Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Letter to My Senators

Dear Senator Warner/Webb:

I feel I am once again compelled to write to demand an end to yet another insane and reckless plan about to be foisted upon us by Congress. Congress may not be competent, but you are not stupid:

YOU KNOW this so-called reform will cost literally trillions more than you claim. Just look at Medicare and Medicaid, and frankly, everything else Congress has done in the past half century. NOTHING costs what you people claim it will cost.

YOU KNOW this so-called reform will not do what it claims to do. NOTHING you people try to do ever works very well and it always costs an order of magnitude more than you claim it will. My favorite saying in the past several years has been, "If it weren't for unintended consequences, Congress would be of no consequence at all." You know there is much truth in that statement.

YOU KNOW that this system is promising to magically create "free" health care out of thin air. If Congress were able to do anything that wasn't totally laden with waste, fraud and abuse, then you would have demonstrated it by reforming Medicare and Medicaid as a demonstration that you have any justification whatsoever to tinker with such a huge fraction of the total U.S. economy.

YOU KNOW that this so-called "reform" is as much about grabbing power and further allowing yourselves to micromanage our lives in ways that are contrary in both spirit and letter to the Constitution of the United States.

YOU KNOW that the majority of the country does not want this bill. You know that should this bill pass, you will suffer tremendously at the polls and I, and millions of others, will work to do everything I can to make sure this happens.

YOU KNOW that it is totally irresponsible, to the point of being suicidal, to attempt such a radical transformation of America in the midst of an economic crisis that is largely the result of Congress in the first place.

YOU KNOW that real reform could be done with precise, targeted laws that could then be benchmarked and that information could be used to plan further corrections. You know you cannot try some crazy mad-scientist (excuse me, mad-legislator) type gamble and bet the well-being of our economy and even our very lives on a long shot just to score political points with the ignorant.

YOU KNOW that, I, and millions of others, consider in this age of terrorism and geopolitical uncertainty that the biggest dangers to this country are the CONGRESS and the WHITE HOUSE. And you know that it is largely only the radical or gullible or ignorant people who support what you are trying to do.

The free citizens of this great Republic, being familiar with and loyal to its history and the principles upon which it was founded, both of which you treat with disdain, or perhaps ignorance, demand that you start to return to these principles, and stop trying to dismantle the greatest and most successful experiment of governence on the face of this Earth:

WE REJECT your insane dabbling in radical socialist transformations to try to correct a system that largely works fine.

WE REJECT your claims that is necessary to demolish 100% of a system that is only a problem for less than 10% its participants.

WE REJECT your utter contempt for the founding principles of this country and the contempt with which you treat the majority of the electorate, whom you claim to serve.

WE REJECT your complete arrogance of setting yourselves us to be a group of elites who simultaneously insist on micromanaging every aspect of our lives while blatantly exempting yourselves from living under the odious morass of rules that you so blithely dump on everyone else.

WE REJECT being lorded over by a group of people who are overwhelmingly corrupt, a group of people who are overwhelmingly self-serving, a group of people who are overwhelmingly inexperienced in actually creating value and wealth in society, a group of people who are overwhelmingly the complete and diametric opposite of those brave and wise men who risked their very lives to create and secure this great Republic which you so are carelessly and callously trying to destroy.

WE REJECT this legislation and demand that you go back to the drawing board and attempt to fix actual problems instead of your usual modus operandus of creating more problems.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pop Quiz

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf said: "In the [health care reform] legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs." Mr. Elmendorf added, ". . . the federal budget is on an unsustainable path, because federal debt will continue to grow much faster than the economy over the long run ... under any plausible scenario."

Given that the CBO has a reputation for being objective and nonpartisan, what would be the choice of a sane, honest politician, attempting to act in the public interest?

1. Reevaluate health care reform, taking into account the fact that Americans are satisfied with their healthcare in the range of anywhere from the 60%-85% range according to different surveys. Maybe things aren't so bad after all, especially since you've already run up a bigger deficit in 6 months than the last President did in 8 years. Give things a chance to settle down and hold a huge public debate how best to address the problem when recovery is well under way.

2. Consider a piecemeal approach that would address the most chronic problems first, such as helping ensure that people who don't have coverage, but need it, and want it, can get it. Following that, implement a series of measures to rein in the tremendous amount of fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid. Couple increased services and entitlements with true cost-cutting reforms for a truly cost-neutral plan going forward.

3. Take measures to decouple health coverage from employment, which would allow much more freedom of choice and would not penalize people who are laid off (COBRA is extremely expensive), or who work in a volatile industry and change jobs often. Foster other means of collective bargaining for insurance that doesn't depend on a person's employer or union to help those people who are unemployed, self-employed or who don't have the best choices in health care provided by an employer.

4. Ignore the advice, plunge wildly ahead with another 1000+ page bill that will be passed without being read by anyone voting on it. Load the bill up with all kinds of pork, guarantee huge cost overruns, completely ignore the cries of common sense or the constituents, blaspheme the Constitution, and generally treat the economy like a bunch of thugs wielding crowbars and chains beating a poor victim to death in the back alley somewhere. When the victim cries for help, whack him good, be sure to break some bones, and tell the victim you _are_ helping him. Make sure the blood doesn't splatter on your Armani. When things go exactly as expected and reform makes things worse, blame your opponents or the rich.

If you chose 4, congratulations, you have undergone enough intellectual and moral devolution to qualify for Congress. For bonus points, make seditious comments against the military, kowtow to our enemies and steal candy from babies.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Senators Respond

Well, after my strongly worded plea to Senators Warner and Webb, I eventually received replies from both.

I did not care for Senator Warner's reply. It was extremely generic and made it sound to me like he had every intention of voting for the Cap-and-Trade bill. He mentioned the seriousness of the so-called global warming program, and said that the science "supports" the need for "dramatic changes", but briefly mentioned that this need must be balanced with economic considerations.

Senator Webb's response was much better in my opinion. He more strongly balanced the rhetoric for environmental concerns with mentions of the many obvious down sides to this legislation. It looks to me like the statement of someone who is seriously considering the issue, and is willing to acknowledge that there will be many, serious side-effects from this plan.

Both may vote either way, but from these letters, I would suspect Senator Webb is more likely to vote against this horrible bill than Senator Warner.

Of course, since the carbon-dioxide-phobics never mention the very reasonable alternative of nuclear power, which proves to me that none of them are interested in anything more than they are interested in harming the American economy. Besides, isn't water vapor a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2? And why won't any of these flat-earthers, excuse me, _hot_-earthers acknowledge that the climate has levelled off and has been getting slightly cooler for the last decade.

Those inconvenient truths...

I've been following the science at sites like Watts Up With That and there's no doubt in my mind that not only is the debate not over, it's changing rapidly and not in the direction the end-of-the-world types are so invested in.

The day the correlation between the global warming issue and political spectrum (left vs. right) isn't almost perfect is the day I'll start considering the science has something conclusive to say.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Independence Day? Independence from What?

Independence Day may have finally outlasted its legacy. Independence Day may have finally outlived its meaning. Our country may not even deserve the right to celebrate this holiday any more, this recognition of a declaration of human sovereignty, this recognition of a declaration of inalienable rights that can be granted or refused by our Almighty Creator alone, this recognition of a declaration that each and every person has a right, and a duty, to govern himself, to hold himself to a moral standard, defined by God and recognized and codified throughout the history of Western civilization, to be, in a word, independent.

Is it hypocritical to celebrate Independence Day when our government is far more oppressive, far more restricting of our rights, far more confiscatory of our property, than the government from which our national forefathers originally fought and gained independence?

How can the citizens of this country, in good conscience, and without hypocrisy, celebrate the founding of a Republic which no longer exists, the brilliant yet simple Constitution written by men of wisdom, based upon the eternal and objective truths, which is essentially irrelevant, the ideals of individual liberty and of a limited government with narrow enumerated powers which are mocked relentlessly by the sprawling, unholy behemoth whose existence blasphemes against the idea of a government "of the people, by the people and for the people"?

How can this country pride itself in its recognition of the unique nature of man, who owes his will, intellect and many inalienable rights to his Creator, and yet confer personhood unto corporations, nonhuman and artificial entities which can engage in any manner of illicit or immoral behavior for which their human constituents are often as not never held to account?

How can we citizens even consider the idea that we remain independent? How can we consider the idea that we have not, through ignorance, through neglect, and often through choice, slowly but surely parceled off our independence, our liberties, bit by bit, over the decades, but rapidly increasing in recent years and months, for security, for convenience, for "fairness"?

This President and this Congress are a mockery of everything Independence Day stands for. This President, who if not a literal alien, is an alien to the American experience, an alien to the America ideals, an alien to everything that sets, or used to set, this country above and apart from every other... this President who was instructed at the feet of Marxists, this President who has associated with racists, terrorists, and criminals of all stripe, this President whose success, whose career, whose election had nothing to do with his merit, his accomplishments, or any other quality than his brazenness, his duplicity and his corruption. This Congress, charged with dispensing the legislation of our government, based upon and limited by the Constitution has become a marketplace of influence, buying and trading their very own power, compromising with each other how best to squander the riches they confiscate, not representing us, but using us to further their own interests, their own agenda.

These scoundrels must hate the idea of Independence Day. These dastards must take offense at the very idea of a free citizenry. These parasites must rail and chafe against the idea that each and every person in this great nation, for which hundreds of thousands gave their lives, can and should govern themselves. These would-be tyrants should denounce Independence Day, if there were any morsel of honesty in their words. Instead, they would have us celebrate Dependence Day. They would have us recognize that we owe our well-being, our livelihood, even very existence to the State. They would hold it as self-evident that the State's inalienable rights are to determine who lives and who dies, define morality and impose it at the point of a gun, and to pursue not equal opportunity among the governed, but equal results.

This President and this Congress do not see themselves as representatives of the citizenry, but as our superiors, our masters, our instructors. They do not see themselves as bringing the ideals of their constituents from across the land, and coming together to hash those ideals out to determine the proper way for the great men and women of this country to govern themselves. No, they see it is their duty, in fact their right, to determine for us what our ideals should be, to determine how best it is for us to live our lives, to determine ultimately how best we can serve them, so they in their benevolent wisdom can nurse us on the teat of their moral superiority, ensuring that the efforts of no one result in any greater benefit to him, than to his fellow.

While denying the dominion, even the existence of God, these would-be saviors, these would-be overseers, these would-be nursemaids have claimed for themselves the very mantle of the Almighty. Our leaders would claim for themselves a moral authority that is His alone. They claim for themselves a superiority in kind and degree over the governed that is His alone. They claim for themselves an oblation of time, talent and treasure which is owed to Him alone. They claim for themselves all these things for the benefit of their subjects, subjects who they believe are incapable of taking care of themselves, subjects who must be forced to do those things which their leaders in their wisdom decree best.

They claim for themselves the right, the authority and the power to nullify any consequences of a person's behavior, so that all might be made equal, in the name of fairness. They claim for themselves the duty and the privilege to determine what each person should receive, to protect each from the actions of the other, but to also protect each from the actions of himself. They claim for themselves, and will soon achieve, if we continue to let them, the power to reduce all of us from sovereign persons in the eyes of God to subhuman animals, smothered in a ever-loving, ever-caring, ever-controlling arms of Mother State.

And we have the nerve, the gall, the stupidity to celebrate independence?

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Letter to My Senators

Senator Warner/Webb:

I have read with great alarm and disgust that this insane and reckless "Cap-and-Trade" Bill has passed the House.

I cannot for the life of me understand how members of Congress can, in good conscience, vote for bills with hundreds and hundreds of pages, with thousands and thousands of items, each one of which has the potential to radically damage our rights, our economy and the very functioning of this country.

If there is any hope for maintaining what little sanity in this country, and what little respect we citizens have left for our national legislators, and what little remains of the Constitutionality of this great country, I insist that you vote against this bill, and do everything within your power to convince your fellow Senators that this bill is utter folly and is tantamount to economic suicide.

I have no doubts that you are aware of the frustration, anger and disgust that is unprecedented towards the reckless antics of the last few Congresses, and especially this current one, and a President who acts more like some kind of tinpot banana-republic dictator than the leader of the Free World. I feel as if you folks, as a whole, are treating this country as nothing more than a big piƱata, battering it, and us, relentlessly to see what goodies you can expose as it ruptures. The people have spoken against the bailouts and yet it did no good. The people have spoken out about the so-called stimulus and yet it did no good. The people have spoken out against earmarks and yet it did no good. Frankly, I wonder if there is anything we can do any more to stop the literal rapine of generations' worth of wealth in the support of mindless rhetoric, shameless demagoguery and outright lies coming out of our government these days.

It seems to me that Congress, as well as this President, have abandoned all pretense of abiding by the Constitution's specific enumeration of limited powers to the federal government. I feel utterly betrayed at the brazenness of these bills, the gall of passing something that members haven't even read, that members literally could not read in the time given. If anyone else in the world were to perform his job in this way, he would be fired for negligence, but for a Congressman or Senator, this is Standard Operating Procedure. To me it is a mockery of the duties and responsibilities of such important jobs, and shows willful abandonment of the oath to protect and defend our Constitution.

Our President and this Congress are systematically dismantling everything that made this country great, that made this country unique in the history of the world, that has allowed this country to become the most free, most productive and richest country in the history of Mankind. We are witnessing the end of our Republic as it has existed for 230 years, but which in the past decades has become further and further distanced from every idea upon which it was founded.

If our Founding Fathers knew what this country had become they would be ashamed and disgusted, too. They would especially be ashamed at the degeneration and devolution of their successors to the high offices of the Republic who have let politics and greed become the defining ideals of the United States. They would be shamed at the flagrant violation of each and every item in the Bill of Rights, with the exception of the Third Amendment, with the ease at which Congress rationalizes every power grab, every clear disregard for the intent of the Constitution, every show of contempt for the sacred ideals of limited government, of the people, by the people and for the people, confident in the knowledge that nothing will stand in their way.

Please vote against this legislation and do everything you can to convince your fellow Senators to reject this Bill. It will do nothing to help the environment, but do practically everything possible to ruin our economy, and thus, this country.

Rick Gutleber
Leesburg, VA

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hypocrisy in the Age of "Sacrifice"

Of all all these rich liberals who support Obama and his ilk, why is it none of them ever offers additional money to the government, and I would suspect, tend to engage in every tactic possible to avoid, at least legally, paying taxes?

Many of these liberals support charitable causes and are generous with their money, often doing many admirable things to help others. However, they are never more generous to the government they vocally adore, or the President whom they treat, sometimes literally, as a deity, than they need to be. We can be sure of this because no self-respecting liberal in the public eye would contribute in such a way without using it as an example, or even as a means of self-aggrandizement, especially if the person is a politician.

And yet, in a time when the President and Congress are growing our government at a rate faster than any time except perhaps World War II, why are none of the supporters of these overreaching statists setting a good example and demonstrating their obvious faith in the government by making contributions to it? Why don't they put their money where there mouths are? If it's good enough for Joe the Plumber, why isn't it good enough for Barbra Streisand? Can't you imagine the fanfare of some great would-be philoanthropist personally handing a giant check for, say, one million dollars to a Senator or Congressman, or (gasp!) even the President himself, to be deposited into the general treasury? What a photo op that would be!

Is it because, they, like every good American, know that it's largely a waste? Is it possible that even in their minds, sodden as they are with visions of the Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent State, they acknowledge the universal truth that the Federal government is largely incompetent, wasteful and even corrupt?

I respect the idea of people of any political mien sharing their money with any cause they deem appropriate, because that is their right, even duty. Many liberals support causes such as the environment, education, and eliminating poverty, causes that transcend politics and support of which does much good. But none of them, so far as I've ever heard, are willing to turn over their largesse to the coffers of government. Why do these folks get to pick how their money is spent, but want everyone else, especially the rich, to have no say? Sure, they might contribute to building a playground, or a clinic, or a nature preserve, all admirable causes, but isn't the government also an admirable cause? And if not, why not?

Of course, charity is not always prevalent among these kinds of people. Why are people like the Obamas and the Bidens, who, though rich, contributing almost nothing to charity, while constantly lecturing us, even preaching to us, about how we must sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, for the good of others?

Hasn't anyone in Washington ever learned one of the most basic lessons of life that you sway more people by actions than words? I mean even if the likes of President George W. Bush, who contributes far more than any recent Democrat president, are giving charity solely for appearance's sake, they're still doing it. Appearance is everything in politics, we are led to believe, so wouldn't even the appearance of caring for others be worth enough to contribute generously, regardless of the actual effect or intent?

Are these politicians really that dense? Do they really not care? Are they truly the hypocrites they appear to be? Is there any other conceivable explanation?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Republicans in the Era of Obama

So it seems the Republicans are now beating the Democrats in one of those generic (i.e., meaningless) Rasmussen polls. Huh. How about that? The Bible the President was sworn in on isn't even cool yet, and things are already trending to the Other Guys. The President has the lowest approval rating of any President in the last 40 years, except Clinton, at the proverbial "100 Days" mark and people are starting to look back to the opposition party they just got through tossing out of office. Wow. Short attention span much?

My first reaction is, "The Republicans? Are they even still around?" How many times are we going to play this stupid game? The Democrats spent decades running up spending and bloating the government, so we kick them out and vote in the Republicans, who will save us from the incompetent Democrats. The Republicans proceed to, er, run up spending and bloat the government, so we kick _them_ out and vote the Democrats back in, to save us from the corrupt Republicans. Oh, yeah, now we remember why we hated the Democrats. They're incompetent. Say... those Republicans are looking pretty good right now.

Does anyone else see a pattern here? It's the Battered Wife Syndrome. Conservatives keep going back to the Republicans based on the promise, true decades ago, but no longer, that they will help reform government and possibly rescue it from teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Then we get kicked in the nadgers. But we keep coming back, because, gosh!, where else are we going to go?

When will this country get a proper conservative, small-government, individual freedom/responsibility party, because I watched the Republicans from 2000 to 2006 and they certainly weren't that party? They essentially took a dive in 2008 by running yet another candidate whose heart wasn't in the race (shades of Bush 1 and Dole), and elected a total enabler for the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. Remind me again why they deserve anyone's support? Because they oppose the President's seemingly deliberate economic sabotage and surrender-monkey foreign policy? Sorry, that's not enough. Not nearly enough.

Right now, the Republicans track record is abysmal on almost every issue except National Security. There is no one at the national level that inspires any kind of confidence and support from the beleaguered true conservatives, who keep hanging in there, doing their jobs, obeying the law, raising moral families and being productive citizens. The few that were there have sold themselves out so thoroughly even True Believers have given up hope, seemingly being less capable of doublethink and more immune to self-deception than the Obama worshippers.

There are some good possibilities for the future from the state level, Governors Palin, Jindal, Perry and Sanford, but since the Chairman of the RNC apparently, like our President, was picked for his skin color as opposed to having anything to offer to the job, the Republican Party at the national level is, as far as I'm concerned, moribund. The Zombie Party won't save us from the Cult of Personality and its army of Useful Idiots. "Night of the Living Dead" didn't have so much aimless shambling around.

It's going to take a lot more than agreeing that Obama is bad for this country in order to save it.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Perfect Rock Ballad

And now for something completely different... I wrote this back in September 2003, but wanted to post it (with a little editing) for some friends to read. It regards a song from Spock's Beard's "Feel Euphoria" release from that summer.


Rick's Top Ten Reasons Why "Shining Star" is the Perfect Rock Ballad

First off, I'm generally not a big fan of rock ballads. I think the form was generally perfected by Justin Hayward's and John Lodge's laments of unrequited love in the mid 70's and has generally been beat to an undignified death in the intervening years. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't numerous good examples still being produced, usually in non-obvious places.

Here's my list of 10 reasons why this is, in my opinion the perfect rock love song, in no particular order.

1. Nick's vocals are clean, clear and emotive. He doesn't have that raspy, limited range singing that plagues most rock balladeers, nor does he beat us senseless with brutal and shrill vocal gymnastics like Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey, etc. He just sings the song, does it well, and does a superb job of displaying the affection he feels for Tiffany.

2. This is no wimpy song even if it is mellow. It is definitely crankable, thanks to excellent production, Nick's tasty, groovy, understated drums, Al's great guitar, and especially Dave's smoov, sexy bass playing. The song has real mass behind it. Plus, it would be great to dance to.

3. Tambourine. 'Nuff said.

4. The refrain takes a different direction. Just like "Carie", the song takes a few unpredictable turns, which keep it from being a just a boring, old MoR radio staple, but a really cool piece of music. The ending is even better because being rather abrupt it leaves you wanting just a bit more.

5. The lyrics. First we know it's a real song about real people, which is a big plus, because we have all heard Tiffany talk about Nick and see that they seem to have that story book romance. The tactile references in the beginning are very evocative ("wind flows over me", "blood rush to my skin") and contrast neatly with the spiritual overtones ("You're there to open a door", "Shine your light on me" "the love that lights my way") highlighting the emotional/intellectual aspect with the physical/sensual aspect of deep, abiding romantic love. Very powerful, when you really start to think about it.

6. Like any good love song, there is an element of longing... we know the particulars: Nick is on the road for weeks at a time, and that absence is a hardship even as it paradoxically contributes to the strength of a relationship.

7. How could I not mention Al's guitar... dreamy, expressive yet subtle, the solo is short, sweet, and perfect for the moment. The steel guitar-style sound in the beginning complements the fretless bass in an awesome way to create a warm, fuzzy safe feeling that perfectly echoes the mood of the words... and the little volume-control bits remind me of another perfect rock ballad "Walking on Air" from King Crimson's "Thrak", a song that has a lot of similar elements.

8. The first few notes at the beginning of the song, when the guitar kicks in, reminds me very strongly of the beginning of the old Tempations' classic "My Girl". I don't know if that's on purpose, an accident or a product of my weird brain wiring, but it's cool nonetheless.

9. This was originally a personal reference to one of the members of the mailing list that would be utterly out of context and pointless here. Instead I will add the Ryo's very understated keyboards, especially his organ playing, don't stand out and grab you, but the song would be much diminished if they weren't there. This is the mark of a good artist and a superb ensemble performance.

10. The production, like that of all of Spock's Beard music, is excellent. The beginning is very clean and simple, but the refrain is lush, without sounding mushy or muffled. Just perfect. Rich Mouser's work should be required studying for anyone in the music production business, many of whom seem to have completely forgotten how to make a record sound good.

Along with "Walking On Air" and a list of other songs I will perhaps one day compile, this is something I would have liked to have been able to play at my wedding.