Saturday, October 31, 2009

American Values Changing For The Better

Nothing helps bring about a change for the better in American values more so than a good old fashion recession. American history is filled with both good and bad financial times and when times are good - too many Americans become excessive in their spending habits and low in their basic moral values. Over the past year, millions of Americans have seen their on paper financial wealth decrease tremendously and just like in the past - when wealth goes down in the United States - the moral value of helping ones neighbor increases at the same time. I have heard all of my life that money is the root of all evil and maybe that old age wisdom is correct.

Let's face it, in the United States the citizens that have called this nation home for over two centuries have had a checkered past at best. Young Americans are for the first time learning that it is possible to lose everything they have worked for through no fault of their own. That reality is the same one that was experienced by their parents and grandparents in the past and it is a lesson each generation must experience - if they are to learn and grow in a moral way into adulthood. There is an old song that says something like "life is about change, nothing ever stays the same". Those words are as true today as they were generations ago. Good financial times are only successful over the long run, if they are followed by more difficult times - which help Americans understand that nothing long lasting happens without a good moral foundation to build upon.

In 2009, the United States is building a moral foundation that will take our great country into the future. Gone are the attitudes of only a year or so ago when narcissism and excessive human self indulgence was the preferred path toward happiness. Now, most Americans are starting to look at their lives in a more inclusive way and that is a good and natural thing that needs to be repeated at this time in history. I believe that this Christmas holiday season will prove that the American people will have readjusted their priorities of life as they start to give more gifts of necessity and fewer gifts of status. My guess is that Christmas 2009 will provide a good road map for future Americans to follow, even when this years recession has been reduced to a distant memory.

The boom and bust cycle of the United States of America serves not only the financial needs of our people, but it also builds something more important than money. No great nation will survive the long run without a rock solid moral foundation. Human experiences of the past prove time and time again that moral foundations are built during times of struggle and hardship and that is exactly what the United States of America is in right now. Before long, the tough financial times of today will fade away and more affluent days will once again take their place. All Americans should rejoice in the hard financial times of today, because without them our nation would have no character and would soon parish from the face of the Earth. When good financial times return to the United States, a new generation will better understand the changing financial landscape of the greatest country on Earth.

Love Listening To Kari Callin Sing

Now that the 2009 edition of America's Got Talent is in the history books, I have been going back over the auditions on this years show. The one person who got a raw deal by the judges this year on AGT was a female singer by the name of Kari Callin. I don't think I am alone in believing that the three judge panel on American's Got Talent made a mistake when they did not send Kari Callin to Las Vegas so the rest of the country could vote on whether or not she should have competed with Kevin Skinner in the final rounds. The only reason I can think of that the AGT judges took a pass on Kari Callin is because she portrayed herself as a victim before her first audition, instead of as a fighter that never let anything get her down.

When Kari Callin sang the song "Somewhere", that was made famous by Barbra Streisand, on her first audition for AGT - she literally knocked the ball right out of the park. I still remember thinking to myself that this girl could likely defeat Kevin Skinner, who was my early favorite to win American's Got Talent 2009. Then when it came time for the judges to decide which contestants would continue to Las Vegas and then to Hollywood in the finals, Kari Callin's name was not announced. I still remember well how Kari Callin brought that audience in Seattle to it's feet and included in those cheering her on were the three judge panel on America's Got Talent.

As Kari Callin knows all too well, life is not perfect or fair and while I believe she earned the right to be considered in the final rounds of America's Got Talent, the three judge panel on that show did not agree. Kari Callin is a very young woman and I personally hope that she will not let the negative experience that was sent her way by AGT as a sign that she should give up on her dream of becoming a professional singer. In fact, I believe that Kari Callin should sign up to compete on the 2010 edition of America's Got Talent and this time there will be millions of Americans that will not just assume that the three judge panel on that show will automatically do the right thing. If Kari Callin takes her amazing voice back to AGT in 2010 and this time portrays herself as a person that did not let adversity get her down - she could definitely be a contender for the championship on that show next year.

Just in case you missed Kari Callin's audition earlier this year on America's Got Talent, you can click here to watch it again. I hope that Kari knows that no matter what comes a persons way there is always something residing deep down inside of all individuals that will allow them to continue on pursuing their dreams. I also believe that everything happens for a reason, but too often times most of us are living too close to the forest to see the trees. Kari Callin - if you happen upon this blog post someday, please know that there are Americans that thought you got a raw deal on the 2009 edition of America's Got Talent and we also want you to try and try again until the powers that be behind that show give you a chance to let the America people give you an up or down vote.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Climate Change Skeptics Love Cold Weather

The fall of 2009 is starting out as one of the coldest on record, at least here in the United States. Conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Internet websites like the Drudge Report are having a field day with the cooler temperatures this fall. Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh have more in common than just their conservative political beliefs, in fact the single issue both of these well known and powerful men believe in is that "Climate Change" is not real. Limbaugh and Drudge, rightly or wrongly, think that "Climate Change" was created as an issue around which liberals from all over the world will unite to take down capitalism.

While I do not see the "Climate Change" movement as the same international conspiracy that Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge do, the constant changing of scientific positions on the issue of "Climate Change" should give even the biggest believers in that concept pause. When I was young, the world was filled with top scientist that were totally convinced that the world was cooling and they even predicted that by the year 2000 - most of the United States would be uninhabitable, because of fringed conditions. Now many of those same scientist are claiming that it will not be a new ice age that will take down mankind, but instead it will be global warming that will bring about the end of our days on this planet.

There is no doubt in my mind that the whole issue of "Climate Change" has been hurt by the likes of former Vice-President Al Gore's participation in trying to sell it to the American people. Long before anyone was talking about global warming or the new more popular politically correct term "Climate Change", Al Gore was telling the world that the combustible engine was the worst thing that ever happened to mankind. With a reputation like that, conservative leaders like Rush Limbaugh were sure to jump on any kind of idea that came out of Al Gore's mouth in the future. Right now, the people that really believe that "Climate Change" is real are being blind sided by a smart politician that sees political gain and profit in attaching himself to their issue.

There is no doubt that within the past 50 years or so the Earth has been warming. The real debate is between people like myself that believe the Earth has warmed and cooled naturally for millions of years before mankind put one once of carbon emissions into the atmosphere and the people that believe that human beings are causing the destruction of the planet Earth because of huge emissions of carbon pollution. There are true believes on both sides of the "Climate Change" debate and in my opinion the extremist that frame this debate for public consumption both have unspoken motives when presenting their case. I believe that no one reading this post will be alive when the world finds out for sure if "Climate Change" is man made or not, so why don't we just focus on enjoying life as we have it today?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where To Find H1N1 Vaccine?

Millions of Americans have made the personal choice to get vaccinated against 2009 H1N1 swine flu, but there seems to be shortages of this vaccine in most areas of the country. Isn't it just like the U.S. federal government to at first insist that every American get vaccinated against H1N1 and then for everyone to find out later on that there is not enough H1N1 vaccine to go around? As I watched the Obama administration move the severity threat of H1N1 to a critical emergency, while at the same time telling the public that there is not enough of the H1N1 vaccine to go around - I just started shaking my head in total disbelief.

Right now, President Obama is making his final push to make sure that health care reform in the United States includes a government run option. At the same time, millions of Americans are learning first hand that the U.S. federal government is not even able to provide H1N1 flu vaccinations to the American people on a timely basis. Doesn't President Obama know that the American people are judging whether or not he will be able to deliver on his health care promises down the road, by watching the way his administration administers the H1N1 vaccine to the public? Apparently not, and that is a big reason why millions of Americans are turning away from their once support of a U.S. government option in the 2009 health care reform debate.

This week, the first H1N1 flu vaccination supplies arrived where I live in Central Texas. While health officials are still encouraging young and pregnant Americans to get vaccinated first, starting tomorrow at the Waco Convention Center - resident of Waco and Central Texas will be able to show up and get vaccinated against 2009 H1N1 - while the limited supply of the vaccine lasts. I'm sure in other states there are still massive shortages of the H1N1 vaccine too and we should all focus closely on how fast and how quickly the Obama administration handles getting an ample supply of this H1N1 vaccine to the public in as short of time period as possible.

The Obama administrations slow handling of getting enough H1N1 vaccine supplies to areas of the country that need them, has caused me to wonder what the U.S. health care system will look like 10 years down the road - if President Obama is successful in Congress at getting a public health care insurance option passed? Most Americans judge their government leaders based on the way they have previously handled important issues. Right now, there is little faith in the Heartland of America that President Obama or any future President of the United States can do a better job running health care than the present system that, while not perfect, does provide for the health care needs of most Americans. Every American should be asking hard questions of both Republicans and Democrats as health care reform makes it's way through the Congress.

President Obama Destroys Democrats?

Well, those of you that have been emailing me for months to say that I was dead wrong to believe that President Obama was a moderate are turning out to be 100% correct. During last years presidential election cycle, I was so mad at President George W. Bush that I would have voted for anyone that did not have an (R) beside their name. Now, a little less than one year later it is turning out that President Obama is just as much of an extremist liberal as President Bush was an extremist conservative.

What is it with Washington D.C. politicians these days? Are there no true moderates left? Has the United States of America turned into nothing more than an extremist party where only liberals and conservatives are invited? Let me first say, that President Obama still has a pleasing personality when I watch him on television - but if you really start looking at the facts of what he really wants to do as President of the United States that is when his true blue liberal colors start to stand out loud and clear. So many Americans, including myself, were totally fooled by President Obama's moderate campaign for President last year.

Right now, the United States is facing the largest budget deficit in our history, so what does President Obama want to do to stop the fiscal bleeding in Washington? If you guessed that he wants to spend even more money than what we are right now - you would have guessed the right answer. Only in the U.S. government is the idea of spending even more money when you are aleady broke considered to be a good idea. I have said before and I will say again that if regular everyday Americans handled their personal finances in as reckless of a way as Washington politicians - we would all be thrown in jail as crooks.

So now that it has been proven that President Barack Obama is nothing more than a Ted Kennedy style liberal, what are the American people going to do the next time Members of Congress come up for reelection in 2010? My thinking is that when November of 2010 comes around, the U.S. House of Representatives will change hands from the Democrats to the Republicans and in the Senate - there is an excellent chance that Democrats will lose control there too. Extremist President's always destroy the political party's that they lead and when November 2010 finally arrives, President Barack Obama could very well have destroy the Democratic Party in the same way that President George W. Bush did to the Republican Party only two years earlier.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jay Leno Drags Down NBC Ratings

It was a long shot at best when NBC decided to put Jay Leno on at 10pm on the east/west coast and now it appears that their long shot has not paid off well at all. It's sad really, because most people love Jay Leno - but time and time again history has proven that late night comics don't draw a large audience when you put them on in prime-time, five days per week. Already, Jay Leno's audience has dropped tremendously - but I personally do not hold his bad ratings as a negative reflection of how the American public views him as a person.

There is no other way to put it, but that NBC television is in a state of disarray these days - as fewer and fewer people choose to watch their prime-time programming. It does not help matters any at all that NBC came up with this prime-time Jay Leno idea not because of his popularity with the American people, but instead as a cheap way to draw young viewers to the network. Now NBC is not even attracting that many young only viewers to the Jay Leno Show - which means that NBC is going to finish dead last in the ratings once again, even in their targeted viewer category.

Over the past month, I have sampled some of the new shows that NBC has brought our way during the fall 2009 TV season. Two of their much promoted one hour dramas are so bad that my wife and I both turned them off before they were over on their debut broadcast. First we tried "Mercy" because the previews of that show seem to indicate that it would be about a strong woman nurse that was dedicated to helping the sick. Wow, were we wrong about that one as the lead character seemed to be more messed up than the average drug abuser homeless person on the street.

Then we tried the new NBC series "Trama", but within the first five minutes of it's debut show - there were a could of young people in the back of an ambulance, making out when they were suppose to be on alert to save peoples lives. When "Trama" was on, we changed the channel within five minutes where with "Mercy" it took at least 15 minutes for the whole idea of a good hospital show was toss out the window for us. There are huge problems at NBC television and none of them have to do with Jay Leno. If Jay wants to continue to work in television, he needs to find someway to get out of his contract with NBC.

Harry Reid Flip-Flops In Congress

When it comes to politicians in Washington who flip-flop, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has to be declared the winner. Over the past couple of weeks, Senator Reid has flip-flopped several times on whether or not a government run public opinion should be included in a health care reform law that is now being discussed. While it might seem that Harry Reid just can't seem to make his mind up, the real reason why he continues to flip-flop between being supportive of a health care public option or not is solely based on the fact that in his home state of Nevada - there is opposition to including a public option in health care reform.

Republicans and Democrats alike love to talk about political party cooperation, but when all the dust settles - most Members of Congress have one single focus and that is to get reelected by the voters on election day. There is no doubt that Senator Harry Reid is one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate, but Senator Reid faces problems on issues like health care - because he is from a state that has a great deal of conservative Republicans. Unlike, Nancy Pelosi who serves from the San Francisco area - Harry Reid must watch closely to make sure that he does not appear as a complete liberal to the folks back home in Reno and Las Vegas.

That is why the news media reports one day that Senator Harry Reid is opposed to a public option in the new health care legislation and then the next day that same news media reports that he is now in favor of one. To regular folks, Harry Reid looks like a flip-flopping fool as he changes his mind in regards to a public option - but just image how he must feel inside as he tries to give the liberal democratic party what it wants in Washington, while at the same time trying to convince the voters back home in Nevada that he is not as liberal as Nancy Pelosi.

Of all the politicians now serving in the U.S. Congress, Harry Reid drives me the most crazy. It's not just his flip-flopping on a public opinion to health care that drives me nuts, but the tone of his voice causes me want to change the channel every time he appears on television. I know Harry Reid cannot change the way he talks, but there is just something about the monotone in his speaking voice that makes me want to go to sleep even when he is discussing something that is very important for the American people. The latest report is that Harry Reid is supporting a public option to health care today. However, who knows what his position will be tomorrow?

Obama Should Find/Kill Osama bin Laden

From a public relations standpoint, President Barack Obama has had a tough summer. In fact, over the summer of 2009 - President Obama has suffered the worst poll decline in U.S. history after he made his big push for health care reform, which includes a public option. Even to moderate Americans, President Obama is starting to look like a full blown socialist these days and with the exception of die-hard liberals - most Americans are losing faith in President Obama as a leader. What President Obama really needs right now is a big victory as commander-in-chief and nothing would be larger in the eyes of most Americans than if the United States finally found and killed Osama bin Laden.

President George W. Bush could not find and bring Osama bin Laden to justice, but if by some miracle President Obama could do so - the American people would quickly forget all of President Obama's socialist nonsense and his poll numbers would jump 20 points overnight. President Obama is making the same mistake that other liberal democrats have made in the past by assuming that all the American people care about are their own selfish needs. Most Americans want and expect their President to be strong enough to stand up to bullies and cold blooded murders like Osama bin Laden and if President Obama was successful in bringing bin Laden to justice - there would be a mass celebration in the United States, which would greatly benefit President Obama at this time.

Right now, President Obama seems to be focused on little else but health care reform. I believe most Americans are scared to death of what the federal government will do to our health care system if and when the government takes over. Most Democrats will claim that this new public opinion is not an attempt to take over health care in the United States, but most Americans think differently - because of the actions followed by the U.S. federal government in the past. Frankly, President Obama is trying to sell a vision of health care that all conservatives and now most independents do not share - so even if health care reform does pass, I will be shocked if a government health care option is included in the final bill.

The American people need and want a President that is tough and straight spoken when it comes to serious issues. Knowing that, President Obama should create a secret plan to make sure that Osama bin Laden is found and killed before Christmas of this year. Nothing in modern day history has united the American people more than their hatred of this one man that attacked us on 911 and killed thousands of our citizens. While Osama bin Laden is not at the top of peoples minds right now in the same way he was the first few years after 911, the American people still know who he is and they would rejoice and reward any American President that finally brought about the end of his days. For Barack Obama to be ultimately successful as our President, he must prove to everyone that he has the right stuff when it comes to defending this nation from it's enemies abroad. The capture and/or killing of Osama bin Laden is exactly what President Obama needs right now to improve his stature as a world leader and build needed confidence with the American people.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ratings At CNN Fall Dramatically

I remember back in my younger years being so excited when I heard that a new network was being introduced on cable television that was going to be solely devoted to news programming. At that time, Ted Turner who was the driving force behind a huge cable television station called WTBS was going to start a brand new cable news network that would be called CNN. For younger readers, at the time when CNN first started a 24 hour national news operation, there was no other way to get news except to watch it a few times per day on local television, listen to it on the radio or read a daily newspaper. At the time CNN began covering news on a 24/7 basis, most Americans learned about national and international news events from CBS, NBC and ABC on their evening news broadcasts.

I still remember the early days of CNN and at the time I thought what they were doing was the best thing since sliced bread. Now, I look back at archives of those first few years when CNN was in business and I am shocked at how unprofessional the anchors and the sets were during that period of time. Over the years, CNN has always been a regular part of my day until the last five or six years. During that time period, CNN has completely drifted toward political correctness to the point that I can't bear to watch them anymore. While CNN does try to play everything right down the middle when it comes to politics, they can't seem to focus on the America people as one unit - but instead they have some kind of sick need to divide the American people into racial groups and assorted victim classes.

Somewhere along the line, CNN lost it's way because this week it will be announced that CNN's prime-time ratings will be the lowest of any other cable news channel in the United States - which includes it's own sub network HLN. Of course, the management of CNN will be quick to blame everyone - but themselves for the demise of their ratings dominance. However, the fact is that CNN is it's own worst enemy when it comes to the coverage of news. While all other national cable news networks were covering political stories about health care this month, CNN was highlighting it's Latino In America series. I love Latino's, but most of the people I know from that heritage first consider themselves Americans and then second Latino.

For some reason, CNN management believes it must continue to divide the American people into racial classes in the same way some old time liberals did back decades ago. While the American people were growing up, accepting and marrying people of different races - CNN is still trying to use an old formula that never worked right in the first place to try and draw viewers from particular racial backgrounds to it's cable news network. There is no doubt that racial culture is important in the United States as it always has been, but right now at this time in history - the America people are looking for leaders with the right answers for all of us and very few people care anymore what the racial make up is of those leaders as long as they have good workable ideas. The problems at CNN come from the very top and if those leaders are not replaced soon - even lower ratings will been seen at CNN in the future.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Susan Boyle CD

At the end of next month, the debut CD from Susan Boyle will be released just in time for worldwide Christmas shoppers. "I Dreamed A Dream" has already pre-sold tens of thousands of CD's and more than likely that number will grow to over one million before Susan Boyle's new CD hits the marketplace sometime around Thanksgiving of 2009. Earlier this year, Susan Boyle took the world by storm when she appeared on a UK talent show called "Britain's Got Talent". Then within days of her first appearance on that show, tens of millions of people around the world watched her performance on YouTube. That one audition by Susan Boyle in the spring of 2009 made her an instant star around the world, but it took most of the rest of the year for her to be ready to record and release her first CD to the public.

In hindsight, it turned out that Susan Boyle was not in anyway ready for the worldwide media attention and criticism that would soon follow her through everyday of her life. As the 2009 edition of "Britain's Got Talent" progressed, it became clear to most people that loved watching the first performance of Susan Boyle on television that her entire mind set was starting to shutdown. In the end, Susan Boyle did not win the 2009 edition of "Britain's Got Talent" and soon after the final show aired earlier this year - Susan Boyle found herself hospitalized and in need of mental help to assist her with all the attention she garnered - after going from a regular everyday lady to a person that everyone in the world had heard beautifully sing.

I personally blame the worldwide tabloid news media for at first helping to create Susan Boyle and then toward the end of the 2009 season of "Britain's Got Talent" driving her to a nervous breakdown. Most people know that the tabloid news media only builds unknown people up, so that at some future date they can drag them back down to Earth. Unfortunately, Susan Boyle did not understand the inter-workings of the tabloid news media and she most certainly did not image the fact that what she thought were new friends that always wanted to talk to her when she was first discovered - would turn on her at the first sign of trouble and start laughing at her and trying to cause her pain. Sadly, Susan Boyle had to learn about the tabloid news media at the same time when she was getting her first taste of worldwide fame.

From all outward appearances and from the people who know Susan Boyle the best, she is now a more stable woman with a bright and hopefully long lasting singing career in her future. When Susan Boyle showed up on "America's Got Talent" about one month ago to sing, I was moved to tears as she sang a song from her new CD called "Wild Horses". If the rest of Susan Boyle's new CD titled "I Dreamed A Dream" contains songs that are half as good as "Wild Horses", then she is likely to sell tens of millions of CD's around the world before the end of this year. I still love the voice and the personal story of Susan Boyle and I wish only the best for her in the future. Hopefully, professional mental help and close friends that understand how the tabloid news media works - will shelter this fine woman from future media attacks, so everyone will have the benefit of hearing Susan Boyle sing for many years to come.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Senior Citizen Drug Abuse

As Americans age, most movies and television shows give the picture that everything comes up roses at retirement - but the stark reality of senior citizens in the United States today is not about long vacations and a new Florida home anymore. Instead, many people hitting the retirement age of 65 are finding that there is just not enough money available to live out their remaining years without continuing to work at some type of job. When Wall Street melted down last fall, billions of dollars worth of retirement income was lost in IRA and 401K programs. That reality lead many senior citizens to put off retirement indefinitely and that decision eventually lead to severe depression for millions of senior citizens in the United States.

Older Americans are no different than younger people when it comes to the self treatment of depression. Most senior citizens when confronted with depression for the first time, will eventually show up at a local liquor store to buy some temporary relief for the pain. Of course, alcohol only makes depressions worse - so within a period of weeks or months, a moderately depressed senior citizen will find themselves severely depress because of their increased consumption of alcohol. We Americans are taught from a young age that if we work hard, play by the rules and save for the future - our retirement dreams can come true. However, new types of corruption on Wall Street have brought those old ideas and dreams crashing down around the feet of millions of people that should be entering their sunset years with plenty of money to retire comfortably.

Sadly, too many Americans are becoming depressed that their lifelong dreams of a comfortable retirement are not being fulfilled and that stark reality is leading many of these fine and upstanding senior citizens to turn to the bottle to help ease their financial depression. When I was young, there were always a few old drunks around - but by in large, most senior citizens back in the 1970's were not suffering from alcohol or other types of drug addiction. Now days however, the world has change and not for the better for people that have worked their whole life with only one desire and that was to be able to live out their final years without financial stress. Now drug treatment centers around the United States are seeing an increasing number of senior citizens showing up and asking for help.

American senior citizens are not in the habit of going to their doctor to complain about depression. Back in the 1950 and 1960 when today's senior citizens were born, problems of the mind were dealt with in a private way and most people would never admit to anyone - especially their doctor, that they were depressed or even suffering from a drug addiction. Depression is a terrible disease that effects both young and old and too often times that mental depression leads to drug abuse. The good news is that while senior citizens have been reluctant in the past to reach out for professional help - today more of them are showing up at their doctors office or at drug treatment centers to get help. The modern U.S. financial system may be at the root of why some senior citizen seek out alcohol and drugs for relief, but the good news is that mental health treatments have never been better at easing the pain of depression that too often times leads to a drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pros/Cons Of Getting H1N1 Vaccination

Millions of parents around the world are debating this weekend the pros and cons of getting their children vaccinated against the 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu. People that have a great deal of faith in the federal government will find it easier to give the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine to their children than other people that believe this new H1N1 swine flu vaccine has not been tested long enough to be given to young children. On the other hand, 2009 H1N1 flu is effecting and killing children in larger numbers than their parents, so I'm sure there is plenty of hand ringing going on in families around the United States as manufacturers rush to catch up with the demand for the H1N1 vaccine.

The last time swine flu became a huge problem in the United States was back in the 1970's. At that time, government officials from the President of the United States on down encouraged everyone to get vaccinated against that form of swine flu. However, as the years went by - it became very clear that not everyone had a good long term positive reaction to the 1970's type of swine flu vaccination and for a very unlucky few Americans there were long lasting health consequences after getting that swine flu vaccine, which followed them the rest of their life. Americans are known for taking what their government tells them with a grain of salt - but when it comes to H1N1 swine flu that skepticism could turn out to be fatal.

The pros side of getting the 2009 H1N1 swine flu vaccine is that if your child does not suffer severe side effects from getting the H1N1 flu vaccination, the odds are excellent that your child will not get sick with 2009 H1N1 flu. However, the cons side of this story is what is keeping thousands of parents up at night when thinking about whether or not to take their minor children to the doctor to get an H1N1 flu vaccination. The biggest concern facing most parents with the H1N1 flu vaccine is that it was tested for such a short period of time before it was shipped to the American people. U.S. medical history is filled with mistakes when the proper safeguards, which include time, are not taken when a major vaccination project moves forward to mass delivery.

I am fortunate not to have young children living at home anymore, so the only decision my wife and I have to make is whether or not we will get an H1N1 flu vaccination when supplies increase enough for middle aged people like us to be qualified to get one. I am pretty sure my wife will get the H1N1 vaccination and I am confident that I will not. We received a regular seasonal flu shot several weeks ago, but we both feel different about the H1N1 vaccinations mainly because of the lack of testing that went into the vaccination before it was ready to administer to the American people. Right now, if I had a school aged child still living at home - I would be worried about giving the H1N1 flu vaccine to them. However, there is also a good chance that my doctor could change my mind if he had evidence to proven that the H1N1 flu vaccine was safe for school age children.

Is President Obama An Extremist Too?

Everyday through the last four years of the President George W. Bush administration I had hoped that the next President of the United States would turn out to be a political moderate. As Senator Barack Obama campaigned for almost two years before finally being elected as the 44th President of the United States, I was excited at the prospect that the American people were finally electing a politician that was neither conservative or liberal at their core being. Now, after serving as the 44th President for less than one year I am so disappointed - because President Obama is just another liberal Democrat at heart and on some issues his thinking seems to almost border on a communist.

In recent weeks, President Obama's poll numbers have been dropping like a rock as he continues to push his vision of health care on the American people. At first, only the most dedicated of conservatives objected to a government run U.S. health care option, but now most independents feel the same way. While President Obama will blame extreme right wing forces for the current decline in support for his government run health care reform option, in reality it is President Obama himself that has caused the public to fear government run health care simply - because of other extremist actions he has taken since taking the oath of office as President of the United States.

There are two main areas of concern that have turned independent Americans against President Obama. The first and most important reason why independent voters have stopped supporting President Obama is because of his choice of people that he works side by side with in the White House. Far too many employees that work directly with President Obama have been tied to extremist liberal or communist causes over the years. If just one or two of these top advisers to the President slipped through the cracks before they were appointed to such a high position of power that would have been one thing, but there seems to be an ongoing problem of close President Obama advisers who have praised communist leaders and/or their ideas in the past.

The second reason most independent voters are quickly moving away from their previous support of President Obama is because of his personal war against the Fox News Channel. No President of the United States should be allowed to decide what television news networks or newspapers are mainstream enough to coverage our nations highest elected leader. The way President Obama has personally gone after the Fox News Channel reminds me more of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela than an American President of the United States. Mr. President, in America our leaders learn to deal with opposition in the news media - they do not try to take down people that disagree with their ideology. My gut hopes that President Obama's young age is why he is making these mistakes, but it is critical that the American people keep a close eye on President Obama to make sure he is not taking our country down the wrong path in the future.

Friday, October 23, 2009

President Obama Starts To Scare Liberals

From the beginning, President Obama has scared conservatives with his left leaning ideas, but now some liberals are starting to fear him, as well. These new insights into President Obama's personality began when he and members of his administration decided to take on Fox News by describing them as not a real member of the Washington D.C. news media. While at first successful at getting other media outlets to go along with a White House ban on interviews given to the Fox News Channel, now members of the liberal media establishment in Washington and New York are growing scared of President Obama's thin skin when it comes to honest questions from the U.S. news media.

I am beginning to wonder if under all those smiles and kind words about a better America, President Obama is just a dictator at heart? For the life of me, I cannot understand why President Obama has taken it upon himself to personally try to bring down the Fox News Channel. As I mentioned the other day, it seems like the President is completely obsessed with the conservative coverage at Fox News. Finally, normal liberal leaning news organizations are starting to realize that they could very well be next if President Obama is successful in marginalizing Fox News. In fact, it should scare the hell out of every member of the news media that a sitting President of the United States is dictating what news outlets should be trusted or not.

If President Obama loses his battle to pass health care reform in the United States, this crazy fight against Fox News could be one of the reasons why it will be defeated. Americans of all political persuasions do not like any President telling us what news programs we should watch or listen to. In my lifetime, I have never seen a sitting President of the United States go out of his way to single out one news organization for exclusion the way President Obama has done. President's come and go, but the news media that informs the people remains and that is how it should be. If a GOP President is elected next time, I'm sure that MSNBC would not desire to be treated in the same way that Fox News is being treated by President Obama right now.

This President Obama obsession against Fox News is also hurting him with a very important group of Americans. Those voters are considered independent on election day and they are the only reason why President Obama was elected last November. In recent polls it is clear that independent voters are quickly moving away from supporting President Obama. Neither conservatives or liberals want a President of the United States that desires to become a dictator, but when it comes to independents - nothing will scare them away from a political leader faster than for that leader to try and silence people that do not agree with them. Personally, I have gone from supporting President Obama during his campaign and immediately after the election to now fearing that he does not have the temperament to be President of the United States. I certainly hope he proves me wrong in the days to come.

Bernie Madoff, Crook From The Start

Everyday that passes brings more allegations of what was really going on for years at Bernie Madoff's investment firm in New York. The latest of these revelations are that during the 1970's, Bernie Madoff's investment firm was filled with drugs like cocaine and it was also a place where a general party atmosphere was the number one business item of the day. Only in recent years did some regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission start to question the way that Madoff ran his business, but these new allegations against him date back decades. Once again, it appears that federal regulators were either paid off by Bernie Maddoff or they were encouraged to look the other way for decades by politicians, while he stole billions of dollars from the American people.

It is remarkable how long Bernie Madoff was able to keep his ponzi scheme going considering that he was in a business that is suppose to be highly regulated. The fact that Bernie Madoff was able to rip-off the American people for decades proves to me that something is terribly wrong inside the U.S. investment regulatory system and especially at the highest levels of the SEC. All Americans should be outraged at how the U.S. federal government looked the other way while Bernie Madoff took advantage of Americans both rich and and not so rich. The U.S. government is suppose to watch out for crooks like Bernie Madoff and put them in jail, but instead more than likely his well placed payments to certain government officials allowed him to continue to steal money from investors for at least 30 years.

In recent days, it has become clear that on Wall Street the same business as usual attitude - which almost collapsed the markets last year has not gone away. As the holiday season approaches, many Wall Street companies are preparing to pay huge bonuses, while at the same time most Americans are just hoping that their job will not be phased out before Christmas. This is the same narcissistic and greedy attitude that allowed Bernie Madoff to continue his wicked ways for over 30 years, while the whole time he was supposedly being audited by federal regulators on a regular basis. It's right to be angry at Bernie Madoff, but where is the outrage at federal regulators from the SEC who were suppose to keep a watchful eye out for crooks like Madoff and put them in jail before they stole billions of dollars?

As a former investor on Wall Street, I am concerned that the whole of business there is moving in the wrong direction and as of yet the U.S. federal government has done little to stop the widespread corruption that dominates that location. For some who still believe the old ways of Wall Street are the best for our future, I welcome those folks placing much of their hard earned money back on Wall Street when nothing has been done to prevent the next Bernie Madoff from making off with their cash. It is greed pure and simple that drives Americans to send in their money on a regular basis to a Wall Street that is ripe with corruption and I see little evidence that the American people are backing away from Wall Street investments, even though proper regulations are still not in place to prevent another Bernie Madoff scheme from starting up tomorrow morning. The catch phrase for Wall Street today should be "buyer beware".

Thursday, October 22, 2009

H1N1 Tests Workplace Sick Day Policies

The past few days I have heard some complaining from friends about the sick day policies at the companies they work for. At the top of the concerns of some of these folks is the fact that while on one hand employers are very concerned about how H1N1 will effect day to day operations, because of absences - many of these same companies are continuing to use antiquated sick day policies, that have the effect of encouraging employees to come to work sick - if they want to get paid. I too have wondered how H1N1 will effect sick day policies at companies in the United States and around the world. Sadly, at too many businesses - old time attitudes that encourage employees to comes to work sick are still in place.

By it's definition, H1N1 is considered a worldwide pandemic - but so far - people in the United States have been fortunate not to have seen tens of thousands of people falling ill and dying from it. As has been the case from the beginning - H1N1 fatalities continue to be seen mostly among the young with pregnant women dying in greater numbers than any other age or gender category. A few companies are taking a proactive approach to dealing with H1N1 in their workplace - but my guess is that during the recession of 2009, most employers are more concerned with worker attendance than in helping stop the spread of H1N1. I hope that attitude changes as flu season starts in a few weeks.

It has always amazed me at the vast differences between employers, even in the same industry, when it comes to sick day policies at their company. It is common to find vastly different sick day policies from one company to the next. While I certainly do not believe the government should set sick day policies for private business, I do believe that leaders of business groups should combine their knowledge to make sick day policies in their sector more uniform between companies. Right now is the time for businesses to get together when it comes to setting sick day policies, if for no other reason than H1N1 has sent a huge wake up call to what a future pandemic might look like in the United States.

I believe there should be two different groups of sick day rules at companies. One should apply to everyday sicknesses that happen every year and another that applies to potential pandemic disasters like H1N1. If for example an employee has no sick days left and they catch H1N1, that employee should be excused with pay so that there is no financial necessity for them to continue to work and spread H1N1 to the rest of the workforce. H1N1 should cause all employers to consider having two completely different sick day policies - one for regular non life threatening illnesses and another one for pandemic situations where it is critical for company survival and the good health of all employees to keep infected people away from the workplace - until they no longer pose a threat to everyone else.

Does Obama Own Stock In Fox News?

I am at a loss as to why President Obama is always condemning Fox News Channel. Every time the President or a member of his administration decides to go on the attack against the Fox New Channel directly or via one of it's commentators, the ratings at Fox News go up dramatically. That reality has caused me to start to wonder if President Obama owns stock in News Corporation, the parent company of the Fox News Channel. For a man that appears to be extremely intelligent when it comes to things of a political nature, when it comes to Fox News - President Obama seems to have a huge blind spot. Every poll that I have looked at shows that President Obama is attracting support from the vast majority of Americans, but for some unexplained reason - the President seems to have an internal obsession to try to personally bring down the Fox News Channel.

President Obama is smart enough to know that anytime a President decides to take on a media outlet that shares the same opinions as his opposition - that politician will cause the very thing they dislike the most to grow even bigger. Rather than bring down the Fox News Channel, President Obama is helping that channel grow at the very time he needs Republicans to assist him in getting health care reform passed in the Congress. Most President's seem to get obsessed with certain things during their term in office. President Bush became obsessed with taking down Saddam Hussein, because Hussein tried to kill his father in Saudi Arabia during a visit after he was no longer the President of the United States. It now appears that President Obama's biggest obsession is to take down the Fox News Channel, because he does not like their conservative spin on political news.

Unlike Rush Limbaugh, I want President Obama to succeed in office. Sure, I do not approve of all of his left of center ideas - but that does not mean that I sit around day and night hoping that President Obama will fail as President of the United States. Whether we like it or not, there are extreme thinkers in this county both on the right and the left that cannot or will not accept that their extremist ideology has a few flaws. Too many years of extreme conservatism and liberalism have torn this nation apart as both political extremes despise the ideas of their opponent. Extremism, at it's core, is wrongheaded and goes against the very principles that our founding fathers believed in when they first wrote the Constitution of the United States. When President Obama won last November, I really thought that he was a moderate political thinker. However, now that he has decided to set his sights on bring down the Fox News Channel - sadly it is turning out that he is just another extremist politician just like President George W. Bush before him.

It would be wise for President Obama to stop criticizing the Fox News Channel for their political points of view. In fact, the very idea that a sitting President of the United States would take on a news media outlet - should scare both conservatives and liberals alike. Just image the liberal outrage if President George W. Bush decided to condemn CNN and MSNBC for their liberal political news coverage? If President Bush did such a thing, he would have caused the ratings of those two cable news networks to soar in the same way that President Obama has help Fox News grow their TV audience to record numbers. Being elected to and serving as the President of the United States is a tremendous honor. Anyone that achieves such high office should not allow themselves to be dragged down to the lowest common denominator of political discourse in this way. The time has come for President Obama to give up his obsession to destroy Fox News or one day soon he might find himself in the same situation as Ahab.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is Dick Cheney Evil Or Right?

Back when Dick Cheney was serving as the Vice-President for President George W. Bush, there were days when I thought this man had either lost his mind or he just had an evil or mean streak to his personality. Just like in times past, many people do not totally understand the personality of a world leader until long after they have left public service. That may very well be the case when history judges the actions of former Vice-President Dick Cheney. In a nut shell, VP Cheney believed that you fight fire with fire and when it came to new ideas like political correctness or taking a poll among world leaders before acting - his reply would have been hell no.

Let's face it, we all live in a politically correct world today where somethings that use to be common sense are now considered wrong headed. To former VP Dick Cheney, the minute terrorists attacked the United States on 911 - they became the enemy and to him and millions of other Americans that enemy should not be granted the full privileges of the Constitution of the United States of America. Instead, to hard-liners like VP Cheney - when a country or a terrorist group attacks this country, they should be killed or captured at all costs to prevent another attack from happening. On this one issue I totally agree with VP Cheney, even though I believe on the whole he allowed his extreme conservatism to cloud his common sense, while he served as Vice-President of the United States.

Do I think Dick Cheney is evil? The answer to that question is no. However, if you ask me if I think Dick Cheney was a good Vice-President of the United States is would say no, as well. Many of the issues that drew Dick Cheney into the forefront of liberal versus conservative debate revolved around the issue of how the United States treats it's prisoners of war. To liberals, holding prisoners of war without a trial in Cuba was one of the worst things that the Bush administration did, while they were in power. Now, President Obama is approaching his one year anniversary as President and he too is finding it easier to say that these prisoners of war should be granted full U.S. constitutional protection - than to actually make it policy.

Even today, most Americans believe that history will treat former Vice-President Dick Cheney with contempt. However, I can see several scenarios where history might just take a different point of view on Dick Cheney's conservative hard-line views when it came to dealing with prisoners of war. If, for example the United States suffers another terrorist attack that is as bad as or worse than the attacks that happened on 911 - the entire mood of the country will change in a heartbeat. During times of peace, political correctness tends to grow and thrive. However, during a time of crisis and/or war - that same political correctness takes a back set to something much more basic in we human beings, which is survival.

Too Big To Fail Business Economy

Last fall when bad real estate investments took down many of the biggest banks and insurance companies on Wall Street, it should have become clear to all Americans of how dangerous it is for the U.S. government to allow some businesses to grow so large that their very failure could bring down the U.S. economy. The first sign that some companies were too big to fail came to light when Citibank and AIG were on the brink of bankruptcy. Under pure capitalism, the strong survive while the weak are allowed to go into bankruptcy and fail. However, there is a certain part of capitalism that does not work well and that occurs when the failure of a single business could have the effect of hurting the whole too much - so the government has no choice but to bail it out even though by doing so they mess up the entire capitalistic concept of business.

That is why I believe it is critical for the government to put in new rules that will not allow any one company to grow so large that it's very failure could collapse the entire U.S. economy. The CEO's that run huge American companies usually gobble up the competition as they grow larger. Through a process of mergers and acquisitions, large companies become larger - while available competition in a business sector drops. Eventually, the one large company remaining in a given business sector starts to appear more like a monopoly - rather than just one more company in a competitive field or industry. Capitalism has helped the United States grow our economy in a way that no other mechanism could do. However, the government does have a role in capitalism and that role involves making sure that no one company grows so large that it's very failure could drag down the whole of the U.S. economy.

There is one very important reason why the U.S. government has not been fulfilling it's role to make sure that huge companies like Citibank and AIG do not grow to a point where they are too big to fail. That reason is a U.S. political system that still uses campaign contributions from individuals and businesses in order to win elections. Only the politicians in Washington that benefit from the present system believe that the current system is a good thing. As companies grow, they always set aside a certain amount of money for Washington politicians - which they use to try and get favorable treatment by U.S. government regulators. That campaign money has a way of creating a conflict of interest in elected politicians, which sometimes causes them to pressure regulators to look the other way as some companies grow too large for our countries own good.

There is no good reason for any one American company to become too big to fail today. The current global economy is huge and that should allow enough competition to keep some companies from growing too large. The problems start when Washington politicians start to take sides in business because their pockets are being lined with thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions. Both Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty of taking money from huge companies and then using their influence to get government regulators to look the other way as large companies turn into monopolies. If the U.S. government does not put a stop to the practice of some companies growing to the point where they are too big to fail, sometime soon - the taxpayers will once again be forced to bailout another one of them at a cost of billions of dollars.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Goldman Sachs Christmas Bonuses

For most of my adult life I have at first marveled and then become disgusted with the huge Christmas bonuses that are passed out annually at the investment firm of Goldman Sachs and many other Wall Street firms. During the 1990's, it didn't seem so bad that some of the biggest players at Goldman Sachs and at other Wall Street companies were earning million dollar Christmas bonuses, because at the time most Americans that were investing in the stock market were seeing tremendous gains, as well. However, ever since the stock market meltdown last fall when U.S. taxpayers were forced to bailout out many companies on Wall Street - those billions of dollars in Christmas bonuses are not going to be well received at all by the general public in 2009.

In fairness to Goldman Sachs, I do not believe they accepted any federal bailout money from TARP. However, when the holiday's roll around this year and it turns out once again that the average Christmas bonus at Goldman Sachs adds up to well over $50,000 per employee - I and millions of other Americans who are just hanging on by a thread financially, because of the recession of 2009 are going to be angry. In the movie "Wall Street" there was a line that said, "greed is good". To me, it seems like the powers that be at Goldman Sachs seems to still be following that age old Wall Street slogan - even though they are in the minority of people in the United States who will call 2009 a good financial year.

One thing I have learned about greed the hard way is that eventually it will drive the high and mighty that follow it like a religion to a tremendous financial loss. History is littered with rich people flaunting their wealth, while most people are barely making ends meet. In the end, if Goldman Sachs carries through with their plans to hand out huge bonuses this Christmas, most of the American people will not be envious of their success this time around - but instead most people will be furious and demand that Congress and President Obama do something to control the greed on Wall Street. It appears that the people that make up Goldman Sachs are completely cut off from the rest of the world around them or they just don't care that most people are just getting by, while some of them continue to get richer.

Being an American citizen gives all of us a chance to work to achieve our own dreams of financial success, but in reality some people are just better at business than others. When it comes to running a Wall Street business that is profitable both during good and bad years - Goldman Sachs pretty much stands in a league of it's own. That is why I really don't care if Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street companies pass out huge Christmas bonuses when the stock market and the economy are strong. However, if Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms go ahead with their intended Christmas bonuses in 2009 - while the unemployment rate is at record levels and those with jobs are still facing uncertainty, they might just find out early next year - that those huge Christmas bonuses received in 2009 will be their last.

Dog/Elephant Who Are Best Friends

Tonight, while reading my Facebook page - I noticed that my niece, who is attending college in the Dallas Fort Worth area, had posted one of the neatest videos that I have ever seen. I know most of the time, I write serious stories on this blog - but this video from CBS News is worth everyone taking a look at. Like many other days, I returned home tonight late from work and I was flat tired before sitting down at the computer to catch up on some of the news of the day. Then, when I checked my Facebook account and saw this video story about a dog and an elephant who had become best friend - all of my tiredness went away and my heart was suddenly refreshed.

After watching this CBS news story via Facebook, I looked on YouTube to see if they had an embedded version that I could add to my blog. Fortunately, I found the correct code so you can now watch this amazing video as well. The reporter in charge of this story made some amazing comments at the end of his story, which should get everyone thinking about what is really important in life and especially how important it is not to sweat the small stuff. The name of this video is "The Animal Odd Couple", but to me it's just a story about a dog and an elephant who are best friends. I hope watching this video will improve your mood as much as it did mine. Just click the video box below to watch this amazing story.

Citibank To Close Mastercard Accounts

Hundreds and possibly thousands of people around the country are opening up their mailboxes to find a letter from Citibank announcing that their Mastercard account has been closed. For many people receiving those letters there is shock, because they always paid their bill on time - but even that was not enough to save them. Citibank Mastercard accounts that seem to be the most effected are co-branded gas company cards with Shell and Citgo along with other credit offers that were once issued at Home Depot. The recession of 2009 has reduced once large and powerful banks like Citibank into mainly government run institutions, because of the Wall Street and banking bailout of 2008. I expect more letters announcing that credit card accounts have been closed/canceled to be mailed out over the next year.

No one wants to be punished when they have continually played by the rules established by the major credit card companies, but during financially difficult times - the old credit card rules just do not apply anymore. In addition to major U.S. banks like Citibank trying to find a way to survive during one of the worst economic recessions in decades - the federal government is and will continue to force banks and other lending institutions that are FDIC insured to look more at whether a credit card account might go bad in the future and put more weight on that possibility than the credit score of the cardholder at the present time. These new rules are going to cause pain for millions of people that hold and use credit cards to support their standard of living.

For those of you that have recently received a letter or who have been declined a purchase using a Citibank Master Card because the account had been closed/canceled, I'm sure that you are extremely angry right now that you are being punished through no fault of your own. I too have had credit limits reduced in the past, even though all payments were made on time - so I know how you are feeling. That said, in time you will probably realize that your personal dependence on credit cards like Mastercard could be a mistake. Over the past two decades, the personal savings rate of Americans has pretty much hit zero as most people have relied on their available credit limits on credit cards and the equity in the home as savings accounts they could borrow against, if something terrible happened and the family needed access to quick cash.

Quickly, the days when a credit limit on a credit card and/or home equity were easily used in the event of a financial emergency are long gone. Right now, the only way to insure that your family will have enough money to weather an emergency is to open a savings account and save a little bit from each paycheck. The days when easy borrowed money were available for Americans to live beyond their means are coming to an end right now. Eventually, the rules of finance and borrowing always come back around to the basic that have been established for centuries. Those basics include, saving money for financial emergencies and other big ticket purchases - without the easy crutch of have available credit from credit cards and home equity loans available to fund those wants and needs at anytime. In the end, it will be a good thing for the United States of America to get back to the basic of sound finance - but the withdrawal that will be suffered by millions of Americans in the mean time will be extremely painful.

Why Are Kids Dying From 2009 H1N1?

A few days ago, I wrote a blog post about an idea that was expressed to me by my aunt about why kids are dying more than older Americans from 2009 H1N1 Flu. She believes that we older folks, people 50 plus years in age were exposed to the 1970's type of Swine Flu even though we did not get sick at the time. My aunt came up with that idea all on her own and then last Sunday - "60 Minutes" had a CDC expert on their program that said pretty much the same thing - except he believes older Americans obtained some kind of resistance to 2009 H1N1, because of an earlier type of Swine Flu that killed millions of people near the turn of last century. Either way, it think it is becoming clear now why so many kids are dying from 2009 H1N1 - while less healthy older Americans are not.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were off work on the same weekday when we watched a program on television I had not seen before called "The Doctors". On that program, they were talking about an age old disease called the "Chickenpox". It was reveled on that program that millions of Americans have been exposed in the past to "Chickenpox", but who did not get sick with the disease. I remember on that TV show how one of the producers got tested for "Chickenpox" antibodies even though she said that she never had the disease. When those test results came back, it turned out that she indeed did have antibodies against "Chickenpox", which means that she is unlikely to get a full blown case of that disease in the future.

That TV show got me thinking that the same thing might be happening with 2009 H1N1 Flu. Isn't it possible that we older Americans were exposed to the 1970's type of swine flu and that exposure is why we are not getting sick with 2009 H1N1 Flu like many younger people are? If someone decades ago was exposed to the "Chickenpox" virus and who did not get sick, but was somehow able to build antibodies against that disease - isn't it just as likely that older Americans were exposed to swine flu in the 1970, who did not get sick - but who also built antibodies that are helping them fight off the 2009 H1N1 flu? To me, this scenario makes perfect logical sense - but I am not a doctor or a scientist.

After watching that "60 Minutes" story about 2009 H1N1 flu last Sunday, I was reassured that the scientific community is looked at previous exposure to other strains of the swine flu virus as a possible reason why older Americans are somehow immune to 2009 H1N1 - while our kids and grand-kids are getting seriously ill and dying. There is no worse disease than one that takes the youngest among us before they have a chance to grow into the next generation of Americans. I am hoping that when the proper research is conducted, it will prove that any exposure to swine flu might offer some protection to future generation and when/if that is proven correction - it should be easy to find a vaccine to give to young children, which should protect them the next time swine flu raises it's ugly head.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lawyer Required For Doctor Visits?

Late tonight, word was leaked from the U.S. Senate that their new health care reform package for America was ready for review. At the present time, this new U.S. Senate health care reform law contains over 1500 pages, which makes me wonder if this darn thing really passes the Congress and is signed into law by President Obama - will we all need to take a lawyer with us when we visit the doctor to make sure that all of our rights are being taking care of as it pertains to this new insurance package? This huge new health care proposal that was released late tonight by the U.S. Senate probably contains so many pages, because there are all kinds of sweetheart deals contained inside for every special interest group in the country.

While it is a joke on my part that a lawyer might be required to make sure of what is and is not covered when we visit the doctor if this new law is passed, down deep inside - the only reason my comment might even be considered funny is, because most Americans know all to well what the government is capable of doing when they gain control over something as valuable as the U.S. health care system. In recent days, President Obama has been making comments like - a government run health care option is needed to make sure there is effect competition for current health insurance companies. Folks, I have a real problem when a liberal democrat starts talking about the need for competition since most of them strongly believe that socialism is the real way to proceed with health care reform in the future.

Just as doctors usually prefer the GOP, lawyers are the biggest supporters of the Democratic Party. That said, why is it such a stretch to believe that most of those 1500 pages of new law in the Senate version of health care reform are designed to muddy the water so much when it comes to health care reform - that many Americans will be forced to seek legal council just to understand what their rights really are under this new plan? There is no other reason to write a law that is 1500 pages long other than to offer special deals to special interest and chief among the special interest of Democrats are lawyers. As usual, politicians in Washington took a simple idea of health care for all and turned it into a Christmas tree filled with all kinds of great stuff for their lobbyist friends.

The rest of us are once again left to wait and see what kind of left overs will still remain for the average Joe, once the special interest groups get all of their usual well paid for perks. Soon, I have read that all 1500 pages of this new Senate version of health care reform will be posted on the Internet for the public to read. While that sounds like free government at it's best, it really does not mean much if the average person cannot understand the legal language the law is written in. Starting tomorrow, conservative and liberal pundits will begin to spin this new Senate proposal to suit their own constituencies. By tomorrow night, most Americans will have no idea who to believe when it comes to whether on not this new Senate bill is good for America or not - so most folks will just tune out this debate all together and switch their TV to "Entertainment Tonight".

Is President Obama Thin Skinned?

Long before Barack Obama was President or even the leading contender for the Democratic nomination, a New York Times columnist wrote about his big ears - which drew a quick response from him at the time. That event months ago got me wondering if Barack Obama has thin skin when it comes to personal attacks and in recent days his almost daily work against Fox News has reawakened my fear that maybe Barack Obama does not have a thick enough skin to deal with the daily pressures that face the President of the United States. Considering all of the big ideas that are on his plate right now, is it really important or wise for a sitting President to attack a cable news network that does not agree with his policies?

On most days, the Fox News Channel attracts more TV viewers that CNN and MSNBC combined in the United States. Without a doubt, Fox News covers political news from a right of center point of view, while CNN and MSNBC are more sympathetic toward the liberal leaning policies of President Obama. I believe it is a huge mistake for any President of the United States to use their powerful position to try and control the new media. Just image the liberal outrage that would have been expressed, if President Bush went after CNN and MSNBC in the same way that President Obama is attacking Fox News right now? Someone needs to explain to President Obama that things which go around, come around in American politics.

President Obama is still a young man with many more life experience to draw from as he ages. I know first hand that having a thin skin is not something that has served me well over my lifetime and that is why I work daily to try and not "sweat the small stuff", but instead I try to stay focused on the larger picture of life. Highly motivated individuals tend to be thin skinned, because their extreme drive for success - usually leads to a controlling frame of mind. Usually, it's only after many years of hard knocks that thin skinned people finally realize that it is their own personality that is causing problems in their life - instead of the people around them, which usually get the blame when things don't go their way. I believe at his core President Barack Obama is a good man, but he certainly needs to work on not letting the "small stuff" cloud the picture of what he really wants to get done.

Not long ago, President Obama killed a fly that was pestering him during a TV interview. After killing that fly, the President seemed so happy that the fly was dead. Life is filled with little things that will pester the hell out of us, if we let them have that much power over our attitude. Life's little irritations could be a fly that just won't leave us alone or a coworker that just gets on our nerves daily or as is the case with President Obama - a major cable news network that does not like his ideas at all. While I am no fan of the Fox News Channel, right now they are acting more mature than the President of the United States. I hope that a good friend of President Obama will pull him aside and tell him that Fox News isn't the real problem when it comes to getting his ideas passed into law. Instead, the real person to blame is himself for not using his bully pulpit effectively enough to sell the American people on them.

Obama Not Demanding Public Option

Even though President Barack Obama put up a good fight to make sure that a U.S. government option was part of the health care reform package working it's way through Congress right now, in the end it does not appear that 2009 health care reform will pass Congress with a "public option". It's not just conservative Republicans that do not like the idea of a "public option", but many right leaning Democrats do not like that feature either. Most Americans that I talk to are overwhelmingly against a government run health care option and if the Democratic Party desires to not go down in flames when it comes to health care - they will throw their government run health care option overboard.

In theory, a government run health care option is something almost anyone should get behind. However, most Americans while loving their country - do not trust the U.S. government to administer something as important as health care. The problem for Barack Obama and liberal Democrats in the U.S. Congress is that most Americans believe the U.S. government will make future health care more expensive and unattainable than it is today. While Americans do live in the greatest country on Earth, previous lies and missteps by government officials have cause a great major of Americans to not trust their own federal government. I really like President Barack Obama on a personal level, but I believe he has not thought through all the pros and cons to a government run health care option.

Washington D.C. is filled with special interest groups right now to make sure that Congress does not hurt the most powerful when they change the current U.S. health care system. It's the average Joe that could be hurt the worst under Obama health care and right now neither Republicans or Democrats are standing up for him/her. Instead, thousands of well paid lobbyist are working the Halls of Congress to make sure that certain exemptions are buried into health care reform legislation that will protect their high paid American clients from suffering financially pain from health care reform. Most voters have known for a long time already that Members of Congress are greatly influenced by outside lobbying organizations that get special Earmarks placed into big legislation to benefit their clients - but with health care reform we are all seeing how big money really has corrupted the entire U.S. political system.

Good politicians, both from the left and right, know exactly how to talk down to the American people to get their way. That old political two step that has kept bad and greedy politicians in office in the past, is working overtime right now to make sure that no U.S. federal government health care option will be allowed to compete with for profit insurance companies that run the show today. I too worry about a complete federal government takeover of the U.S. health care system, if a public option is allowed in current health care reform legislation. All of the negative feelings about a government run health care option will most likely cause Congress to travel a different path when health care reform is voted on in a few weeks. That new path will lead to an American health care reform law that will not include a government option and it will eventually pass the U.S. Congress.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tired Of Balloon Boy Hoax Story

I might be the only person on the face of the Earth that is tired of the "Balloon Boy" hoax story. For the past three days, the major cable news networks in the United States have talked about little else. First these same cable news networks found themselves with egg on their face after giving tons of air time to a story that has now turned out to be a hoax and now they are turning on the family of the so called "Balloon Boy" because they made them look bad. In my opinion, it is these same cable news networks or their parent companies that have made reality TV such a big part of our daily lives in the first place, but now that a person that was interested in cashing in on a reality TV show of his own will soon find himself and possibly his wife sitting behind bars.

There is no doubt that this whole "Balloon Boy" story was a made for cable news television event. It had all the hallmarks of a perfect live story that would bring in huge ratings to the networks that carried it and gloomy numbers for those that did not. Over the years, the difference between what I think of as hard news and the tabloid news media has blurred to the point that hardly anyone can tell the difference between the two. Last week should have made it clear that not only have the major cable news networks sold out to tabloid news coverage, but the major broadcast networks are also deeply interested in putting on a show filled with family drama and the possibility of televising the death of another human being on live television.

Sorry to sound like an old buzzard, but the real cause of all of this news media attention directed toward tabloid news stories like the "Balloon Boy" are being cause by the short attention spans of far too many Americans. Rather than most Americans being interested in what is really important in their everyday life, far too many of us have simply tuned out hard news - because we don't want to listen to bad news after a long hard day at work. In my view, that is not only a tragedy for the people who are taking this approach toward life, but it does not create a positive outlook for our country, either. The real reason I believe most people enjoy following a story like the hoax Balloon Boy rather than keeping up with say health care reform is because most people feel completely powerless when it comes to the decisions that will effect their future.

That is the main reason why cable news networks like Fox News, CNN and MSNBC are so quick to leave real news coverage to switch to a car chase or in what was the case last week, a "Balloon Boy" story that turn out to be a lie created by a family man that wanted more attention paid to his family and himself. The man and his wife who used their young children to carry out this hoax should be punished and I believe they will find themselves in jail at least for a short period of time and/or forced to pay thousands of dollars for their bad judgment. However, there is more to this hoax "Balloon Boy" story than just ratings greedy cable news programs. The real blame is shared by every person in the U.S. that is entertained by watching reality television, which is not true reality at all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dallas Cowboys Will Win This Week

Tonight, I am prepared to declare a victory for the Dallas Cowboys this week. Think I'm crazy? No, it's just that they are not playing this weekend - so finally all Dallas Cowboys fans will not have to suffer through another weekend of substandard football play once again. I receive emails all the time from other Dallas Cowboys fans that tell me to stop being so hard on the team. Most of the emails state that if I am really a Dallas Cowboys fan, that I would write positive blog posts about the team even when they play bad on the football field. While I appreciate those emails from Cowboys fans, it is not my way to just suck up my anger at Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips and Tony Romo - instead I believe that real Dallas Cowboys fans should hold our favorite team accountable when they mess up on the football field.

I also believe that part of holding the Dallas Cowboys accountable means that if Jerry Jones is unwilling to hire a great coach, then football fans need to stop showing up at Dallas Cowboys games in protest. Jerry Jones may be many negative things, but he is not a stupid businessman. Instead, his whole life seems to be involved with promoting the Cowboys in a way that makes him even richer. If Dallas Cowboys fans would just stop buying the things that make Jerry Jones rich - until he controls his ego enough to hire a first rate football coach, then Jerry Jones would get the financial message that in order to become even richer off the Dallas Cowboys - he must field a winning team in the process.

A decade ago when Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson lead the Dallas Cowboys to two back to back Superbowls, the team finally lived up to it's long reputation as America's Team. However, once the ego of Jerry Jones decided that it could not live with competition from Jimmy Johnson - the team has drifted badly from one coach to another with none, except Bill Parcells, being willing to challenge the ultimate supremacy of the almighty Jerry Jones. The main problem with the Dallas Cowboys today is with Jerry Jones as the owner of the team. Sadly, the biggest problem facing the future of the Dallas Cowboys is the one person that cannot be fired for doing a bad job.

During every preseason my hope for a winning Dallas Cowboys football team grows, but during far too many seasons - the Dallas Cowboys peak quickly and the team fades from contention during the first week of the playoffs. Since there is no chance that Jerry Jones will sell the Dallas Cowboys and walk away from the NFL, my only other option is to hope and pray that his ego will fade with old age and someday soon he will accept a head football coach that will be allowed to run the team. Some in Dallas have suggested that Jerry Jones should become the coach for one season so he could get all that nonsense of him being a great coach out of his system. However, I doubt if that will ever happen - because Jerry Jones does not like to fail at anything.

NFL/NBC Should Fire Keith Olbermann

Last week, an exploratory group of investors that desired to purchase the St. Louis Rams fired the most controversial member of their team, Rush Limbaugh, after Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson proclaimed that Mr. Limbaugh is a racist and other members of the mainstream liberal news and sports media turned up the heat to stop Rush Limbaugh from being able to be a part owner of any NFL football team. This latest slap in the face of Rush Limbaugh is not just directed at him personally, but it is mainly aimed at the conservative views that millions of Americans firmly believe in.

Now that the NFL has made it clear that it does not want politically controversial members of the media involved in their sport, it is time for the NFL to demand that Keith Olbermann be fired as a commentator on NBC Sunday Night Football. To allow Keith Olbermann to continue to openly slam the views of conservative Americans five nights per week on MSNBC and then show up to comment on the NFL on Sunday Night is exactly the kind of controversy the NFL said it wanted to avoid when it's leadership openly disapproved of Rush Limbaugh becoming a part owner of the St. Louis Rams football team.

If the NFL does not demand the firing of Keith Olbermann for his divisive liberal political views, the National Football League management is going to look unfair to almost half of the American people who claim to follow a conservative political ideology. The entire NBC television network has drifted so far to the left over the past decade or so that it should not surprise anyone that they moved one of their most controversial liberal commentators, Keith Olbermann, to a prime-time spot on the main NBC television network participating in the pre-game, half-time and post game show each Sunday night. The powers that be at NBC seem to have no problem with weeknight liberals joining their weekend NFL coverage, but I'm sure these same people would be dead set against a conservative serving in that same capacity.

Keith Olbermann is employed by NBC and not the NFL, but there is no doubt that the NFL has a great deal of pull with any television network that carries it's football games. That is why, as long as Rush Limbaugh and other conservative voices are not allow to have a prime-time voice on NFL football games - neither should unabashed liberals like Keith Olbermann. While I have nothing against Keith Olbermann, he should be sacrificed just to prove that the NFL is not a bunch of one sided liberals when it comes to political decisions that effect the image of professional football. Unfortunately, when Keith Olbermann is eventually fired from his job on NBC Sunday Night Football - it will be the fault of other liberal voices that protested so strongly against Rush Limbaugh buying a minority stake in the St. Louis Rams football team.

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Why Do People Hate Insurance Companies?

One of the first things I remember my dad telling me when I was a very young boy was that I should not feel sorry for insurance companies after they paid out billions of dollars for a natural disaster, because he said insurance companies could always make up their losses in the future by raising the premiums on everyone else to recover their short fall. Probably, other people have had that same experience as a young child when they too questioned the fairness of huge insurance payouts, when compared to the profits most insurance companies earn. With the exception of terrible con artist that have stolen billions of dollars from people, in most surveys - insurance companies lead the list of businesses that most Americans hate.

Let's face it, right now is not the best of times for most insurance companies as Democrats in Congress turn them into the most terrible of evils as they try and sell a government health care option to the American people. Socialist, literally hate insurance companies and all that they stand for strictly based on political ideology. To socialist, the very idea that a U.S. company could earn money off of the tragedies of people is something that their minds will never understand. For conservatives, insurance companies show America at it's best because they offer not only protection to the America people, but they are also able to offer that protection at a fair price and still turn a profit all at the same time.

The current health care reform debate in Washington is an excellent civics lesson for our children. In politics, both liberal and conservative extremes always have an evil person on entity available to scare people into their extreme ideology. For liberals, the bad guys are usually big businesses like insurance companies - because most people have had a bad experience with an insurance company at some point during their life. For conservatives, the "bad guy" is usually the U.S. federal government. To extreme conservative thinkers, the only thing the U.S. government should become involved with is the national defense of the United States of America. Conservatives do not generally believe in the government offering financial aid to it's citizens.

So the next time you hear someone on television talking about how much they hate insurance companies, listen carefully and you will usually noticed that the person expressing that point of view is an extreme liberal politician. If on the other hand you hear someone on television talking about the evils of the federal government, watch closely and you will likely find an extreme conservative on the other end of that microphone. It's not natural for people to automatically hate something they don't understand without some special interest group placing that idea in their heads to begin with. Sadly, political extremism does not work without each side giving it's followers something or someone to hate. The narrow minded that make up the political extremes in the United States will not continue to follow their leaders, unless they are given someone or something in common to hate.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Savings Accounts Could Save Citibank

In recent days I have been thinking about investing in a stock that would not have even popped up on my radar screen one year ago. That stock is Citibank and in recent months it has sold for as low as $1 per share and right now it is selling for around $5 per share. My interest in possibly investing in Citibank now - is because I believe Citibank is going to survive no matter what happens to the U.S. economy in the next few months and years. There was also a little noticed fact in Citibank's dismal third quarter results, which was very encouraging to me. In that Citibank report, they revealed that the amount of money their customers had in savings accounts jump $28 billion in the third quarter of 2009. To me, any long and lasting recovery in the U.S. banking sector will require the American people to start saving money again, which is something modern Americans are not known for doing.

There is another very important reason why I believe Citibank could be a great investment in the years to come. Sadly, many large banks and Wall Street brokerage firms have reverted back to selling derivatives to their customers in order to earn a quick buck. These new derivatives are similar to the real estate investments that brought Wall Street to it's knees late last year and which also required U.S. taxpayers to bailout out large banks and brokerages like Citibank. The good news for Citibank is that they received a huge amount of government money and with that money the government is now watching their books closely to make sure they don't repeat past bad behavior.

For once, government oversight of Citibank could be the best thing that has happened to that bank in years. Right now as Goldman Sachs and other brokerages put their toe back in the water to sell derivatives once again, more than likely Citibank will not be allowed to participate in that risky behavior as long as the U.S. federal government owns such a large stake in the company. I believe that Wall Street did not learn it's lesson last year because the federal government was too quick to bail them out without any real pain being felt by the people at the very top of those banks and brokerage companies. Now many of the same banks and brokerage companies that got into financial trouble last year - are already getting back into the same business that got them in trouble last year, but this time Citibank will most likely not be allowed to join in because of the U.S. federal government.

My personal belief is that within the next five years or so, Wall Street will once again bankrupt itself because they are addicted to quick money. While all of that is happening, Citibank will be running it's affairs in a reasonable and a responsible way and when Wall Street fails again, it will most likely be Citibank that will be seen as the real winner - while the fools that continue to play their money games on Wall Street today will be finally kicked out of Wall Street for good, when they return to the taxpayers for yet another bailout. Right now, Citibank is being run in the same way many privately held banks have been run for decades in this country. Rather than taking huge risks on questionable investments, Citibank is getting back to the basics of the banking business and if a person has a long time horizon, Citibank stock could be a winning strategy.

Disclaimer: I current own no stock in Citibank, but I intend to purchase stock in this company within the next twelve months. Also, I was not asked or enticed by anyone at Citibank or Citigroup to write this blog post. All opinions written here are solely my own and should not be taken as advice to buy or sell any stock.

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