Today the US Supreme Court issued their ruling in the multi-state challenge to federal subsidies for health care insurance. The majority of the court ruled that individuals will continue to receive assistance with their premiums from taxpayer funds, whether they purchase insurance through a state-run exchange or the federal exchange.

Apparently, the majority of the court did not want to turn the insurance industry upside down (even though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) turned it upside down initially).

In his remarks on the ruling, President Obama said the ACA “is here to stay”. That’s correct. Even if Republicans keep control of Congress and win the presidency in 2016, it will be almost impossible to undo ACA. The plan was rolled out slowly because it covered so many aspects of health care and changed most of them radically. The mandate that everyone purchase insurance is woven in with subsidies to individuals/families and payments to insurance companies that lose money. That makes it difficult to change any one element, which was likely the unstated aim of the plan.

Mr. Obama also said ACA is working as it was designed to. If you assume good intentions by those who promoted ACA, then it is hard to see how the President’s statement can be true. From the federal exchange computer network becoming bogged down, to parents not being able to add newborn babies to policies, to premiums skyrocketing, there have been (and continue to be) problems with the mechanics of the system.

If you want to believe the conspiracy theories, then the statement might be true. Many ACA opponents have contended that there are people who want to collapse our healthcare system so that socialized medicine can be implemented. In that case, ACA would be working as designed. If some changes are not made, ACA will cost more than our economy can handle.

In the wake of the murder of 9 people at historic Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina, President Obama gave a statement to the press. In situations such as this, that is appropriate. But Mr. Obama should have controlled himself and left the gun control issue unspoken. Now is not the time, and it served no purpose.

If one is going to speak, one should also be correct – and the President was not.

First, the President talked about illegally obtained guns. Reports are that this young man used a gun legally purchased by his mother or a gun legally purchased by his father and given to him as a gift.

Second, Mr. Obama said the US must acknowledge this type of mass violence does not occur in other “advanced countries”. Apparently, his memory is very short. What about the shooting at a French magazine’s offices** or the massacre in Norway that killed a number of children?

Besides the mistakes, the idea that greater gun control will stop mass killings is a fantasy. If guns were totally outlawed, those who want to do harm could use explosive devices. Instructions are readily available on the Internet, and it is easier to purchase the supplies than to purchase a gun. (e.g. Oklahoma City Federal Building)

We need to address the societal conditions that lead to people feeling they must kill. We need to better address mental health problems. We need to teach ethical behavior to our children, not situational ethics (which teaches that an action can be wrong in one situation, but not in others).

My prayers go up to heaven for the survivors and the families of the victims in Charleston. They need our love and encouragement right now. Arguments over gun control will just cause strife and stress that will bring more pain. Mr. Obama, please stop worrying about your agenda for a just few minutes.

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* Mr. Obama’s use of “advanced countries” is insulting. So-called “third world” or “developing” countries have many “advanced” citizens, intelligent people with great ideas for their nations. What is missing in these countries is the science and technology infrastructure to bring these ideas to fruition.

** The shooting in Paris was clearly Islamic extremist terrorism, but the evil/crime was committed with guns.

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Donald Trump announced today that he will seek the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

Given that Trump toyed with the 2012 nomination for months (ultimately deciding against a bid because of his television show), and his very gregarious persona, it is tempting to dismiss him. But if you look at the issues he raises, you can see that he is seriously concerned for the US. And he brings some innovative proposals to solve the problems.

In his announcement speech, Trump said he has enough money to fund his campaign himself. That makes him the only candidate from either party that doesn’t need to craft his rhetoric to please the donor base. But he does need to remove the direct insults to other candidates from his rhetoric so he doesn’t turn off voters.

The public has a certain stereotype in mind for presidential candidates, and since Trump does not remotely fit the mold, he would never get the GOP nomination, let alone be elected president.

There are a few others seeking the nomination who have little chance of gaining it. No one is calling on them to drop out, so no one should say Trump cannot or should not try.

A Trump bid has advantages, mainly to focus on the more controversial issues facing the US and force other candidates to talk about them in greater detail than they might without Trump stirring the waters. More information about where the candidates stand all the issues has to benefit voters.

Posted by: SWL | June 15, 2015

Jeb Officially Enters 2016 Presidential Race

Today John Ellis Bush, aka Jeb, made the official announcement of his intention to run for president of the US.

(Finally! Is anyone else tired of unofficial candidates campaigning while telling everyone they will make an “announcement” at a later date?)

With so many Republican candidates – official and unofficial – in the race, it’s impossible to predict who will receive the nomination. But there can be a lot of interesting comparisons made over the next several months.

On the positive side for Bush, he has great experience as a former governor of Florida. Currently he is one of four governors in the race, with two more “exploring” the possibility. Bush has name recognition and some good principles and ideas.

His name recognition is also a negative factor. For me, if he is the best candidate, I do not have a problem with Jeb being related to two former presidents. But I think it could be a turn-off to some voters. (Although that would be cancelled out if if his opponent were Hillary Clinton, wife of a former president.)

Personally, I disagree with Bush on the Common Core education standards and some aspects of immigration reform. But a more moderate Republican might have a better chance of winning the presidency than a conservative. Certainly, Jeb could siphon some Latino votes from the Democrats.

Stay tuned to the news – there are more Republican announcements to come.

Posted by: SWL | May 22, 2015

Police Lives Matter

Kerrie Orozco had a baby in February. The little girl was born prematurely and was going to be released from the hospital Thursday. Kerrie died on Wednesday.

Kerrie was a police officer in Omaha. She was killed by a suspect while she and fellow officers were trying to serve an arrest warrant.

Kerrie was white, the suspect was not. Will all the people who protested in Ferguson and Baltimore lament the number of violent criminals in our cities? Will they hold vigils for Kerrie? Will they provide support for the poor little girl who will never know a mother?

ALL LIVES MATTER! The victim’s race is not important. When will we become a color-blind society and judge people, as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hoped, by the content of their character?

Hillary Clinton said today that the American middle class is struggling and, if elected president, she will reshuffle the deck. Who is she trying to fool?

(Actually, she is trying to fool the middle class into voting for her. Neither President Obama or Mrs. Clinton mention the poor any more. The poor need more help than other Americans, but the Democrats take their vote for granted, assuming the poor will vote for the politicians that continue to increase their federal benefits.)

Back to candidate Clinton’s statement:
* She has no idea what the middle class really needs. When she was First Lady, her family’s meals were paid for by taxpayers and prepared by a professional chef. Currently she receives $200,000 or more for making a speech, more than my family earns in a year. She cannot possibly understand how I feel when I am at a store and see that the price of something I use regularly has risen for the second or third time this year.
* Government can “reshuffle the deck”, but not in any ways that will raise the quality of life for the middle class long-term. All government can do is tax the wealthiest Americans and create programs to distribute the money to the middle class. That will put the middle class in the same bind as the poor: stay where you are economically to retain benefits, or try to make more of yourself, earn more and lose benefits – thereby remaining at the same overall income level.
* Redistribution of wealth by government does not work. During the decades when Russia and countries they had conquered were the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, everyone but the ruling elite lived in poverty in an economy that continually struggled to provide for the needs of the population. Both Russia and Communist China now rely heavily on capitalist business principles.
* Few believe Clinton will actually confiscate much of the earnings of the wealthiest Americans. She is supported by many wealthy citizens, including most of Hollywood. If they truly believed Clinton was going to take most of their money, they would not support her. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t think anyone will support a candidate whose policies will hurt them deeply.

Right now, Clinton is big on slogans, short on detailed plans. Don’t be fooled! Analyze the proposals of all candidates before making a decision about who to support.

Posted by: SWL | April 22, 2015

Obama Environmental Hypocrisy on Earth Day

To mark Earth Day, President Obama flew to Florida on Air Force One to talk about the effect of climate change – which he says is human-caused – on the Everglades.

If Mr. Obama truly believes humans are damaging the earth with emissions caused by burning fossil fuels, why would he fly that distance on a jet for a visit of less than a day? Air Force One emits over 20,000 pounds of CO2 per hour.  (When a president travels, a second decoy and/or emergency jet goes along, doubling the emissions for any trip.)

There are only two answers to that question:
* The President doesn’t really believe (or believes but doesn’t care), but keeps up the show for his environmentalist supporters.
* He believes, but think he’s so special that he is exempt from acting responsibly. We, his subjects, can pay higher prices for fuel and goods, and higher taxes to somehow balance out the CO2 emissions caused by the President and other politicians traveling unnecessarily.

President Obama could have easily given a speech at the White House that was broadcast live to an audience at the Everglades National Park visitors’ center (or multiple locations across the US). Besides being a self-proclaimed advocate for the environment, Mr. Obama also touts technology as an answer to many problems. He should “walk the talk” in both areas.

Posted by: SWL | April 22, 2015

49ers Release 2015 Game Schedule

It seems a bit early in the year to write about football, but yesterday San Francisco announced its schedule for this autumn’s games.

At my house, the early season game that will draw the most interest will be the October 4 match-up with the Green Bay Packers – my spouses’ favorite team. It’s always fun to have a little in-house rivalry!

In her first event since officially announcing her bid for the presidency, Hillary Clinton spoke Tuesday to a small group at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa.

She outlined four concerns she would focus on during her campaign:
*building “the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday”
*strengthening families
*national security
*getting unaccountable money out of election campaigns

In Marco Rubio’s Monday speech announcing his intention to run for president, he mentioned those first three points. It was interesting that none of the news outlets covering Mrs. Clinton’s event mentioned that she was echoing Rubio.

Posted by: SWL | April 13, 2015

Marco Rubio Makes Presidential Run Official

Less than an hour ago, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech announcing his intention to seek the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

All the possible GOP candidates have positions on some of the issues with which I agree.  But Rubio’s speech positively touched on all issues that are important to me, and a few others.  As the details of his positions are revealed, I will find out if Rubio is the best GOP candidate.  But he’s looking strong right now.

I believe the wisdom that comes from age and experience is an important asset for the president of the world’s most powerful country.  Rubio is a bit young, as are the other announced GOP candidates,Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.  But the fact that Rubio is a first-generation American keeps him mindful of the strength classic immigration brings to America.  (Cruz is also the son of Cuban immigrants, but I haven’t been able to warm up to him.)  Whereas many of us whose families have been in the country for longer often take our freedoms for granted, Rubio (and Cruz) is still keenly appreciative of them.  But he is also in touch with the issues facing the country in the current world economy.  It seems like a good mix.

Right now I’m a Rubio fan.

Posted by: SWL | April 1, 2015

Sen. Reid Won’t Seek Re-election

Great news! Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced he will not seek another term in the Senate. He has been an obstruction to bipartisan legislation in Washington for the past 6 years. The end of his term cannot come too soon.

The world is full of terrible contradictions.

I just read a story about a dog named Derby, who was born with deformed front legs. He was not euthanized, but loved and cared for. Recently he received a set of prosthetic legs made with a 3D printer. A video accompanying the story showed this dog happily running with its adopted owner.

Then I saw a story about a woman in Indiana who died last month and, in her will, requested that her German Shepherd, Bella, be euthanized and Bella’s ashes buried in the same plot with her. Connie Ley’s attorney, Doug Denmure, said no one can change the situation except possibly the executor of the will. (An earlier story also mentioned the option to send Bella to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah, but that option seems out of favor.)

While I do not want government interfering in my affairs, there are times when intervention is warranted. I’ve heard of child services workers putting parents under supervision or even removing children from homes for silly reasons such as children (6-8 years old) being allowed to play on the sidewalk near their home with supervision or in a fenced yard when the parent was blind. Animals being neglected are routinely removed from owners’ homes. Surely a life and death situation – even if it is an animal – deserves review by the proper authorities. Carrying out this woman’s wishes should be considered animal cruelty.

Mr. Denmure has been justifying euthanasia by asserting that the deceased woman thought Bella potentially dangerous. Why would she keep the dog, if Bella was a danger to her? Denmure also said it was difficult to get into the home when Ms. Ley died. Shepherds are known to be protective, so should that be a surprise? At a minimum, the dog should be evaluated before declared a danger.

If you want to follow Bella’s situation or contact people involved, the Washington Post article linked above has several links to articles, a Twitter campaign to save the dog (#SaveBella) and the shelter where Bella is currently staying. Maybe continued bad publicity for the attorney will encourage a good resolution for Bella.

Posted by: SWL | November 3, 2014

Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in Nevada

Following close on the heels of Nevada’s 150th anniversary of statehood last week, we mark another significant milestone today: the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. On November 3, 1914, Nevada women were granted the right to vote.

Like all Western states except New Mexico, Nevada approved the female vote before passage of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, which granted suffrage to all American women.

Women, don’t take suffrage for granted; cast you vote in tomorrow’s election!

The US federal mid-term elections are tomorrow (Nov. 4). Please vote, if you haven’t already cast an early or absentee ballot. I believe the current Congressional gridlock is, at least partially, an indirect consequence of low citizen participation in elections.

WordPress has partnered with the Pew Charitable Trust and Google to provide a Voter Information Tool to help you find your polling place and local ballot. You’ll find the tool below. Learn what and who you are voting for before going to your polling place.

Posted by: SWL | November 1, 2014

Happy 150th Birthday, Nevada!

150 years of statehoodSesquicentennial is a big, seldom used word that means a 150th year celebration. The word has become more common here in Nevada during this past year as the state prepared to mark the 150th anniversary of statehood.

As the Civil War raged on, the Union needed the silver produced by the mines around Virginia City. Nevada’s admission as a no-slavery Union state was rushed through Congress and approved on October 31, 1864. (Hence the state motto: “Battle Born”.)

I’ve heard that Nevada has the largest statehood celebration in the nation. In most years there is a parade, chili feed, beard contest, concerts and the World Championship Single Jack Drilling Contest (in which contestants mimic the method used by early miners to make holes for dynamite). For the 150th anniversary additional events were added, creating a 4-day celebration.

I’ve lived in Nevada more than 30 years and had never went to the parade. With this year’s special celebration, I figured it was the right time.

The parade ran a whopping four hours! That’s longer than Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade or the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. There were politicians, bands, businesses, school groups, scouts and entries from counties and cities across northern Nevada. (There was little participation from the southern part of the state – no Las Vegas area politicians or school groups, which is a shame since this was a celebration for the entire state.)

When my spouse and I arrived, we happened to find a small empty patch of sidewalk near the announcer’s booth. The most interesting thing happened at the start of the parade. A woman with a beautiful voice began to sing the national anthem over the audio system. Within a few bars, people for at least two blocks in each direction fell silent. I’ve been through the ritual at sporting, school and civic events, but it’s never been as quiet as it was on Carson Street today. Very impressive.

Start of Nevada Day Parade

Start of Nevada Day Parade

NV Rep. Mark Amodei cleans up

NV Rep. Mark Amodei cleans up

Humboldt County entry

Humboldt County entry

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