Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights

Shortly before 6am, those of us who live in Southwest Florida were treated, once again, to the signature “Boom Boom” from the space shuttle after another successful mission into space.  This is one of the many benefits that we get in this part of the country.

I remember the first time I heard the double sonic booms.  It rattled my whole house and my reaction was “WHAT WAS THAT!!!!”  I thought someone had set off an explosion and used a little bit too much nitro.  Then, I came to my senses and realized that the space shuttle was returning and that the sound I heard was the double sonic booms that I had heard so much about.

This morning, although it was a sweet sound to hear, it was also bitter.  This was the last time that I will ever hear that sound.  Today was the last time that a space shuttle will ever land because the entire program has been shut down.  For thirty years, the space shuttle has been the workhorse of our space program.  For most people in this country, the space shuttle is all that they know.

Sadly, there is no program that is ready to take its place.  For the foreseeable future, the United States will have to rely on other countries to get humans into space.  Much of the technology that exists in our society, from food preservation to computers, traces its roots back to NASA and the space program.  Many industries were formed as a result of the space program in the past forty years since the first Mercury flight in 1959.

Another sad result of the cancellation of the shuttle program is the hundreds of people connected with the program at NASA that are being laid off.  When you combine this with even more that will suffer the same fate at companies that are connected with the program, many thousands will loose their jobs during one of the worst economic times in our country.  This will have a drastic effect on our technology programs and our economics.

The NASA budget is just a small fraction of the budget of this country.  Yet, the economic benefit that has resulted from it more than pays for the program.  The “Return on Investment” from the NASA budget far exceeds that from any other budget item, including education, welfare and other pork projects that our “elected” leaders come up with.

My hope is that someday we will return to space.  The benefits of the space program far out-weigh the risks.

Does Obama’s Mouth Connect to His Brain? You Decide.

by Kyle-Anne Shiver • August 7, 2009

Our esteemed new President, graduate of Columbia and Harvard, took his little show on the road this week. Thursday, he took $39 million in taxpayer money to Elkhart, Indiana, where of course, he made a little speech about the Crimulus Stimulus, the multi-billion dollar boondoggle that was supposed to save us from the economic conditions, which now persist despite it.

My question, after reading his remarks, was a bit cynical. How is it that a man, hailed from every liberal enclave on the entire planet as brilliant-beyond-brilliant, has utterly failed to master fourth-grade arithmetic? Unless, of course, his mouth, that organ of masterful oratory, is not, in fact, connected to his brain at all.

If the dear folks at the crashed-and-burned RV factory in Elhart, Indiana bought this little spiel from President Big Mouth, then there might be another explanation for their failed business than the horrible economy. Read this, but don’t weep. Just pass it around to your friends and see if they still think this President is a really smart guy:

“And let me just talk about the so-called stimulus package, or the Recovery Act, because there’s been a lot of misinformation out there about the Recovery Act. Let me tell you what it is and what it’s not.”

“The plan was divided into three parts. One-third of the money has gone to tax relief for families and small businesses. One-third of the money is cutting people’s taxes. one-third of the money was tax cuts. Another third of the money in the Recovery Act has been for emergency relief that is helping folks who’ve borne the brunt of this recession. So that’s the second half. First half, tax relief. Second half, support for individuals, small businesses, and states that had fallen on hard times. The last third of the Recovery Act — and that’s what we’re going to talk about here today — is for investments…”

Granted, there were a few other garbled sentences that filled in between the fractions, so that one who was not listening carefully, might have missed the President’s confounded sums.

However, just ask yourself this: If President Bush had delivered such a pitifully flawed summation of an economic package, would it not have led every major network’s primetime newscast?

When the press covers for this President every day, 24/7, I must begin to ask myself whether they are exhibiting condescending racism, the kind that honestly does believe a black man cannot be held as accountable as a white man in the same position, simply because he is racially disadvantaged by lesser intelligence. I have known many racists like this in my life, as have you.

Condescending racists pretend, often even to themselves, that they are genuinely lovely people, who harbor only the kindest thoughts and beliefs about African-Americans. But every time they cover for someone, just because he is black, they exhibit their true beliefs. Every time they fail to use the same standard of judgement for an African-American as the one they use for a European-American, then they demonstrate plainly and simply that they are racists to the core. Racism is the internalized belief that one race is genetically and inherently superior to others. Only if one truly believes that whites are superior to blacks will he use a lower standard to judge the words and actions of black citizens.

Whenever a white commentator covers for the missteps of our African-American president, they display one of the most disgusting forms of racism there is, the kind that portrays themselves as “nice,” while hiding purely vile racial condescension.

Racism, whether dressed in a white hood and burning a cross, or dressed in a suit and tie, and wielding an elite microphone, is just as ugly, just as vile, just as un-Christian as a thing could possibly get.

When our news media finally starts — if they ever do — pointing out, with consistent regularity, the foibles of President #44, then you’ll know they’re trying to be colorblind in the true MLK tradition. Until then, they’re just a bunch of racists with their blinders turned inside out.


Firms With Obama Ties Profit From Health Push

By SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writer Sharon Theimer, Associated Press Writer – Wed Aug 19, 6:08 pm ET

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s push for a national health care overhaul is providing a financial windfall in the election offseason to Democratic consulting firms that are closely connected to the president and two top advisers.

Coalitions of interest groups running at least $24 million in pro-overhaul ads hired GMMB, which worked for Obama’s 2008 campaign and whose partners include a top Obama campaign strategist. They also hired AKPD Message and Media, which was founded by David Axelrod, a top adviser to Obama’s campaign and now to the White House. AKPD did work for Obama’s campaign, and Axelrod’s son Michael and Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe work there.

The firms were hired by Americans for Stable Quality Care and its predecessor, Healthy Economy Now. Each was formed by a coalition of interests with big stakes in health care policy, including the drug maker lobby PhRMA, the American Medical Association, the Service Employees International Union and Families USA, which calls itself “The Voice for Health Care Consumers.”

Their ads press for changes in health care policy. Healthy Economy Now made one of the same arguments that Obama does: that health care costs are delaying the country’s economic recovery and that changes are needed if the economy is to rebound.

There is no evidence that Axelrod directly profited from the group’s ads. Axelrod took steps to separate himself from AKPD when he joined Obama’s White House. AKPD owes him $2 million from his stock sale and will make preset payments over four years, starting with $350,000 on Dec. 31, according to Axelrod’s personal financial disclosure report.

A larger issue is a network of relationships and overlapping interests that resembles some seen in past administrations and could prove a problem as Obama tries to win the public over on health care and fulfill his promise to change the way Washington works, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a government watchdog group.

“Even if these are obvious bedfellows and kind of standard PR maneuvers, it still stands to undercut Obama’s credibility,” Krumholz said. “The potential takeaway from the public is ‘friends in cahoots to engineer a grass roots result.'”

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said that Axelrod has had no communications with Healthy Economy Now or with Americans for Stable Quality Care, and his payments aren’t affected by the ad contracts. Axelrod’s son, a salaried AKPD employee, doesn’t work with either coalition “or stand to benefit from that work,” LaBolt said.

“David Axelrod has fully complied with the toughest-ever ethics rules for administration officials, including divesting from AKPD before the administration began,” LaBolt said.

Ken Johnson, a PhRMA senior vice president, said GMMB and AKPD were the only two firms working on the $24 million in ads. He declined to reveal how much each was paid beyond saying that each received a small percentage of the total. The coalition’s campaign team decided to hire the two firms, he said.

“In a perfect world, it’s a distraction we don’t need right now, but these are very gifted consultants who have done very good work,” Johnson said. “And it’s also important to remember that at the end of the day, the coalition partners determine the message.”

Healthy Economy Now spokesman Jeremy Van Ess said the two firms were hired because “they are the best at what they do. Period.” The coalition didn’t seek approval or direction on any of its activities from the White House, said Van Ess, a partner in a consulting firm that has worked on Democratic Senate election activities and a former speechwriter for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

AKPD and GMMB both proudly proclaim their connections to Obama on their Web sites.

AKPD has a full page on Axelrod that includes pictures of Obama. In one photo, Obama hugs Plouffe on election night.

“We are deeply honored to have been part of Barack Obama’s historic campaign to change America and the world,” GMMB says on its Web site. GMMB’s partners include Jim Margolis, a senior strategist for Obama’s presidential campaign.

Both GMMB and AKPD also have worked for Democrats this year. The Democratic National Committee paid AKPD at least $106,000 for polling, media production, communication consulting and travel costs from February through April. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid GMMB roughly $75,000 from February through June for ads. And GMMB took in at least $9,000 this year from Senate leader Reid’s political action committee for communications consulting.


Obama To Raise 10-Year Deficit To $9 Trillion

Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:50pm EDT

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit projection to approximately $9 trillion from $7.108 trillion in a report next week, a senior administration official told Reuters on Friday.

The higher deficit figure, based on updated economic data, brings the White House budget office into line with outside estimates and gives further fuel to President Barack Obama’s opponents, who say his spending plans are too expensive in light of budget shortfalls.

The White House took heat for sticking with its $7.108 trillion forecast earlier this year after the Congressional Budget Office forecast that deficits between 2010 and 2019 would total $9.1 trillion.



Published in the New York Post on July 21, 2009

If the Democrats obey President Obama’s command and pass a health-care bill by the August recess, they’ll be committing partisan suicide.

Obama’s insistence that we completely remake our health-care system — and do it two weeks after the first bill was marked up in the first committee — is too arrogant by half. It smacks of the kind of overreaching of FDR’s second term in 1937, when, after his landslide win in 1936, he tried to pack the Supreme Court to reverse its anti-New Deal rulings.

Americans are increasingly turning against Obama’s program. A Washington Post poll has the plan’s public approval below 50 percent; Rasmussen has it trailing 46-49.

For Obama to ride roughshod over Americans’ rising concerns about a matter so intimate will be too much.

What’s the rush? they’ll ask. The bill isn’t even slated to take effect until next year. You passed the stimulus package, they’ll note, in a similar rush during the administration’s first week — only to see it fall flat. Now Obama aides are claiming the package was never intended to have much effect this year!

How, voters will ask, can we cover 50 million more people without any new doctors or nurses? The answer is to ration health care, with the government deciding who’ll get hip and knee replacements, heart-bypass surgery and other medical treatments. And what does rationing mean? It means that the elderly will be denied care that they can now get whenever they want.

The Obama plan effectively repeals Medicare, putting a Federal Health Board between the elderly and their doctors. This board will instruct public and private insurance carriers on what procedures are to be approved, at what cost and for what patients.

The bulk of this rationing will fall on the elderly. We’ll have to revisit the idea that the elderly have, in the words of former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, “a duty to die.”

The more word gets out about what the bill contemplates, the firmer opposition will grow. That’s why Obama wants to push it through now, while he retains some popularity.

And if the bill passes? The howls of protest from the elderly the first time they’re denied care will be something to behold. It will become evident that the health-care resources being denied to the elderly are going instead to immigrants — legal and not. The anger will be enormous and instant.

Most Americans aren’t sick and don’t use medical facilities often. But the elderly constantly stay in touch with their doctors and medical providers. The curtailment of that access will become immediately apparent — and in more than enough time for the 2010 elections.

Some votes live on and on. People remember senators’ votes on the Kuwait war resolution. President Bill Clinton chose Vice President Al Gore for the 1992 ticket largely based on Gore’s vote in favor of the invasion. It sent a signal that Gore and he were a “new kind of Democrat.”

This health-care vote is similarly consequential; it will linger for years.

How to Make Health-Care Reform Bipartisan


In Washington, it seems history always repeats itself. That’s what’s happening now with health-care reform. This is an unfortunate turn of events for Americans who are legitimately concerned about the skyrocketing cost of a basic human need.

In 1993 and 1994, Hillary Clinton’s health-care reform proposal failed because it was concocted in secret without the guiding hand of public consensus-building, and because it was a philosophical over-reach. Today President Barack Obama is repeating these mistakes.

The reason is plain: The left in Washington has concluded that honesty will not yield its desired policy result. So it resorts to a fundamentally dishonest approach to reform. I say this because the marketing of the Democrats’ plans as presented in the House of Representatives and endorsed heartily by President Obama rests on three falsehoods.

First, Mr. Obama doggedly promises that if you like your (private) health-care coverage now, you can keep it. That promise is hollow, because the Democrats’ reforms are designed to push an ever-increasing number of Americans into a government-run health-care plan.

If a so-called public option is part of health-care reform, the Lewin Group study estimates over 100 million Americans may leave private plans for government-run health care. Any government plan will benefit from taxpayer subsidies and be able to operate at a financial loss—competing unfairly in the marketplace until private plans are driven out of business. The government plan will become so large that it will set, rather than negotiate, prices. This will inevitably lead to monopoly, with a resulting threat to the quality of our health care.

Second, the Democrats disingenuously argue their reforms will not diminish the quality of our health care even as government involvement in the delivery of that health care increases massively. For all of us who have seen the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to hurricanes, this contention is laughable on its face. When government bureaucracies drive the delivery of services—in this case inserting themselves between health-care providers and their patients—quality degradation will surely come. House Democrats seem willing to accept that problem to achieve their philosophical aim—the long-term removal of for-profit entities from the health-care landscape.

Third, Mr. Obama’s rhetoric paints a picture of a massive new benefit that will actually cost average Americans less than what they pay today. The Democrats want middle-class taxpayers to believe they won’t feel the pinch of this initiative, even as their employers are assessed massive new taxes. They might as well try to argue that up is down. The analysis of the Democrats’ proposal by the Congressional Budget Office shows that it will not reduce government spending on health care, and that it will substantially increase the federal deficit—and this despite all the tax increases.

I served in the U.S. House with a majority of the current 435 representatives, and I am confident that if given the proper amount of legislative review, they will not accept the flawed Pelosi plan that is currently stuck in committee. Yet there is general agreement among Republicans and Democrats that we need health-care reform to bring costs down. This agreement can be the basis of a genuine, bipartisan reform, once the current over-reach by Mr. Obama and Mrs. Pelosi fails. Leaders of both parties can then come together behind health-care reform that stresses these seven principles:

•Consumer choice guided by transparency. We need a system where individuals choose an integrated plan that adopts the best disease-management practices, as opposed to fragmented care. Pricing and outcomes data for all tests, treatments and procedures should be posted on the Internet. Portable electronic health-care records can reduce paperwork, duplication and errors, while also empowering consumers to seek the provider that best meets their needs.

•Aligned consumer interests. Consumers should be financially invested in better health decisions through health-savings accounts, lower premiums and reduced cost sharing. If they seek care in cost-effective settings, comply with medical regimens, preventative care, and lifestyles that reduce the likelihood of chronic disease, they should share in the savings.

•Medical lawsuit reform. The practice of defensive medicine costs an estimated $100 billion-plus each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which used a study by economists Daniel P. Kessler and Mark B. McClellan. No health reform is serious about reducing costs unless it reduces the costs of frivolous lawsuits.

•Insurance reform. Congress should establish simple guidelines to make policies more portable, with more coverage for pre-existing conditions. Reinsurance, high-risk pools, and other mechanisms can reduce the dangers of adverse risk selection and the incentive to avoid covering the sick. Individuals should also be able to keep insurance as they change jobs or states.

•Pooling for small businesses, the self-employed, and others. All consumers should have equal opportunity to buy the lowest-cost, highest-quality insurance available. Individuals should benefit from the economies of scale currently available to those working for large employers. They should be free to purchase their health coverage without tax penalty through their employer, church, union, etc.

•Pay for performance, not activity. Roughly 75% of health-care spending is for the care of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes—and there is little coordination of this care. We can save money and improve outcomes by using integrated networks of care with rigorous, transparent outcome measures emphasizing prevention and disease management.

•Refundable tax credits. Low-income working Americans without health insurance should get help in buying private coverage through a refundable tax credit. This is preferable to building a separate, government-run health-care plan.

These steps would bring down health-care costs. They would not bankrupt our nation or increase taxes in the midst of a recession. They are achievable reforms with bipartisan consensus and public support. All they require is a willingness by the president to slow down and have an honest discussion with Americans about the real downstream consequences of his ideas. Let’s start there.

Mr. Jindal is governor of Louisiana.

Scott Raymond Lindstam

Scott, Ashley and Kayla

Scott Raymond Lindstam 43, of Tarpon Springs, passed away on July 14, 2009, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Born in Newport, RI, he moved to Florida in 1966. He was Founder & President of Hi-Tech Assembly. Scott was an avid bass fisherman & in his youth, traveled the country as a factory sponsored BMX bike rider. He is survived by his wife Teri, children Scott Jr., Ashley & Kayla, parents Patricia & Roy Lindstam of Pinellas Park, grandfather Norman Arsenault of New Bedford, MA, sister Kimberly Starling of Maryville, TN & brothers Eric Lindstam of Washington, NC & Fred Lindstam of Bridgetown, NC. He was preceded in death by his grandmother Nana Arsenault & brother Bruce Lindstam. A Celebration of Life will be held for Scott on Saturday, July 25 from 2-4 pm at The Conway Center at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 750 San Salvador, Dunedin, FL. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Suncoast Hospice Foundation, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33760.

STS-127 Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew launched at 6:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will deliver the final segment to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory and a new crew member to the International Space Station.

Endeavour’s 16-day mission includes five spacewalks and the installation of two platforms outside the Japanese module. One platform is permanent and will allow experiments to be directly exposed to space. The other is an experiment storage pallet that will be detached and returned with the shuttle. During the mission, Kibo’s robotic arm will transfer three experiments from the pallet to the exposed platform. Future experiments also can be moved to the platform from the inside of the station using the laboratory’s airlock.

Shortly before liftoff, Commander Mark Polansky thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible.

“Endeavour has patiently waited for this,” said Polansky. “We’re ready to go, and we’re going to take all of you with us on a great mission.”