Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Praise Be to Somebody"

By Guest Blogger: Molly Seymour Ghahtani*


I have been taking personal notes on different religions and their meanings lately. Some of them plain piss me off, including certain points of my very own Catholic religion. I find it really, really hard to understand some of the justifications of beliefs of religious laws written by MEN hundreds, even thousands of years ago. But we trudge on, blindly reciting and following and kneeling and praying and hoping that all of this is worth something someday. I believe it is but there are some finer points I beg to differ with.

I cannot imagine that God loves one person on this earth any less than the other. Tall, short, Muslim, thin, fat, disabled, Republican, gay, straight, married, Jewish, divorced, Democrat, Catholic, happy, Baptist, sad, angry, Buddhist, male, female.... you get the picture. God is supposedly all-forgiving, because we are, after all, humans who inherently make mistakes. I make mistakes every single day. But I know my God forgives me.

I take great issue with the fact that religions, such as Islam, believe that their god, Allah, values the worth of a woman to be half that of a man. Pardon me, Allah , and all your worldwide followers but screw that that shit. I am just as worthy of the same rights, love, values, and respect as any man. And as the mother of two daughters, I am extremely offended that anyone should tell my girls women are less important than men. Because I have a vagina and breasts and can bear children, I am the lesser sex? I am not supposed to go pray to my God while I am having my period because I am "unclean"? Really? Because I find that absolutely LUDICROUS.


Why don't you tell my daughters that boys are better than them? Boys are entitled to more in life and they should be able to do it first. Tell them their opinions and thoughts come second to a man's. What god would do this? Not my god. My god values ALL humans equally. But it is a person's right to believe what their faith tells them.

I thank MY god every day for living in a country that allows me to enjoy the freedom to practice and believe exactly whatever the hell I want to believe. If I want to pray to Jesus Christ, Buddha, even an alien, I can do as I choose. America is an amazing place.But there are parts of the world that view America as evil. Even though we give them millions of dollars, purchase an un-Godly (pardon the pun) amount of oil from them, and stand at arm's length in fear of pissing them off. I am also in awe at extremist factions of "religions" who believe their reward in the afterlife will be duly rewarded should they go to any length to destroy, murder, even commit suicide to rid this earth of what an insane "fundamentalist" leader deems as “evil”.

Exactly what is the fundamental base for your beliefs besides your own personal agenda? You are fundamentally jacked in the head, in my humble WOMANLY opinion. This might only count for HALF of what you consider worthy of noting but I am sure I can gather more than enough members of my gender to double your worthless ideals. God, I love America....


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* Note from "The Sage". Molly Seymour Ghahtani is a suburban mom, originally from Michigan, married to her husband Sultan for 13 years. They have two daughters and live in the Chicago area. Molly says, "I teach dance part-time and love to write as sarcastically as possible. I tend to rant about what ails me (parenthood, children, drunk bimbos at the bar, etc.) with excessive profanity that might shock the mommies of some of my 3 year-old ballet students. The thing that makes me tick? Making people laugh!! Someday I'd love to write a screenplay, get a book published, or conquer something with my "funny" to make me end up on a red carpet somewhere. A girl can dream, can't she?" You can read Molly's blog and get a sense of her perspective on life at http://www.ohstewardessispeakjive.blogspot.com/
ALL POLITE DEBATE AND VARYING POINTS OF VIEW ARE ENCOURAGED AND WELCOMED. PLEASE USE THE “COMMENT” LINK BELOW
TO OFFER YOUR THOUGHTS

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Be A "Guest Blogger" at The Sage of Tampa.

After all these months of sharing my thoughts and insights about politics and culture with you I thought it might be fun to let YOU share some thoughts of your own here at "The Sage of Tampa". So, I'm sending out this invitataion to ANYONE of any political persuausion or any cultural bent who would like to be a "Guest Blogger" and has something relevant to say. Yes, whether you're a Conservative with an agenda or a Progressive/Liberal with a message. . .put it in writing and over the next few weeks "The Sage" will publish it. . .word for word. But there are just a couple of rules:

1. No f-bombs

2. No over-the-top name-calling (e.g. "those a**hole Liberals" or "dumb s**t Republicans" etc.)

3. Keep it to 800 words or less.

Otherwise- - -go for it.

For obvious reasons I don't share the site password with anyone so you'll have to send your post to me as an MS Word doc via e-mail to: hal_1945@msn.com. I'll publish it without edits (other than any overlooked typos or the like). Also, if you want to send along a short bio for "intro" purposes that's OK, too. I'm more than happy to pump you up a bit. I usually publish new stuff on Sundays.

First publishing preference will go to those with points of view differing from "The Sage", especially to anyone who can offer an articulate response to either of the following questions:

1. We constantly hear Liberals and others making comments about how Bush/Cheney ran all over the Constitution and took away their "rights". So what I want to know is: "What SPECIFIC Constitutional right did you have under Clinton/Gore that Bush/Cheney took away from you and by what means and- - - when will/did Obama/Biden restore that right to you?"

2. Liberals consistently brand Conservatives as racists and in so doing shift the focus of the Liberal-v-Conservative debate to race and nothing more inspite of the fact that the following CORE VALUES are at the heart of Conservative thinking:

*Self-reliance
*Personal responsibility
*Hard work
*Personal accountability
*Entrepreneurism
*Less government intrusion into our lives
*Neighborliness
*Valuing education
*Private ownership
*The right to reap the rewards of one’s own success
*The right to fail
*The right to pass these values on to our children without public intervention.

Without "playing the race card" can you make a cogent argument against those CORE VALUES? If you can, I promise you will be among the very first guest bloggers to be heard.

So that's it. It's that simple. Write something relevant. Keep it clean. Make it logical. Be reasonably polite. Support your argument with facts where you can not just emotions and rhetoric and your voice will be heard.

"The Sage of Tampa".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do Bankers Deserve Their Current Reputation?

There was a time, fairly recently, when lawyers were the personification of greed and the subject of countless jokes. But not now. Today’s stories of greed and selfishness are being told about Bankers- - -people who, only 2 years ago, were consistently reported to be among the most admired of all professionals. But do bankers deserve that reputation? Or has the Obama Administration put them in that position in order to gain enough leverage to nationalize the banking system?

This is a complex and highly complicated issue. So forgive me if I start off with a little "Banking 101" here. In the end I hope this response will be comprehensive yet simplified and clear.

All COMMERCIAL BANKS- - -WITHOUT EXCEPTION- - are subject to Federal regulatory examination at least 3 times during each 18 month time span. Troubled banks are "examined" more frequently. One examination is a "Compliance Exam"- - -how well does the bank comply with various federal regs like 'Truth-in-Lending', 'Truth-in-Savings', the "Bank Security Act" and about 20 other regs that have little to do with how "financially sound" a bank may be.

Another separate examination - - -the "CRA Exam" is devoted strictly to how well the bank complies with "The Community Re-Investment Act". This is the government regulation promulgated under Jimmy Carter that FORCED banks to make business and other loans in blighted and run down areas like Watts, South Central L.A., Liberty City, Cicero and so on. "Pressuring and picketing" those banks that may not have fully complied or possibly could not comply is precisely how and why ACORN got it's start. But, I digress.

The most comprehensive of the 3 examinations is the "Safety and Soundness Exam"- - -that's the examination from which Federal Regulators determine how "safe and sound" a bank may be and what is its likelihood of success or. . . failure. During the Safety and Soundness Exam all banks are given a C.A.M.E.L. rating ranging from ONE (the best) to FIVE (the worst). And each element of C.A.M.E.L. is also rated from ONE to FIVE. The CAMEL acronym stands for:
*CAPITAL- -does the bank have sufficient capital to do a banking business and keep sufficient reserves to absorb losses.
*ASSETS- - what is the quality of the bank's assets, which for the most part are its portfolio of loans and other investments and the real estate it owns.
*MANAGEMENT- -the skill, ability and experience of the 3 or 4 most senior executives and the Board of Directors to manage the business of the bank and make sound decisions.
*EARNINGS- -quite simply the bank's ability to be profitable.
*LIQUIDITY- -does the bank have enough cash and other liquid assets to meet its routine daily operations, honor the checks drawn against it, fund loans etc.
For the purposes of the rest of this discussion I'm going to deal only with the C and A of CAMEL- - -Capital and Assets.

When Federal Examiners look at a bank's loan portfolio- - -the largest portion of the bank's assets- -they assess the value of the collateral held on that loan (if any) and the probabilty of that loan being repaid. They then rate that loan as "Pass"- - -meaning the loan is OK and does not require any special attention; or "Substandard"- -meaning the loan doesn't quite measure up and there is SOME possibilty the bank might take SOME loss on the loan, or "Doubtful"- -meaning there is significant doubt about the value of the collateral and the borrower's ability to pay, or "Loss"- -meaning the value of the callateral is zero and the borrower is unable to pay thus the remaining balance on the loan will be lost. Once this assessment is complete the bank is required by law to "reserve" or hold back capital funds in amounts equal to 25% of the "Substandard" loans, 50% of the "Doubtful" loans and, 100% of the "Loss" loans.

Then there is the O.R.E.O. portfolio- - -Other Real Estate Owned- - -the properties the bank has gotten back through the process of foreclosure. In better times and better years Federal Examiners usually required the banks to reserve about 10% to 15% of the total amount of its OREO portfolio because it was assumed the bank could sell the property, in most cases, for the amount remaining on the loan or perahps even more. But times have changed. Today the Feds are requiring the banks to reserve an amount equal to 100% of their OREO portfolio even though the value of the properties may be anywhere from 50% to 90% of the loan amount. This amounts to a HUGE amount of money that CAN'T BE LOANED to businesses or other borrowers. Yes, the FEDS shelled out TARP money to the banks to help keep them solvent when the housing crisis first hit but, the Feds under the 'leadership' of Tim Geithner, Obama's boy wonder, did not alter the reserve requirements to loosen up capital- - -THEY TIGHTENED RESERVE REQUIREMENTS instead and made loan funds harder to come by.

If, Heaven forbid, I were to be thrust into the role of being a bank CEO once again, I would do exactly what today's prudent bankers are doing. . .maximizing my profits anyway I can to build my capital base and fund my reserves on my own without further government help. Why? Because if they don't and the housing crisis gets worse or the commercial real estate market collapses the banks might need government money and intervention AGAIN. And this time, the Obama Administration has let it be known, the price for such intervention will be to NATIONALIZE the banks the same way they nationalized the auto industry. And nationalizing healthcare and the banking system is what has happened in EVERY country run by dictators such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez or their wannabees.

American Bankers are determined not to let that happen here even if it creates some temporary pain for small business and cramps entrepreneurship.So, even though it is in current vogue to demonize bankers you may want to re-think that position. It is entirely possible that US Bankers may be our first line of defense against turning the this country into a European style Socialist Democracy.


ALL POLITE DEBATE AND VARYING POINTS OF VIEW ARE ENCOURAGED AND WELCOMED. PLEASE USE THE “COMMENT” LINK BELOW TO OFFER YOUR THOUGHTS.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

THANK YOU, JIMMY CARTER.


Yes, that’s right. I said, thank-you Jimmy Carter, we Conservatives will forever be in your debt for your inane and ill-considered comments made this past week claiming that Conservative opposition to Obama is rooted in racism. And while I’m at it, thank you to NBC for being irresponsible enough to give him airtime. What? You missed Carter’s pathetic performance in progressivism? Well here’s where you can see it. http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=Jimmy+Carter&hl=en&emb=0&aq=f

Carter’s remarks coming on the heels of the 9/12 March on Washington DC were the topic of much of the heated and emotionally charged online debate in the middle of last week. People who often stay out of the fray were, because of the incendiary nature of his assertions, given to highly agitated responses both for and against his position. But I was mind-boggled that not one Liberal or Progressive I communicated with last week was capable of associating the 9/12 March with anything other than racial issues and to them the words of a former President were all the rationale they needed to brand over a half million protestors as racists. In fact, one comment I received from a Progressive I know well really made me stop and think. He said, “How come I didn’t see any people of color at that rally carrying signs that said “Give Us OUR Country Back’?

When Liberals and Progressives hear Conservatives say, “Give us our country back” they apparently believe that to be ‘code’ for “we want a WHITE America”, not a statement that says we want to return to traditional values - - -values that can be and are supported by people of all colors. They refuse to acknowledge that we want to return to values such as:


*Self-reliance
*Personal responsibility
*Hard work
*Personal accountability
*Entrepreneurism
*Less government intrusion into our lives
*Neighborliness
*Valuing education
*Private ownership
*The right to reap the rewards of one’s own success
*The right to fail
*The right to pass these values on to our children without public intervention.

Instead, they insist, we are all racists because they saw SOME people in the 9/12 March carrying signs with swastikas, others with Hitler style mustaches drawn on BHO’s picture and, even a few idiots with signs likening BHO and his staff to monkeys- - -images NBC was too glad to air over and over again as the only footage worthy of being shown from the event.

But, I still couldn’t help but wonder why Liberals and Progressives and that embarrassment of an ex-President, James Earl Carter, persisted against all logic to brand millions of Conservatives as ‘racists’ because of the actions of a few. And then it hit me. It’s because Liberals and Progressives have no cogent, logical and sustainable argument against the traditional values I mentioned above. They simply cannot build a case as to why those values are wrong so they need to shift the debate away from those values by odious tactics such as name-calling and branding. And BHO buys into that position completely.



Because BHO is black the Far Left and Carter shift the debate away from “traditional values” to "race" and brand all dissenters as racists. If BHO had been “gay” they would have shifted the debate to gender identity and branded Conservatives as “homophobes.” If Hillary Clinton had been President the debate shift would have included charges of sexism against those in dissent. But, in no case would it ever have included a reasoned argument against the traditional values that are at the core of Conservatism. They will always shift the argument away from traditional values and onto something else. In fact, I’m quite certain that either publicly or privately I will get a response from some liberal zealot attempting to shift the focus from the traditional values listed above to so-called family values and the charges of “hypocrisy” being leveled because of the human failings of some prominent Republicans. (Yes, of course they will ignore John Edwards and Bill Clinton, that’s no surprise.)

So again, let me say, “Thank you” Jimmy Carter. You have exposed yourself and all your friends on the Far Left for the frauds that you are. You don’t have the courage to argue against the call for a return to traditional values. You don’t have the intellect, in spite of your PhDs and elite educations, to build a cogent argument against those values. You can engage only in obfuscation and name calling. You have no game and now the whole world knows it. We Conservatives are forever in your debt.



ALL POLITE DEBATE AND VARYING POINTS OF VIEW ARE ENCOURAGED AND WELCOMED. PLEASE USE THE “COMMENT” LINK BELOW TO OFFER YOUR THOUGHTS.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Visit To Ground Zero: A Personal Story of New York After 9/11.


This past Friday was the 8th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. The images of the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and, of course, the devastated towers of The World Trade Center in New York City will remain with all Americans forever. But, for those of us who actually experienced the sights, sounds and smells of the aftermath of the attacks in New York, the memories are somewhat different. In remembrance of the the attacks of 9/11 I want to share with you the letter I wrote to friends and family after visting "ground zero" on November 4, 2001, just six short weeks after that horrible day.

My wife and I just returned from New York. We went there to cheer on and support our oldest daughter who ran in and completed the New York City Marathon last Sunday. We arrived on Saturday, staying at the Hilton on Avenue of the Americas in mid-town Manhattan. And even though we have been there many times, we still spent most of Saturday walking around 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Plaza and, of course, Times Square.

Sunday was dedicated to the Marathon and our daughter's participation in it. And let me tell you, the New Yorkers were incredible! They cheered the runners enthusiastically exhorting them to “hang-in-there” and “keep going” just as though every runner was a member of their own family. And they did this not only for the elite runners at the front of the pack but for the average runners and stragglers alike—from the 11:00 AM start until the dark early hours of the evening.

On Monday, we went to the Empire State Building and spent an hour on the newly re-opened 86th floor observation deck braving the wind and enjoying the views. Then we went to “ground zero.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like there. “Awe” is the word that comes to mind first— ‘awe’-some, ‘awe’-inspiring, ‘awe’-full. In fact, the experience borders on sensory overload—sight, sound, smell, taste and touch are all challenged by the remains and aftermath of September 11, 2001, just a scant 6 weeks ago.

The “sight” of the charred buildings blackened by the fires and twisted into unsolvable puzzles of iron and steel by the explosions hits you first. Then, as your eyes survey the scene, you are forced to stop and dwell on the hose cranes still pouring water on the yet burning fires below and the clouds of steam and ash continuing to rise from what must be, tragically, the world’s largest and most active crematorium. At that venue, it is relatively quiet with only the sounds of traffic on the streets behind you and the faint rumble of heavy equipment in front of you. From the scattered clumps of astonished bystanders, there is no audible sound.

Just fifty yards or so farther south down the sidewalk is a Catholic church that was blackened on 9-11 but otherwise undamaged. It is still the feeding station and contemplative refuge for the workers at ‘ground zero.’ And along the 8-foot high wrought-iron fence that runs the length of the block in front of the church are thousands of ‘memorials’ left by people from all over the world. Banners, cards, floral arrangements, stuffed animals, posters of missing loved ones and messages of support, sympathy and encouragement in hundreds of languages are affixed to almost every square foot of that fence. As you stand there taking it in, you slowly become aware of the cacophony of languages being spoken around you as people seek to find just a little space to leave one more flower or write one more message of support— “for your country from my country”—as one man said to me. There is also something deeply spiritual and maybe even ‘religious’ about this particular aspect of the ‘ground zero’ experience.

In Genesis, Chapter 11, the story of the “Tower of Babel” is told. In it, the descendents of Shem BUILD a ‘tower unto heaven’ but the motives for building the tower are displeasing to God so He “confounds” their language. Thus the workers, unable to communicate with one another, abandon the CONSTRUCTION of the tower and disperse themselves throughout the world. How strange it is that the DESTRUCTION of the World Trade Center Towers has brought people from all over the world to convene at this spot in front of a church and that no matter what tongue they speak the message seems clear and somehow the language is not “confounded.”

Farther down the street, the ‘entrepreneurs’ are at work. In whatever manner and on whatever medium the ‘Stars and Stripes’ can be replicated, you will find it for sale by an immigrant street vendor. On pins. On jackets. On caps. On glasses, cards, posters and photos, old bricks, wooden planks—anything anyone can deem as tasteful or tasteless—everywhere you turn is an image of “Old Glory.” There is no excuse for failing to find your own desired way of displaying your “patriotism.” And then there are the scammers and schemers. Con-artists all, looking to find a way to get you to put cash in their buckets for “the victim’s families, you know.”

But above all, there is the ash. It coats every surface and grinds its way into every opening. It stings your eyes. It crunches between your teeth and crackles under your shoes. It drifts along with the wind and brings with it the underlying and faint but unmistakable scent and taste of decay and death. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

These 15 square city blocks comprise truly hallowed ground. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s not.

Hal Andrews

November 5, 2001

Monday, September 7, 2009

What Do We Mean When We Say What We Say?

If you read these posts on a regular basis you have every reason to believe “The Sage” is totally consumed by politics and the continuing struggle between Progressive and Conservative ideologies. To some degree that’s true. I am intrigued by the Yin and Yang of our two party system and the broad spectrum of ideas and values the system has spawned. But not today. No politics. I have a different “issue” to rail about today; the issue of the inadequacy of the English language.

As an undergrad I was an English major and I must admit that even though I am a terrible typist and punctuation isn’t my strong suit, I am a committed grammar and vocabulary snob. And nothing irritates me more than the overuse of certain words to the point at which they’ve lost their original meaning or their ability to convey intent, depth, intensity or difference. Take the word “great” for instance.

The folks who compile Webster’s Dictionary tell us that “great” means, among other definitions, “remarkable or outstanding in magnitude, degree or extent.” Yet consider the use of the word ‘great’ when it comes to sports and sports announcers. In that context a routine backhanded snag by a third baseman going to the hole and then making a long throw to first is hailed as a “great play.” The commonplace 15 yard reception by a wide-out going across the middle and reaching above his head to make the grab is acclaimed as a “great catch” and is usually accompanied by the exclamation that the quarterback made a “great throw.” And, the three-point shot launched from just beyond the line never touching the rim as it drops cleanly through the net is, expectedly, described by every basketball color-man these days as “great.” So, if all these routine sports feats are great what word do we use to describe the feats that are truly “remarkable or outstanding”? I simply don’t know. That's what I mean by the inadequacy of our language.

Then there is the problem of the word “love”. Wow, talk about words that are overused to the point of confusion and lack of clarity, intensity and depth, the word “love” leads the list. Another look at Webster’s lets us know that love is generally intended to mean “an intense affection for another person. . .” Yet somehow in our modern world we love our dog. We love football or baseball or hockey. We love Thai food. We love our kids, our sibs, our parents and grandparents. We love God and God loves us. We love the color red or blue or green. We love Oreos, chocolate ice cream and a really good donut. We love old Scotch and fresh beer. We love our friends. We love our jobs and our officemates. We love our cars and our homes. We love roses. We love the seashore and the ski slopes. And, yes, we even love politics.

In fact, there’s hardly anything we don’t “love” anymore. But if we love all these things –some significant, some not– what term do we reserve for that person for whom we have an “intense affection”? How do we tell them that affection is different yet greater than the affection we have for our dog, or our kids or- - - Oreos? What do we say to the one individual in our lives who excites, energizes and inspires us? What do we say to the person who is the intense focus of that affection? What do we say to the only person who fills the hole in our soul and heals us? Somehow, “I love you” just seems to lack depth and intensity and doesn’t convey the difference between adoring someone and simply liking them. But until a better word comes along, “love” will have to do. So, when you say "I love you" to that person who invades your dreams and is the face on all your fantasies – make sure you say it with the depth and intensity that cannot be mistaken for something less.


ALL POLITE DEBATE AND VARYING POINTS OF VIEW ARE ENCOURAGED AND WELCOMED. PLEASE USE THE “COMMENT” LINK BELOW TO OFFER YOUR THOUGHTS.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Lesson Learned From Ted Kennedy

The year is 1982. Ronald Reagan is in the second year of his first term as President of the United States. Terrell Bell, a Utah Republican and a Mormon, is the Secretary of Education. Charles Manatt, a Los Angeles lawyer and life long Democrat is the Chairman of the DNC. The National Council of La Raza, "the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States", is in its 14th year of existence. Ted Kennedy is two years into his 4th term as a US Senator from Massachusetts. “The Sage” is married to his first wife, a naturalized US citizen born in Havana, Cuba, and the two of us are enjoying high-profile national reputations in our chosen careers; she in education and I in banking. We each make frequent trips to DC as “citizen lobbyists” on behalf of our professions.

In late summer of 1982 Terrell Bell at the urging of his Under Secretary of Education, Jesse Soriano, nominates my (then) wife to be the Vice-Chair of a prestigious national education organization. It is a White House appointment and, if confirmed, she will be sworn in at a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House. The appointment looks like it should be a slam-dunk for a 34 year old Cuban-American woman who, along with her mother, had fled Castro’s wrath just 21 years prior. And it was “on track for confirmation” until “La Raza” got wind of the nomination and began a two pronged campaign; one to pressure Secretary Bell and the other to personally harass my wife. Her “lack of qualification” according to “La Raza” really boiled down to the fact that she was a Cuban and not a “chicana” (a person of Mexican descent). She was the “wrong kind of Hispanic” they complained. She took it personally. I knew it was politics at its nastiest and had to be dealt with politically.

I had met Charles Manatt, the founder of the prestigious LA firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, several years before while doing some consulting work for a bank in which he was involved as a shareholder and Director. We worked well together and resolved the bank’s issues quickly and without regulatory intervention. A pragmatic and practical man, Chuck Manatt has always known that you need “friends in both camps” in order to play the game of politics effectively; a lesson I too had learned early on. As a result he was only too glad to see me and my spouse on short notice during a hastily arranged trip to DC. We met in his office at the DNC- -the office Howard Dean occupies today- -and told him the situation as quickly and as succinctly as possible noting the incidents of harassment and personal attacks. Manatt knew immediately who among the senior party members had the clout to rein in "La Raza". He picked up the phone and in 30 seconds Ted Kennedy was on the speakerphone.

Manatt explained the situation stating that I, "even though a Republican," was a friend he could "rely on and trust". And after some polite conversation Senator Kennedy finally asked me straight out who my “friends” were. I knew what that question meant in that town and had enough sense to name one Democrat, US Representative Les AuCoin and one Republican, Senator Bob Packwood. Both were actually friends of mine and friends with Kennedy as well. (Rumor had it that Kennedy and Packwood attended the same AA meetings in DC). Kennedy promised to help and after 15 minutes the call was over.

Two days later she got a personal apology from the Chairman of “La Raza” who was stunned that she had enough “clout” to get Senator Kennedy to intervene. Her nomination sailed through without further objection from any Hispanic organizations.

Why is "The Sage” telling you this? Because it illustrates three important points:

1. The hypocrisy of La Raza when they claim to represent the interests of all Hispanics. (The topic of a future post.)

2. The way “politics” works in the US, and

3. The uncanny ability of Ted Kennedy to know when to do a political favor and create an “I.O.U” (Which he and Manatt called in from me- - big time- - 2 years later during an Oregon gubernatorial race.)

I also tell you this to let you know that as a Conservative I was diametrically opposed to almost all of Ted Kennedy’s political beliefs. In fact, I didn't agree with his politics about 99% of the time but, I did admire his unwaivering comittment to his beliefs and to working behind the scenes to get things done. And while there were times he made me extremely angry I know- -and firmly believe- - that if a real political dichotomy is to continue to exist in our beloved nation there will always need to be a voice like Ted Kennedy’s, if for no other reason than to keep Conservatives from losing focus on our own values and becoming complacent. There is no Democrat at present who can immediately fill his shoes and be that voice. It sould be interesting to see who will "grow" into it.


ALL POLITE DEBATE AND VARYING POINTS OF VIEW ARE ENCOURAGED AND WELCOMED. PLEASE USE THE “COMMENT” LINK BELOW TO OFFER YOUR THOUGHTS.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Who Will the Left Seek to Silence Next?


The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

This quote from Act 3 Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” has been associated throughout history with many people who, after doing a lifetime of good, are most often remembered for the one or two things they may have done wrong. Most recently Don Imus comes to mind. Imus, an irreverent radio and TV talk show host with conservative leanings, made one politically incorrect comment about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team and was fired by CBS after intense pressure from the Left. The fact that Imus had for years self-funded a working cowboy ranch for cancer-stricken children, supported numerous other charities and was noted for helping folks who were just simply down on their luck meant nothing. The only thing that mattered to the Left- -Liberals and Progressives- -was the one intemperate comment he made and the opportunity to silence a dissenting voice, not his good acts and deeds. And, if the Left has its way the next victim of their organized silencing campaign will be John Mackey the CEO of “Whole Foods, Inc” the small grocery chain known for selling organic and natural foods. Mackey’s “evil”? Criticizing ‘ObamaCare’ in an August 11, 2009 editorial in the Wall Street Journal was Mackey’s ‘crime’.
See: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html


At a time when the Left keeps asking critics of ObamaCare to come up with a better plan Mackey did just that. In the editorial Mackey carefully outlined 8 reforms that if enacted, he argued, will “greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone.” But in so doing Mackey called for equalization of tax laws regarding healthcare deductibility, repeal of state laws preventing insurance companies from doing business across state lines and tort reform- -reining in the large jury awards that add to the cost of health care. The fact that Mackey is correct matters little to the Left. The only thing that matters to Liberals and Progressives is that Mackey is out of lockstep with the Democrat Party line and is, therefore, a political heretic worthy of being figuratively burned at the stake. “Boycott!” they screamed by the thousands on Facebook and Twitter and the picket lines went up at Whole Foods Markets in Washington DC, Maryland, New York and Texas. Forget the good he and the company he heads may have done. And there is a lot of good to talk about.

In addition to its commitment to selling organic and natural foods, the company under Mackey’s leadership has empowered individual stores to buy from local farmers and growers thus helping local economies and helping to assure freshness of the meats and vegetables sold in each store. Under Mackey’s tenure the company adopted a policy of paying 100% of the health care premiums for all employees working 30 hours or more a week- -about 90% of the company. In addition the company provides up to $1,800 a year into “Personal Wellness Accounts” for each employee to spend as they choose for their own healthcare. Sounds like an egalitarian dream doesn’t it.

Yet all the Left cares about is that Mackey dared to question BHO’s plan for health care reform. Mark Federici, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) said, “Mackey’s views are totally at odds with those of the company- -he has to go!” Then playwright and noted Progressive, Mark Rosenthal, who was one of the instigators of the boycott said this: “I read the article and it stunned me, the hubris of this man who made his millions selling his products to Progressives in America based on an image of caring for the community.” Talk about ‘hubris’ here are two guys who appear to be pretty damn smug when it comes to Mackey and the company he founded in 1980.

It’s Mackey’s company built on Mackey’s vision and Mackey’s core values. Yet somehow the UFCW has a better sense of the company’s views than Mackey himself does? Outrageous! And Rosenthal marginalizing Mackey’s good works by making reference to an “image of caring” as though he intuitively knows that Mackey is a fraud? Arrogant beyond belief. But, this is nothing new. It’s what we’ve come to expect from Liberals and Progressives.

We expect the folks on the Left to do their best to stifle free speech and dissent. The ACLU has done its best to gag the “religious right” under the dictum of “separation of church and state”. Now they are taking aim at silencing Conservative talk radio by use of the so-called ‘fairness doctrine’. And while I think Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are over-the-top wind bags they have just as much right to be on the air and say whatever they want as Rachel Maddow, Ron Kuby or Keith Olberman. But not according to the Left for whom free speech is only free if you espouse liberal and progressive ideologies. Anything other than that is “hate-speech” as they see it. And that’s what this attack on Mackey and Whole Foods is all about. It’s the opening salvo of the next battle front- - -stifling the opinions of Corporate America. It’s about keeping entrepreneurs from speaking out for more free enterprise and less intrusive government.

A cousin of mine whom I respect and admire said this week in a Facebook post that he thought “brands should remain a-political”. I love my cousin but he couldn’t be more wrong. If the religious right is stifled and Conservative talk radio is silenced who will be left to speak out against big government and socialism? If Corporate America is bullied into political correctness who will be left to champion free markets, open competition and yes- - -capitalism? No one.

As I’ve said before the problem Conservatives have with Liberals and Progressives is that they all seem to think they are morally and intellectually superior. Or to paraphrase a famous quote from James Carville, “It’s the smugness, stupid.” But here are my questions to you all. What’s so morally superior about trying to stifle legitimate dissent and others’ rights of free speech? And what’s so intellectually superior about blindly following the party line without question or examination? And once folks like John Mackey are harassed out of business, how will you earn your paychecks or do you expect to live on the government dole? If you can tell me without being smug or arrogant, I’d like to know.


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Sunday, August 9, 2009

What Does HR 3200 REALLY Say?


This past week’s dust-ups at various “Town Hall” meetings dealing with the subject of healthcare have done nothing to advance public discourse with each side accusing the other of being mean spirited and each side invoking the specter of Nazism and brown-shirted thugs. I’m convinced that a huge part of the problem is that very few- -on either side- -have actually read HR 3200 relying instead on third-party analyses coming from people and organizations with vested interests and axes to grind. So, for what it’s worth your friend “The Sage”, who has actually READ the bill, has a few observations that may add some understanding to this subject.

The US population is just over 300 million. That number includes the often cited 12 million un-documented workers. According to a recent government report about 60% of us or 180 million people are covered by private healthcare plans offered by employers. Another 25% of us or 75 million people are covered by Medicare or Medicaid and the remaining 15% or 45 million people- -including those here illegally- -are not covered at all. Now if ObamaCare was simply a plan to cover those 45 million people alone we probably wouldn’t be hearing all the screaming and shouting coming from both camps. But it isn’t. In a nutshell here’s how it works and here’s what’s causing so much of the angst.

· HR 3200 doesn't create a new program per se but expands and amends the Social Security Act, which includes Medicare and Medicaid, beyond the 75 million or so people now covered, to include the 45 million people not covered- - -including 12 million or more illegals.
· If private medical coverage through an insurance company represents the "Gold" standard of coverage and Medicare represents the "Silver" standard of coverage, ObamaCare represents the "Bronze" or maybe Tin standard of care.
· Current Medicare recipients and boomers who will be retiring in the next few years who, for the most part have paid the maximum amount each working year into the system and have an expectation of getting the "Silver" standard of coverage, will now be reduced to the "Bronze" standard in order save enough money to help pay for those coming into the plan who may have never paid a dime in payroll taxes. This is what the Congressional Budget Office meant when it reported that one third of the $1.5 trillion cost of ObamaCare would be paid for by cuts to Medicare and this is what has ‘boomers’- -those born between 1946 and 1964- -turning out in large numbers and screaming to be heard and understood. THIS MUST BE FIXED.
· If Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980) and Gen Y folks (born between 1981 and 1995) are covered with a "Gold" standard plan by their employer and lose their job they will be forced to go to the "Bronze" plan and even if rehired will not be able to go back to a "Gold" plan. Over time, as the attrition from private plans continues, the end result could be a single-payer, completely nationalized healthcare system. Gen Xers should be in revolt over this. Even that ultra-liberal, Barney Frank, realizes this is not a desirable outcome and has spoken out against it. THIS, TOO, MUST BE FIXED.
· A huge concern, that should have the American Bar Association AND the ACLU up in arms, is the fact that under the proposed bill (Section 1651, pages 734 and 735) the provisions of HIPAA are all but negated by the fact that the DOJ will be given access to our previously 'private' medical records. And while the intent of the bill is to allow the AG to prosecute frauds and cheats, it does not specifically prevent the AG from using medical information to prosecute someone for an alleged crime NOT related to the healthcare system. What this means is that if the DOJ has you in their sights for prosecution of an alleged crime they can access information known previously only to you and your doctor and use it against you. So much for “doctor/patient privilege”. This is a serious Constitutional issue and must not be allowed to stand.

But, many of the aspects of the plan, especially those related to reducing fraud are quite good and should NOT be opposed by healthcare providers. If you are a healthcare provider or biller expecting to take payments from the government there’s no reason you shouldn’t prove that you are qualified to provide the care and services for which you are billing and that those billings are not fraudulent.

The medical community is also up in arms about the establishment under the bill of a “National Health Services Corp”. The idea behind this is that med school grads who attained their education through tax-payer funded government loans should spend some time working in community health centers in return for a reduction in the amount of their loans. I’m OK with this. After all, if auto companies and banks who have taken tax-payer money have to meet certain government conditions why should the medical community be exempt?

Overall, no one seriously doubts that our current system is deeply flawed and needs some overhaul. But when taken in its entirety HR 3200 creates more problems and social unrest than it cures. Besides, if ObamaCare is so good why aren’t the 535 members of Congress lining up to enroll? Perhaps James Madison, the “Father of the US Constitution” put it best when he said:

The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”


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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why Conservatives Must Fight the Good Fight


There isn’t a day that goes by without someone sending me an e-mail detailing the latest “progressive” decision made or idea put forth by BHO’s administration. And almost daily I get involved in chats, IMs, e-mails or Facebook threads with committed, Gen-X liberals. Most weeks, I find these happenings mildly to moderately annoying and almost not worth mentioning. But this week, for some unexplainable reason, the inbound communications were just plain outrageous and couldn’t be ignored. Here is a synopsis of them.

  • Judge Sonia Sotomayor, during her confirmation hearings, characterized Roe-v-Wade as “settled law,” but when questioned about gun ownership, said she would have an “open mind” in ruling on that issue. What an outrage! Roe-v-Wade is “settled law” and the Second Amendment of the US Constitution is not "settled law" ?*** Disgraceful!
  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, ObamaCare will cost $1.5 trillion dollars, is not revenue neutral and does nothing to reduce the cost of delivering health care in the US. In a similar report the House Ways and Means Committee reached the same conclusion. * Scandalous!
  • BHO’s Department of Justice (DOJ) ruled the State of Georgia can no longer demand proof of citizenship before issuing someone a Voter Registration card. The DOJ further ruled in favor of “community organizers” such as ACORN in saying the State can’t even demand proof of the applicant’s existence. ** Heinous!
  • Under ObamaCare, all persons not otherwise covered by a “private” plan MUST enroll in the government plan or face a ‘penalty’ equal to 2.5% of their income. * Preposterous!
  • BHO was on the verge of appointing his 33rd “Czar” this week, a process that has no publicly announced job descriptions, qualification requirements, vetting standards, or selection criteria. And in many cases, the authority of these ‘Czars’ supercedes that of the BHO appointed Cabinet member for whom they supposedly work. *** So much for ‘transparency.Ridiculous!
  • About one third of ObamaCare—$500 billion dollars—will be paid for by cuts to Medicare (the program covering folks over 65 years old) in order to deliver services to (among others) almost 10 million illegal aliens. * And the committed Gen-X liberals are OK with taking away from their own parents and grandparents in order to provide for people who are in this country illegally. * Shameful!
  • During a Facebook conversation this week involving a good number of well educated, committed, liberal Gen-Xers a statement was made by one of them that Bush-Cheney had ‘run all over the Constitution” and had taken away their rights. When challenged by The Sage to give specific examples to back up their claims, not one—I repeat, not one of them—could or would do so. The thread ran another 18 hours or so with a dozen or more additional comments, but without one shred of factual data to back their claim—just more of the same rhetoric and “Kool-Aid-Komments.’ How did we raise a whole generation of “know nothings”? Atrocious!
  • Under ObamaCare, all businesses with an annual payroll of $250, 000 or more will be mandated to provide health care benefits to all their employees or face a penalty of 8% of their gross payroll.* Monstrous!

    If you are a more centrist Liberal and a BHO supporter reading this, you might want to re-consider your stance with regard to the concerns of Conservatives. But, if you are a far left Liberal reading this and a blind supporter of BHO under all circumstances and find nothing shocking, outrageous or immoral about any of the above then YOU are the problem and also the reason Conservatives must continue to fight the good fight.

    And, for the record, the points above marked with one asterisk ( that’s a * for you Gen-Xers) are straight from the reports recently released by the Congressional Budget Office, The House Ways and Means Committee ( do some research on your own to find out what their role is), and the Associated Press. The incident marked with 2 asterisks comes straight from the website of the Office of Secretary of State for the State of Georgia. The comments with 3 asterisks come from various print media news sources.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

FINDING HIS GUINEVERE

The “Sports” section of this morning’s Tampa Tribune prominently featured an article with this headline: “McNair eulogized as hero”. For those of you who may have been on another planet for the past week, Steve McNair was a 36 year-old, retired NFL quarterback with Hall-of-Fame credentials who was shot and killed by his 20 year old girlfriend who then shot herself in the head. McNair was also a husband and a father of four children. And, there are reports he had at least one other young girlfriend with whom he kept active company.

As I read the story of prominent sports figures giving testimonial to what a good man McNair was I couldn’t help but think about Mark Sanford, the 49 year old Governor of South Carolina, who was also recently caught up in the scandal of an extramarital affair with a 43 year old, divorced, Argentine woman. Like McNair, Sanford is married and a father of young children. But unlike McNair no prominent figures are tripping over themselves to tell the world what a good man Mark Sanford is and the print media isn’t hailing him as a “hero”. Instead Sanford has been portrayed as a love-sick fool chasing after a woman- -his “soul-mate”- - who looks strikingly like his wife Jenny who at 47 is only 4 years older than his mistress who, in turn, is only 6 years younger than Sanford himself. According to the media, only an idiot would risk his career, reputation, family and livelihood for a woman who’s only six years younger and looks a lot like his wife. However, by the standards of US journalists- -to the extent they have any standards at all- - to be called a “hero” you have to be involved with a woman only slightly more than half your age and with a “bangin’ bod” to boot. Yet, of the reputations that will live on after these two guys- -both of whom have been accused of betraying their families- - I think I’d rather have Sanford’s than McNair’s.

Mark and Jenny Sanford meet every definition of a power couple. Until now he was characterized as a handsome, smart and effective politician whose star was on the rise thanks in no small part to his wife, a pretty heiress and investment banker, who personally financed his first two successful campaigns. They made it to the Governor’s Mansion in South Carolina and by all accounts had a good chance of making it to the White House some day. But like so many “power marriages” somewhere along the line the Sanford marriage, I suspect, became all about the power and influence being gained and one or both of them forgot how to nurture the other. Unfortunately, in this case, I think it may have been Jenny Sanford who forgot that role.

We men are strange creatures. We are genetically engineered to provide for and protect the ones we love- -especially our mates. This role is hard-wired in the “Y” chromosome and irretrievably imbedded in our DNA. But just as deeply imbedded is our need for validation and intimacy. We need to frequently be told we are the biggest, strongest, sexiest man in the realm. We need to be compensated with the intimacy of a companion, confidante, friend, helpmate, kindred soul, lover, and partner. And when that doesn’t happen, just like the Knights of the middle ages, we go on a “quest” to find one. We, like Sir Lancelot, go searching for our Guinevere*. The one woman who will help heal and complete us. The one woman who will be our confidante, friend and lover.


The fact that Sanford’s self-described “soul-mate”, is only 4 years younger than Jenny Sanford and looks so much like her tells me the Governor was not- -like McNair- - out to prove his manhood and satisfy his ego through the conquest of some hard-bodied 20 year old but rather that Mark Sanford was on a quest to find his Guinevere and he found her in Maria Belen Chapur.

So given the choice of being remembered as a flawed athletic “hero” or being remembered as a man searching for his Guinevere, I’ll take the role of Lancelot without hesitation. And, if they’re being honest, I think most men would do the same. Perhaps everyone out there in a "power relationship" should consider this a cautionary tale.


* Find the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere at: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/sherwoodtimes/guinever.htm

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Trouble With Liberals

I just can’t help ragging on Liberals. True, there are those Liberals among my family and friends who are people I dearly love and who I’m pretty sure love me. (At least up ‘til this post.) But, the rest I find annoying, shallow, arrogant and obsequious ideologues. You know the type of Liberals I mean- - -the Al Franken, John Stewart, Bill Maher, Janine Garofalo, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Wesley Clark, Al Gore, Al Sharpton, Howard Dean, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Bill Moyers, Caroline Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, John Edwards, Keith Olberman, Gavin Newsom, George Soros, Seymour Hersh, Rob Reiner, Arianna Huffington, Molly Ivins, Bill Clinton, George Stephanopoulos, Harry Reid, Jerry Brown and Janet Napolitano types, to name just a few. If you read what they write, watch their TV programs, see their movies, parse their speeches and scrutinize their behaviors it doesn’t take long to figure out these people are all bothersome and arrogantly think they are inherently “better” than Conservatives.

Have you ever heard any of the folks mentioned above ever imply that “Conservative” is anything other than another name for a red-necked, Bible thumping, racist, sexist, hate mongering, planet polluting, greed worshipping, pedophilic, dim-witted oaf? Think I’m wrong? Read the comments made by the readers of The Huffington Post on a daily basis for a week and you’ll see far worse vitriol than this hurled at Conservatives by those peace-loving, let’s all get along, we are the world, hold hands and sing Kumbaya, Liberals.

Now just in case there are any Liberals still reading this, let me point out a few of the specific things that Conservatives find irksome about you.

You seem to have a lot of terms that have only one, very strict, definition. Take “Racism” for example. You appear to think it strictly means “white men taking advantage of people of color.” To you it can’t possibly be a two-way-street even though the Supreme Court thinks otherwise. Or “Sexism” which, when I hear you speak, seems to be a problem every time a woman gets passed over for a promotion or appointment that went to man - -regardless of the circumstances. To you it is unfathomable that a woman may simply have been lacking in base skills or credentials because the Feminists have told you so and they wouldn’t lie.

Then there are the self described “Intellectuals”- - the true arrogants among you- - the Liberal teachers and professors that dominate the faculties of most high schools and colleges in the US and science labs everywhere. If only the rest of us were as enlightened as you are the world would be a better place. You are quick to spread liberal ideology and theory and quick to embrace the science of the day. Yet, you attempt to shut off all debate by proclaiming the latest theory to be “settled science”. Let me give you one astounding example of how arrogant you can be when it comes to this sort of debate.

When we finally got computers with enough power to handle the complex calculations involved in deconstructing the human genome it was widely reported as “settled science” that humans and chimps share 97% of their DNA. Let me repeat the implication of that statement: except for a 3% variance, humans and chimps would be the same. Now folks let me see if I’ve got this right. Except for a scant 3% differential in our shared DNA chimps would be; doing math, devising languages, writing poetry, making movies, inventing new devices, designing space craft, constructing bridges, erecting buildings, performing complex surgeries, playing football, cooking gourmet meals, penning self-help books, piloting airplanes, driving cars, feeding the poor among themselves and keeping up with their friends on Facebook- -is that correct? Does that make sense to you? Does that “smell” right to you? Is that where the debate ends? Did it ever occur to you that your computer models could be wrong? Did you ever think that perhaps DNA is not the ultimate building block, that it might be something smaller yet with a much greater base which would explain why no one in their lucid mind would observe that a chimp is 97% the same as a human. Oh yeah, I forgot. It’s “settled science”.

So, dear Liberals are you beginning to get the idea why so many folks don’t like you? It’s because you think- - -no, you believe- -that you are morally and intellectually superior to everyone else, especially Conservatives. Take a close look at the 30 names I mentioned in the first paragraph- - noted Liberals all. Does that seem like a morally and intellectually superior group to you? If it does then you are a true-believer. Enjoy your Kool-Aid.



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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Guns, Liberals and Mullahs: Which Two Don't We Need?


As the events in Iran unfolded over the past two weeks one of the most disturbing images to be “smuggled” out of that country is the video of the shooting death of a young protestor, Neda Agha Soltan, at the hands of government forces seeking to crack down on unrest and secure the sham re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President of the world’s only existing theocratic country. The force and brutality ordered by the Mullahs to be used on their own people was extreme even by the standards of other mainly Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Chad. It should serve as a reminder to all people everywhere why a theocracy should NEVER exist, whether that theocracy is Islamic, Buddhist, Jewish or Christian. (OK you lefties before you scream, “what about Israel” go look up the definition of “theocracy”.) It should also serve as a graphic example of why that kind of forceful movement by the government against its own people can NEVER happen here. But, the reason it can’t happen here and the acknowledgement of that reason is cursed by every Liberal everywhere.

A terse sentence of a mere 27 words crafted by our Founding Fathers over 230 years ago is why this sort of imposition of force has never been attempted by the US Government and likely never will. We know those 27 words as the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.


The right to “keep and bear arms” by virtue of its position in the Bill of Rights appears to have been, in the minds of the Founding Fathers, second only to the provision which guarantees the freedoms of religion, speech, the press, peaceful assembly and petition of redress. In fact, the right “to keep and bear arms” comes before ALL these other uninfringeable rights:
1. The military not being quartered in your home without your consent
2. Being secure in your person, papers, houses, and effects and secure from unreasonable search and seizure
3. Protection from double jeopardy and the ability to refuse to testify against yourself
4. Not being deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law
5. A speedy and public trial by jury and the ability to confront witnesses against you as well as present witnesses of your own.
6. To have the assistance of counsel for your defense
7. Not being subject to excessive bail nor have cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on you.

Don’t you think the framers of the Constitution had a reason for putting all these rights in the order they did? Of course they had a reason- - -it was because they held the rights of freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly to be first, foremost and uninfringeable and didn’t trust any central government not to try to take away those rights from individual persons or states- -thus, the need for a militia and the right to "keep and bear arms".

Yet, if the Liberals in this country had their way the Second Amendment would be repealed tomorrow. The very section of the Constitution that keeps what is happening in Iran from happening here is what Liberalism and virtually all its proponents would take away if they could.

We have let BHO and his legions of liberal lackeys set an agenda for Socialist takeover of industry in this country. They succeeded with the auto industry and are close to succeeding with domestic energy (taxing an industry into government submission is just another form of Socialism) and will pull out every stop to do the same with Healthcare. Are we going to sit back and let them take away our ability to defend ourselves against an oppressive government, too? I hope not.

Oh, just in case you think "The Sage" is some sort of gun-nut living in an open carry state and agitating for rebellion- - -let me state for the record- - -I don’t own a gun and never have but I’m sure thinking about buying several now. And I’m willing to bet the folks dodging government bullets on the streets of Teheran tonight are wishing they had a few guns of their own, as well. Nothing good can happen in a country where only the Government has the right to “keep and bear arms”.


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Saturday, June 20, 2009

BHO’s Healthcare Plan: A Payoff to Contributors?


In 1959 during the early stages of our “Cold War” with the Soviet Union my 9th grade “Civics” teacher, Jim Davidson, a fiercely patriotic North Carolinian, had very concise definitions for all the “isms” we were learning about. Here’s what “Big Jim” as we called him away from class taught us about one of those “isms”.

Socialism: “an economic system in which the State either owns or tightly controls those industries, businesses or enterprises that are deemed to be socially important. Ownership of private property is valued under this economic system and the ownership of private enterprises not deemed to be socially important is encouraged. The people are allowed to keep the fruits of their own efforts and labors, although they are almost always heavily taxed by the State in order to fund programs and enterprises it considers to be socially important."

“Big Jim” was ahead of his time. I doubt that in 1959 he could have actually foreseen the rising tide of Socialist economics within Democratic governments like Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Canada (to name a few) yet he painted an accurate picture of the face of Socialism today none-the-less. I don’t know where Jim Davidson is now or even if he’s still alive but I’m certain that if he is alive, somewhere he’s raving, stomping and flailing his arms as he ponders what BHO and the American Trial Lawyers Association (the plaintiffs bar) want to do to the most socially important segment of our society today- - -health care. In a nutshell here’s what BHO and his merry band of ambulance chasers and slip-and-fall artists want to do.

Under the campaign cry of controlling health care expenses and reducing the costs of delivering quality health care to all Americans, Obamacare would:

1. Place tight controls and price caps on what drug companies can charge for their products. (This will reduce pharmaceutical company revenues but do nothing to similarly limit the cost of developing, testing and bringing new drugs to the market).

2. Place price caps on services and tests- - -x-rays, MRIs, EKGs, Cancer screening, blood analysis etc. - -offered by hospitals. (This will force the hospitals to shift the unpaid portion of the costs for these services to patients on private plans).


3. Place price caps on services performed by your physician. (This will force physicians to also shift unpaid costs to patients on other plans and will do nothing to reduce the cost of malpractice insurance)

Now here’s the really outrageous part. In his speech before the AMA in Chicago earlier this past week, BHO had the audacity to tell the doctors assembled there that his plan- -ObamaCare- - would limit their incomes as well as those of drug companies and hospitals while doing nothing to limit their costs of delivering services. Then he told them he had “no intentions of placing caps on medical malpractice lawsuits”. BHO must have hoped they would swallow what he had to say because he seemed a little surprised when he was politely booed. But he shouldn’t have been surprised because in an unprecedented display of political chutzpah and arrogance he stood there and told the medical establishment of the US that he was going to take money from their wallets but leave the wallets of Trial Lawyers untouched. What he didn’t explain was, “why?” The “why” should be obvious.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org ) a group which, since 1990, has tracked political contributions, their donors and their recipients by industry here’s what Lawyers and their Lobbyists contributed to Federal Candidates and Parties during the 2008 election cycle - - -$270,571,798 . That’s right, over 270 million dollars!! (See: http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/contrib.php?cycle=2008&ind=K)

Of that amount 74% went to Democratic candidates and 26% to Republicans. From that group of contributors the largest contribution was made by the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the American Trial Lawyers Association) who gave 95% of their money to Democrats and 5% to Republicans. And of that $270.5 million contributed by Lawyers and their Lobbyists during the entire 2008 campaign cycle, here’s how it broke down with the Presidential front runners:

1. Barack Obama (D) $45,009,722

2. Hillary Clinton (D) $17,658,296

3. John McCain (R) $11,414,758


There’s an old joke that has a man and woman sitting at a bar. The man asks the woman if she’d sleep with him for $50. “Of course not”, the woman responds indignantly. “Well”, he presses on, “would you sleep with me for $10,000?” The lady thinks for moment and says, “For $10,000 of course I would.” Moving closer to her still he asks, “What about $500?” “I’d have to think about that”, she tells him. The guy gets a big grin on his face, rubs his hands together and says, “Great, we’ve clearly established what you are- -now all we have to do is argue about your price!”

In making what appears to be a political payoff to the Trial Lawyers, BHO has clearly established what he is- -in addition to being a Socialist- - AND he has clearly stated his price.




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Saturday, June 6, 2009

BHO: A Product of His "Heritage"?

As this is being written BHO’s “reaching out to the Muslim world” speech in Cairo, delivered in his uniquely gifted oratorical style, is still fresh in the world’s press and on the “Arab street.” He is still in Europe and has not yet laid his agenda before all the Heads of State he intends to. But one thing is clear already . . . in the struggle against radical Islam the United States of America will have to “go it alone” with nothing more than lip-service help from our European friends and allies.

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel told BHO just yesterday that her country would NOT take any of the Guantanamo detainees and it is expected that French President Sarkozy will tell him the same today. Why? Because both of these “leaders” are afraid that to do so will inflame the Muslims in their countries and lead to unprecedented violence. Sarkozy and Merkel are not alone. The Brits- -who have all but turned their country over to radical Muslims- -certainly aren’t going to help especially under the Labour Party (liberal) government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The Spaniards have been out of the game ever since the train bombing which was exactly the goal the radicals wanted to achieve. The Italians- - -well they’re the Italians- - - so no one expects any help from them for any purpose what-so-ever. Perhaps only the Danes and the Dutch have a clear sense of the threat posed by radical Islam in Europe and have a moral willingness to help the US but those folks are still reeling from the “cartoon riots” and the Van Gogh murder in their respective nations.

No, the US is going to have to carry the burden of defeating radical Islam by itself and we simply don’t have a President who is up to the task of leading us in this struggle.

Now before anyone turns this into something it isn’t and does something stupid like accusing “The Sage” of hate speech, racism, right wing radicalism and the like- -thus intentionally derailing the real debate- - let me state for the record: BHO seems to be a very decent man. He clearly loves his family. He appears in every respect to be a very good husband to Michelle and an excellent father to their two beautiful daughters. He’s smart. He’s a gifted orator. And he has a good sense of humor as evidenced by his observation of an Egyptian hieroglyph with big ears as being “my relative”- - -a truly funny, likeable and charming moment. BHO on a personal level seems to be the kind of guy most of us would like to invite to our backyard for a cookout and swap jokes with while downing a cheeseburger and a beer. Unfortunately, none of that has a hill of beans to do with being an effective President. And, sadly, for that job- -especially for the role of “protector-in-chief” he is woefully ill-prepared. Worse yet, he is na├»ve.

BHO has told us all that in nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court she will bring a certain amount of empathy to her rulings because of the “richness of her heritage as a Latina woman . . . raised by a single mother. . .” and so on. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito made similar references to his “Italian heritage” during his confirmation hearings. And so we are told that not only is it alright for our public officials to be a working product of their heritage but that we should expect them to act in a way defined by their experiences and heritage. OK, that sounds logical and fair enough. Seems like we should be able to equally apply that standard to liberals and conservatives alike

So then, on that premise, what can we expect from BHO’s heritage, the product of a pacifist, single mother and an absentee, take-no-responsibility father? When it comes to our nation’s security what should we anticipate from a man whose heritage has taught him to always turn the other cheek and to walk away from bullies? (Have you read his books?)

In November of 2002, a scant 15 months after 9-11-2001, London’s “Guardian” newspaper published a “Letter to America” from Osama Bin Laden. In the letter OBL stated that Islam- - implying that not just some Muslims but all practitioners of the faith of Islam- - -was at war with America. He then goes on to list a litany of grievances and finally puts forth a list of “non-negotiable” demands the US must meet in order to gain peace with Islam. Among those demands are: America must adopt Islam and Sharia law [as opposed to the US Constitution] as its guiding principles of law and daily life; America must veil its women and its men must grow beards; America must abandon Israel; America must withdraw from all Arab lands and repay the people of those lands for the resources America stole from them. If not, America can expect more acts of violence on its shores says the Saudi born OBL.

In the 6 ½ years since that letter OBL has not retreated an inch from those demands. And it’s naive to think he and his radical brethren ever will. Yet, in crafting his Cairo speech for the “Muslim world” (an excellent speech in some respects yet missing opportunities in others) BHO seems to think that quoting a passage or two from the Qur’an, pronouncing a few religious terms with a correct Arabic accent and relating his own experiences with Islam will somehow “pacify” the radicals and gain the backing of the so-called “moderate Muslims”. He couldn’t be more wrong!

BHO and his self-assured band of Blackberry toting Progressives in strategizing how to deal with the evil threat that comes from the growing radicalization of Islam in mosques everywhere- -especially in Europe and America- -need to do two things. Read OBL’s “Letter to America” at: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/nov/24/theobserver )
and commit its ‘demands’ to memory. Then, “Google” the name Neville Chamberlain , the British PM who thought Europe could appease Hitler, and get familiar with his sad legacy because a similar legacy seems fated to be shared by BHO and could become part of his daughters’ heritage. I can’t imagine any “protector” wanting that. Can you?

In the meantime- - -while BHO and his “jivy-league minions” try to appease those who will not be appeased- -the rest of us will pray for the improbable but prepare for the likely.


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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Open Letter to the GOP

Dear GOP:

What the Hell is wrong with you people? Has the Party suddenly become collectively blind and stupid? Or has it contracted a consumptive case of Alzheimer’s thus failing to recognize even its most basic and core values? I’m going to opt for “blind and stupid” because I don’t want to think the “Party of Lincoln”- - -the party that freed the slaves, won the war and preserved the union- - -has forgotten its values.

Huh, you say? What the heck is this guy talking about? Let me be painfully direct: on the Sotomayor nomination the Party has allowed itself to fall into the trap of making her nomination all about race, gender and identity politics- - -just exactly the sharp-stick filled pit BHO and his merry band of “jivy-league” minions hoped you would fall into and hopelessly impale yourselves. Worse yet, you were led like sheep into the abyss by those two bleating windbags- - -Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck- - -under the less-than-watchful eye and limited intellect of Michael Steele. Pitiful. But it's not too late, I hope. You just need to drop this false foo-fa-raw over the ability of a “. . .Latina woman . . . being able to reach a better decision than a white male lacking the same experiences” and move on to what really counts. Like the law.

How does she view the US Constitution? Is it a living, breathing document capable of guiding us yet today? Or, is it archaic and in need of total overhaul as many on the Left insist? Does she believe the Courts should make law and policy or simply interpret law as the founding fathers intended? Does she think US Courts should look to European Courts for ‘precedents’ like so many liberals would have us do? Does she believe the Constitution guarantees ‘freedom of religion’ as our founders intended or does she see it as ‘freedom from religion’ as today’s atheists would have us believe? Do her rulings indicate she believes in opportunity for all or, instead, that opportunity for some can be achieved only by disenfranchising others? Is she a respecter and student of US history or is she a revisionist?

Interestingly enough, other than the widely publicized speech at Duke and the equally publicized ruling regarding the New Haven Fire Fighters, I cannot find, anywhere, her stated opinions or rulings that would give answers to any of the questions I’ve asked. But, with all your resources at GOP headquarters you should be able to do so. Just don’t let Limbaugh and Beck do the work for you. Remember, it’s Limbaugh who recently said that “80% of her cases have been overturned. . .” The facts are that of the 230 or so cases she has heard while on the Federal bench, only five (5) have gone on to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Of those five, three (3) have been overturned. That’s a 60% ratio (not 80%, Rush) of the ‘cases reviewed’ but only a scant 1.3% of the cases which she’s adjudicated- - -so far.

So how about it, GOP? Can you climb out of the trap BHO set for you? Can you start doing your jobs? Can you ask the tough but fair and meaningful questions that need to be asked of her during the confirmation process? Can you do it without resorting to distortion, innuendo or bad math? Can you stay away from the slippery slope of gender and identity politics? Can you find room for ideas and sensibilities that aren’t fed to us all by Limbaugh and regurgitated by Beck without choosing the “conservatism-lite” menu of McCain? I hope so. Because if you can’t, this registered Republican of some 46 years may just be forced to find a new political ‘home’. The Libertarian Party is looking better all the time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Let's Challenge Hollywood To Be Truthful

We went to see "Angels and Demons" over the weekend. Good movie- -not great. Tom Hanks is solid. Ewan McGregor is excellent as the "Camerlengo" (Papal Chamberlain). Crisp Ron Howard direction. The screen play/adaptation is quite true to Dan Brown's novel thus pretty inaccurate about Catholic ritual. So, between this movie and "The DaVinci Code" you really have to wonder what's behind Dan Brown's 'mean-on' for Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular? You also have to wonder why Hollywood thinks it’s ‘open season’ on Christianity and feels free to impugn Christians but simply doesn’t have the guts to take on any other religion- -except maybe for Judaism. Finally, you have to question if Hollywood understands the kind of world it’s helping to create by doing so.

Of the world’s great religions Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and the lesser known Shinto and Bha'i, only one of them- -Islam- - teaches it’s alright to kill/murder other human beings and actually offers a reward- - -a place in heaven with 72 virgins- - - for those who follow through on it. (Question, what does a female suicide bomber get as a reward- -72 young virgin boys or does she have to be a lesbian to reap full benefit of the reward?)

Christianity and Judaism on the other hand are quite firm and very explicit on this subject going so far as to cite the teaching in two places in the Old Testament. The Book of Exodus, Chapter 20, Verse 13 states the Sixth Commandment very precisely, “Thou shall not kill.” The same commandment is repeated verbatim in the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 5, Verse 17- - -“Thou shall not kill.” Notice that it doesn’t say, “Thou shall not kill except for. . . .” or, “Generally speaking you probably shouldn’t kill. . .” No, the Sixth Commandment is plain and clear- - -you cannot kill. Buddhists, Shintos and Bha'is all have similar teachings and hold human life in the highest regard. But not Islam. It’s call to Jihad and to the murder of non-believers is well known in every corner of the world. Yet, Hollywood and it’s left leaning citizenry insist on taking on and maligning the Judeo-Christian sense of religion and morality upon which this country was founded. Why?

Could it be the Hollywood elite and powerful are simply gut-less and afraid of taking on Islam lest some Ayatollah somewhere issues a Fatwa calling for their deaths as was done with Salman Rushdie and Theo Van Gogh? [They succeeded in the case of Dutch film maker, Van Gogh, but not with British author Rushdie.] After all it’s pretty hard to imagine the Pope calling for the Death of Dan Brown or the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem putting a price tag on the head of Ron Howard. And, a vision of the Dalai Lama urging his followers to behead Tom Hanks on sight is impossible to conjure up. Thus taking shots at Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism seems to be the safer path for those “brave” Hollywood types. Not much chance of physical retribution for their actions.

Maybe it’s about time for Americans to say “enough” and issue a challenge. A challenge to all the folks in Hollywood and the movie industry around the world challenging them to either have the courage and moral integrity to expose radical Islam for what it is through the power of feature films and documentaries or- - - -shut the Hell up!! And to so-called ‘moderate’ Muslims everywhere in the world, challenging them to either take a vocal and highly visible stand- -in huge numbers- -against radical Islam or admit to being the purposeful hypocrites they appear to be. Unfortunately, I think liberal Hollywood lacks the clarity of purpose and spiritual integrity to do what’s right in this battle of cultures and ideologies. Instead they will continue to do what’s currently politically correct and ideologically expedient. Moderate Muslims will simply continue to lack backbone and courage. And the world will continue to be a dangerous place as a result.