Search This Blog

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Senate Looking good!

October 1 around the corner and the R's are looking good to take the Senate by a squeaker.  Daines in MT, Capito in WV, and Rounds in SD have double digit leads.  Cassidy leads Landrieu in LA 51-38 but in Louisiana's all comers style election these two will probably meet in a Dec. runoff.  Cotton leads Pryor 43-38 in AR.  (And when a challenger leads an incumbent with a lot of undecided, the undecided usually go 3:1 for the challenger.  Pryor is toast.) 
     That's 5 pickups.  Now in KS the race between Roberts and Orman is unclear.  Roberts may pull it off, but let's say for argument sake he doesn't.  That is a loss of 1 and so there are 4 net pickups for the R's.  It gets better.
     In AK the R, Sullivan has an edge or incumbent D, Begich in the last three polls.  Polls are hard in AK because of the vast distances and unknown turnout.  So this one is leaning R.  CO recent polls show Gardner leading by a slim two points.  But this is leaning R since challengers usually pick up undecided.  If R's win these two states, that makes their net +6 and they take the Senate. 
    And Iowa is a dead heat.  Could be another pickup.  No more Harkin barkin'.  R's just have to kiss the ethanol stone while lying on their back.
    Plus the chancy states for R's look like they are holding on.  McConnell has 5 point lead in KY because he has bludgeoned his challenger with Obama's coal policies.  GA's Perdue looks like he is now 4 points ahead of Nunn, the Dem.  Again, the R's hold this seat.  Meanwhile NH and NC look like Dems will hold these two by a small margin.  MI goes Dem but it was before. 
    One theory of late election swings say that undecideds often go with the flow or "wave" which would be Republican.  Another says that the undecideds go with or against a Prez depending on his poll numbers.  R's win this again.  We will just have to wait and see.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Something is rotten in Denver

Have  you heard about the HS students who are spontaneously protesting an AP American History course because the book encourages patriotism?  This strikes me as really, Really fishy because I was in HS once, and often debated with teachers.  The first thing that strikes me as utterly weird is the “spontaneous protest” label.  Why would students protest a class that which they have not yet taken?  Why would 1000 kids protest a class that only a very few take? In my old high school if you told the kids they would have no prom or homecoming, they would rise up to the man and protest.  But tell them they are getting a new algebra book or history book and they lean forward, arms crossed across the desk and say, “whatever!” Methinks the students doth protest too much. And they’re being orchestrated.

Secondly, they protest patriotism?  Since when does someone who goes to Ponca High Wildcat land say, “Well, I actually favor the Maroons or the Pioneers.”?  Such talk is heresy! School patriotism is so thick in the air it is almost blinding.  And concerning patriotism for the country, what senior doesn’t know some fellow student who last year joined the Marines or the Army?

Jerry Shaw, Osage and retired Director of Native American Studies at Wichita State University was my first American History teacher, the year after he graduated from college.  He used the book but also taught, with family stories about the Indian mistreatment and the KKK.  We talked Slavery and Southern States Rights from every angle.  I don’t even remember the title of our book.  The teacher supplemented the material.  But in the end, Jerry noted, most Indians are patriotic and proud.  A high proportion enlist in the military.  America may have its faults, but Americans also look faults square in the eye and admit our mistakes. America owns up to it and forgives.

 Not so for many in the rest of the world.  We’ve had 5 foreign exchange kids.  They come from countries older than ours by a thousand years.  All have stories of sad portions of their history when some tyrant or foreign power ruled and thus they are a little put off by Americans who tend to lecture everyone else.  USA is lucky to have had no disastrous era.  But rarely do you hear any admission of guilt from overseas.  It was always the fault of a bad king or some others—never the people themselves.  So what about the Japanese soldiers who raped Korean women so badly that the two countries don’t get along to this day? What about Russian genocide in Latvia?

Turkey.  In 1917, knowing that they would lose and be reduced to Asia Minor, the Turks decided to kill off all the Christian Armenians.  The holocaust of 1.5 million Armenians was not protested by the West hence Hitler concluded, he could pull the same number on Jews with little problem. The Ottomans claimed every first born son of Christians to be property of the state.  They carted them off to Istanbul, castrated them and made they Muslims, eunuchs and a crack division of palace guards.   Have you ever heard a Turk say sadly that his country lamented this?

So considering the students in Denver, who would be orchestrating them?  Look for someone who hates patriotism because they can’t forgive.  Someone who just wants to rub American noses in the dirt.  Who would do this?

The Left.  Slavery and Indian  and Irish mistreatment must be a source of never-ending unforgiveness. But what about their own mistakes made by progressive Presidents?  The Left  will never admit to mistakes like Reagan did about the Beirut bombing.  Wilson’s principles in Versailles and Trianon Treaty after WW I were so harsh and divisive on the German people and the Balkans it set them up to look for a strongman, a dictator.  I’ve never heard a liberal American historian conclude this even though most historians worldwide now take it as a given.  Whatever history book the left wants probably concludes that poor old Woodrow was so victimized by Europeans and Republicans that he had a stroke.  FDR’s New Deal shocked the business world so badly they hunkered down and the recession of 1931 grew into a Great Depression.  You’ll never hear the left admit that either.

Who then do I expect instigated the student riot?  My suspicion is the NEA.  Tune in again next week when 1000 students protest that new Calculus book used by the 18 advanced placement students.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

what happened to the jobs

The answer to this in the news media is that they grew bored with that topic and moved on to ISIS and immigration.  The economic answer is, however, most fascinating. 

            37 recessions in US history and only 3 have had employment histories that are asymmetric.  That is, the usual recession has a drop in employment over some time period and then rebounds just as fast is it declined. A plot of employment vs. time is a symmetric trough.  Except  in 1931, 1937 and 2007. 

            Here’s what we see.  From Dec. 2007 to Dec. 2009 employment dropped by 11 million.  It is common for employment to lag GDP growth by about six months.  So when the recession ended and GDP turned around in July 2009, employment kept dropping until December.  Then there was a normal jobs rebound until March of 2010. Obamacare became law in March 2010.  Thereafter jobs have grown slowly and it was only last month, August 2014, that the number of jobs has recovered to where it was in Dec. 2007.  But now look at part-time vs. full time employment.  Part time unemployment normally grows a bit during a recession, while full time jobs die off.  Then as the economy recovers the reverse happens.  Full time jobs grow while part-timers decline. This happened normally from 2007 to March 2010.  Since then, the part-time market has not declined but flat-lined for over 4 years.  Full time employment has grown but still lacks 3 million to match were it was in 2007.  What’s going on?

            The economists are telling us that when Obamacare became law, the insurance premium projections of businesses rose dramatically and businessmen, quick to plan ahead, noticed.  With projections of several thousand dollars per employee cost increases, full time employment lagged and part time employment flat-lined.  Part time status is 35 hours per week but Obamacare calls you full time for insurance purposes if you work 30 hours per week.  Having to ante up several thousand dollars to cover part timers had a chilling effect.

            So the lack of growth in full time jobs, the flat-lining of part time employment and the utter dissolution of jobs which have 30-35 hours weekly has led the public to conclude that they don’t believe  the recession has ended at all—even though GDP has grown for 5+years. 72% of the public thinks we are still in recession.

            We haven’t seen this sort of government-threatening of businesses since the NRA and assorted alphabet soup programs of the New Deal.  And for the first recession in years, a “jobless recovery” of sorts.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Obamacare's impending disaster

I was visiting with a friend and fellow small businessman.  We are both 64 and male.  He said his health insurance had risen from $4000 a year to $11,000, from 2009 to 2014.  Those numbers are similar to mine. Our insurers are both mutuals—essentially non-profit insurance companies. “How can this be!” my Obama-supporting friends will protest. 

            Here’s how.  First Obamacare demands that many more things be covered than used to characterize a policy group for my friend.  He’s covered for pregnancy and birth control now.  He’s also gotten a little older. But the big reason for his costs is that he now gets lumped together with all the people who were poorly insurable, the dope smokers with pierced eyebrows, the rodeo cowboys and others who take health risks, the extremely obese who refuse to diet.  Entrepreneurs like him don’t smoke or have a lot of vices.  Starting your own business is harrowing and difficult with little room for doing stupid stuff.  If you want to start a business from scratch, you must first save up some scratch, usually 30 or 40% of your start-up costs.  Discipline.  And insurers know that a small businessman is no hypochondriac.  He laughs about how he had hernia surgery and the day the doc released him from the hospital, he was back working.  Better “moving slow” than no sales at all.  So, his $7000 “tax” (as the Supreme Court called the mandate) is now supporting the poorly insurable and approximately 1 million new people who have health care (8 million announced by Obamacare consist of 6.1M who were forced off their old policies and .9M who signed up but never paid their premiums).
            Armchair theorists were telling us last winter how people who now had insurance would feel free to start their own businesses.  Sorry. Entrepreneurship works the other way around.

            But next year we both go on Medicare.  Enjoy Medicare while you can.  The seniors have all screamed about loss of Medicare.  Neither party nor any federal official will ever take Medicare away.  But here’s what is happening.  As a single payer system, the single payer just refuses to pay as much as it used to.  Within ten years, Medicare payments will be about half what they are today—already down 30% from 2005.  So Medicare will become like Medicaid in some sense.  The situation won’t pay for a doc or hospital to take the patients.  What then? They will check to see if you have a handsome supplemental. (Another $4000 or $11,000 policy)  By the Hippocratic Oath, docs aren’t supposed to discriminate on the basis of ability to pay, but there are other methods to determine if a patient can be a client or have a procedure. (1 in 50 doctors now take Medicaid)  The docs will continue to shut down practices, either to “retire” or join large clinics and hospitals. You’ll probably see a Physician’s Assistant if you are on Medicare.   

            The other shoe hasn’t dropped.  That’s when employer mandates will be enforced.  Heritage Foundation estimates 60-90M people will lose their employer subsidized insurance.  Yikes! There are only 145M full and part-time workers.  That’s roughly half of everybody.  So all those people will soon be trying to navigate, and paying $11K like my friend.

            Now just think about where all this takes us.  We have gone through all this hope and change so far to add just another million folks.  It is costing the average self-insured person 44% more.  This disaster will soon spread to about half the working population.  Our economy is sunk when everyone gets their bill.  Of the 1600 healthcare insurance companies in 2009, we are now down to about 400 and falling. 

            Is there any reason not to vote conservative Republicans into office to fix this mess?    

Thursday, September 18, 2014


            Some stuff I understand and some I don’t.  So why is the National Football League under fire because a few of their athletes are abusive of women and kids?  Of course it doesn’t reflect well on the sport but how is it the fault of the NFL or their CEO, the commissioner?  Has anyone investigated WWE?  Or chess players?  Okay, so the critics just want us to have a discussion of abuse.  But then if we discuss the topic of over-discipline why aren’t we including the topic of too little discipline.  It seems to me that the true epidemic is a society of almost no discipline at all.  Many renters suffer from this.  They fight and the police have to be called.  They can’t learn to budget.  They lie about the dogs, the breakage and the missing payments. They may have an IQ of 134 but their emotional IQ is about 80 and the ethical IQ is 65.  They are just the opposite of Forest Gump.  This is why they can’t seem to get ahead in life and are constantly mad at the world.  No discipline, no descent father, no responsibility.  Last night a guy came and wanted a copy of his rental agreement.  No problem.  I ran off a copy.  No, he needed one without his wife’s name on it so that the city would hook up his utilities.  She had a $600 arrears bill and the city doesn’t hook up the power and water unless the recipient makes some attempt to pay the old bill.  And he wanted me to lie to the city?

            Now for something I do understand.  Rush and Hannity and every other commentator on talk radio is decrying the lack of a message by GOP candidates.  Why, oh why, won’t the party stand up and say what it believes?  I know.  I’ve been a campaign manager and I will tell you why.  If a candidate is running for state senator or representative, his district is 90,000 or 37,000 people.  That is small enough that he can just about know everyone in the district.  Or if not, when someone has a problem, they talk to friends and someone says, “Oh yeah, call the guy.  He’s approachable!”  And that personal popularity is how these guys win. They say what they think.  But when you talk about federal offices, the size of a congressional district is 760,000 people and most people get their info in 30 second ad spots bought by big money on radio or TV.  The image projected is how they get elected.  A fatal mistake is to make a controversial statement early and have the other side make a field day of it in their ads.  So consultants say you shouldn’t say anything definitive until the end of September.  But most voters have made up their minds by then!  Only about 10% are undecided a month away from an election. This same consultant baloney is spread to candidates in state legislative races because the consultants learned it in school.  It’s a truism.  But it leaves many voters gnashing their teeth over lack of committal.  It is especially held as sacred by the political establishment. Newt disobeyed it in 1994 and won anyway.  Since then the old politics has returned. And since only the R's are strong on a political philosophy, the advice works to their detriment when voters grow disillusioned.  D's benefit.

            Here’s how we could fix it.  The orginal concept of the founders was for the people’s House to have Reps who represented about 50,000 people.  Nothing in the Constitution restricts the size of the House.  It could be 2435 members or 435 members.  If it was 2435, each member would represent about the same number as a state senator and the retail politics of listening to concerns, voting what his citizens desire, having town hall meetings, would be back in style.  The entire House would have to use the internet to debate and do certain things.  Major votes could take place in a larger Capital building in Washington.

            Meanwhile the popular election of Senators creates a House of Lords who all think they will surely be the next President.  The founders thought the Senate would be the States House, members appointed by governors or legislators, and could have their chain yanked at the behest of the states.  If we can’t bring ourselves to not having a popular election, perhaps we should have the states given the ability to cast a vote of no confidence, prompting another election.
            But given the present circumstances, what can be done?  Candidates running for US Senate should state their general principals much ahead of time.  But that's usually a yawn to the news media so you get little coverage.  Gingrich began his Contract with America right after Labor Day.  Good strategy to list 10 things you support and get many signatures thus nationalizing the elections.  But Senators are such individual egotists, this would be hard to get agreement.  Personally, I think the RNC should promote one Senator as the guy to state party goals quite loudly, maybe someone who really doesn't want to run for President but who looks Presidential so it tickles the media's fancy.  And, the guys who do want to run for Prez, should be out there promoting other R's right and left if they have no election of their own.  Sarah Palin principle.

            What I don’t understand is how someone like Landreiu or Roberts thinks they can represent a state and not live there.  Whether you are and R or a D, you should not serve a place where you don’t live.

            American Journal of Political Science had an article written by scientists from Brown University suggesting that you can identify a liberal or a conservative by how they smell.  True!  Conservatives smell like work and usually sweat.  Libs dress to the nines and smell good.  They come to rent an apartment from us, dressed in flip-flops and shorts, tank tops and 2 inch finger nails.  And they are “paid on the 3rd of each month” which means they are on disability, though you can’t guess what they are disabled for.  No limp or lisp, strong backs, but they do have an allegy to mornings, I think.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tom and Daisy Buchanan

Tom and Daisy Buchanan were characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  Fitzgerald called them the “careless people” who wasted the lives of others. The author notes very aptly that the rich are different than you and I.  Some live recklessly and are able to recover because their money bails them out.  Turning into an alcoholic?  Just check yourself into a tony rehab center.  Affairs?  Pay the women off.  They are immune to the behavior that would ruin ordinary people because they could retreat to the security of their money.  That is what governed the cynical morals of Tom and Daisy.  Add fame to this narrative and it gets  nervously close to the lifestyles of Hollywood and powerful politicians. It is no surprise that Hollywood keeps trying to remake Gatsby as a love story or about hope and change, rather than the ruined-lives tragedy of the book. 

            If ever there were a model of the rich, influencial, Tom and Daisy of politics it is Bill and Hillary.  Bill wasted the lives of ordinary women, at least 8 of them at last count.  But he retreated to his popularity and power, where an army of defenders show up to tell the rest of us that private lives should stay utterly private.  Hill has no skill at politics but she has his name.  She uses it in some sense to get back at him and show him she can do what he does, just like Daisy had an affair with Gatsby to show Tom up.  I remember what really made me understand Hillary.  In 1995 the R’s had taken over Congress and were intent on pursuing scandals such as Hillary’s dubious finances and benefits from Arkansas days.  Hillary’s secretary was called to testify and she tearfully admitted she had spent her life savings of over $100,000 on lawyers to defend herself against this political onslaught.  I thought, what boss would allow this to happen?  Wouldn’t a decent boss get mad and show up in Congress to say, “Hey, stop attacking her!  It’s my skin you want so ask me the questions!”  Hillary did no such thing.  I saw an interview of the secretary a year later.  She had taken another job in another field.  Maybe Hillary will donate one of her $225,000 speech fees to this woman some day.

            In the end, Gatsby gets falsely identified and murdered by the jealous husband of Tom Buchanan’s mistress, killed when Daisy was driving Gatsby’s car. The Buchanan’s quietly shut up and retreat behind their wealth and sly influence of the authorities.  Reminds me of Ted Kennedy who drove his car off Chappaquidick Bridge into shallow, foot-deep low tide water and got his passenger trapped inside the wreck.  Vowing to go for help, he was drunk as a skunk and went back to the house, fell asleep 6 hours as the tide rose and drowned the hapless girl.  But the Kennedy’s are like gods in Mass. and have a close relationship with the authorities.  Anyone else would have been charged with manslaughter 1, at the least.  Ted got a political legacy instead. 

            Sorry if I missed the love story.      

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Did we miss the 9/11 lessons?

Rand Paul.  I would have trouble supporting that guy.  Sean Hannity was trying to make the point that the Iraq war was basically won and that Obama had only to make security arrangements but fell down on the job which allowed ISIS to grow.  Paul avoided comment, so Hannity repeated himself.  Paul would hardly agree, saying that the country was no country at all and that Iraq was probably doomed.  Yeah, but.  If someone declares war on you, it doesn’t matter if you’d rather be on the golf course, you better learn to respond.  Freedom isn’t free.  And that is why Paul seems out of step with most of the Republican party.
            Monica Crowley, Phd. in foreign affairs, says quite correctly that some Muslims are jealous to the point of insanity.  They can’t accept the fact that Christianity and the West has succeeded while Islam and its society has crashed and burned.  They were supposed to be on God’s side! They were supposed to conquer the world! And so we see successful Muslims, going to our schools and practicing their skills in good jobs, yet secretly turning to violent jihad.  Hasan and bin Laden, Tsarneavs and Mohammad Atta, 4 physicians who tried to car bomb Glasgow airport, name after name, all were successes.  (It’s not the dregs of Islamic society who do this.) Yet being successful in the West made them feel like traitors to Islam—a faith and a political society mashed into one.  So just as Islam teaches that ALL people go to hell-- pagans and infidels to burn forever, true Muslims to be refined by torture until they are ready for heaven—except for martyrs for Allah’s faith who go straight to heaven, they choose martyrdom.  And this attitude is proven by their targets.  They hate the success of the West so they targeted the World Trade Center instead of say, a football game where there would have been far more easy casualties.  And they targeted the USA’s political hub—Congress and the President.  But one pilot overflew the White House which is hard to pick out from the air and he crashed into the Pentagon.  The plane that was supposed to hit the Capitol was taken down by passengers and crashed in Pennsylvania. 
            And so we listened to a President speak strong words about ISIS the night before the 9/11 anniversary.  He had hopes that should some disaster occur, he would seem prepared and leaderlike.  It was pretty transparently political, even to MSNBC.  Their commentators kept making the excuse, “Well we couldn’t have done any different because Maliki didn’t want us in Iraq.”  That’s probably the lamest whining I’ve heard in years.  We shall see what the next two years bring.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Politics and Luther

We have had a wild and wooly week in politics.  Steve announced his Interim study on Fracking and Ground Water about a month ago.  Papers wouldn’t print our press release, so we took out ads and ran a “Straight Story From Steve” as we often do to get a story out.  Then suddenly the Oklahoma Environmental Quality guys were investigating fish kills along the Salt Fork River south of town and Steve was right in the thick of the news story.  Today he did interview for a radio station that will go on air tomorrow.  This next week is both the County Fairs for Kay and Osage and Tuesday is the Interim study on Oklahoma City.  Whew!

            But there’s still room for a little humor.  You know how Bill Clinton told us how he once tried Marijuana but didn’t like it and he didn’t inhale.  Well Joe Biden just announced that he once tried a marijuana brownie, but couldn’t keep it lit.  The feds proudly announced that the border is sealed and they had corraled all the illegals out in the Nevada Desert.  We’re talking about Cliven Bundy’s cattle you know.  And the IRS says it was all a silly incident and they never really targeted conservatives or tea partiers.  Oh?  I dare you to wear a Don’t-Tread-On-Me teeshirt or Fair-Tax hat to your audit. 

            And some serious stuff.  I wrote about this last year but it bears repeating.  Glenn Beck often points out that the Reformation was also a Catholic thing—that many people wanted the medieval church reformed and eventually got it done in 1563.  (Beck had Catholic upbringing.) And of course there were many who contributed.  But the stunning break-up into Protestants is traced to 1517 when Luther posted his 95 theses or arguments on a church door.  But where did he mentally break with Catholicism and what were the circumstances?  It is called the Tower Experience.  Here’s the story. Do you remember what the world was doing 500 years ago last night?  In a quiet room in the tower of a college dormitory, a scholar-monk , sat preparing lecture notes on the Psalms.  He had always struggled with Romans 1:16-17, “For I am  not ashamed of the Gospel.  It is the power of God to salvation for anyone who believes. For in it the Righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, ‘the righteous shall live by faith.’”   Luther knew the gospel story and knew it gave salvation, but what was the meaning of the Righteousness of God?  Isn’t that a terrifying thing to encounter--God’s absolute perfection and wrath? How did one know if you ever had enough faith, had confessed enough and been genuine in confession, reformed your life enough?  And what was this thing about ‘to’ and ‘from faith’? 

            As Martin Luther toiled on the lesson of Psalm 31 (or Ps.71, we aren’t sure) it states, “Deliver me in Thy righteousness.” Suddenly he realized that God’s Righteousness is also His unfathomable love that comes after us to deliver.  And that God’s deliverance is entirely His doing.  At which point, Luther said, “Then the entire Holy Scripture became clear to me, and heaven itself was opened to me.”

How’s that? Well, if we didn’t even see Deliverance (i.e. Salvation) coming, it is an utterly free gift--Grace.  And if by grace alone, God’s righteousness is given and credited  to us, then that righteousness is evidenced (revealed)from faith (as the quoted Habakkuk 2:4 passage says). Moreover it inspires us “to faith”.  And as faith and grace are entirely an interaction between the believer and his Lord, Savior and Lover/Friend, two things are true. No church council or bishop or canon can alter it.  And we know the gospel from the very expression of God in His Word.  Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone.

What date did this happen? Well, it was one night in early autumn, since Luther said he had just started the first fire to ward off the chill.  School had just started.  And it was either 1513 or 1514.  (Might have been 500 years ago last night) Luther didn’t remember and scholars can’t figure it out either.  But God truly lit a fire that night. In 1995, the German Catholic church had a conference with the Lutherans and told them with smiles all around, “You know we actually agree heartily with Luther on the Grace.” The presiding cardinal was the guy who would later become Pope Benedict. 

But many historians who have studied the era say they would pick a different date to commemorate the Reformation.  1521 was a debate between Luther and Eck, a Dominican scholar and that highlighted the gulf between the two sides.  Others, more spiritual, say 1515 would be more like it.  That was when Luther taught a year on Romans and published his beliefs which had departed from official teaching (Compendium on Romans).  Compendium was such a bombshell book that the church tried to destroy it.  When John Wesley had his Aldersgate experience 200 years later, he told about a spiritual awakening upon going to a prayer meeting of Moravians on Aldersgate Street. And what was happening when Wesley had this defining moment and conversion.  They were reading Martin Luther’s preface to Compendium on Romans, the only part of the book that was in existence at the time.  So powerful were the words!  In the 1970’s the Vatican ‘found’ the complete text in their libraries in Rome. 

What his exposition of Romans points out about Marty, according to Catholic historian Paul Johnson, was what a profound translator of scripture Luther was. He was also a profound translator of life.  On politics, he made a statement that a lot of people would emphatically nod in agreement even today.  “People often get the prince they deserve.”  Which is to say, if we don’t vote and do it wisely, we are sunk.