By the way . . .

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Today is National Doctors Day–a factoid of which I was not aware when I wrote the previous post.

With that in mind, let’s hear from a former doctor. Michael Burgess delivered babies in North Texas for thirty years before he decided to run for Congress a few years ago.

Dr. Burgess is a good man and a acquaintance. He posted this today.

By the way, get used to the description “former doctor.” You’re going to be hearing it a lot more frequently in the years to come.

Et Tu New York Times?

NYT Headline this morning: “Health Law Does Little to Curb Unnecessary Care.”

May I offer an eloquent and erudite response to this revelation?

Duh.

A key driver of unnecessary medical tests, drugs, and care is fear of being sued. And the likelihood of abusive class action suits are built into the high price of every non-generic drug that manages to make it through the FDA approval process.

That’s why the simplest and most effective cost-lowering “health care reform” which could have been undertaken would have been to curb lawsuit/tort abuse. And yet such a reform was never . . . oh, no not ever . . . even for a moment, considered by the folks running the show in Washington.

(It was, however, a centerpiece of every Republican alternative proposal put forth and ignored.)

This is because the Trial Lawyers Association’s hold on the Democratic Party is even more iron-clad than that of the big unions. And that’s saying something.

Think about it. You’re a physician and your patient walks in and says, “I was reading on the internet about {insert name of rare, exotic disease here}. Do you think I should have a {insert name of expensive test here} test?”

Unless you’re an idiot–and idiots don’t tend to make it through med school–you’re going to say. “Why yes. Yes I do. Let’s get that test ordered!”

You will say that not because it will make you more money. It probably will not. Or because it’s remotely prudent or necessary.

You will say it because you know it will “do no harm” thus complying with the Hippocratic Oath; and because you know your city is filled with little wannabe John Edwards’s with big advertising budgets who are hoping to find some tiny opening to sue your hindquarters.

You also know that, for a huge percentage of your fellow citizens, being handed a perceived rationale for suing someone has become the equivalent of winning the lottery.

Thus, my surprise at seeing the New York Times‘ headline this morning. But, alas, The Times is still The Times.

Read the article and look for the word “malpractice.” You’ll have to hang with it until the 29th paragraph before the word makes a brief appearance.

That’s journalistic malpractice. I’m calling a lawyer.

Father-Daughter Road Trip

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Female Offspring Unit #3 and I drove down to Austin Friday night so she could participate in a thingy Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon we were headed back up I-35 toward home.

Now I have always endeavored to bring up children who are culturally literate and appreciators of fine art. That’s why I’ve insisted each of them have a broad knowledge of late 70s classic rock, disco, and early 80s New Wave.

Why allow a teenager to remain isolated in an iPod, Jonas Brothers cocoon when she can be introduced to the stark differences in Doobie Brothers music pre-and post-Michael McDonald?

On this trip, we discussed one of my favorite topics–“Misheard Lyrics.” Misheard lyrics are words to a song that are sung in such a mumblypeg way that you have no idea what’s actually being sung, so your mind makes something up–even if it makes no sense.

The trigger for this discussion was hearing Fleetwood Mac’s song, Dreams. It’s a long-standing joke between me and FOU#3 that Stevie Nicks is singing this lyric:

Women, they will come and they will go.

When Lorraine watches you clean your nose.

Stevie Nicks is the queen of misheard lyrics. The titular hook in Nicks’ duet with Tom Petty is Stop Dragging My Heart Around. But millions thought they heard, “Stop driving my car around.”

In her duet with Don Henley she sang, “Give to me your leather, take from me my lace.” But many heard something else. Among the interpretations of Nicks’ utterance in tongues was:

Give to me your liver. Take from my, my legs.

Give to me your letter. . . J. Cromley’s my name.

Give to me your ladder . . . J. Cromley, my ace.

The band Boston and Elton John have also proved an enduring source of lyrical confusion. The line from Boston’s iconic song, More Than a Feeling: “I see my Marianne, walking away,” has bewildered several generations of radio listeners. It has been sung:

I see Maid Marion, walking away.

I see my derriere walking away.

And thousands of other delicious iterations.

One of the most famous misheard lyrics of all time is a line from Jimi Hendrix’ “Purple Haze”. An astonishing number of people through the years thought the line “‘scuse me, while I kiss the sky,” was actally:

‘scuse me, while I kiss this guy.

Perhaps that’s because they were in some sort of lavender fog themselves.

“Kiss this Guy” is the name of a website devoted entirely to misheard lyrics and it makes for pretty hilarious browsing. But I digress. Back to our road trip . . .

A Detour Down “Roots 66”

As we approached Temple, Texas from the south we reached the exit for Holland, Texas. I’ve driven past the sign scores of times and told myself that someday . . . on a day when I wasn’t in such a hurry to get where I’m going . . . I was going to take that exit and visit Holland. This was that day.

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As we drive the nine miles off the Interstate toward Holland, I told my daughter the story of how it got its start in 1874 when my great-great-uncle James Holland bought some land and moved there from Tennessee by way of Arkansas. He had cotton farming in mind.

Shortly thereafter he was joined by his father (my ggg-grandfather John A. Holland) and seven siblings. There, in those post-Civil War years, they homesteaded on Darr’s Creek and built the first steam-power cotton gin the area had ever seen.

Some of the houses from the 1880s are still standing in the area.

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In the decades that followed, Holland seeds blew all over Bell county, taking root in tiny towns with evocative Texas names like Cyclone, Prairie Dell, Red Ranger, and Salado.

Today, you’ll find the graves of John A. and Louisa Holland, side by side, at Cedar Valley Cemetery outside of Salado. John’s headstone reads:

Born June 19, 1824 – Died May 7, 1908

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My daughter and I talked about all of the boisterous history that is surely squeezed into that delicate little dash mark sitting quietly between those dates. Eighty-four years of sweat and heartache and adventure and accomplishment.

As a boy, he would have seen men who served with Washington in the Continental Army. Before he died, he would read of the Wright Brothers motorized flight at Kitty Hawk and see babies who would be alive for the birth of the Internet and the dawn of the 21st Century.

I would have loved to have heard his stories, but I was born about 60 years too late. He might have carried some anecdotes from his own grandfather, who had ended up in the mountains of East Tennessee (Grainger County) by way of a land grant he earned fighting the British in the War of 1812.

Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, my great-grandfather, Samuel Houston Holland, born in 1884, left Bell County, Texas for Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The motivation for his move is not known to me–but it’s the reason I and hundreds other Hollands were born in the Sooner state rather than the Lone Star Republic.

He’s this tall glass of charged water:

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He had 11 children. One of them, my grandfather, died when I was two. So even his stories are lost to me.

As #3 and I, drove north out of Holland on Texas 95 — past river-bottom land featuring tidy, evenly spaced rows of 120-year old pecan trees probably planted by  her ancestors or their friends — I made myself a promise.

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She and her sisters will know my stories. They already know my music.

Okay, just one more ride on my hobby horse of doom . . .

Nancy was Right

Thought this post at NRO was worth presenting in full:

Nancy Pelosi was correct when she said that we have to pass the health-care-reform bill in order to find out what’s in it.

Now that the bill has been safely passed and signed into law, the mainstream press is gradually revealing the scores of delightful provisions tucked away in the 2,700 page abomination: job-killing taxes on businesses, innovation-killing taxes on medical products, suffocating regulations on individual freedoms, wealth-sapping taxes on the middle-class, unprecedented intrusions on personal privacy, unconstitutional mandates on individuals, racially discriminatory preferences for favored groups, a Ponzi-scheme-on-steroids financing mechanism, and spending on a galactic, incomprehensible scale.

And that’s just the first 600 pages. But somewhere in this heaping pile of manure there just has to be a pony.

The Debt Bomb

Also, in a previous post I mentioned that, given the exploding levels of future federal debt and obligation put into place in the last 14 months, the country would invevitably be forced to choose be between a catastrophic default or catastrophic hyper-inflation.

Commenter “Ted,” the astute student of history, pointed out:

I’m trying to think of a historical case where a government has chosen default over the print-more-money-and-destroy-the-middle-class option, but I can’t think of one.

Today Dr. Krauthammer warns us about the course of action most likely to be chosen to push the day of “Sophie’s Choice” off a little farther into the future. But first, he validates the premise of my argument (he probably reads this blog ;):

Obama knows that the debt bomb is looming, that Moody’s has warned that the Treasury’s AAA rating is in jeopardy, and that we are headed for a run on the dollar and/or hyperinflation if nothing is done.

Hence his deficit-reduction commission. It will report (surprise!) after the November elections.

According to Krauthammer, the band-aid solution will be the VAT tax (Value Added Tax)–a national sales tax that, like local sales or property taxes, can be ratcheted up a quarter-point higher every time a new entitlement program is dreamed up. Charles point out:

As a substitute for the income tax, the VAT would be a splendid idea. Taxing consumption makes infinitely more sense than taxing work. But to feed the liberal social-democratic project, the VAT must be added on top of the income tax.

The VAT is all the rage in Europe. The rate in the UK, for example, is 17.5 percent . This is on top of an income tax rate there of 40% on income over $50k. Oh, and the UK tax rate on interest earnings from savings is 40%, too. (And yet their universal health care system still has to ration care.)

But the Brits are pantywaists on the VAT. In the socialist utopias of Sweden and Norway, the places we’re always being told we should emulate, the VAT rate is 25% and the top marginal income tax rate is 55%.

When I first started doing a lot of international travel about 10 years ago, I couldn’t initially figure out what the big deal was with all the “Duty Free” shops in the airports. I looked at the prices and things didn’t seem to be any cheaper than in the regular retail stores. Yet I watched European travelers running into them like they were having a “Buy One, Get Three Free, AND a Foot Rub” sale.

Then I bought a few items “in country” and looked at my receipt. My $100 in gift trinkets for my wife and daughters had been taxed an additional $25. Lights . . .on!  As a foreigner, I was often handed a “VAT Reimbursement” form that I could fill out, mail in, and eventually get my $25 back.

Heck yes, I filled it out. Now where was that duty free shop?

Even with these crushing levels of taxation, the economies of Europe would still have collapsed in insolvency decades ago were it not for one thing. They all, by necessity, gutted their military budgets and ceased to be a credible deterrent force to anyone or anything on the planet.

They could afford to do so in a dangerous world because the United States offered them a world-stabilizing umbrella of protection and deterrence.

Today, some of the clearer minds of Europe are waking up to sobering reality of what a world without that umbrella will mean for them.

Oh, And Another Thing

Forgot to mention this in the update below . . .

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As I’ve previously reported, Female Offspring Unit #2 will be off to Norman in the fall to start her college adventure, much to the good-natured consternation of my OSU poke readers.

Well we got a piece of good news this week. A letter from OU informs us that FOU#2 has been invited to be a President’s Community Scholar which, we’re informed, is something that about 100 of the 6,000 incoming freshman are selected for each year.

It’s a program for students who have demonstrated a commitment to community service and volunteerism. President’s Community Scholars have periodic meetings, retreats and special activities. Oh, and did I mention there was some money involved?

If she maintains a certain GPA, she’ll get a tuition waiver that will reduce our out-of-state tuition rate down to the in-state rate for all four years. This is good because:

A) We’re all from Oklahoma; She was born there; and both sets of grandparents still live there. And,
B) I seem to have temporarily misplaced all of my money.

So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

And that’s all the news from Lake Wobegon.

Okay, Maybe I'll Calm Down a Little

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There are a number of things one should never do when angry or agitated. Among them are:

  • Hit the send button on an email.
  • Shave with a straight razor.
  • Defuse an IED
  • Respond to a question from your wife about her thighs.
  • Respond to a question from airport security about your thighs.
  • Write Blog or Twitter posts.

One of the great things about being a Christian is having dual citizenship. I’m not just a citizen of the United States, I’m a subject in an invisible kingdom.

Sure, it’s heartbreaking to watch a great and noble country driven off a cliff by arrogant know-nothings. It’s painful to watch a significant segment of the population fall for Ponzi promises and the lie that they can be both taken care of and free.

But at the end of the day, this life is just a vapor. If the United States slipped beneath the waves tomorrow, the kingdom of God would continue to grow and thrive. And a hundred-thousand years after the columns of the Capitol building have crumbled into dust, that kingdom’s subjects will still just be getting warmed up in exploring the wonders of what their King has prepared for them.

So how about a few random updates and links!

Mystery Book Project

I’m on deadline and writing like the wild man of Borneo every day. Sadly, I still can’t make an official announcement about the subject matter or title until the publisher pulls the tablecloth off of a mock up of the cover and shouts “Ta-da!”

I have to have a rough draft done by mid-April. That means getting into my time-tested book-writing routine:

Waking up earlier than I’d care to every morning; drinking some coffee while also massaging some into my typing fingers: banging randomly on the keyboard until about noon; then walking away for a work out, errands and honey-dos. Then I start my day job. At some point in the evening I turn back to working on the book and grind on it until I collapse into a lumpy, twitching pile of protoplasm.

Memory Lane

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Here’s as massive archive of vintage movie posters and ads for TV shows.

More Memory Lane

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Retro Cereal Boxes

Updates on My Previous Post

Here are three quick links that relate to topics in yesterday’s rant:

I Won't Be Calming Down Any Time Soon

[WARNING: Freakishly long, screedy post follows. Run. Run like the wind. You’ve been warned.]

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At the official back-slapping, high-five-ing ceremony at the White House today, VP Joe Biden introduced the Commander-in-Chief and, while, well . . . slapping his back . . . leaned into his ear and said, “This is a big f#$%ing deal.” (It’s true.)

Well, yes. Yes it is. For once the vice-president and I agree on something. It is a very big deal. Today the Californiafication of America took a giant leap forward.

California is, of course a dysfunctional nanny state, insolvent, and a hostage to its powerful public employee unions. That last condition is why it is powerless to take the necessary steps to remedy the first two.

This is why a group of Tea Party protesters rioted in California the other day, setting  stuff on fire and clashing violently with police. No, wait. That was actually a bunch of 28 and 30-year-old “students” in Berkley enraged over some modest increases in their massively tax-payer-subsidized tuition.

Just how much trouble is California in and how intractable are its problems? It is long, discouraging reading, but you won’t find a more thorough tour of the wreckage than the piece by Prof. William Voegeli I saw in my fall issue of The Claremont Review of Books. It’s appropriately titled, “Failed State.

For a stiff chaser, throw back this Steven Greenhut piece from City Journal called Plundering California.

It’s instructive reading because its a peek at our near-term future as a nation, no matter who ends up running the show in Washington two years or four years from now. The damage has already been done. The boulder has already been pry-barred from its ledge and its rolling happily down the hill.

Want a longer term preview? Look to Greece, only one of several candidates for the title “the sick man of Europe” as I write.

An anecdotal post by Victor Davis Hanson beautifully illustrates why Greece (literally) doesn’t work:

I lived in Greece for more than two years, and one of my best memories is of a small hotelier at a seaside resort. He checked you in; he cooked; he did the landscaping at night; he did all the maintenance during the day.

I asked him why he didn’t hire more help, since his hotel wasn’t all that small and he seemed to be going 24/7.

What followed was a harangue about the cost of hiring a permanent worker in Greece, the difficulty of ever firing him if he proved worthless, and why he preferred to do everything himself rather than fill out all sorts of forms and hire unmotivated but tenured employees. Besides, he said, almost everyone was on some sort of pension, disability, or government benefit, and was unwilling to work, so his choices were either illegal immigrants or broke foreign students.

Then he launched into a blast against socialism, and explained how he was forced to become an expert tax dodger, how he would barter for all the transactions he could, and why he hated the government. He finished by sighing that in Greece, the people spend their time either devising ways to get government money or scheming to avoid the tax collectors — or, preferably, both.

I think the medicine for Greece’s current crisis will prove more unpalatable than the wasting disease.

Hanson titled the above story, “Is Greece our Future?” I suspect it is.

In response to my previous post expressing both dismay about the Obamacare cram-down and the latest advance of creeping sharia, an old college buddy left the following comment.

Armaggedon, end-of-times, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!!!

Great, can we all calm down now? If we could survive 8 years of George W. Bush, we can survive this. And it will give Rush, Hannity, and Beck some more show material.

The commenter is a good man. And I always enjoy a good Ghostbusters reference. But I’ll have to leave it to my friends who are state and federal government employees to be all Zen-like about the rocket-sled to national insolvency and servitude we’ve been on the last 14 months. They’ll be the last to feel the pain. But it’s coming–even for them. (Ask the state employees in California holding IOUs instead of checks.)

Meanwhile, those of us in the lowly entrepreneurial class have been under increasing attack for a couple of years now. Calm down? I guess I lost my smiley-face button when I had to lay off every single one of my employees one-by-one over the last year. Good people. People I kept on paying longer than I could really afford to–to the detriment of my own family.

Starting a business means risking all; pouring blood, sweat and years into it with no guarantees; working ridiculous hours in order to build something that, hopefully, will not only provide well for your family but generate jobs for other families as well.

For this privilege, the business owner has to hack through a dense and expanding jungle of government regulations, taxes, fees, and conflicting expectations. And deal with the default presumption that he or she is evil and greedy.

Right now our government has six or seven regulatory guns pointed at the head of every business owner in the country. Retirement plan? The success of the business IS the entrepreneur’s retirement plan. But today’s Beltway hootenanny was only the beginning.

If the bunch grinning and congratulating themselves in Washington today have their way, the top marginal tax rate will increase. So will the tax on capital gains, the tax on gasoline, and we’ll get a “carbon tax” that will essentially be a penalty for breathing.

Here’s a news flash for my chipper friend. We can’t all work for the government. Someone’s going to have to actually run businesses (profitably) and employ enough folks to keep the giant Ponzi scheme going.

In 2008, 48% of American adults either paid NO federal taxes or worked in a taxpayer funded job. That figure has been creeping higher every year. Ironically, Obama-Reid-Pelosi speak of the creation of tens of thousands of new government jobs if it were a type of “stimulus” rather than an additional load for the beleaguered productive class to carry.

Think about it. If that continues, a clear electoral majority of Americans will soon be able to vote themselves raises and cradle-to-grave benefits programs for which the tax-paying minority will have to shoulder the financial burden. This is precisely what has happened in California.

My Dad was a teacher. A wonderful one. After putting 25 years in as a teacher, he retired at the age of 54, fully vested in the Oklahoma teacher retirement system. He’ll be 81 in June. Ponder the math of that for a moment.

Growing up, Dad told my brother and I that our smartest course of action was to go to work for the federal government. As usual, he was right.

Instead I followed my heart and have been self-employed virtually all of my adult life. As things currently stand, I will have to work until I’m 90 and the government will continue to confiscate large chunks of everything I earn all along the way.

My brother listened to dad. He went to work right out of college for an agency of the federal government in a job that, along with the paycheck, gave him the equivalent of an officer’s commission in the U.S. Navy.  In the next year or so, he’ll be able to retire before his 50th birthday with a gold-plated Captain’s pension.

Today, I’m the one feeling like a sucker. But 10 years from now when the government is faced with the no-win choice of either defaulting on its debt or plunging us into hyper-inflation. The Ponzi scheme will catch up to even the Cadillac federal pension holders.

The real losers in all this will be our children and grandchildren.

It’s always the last ones into the Ponzi scheme who end up holding the empty bag. Sorry kids.

Gut Punch #424

Here on the 424th day of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Administration, those of us who love this country; treasure liberty; and understand that free market capitalism is the only true engine of prosperity on the planet, have just received our 424th punch in the gut. Actually, tonight was more of a groin kick. Come to think of it, over the last year and two months, it’s been gut punches on even numbered days, groin kicks on the odd.

In any event, I don’t think there has been a single day since January 20, 2009, that the news out of Washington D.C. hasn’t brought us an atrocity, a travesty, or something truly heartbreaking. It has been something. Every. Single. Day.

For example, yesterday brought news that our President had appointed a new senior adviser to the Transportation Safety Administration. His pick? A gentleman named Nawar Shora, the legal director of the Arab-American Anti-Defamation Committee–an organization that is, among other problematic things, wildly anti-Israel.

As Paul Mirengoff over at Powerline points out:

The Washington Post, in what I would describe as a celebratory article, is very clear about what Shora’s role will be at TSA. It states (under his picture in an article appearing today) that Shora “is used to fighting for the civil rights of Muslims and Arabs, but now he will do so as a federal government official.” Shora is equally clear, saying “it is about time I cross over to the government and start working within the system.”

But TSA is not a civil rights organization; it is (or should be) an organization dedicated to promoting safety and thwarting terrorism. Shora’s appointment is more evidence that TSA is not sufficiently dedicated to that purpose. Shora’s mission in life is not promoting safety and thwarting terrorism; it is promoting the interests of Arab-Americans

Think about this. Our President has just appointed the Arab-American’s version of Al Sharpton to the agency charged with keeping the next 9/11 from happening. Just let the implications of that sink in for a moment. This was gut punch #423.

Of course that was just a ball peen hammer blow to the foundation of our freedoms compared to the wrecking ball Pelosi & Co. successfully swung against that foundation tonight.