"I wish they would only take me as I am" - Vincent Van Gogh               "How Can I believe in God when just last week I got my tounge caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" - Woody Allen              "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" - Henry David Thoreau              "I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia" - Woody Allen            "When promulgating esoteric cogitations, eschew platitudinous ponderosities" - Mark Rowan, my father            "Up, sluggard, and waste not life, for in the grave there will be sleep enough" - Benjamin Franklin             "What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." - Albert Einstein            "Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence" - Ronald Reagan            "It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you." - Lady Bird Johnson              "I still want to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags in their pickup truck" - Howard Dean

Monday, January 26, 2009

An Odd Incentive Structure

One argument I often hear regarding Universal Health Care (that I rarely give much credence to) is that it is a conflict of interest to have the same people that are charged with funding your retirement be in charge of prolonging your life. In other words, it creates an incentive to provide less than stellar care, because it means a reduction in social security payouts. Again, I don't think this is a strong argument, despite the fact that it may be technically true. I just can't believe that any policies would be enacted that would see this to fruition.

However, a similar sort of conflict of interest seems to be too much for Speaker Pelosi:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government

Now, there are certainly valid reasons for wanting to extend family planning services. Similarly, I think it is valid that the state supplies services such as education and health care for children (although maybe not to quite the extent that the current congress has decided). Yet, this exchange strikes me as creepy; that the third most powerful person in our government (and one unlikely to be strongly opposed by her senate counterpart or the executive branch) believes that she should be targeting birth rates in order to balance the government's checkbook.

Again, there are certainly valid reasons to support family planning: reduce the number of abortions, promote womens health, etc... This is certainly not one.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And so it begins...

He's sticking to at least one campaign promise....
U.S. President Barack Obama may order a hold on a proposal issued in the final days of the Bush administration to expand offshore drilling in previously banned areas, an Interior Department official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Shortly after being sworn in on Tuesday, Obama ordered all federal agencies and departments to halt pending regulations until they can be reviewed by incoming staff.

An Interior official said the department is waiting for clarification from the White House on whether a proposed draft of a five-year plan to lease areas in the Atlantic and Pacific waters for oil and natural gas drilling can go forward.
The link is HERE.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Born Again?

To add to my previous post, this website pisses me right off. This is a perfect example of how for some people, love of country is contingent upon something else, in this case the election of Barack Obama. Sounds more like "Fair-weather Americans". Now, admittedly, this site does not express itself as a supporter of Barack Obama, nor does it claim to be Democratic. Yet, the verbage and timber makes it clear, to me, that it is so aligned.

Why should one only love their country when their party is in power? As a Republican I'm very much out of power...but I love my country nonetheless. Where were these people over the past 8 years? Did they not consider themselves American? Where will they be in 4, 8, or 12 years? Will they still consider themselves American if and when Republicans take control?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Early Thoughts on the Obama Presidency

Two things have come up recently in a number of other blogs that I want to comment on.

The first is a series of pictures of Iranians burning pictures of President Obama. They've come up on a number of "conservative sites" that I frequent (as well as the few "liberal sites" I check). These were standard fare during the last 8 years, but they still pissed me off every time I saw it. What was worse was the response from many of his fellow Americans. Many people tried to justify the actions, and some people even mimicked them during protests and rallies. Now that the target of hate has changed, I'm still pissed off. I may not agree with him on many issues (I'll get to that in a second), but he's still the leader of my country and a fellow American. Fortunately the sites that have posted these images have also condemned them, something I wish the Liberal sites I read would have done over the past 8 years.

Now, to some early complaints. Awhile back, I think over at The Corner they had a discussion about the difference between conservative love of country, and liberal love of country. I think these generalizations are often very wrong, and at the time I didn't give it much merit. However, someone said that the difference was that 'conservatives love their country for what it is, what it has been, and despite its faults, while liberals love their country for what it could be'. America would be great, if only we elected Senator Obama. America would be great, if only we had universal health care. Again, I have enough liberal friends to know that this characterization is not true. However, I continually get the impression that it fits for President Obama. Throughout his campaign he talked about fundamentally changing America. More recently, on his (very humble) train trip to DC he said at one stop that "we need a new Declaration of Independence". I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that much of this is just his normal aggrandized rhetoric, but it really rubs me the wrong way. I don't think there's anything wrong with the fundamentals of our country, and I don't think we need a new Declaration of Independence. We may need to change some details, but I love my country the way it is.