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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Front-Loaded Health Care Costs

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

The health care reform bills (really health insurance or health care financing reform bills) in Congress at the moment have been carefully crafted to gain the desired response from the Congressional Budget Office.  The response desired was the confirmation that each bill would "bend the curve down" when, in fact, neither bill will do that.  Classic government 'smoke and mirrors' if ever there was.

The problem with that, as Bob Laszewski points out in his blog today  is that there is tremendous front-loading that must occur in the initial four years in order for the 'smoke and mirrors' to get to the point where the CBO review appears to be favorable...with appears the operative term.

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The 'Stans' Conundrum

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

President Obama has settled on his plan for the 'stans'...Pakistan and Afghanistan...and the plan demonstrates the conundrum that is present.

I think I understand that the military commanders feel the need for more troops to root out the Taliban/Al Qaeda trouble-makers in this vast region.  I think I understand the reluctance of this president to make a commitment that could be the bain of his presidency.  I think I understand the hesitancy of many in Congress to support this decision; and, I think I understand the need for many in Congress to express their support for the decision.

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Random Thoughts

Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

Doyle to Denmark?

Governor Doyle is going to Copenhagen next week to participate in the climate change conference.  Aside from the ridiculousness of this trip, what does he think he'll be able to contribute to the conference other than more hot air?  Maybe that is how this bogus science will accomplish "warming"; continue to bring the hot air producers together to pontificate. 

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Send A Christmas Card...

Quality of Life, People Making A Difference

Xerox is again sponsoring a website from which you can select and send a Christmas card to a person serving overseas this time of year.

The site is located here and has a selection of cards that were designed by young people.  There are an assortment of preselected verses as well, or you can write your own sentiments to be placed inside one of the cards.

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Armies Break Things And Kill People...

Political, U.S.

This phrase has been used to describe our armed forces; we have armed forces to impose our country's will on others through the use of force.  Armies have been on the face of the earth for centuries and they have always been involved in breaking things and killing people.  That is a tough and ugly statement, but it is true.

That we have those people who are trained to react to threats to our way of life is among the chief reasons we are able to sleep soundly at night.  While we sleep, the tough people whom we've hired to do so, cover our backs.  They sometimes have to do bad things to our enemies, but that is what we've trained them to do, and they do it very well.

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"A Day That Will Live In Infamy"

Quality of Life

December 7th marks yet another anniversary of that day in 1941 when the United States was attacked by Japan when that country hit the Pearl Harbor naval force in a series of aerial attacks that killed thousands.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the memorial that stands today in Pearl Harbor, you probably came away with a feeling that those souls still inhabit the Arizona.

That was a long time ago in one sense and a short while ago in another.

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(EPA) Environmental Perversion Agency

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

Our Environmental Protection Agency became, by its actions, the Environmental Perversion Agency yesterday.

The Obama Administration is moving ahead with its intent even though the Congress has not been consulted and has not given its blessing.  Never mind; just create a new regulation before the president has to appear in Copenhagen to brag about how the United States is finally seeing the light.  After all, the Neanderthal Administration of former-President George Bush is now gone.

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Climate Change Drama Stuff of Fiction

Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

The climate change fanatics are in all their glory this week and next as the Copenhagen talks continue.  Our EPA has given the attendees something more to talk about as they work to put together something they feel is meaningful.

The problem they have is two-fold.  First, there is no solid underpinning for their "science" and the proponents so far have rejected an effort to stage a "world court" where this discussion could be conducted under oath.  A world hearing seems an appropriate forum, but the proponents don't seem to want anything to do with that.  Better from their perspective that they decide and we all pay.  After all, they are the smartest people in the room.

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Watching Washington Work...

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S., Wisconsin

You would be safe to assume that I spend a lot of time watching the goings on in our nations capitol.  Many of you probably do so as well.  The passing of one Administration and the beginnings of a new Administration provide much of interest.  There are always those who scream for retribution by the new against the old.  That seldom happens, although there are exceptions.

The change that we are watching today is an exceptional change in that the election provided one party, the Democrats, with all the levers of power.  Our founding fathers were careful, even in this eventuality, to provide what we call 'checks and balances' knowing that branches even of the same political persuasion would jealously guard their own turf.  We ought be thankful for that foresight since we are in the midst of several 'sea change' events simultaneously.

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Candidates vs. Office Holders

Political, Quality of Life, Village Board, Wisconsin, U.S.

The Obama speech at the ceremony where he received the Nobel Peace prize marked the stark realization that occurs when a candidate takes the office for which he or she campaigned.

Amazing isn't it that all the problems, perceived and real, seem so easily solved when a candidate takes them on?  Amazing isn't it that those same issues become insoluble once the person is in that office?

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Health Care Reform: Medicare Buy-In DOA?

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

I have written several times about the opinions of Robert Laszewski who publishes a blog called Health Care Policy and Marketplace.  He has just issued his opinion that the Medicare buy-In proposed by Sen. Reid as the tool to get around the promise of a "public option" is dead.  That is a strong commentary from a knowledgeable and well-connected insider.

Presuming that Laszewski is correct, this places Reid in a tenuous position.  Beyond that, it places the far-left members of his caucus in the "hot seat".  These are the people who have forsworn ever voting for anything that doesn't have a "public option".  The idea of a Medicare buy-in was, for some of the far-left at least, a place where they could hide from constituents after having caved in and voted for something that wasn't a real "public option".

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'Fat Cat' Bankers?

Economy, Political, U.S., Wisconsin, Quality of Life

President Obama, in his Saturday radio address, used this term to describe the latest "enemy of the people" that has come into the politicians' cross hairs.  The insurance companies and 'big pharma' have had their turn in the barrel, so it stands to reason that it is time to roll out the next victims.

The Democrats are now pushing a very substantial piece of legislation through both the House and Senate.  This is, of course, taking a back seat to 'health care reform' and that is likely by plan.  Rep. Barney Frank has been the champion of this re-jiggering of the rules by which all financial institutions must play.

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Ticking Bombs: Unfunded Liabilities

Political, Quality of Life, Taxes

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute released a report that was published in the morning Journal Sentinel.  It detailed the existing promises made to the Milwaukee Public School's teachers for health benefits following their retirement.  The total of those unfunded commitments is expected to be some $5 BILLION by 2016.  For just the Milwaukee school system.  Imagine the magnitude of all these promises if aggregated.

My intent is not to denigrate the MPS Board for making these promises but to point to all the "ticking bombs" to be found across the state and nation of a similar nature.  These future obligations are real and they are coming due.  The retirement deals in Milwaukee County could easily pale by comparison to all the debt that has been and is being accumulated for the promises made over the years.

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Health Bill Support In Free Fall?

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

As bits of the substance of the Senate health care reform effort continue to leak to the public, public support continues to drop.  We're closing in on a two-thirds oppose, one-third favor position and that spells real problems for the Democrats.

People are apparently remembering that then-candidate Obama made some promises, and he made them over and over again on the campaign trail:

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Village Buzz - December 17th

Village Buzz, Village Board, Political, Police, Germantown

Rambo In G'town:

The new canine officer, approved by the Village Board recently, should be here in April, 2010, and his name is Rambo.  He will be teamed with Lt. Dave Huesemann.  Rambo is now 14 months old and will be supported by community contributions.  The Board was assured that there would be no 'overtime' comp issues since Lt. Huesemann is not paid for any overtime hours worked.  The Board also insisted that a monthly report of Rambo's activities be rendered.

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What? Is That Really The Case?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

President Obama is in Copenhagen working his magic with speeches.  There seems nothing he is unable to accomplish that a speech won't cure.

A quote from the speech in question follows:

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Climate Symbolism Wins Out

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S., Wisconsin

Copenhagen can relax a bit following the two-week fiasco that was to produce the actual substance that the UN has pursued for years.  And, Copenhagen can begin to count up the costs in terms of 'carbon footprint'.

The results are in and President Obama, in conjunction with the UN, has again delivered vapor over substance.  He intervened when he'd have been politically-wiser to avoid the conference.  His grandiloquence produced little but a place for the supporters of world climate control to hide while they try to fix their problems, which are multitude.

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Where Were Our Senators?

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

Where were our senators when the health care vote 'goodies' were being handed out?

I have begun the tedious process of going through the Manager's Amendment that has now been approved by the Senate on a vote of 60-40.  This is much akin to the phrase one of my good friends and business associates has spun into a national speaking gig where he talks about eating an elephant.  There simply is no way to eat this elephant in anything approaching a reasonable time...and without significant indigestion.

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The World's Greatest Deliberative Body...

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

That is what the U.S. Senate has been called, more often than not by senators who are full of themselves...the world's greatest deliberative body.

This body was anything but deliberative during the so-called "debate" on health care reform.  It was downright ugly; the senators did not redeem themselves through their actions nor in the final decision that was purchased using our tax dollars.

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Christmas "Gifts"

Quality of Life, Potpourri

This time of year has become, for me, a time to pay particular attention to the "gifts" I receive that weren't found in a store, or on-line.  I haven't always been the introspective sort; I have done my share of chasing down a 'material fortune'; I have paid more attention to self than to others.  Finally, I am becoming better able to see and value the gifts which have come to me that are more important and lasting than many others, and those include:

- having a friend whose son has learned that he doesn't have a debilitating disease and who can now resume a more ordinary life.

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What Will It Take?

Quality of Life, U.S., Political

What will it take to make us remember 9/11?  Will it take another version of 9/11?  Will it take the staggering loss of lives that we witnessed on 9/11?  Will it take an actual attempt, whether or not successful, on the seat of our nation's government?  What other symbols can they hit which will have the effect of making us think they are a superior force.

Our self-avowed enemies remember that we have short institutional memories.  They know that we've relaxed since 9/11, and they know that we'll continue to relax.  They know they can continue to probe for weak spots such as connecting flights that tend to skirt more effective screening points.  They know that we aren't as wary as we were on 9/12 and for a couple of years after.  They know that we fret about airport security now and they know it is only a matter of time until we've complained sufficiently to have caused security to become quite lax comparatively.

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Y2K Was Yesterday

Quality of Life

Seems like the scare about the turn of the century, Y2K, was just yesterday.  I must've suffered a semi-Rip VanWinkel moment.  This century just started and it is already nearly ten years old.

What will happen to us and our world over the next decade?  Will "global warming" have been solved or debunked?  Will President Obama have been re-elected or will he be a one-term president?  Will there continue to be terrorism threats to our homeland?  Will our military still be engaged in the 'stans' in spite of the grand plan recently announced to win and come home?  What will the U.S. Supreme court's make-up be?  Will there still be a Pelosi and a Reid in the U.S. government?  Will Sarah Palin still be a notable and will she still be a target?

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Our Healthcare Future...

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

Two approaches to the future health care system exist and need to be made one before "reform" can be finalized and we can all begin the migration to our "new" health care system.  It seems that the Senate's version will hold sway when the process has finished since that is the body which needed the greatest amount of "compromise" in order to deliver the necessary sixty votes (forget the payoffs that were part and parcel, for now).  If the sixty votes were to unravel, the entire bill would be placed in significant jeopardy.  That is, unfortunately, too much for which to hope.  We need a 'do over' and it isn't going to happen.

So, what is our new health care system likely to contain and what is likely to disappear?

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Quick Hits

Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

The system worked...

Really?  The system didn't work and the initial assertion that it did made the Obama Administration look silly; and worse, it made America the target du jour since it seems terrorists will be able to penetrate our defenses at will.   Thank goodness for mis-firing underwear!  Maybe the Administration can get this one fixed before it is too late, although the evidence so far seems to auger against that outcome.

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Out With Old, In With The New...

Potpourri, Quality of Life

We have a need, it seems, to usher out old years and to usher in new years.  It must be that we seek the psychological effect of casting off that with which we're dissatisfied in favor of that which we 'know' has to be better than that we just finished.

2009 was a year just like any other year.  There were people taken from us that caused us to stop and think of our own mortality...for an instant...before we resumed what it was we were doing without change.  There were 'problems' for some that translated into 'opportunities' for others.

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