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Archive for November, 2009

A Fangirl Squee

I met Bill Whittle!If you were up late last night and heard an odd, high-pitched sound it was probably me; you see, last night I got to meet a conservative blogging icon and a man I have come to have immense respect and admiration for. Bill Whittle was kind enough to sit down and talk with me and even now I can’t quite believe it happened.

There are really only two bloggers I can think of off the top of my head that I have ever really wanted to meet. One is Bill Whittle. The other is Rachel Lucas.

I know some people may wonder what the big deal is. I’ll tell you.

It may not seem so given my recent writing (I’m desperately out of practice), but I am a writer and I love to write. I also love to read well-written prose, whether it be deep and though-provoking or snarky and sassy. Most of my blogging has been a bit of a mish-mash of both, though I would say I certainly lean more toward the snarky side. And I am intensely patriotic, as you’ve probably discovered. So when I find a writer that is able to write well and has a very deep love of America I feel a sort of awe.

Bill Whittle is that kind of writer. He doesn’t mince words or tip-toe around silly PC labels. He calls it like he sees it, but he does so with an eloquence I can only dream of having. His writing is both logical and factual while conveying a sense of passion usually reserved for appeals to our gut feelings. It’s very clear if you’ve ever read any of his essays that he loves this country at a very deep and visceral level, and for several years – even during the time I wasn’t reading blogs – I’ve had the distinct pleasure of knowing there was at least one other person who had just as much, if not more, love for this country that I have.

If that was it I think I could have been perfectly happy, but then I found out Mr. Whittle was doing a segment called Afterburner for PJTV. I’m not sure which one I saw first, but certainly the one that resonates with me the most is his stunning and well-informed rebuke of Jon Stewart’s claim that Harry Truman was a war criminal – Jon Stewart, War Criminals, & the True Story of the Atomic Bombs. When I initially watched that video I saw a man who was able to both be in the throes of righteous anger and still drive his point home with the accuracy and cool of a sharpshooter. I didn’t know it was possible to be any more in awe than I already was. Of course, at that point I hadn’t ever been in contact with him, much less actually met him, in person.

Which brings me to yesterday. In person Mr. Whittle is every bit as passionate about his convictions as he is on paper or video. He certainly doesn’t mince words and it was beyond awesome to be able to talk openly about politics with somebody – other than my dad – without fear of offending them and forever damaging a relationship. He’s incredibly easy to talk to and one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. The time flew by and when we finally parted ways I was genuinely disappointed… as well as being a little bit shell-shocked.

All in all it was an incredible experience to meet a hero of mine. While I was a little nervous beforehand, that was quickly replaced by the comfort of talking with an old friend. I would definitely classify this as one of my life’s high points.

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Apparently there’s a video contest going on over at Glenn Beck’s website to plug his book Arguing With Idiots. They’re down to the top 10, and whichever one gets the most views by midnight ET on November 13, 2009 is the winner. I’ve watched them all, and these three are the ones I liked the most. Give ’em a watch.

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An eloquently delivered smackdown.

I love reading these types of smackdowns because I generally tend to lean to the snarky side when I’m fisking or just flat out laying into somebody or something.

EDIT: The blog with the link will be going down soon, so I’m just going to post the whole thing here. THIS WAS NOT WRITTEN BY ME. It’s just that I want to preserve it below because it is so well-written:

Obama Doesn’t “Get” the Military He Commands
“What Vice President Cheney calls ‘dithering,’ President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public,” said Gibbs. “I think we’ve all seen what happens when somebody doesn’t take that responsibility seriously.”

~White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
Life is full of mysteries, but chief among them in this Marine wife’s mind at the moment is, “Just how stupid does this White House think we are?” If the events of the past few months have shown us anything, it’s that Barack Obama has little enthusiasm for – or interest in – one of the most important duties of an American President: his role as Commander in Chief of the nation’s armed forces.
Like so many of his campaign promises, Barack Obama’s commitment to the military has undergone constant revision since he took office in January. When he was still actively courting the military vote, nothing was too good for us. The First Lady pledged to make military families “her mission”, trotting out piquant tales of desperation in the ranks to make the case that military families face a slew of horrific problems all requiring the immediate intervention of the federal government:
An Air Force wife said she had to give up her job when her husband deployed because she couldn’t find child care….
A Marine wife, a former executive, said she home-schools her children because she couldn’t find a public or private school that could meet her children’s needs….

A Navy wife described the pressures of taking care of her husband’s father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, while also caring for her infant and her teenager — all while her husband was deployed.

Faced with tragedies like this, it’s hard to know how military families manage to soldier on isn’t it? According to one source, the First Lady was moved to tears when she heard that [gasp!] some military families are forced to use food stamps! Naturally, the First Family was second to none in its determination to fix a problem that doesn’t exist:
The Defense Department conducted its last study on food stamp usage in 2002 and found that 2,100 members of the armed forces redeemed the aid. That figure represented slightly more than 1/10 of 1 percent of the military and had decreased significantly from 19,400 service members using food stamps in 1991.
A military spokeswoman said the seven-year-old study linked living on base with using food stamps.

“That some military members continue to qualify for food stamps is primarily a result of the Department of Agriculture excluding the value of government-provided housing as income in determining eligibility for the food stamp program. The study indicated that the majority of military food stamp recipients lived on base,” Eileen M. Lainez said in an e-mail to Military.com.

“The fact that some enlisted members and even a few officers received food stamps was more a result of larger household sizes and living in government quarters than an indicator of inadequate military compensation.”

For those of you at home who make too much to qualify for a government calculator, here’s a quick translation: (1) The number of military families using food stamps is roughly 1/10th of what it was in 1991 (2100/19400= 10.8%), and (2) if their monthly housing allowance were included in the income calculation (the way it is for civilians) these military families would make too much money to qualify for food stamps.
Faced with largely imaginary ills, the Obamas are all sympathy. During the campaign, they were more than willing to promote a whiny culture of entitlement that undercuts everything the military stands for – just to win a few more votes on Election day. And as time went on, the illusion of supporting the military continued. In March Congress passed a resolution making 2009 the Year of the Military Family! As if that weren’t enough November is, by Presidential decree, Military Family Month. With such heartfelt lip service literally oozing from the White House, one might well ask: how does this president’s rhetoric match up with his actions? Since you ask, the answer is, “Not too well”.

Obama started his first term by becoming the first president in 56 years to snub the Salute to Heroes ball honoring Medal of Honor recipients. Next, having been handed a thoroughly researched analysis of our options in Afghanistan, he proceeded to take two months to conduct a “comprehensive review” that ultimately resulted in a “new and improved strategy”:
When Obama took office, he ordered an Afghanistan review of his own. Led by former CIA official Bruce Riedel, the Obama review team looked at Afghanistan and made its recommendations. On March 27, the president announced his new Afghanistan strategy–one that included many of the recommendations of the Bush administration’s review. And that is another indignity. Not only did the Obama administration understand full well that the Bush administration had conducted a comprehensive assessment of Afghanistan, and not only had Jim Jones asked that the Bush review be withheld from the public–but Obama’s “new” strategy bore an uncanny resemblance to that prescribed by the Lute review.
Who knew comprehensive strategy reviews had such a short shelf life? Just a few short months later, someone leaked a report General McChrystal prepared at the express request of the President. Lefty bloggers and pundits alike – on no evidence – attacked General McChrystal, calling him a dirty, duplicitous traitor. Few bothered to ask questions that might have enlightened them as to what was really going on:
Is Obama running an administration where an analysis required of a four-star general confirmed into his job by the Senate—an analysis drafted by an international civilian and military team of experts recruited for the task—can be second-guessed by some guy someone at State knows in a think tank? What’s worrying about this administration is that the answer may be: yes.
…Suddenly, the strategy Obama announced in March is being ditched. Back then, Obama said that Afghanistan had not received (from the Bush administration) “the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently needs.” Specifically, he charged, the resources U.S. commanders needed “have been denied.” “Now, that will change,” he said. As late as last month, Obama was declaring the struggle in Afghanistan “a war of necessity” where victory was “fundamental to the defense of our people.”

There’s an important point here: where was our Commander in Chief when his top commander in Afghanistan was being viciously attacked? Did he step in and defend his subordinate for doing the job he was ordered to do? Of course he didn’t. Harry Truman was obviously no community organizer: the brouhaha over McChrystal ensured that the buck wouldn’t stop in the Oval Office this time. The McChrystal leak was followed by the revelation that our stalwart Commander in Chief had only met with his top commander in Afghanistan once. Stung by the implication that his “war of necessity” was very much on the back burner, Obama scrambled to find a mere 20 minutes to spare as he idled on a runway in northern Europe. He spent more time than that conducting a beer summit.
Now the Army’s largest base has suffered a devastating attack by a deranged Islamist. And how does our Commander in Chief respond? He gives a “shout out” to Joe Medicine Crow, that noted Congressional Medal of Honor winner.

Tell me something: in a moment of national tragedy is it really too much to expect the President of the United States to forego the “shout outs”? Is it too much ask that he learn the difference between the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor? What we require from our leaders at times like this is not much, really. No one expects them to actually care. What we want is precisely the kind of thing that comes so effortlessly to Barack Obama: honeyed words and a reassuring show of compassion from a man who thinks that quality is the most important attribute a Supreme Court judge can possess. A public acknowledgment that something grave has happened. But for some reason, asking the Commander in Chief of our armed forces to give even the appearance of empathy was a bridge too far.

Americans expect something more from their leaders in times of trouble. We expect grace. Empathy. Inspiration. A sense of solemn gravity that befits the nation’s somber mood. When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded killing 7 astronauts, Ronald Reagan postponed the State of the Union report to address and assuage the nation’s shock and mourning.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, gave us shout outs.

As so many have noted, our Commander in Chief finally visited the wounded at Fort Hood the other day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t this Commander in Chief:
Instead of comforting his troops, President Obama decided to spend the weekend at Camp David.
Even if one were inclined to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume that he had asked Former President Bush and Mrs. Bush to visit the wounded soldiers because the Bushes live in Texas, why would he ask this of his predecessor and not get on Air Force One overnight to get down there himself?

Why would he not go to be with those whom he is charged to send into battle and who were so horrifyingly betrayed by one of their own?

Because he doesn’t give a rat’s backside, that’s why not.

For the past 8 years, we’ve heard a lot about how George Bush was too “cowardly” to face the consequences of war. Such bald faced lies are only possible if one is willing to ignore the eyewitness accounts of hundreds of Americans who saw him do just that – with no media fanfare and even less thanks. With every word he speaks and every act he performs, Barack Obama only strengthens the impression that he neither understands nor cares to know the military he must lead as Commander in Chief. Military families are only useful to him as hapless victims of the Bush administration because Obama’s entire vision of government rests on the notion that Americans are powerless to rise above misfortune. It’s not surprising he spends so little time at Walter Reed, Bethesda, or any of the military medical centers. You see, he wouldn’t recognize the spirit of sturdy self reliance that is commonplace there:
Jeremy reminded me, as have many wounded warriors I’ve met, that life is too short not to enjoy it. He and thousands of other disabled veterans across the country have overcome obstacles and adversities that could make even the most optimistic people crack.
They’ve stared death in the face, and are now living their challenging lives to the fullest when it would be so much easier to just give up. But they don’t give up. Beyond the prosthetics, bandages and screws holding them together physically, they’re still Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, and in traditional military fashion, they just keep driving on.

Demby, who was wounded in the Vietnam War, said it best: “Although these guys’ lives have changed, they look at living with their disabilities as a second chance, a new beginning. Their resiliency is an example to all of us.”

Jeremy is a young man who, faced with the prospect that doctors may soon have to amputate his other leg, replied matter of factly, “If that happens, I’ll deal with it, too.” Perhaps more than any other institution in America, the military represents values like accountability, resilience, strength under adversity, achievement, and personal responsibility: qualities that used to be thought of as simply “American”. It seems strange beyond belief that a President swept into office on the shoulders of voters chanting, “Yes, We Can!” now personifies a philosophy of government based on “No, You Can’t” (without my help).
Obama doesn’t “get” the military because with every step they take, whether it’s on prosthetic legs or the steely sinews of a combat hardened Marine, their strength and independence give the lie to his defeatest rhetoric. All those unbowed shoulders, unbeaten spirits and uplifted heads make him profoundly uncomfortable.

As well they should. Americans don’t need to be rescued by the government. We have each other.

Speaking of which, it’s hard to think of a better application of Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of private philanthropy and the resilience of the American spirit than Valour IT. Give generously, please, and say “thanks” to these folks who defend everything we hold dear.

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Redecorating! Pt. 2

As you may have noticed, I’ve put a new banner up. Yay or nay?

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I’m sure if I had taken more time I could have written a better letter, but seeing as how the House passed the government healthcare bill by a ridiculously narrow margin yesterday I wanted to make sure I at least tried to make my senator hear my voice regarding the bloated mess. I urge every single one of you to make your opinions about this bill known to your own senators. We the people are their bosses, plain and simple, and they have ignored us for far too long. We need to make it clear that if they intend to ignore us, we intend to fire them.

Sir, I am a Utah resident currently stuck in California due to military obligations. I know you are against the government healthcare option and I urge you to continue holding that position and also to urge your colleagues to oppose a bill that, if made law, will destroy any hope this country has of getting back on its feet economically – not to mention the fact that it is an incentive for people to be irresponsible with their own healthcare.

Having served for almost 10 years I know what government healthcare looks like and I don’t want to see that kind of system taint the civilian side. I serve because I want to, and I can deal with the many downsides of being in the military because I willingly signed on the dotted line. However, if any government healthcare legislation becomes law, it will force normal civilians to move more toward a socialized system, which I have seen first-hand doesn’t work, no matter how many different times it’s implemented.

I applaud your support of tort reform, but also urge you to consider increased competition among insurance companies by allowing them to insure across state lines. If healthcare is to become more affordable, it cannot be handled by the government. This doesn’t make your job irrelevant; it simply puts the responsibility for one’s own health and healthcare back in their own hands, where it should have been anyway.

Please urge your colleagues to oppose the bloated mess that just passed the the House and remind them that we the people are the ones they work for, not special interests and party loyalists. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, sir, but we the people are angry and it would behoove every single person in Congress to remember that we are the ones who put you there and we can certainly cast you out.

Thank you for your work on behalf of Utahns, but please don’t get lazy. Remain constantly vigilant and remember that your job is only to pass legislation to ensure every American’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, but that our own personal responsibility as individuals picks it up from there. We want less government in our lives and we are willing to take on the responsibility for ourselves that that entails.

Thank you for your time,
[name redacted]

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This won’t be very popular with a lot of people. I don’t care. A lot of people will think I’m a cold, heartless bitch. If it’ll make you feel better to think so, fine. So here goes.

If you think government healthcare is a good idea, you’re a moron. Mo. Ron.. That actually may be too kind a word for how brain-dead stupid you would have to be to think it’s a good idea.

Do you not remember the last time you were at the DMV? Now, just think about your healthcare being run by the same government responsible for the DMV. Still think that’s OK? What about the U.S. Postal Service? They run so efficiently that Amazon’s – and most other online retailers’ – default option for shipping is UPS or FedEx.

“But but but… everybody deserves healthcare,” I hear you say. “It’s a fundamental right!” Bullshit. You want to know why? Because when you say that, you’re saying one person has the right to tell another person to do something for them, regardless of compensation. Do you know what that’s called, boys and girls? It’s called slavery. And no, nobody has the right to enslave another person, no matter how little time it takes up.

“But people can’t get healthcare if they don’t have insurance. This is just leveling the playing field.” If you have even two neurons working you would know that life-threatening injuries and illnesses must be treated if you go to the hospital, even if you don’t have insurance and can’t prove you can pay for it. That is all a doctor is obligated to do and that is all a doctor should be obligated to do. Remember, they’re not slaves.

“Insurance companies are just out to make money. They don’t care about the people.” First of all, you think people should have insurance but now you’re demonizing the insurance companies. With all the twists and turns you had to go through to think both those things I now understand how you got your head stuck in your ass. Anyway, you clearly don’t know much about running a business, do you? I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that businesses are generally in business to make money. That’s the whole point of business. You don’t start a small business so that in 10 years you can still be living in the same small apartment and driving the same crappy car.

“It’s not like having a government healthcare option means you have to give up your insurance plan if you like it. Obama said so!” Well, lets all just kick back and relax, Obama made a promise. Considering the fact that he hasn’t followed through on one promise he made while campaigning (thank all that’s good and holy!), that carries less and less weight with people as time goes on. In any case, when the law mandates you be insured at a certain level and the government subsidizes their own healthcare plan, making it cheaper for your employer to drop their insurance provider and just go with the government plan, no, no you don’t get to keep your insurance plan if you like it. Instead you get screwed down to a lower standard of care. Ask any doctor you know how they like dealing with Medicare and Medicaid (both government-run). They will most likely do one of two things: 1) tell you they don’t accept Medicare or Medicaid because they were losing too much money, or 2) tell you they’re considering dropping their Medicare and Medicaid patients altogether not because they want to, but because they simply can’t afford to run a practice while being under-compensated by both government programs.

“Well, it’s not like you teabaggers have any ideas. You don’t even know how to read. And you’re raaaaaacist” Ad hominem attacks now, eh? First of all, if you’re going to call a person a teabagger, you sound like an idiot – and most likely are. Second of all, if I didn’t know how to read, I certainly wouldn’t be on the internet. Third, by calling me a racist you’ve doomed your entire argument to spend eternity rotting in the hole in Buffalo Bill’s basement (“It puts the lotion on the skin!”). Oh, and conservatives and libertarians have a lot of ideas on how to improve healthcare. But nobody’s listening because all the solutions would mean less government intervention in your life, not more, and that would just be wrong. At least, it would be wrong to people who think the government should have more of a role in your life, like politicians.

One of the most popular ideas is to make insurance companies compete nationwide, not just in-state. Oddly enough, when a bunch of different companies are trying to get your business, they all try to give you the best possible price while still giving you a good product. Lower prices and good quality tend to make people buy from that company. That’s the magic of capitalism.

Another idea that I’ve seen bandied about quite regularly is tort reform. Many doctors leave private practice because malpractice insurance premiums are insane. Sure, there are some bad doctors out there that should rightfully be sued when they screw up, but too many people view doctors as rich assholes they can easily take money from in a lawsuit. Tort reform would change that, lowering malpractice insurance premiums and making healthcare a whole lot cheaper.

There has also been mention of personal health savings plans, where you could allot money to be sent directly from your paycheck, before taxes, to a health savings account that is specifically built to be available when you need any kind of healthcare.

There are good ideas out there to fix what is, admittedly, a flawed system. Government involvement in any way, shape, or form is not one of them.

So I stand by what I said: If you think government healthcare is a good idea, you’re a moron.

And if you think Canada has such a great healthcare system, please enjoy this video:

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