Monday, August 31, 2009

Mattel Exemtped from Waxman Toy Testing

In yet another example of the crazy and ironic way government works, Mattel (Big Toy), the very company that started all the fuss about dangerous Chinese lead in toys way back, has successfully weaseled its way out from under Waxman's business-crushing legislation, which unreasonably requires the expensive testing of each toy/clothing/child item produced. No doubt the investigation committee is already being formed . . .

Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review: Forbidden Fruit

Recently, Karen and I read the frightening, but fascinating, Forbidden Fruit by Mark Regnerus. I discovered this book and author while reading an intriguing article about early marriage at Christianity Today. He begins the book with stark reality:

"In an average day, at least 7,000 American teenagers experience sexual intercourse for the first time. Nearly every human being finds his or her way to it eventually, but few have by age 13 and most have by age 20. Some do so unwillingly. Without analyzing any data on adolescent sex, it is obvious that something significant is going on developmentally, biologically, socially, and culturally to make sexual intercourse attractive enough that roughly one-third to one-half of all young Americans try it for the first time--in spite of its physical and emotional risks--within the span of about two to three years (between ages 16 and 18)."

Regnerus draws upon two main sources: his own National Survey of Youth and Religion (conducted through a survey and selected follow-up interviews during 2002 and 2003) and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, widely regarded as the most comprehensive study of its kind available. Regnerus seeks to examine what effect (if any) religion has on adolescent attitudes and behavior regarding sex. I will now list a few of the more interesting and potentially helpful findings:

Terminolology about sex has undergone significant change in the last few years. What used to be called "losing one's virginity" is often referred to as "first sex." Note the change of emphasis from virginity, a cherished commodity, to sex itself as a right of passage. The term "pre-marital sex" also needs to be examined. Traditionally, this has applied to sex between to people who intend to be married at some future date. However, most sexually active young people have multiple partners and see marriage as a distant possibility at best. As it now stands, sex has been decoupled; it is much more about the individual than about the couple.

Regnerus encountered a rigorous anti-judgmentalist sentiment among his participants. The value of tolerance is widespread and deeply-ingrained in today's youth. While this allows them to coexist with others in relative peace, it all but destroys their ability to condemn any action as wrong or to formulate a workable morality in any clear or consistent way.

The book finds that religiosity (how important religion truly is to a person) does seem to affect sexual attitudes and behaviors, whereas religious affiliation or even attendance largely does not.

Religious affiliation does affect attitudes much more than actual behavior. This is especially true of Evangelicals, who have an overwhelmingly conservative attitude about sex but who, nevertheless, demonstrate above-average levels of sexual activity. Regnerus conjectures that this may be the result of two opposing messages. Evangelicals have subscribed to American individualism and the prevailing consumerist culture while at the same time also truly value family and chastity. Thus, Evangelical youth are expected to abstain from sex until marriage but are also expected to marry only after securing such education and career attainments as to ensure their solid middle-class financial well-being (often not marrying until age 25-30). Clearly, there is a clash of cultures here. Regnerus discusses this in the article linked above.

The decision to commence sexual activity rests, in most cases, upon a shaky notion of one's "emotional readiness". This term excuses nearly any activity. What's more, teenagers admit that they cannot even know for sure if this flimsy standard has been met until after the first sexual encounter. One's positive or negative view of the experience tells the tale. A new morality has taken the place of the old. The worst taboo is having sex without adequate protection. This causes the closest reaction to shock as one can find. Other rules agreed upon by teenagers:
1. You should not pressure or feel pressured to have sex.
2. You should not sleep around too much, as this will reflect negatively on your reputation.
3. You are the only judge of your sexual decisions.
4. Sex belongs within a "long-term" (at least 3 months) relationship.

Regnerus also examined the trend of abstinence pledging. He found that pledging is of mixed benefit. Most pledgers are age 12 or 13--too young to realize the pressures that await them. Most pledgers break their pledge, 7 of 10 of these with someone other than their future spouse. However, pledging does have a small positive impact. Pledgers tend to delay their first intercourse and to have sex with fewer partners. This reduces their overall exposure to STDs.

While 8% of teens disapprove of contraception, fully 30%-40% fail to use it during their first time.

Finally, Regnerus pointed out that for all the mixed messages given and received about sex, the one and only clear message from religious instruction was, "Don't have sex until you are married." This message does not appear to be helping kids successfully negotiate the difficult challenges facing them.

Regnerus ends the book with what he calls his "unscientific postscript". He notes that, for all the rush to de-emphasize the religious and moral implications of sex, "there is no value-free perspective on sex." He asks, "Would we want to accept for our adolescents, then, something we adults tend to not wish for ourselves: sexual relationships largely divorced from real intimacy, security, love and commitment?"

Christians need to do some soul-searching on this issue, as well as what we teach about marriage and the family, and what we teach (or don't teach) about materialism and the culture. We must do more to encourage our young people to marry and to support them when they do. We must be clear about Biblical standards for sexual relationships. We must be consistent in our own lives as we live before our children and the community. And we must continue to proclaim the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Obama Supports Offshore Drilling

. . . in Brazil. Obama just committed $2 billion to Brazil's Petrobras. This odd development makes lots more "sense" now that it has been revealed that George Soros just happened to increase his stake in Petrobras (around 22% of his entire portfolio) only a few days ago. What impeccable timing--that man is a genius! Political corruption is rarely so palpable, yet it's only par for the course among socialist wannabe-dictators. Hot Air has more details.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated

What an amazing development. This really might affect criminology in a big way. It might also render some of my favorite movies obsolete.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Benevolent Dictator Gives to the Poor

Poor New York families received an early Christmas present Tuesday: $200 per kid for school-related expenses. As one grateful peasant exclaimed: "Thank God for Obama. He's looking out for us." This episode shares much in common with the infamous rice-cooker giveaway from Fidel Castro a while back. Benevolent dictators just love giving people "free" stuff to win a bigger place in the hearts and minds of their huddled masses.

But, you say, Obama is no dictator (yet); he's just the president. Quite right. So are the joyful serfs thanking the right person? Who really bought all these needy kids new shiny lunchboxes (or whatever else the parents decided to spend the money on--there were no restrictions)? Exactly 20% of the credit goes to the most merciful George Soros who ponied up $35 million. I suppose that's almost as good as getting the money from Obama himself. And who was so generous as to provide the remaining $140 million? You were.

The rest of the money came from the great magical stimulus bill (not sure whether it's from Porkulus 1 or 2). Free money for all! Real economic stimulus for none. That Obama is some financial wizard . . . I can't wait until we get "free" health care, too! Obama has a pretty sweet setup: You pay the bills and he gets all the credit. At least Castro used his own (stolen) money to buy trinkets for his clamoring people. Obama just uses ours to do it. Don't expect any thank-you notes anytime soon.

But at least the economy was stimulated, right? Wrong. Nothing new was produced. No value was added. What do you bet those nifty 10-notebooks-for-a-dollar sales are suddenly over? This was a simple transfer of wealth from U.S. taxpayers scattered all over the country to "deserving" and "entitled", albeit grateful (to Obama), New York residents and to local New York businesses. There will be more dictator-like shell games in our future if we don't take a stand and oppose this nonsense. Let the "uncivil" shouting continue!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Good Rant

Here is a nice article sent by Dad. It covers a lot of ground.

Friday, August 7, 2009

More Global Warming Nonsense

This article boggles the mind. The plan is to create artificial clouds to block more of the sun. Since global temperature is controlled by the sun, this almost makes sense. However, the article never acknowledges this. Rather, it argues both that particles/gases in the atmosphere would decrease the temperature and also that we should still worry about reducing particles/gases if they come from your car. Which is it?!?

Mike Wilson on Drudge Today

Mike Wilson, founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party, and the Cincy 9-12 Project caught the attention of the Drudge Report today. Their "Flag Me" pictures send a silent message to the White House, strongly opposing the President's misuse of authority in asking fellow citizens to inform on their neighbors and acquaintances. Obama truly wants to be our Big Brother.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's In the Bill?

Here is a partial list of frightening items in the health care bill (from Free Republic):

• Page 16: States that if you have insurance at the time of the bill becoming law and change, you will be required to take a similar plan. If that is not available, you will be required to take the gov option!
• Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!
• Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!
• Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)
• Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.
• Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.
• Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard.
• Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.
• Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (example: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)
• Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.
• Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)
• Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens
• Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.
• Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.
• Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed.
• Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.
• Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.
• Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.
• Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll <>BR • Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll
• Page 167: Any individual who doesnt' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.
• Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).
• Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.
• Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that.
• Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected."
• Page 241: Doctors: no matter what speciality you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)
• Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc.
• Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.
• Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.
• Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!
• Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.
• Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government.
• Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies!
• Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.
• Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.
• Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.
• Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.
• Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.
• Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).
• Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?
• Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.
• Page 425: Goverment provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.
• Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.
• Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT.
• Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.
• Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.
• Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.
• Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.
• Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.

Rent control

I just liked the opening question of this Mises article:

"Suppose that you want to destroy a city. Should you bomb it, or would it be sufficient just to impose rent control?"

Malkin on Tea-Party Bashers

Michelle Malkin has it exactly right: The left can't seem to handle peaceful protesting when done by the other side. After enduring months, even years, of hateful protesting from the likes of Cindy Sheehan and ACORN, I find the current whining from the outnumbered left in health care town halls just a bit over-the-top. We have a community organizer as our president who continues to funnel money to liberal election-fraud groups, and all they can say is that we are manipulating these events! Nobody "organized" me into going to a town hall meeting (or bussed me there). I just happen to care about the fate of our nation, as do many other true Americans.

This is what mob rule really looks like.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Video of the Driehaus Meeting

This clip made the Drudge Report! The audio is very poor, but you can get most of it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Driehaus Town Hall Meeting

Tonight, I (and some church buddies) attended Congressman Steve Driehaus's Health Care Reform Forum. It was a town hall style meeting held at a local Unitarian church in Avondale. The temperature inside the auditorium started at about 85 and rose steadily thereafter. It got particularly heated for this "blue dog" politician.

Despite being organized quickly by a liberal women's organization and held in a less than desirable part of town a good distance from the main body of westside constituents, the event was well-attended by the Cincinnati Tea Party and other like-minded conservatives. One liberal blog has already claimed that the meeting was "hijacked" by the conservatives. This is misleading. Yes, we were vocal at times. However, we were also interested in allowing the congressman and others to speak.

Driehaus is fairly adept at talking a long time without really saying anything, an important skill for any modern politician. However, no amount of stalling or double-speak could conceal the utter folly being considered by U.S. lawmakers. To his (little) credit, Driehaus did vote to delay the vote for a month. Beyond this small step, he seems unwilling to engage in further skepticism. He does seem extremely eager to assure voters that he is "deeply concerned." We'll soon get to see just how concerned he really is when the health care monstrosity comes up for a vote. My guess is that he's more concerned about Pelosi's cold, steely fingers jerking his funding away.

The health care debate seems to keep coming back to one fact: We don't have enough money to pay current health care prices. A single-payer system would require significantly higher taxes, printing lots of money or both while also lowering quality and availability of care. What we need to do is lower prices, not by mandating lower prices (leading to rampant shortages), but by limiting malpractice lawsuits. Another important step is to limit illegal immigration. No one wants to turn people away from emergency rooms, but we must take proper steps to avoid this situation in the firat place. Insurance premiums would decrease if companies could no longer hide behind state lines--give us true competition between the multitude of private plans, not a low-ball "public option" that doesn't have to worry about profit. Finally, we need to eliminate the massive fraud and waste associated with the current government health care program. Medicare enables over $70 billion in fraud each year.

When the meeting ended, the crowd broke into a rousing chant of "Vote For Chabot, Vote For Chabot!" I only hope that westsiders are awake enough to put Chabot back in his rightful place once the midterms roll around. Judging by the sweat pouring off Driehaus, I'd say we have more than a fighting chance. See this blog for another summary of the evening's event.

Obama's Real Plans On Health Care