Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Don't Believe It

I've long suspected that Wall Street types like to play a game of gotcha with small investors. Take a day like today. Finally, the market goes up. The improvident will often rush in to get in at the bottom. Then, whoosh, all of a sudden, the big guys, having made their money, pull out in the next few days, leaving the little guy on the deck of the sinking SS Dow Jones. Just an observation.

On the Same Subject: The Limbaugh Wars

I watched Rush speak the other day at CPAC. Now, I don't always agree with him. Although I am a staunch Republican, I am more conservative in my views than a Conservative. In other words, I often get angry at Limbaugh and the extreme right, particularly when it comes to immigration, a topic which often raises thinly-veiled bigotry. In fact, I believe that the border security brouhaha might very well have cost McCain the presidency.

All of that is prelude, however, because as I heard Rush Limbaugh speak, I was re-energized. In that rambling speech, he succeeded in reducing our common differences with the administration to a gem like consistency. Forget tweaking their policies and programs. We love liberty, believe in self-determination, venerate the legacy handed down to us, and don't think we have the right to take other people's money. Frankly, I was impressed.

Now I gave up reading Newsweek for good during the campaign, but I stumbled on this column by Jonathan Alter. Reading it, I could be forgiven for thinking that there must have been another speech by another Rush Limbaugh. I was reminded of a point Bernie Goldberg makes, namely these journalistic types are surrounded by people with like views and assume the rest of the world thinks as they do.

So here's my take. If this budget is any sample of where Mr. Obama intends to take this country, Rush Limbaugh is absolutely correct in hoping he fails. What, because their guy got in we're supposed join hands in a circle and sing kum-ba-ya? Even if we were willing to forget the absolutely despicable way they treated Bush, why would we support a program that is anathema to everything we believe? Even moderates are horrified at what is going on. At the moment we may be a few voices in the wilderness, but Mr. Alter would do well to remember how fickle the public can be.

To think that for years I used to subscribe to the rag.

Alternate Reality

... President Barack Obama enjoys widespread backing from a frightened American public for his ambitious, front-loaded agenda, a new poll indicates.

He is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership, and opposition Republicans are getting drubbed in public opinion, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.

To me this poll from the Wall Street Journal offers proof that denial is a powerful thing. Article here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Siren Song of Government Healthcare

When I was a child, there was a 4 o'clock movie on TV every afternoon. One particular day, I was watching as Kirk Douglas had himself tied to the mast of an ancient ship while the crew plugged their ears and began to row. Old Kirk then began writhing, attempting to free himself. The point of the whole exercise had to do with the Sirens whose song lured many a brave, besotted sailor to the rocks.

I am reminded of that scene when I hear how government is going to take care of us all, our healthcare insurance in particular. Had I not had an aging parent, I, too, would be oblivious of what that means. Most people think that government managed insurance will be just like the employer funded variety. I'm not too sure about that. Seems to me that it's going to cost a whole bunch more of money to administer and there won't be enough money to fund that level of coverage. Where am I getting this idea? Medicare.

Democrat politicians love to brag about Medicare. How good is it, though? If you are hospitalized, you pay the first $1068. Trust me, that's a bit in senior citizen Social Security dollars. If you are hospitalized again three months later, you will pay that amount once again. What about doctor visits? Medicare pays 80% of their allowed amount. Unless your doctor accepts assignment, which fewer and fewer do, you will be billed the difference between the $6 Medicare pays and what the doctor bills. Multiply that by the numbers of doctors you will have to frequent and deduct it from your $1500 dollar a month Social Security payment. Drugs? Until the prescription benefit was added by that heartless Bush administration, you had to pay all. It was not unusual to have bills in the hundreds of dollars every month.

Yes, Medicare covers senior citizens whose premiums in the private sector would be astronomical and makes possible coverage through a private HMO, a much better deal. Thus it is a necessary evil. But reality, particularly in this economy, for the rest of us is that toes will be sticking out of that governmental blanket. Call me crazy, but I can't see us getting congressional type coverage unless we enslave the top 20% percent of earners.

A much more moderate approach would put together a commission to explore the situation, see what reforms could be implemented, how costs for everyone could be reduced. But, heck, I'm just a citizen who's paid her own insurance for years and had dealings with the medical establishment. What do I know?


This schizophrenic state may seem strange, but this is what it means to me to be an American-born Cuban. To deny that Cuba is my homeland is to deny a part of myself, just as rejecting anything American would be crazy. And instead of becoming more Americanized, the part of me that is Cuban gets stronger every day.
-from “On Being an American-Born Cuban from Miami” Gisele M. Requeña

The quote comes from a book I recently picked up: ReMembering Cuba: Legacy of a Diaspora, edited by Andrea O’Reilly Herrera. A dense book, I was leafing through the table of contents when I came across a section entitled “Inheriting Exile.” That’s it, I thought, that’s what it’s like. Of course, I skipped to this last section of the anthology.

Reading it was a moving experience. Whether those who were raised in Miami or in cultural isolation, those who claim not to be political or those who once rebelled, all seem to be united in the pursuit of identity, even as they comfortably straddle both Cuban and American cultures. Particularly interesting are the ABC*’s who can lay claim to only one Cuban parent. Included in this group are Margarita Engle, who just won her second Belpré Award as well as a Newberry Honor designation, and the editor of the anthology herself. As O’Reilly Herrera describes the experience, “we are all nomadic wanderers, undergoing a journey that has no final destination.” Interesting.

*American Born Cubans

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bailouts: A Modest Suggestion

Now that we're in the business of spending other people's money, as in providing subprime loans to deadbeat countries, I'd like to propose that we bail out the Eastern European countries instead of Cuba. Doesn't it make more sense to bolster democracies who pay their bills and not totalitarian scofflaws?

My reasoning is thus. There is a move afoot in Congress to provide credit to Cuba. It is a universal truth that Cuba does not pay its debts, ergo the credit is a species of subprime loan. When the subprime loan defaults, that is when Cuba fails to pay, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, whereupon Obama the Munificent will sweep in and bail out the family farmer, thereby subsidizing Cuba.

The Eastern European countries have been staunch in their support of the United States, often when it was unpopular. Their fragile democracies are facing the vagaries of capitalism for the first time. It would seem that our largess would be better bestowed on these worthy candidates, especially since the EU has turned its back on them. But, heck, that's only common sense, a seemingly scarce commodity in our new world order.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Sallies

The Art of the Possible. First we start with the ever growing tentacles of the federal government. Over at Townhall, Douglas MacKinnon in this describes the dishonesty which results when politicians continue the unsustainable out of fear. According to the Constitution, remember, all we are entitled to is the "pursuit" and not the attainment of happiness.

Vive la Difference! While on the topic of the Constitution, 11 states are taking on the federal government over the stimulus, asserting that it seeks to usurp their powers under the 10th Amendment. Translation the strings attached to the porkulus would force them to long term spending on the anointed programs. Also at risk according to these intrepid souls are state's prerogatives over guns, God, you know the drill. I love it when this happens. Read it here.

The Mote in Your Neighbors' Eye. My favorite for obvious reasons is the next entry in which Michael Barone highlights the seeming indifference to human rights on the part of the left. Case in point, our dealings with China. Reminds me of an interesting nugget from Fontova about South Africa which casts the hypocrisy about Cuba in relief.

House of Cards. If you can stay up until midnight tonight, don't miss the CNBC special about the housing bubble. I missed it the first time, so I can't write about it. I can say that it should be interesting. Can't stay up? Don't worry, they're going to run it again on the 15th.

The Humanity of it All. If Dante were around, he might create a special circle of hell for Mr. Madoff. The man actually and knowingly seems to have ripped off famed writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, who lost his personal and foundation money in the scam. Read it here.

The List. From Human Events comes the top 10 blunders committed by the new administration.