportional …. Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions.” Secretary of State John Kerry affirmed “We have no illusions.” The United States is entering negotiations “with eyes absolutely wide open.” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, generally regarded as a dim bulb, said the deal poses minimal risk to the United States. Iran poses a major risk to our soldiers in the Mid East, a grave risk when placed on a ballistic missile aimed at the United States, and an apocalyptic threat to Israel. The Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, proclaimed the agreement recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium. Saudi Arabia has been eerily silent. They believe actions speak stronger than words. A successful foreign policy consists of knowing the difference between allies and enemies. President Obama understands the difference. He disses our friends and trusts our enemies. Our most steadfast ally in the international stage is England. Israel is our strongest ally in the slippery Mid East. Egypt was a strong ally until the “Arab Spring.” One of President Obama’s first acts was to insult Great Britain, followed by expressing his contempt and loathing for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He forced Egypt’s pro-Western President Hassan Mubarak out of office, and has since managed to antagonize both the military regime and the Islamists in Egypt. President Obama has the DNA of the true left, the DNA of William Ayres, ingrained into his psyche. The extreme left wingnut view of America is that the United States has been wrong in the world, an international bully. Therefore, we need forgiveness from our foes and recognize that our former friends are our true enemies. One rumor is that the Obama Administration is now in secret talks with Hezbollah. Prior to his reelection, President Obama made it clear to Russian President Medvedev on March 26, 2012 that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with contentious issues. He made clear to French President Sarkozy his contempt for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. President Obama won reelection. He is free. He is a liberated man. He no longer needs to worry about the Jewish vote, or contributions. He can follow his true instincts. Dump Israel and make peace with the mullahs on their terms.

My Thanks on Thanksgiving

To God for my incredible wife, the partner in my life, and our two wonderful sons To the Pilgrims and Puritans, Squanto, the Wampanoags and the American turkey To the settlers, mountain men, 49ers, grubstakers, land grantees, cowboys, and wildcatters who conquered the American wilderness To the citizen soldiers, the Minute Men, Militia, Continental Army, National Guard, Reserves and Active Duty who won our freedom and then fought to maintain it To the American people who finally realize the falsity of President Obama, which even the media can no longer gloss over To President Reagan who revived America from the Carter Malaise To President George W. Bush who brought security to the United States after 9/11 To our Founding Fathers who gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights To Fr. Stephen A Privett, S.J. and Mary Sue Coleman, who are retiring after long successful runs as Presidents of the University of San Francisco and Michigan respectively To Ohio Northern University, which started my academic career, Dean Howard I. Kalodner and Western New England College which saved my career, and President James A. Doti for letting me part of the incredible academic growth of Chapman University To the thousands of students over 41 ½ years who have made teaching a labor of love rather than just a job To Rupert Murdock, Roger Ailes and Fox News for an alternative presentation of the news To the builders of America: John Jacob Astor The Cabots and Lowells Thomas A. Edison, George Westinghouse and Alexander Graham Bell J. P. Morgan, Amedeo Pietro Giannini, Walter Wriston, Charles Merrill,Vharles Schwarb Henry J. Kaiser, Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Mellon, Henry Clay Frick, Henry George Steinbrenner, II. Commodore Vanderbilt, James J. Hill, Theodore Judah, Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Colis P. Huntington and Leland Stanford. John D. Rockefeller, Henry Flagler, H.L. Hunt, Joseph N. Pew, John Paul Getty, Leon Hess and Howard Hughes The Wright Brothers, William Boeing, Allen & Malcolm Loughead, John Northrup, Igor Sikorsky, Kelly Johnson and Simon Ramo Friedrich Weyerhauser George Huntington Hartford, R. H. Macy, Frank W. Woolworth and Sam Walton Madam C. W. Walker and Robert L. Johnson. Frederick Terman, William Hewlett, David Packard and Arnold C. Beckman. Robert Gordon Sproul and Clark Kerr Thomas Watson and Steve Jobs. Charles F. Dolan and John Malone Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., Henry Ford, Walter Chrysler, Charles Kettering, Frank Seiberling, Harvey Firestone, Cyrus McCormick, Sr., John Deere R. H. Macy, F. W. Woolworth, Sam Walton Phil Knight Robert Moses, William Mulholland, Griffith Griffith, John McLaren and Michael O’Shaughnessy. Conrad Hilton, J. Willard Marriott, the Pritzkers, and Kemmon Wilson James I. Irvine, George Argyros, William Levitt, Del E. Webb, Edward J. De Bartolo, Sr., Captain Richard King Herbert Henry Dow, Eleuthere Irenee du Pont, and Samuel Curtis Johnson, Sr. Meyer Guggenheim George Halas, Walt Disney Ray Kroc, Dave Thomas, Carl Karcher, Sr. To Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Cesar Chavez & Delores Huerta

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where Were You 50 Years Ago on November 22?

Where Were You Fifty Years Ago? Where were you The Day the Music Died? Where were you the day the President died? Where were you on the day that a telegenic, charismatic, youthful, but ineffectual, President, was assassinated? Where were you the day the New Frontier became the Great Society? Where were you the day that changed America? Where were you on the day that that the Presidency passed to a President, who could enact tax cuts and civil rights legislation? Where were you on the day that unleashed America’s greatest social change since the Great Depression? Where were you on the day Camelot died, but remained frozen in time? Where were you on the day America lost its post-Depression, post-World War II spirit of invincibility? Where were you on the day that the Democratic Party turned left? Where were you the day that liberals slimed Dallas and the Dallas oil barons with the assassination of President Kennedy? Where were you on the day that unleashed conspiracy theories on the United States? Where were you on the day that guaranteed the Vietnam War? Where were you on the day Pierre Salinger told his USF classmate that it would be great for American morale for the NFL to play its Sunday games? Where were you on the day the Dallas Police Force was not up the job? Where were you on the day when the afternoon teacher said: “I don’t care what the Supreme Court said. We need to pray?” Questions, questions, questions? We were going into gym when told the President was shot and then received the fatal news when gym was over.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Fatal Flaw With ObamaCare

ObamaCare is destined to fail. Not because Obama lied and millions paid, although they are. Not because ObamaCare is no longer an abstraction, but is now reality, no matter how grim the reality is. Not because the “Affordable Care Act” is unaffordable to millions, although it is. Not because the “affordability” cost to many is obtained through subsidies, which are unsustainable over time. Countries have met violent reactions when attempting to rein in food and fuel subsidies. Not because the true cost of healthcare will rise for most Americans, although it will. Not because of the rising premiums, which will force millions of “middle class” families to forego health insurance. The high premiums and high deductibles make ObamaCare unaffordable to Americans, the vats majority of Americans, not receiving the subsidies. Not because the increasing unavailability of doctors and hospitals. Not because the penalties for ignoring the individual mandate are easily evaded due to the lack of enforcement powers in the IRS Not because it will be a bureaucratic nightmare, which would make Kafka proud. The British Healthcare System is the largest employer in Western Europe. Not because of the cancelled policy holders, which will have to seek insurance elsewhere. ObamaCare will fail because it violates the fundamental ethos of America. America was founded on individual liberty - the individual, the citizen, the people. ObamaCare is the greatest loss of individual freedom in the history of America. It is a program of the elites forced upon an unwilling people. Today’s elites, like the Leninists of a century ago, know what’s best for the rest of us. The Leninist/elitist mentality failed in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Communist China, Cuba, Vietnam, and even with the Pilgrims. It will fail in the United States. It denies freedom of choice. It denies personal choice – the right to choose one’s coverage, one’s doctor’s, one’s hospital, one’s insurance. It is forcing upon us something “better” in their eyes, while often exempting themselves. They are depriving us of free will and determinism. The dictat of the elite in President Obama’s words was to remove people from their “sub-par” policies. In exchange for dropping the “sub-par” policies, a hypothetical 24 year old single gay male in San Francisco needs to have insurance for maternity care and pediatric dental care. The elites know what’s best for us in health insurance, in education (the “common core”), and food. America was founded on the belief in the Individual, not the belief in a monolithic central government that would provide for us cradle to grave, the Julia of the Obama reelection campaign. Power in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was vested in the people and the states. The Federal Government was to be a government of limited powers. Chief Justice Roberts fundamentally transformed America in his twisted ObamaCare decision. ObamaCare will fail because it subordinates the individual to the state.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today is the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address: Where is President Obama?

Edward Everett delivered the main address at Gettysburg 150 years ago. His two hours long horation was eclipsed by President Lincoln’s 272 words, 272 simple words expressing America in two minutes. The memorable Gettysburg Address, often memorized by school children. The Obama horations, memorized by none, not even the President. President Obama professes to admire President Lincoln. President Obama was twice sworn in on the Lincoln Bible. So where is the great orator of our day? He’s not at Gettysburg. President Lincoln freed the slaves. President Obama is the first African American President of the United States. Where is the President who delivers beautifully cadenced poetry? Is he on the golf course? They exist in Gettysburg and Camp David. Is he out campaigning, yet again? He claims to have one campaign left in him. Is he traveling on vacation? Camp David is only a few miles from Gettysburg. It’s a short drive in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside. Is TOTUS broke? President Lincoln did not need a teleprompter. He spoke from the heart. President Lincoln handwrote his speeches, often toiling over the precise words to use. President Lincoln was a man of simple, basic values. President Lincoln, as was common in his times, was essentially self-educated, but widely read in the classics and history. President Obama spoke at the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s great “I Have a Dream Speech.” President Obama is strangely silent on the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. President Obama sent the Secretary of the Interior to Gettysburg. Who is the Secretary of the Interior? Presidents Lincoln and Obama came to Washington from Illinois. Is President Obama perchance paying a visit today to the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. or the Lincoln Monument in Springfield? Not that we know of. President Lincoln delivered a short speech, expressing American values. His magnificent phrases of the American government “of the people, by the people, for the people ” in a nation dedicated to the principle that “all men are created equal.” President Obama campaigned on class warfare. President Obama uttered “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. Period.” That’s the phrase defining the President today. President Obama’s orations are cadenced, but empty. His phrases “Audacity of Hope,” An economy built to last, ”Nation-building at home,” “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” and “Yes we can” were cribbed from others. His great campaign slogan “Hope and Change” is now “Hope for Change.” President Obama realizes, deep down, that he cannot overshadow President Lincoln. President Obama is apparently in the White House mulling over his falling polls and failing ObamaCare. Presidential advisor Dan Pfeiffer said the President was too busy with "that website thing." Maybe that's the problem. Is the President trying to write code? President Lincoln grew in office. President Obama is sowing a shrinking Presidency. President Lincoln was not governed by polls, but by America.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

More Lawyers Behaving Badly

When in doubt, blame the lawyers in movies and TV shows, unless they are devoured in outhouses by dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Enough lawyers screw up to give the rest of us a bad image. Here’s a few recent examples. John Bruster Loyd filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines on behalf of his clients, Luke Cash and Ami Gallagher. The claim was that they were passengers on the Carnival cruise ship, Triumph, last February when it was stranded at sea without services and amenities. Their wedding had allegedly been scuttled because of the ship’s breakdown. The loving coupe had never been adrift at sea for a week because they were never passengers on the Triumph. They were on land when an engine fire cut off the ship’s power supply. So much for their “deplorable, unsafe, and unsanitary conditions!” Loyd’s response was that he made a mistake, and proceeded to file an amended complaint against the cruise line. The saying is that lawyers who represent themselves have a fool for a client. Divorce and custody disputes can bring out the worse in people, including lawyers. Daniel Evan Schorr of New York didn’t expect his 4 year old son’s reaction on the Tuesday visitation night. He wanted to take his son to the Corner CafĂ© on Third Avenue, but the child demanded his American right of McDonalds. The child threw a temper tantrum. Daniel responded by saying either any restaurant but McDonalds or no dinner. The child chose no dinner. Daniel’s action is unwise in the ongoing divorce and child custody proceedings. The soon-to-be ex Mrs. Schorr won bonus points with Junior by taking him to McDonalds, but that’s not how the McDonalds saga ended. A court appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Marilyn Schiller, filed a report saying Daniel was “wholly incapable of taking care of his son.” Schorr’s degrees from NYU and Oxford apparently did not provide him with wisdom. He has now filed a defamation suit against Dr. Schiller. A hearing is scheduled in December to determine if Daniel Schorr is a fit parent. Some lawyers are recidivist over-billers. Ney McDaniel, a contract lawyer for the Iowa public defender’s office, billed for more than 24 hours on 80 days. The state claims $178,000 in improper payments. Ben Swift, a court appointed attorney in Dayton, billed courts for indigent defense clients an average of nine hours per day, seven days a week for 365 straight days. Another clichĂ© is that “The law is a jealous mistress,” but this one billed 29 hours for one day and over 20 hours for other days. It is theoretically possible to bill for 27 hours in one day by flying from the east coast to the west coast, but Ben was staying in Dayton. Tal Rappleyea of Kinderhook, New York represented several towns and Columbia County in New York. He billed the multiple clients 24.75 hours on June 14, 2010 and 26 hours on September 26, 2010. It may not be a record but he billed for 93.75 hours in one week in September. None of this though matched the antics of two married lawyers, Jill and Kent Easter, in Orange County, California. Kelli Peters was the PTO President and an-after hours volunteer at Playa Vista Elementary School. Jill was upset when Kelli was slow in bringing the Easter’s son to the front after school ended one afternoon in February 2010. They got into a verbal confrontation in which Jill said “I’ll get you” to Kelli. Kent, or was it Jill, drove to the Peters home early on February 16, 2011 and planted a bad of drugs in Kelli’s unlocked PT Cruiser. The plastic sandwich bag contained 40 Vicodin and Percocet pills, 17 grams of marijuana, and a marijuana pipe. He later phoned the police claiming he had seen Peters driving erratically in the school’s parking lot. Police detained Kelli for two hours, gave her a field sobriety check, and searched her house with her permission. They found no evidence that she used or possessed drugs, and did not arrest her. The investigating officer smelt a rat. The lawyers did it. Further investigation showed that the call was made from the Business Center at the Island Hotel Newport Beach, a few blocks from Kent’s office. Video cameras showed a man looking like Kent entering and leaving the business center. DNA from the Easters, but not the Peters, was found on the pills. Kent has admitted to making the phone call. The police also found plastic bags matching the planted bag in the Easter’s residence. Jill Easter pled guilty to one count of false imprisonment two weeks ago. Kent is currently on trial on the same charge. He’s been fired from his firm, and the once loving couple have separated. Both will lose their law licenses. Her degrees are from Berkeley and Boalt Hall; his from Stanford and UCLA Law School, proving once again that pedigree is no guarantee of intelligence. There may be no honor among thieves or married lawyers. Kent’s defense is that he was bullied by Jill; he lacks a backbone, or as we would say in the O.C. “cojones.” He claims to be the trusting husband of a dishonest wife, who also cheated on him. He also asserts Jill panted the drugs.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The New Cry: It's Not the President: It's the Insurance Companies

The ObamaCare War on Insurance Companies “When in doubt, demonize!” That is the Obama campaign strategy: “Fat cat bankers,” overpaid corporate execs, corporate execs, greedy oil companies, conventions in Las Vegas, and insurance companies have been his targets in the past. He has special animus for the Tea Party. President Obama is not cancelling insurance policies. He said you could keep your policy. The “grandfather clause” guaranteed it. He meant it. Noone forced the insurance companies to cancel policies. That is the Party Line. The public won’t understand that Kathleen Sebelius and Health and Human Services issued regulations three years ago that effectively nullified the grandfather clause. The effect of the regulationss was that the grandfather clause would be inapplicable if he insurer made any major modification since 2010. Such modifications could include increased co-pays or premiums or changes in coverage. Even a $5 increase in premiums would nullify the nullify the grandfather clause. The insurers warned the Obama Administration three years ago that they would have to cancel the policies. That was the plan of the Obama Administration. The insurance companies were implicit in the enactment of ObamaCare and the cancellation of the existing private health insurance policies. They were led to believe that ObamaCare would result in a flood of new customers that would result in higher profits. Existing policyholders would have to buy new policies at higher premiums and deductibles. That was their illusion. The Administration and insurers are truly shocked at the backlash of the 5% and their dependents now cut off of their policies, the “sub-standard,” policies they were satisfied with. The insurers now realize that their actuarial assumptions are wrong. Their costs through adverse selection will greatly exceed premiums. The good news for the largest health insurers, such as Aetna, CIGNA, and United HealthCare is that they wisely stayed out of most of the exchanges for individual policies. The insureds under the new plans will receive substantial premium increases next year at this time. A dozen insurance execs met with the President today. They could not be assuaged after the President double crossed them yesterday. He announced yesterday that he will allow the insurance companies to continue to issue existing policies even if they did not meet all the requirements of ObamaCare. He knows that the regulation and issuance of the policies is subject to the jurisdiction of state insurance regulators. An insurance company cannot unilaterally issue policies in a state. Neither the insurers nor regulators are amenable to reissue the cancelled policies, all 5 million to date. They would undoubtedly lose substantial sums of money in doing so, and then have to re-rescind them next year. They also know that the President lacks the right to ignore the mandatory provisions in the statute. Yet the President yesterday tried to shift the onus to the insurers for cancelling he existing private health insurance policies and their failure to reissue them. The President gave them permission, and they will not comply. Thus, it is the insurers’ fault – not his. The Congressional Democrats are echoing the President’s words like shrieking banshees. The President was conciliatory in requesting the insurers reopen the existing policies. It’s the insurers who will appear unreasonable. Noone likes them anyways; they will make the perfect patsies in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

26,794 Reasons Validate Senator Ted Cruz, the Tea Party and the GOP Shutdown of the Government

Senator Ted Cruz was pilloried by the media and the Democrats for his one day filibuster against the budget. The media and Democrats continued their talking points use of the Tea Party as a political punching bag. The Republican “shutdown” of the government a month ago was portrayed as a suicide pact by the Republicans. President Obama and the Democrats won the political and rhetorical battle over the shutdown. At the Time. Remember what the shutdown was about? ObamaCare and the subsidies to members of Congress and their staff were the focal points of the Republican House. They sought a one year delay in the individual mandate. The House and Senate Democrats went on the record, voting against an extension of the individual mandate. They are on the record (modern video and digital recording last forever on the internet) blindly echoing the President’s blanket statement about keeping your insurance and doctors. The same Democrats are crying for relief today – for themselves. They are crying for an extension, at least for the individual health insurance plans. Their recorded words in praise of ObamaCare will be used against them in 2014. They blindly followed Speaker Pelosi carrying the gavel into the gavel. They blindly voted for the bill, never having read it. They were blind in understanding the bill. They blindly followed President Obama’s lead through the budget fight, and now three weeks later, they see the political light. It is blinding as it shines on their ignorance. 26,794 Americans signed up through the federal exchange in 36 states for Obamacare. Over 5 million individual health policies have been cancelled in the same time. California was praised for enrolling 35,364 residents in Covered California, the California health exchange. Over 1 million individual health insurance policies have been cancelled in California. Covered California told the private health insurance companies in California that they would have to cancel their individual plans by January 1, 2014, throwing these insureds into the exchange. So much for “If you like your current insurance company, you can keep it. Period.” ObamaCare is creating more uninsured Americans than it is removing from the uninsured ranks. Senator Cruz is right. ObamaCare is a disaster. The Tea Party is right. ObamaCare in an abomination. The Congressional Republicans are right. ObamaCare is a failure. The Democrats have enacted a health insurance plan that is imploded even before coverage takes place on January 1, 2014. ObamaCare is imploding even before the economic contradictions in the plan take effect. ObamaCare is imploding even before the federal subsidies become unsustainable ObamaCare is imploding even before the insureds, or potential insureds, can find out which doctors and hospitals are in the plan. ObamaCare is unraveling even before most Americans determine how high their premiums will be under ObamaCare. ObamaCare is removing millions of Americans from the full time employment ranks. ObamaCare is failing even before the Americans covered by it discover they cannot obtain medical care in fact because of the lack of doctors. ObamaCare is failing even before the nation’s youth and healthy can evade the individual mandate by under-withholding their federal income taxes. Senator Cruz, the Tea Party, and the House Republicans warned us. ObamaCare registered only 105,000 between the federal and state exchanges in its first month – far short of the expected 500,000. How many of the 105,000 “enrollees” are actually enrolled was not revealed. It is less than 105,000 since formal enrollment does not occur until they have paid a premium. Senator Cruz was right in his filibuster, and is right. The Tea Party and Republican Party were right, and are right.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Michigan's Football Team Needs a Sports Psychologist

Michigan Needs a Sports Psychologist Michigan’s football team needs a sports psychologist. There should be one available in the university’s top ranked Psychology Department. Make the call! A sports psychologist can get into the heads of the athletes, overcome problems, instill confidence, enhance performance, and get them to handle pressure. Coaches can do it, but it’s too late with Team 134. Attitude, the “Tude,”Swagger, Arrogance, Cockiness, Smugness, Bluster, call it what you want, defines the great teams. Lose it and you become one of the mediocre patsies. Have it and you know you can pull out the game at the end. Think of John Elway, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, the Mannings, Alabama, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders. Michigan had it. Michigan had it when it came from behind to beat Michigan State, and Michael Hart proclaimed Michigan State as “Little Brother.” Michigan lost it seven years ago in the Appalachian State game. Michigan has stopped believing in itself. The players practice hard. They’re physical. Their heart is into it. They just stopped believing. It’s not their fault they stopped believing. Michigan’s two kickers could hit almost every field goal in practice four years ago during Rich Rodriquez’s last year. They just couldn’t make a field goal during the game. They did not believe. Their lack of confidence became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Michigan’s offensive guards no longer believe they can block. They block in practice, but cannot block in a game because they know they can’t. Penn State; three muffed field goals, any one of which would have won the game. Penn State: 28 yards rushing on 30 attempts by two tailbacks. Michigan State: - 46 yards rushing. Nebraska: -21 yards rushing. Seven QB sacks in both games. They no longer believe. It's not their fault. They cannot carry out the plays called by Al Borges, the offensive coordinator. The opposing teams, even the fans in the stands, at home, and in the sports bars, know what’s coming – stuffed in the backfield. Brady Hoke said three years ago “This is Michigan; God’s sake.” Today’s Michigan football team is not the team Bo handed to Mo, who passed it on to Lloyd. Today’s Michigan team is not the one Brady wants it to be. Today’s Michigan team is not the one he remembers. That Michigan sent scores of linemen and defensive backs to the pros. This Michigan needs to send them to a sports psychologist. Brady Hoke and Al Borges, the OC, also need a sports psychologist. They are in a constant state of denial. The plays work on the chalkboard. Thus they should work as diagrammed in the game. They are in denial. They believe after Akron, UConn, Penn State, and Michigan State that Michigan can run the ball. They believe that Michigan can block. They believe that Michigan can play smash mouth football. That Michigan left the Big House six years ago. They believe because they are in denial. They believe because they are in denial of the spread offense. They believe that Denard Robinson last year and Devin Gardner this year can line up under center and run a pro set offense. They are in denial. Devin Gardner can neither run nor throw because the blockers can neither run block nor pass block. Gardner is also too banged up to run. No football player should take the punishment he’s received the past month. The running backs can’t run behind the line and don’t block. The kicker has regressed to where he was four years ago. The young tight ends have to be kept in the line as blockers. Soon it will spread to the defense. So much was expected of Team 134. It's not a lack of physicality. It's in their heads. A sports psychologist can work miracles with the minds of athletes. Also with the minds of coaches.

Surprise, Surprise in Surprise, Arizona as Rural/Metro Bills for Watching a House Burn Down

The Purcells returned home as Rural/Metro firefighters were putting out hot spots where their house had been a short time earlier. Neighbors and the firefighters had watched the house burn down. Rural/Metro sent the Purcells a $19,825 itemized bill two weeks later for their failed effort to save the house. The Purcells are shocked. Rural/Metro is charging almost $20,000 for their failure. It may be of legal significance, depending on the laws of Arizona, that the Purcells never requested assistance from Rural/Metro. In other words, Rural/Metro is charging for services that were neither requested nor performed. The Purcells house was at 163th Ave. and Dixileta in an unincorporated area of Surprise, Arizona. Neither they nor their neighbors knew the area was also outside the fire fighting territory of the Surprise Fire Department. Volunteer fire fighting districts are common in rural areas, but Rural/Metro Fire Department fills the void in many areas in 21 states. The company provides ambulance and fire fighting services, often on a contractual basis for commercial accounts. Even metropolitan fire departments often charge for emergency ambulance services today, Scores of smaller communities in Texas will charge the fire insurance company a “fire service cost recovery” fee for fighting the fire at an insured residence. The general expectation though is that fire fighting is covered by property taxes. That’s what the Purcells and their neighbors thought. Their property taxes include a “fire district assistance tax,” which they reasonable thought covered fire protection. It turns out to be a county-wide tax intended to help volunteer fire departments. Rural/Metro lets many rural resident pay an annual subscriber’s fee of roughly $500 to cover fire fighting, but the fine print provides “Reaction times may vary.” The nearest Rural/metro fire station is about 20 miles from the Purcells community. The options therefore for rural Americans in the Purcell situation are 1) Pay the subscriber fee, but with no certainty of a timely response; 2) Pay a large bil if the for-profit company arrives to fight the fire, or 3) attempt to form a volunteer fire fighting organization. The South Fulton Fire Department in rural Obion County, Tennessee refused in 2010 to fight a fire at a house whose owner had forgotten to pay the annual $75 fee. They arrived at the house, parked the fire engine, and watched the house burn down. They similarly acted a year later when the owner of another house hadn’t paid the fee because she never thought her house would catch on fire. Let me add that Rural/Metro filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 4, 2013 with $735 million in debt.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Terry McAullife's Virginia Victory leads to Democratic Angst and President Obama's Quasi-Apology

Terry McAuliffe was scheduled to win Virginia by 15-20 percent over a “hapless” Republican, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The government shutdown played poorly in Northern Virginia, where the voters are government employees. The AG was tarred with the Tea Party. Attorney General Cuccinelli’s earlier pro-life and anti-gay marriage remarks were broadcast against him. McAuliffe was leading by 30-40% among women. McAuliffe followed the Obama Playbook. He demonized Cuccinelli early and often without a response, sinking the AG’s reputation with Virginia voters. He outspent the AG by almost $15 million, and 10-1 in the last week of the campaign. Cuccinelli was toast. The media told us so. McAuliffe barely won, a margin of 55,000 votes out of over 2.2 million cast. Cuccinelli won Republicans and Independents in the election. Terry McAuliffe, the bagman for the Clintons, also pulled a page out of the Clinton playbook. Governor Clinton won in 1992 because H. Ross Perot, a third party candidate sucked votes away from President George H.W. Bush, throwing the election to Clinton. A Democrat funded the third party Libertarian candidacy of Robert Sarvis, who received 145,560 votes, splitting the anti-McAuliffe vote. A few more days or a few more dollars and McAuliffe would have lost. ObamaCare has become an albatross around the neck of Democrats. 15 Democratic Senators up for reelection next year met with the President yesterday. They remember the 2010 elections. The Tea Party is not dead, but ObamaCare is alive but not well. The Senators had followed the Pied Piper of ObamaCare down the line like lemmings. Vote after vote – no straying from the Obama path, but now self-preservation is setting in. “If you like your plan, you can keep it. Period.” “If you like your doctor, you can keep him. Period.” Yes you can. No you can’t. As of this morning 4.3 million Americans had their private health insurance plans cancelled. “Read my lips. No new taxes.” President Obama is following in the footsteps of President George H. W. Bush. When repeated often enough, a catchy political slogan can become a covenant with the American people. “Read my lips; you get to keep your insurer and doctors.” The President started down the road to apology today. He sounded like he was dragged in kicking and screaming. What he really said was “I guess they weren’t so grandfathered after all,” echoing his remark about the non-shovel ready jobs in the Stimulus Bill. His apology, that is half apology, quasi apology, faux apology, pseudo apology, was as follows: “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.” He sounded like he was dragged kicking and screaming into the interview with a friendly Chuck Todd from NBC. He clinged, like he once said of rural Pennsylvanians bitterly clinging to their guns and religion, to his talking points. Only about 5% of Americans will lose their policies (that's 15 million working Americans), their sub-par polices, because he wants all Americans to have the policy he believes is best for them. He also said “We weren’t as clear as we needed to be.” He was as clear as he needed to be to get the bill enacted and his reelection assured. Why would anyone believe anything he says? The President said “His team” will see what we could do. That is decisive leadership? He has two simple ways to allow Americans to keep their policies. The first would be to have Secretary Sebelius rewrite the three year old regulations which render it impossible for Americans to keep their policies. HHS could actually grandfather the existing policies, but that was never the plan.. The second approach would be to let Congress vote on preserving the existing policies. He’s scared to let Congress, especially House Republicans, have a shot at ObamaCare. The bad news for Virginia is that Terry McAuliffe is similar to California’s recalled Gray Davis. His only political skill is raising money.