Andy Rooney is Proud of America, and I am Sick of Him.

Like most good Americans, I am sick of Andy Rooney, and find myself continually wondering whose blood he sucked-out last night in order to buy one more minute of life on this Earth.  Of course, the obvious answer is that he lives off the ‘life force’ which he sucks from his viewers on a weekly basis. 

Normally, I would just avoid him all together, but my wife and I watch the Amazing Race every week (usually on tape due to my own professional football watching commitments).  Because 60 Minutes is preceded by a nationally televised football game, it almost always starts late, and as a result, I have scheduled series recordings for Amazing Race and Cold Case, so that I always get the entire Amazing Race program for the week.  Each week, I fast forward through the rest of 60 Minutes, looking for the beginning of the Amazing Race. 

Usually, the only effect Andy Rooney has on me is to have to look at his face as I fast forward to the end of the program.  This week, however, as I saw him going by, I noticed the caption of Obama behind him, and was intrigued.  I stopped the DVR and looked at my wife, and said, “Surely, he is not praising America for electing Obama.”  I rewound to the beginning of the segment and I sat mouth agape and watching him spew some of the worst drivel that I’ve ever seen on television.  Usually, his rants are so inane that they are easily dismissed and forgotten, but in this one he actually told the viewers how proud he was to live in an America where the people, 80% of whom are white, could vote-in a black man to be their president.

This is mind-boggling.  The implications of his statements in this segment are far reaching.  Does that mean that if America, where 80% of the people are white, had not chosen to make Obama president that it would have been an indication of our inherent continued racism?  I honestly believe this old man would have scolded America if Obama had not been elected.

Any presidential race should be less about color and personality than it is about ideology.  Rooney does not have enough faith in the American people to think that they could vote for a candidate based on political ideas.  Honestly, I do not have that much faith in the American people (at least the 16% who decide elections) either, but not because I think American is full of closet racists.  Unfortunately, I believe those 16% who are not motivated to vote based on political ideology probably did vote for Obama, not because he was black or a liberal, but because he was telegenic and speaks well as opposed to McCain.  [The hard-core liberal will have to forgive me here.  I know that they voted for Obama out of ideology, and I respect the fact that they are at least voting for a candidate that supports their political point of view.  There are simply not enough hard-core liberals or hard-core conservatives in America to win the Presidency.]

My point here is that I simply resent the implication in Rooney’s statement that those who voted against Obama did so because he was a black man.  I wonder if Rooney would have felt the same way if it had been Condoleezza Rice who had been the black candidate running for the Republican ticket.  I doubt it, but I would have voted for her in a second.  And, just think, American could have doubly assuaged its guilt by electing her president.

The 16%, and Why I Hold Them in Contempt

I have developed a lot of theories over the years.  Earlier this year, I posted one of my best, ‘The Five.’  Though I am surprised at the little interest that it has garnered.  Recently, one of my friends admitted he has discovered that one of my oldest theories is true.  It is the theory of the 16%. 

In this theory, it is supposed that 42-43% of Americans have core values that are conservative in nature.  These are most often sons and daughters that embrace the values of their parents.  They are mostly pro life and are fiscally conservative.  They usually embrace America’s heritage of rugged individualism, and are more likely to vote for the Republican party regardless of the candidate because they agree with most of the values that are promoted by the Republican Party.

The theory also supposes that there are 42-43% of Americans that have core values that are on the left.  These people believe that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that all Americans are happy and cared for.  They believe that it is appropriate to tax people who work and are successful in order to make sure that everyone is able to live at some high standard of their determining.  They definitely have Socialist leanings, and believe (for some reason) that bigger government, and the good intentions of lawmakers will lead to a better world.  These people almost always vote Democrat regardless of the candidate because they believe the Democratic party supports the issues that they believe are important. 

I could get into an argument as to why I think the first group is right, but that is not the point of this particular post.  I am writing this article to deal with the 16% that is left over, and that is why many years ago during the 1992 elections that I developed “The Theory of the 16%.”  Thank you Ross Perot.

The point of the theory is that about 84% of Americans vote on issues.  For them, them primary season is when their candidate for president is determined.  Coming out of the conventions, they already know who they are going to vote for.  The debates will do nothing to sway them one way or another, because they already know the core issues and values of their party, and they support its candidate.  The problem is that 42% is not enough to win a presidential election.  That is where the 16% come into the picture.

There are 16% of Americans out there that have not taken the time develop a set of core values, or if they have, they do not take the time to determine which party or candidate actually is closest to the values that they hold. 

I have more respect for the hard-line person on the left than I do for the people in the 16%.  At least the liberal has developed a set of values and know why it is that they believe the things that they believe.  The 16% simply blow around like a leaf waiting for the right person to tell them what it is that they are supposed to think.

These people choose a candidate for any number of reasons.  Looks are a big factor (if you ever want to see the impact of looks on these people check out the numbers of the first Kennedy/Nixon debates, and compare the radio numbers to the television numbers at the time). 

Talking points and catch phrases become very important in winning over these people.  They do not take the time to develope ideas or investigate the details of the issues, so if you want to win their vote on the issues, it is better to have a catchy phrase or a good ‘one-liner.’ that they will remember.  Having your facts straight is unnecessary because these people cannot be bothered with the facts.  It is more important to say the things that you think they want to hear whether you believe them or not, and whether you are actually planning to carry them out or nor.  You can bet that they won’t check up on you.

The Democrats have discovered something else that is important to these people.  They will watch a terrible television program, or go see an awful movie simply because a celebrity that they like is in it.  If they can be motivated to spend their hard earned money to see a terrible movie just because Brad Pitt, for instance, is in it, how much more easily can these same celebrities be used to get this 16% to vote for the Democratic candidate?  That costs them nothing, and they get the feeling that they are able to connect with Oprah, for example.

The media is the other ace that the Democrats have in the hole.  These media outlets (excepting Foxnews) have decided to shamelessly support the Democratic candidate, in this case Obama.  The interesting thing is that their obvious bias is not where they are having the biggest effect.  Their biggest influence comes in the areas where they shape the arguments by throwing out their own suppositions.  They have intentionally changed many of the fundamental questions in these arguments so that only the democrats can win.

For instance, on  the question of the bailout, the issue that they raise is not what is best for the economy and the future of America, but “Isn’t it the governments responsibility to make sure that these Americans who were cheated are fairly compensated for it?”  On the abortion argument, they do not ask, “What is your stance on abortion and why?”  They ask rather, “Do you believe in the Constitutional right to Privacy?”  This is a loaded question.  On gay marriage, they will ask “Don’t you think all Americans should have the right to choose their own life-partner and live happily?”  Rather than, “Do you believe that the definition of marriage is one man married to one woman?”  And, on the global warming issue, they have so taken over the intellectual high ground, that we will probably never be able to have a real discussion of the issues.  Anyone who questions a “man-made cause to an imminent global catastrophe” is dismissed as an idiot who does not believe in science by the media without even allowing an argument based on science.  On issue after issue, they have chosen to frame the debate in a way that supposes the Democratic ideas are right.  The 16% is extremely susceptible to this sort of thing.

These people are also influenced heavily by polls.  As they see the polls trending one way or another, they sway towards the one that is winning.  They feel comfortable being part of the majority, and it keeps them from having to actually determine whom to vote for on their own.  They just assume that since more Americans are supporting one of the candidates over the other, there must be a reason for it.

So with all of this being said, it is easy to see why Obama is inching ahead in the polls.  He definitely is a better looking guy than McCain, and is also more telegenic.  Obamas has shown the ability to be all things to all people.  He has no problems promising anything even both sides of the same issue, because he knows that he will not be called out for it.  Since the press has already moved the arguments into his playing field, it is more easy for his answers to sound appealing.  McCain, however, is in the position of having to either reinterpret all of the questions the press asks him in a way that works for his point of view, which looks awkward, or he has has to appear more populous which offends his constituency and makes him look disingenuous.  Obama definitely has the support of Hollywood, and cashes in on it daily.

The best move McCain made in the election was to choose Palin.  She was a legitimate attempt to grab some of the 16%.  Unfortunately, in the end, the choice of the VP does not carry enough weight to make a difference.  The Republican Party has to figure out that while it is important to choose someone who that tows the party line (which by the way is not McCain), it is more important to choose a candidate that is telegenic, and is a good and forceful communicator.  This is why Fred Thompson would have been a good choice, but it is too late now.  The only hope we have now is for a huge skeleton to fall out of Obama’s closet, and it will have to be one that the press cannot ignore.

Sarah needs to get ready

If you thought the Democrats and the media were rude to Palin before, get ready.  The Democrats and the media especially, have assumed that Obama would be the next president with a glee that they have not even attempted to mask.  However, the latest polls are showing that McCain has taken the lead. 

As far as I am concerned this is great, but get ready, confused and furious Demcorats and the media are just now having to come to grips with the reality that their chosen Messiah may not have a cake-walk into the White House.  This will truly be an unforeseen blow.  And because they don’t understand all of the issues causing the McCain surge.  Among them: the fact that the Democratic Party still does not represent what most American believe in, the fact that McCain is running a good campaign, taxes, the fact that Republican policies are more fiscally sound, drilling for oil,  nuclear energy, the positive news out of Iraq, Obama (he as his own host of issues), and Biden (A-hole).

As I said, the Democrats and the media will not understand all of these issues.  They will focus their anger on one person, Sarah Palin.  Don’t get me wrong, she was a genius pick, and is part of the reason for McCain’s surge, but the Democrats and the media do not understand the impact of the other issues listed above.  They are truly in love with Obama, and they will take out their frustration on McCain’s running mate.

It is going to get very brutal.  I fully expect a flood of new (mostly false) stories to come flooding off of the internet.  She will be made to look like everything from a tramp to Hitler (yes, they will make that comparison.  It’s the internet and it’s inevitable).  The good news is that if she can withstand barrage, and if nothing truly devastating comes out (nudie picks, for example, though I did have a friend who is an independent who said he would sell his vote for those), the Republicans might just win this election.  Focusing on her is a losing proposition for them, and Obama cannot compete with McCain in terms of experience and debate.  No, they will savage her.  They will look like asses for doing it, and the Republicans just might win.

 

On another note, I do not understand why the media has not come over to McCain since the Palin pick.  If McCain wins, Obama is finished, but McCain will probably not be able to run again in four more years.  This will set up the Palin vs Hillary showdown, and that would be the greatest ever spectacle in American politics.  What a field-day for the media.

Government Health Scare

A friend sent an article to me this morning that talked about the three candidates and their ideas on health-care reform.  Generally, I believe that the less government intrusion there is, the better, but in this instance America’s politics have wandered into an area where I feel there is need for reform.  The problem is that I do not believe any of the candidates has a serious or good idea for reforming this problem.

Both of the Democratic candidates prefer some sort of all-inclusive government sponsored plan, while McCain’s plan prefers to remove the business incentive from the current system, ostensibly allowing businesses to pay people more in actual salary and allowing individuals more freedom and power when choosing a health plan.  I don’t see any of these plans as viable, or well thought out. 

I really would like to see a non-profit insurance company established.  Of course, you would have to pay the people who work there, but it seems to me that a group of people or businesses could come together and establish an insurance company that takes only enough to pay its medical bills and operating expenses.  It makes sense, and is the purest example of the original purpose of insurance, to get people to pool their money together, so that if something bad happens to one of them, the corporate body of funds covers the expense. 

Originally, insurance companies were created as a profit venture, but the problem came when this idea was taken to its logical conclusion (which is where it is now).  I believe there is a moral issue at work here.  These companies lose sight of their true purpose, pooling individuals’ money to protect against catastrophe, and begin to look at profits as their main objective.  In this scenario, the motivation is to get medical costs up, to justify raising premiums and to keep from paying as many claims as possible so that profits will be as high as possible.  It’s a problem when you take a person’s money for “health insurance,” and then make it one of your company’s stated goals to get and keep as much of that money as you can by refusing to pay or by making achieving payment so difficult that people give up. 

So why doesn’t someone start a non-profit insurance company?  Because, state laws are highly protective of insurance companies’ interests.  Texas has many state laws that protect the insurance industry.  For example, you cannot take an insurance company to court for not paying your medical bills.  I want to make it clear that I am not talking about tort reform.  That is another issue for another discussion.

My main point is this: why do we need a middle-man?  If the point of insurance is to band your money together, and to make sure that everyone is covered by the contributions of the whole, then there is no need to pay a for-profit company to do this for you.  What could happen, is that a large (and I mean large- the larger the better) group of individuals could set up an insurance company in this fashion to work in their best interests, not the interests of a group of stock holders (the insured would be the stock holders).  In truth, the insurance company has little to offer, except to be a place to pool money and weed out fraud.  They are no different than a stock broker who bundles your money with that of other people and helps you buy into a fund.  The difference is that the stock broker is not trying to figure out a way to keep your money for himself (except for fixed transaction fees).  When you want to sell a stock, you sell, the broker collects a few bucks, and you are done.  In contrast, when you have a serious health problem, many insurance companies will do all they can to make the pay-out difficult.

And as we have seen, with the growth of technology and the information age, there is really no need for a stock broker these days you can do it yourself on-line for even less.  The same technology could be used to help bring people’s money together to insure themselves.  This is the kind of leverage that could also effect medical prices in a good way for those choosing to insure themselves this way.

For me, the political solutions presented by both parties are no more serious than their current ideas for solving the “big oil” problem.  All the Republican idea does is to remove the onus from businesses to help provide health-care.  I do not believe for a second that businesses will raise employee salaries commensurate with the money that they will be saving on health-care.  The businesses will rely on the fact that most people do not associate the business cost of benefits with their salaries.  Most people are worried about their take-home-pay.  Good jobs will still have to provide health-care benefits in order to get good employees, and smaller businesses and lesser desired jobs (see burger flipper), will be effectively cut off from insured health-care coverage.

The worst part is that the Republican plan does nothing to deal with rising health-care costs.  It insinuates that allowing people to control their own medical benefits will cause competition and drive prices down.  But, that is not where the problem is, the problem is between the insurance companies and the medical companies.  I personally find it hard to believe that a company, such as Home Depot, cannot use the leverage of its thousands of employees to get access to decently priced insurance.  And, if a company that pools this many people together cannot get it done, I am sure that these people as individuals will have no chance.

The Democrat proposal is just as bad.  Any time government steps in and decides to simply cover the costs associated with an industry, the entities in that industry begin to salivate.  If you want to see medical costs go out of control, just allow the government to pay the bills.  In the end, the insurance and medical companies will reap record profits, and our taxes will soar in order to pay for it.

The only people benefited by McCain’s idea are businesses who carry insurance, and the only people benefited by the Dems’ ideas are the insurance companies, medical companies and themselves (politicians).  No surprises

Campaign Woes

If you have read the little bio that included my political views, it will comes as no surprise to you that I am unhappy with recent events concerning the Republican primaries.  I am not a John McCain fan because I feel that he committed the cardinal sin of working against a sitting president from his own party.  When a political party does not present a unified face, the opposing party sees blood in the water, and this encourages a feeding frenzy of dissent. 

Not only do I brand McCain in this manner, I believe his motives for doing so are as base as they come.  It would be one thing if his lack of support for the President were the product of some high-minded ideals (aka Mr Smith Goes to Washington stuff), But I believe that John McCain is about one thing, and that is John McCain and creating his own “legacy”, whatever that is.  He saw Bush as a political Johnny-come-lately who soundly defeated him, and then stood in his way for eight years.  The product of his selfishness was a host of clashes with the White House, compromises with the opposing party (unnecessary when you have both houses of Congress and the Presidency- squandered days we may never see again), and constant media events all designed to keep his (To’-up) face out there.

Good for you John.  It looks like it has all worked out fine for you.  You will be the Republican Nominee this year.  And, we (the Republicans) will lose.

This election is going to be 1996 all over again.  If you remember, in 1994, the American people were so disillusioned with Clinton that they turned out a democrat Congress that had been in power for 40 years.  It was a Republican heyday.  If America was this mad at the Dems, all we would have to do is determine who the nominee was, and we would win the Presidency.

We were given Bob Dole.  He was seen as a strong party guy, someone with experience, and a wounded veteran.  The problem was that he was an old fogy with a baby arm.  He was not telegenic and he was unelectable.  People would not vote for a President with baby arm, and they will not vote for a President whose face looks like a topographic map of the moon.

When I talk about politics, I often say, there are only 17 percent of voters who are undecided in any election.  These are people who have not bothered to educate themselves on how the candidates and party platforms match up with their own beliefs.  They have no moral compass (at least party dems know what the believe!).  Let’s face it.  The only reason that they still have the vote is that they have not committed a felony… yet (or the Meth lab is well hidden).  Most are too wrapped up in Desperate Housewives, Ultimate Fighting or their stories to educate themselves as to how they believe they should vote.  They hope for a Jerry Springer style campaign where they can decide who to vote for by picking the guy that the crowd shouts loudest for (not the guy getting all of the “boos”).  The best thing that can be hoped for is rain.  That is surely to keep them home where they will do the least harm.

But, I digress.  We are still in the primaries.  This is where the true party members take the time to express themselves.  I respect that, but what I do not respect is a group of one-issue voters who would rather lose than see a person from their own party who disagrees with them on abortion.  I’m pro life, but I knew that Romney was right when he said “A vote for Huckabee was a vote for McCain.”  But that did not matter to a bunch of backward, barely literate Southern Republicans who would never vote for a guy who was not the most pro-life candidate, and would never vote for a Mormon in any case.

So, Romney’s out (I assume that he is the VP candidate now), and I will be voting for John McCain.  And, we will lose.

Bitter.