Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2011

*sigh*

Where do I start?

Entitlement [en-tahy-tl-muhnt]

–noun

1.  the act of entitling.
2.  the state of being entitled.
3.  the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment compensation.
 
Since no one else seems to be concerned with the question, I guess its up to me to ask.  How is it that certain people became entitled to have their healthcare paid for by the taxpayer, on no other basis than their age or their income?
 
Certain entitlements are at least rooted in the country, and by extension the taxpayer, having benefitted and therefore owing the recipient a quid pro quo or two.  These would be entitlements like the right to burial in a national cemetery, the G.I. Bill, or V.A. Benefits.  There is at least a semblance of a corolation between the grantor and the grantees of this entitlement. 
 
However, this doesn’t explain why it is that I am expected to reduce the options for my own family so that I can contribute to the care of Mrs. Jones up the street.  Especially when Mrs. Jones is engaged in a “spend down” of her assets by making inter vivos transfers of her money, real property, and other assets to family members, so that “when the time comes”, she will be eligible for Medicare? 
 
Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen.  As part of my duties as an estate planning attorney, I have been asked to give advice to help the client to do just that, so that they can make sure that their kids and grandkids “get something”, which is frequently considerably more than merely. Even in today’s battered real estate market, a completely paid-for home can fetch a tidy sum, even when sold at a loss.  And I know many attorney’s who can apparently give that advice without even thinking, let alone asking “What in the Hell makes you think I want to subsidize your gifts to your heirs by paying for your medical care?”
 
What I find to be the real “entitlement” is the too-often held belief that this is perfectly ok.  Honestly, Mrs. Jones never even asks herself “Is this right that I make everyone else pay for my care, including these heirs that I want to give my assets to?”
 
For some it is a mindset.  Like Social Insecurity, they have “paid into it” all their lives, and cling to the fantasy that there is an account somewhere in Washington D.C. with their name on it, and all they are doing is “getting back what they paid in”, despite ample evidence that no such account exists, that the benefits that many receive would far outstrip the amounts paid in, and that sticky fingered politicians long ago used their “payments” to buy votes from some other sucker they wanted to make dependent upon their largesse.  This isn’t the case, and sadly, we’re rapidly approaching the point where this nation can no longer afford to indulge the fantasies of grumpy Mr. Wilburson, Mrs. Jones, or even our parents.  The time has come and gone for some brutal honesty and tough love.
 
Medicare is failing.  It isn’t just that the program is going broke, (which it is), but it is also the fact that payments on medicare claims are so delayed and so pitifully low that many healthcare providers refuse to accept medicare patients.  They can’t afford to do it for free, and “I’ll gladly pay you next year for a cheeseburger today is a crummy business model.
 
I have long admired Harry S. Truman, if only for the fact that a common man could so flummox the establishment, time and time again, with a certain flair that few people could carry off.  That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did.  Desegregation of the military?  Thumbs Up.  The Steel cases?  Thumbs Down.  Recognizing Israel?  Thumbs Up.  Pissing off the D.C. Establishment?  Thumbs Up.  Clemency for his would-be assassins?  Thumbs Down.  His enthusiastic support for Medicare?  That deserved a Gibbs-style headslap, but the guy was a senior citizen, and I’m not a grandpa-beater.
 
I still challenge the notion of such an entitlement to begin with.  It was a building block for other dubious entitlements, all generous, in part because of the myth that someone else was the one who had to pay for it.  This is a delusion that is only harming the country now.   Debt limits choices, as any law school grad is well-aware, and the nation’s growing debt doesn’t just limit our generation’s choices, it threatens the choices of my children and my grandchildren.  Pretending that its ok to continue to borrow money from China so politicians can continue to buy votes from those they would enslave and pretending that there is no reason to change the practice is an unserious answer, and it is time to be serious.
 
And since some would say that conservatives never have proposals, here are mine:
 
(1) I understand that today’s retirees have planned on these programs, and although I find them extravagant and repellant, I would preserve them for anyone age 50 or over with means testing…real means testing, that will not permit a spend down, and that will only provide partial benefits based up on your ability to pay.   Yes, I understand that means grandchildren and children like me might only get the photo album and a few small possessions, and I’m ok with that, if it means that the entitlement stops.
 
(2) For those age 50 to 21, you continue to pay into Medicare to support those on it, but it is with the understanding that it won’t be there for you.  This means that you have to do your own planning.  Maybe this means that you don’t have all the possessions that Grandpa and Grandma had, but at the same time, they wouldn’t have had them either, if they were actually saving for their own old age.
 
(3) Under 21, you don’t pay into Medicare, and maybe you have to help with taking care of your own Grandpa and Grandma when they get old.  Worse sacrifices have been made, and they are your family.
 
I know.  It will horrify those who like to talk about the wealth of this country, and how shameful such an idea might be.  But keep in mind, these are the same people who know damn well that the wealth they are referring to actually was earned by and belongs to someone else, and for all their lip service about it, their only real interest is in confiscating it so they can buy votes with it.  Say “No.” and reserve entitlements for something more significant than simply drawing breath and living long enough.
 

Read Full Post »

It has to be difficult to be a palestinian these days.   After decades of being pawns in the Arabs’ never ending war against Israel, the years of raising their children with a seething, irrational hatred of jews, of suicide bombings, rock-throwing, missile-lobbing, and sneaking into Israel to bravely fight for your dream of a state by brutally butchering mothers, fathers, and their children under cover of darkness, only to see your neighbors’ states go up in flames in attempts to bring down their corrupt governments and replace them with modern-day islamic states, working toward the inevitable caliphate that just might grant you your own state, but not your own sovereignty and freedom.  And as this history roils around your deadly but impotent actions, the constant talk on your behalf, which never seems to translate to anything else, has finally been taken up by the most impotent talker of all:  Barack Hussein Obama.

In his “Arab Spring” speech, the pResident called for Israel to give up land it won when it was attacked by its neighbors in 1967,  in order to create this state.  This was neither unexpected or courageous on the part of the pResident.  The striking part was not bold, but it was insulting to the people that he purports to lead.   From the Huffpo:

Second, we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship. We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation. And we will help newly democratic governments recover assets that were stolen. Third, we are working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt. These will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region.  [Emphasis Mine.]

Let that sink in for a moment.

His own government is busted.  Broke.  Bankrupt.  The cupboard is bare.   While he pays lip service to fiscal responsibility, he continues pushing an agenda that spends money, and that requires us to borrow, even though we are starting to look like a really bad credit risk.  He isn’t willing to limit government, and with the limitation, curb the insanely irresponsible spending and borrowing, instead opting to raise taxes on an economy already on its knees.  He isn’t willing to grow the future here, and wants to redistribute wealth we don’t even have to a part of the world that is flush with petrodollars.

Here’s a unique idea.  Instead of borrowing from the Chinese so my grandkids will be paying them back, and giving it to the arabs, why not let the arabs redistribute their own wealth so their people can realize their dreams on their own dime?   It might sound flippant, but it wasn’t meant to.  We are talking about muslim countries that make billions every year in oil revenues.  The President was right about one thing:  Its stupid to rely on one thing alone to build an economy.  However, they have money of their own.  And it seems to me that the faith they keep wanting to kill us for not having requires them to make their own “investments in people”.  If things are as dire as the pResident and others would have us believe, then it is time for these faithful who have been “acquiring wealth for wealth’s sake” to step up and start making their own contributions.

From “The Religion of Islam” website:

Like prayer, which is both an individual and communal responsibility, zakat expresses a Muslim’s worship of and thanksgiving to God by supporting those in need.  In Islam, the true owner of things is not man, but God.  Acquisition of wealth for its own sake, or so that it may increase a man’s worth, is condemned.  Mere acquisition of wealth counts for nothing in the sight of God.  It does not give man any merit in this life or in the hereafter.  Islam teaches that people should acquire wealth with the intention of spending it on their own needs and the needs of others. 

Needs like, oh, I don’t know…helping young arabs get to resources to achieve their dreams?

Apart from zakat, the Quran and Hadeeth (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) also stress sadaqah, or voluntary almsgiving, which is intended for the needy.  The Quran emphasizes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more one helps, the more God helps the person, and the more one gives, the more God gives the person.  One feels he is taking care of others and God is taking care of him.

Granted, this doesn’t allow him to buy world votes with our money, but frankly, I’m tired of Democrats buying any votes with our money.  Spending it the way he proposes doesn’t even buy him the dependency that he gets from Democratic voters, and he should have learned that adoration is fleeting by now. 

I’m tired. 

I’m tired of being insulted. 

I’m tired of being lectured about racism when I express a dissenting point of view.

I’m tired of being lectured about hate when I observe hypocrisy.

I’m tired of being told about evil corporations by wealthy union bosses who enrich themselves while destroying the competitive ability of American businesses and eventually put their members out of work.

I’m tired of having democracy flung in my face when I live in a republic.

I’m tired of the constant double-standards that will say that the ends justify the means when they can no longer deny that the left is corrupt and refuses to respect the law.

I’m tired of an insatiable government that continues to grow, and consume, and usurp, and to infantilize its own people.

And I’m afraid that complacency will keep us all here, until every act we perform in a day will be subject to the approval of a faceless bureaucrat tucked away in the bowels of a federal office building somewhere on the eastern seaboard.

Read Full Post »

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. – Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

A man’s home is his castle. – Unknown

For centuries, our jurisprudence has held dear the idea that government cannot enter your home without a warrant, or more recently, has allowed warrantless entry in the presence of exigent circumstances.   However, this week, the Indiana Supreme Court has issued a sweeping ruling deciding that there is no right to resist unlawful entry by law enforcement into your home.

The money quote from the ruling:

We believe however that a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Nowadays, an aggrieved arrestee has means unavailable at common law for redress against unlawful police action. E.g., Warner, supra, at 330 (citing the dangers of arrest at common law—indefinite detention, lack of bail, disease-infested prisons, physical torture—as reasons for recognizing the right to resist); State v. Hobson, 577 N.W.2d 825, 835–36 (Wis. 1998) (citing the following modern developments: (1) bail, (2) prompt arraignment and determination of probable cause, (3) the exclusionary rule, (4) police department internal review and disciplinary procedure, and (5) civil remedies). We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest—as evident by the facts of this instant case. E.g., Hobson, 577 N.W.2d at 836 (―But in arrest situations that are often ripe for rapid escalation, one‘s ‗measured‘ response may fast become excessive.‖). Further, we note that a warrant is not necessary for every entry into a home. For example, officers may enter the home if they are in ―hot pursuit‖ of the arrestee or if exigent circumstances justified the entry. E.g., United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38, 42–43 (1976) (holding that retreat into a defendant‘s house could not thwart an otherwise proper arrest made in the course of a ―hot pursuit‖); Holder v. State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 938 (Ind. 2006) (―Possible imminent destruction of evidence is one exigent circumstance that may justify a warrantless entry into a home if the fear on the part of the police that the evidence was immediately about to be destroyed is objectively reasonable.‖). Even with a warrant, officers may have acted in good faith in entering a home, only to find later that their entry was in error. E.g., Arizona v. Evans, 514 U.S. 1, 11 (1994); United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 922–25 (1984). In these situations, we find it unwise to allow a homeowner to adjudge the legality of police conduct in the heat of the moment.

Let that sink in for a moment.

With those few words, the Indiana Supreme Court determined that victims of illegal entries and searches only have a civil legal remedies for those illegal acts by the state.  This means that you have to suffer the violation of the curtilage of your residence, and it is on you to obtain redress for this violation after the fact.

“So what?” you ask.

Well, aside from turning the notion of preventing the invasion of privacy by the state on its ear, it also invites abuses by the state by enshrining as legal precedent the notion that it is easier to say sorry than it is to ask permission.  The home has always been sacrosanct in our jurisprudence.  The exceptions to the warrant requirements were a nod to the realities of public safety and duty that law enforcement had to provide it.  However , the minute that we are stripped of the right to defend against an illegal entry into our homes, and told that we can only seek a remedy after the fact, the state is given the green light to make mistakes and to exceed its authority on the basis of the judgment of its agents alone.

If the our forebears thought it important enough to hold our home and possessions out of the reach of the prying eyes of authority absent certain exceptions, to eliminate the right of prevention of such prying, and make the victim responsible for obtaining redress is a gross violation of the spirit of the law.  With such a right, the onus needs to be on the government…to have an exigent circumstance, to have a warrant, to have the correct address on the warrant.  We have the right to expect no less, and to make such a ruling reduces, rather than increases the government’s incentive to get it right and to have met its burdens.

Having said that, I think that the result in this case was the correct one.

If the Court had decided that a domestic violence call is an exigent circumstance, which would have been a reasonable conclusion, then it would have been a ruling that I could have supported.   But in this case, the Court used a nuclear bomb to light a fire when a match would have been sufficient, and basic liberty is now standing in the fallout zone.

Read Full Post »

Al-Qaida on Friday confirmed the killing of Osama bin Laden and warned of retaliation, saying America’s “happiness will turn to sadness.”

And? 

Seriously.  This is getting all too predictable.

We thwart a terrorist act, they tell us that we will be killed for the greater glory of Allah.

We help one of their leaders die for Allah, and all Americans must die.

Someone draws a cartoon mocking these “peaceful” individuals for their bloody ways, and the cartoonist must die.

People choose to reject their worldview, and they must die.

We could hold a banquet in their honor, eat the salad with the wrong fork, and that would somehow insult islam, and we would all have to die.

I know!  Let’s bow to their sensibilities and not publish pictures showing what happens when someone goes all 4th Century on us and kills over 3000 civilians.  I’m sure that they’ll see the error of their ways and renounce murder and mayhem as tools to achieve  their goals!

Coddling doesn’t work.

Appeasement doesn’t work.

Making it extraordinarily clear that acts of aggression will be met with swift and terrible retribution will work.  

Just ask Thomas Jefferson.

Read Full Post »

“The risks of release outweigh the benefits,” he said. “Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway, and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East.”

Ummmm, Hello?

The only way this premise even comes close to being credible is if you believed that we were dealing with reasonable people in the first place.

Reasonable people don’t fly jetliners into skyscrapers. Reasonable people do not celebrate the deaths of 3000 whose only crime was being American and going to work that morning. Reasonable people do not demand that everyone always defers to their “unique” sensibilities, and utter about the peace of their world view. while raping and beheading those who don’t share it and issuing religious death warrants for those who criticise it.

In short, why do we fear enraging the perpetually enraged? Are they going to be more enraged? Will that make them more dangerous than they already are? This is more political correctness run amuck. It is the same kind of thinking that says the concept of a “hate crime” is a sound one…the idea that a crime is somehow more criminal based on the identity of a victim.

We scored a victory on Sunday. We showed that when you attack us and murder thousands of our citizens in an unprovoked attack, we will reach out and touch you, and time and subterfuge will not weaken our resolve. And this decision renders that moment of triumph to ash, because if we choose timidity when the moment calls for a clear deterrent, then these turds in the world’s punchbowl have won. It shows they have more committment than our leadership does when our leaders chose to defer to the bad guys’ sensibilities rather than treating them like the bad actors they are.  It is a surrender to fear and lets the enemy know that they have control of the message.

Read Full Post »

The OBL thing?

I’m over it. 

I have no interest in conspiracy theories about it.  I don’t care if parts of the story make you suspicious.  While I generally have every reason to doubt the President’s veracity, I have no reason to doubt the military’s honor.  They say they did him in, then they did him in.

At this point, I don’t want to dissect the story, I don’t want to think about the significance of Obama’s golf shoes, and I could give less than a fart about how the entire thing, from start to finish, stokes islamic rage.  Eating the main course with the wrong fork would stoke islamic rage and lead to the issuance of fartwas from all corners of the world which have embraced or capitulated to that barbarity. (Although to be fair, I’ve noticed that some Episcopalians would have much the same reaction, so maybe there isn’t something unique behind that anger.)

I know the President would like to continue to be congratulated for doing his job in this one instance, but the stuff I see in my crystal ball scares the crap out of me, and given this administration’s reactions to many of these events, it would be an understatment to say I lack confidence in their strategic planning and prognostication.

A porous border with all manner of evil stuff going on in its vicinity is an indication of unseriousness.

A lack of working American oil wells preparing for the eventual day when the Middle East coalesces into a new Islamic caliphate is an indication of unseriousness. 

Actively devaluing our currency in a world where many of the other economies are faltering is an indication of unseriousness.

But then, given the pettiness of the head of this administration, and his willingness to scold, lecture, and generally divide, we had plenty of warning that he is unserious about these issues, because, lets face it.  None of these things is more important than he is.  At least until there is no doubt that they are.  And then, that will be someone else’s fault, and an opportunity for another lecture.  Because talking is still what he does best.  And the rest of the world knows it.

Read Full Post »

As predictable as the sun rising in the east or a welfare recipient voting Democrat, the usual suspects are at it again. (from the AP)

Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

I share their outrage. It was far better than he deserved, and as deterrents go, it really doesn’t budge the needle.

Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

Many issues with the faith are open to debate?  You don’t say!  You mean like the right way to beat your wife?  Or the correct way to stone your cousin’s daughter because she allowed herself to be raped?  Which shade of black is the best for the headscarf?  Or the proper way to behead an infidel on tape and deliver it to the press?  Perhaps the correct way to topple a wall on a homosexual, or to deal death to an apostate?  Yes, I do find those islamic faith issues so very troubling.  But I digress…

Bin Laden’s burial at sea “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs,” said Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning.

Maybe we could offer to let them free dive to collect the body?

A radical cleric in Lebanon, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said, “The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don’t think this is in the interest of the U.S. administration.”

I don’t think so.  Humiliating him would be more like burying him with a canned ham and a pair of panties in place of his turban.  I think it was about denying them a potential place for a future mosque.  Unless they can hold their breath really, really well.  But somehow, I don’t think the call to prayer is going to carry so well under water…

A U.S. official said the burial decision was made after concluding that it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. There was also speculation about worry that a grave site could have become a rallying point for militants.

I think the former is because of the latter.  Bury a prominent jhadi in your country and the next thing you know, you’re up to you neck in splodeydopes. 

President Barack Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial, and the Pentagon later said the body was placed into the waters of the northern Arabian Sea after adhering to traditional Islamic procedures — including washing the corpse — aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

But the Lebanese cleric Mohammed called it a “strategic mistake” that was bound to stoke rage.

I don’t really care what Mohammed (really?  I swear, they only have what? 4 names?) has to say about this.  This TUCKS™ Medicated Pad Moment is brought to us not because of where we buried him, but because it was a bullet from an American that sped him into Satan’s tender loving embrace.  We could have waited for all the muslim clerics to decide amongst themselves on the most respectful means of disposing of his mortal coil, and once that internecine jihad was complete and we followed it to the letter, they would still “rage”, stoked or otherwise.

In Washington, CIA director Leon Panetta warned that “terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge” the killing of the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Bin Laden is dead,” Panetta wrote in a memo to CIA staff. “Al-Qaida is not.”

And in other breaking news, water is still wet.

But Mohammed Qudah, a professor of Islamic law at the University of Jordan, said burying the Saudi-born bin Laden at sea was not forbidden if there was nobody to receive the body and provide a Muslim burial.

“The land and the sea belong to God, who is able to protect and raise the dead at the end of times for Judgment Day,” he said. “It’s neither true nor correct to claim that there was nobody in the Muslim world ready to receive bin Laden’s body.”

He is not raging at the infidels!  He must die!

Clerics in Iraq, where an offshoot of al-Qaida is blamed for the death of thousands of people since 2003, also criticized the U.S. action. One said it only benefited fish.

“If a man dies on a ship that is a long distance from land, then the dead man should be buried at the sea,” said Shiite cleric Ibrahim al-Jabari. “But if he dies on land, then he should be buried in the ground, not to be thrown into the sea. Otherwise, this would be only inviting fish to a banquet.”

I agree.  Something involving a wood chipper, pigs, and a Koran or two would have been a much more poignant option.  If they’re gonna be pissed anyway, then at least give them something to think about.  I’d rather have them hate us and be reluctant to try crap like that again, than hate us, and think that it is ok to kill us with impunity.  But I’m funny like that.

“What was done by the Americans is forbidden by Islam and might provoke some Muslims,” said another Islamic scholar from Iraq, Abdul-Sattar al-Janabi, who preaches at Baghdad’s famous Abu Hanifa mosque. “It is not acceptable and it is almost a crime to throw the body of a Muslim man into the sea. The body of bin Laden should have been handed over to his family to look for a country or land to bury him.”

Provocation of muslims?  The Hell you say!  Why, I only thought that such a thing was possible if you did some really unacceptable things…like treat a woman as a real person and not chattel.  Or subscribe to a different religious belief.  Or enjoy a BLT and a brew, or a Brat and a shot, or other infidelish stuff…like believe that Israel has a right to defend itself

Prominent Egyptian Islamic analyst and lawyer Montasser el-Zayat said bin Laden’s sea burial was designed to prevent his grave from becoming a shrine. But an option was an unmarked grave.

Preferably with the stuff left over from hog butchering that doesn’t get used.

“They don’t want to see him become a symbol, but he is already a symbol in people’s hearts.”

Well, we can’t have anything else in the people’s hearts.  Like an understanding that the rest of the world is getting sick of your crap, and if you hold scum like this coward up as a hero in your heart, then the rest of us can quit pretending that there is anything about you or your culture that can be redeemed.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 375 other followers