Sasstoday's Blog

The Inconvenienced President
August 18, 2010, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Political Commentary

One gets the nagging, uncomfortable feeling that President Obama is inconvenienced by the rigors of the job he so desperately sought: that he must somehow fit the “distasteful” aspects of the most powerful position in the world (dealing with wars and terrorism and a disastrous economy, for example) in between golf games, vacations, celebrity functions, dates and campaigning.

The President was in his element during his own campaign; the national news media pranced in his path tossing rose petals before him. His charm, his grin, his lanky physique, his ability to give a rousing, if not rather vacuous speech, gave him the platform in which he excelled. Then came the election. Then came the Inauguration. Then came the Presidency. Then came tough decisions about war and death, a bad economy, race issues, oil spills, foreign disasters, and those pesky Arizonans and other Americans who think laws ought to be enforced.

It’s unsettling to feel as if the President of the United States wants to be President for the perks; but the rest of the job? Just one big hassle.  President Obama knows as well as any politician that appearances matter and in some cases they matter a lot. 

President Bush gave up playing golf in 2003 out of respect for our war dead and their families. Barack Obama has played more golf in his first 18 months in office than President Bush played in eight years and Obama continues to play. The time for games is over, Mr. President.

Tea Anyone?

Yours truly plans to emcee the Columbia Tea Party rally Thursday at South Carolina’s Statehouse. Now, while definitely a fiscally conservative bunch I didn’t realize being fiscally conservative also made one a racist, homophobe and moron to boot. But those are the prejudiced comments being hung around the necks of people who, on the whole, are simply saying city, state and federal big spenders need to SLOW DOWN and be accountable for how much they spend. Duh.

The national deficit is 1.4 trillion dollars. The national debt (take a look at the national debt clock and watch the numbers zoom by) is up to 12.8 trillion (OOPS! It just changed by more than 4 billion: the amount by which the debt is growing DAILY.) A few billion/trillion here, a few billion/trillion there; what’s the fuss? Oh, I forgot to factor in the INTEREST on the debt. Who can keep up?

Here’s where the media folks could help out. People who work for TV, newspapers and blogs should never use the term “the federal government” when referring the ga-zillions of dollars “the federal government” (sorry, I’m trying to make a point here) doles out to individuals, cities, states, entitlements etc. etc. etc., and for grants, grants, grants, etc. etc. etc.

All the media have to do instead is say “taxpayer dollars” will fund…blah, blah, blah (see the above). Too many Americans think the federal government has money. The federal government has no money, except yours.

I don’t think most people fuss all that much about paying their taxes (believe it or not, my tax preparer just e-mailed me what I owe as I write this: how cruel!) when they feel it’s fair and that their money is being used wisely. That’s just not the case anymore on a local, state or national level and people are just a tad fed up. Good for them.

Stay tuned for sasstoday’s first ever tea party experience. Now, I’ve got a check to write by April 15th to “you-know-who”.

Ream the Deem Bill

New Update: House Dems drop ‘deem and pass’ in favor of separate vote on Senate health bill. (Score one for the American people.)

Now back to my original post on 3-19-2010 which I still deem quite worth the read.

As we move forward on the health care non-debate and the House prepares to pass the Senate bill by voting on it, or not, they may just “deem” it passed, at that point I guess they can just beam the deemed, virtually unseen, bill to the President. He will deem it wonderful and voila! A new entitlement unlike any we have dared deem possible takes over one-sixth of the American economy (keep those presses rollin’…rollin’…rollin’…rollin…we need that paper money….your hide!!!!). And then we’ll all find out what government deems best for us.

It’s the compassionate thing to do afterall; we’re talking about people’s lives here. Deem, I mean dern, straight! Problem is government is a “thing”; “things” do not have compassion. People have compassion. But even said people, once named to a board that has to make decisions based on available monies, well, may not “deem” you deserve the health care you need. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (Rahm’s brother btw, known as “Zeke” to his peeps, and a key health advisor to the President) advocates for a “whole life system”. So,  some Medicare board would decide based on statistics, life expectancy, etc, whether let’s say “you” are worth life prolonging procedures. Those most at risk are people who are sick,  have special needs, are elderly or suffer from conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s.

When government’s in charge, when the doctor shortage hits crisis stage (one survey indicates nearly half say they’ll get out of medicine entirely or retire early if Obamacare passes) and you throw in 30 million more people, that’s called “rationing”. That’s called nobody’s happy. And the most vulnerable patients are going to be the pricey ones: the ones who just cost too much money and statistically might not be “deemed” such a great bargain.

And let’s go over this… very… slowly….and…. carefully….and… clearly. Yes, the health care system is broken, yes, it needs fixing, and yes, we need something like high-risk insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions; how-many-times-do-people-have-to-say-that-before-it-gets-through.

But we have this itsy-bitsy problem. We don’t have any money.  Medicare alone has 36-100 trillion (can you write out 100 trillion dollars? How many zeros do you see? Lots and lots of zeros) in unfunded liabilities (ie: no money to pay for all those baby-boomers comin’ into the system, like, ALREADY).

Now the President LOVES to talk about cutting Medicare fraud and waste by 500 billion and then (this just slays me) spending it on something else to save. Savings? Zero (duh).  And sasstoday wonders why the President never talks about reforming or cutting Medicaid, which anyone can tell you is rife with rotgut waste, fraud and abuse. And Americans again have an itsy-bitsy problem believing that the government can spend 900 billion to 2 trillion dollars and save money and cut fraud, waste and abuse in programs it created and from which it has yet to cut fraud, waste and abuse.

And now the House finally has a final (maybe) bill. The Senate has a final (maybe) bill. Now the American people will get to hear a lively and in-depth debate about what’s actually in these bills, how they work and how the American people will pay for all this; it is a new era of bi-partisanship and transparency. NOT! The thing most transparent to the American people is the corruption of government. There are a few undecided Democrats out there who could decide to vote “no”—that is, if they don’t a quick ride on Air Force One first.

(Disclosure: there are some snarky comments about sasstoday and how she gets her health care. They are in my comments box.  I will answer them in six months, so said readers can get used to waiting, Canadian style, for non-essential health care concerns to be addressed.)

Obamacare Chart: Philip KleinObamacare Chart: Philip Klein

Thelma & Louise Moment (and not just for Pres.)

UPDATE: Bill O’Reilly leads his show with story sasstoday first wrote about Nov. 15, 2009 (Refer to “Docs in a Box”; I love vindication.)

Now back to the main story:

President Barack Obama has said passing health care is a “Thelma and Louise” moment. So I guess that means we’re all going over the cliff as Gina Davis and Susan Sarandon did in the movie? Maybe so. Americans are getting increasingly used to Big Government taking care of all their ills but when it comes to a government takeover of the entire health care system at least the American people are stopping, pausing, asking themselves: “Do we really want government to get this big? Do we really want our children, and children’s children, and children’s children’s children’s children…(could go on and on) to be saddled with inconceivable debt?” And do we want Big Government, which can’t run any solvent program, to be in the hospital room with us when decisions are being made about whether we’re allowed certain procedures, that involve, oh… things like whether we live or die?

The latest Rasmussen poll indicates Americans get it, God bless ’em. We care not just about our immediate, personal health care and its costs but about the long-term implications for the nation as a whole. 57% of voters believe that passage of the legislation would hurt the economy. Only 25% believe it would help. And 81% of the American people, God bless ’em, say it’s likely the plan will end up costing more than projected. Wonder where they get that idea? Only 10% say the official numbers are likely to be on target.

And, and, OMG! Is there any wonder the American people don’t trust Big G to do the right thing by them when it comes to health care when Nancy Pelosi says this week (“I kid you not” as we liked to say in high school, a phrase that could aptly preface just about everything the Democrats are doing in Washington and that I think we should revive in popularity); so anyway, Madam Speaker’s quote (I kid you not!) was, “…we have to pass our bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.” I kid you…sorry, nevermind, you get my point.

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
And most Americans, God bless ’em, seem to get this notion that you can’t spend between 900 billion and two trillion dollars and costs go down.  And when it comes to cost, I’ll pay for your gall bladder surgery, your back surgery, your heart surgery, your knee replacement, but geez, don’t ask me to pay for your abortion.

I’d prefer the fog of controversy stay in Washington where it belongs and not in our doctors’ offices and in our hospital rooms: preferably not the places for “the fog”. I know plenty of people, myself and many friends and relatives included, who, on paper,  don’t look very procedure-worthy (ie: we’d be told to take a painkiller instead of getting a pacemaker as the President urged at a town hall meeting for one woman’s elderly mother). We’re not talking little procedures here, we’re talking life-saving procedures that we might desperately want and need, thank you very much.  By the way, the “virtual” colonoscopy (approximately 15 minute) procedure the President had recently is not allowed for ordinary Americans on Medicare. Two days of dealing with colonoscopy prep and procedure, like everyone else his age and older has to endure, is worth a whole lot o’ speech giving time on health care bills that I still don’t think anyone in Congress has read. Based on Pelosi’s comment we won’t know what’s in the final bill until it’s too late.  Say what? (Another phrase that should come back.) 

For those of you living completely healthy lives and thinking government-run health care is just dandy  keep in mind somethin’s gonna get ‘cha: old age, accident, disease, whatever, sooner or later.  And  somebody, somewhere, in some agency who could care less who you are or how much you want to live and thrive and experience life, making decisions about said life, scares the bejesus out of me. If you think insurance companies are bad (which by the way make whopping profits of 3-6% but the President’s got to demonize somebody at this point) wait ’til government’s calling the shots on your life.

No one’s saying we don’t need changes in health care; we just don’t need THESE changes, whatever they are, which after a year of debate on C-span (hahahahahaha!) are still 4500 pages of mysterious, legalistic gooble-dee-gook.

Political Cartoon by Ken Catalino

By at least a two-to-one margin the people are saying “Stop, No, Don’t Go!” to the President’s Thelma and Louise over the cliff health care debacle. But the President isn’t listening, doesn’t want to listen or is too arrogant to listen,  take your pick, and will send a few Democrats over the cliff and parachute out of the car just in time for his own re-election bid in 2012.  I just wish the American people weren’t in that car and had parachutes too. And darn it, I want a 15 minute, virtual, no-prep colonoscopy next time!

sasstoday Helps Administration Understand “Anger”
February 15, 2010, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Political Commentary

Since the Obama Administration doesn’t seem to get the whole “anger” thing among millions of Americans, Sasstoday is willing to help explain it.  Here’s a list of a few things that have turned and are turning the people against the President and his Liberal, ie: Progressive ie: Democratic pals in power. They can thank me later.

Creating a health care nightmare

Spending trillions

Calling concerned citizens “mobs”

Spending trillions

Siding with Honduras’s unconstitutional president

Spending trillions

Kowtowing to Iran while protestors die

Spending trillions

Snubbing the Dalai Lama

Spending trillions

Handing out cash for clunkers

Spending trillions

Dithering on Afghanistan

Spending trillions

Golfing while dithering

Spending trillions

Dithering on N. Korea

Spending trillions

Campaigning instead of governing

Spending trillions

Blaming instead of governing

Spending trillions

Bailing on The Czech Republic & Poland

Spending trillions

Believing China

Spending trillions

Believing Russia

Spending trillions

Believing Iran

Spending trillions

Avoiding calling terrorism terrorism

Spending trillions

Criticizing Israel

Spending trillions

Not criticizing brutal Arab regimes

Spending trillions

Growing government not jobs

Spending trillions

Denigrating America

Spending trillions

Funding abortions via health care

Spending trillions

Funding health care for illegal aliens

Spending trillions

Planning to rob, not fix, Medicare

Spending trillions

Fining and/or jailing people over health care

 Spending trillions

Saluting the fallen for a photo-op

Spending trillions

Bailing on transparency

Spending trillions

Granting civilian trials to KSM

Spending trillions

Mirandizing the Christmas Day bomber

Spending trillions

Taking credit for ending the Iraq War

Spending trillions

Mentioning Ft. Hood massacre after “shout outs”

Spending trillions

Going on TV (ad nauseam)

Spending trillions

Bowing to foreign leaders (ad nauseam)

Jumping to conclusions about police officers

Not jumping to conclusions about terrorists

 Sasstoday hopes it’s enlightened the President and Co. a bit but somehow we doubt it. And aside from copious amounts of “sass” we also generously and willingly offer “sensibility”; therefore, the President gets big bravos for listening to his Commander in Afghanistan and sending the reinforcements requested. Wonder where he got the idea for a “surge”?

The State of the Union: Say What?
January 28, 2010, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Political Commentary | Tags: ,

Was anyone else’s head spinning listening to the POTUS during his State of the Union address last night? He obviously did the jobs spiel (only about ten months too late) and what the heck does he want to do? Essentially another stimulus, this time for jobs.  Duh, I thought that’s what the first, or second, or was it third several hundred billion of stimulus (can we now call it stimuli?) spending programs were all about. Remember all those “shovel ready” jobs that still aren’t jobs? The U.S. unemployment rate remains at 10%. 

People aren’t buying Obama’s oratory any more. So about ten minutes into the speech, there I was trying to take notes of a few salient points, but he was all over the place. I felt like a watching a farmer, albeit in a designer suit, feeding the chickens and scattering feed everywhere to cover everyone: “Here chick, chick, chick, chick, chick, here chicky-chicky chick.” Throw in the old Obama charm and grin and we just spent another several billion dollars, and who knows where the heck it’s going, who’s writing the bills, what they’ll say and what they’ll do to us.

 It’s the same tactic the Democrats and Obama are using with our world-renowned health care system: here’s a multi-billion dollar health care bill (literally and figuratively) no wait, here’s another one, no you can’t read it, now here’s another one, believe this one, no you cannot read it, and we have to get this done right away, right away! No wait, here’s another bill and no you can’t know what’s in it either. Why? Because we in Congress don’t know; which means we the people will just have to wait and find out when premiums skyrocket and the doctors (those who decide to stay in medicine) start turning away Medicare patients.  And forget all that stuff promised about transparency and C-span coverage of all those behind-the-scenes, no public allowed, negotiations. Progressives don’t want us to worry our little American heads over any of the complicated legislative jargon, “We’ll take care of all this for you;  you don’t need to bother yourselves with the minutia of trillion dollar debts and taxes and worries over whether you live or die.” And just in case we’ve forgotten let’s remind ourselves that 90% of Americans have health care coverage and most like it.  To go with another chicken analogy, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Obama just cannot get out of the “Here’s a great bunch of Joe Cool sound bites and what I think everyone wants to hear” campaign mode. There was a lot in his speech about jobs and things getting better and they’re not.  We’ve lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession began. But the President proudly points to a factory in North Carolina creating about a thousand green jobs, as is a plant in California. Let’s see: if each state produces a thousand new jobs this year, why that’s 50,000 jobs! Getting close Mr. President.

I think he actually said we need to follow China’s lead on factories producing green jobs. Are you kidding me? Are we both talking about that huge country overseas with more than a billion people where they’re firing up an average of two coal-fired plants per week? And did he say we’d drill for oil? Nope. Double checked that. We’ll be exploring offshore oil and gas “development”. Which means? Probably not much once his environmental supporters start screaming. The same goes for his reference to nuclear power plants.

And what’s with the President dissing the United States Supreme Court at a State of the Union address? South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson got reamed for his emotional outburst of “You lie!” last time the President spoke before Congress. But the PRESIDENT of all people puts down the United States Supreme Court, his invited guests, with them sitting there all dignified in their black robes as the entire nation and world watch and that’s okay? Ssssoooo unpresidential and evidently, unprecedented! He didn’t understand or was just reading what the teleprompter said about their recent decision on campaign spending. Justice Samuel Alito was actually wincing and mouthing “Not true” as Obama spoke.   

But more than anything he said it was what he did not say that revealed so much. He did not even side swipe the issue of confessed, obvious terrorists going on trial and being given the same rights as an American citizen.  And foreign policy dangers that threaten maybe, oh, the future of the planet were addressed vaguely, if at all.

Of course he did the usual, “I’m not responsible for any of this mess because it’s all W’s fault”, to a fault, again. It’s so incredibly unbecoming, so classless for the President to be the Whimperer-in-Chief instead of the Commander-in-Chief. And if he keeps using “I” (97 times in the State of the Union speech) someone in his administration just needs to shake him and say, “Barack, get over yourself! It’s not about you anymore!”

Then he actually said, get this: he, Barack Obama, is ending the war in Iraq! I kid you not. He said, “I promised I would end this war and that’s what I’m doing”.  Barack, sweetie, we all know you have had almost nothing to do with the war in Iraq and that the American withdrawal was announced well before you were even sworn in. And the only people ending the war are the men and women who’ve been fighting it!

Listening to Obama takes me back to my childhood when my younger brothers and I would squabble and whine: “You started it!” “Nuh- uh, you did!” “Did not!” “Did to!” “It’s not my fault!”

Who does that when you’re grown up? Our President, that’s who.


Shallow Graves? Shallow President?
December 17, 2009, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Political Commentary

When the Time magazine I was flipping through opened to the double page spread of one of its pictures of the year my heart dropped and brimming tears glazed my visibility; I was looking at a picture of newly, shallow dug graves in the barren Afghanistan soil with our Marines lying in them. Then a closer, clearer-eyed look revealed what a first glimpse had not. The bodies were those not of dead, but of dead-tired young Marines.  The 1st Battalion, 5th Marines were photographed by David Guttenfelder in Helmand province in July. Each lay in his earthen bed, in eerily death like slumber in the rectangular fox holes they’d dug for themselves.

One Marine lay on his back, his neck bent uncomfortably sideways, his dirty, worn boots and striped wool socks atop the boots he had taken off and set close to his bed of dirt. I wondered whether those thick socks were sent by a mother or girlfriend to make the long treks through the harsh and dangerous Afghan countryside easier on his feet? It’s the seemingly little things that make life easier, appreciated, during war: something as simple as thick socks to keep your feet from blistering or freezing. The socks had been stripped off but one sat on top of one boot, one on top of the other. If they had to be put back on quickly there’d be no time wasted. Another Marine was curled on his side, his machine gun his sleeping mate, his mouth gaping slightly in the unconsciousness of sheer exhaustion. A third Marine had covered himself completely in a dark blanket or tarp, only his forehead and crew cut visible above his covering. And a fourth lay cramped in a fetal position in his hastily dug, coffin-like dirt bed. Turned up clots of earth surrounded the shallow dirt rectangle that was only about half as long as he was.

Guttenfelder, the photographer, wrote of the scene:

“We’d stopped in this farmer’s field for the night. It took me an hour to dig my own firing position in the dark, and it feels like you’re sleeping in a shallow grave. But you do feel safer—and sleep better—protected by those few inches of dirt. I got up at dawn and was able to get the guys enjoying the first full night’s sleep they’d had after marching for six days in temperatures up to 135 degrees, carrying 120 pound packs.”

The picture caught just one moment in time for one small group of Marines and it caught a rare peaceful moment, despite its initial disturbing visual impression of graves, empty boots, bodies and death which is the heart wrenching end for many of our troops wherever and whenever there is war.

Time Magazine, Dec. 21, 2009

The truth is I worship them. I look at that picture and others I see of them in magazines and on the internet: the ones of them rushing away from an explosion cradling a bleeding child, the ones of them kneeling in front of two empty boots and a rifle, heads dropped, a hand over their eyes to hide tears while paying last respects to a buddy, the pictures of the medics tending the aches and pains of old Afghani men and the scrapes or illnesses of Afghani children, the pictures of the solider dropping to his knees then garnering the strength to somehow stand again under the staggering weight of the backpack he carries in hellish heat or unbearable cold.

During this Christmas season here in America and around the world for that matter, we sleep in safety and comfort because they, our American soldiers do not. Whether the world wants us there or even likes us does not change the fact that, even if they don’t admit it, they’re safer because of the American soldier, sailor, Marine, Air Man or Coast Guard member.

As Americans we have the blessed right to speak against and protest war. Sadly, in the past and still today it is our troops who have borne the cruelty of words unfairly, and as we have learned from horrendous media inaccuracies such as the reports that wrongly assumed Marines had massacred innocents in Haditha, Iraq, there are still those too quick to indict, literally, those who stand at freedom’s door to protect the very media scum who would blithely destroy a soldier’s or Marine’s career, integrity and livelihood.

Those critics: I hope they take a good long look at that Time magazine picture. I hope they get down on their knees every night and thank God for the American soldier before they (I’m thinking here of your average liberal Congressman) slip under their designer sheets and rest their heads on fluffy pillows as visions of sugar daddy lobbyists and re-election plans and jet-setting to Copenhagen dance in their heads.

They have a right to criticize, sure. But I can’t help but think of the quote by President Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

I fear the President will not allow our military to know victory. He’ll couch it or define it in some well-turned phrases and the job will be left undone, the work and sacrifice will unravel. And the President of the United States will go down in history as one of “those cold and timid souls.”

The President finally got around to announcing his strategy, after announcing his strategy eight months earlier, for Afghanistan when he delivered his lackluster speech at West Point. Iraq may yet unravel, we don’t know. Afghanistan may not be won. If I had to bury my friends and collect the pieces of their bodies after an IED explosion, if I had to sleep in a shallow grave-like bed of dirt, if I voluntarily left this great country because I loved it and its freedoms so much I’d die for it, I think I’d want one thing more than anything else. I’d want to know my President, my Commander-in-Chief, truly admired, respected and believed in what I was doing and sacrificing for freedom at home and around the world.

Barack Obama made a big deal of our military the day of his Inauguration. I thought then with relief that maybe he really did get it, he did understand the American military fighting men and women, the kind of devotion to freedom for which they would and do lay down their lives.

 Now? Despite his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, I don’t think in his wildest dreams Barack Obama understands the love of country and devotion to duty of the American soldier. He can’t touch that. His midnight trip to Dover Air Base with the national media in tow for a photo op, oddly timed when he was under intense pressure because he couldn’t/wouldn’t make up his mind on Afghanistan turned my stomach. It was the most shameful publicity grab I’ve ever witnessed.  Our soldiers deserve so much better. Mr. President: how about showing our men and women in uniform how much you think of them, how much you admire them and mean it, really mean it, before they come home in a flag draped coffin. That might mean a little less time on the golf course and a little more time in the White House.