November 28, 2014

Watch your step

I had a good laugh over this evening's Drudge Report headline story:
"Rick Gets Ready"
Just over 24 hours prior, the Governor of Texas walked right in front of me.  The Princess was leaning on the rail of an elevated walkway when he passed by, putting his head right below hers.  I joked that she could have kissed it.  I wasn't expecting the governor, and possible presidential candidate, so when he looked up at me, I stammered a bit and simply said, "Hello, sir."

So now the part that made me chuckle reading the Drudge headline.  Mere seconds after passing by me, Rick Perry did something most true Texans know not to do.  He walked right behind a horse.  Between the horses rear-end and the elevated walkway we were standing on, to be more precise.  He might have had 8 inches to spare on either side.  No room for escape, or evasion, should the horse kick or back up.  And, poor Anita was in tow.

I would guess that the Governor, being who he is, as well as being a prominent former Aggie, gets to enter Kyle Field from the back entrance each time he visits.  But, really, he should know better than to try to sneak by Parson's Mounted Cavalry as they are lining up to enter the stadium.

As he squeezed through, my daughter and a couple of other riders started to comment about the not-so-smart person who had just passed perilously close to the business end of their fellow trooper's horse when they recognized the perpetrator.  One false move and Rick Perry would have been kicked/crushed/trampled to death by the ceremonial Cavalry unit of his alma mater.  That would have made quite a different headline.

I think there is a lesson for Mr. Perry to learn in this, something along the lines of keeping one's eyes looking forward, avoiding asses, steering clear of manure...

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Belated, but heartfelt.

November 24, 2014

FOD

Golf count: 47/204.  He squeezed in a round in sunny Las Vegas.  Sources say he was greeted warmly by the course grounds crew.

SECDEF Chuck Hagel is out.  Not sure that I care if he was forced out or quit.

I think Obama took a shot at Hillary on Sunday when he commented about the next presidential election:
Speaking with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Obama said in picking a new leader, Americans will "want to drive something off the lot that doesn't have as much mileage as me."
Obama spoke in the context of saying complimentary things about Hillary Clinton. She was "an outstanding secretary of state," Obama said, and is "a friend" who would be "a formidable candidate" and "a great president." Still, Obama stopped short of actually expressing support for a Clinton run. "I am very interested in making sure that I've got a Democratic successor," Obama said, adding that Clinton or whoever else wins the Democratic nomination will inevitably adopt some policies that are different from Obama's. "One of the benefits of running for president is you can stake out your own positions ... and have a clean slate, a fresh start," Obama explained. "I think the American people, they're going to want, you know, that new car smell."
He didn't mention Joe, but I would guess that he has too many miles on him, as well, to fall into the 'new car smell' candidate category.

I am not sure when the tide turned, and I recognize that Saturday Night Live has long used political fodder for their comedic bits, and yet, the shots they are taking seem to be different, somehow.  Here is Saturday's opening bit, a parody of the School House Rock song that is now stuck in my head.  I love that the executive order is a smoker, and the bill keeps tumbling down the Capitol Building stairs, a la Eddie Murphy's Aunt Bunny.


November 23, 2014

Do they do "American"?

One of The Princess' favorite movies is The Book Thief.  She loved the book first, but is now equally enamored of the movie (despite its omission and artistic license with what she believed to be several key elements of the book).  HBO has the movie in rotation, and I have sat with her on at least three recent occasions, watching.

For those who are unfamiliar, The Book Thief is a fictional work set in Nazi Germany during WWII.  As such, the movie features English speaking actors affecting heavy German accents.

As I sat watching the movie, again, this week, I wondered about foreign-made films set in America.  Are there German films about the USA that feature Germans speaking their native language with an American accent?

I don't have a proclivity for foreign languages.  I have known, and envied, folks who were able to speak multiple languages, and could learn new ones in days, it seemed.  I can order food, find a bathroom and train station, and swear effectively in Spanish, French, and German.  And that is simply born of rote memorization from heavy use when living and traveling in areas where I heard little else (Texas included).

As such, I am not a foreign film fan.  I don't think I would even easily recognize if a foreign speaker was using an American accent.

I think it would be an interesting experiment to compare two films side-by-side, one with accents, one without, and see if it really affects the emotions evoked by the story.

November 18, 2014

Inverted Priorities

I have been exposed to many facets of our health care system recently, both personally and professionally.  It has been refreshing to know that my physicians think that Obamacare is as f'ed up as the rest of us think it is.  I am disgusted by the thought that my family makes hard decisions about our budget expenditures so that we can be responsible with our disposable income, while deadbeats and leeches are getting medical care, food stamps, free phones, etc., on the taxpayer's dime.  Reading this article makes me feel better knowing that these things don't go unnoticed by doctors:
We fling open the doors of America’s emergency departments to help those who can’t afford health care.  We have legislated this protection: No person can be turned away for financial reasons.  This is very compassionate, and represents the higher angels of our culture.  Alas, it also is emblematic of the stupider demons of government.  You see, the ER demonstrates the inverted priorities of American society...
...It’s all about priorities: those of individuals and those of leaders.  Our leaders, ever convinced that we must give medical care to those perceived to be in need, often forget that modern definitions of poverty and need may be a bit different from need throughout human history.  And that if a family has an expensive cell plan, new truck and big-screen TV with satellite, it might not be unreasonable to ask them to put up a little money for their own health care.
The entitlement society has taken over.  Common sense is gone.  The doctor writing the article points out several things that would be hilarious, if you could forget about the fact that you have probably done without some of these things, because you can't responsibly afford them due to the tax burden of supporting these people:
In the ER, expensive tattoos abound.  Piercing is ubiquitous.  Almost every adult and child has a smartphone, it seems.  All too many spend the duration of their ER visit glaring at the screen of said phone; barely looking up at the physician who is attempting to engage them in meaningful conversation about the reason they came for care.
Cigarettes populate purses and drug screens are notoriously positive for at least chronic narcotic pain medications, but often other substances, among them marijuana and amphetamines.
Dental care?  It is regularly ignored because, in the words of my patients, “I don’t have dental insurance.”  Guess what.  Neither do I, and I pay a lot for insurance.  Dental care has typically been a cash business. That’s why dentists, crafty guys and gals that they are, spend their time mucking around the human mouth.  Floss and toothpaste?  Seems a bit excessive compared to a nice new tattoo.
But, on the southern end of things, carefully groomed pubic hair is not at all out of the question.  The teeth may fall out; the nether regions will be carefully tended. 
Good to know that my family constantly re-evaluates our budget to keep discretionary spending at a minimum while folks on Medicaid are getting bikini waxes.

November 17, 2014

FOD

If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.  Did Obama think that if he repeated that phrase often enough, that it would magically become true?

I am, unfortunately, heavily involved in the 'shopping' process for my company's benefits.  When you work for a small company, you wear a lot of hats.  I hate the chore of determining what corporate healthcare plan my company should provide.

If you like your healthcare plan, you can't keep it, because Obamacare dictates that all insurance plans follow a 'metallic' system of categorization.  And they set the guidelines for what makes a plan 'platinum', 'gold', 'silver', or 'bronze'.  All plans have changed in some form or fashion, as insurers change coverage and categories to meet the deadlines set by Obamacare.  This further complicates my task, as it is now impossible to compare apples to apples.

There have been numerous delays and 'non-enforcement' advisories related to the mandates set by Obamacare.  Among them, the ability for carriers to offer 'transition relief' policies that seem to be the same coverage for one more year.  My company's carrier is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.  They offered us a 'transition relief' continuation of our current policy, at a mere 19% increase over last year.

As much as we hate Obamacare, and the idea of ACA-compliant plans, we found one that will actually cost less than sticking with what we had, and with comparable benefits.  Gee, anyone else think that is intentional?  What better way to phase out non-compliant and grandfathered plans, than to make them astronomically priced?

I realize that there is not likely to be a repeal of Obamacare.  Even if there were, insurance companies aren't going to back down from the pricing high-water mark that has now been set.  I hope there are some changes made, something that encourages competition in the marketplace and prevents me from paying for the non-insured through both my policy premiums and my tax dollars.

794 days until our next president is inaugurated.

November 15, 2014

Swimming in sludge

My house is old.  Not antique old, but nearing 30 years and lots of stuff is wearing out.  We are the second owners, the original builder-owner sold it to us over eight years ago, so they saw the old girl through her first two decades.  And they took great care of her.

We have had our share of maintenance issues.  And this year seems to have been especially costly.  One new HVAC system, two recent calls for water heater repair (thank goodness not a replacement), and today, there is a nice gentleman in my front yard earning overtime/emergency call pay as he empties my septic tank that was apparently maxed out due to one of the previously mentioned issues with the water heater that had been constantly filling and draining itself for 10 days before we noticed it.

The windows need to be replaced in the near future.  The flooring needed to be replaced some time ago.  There are any number of cosmetic improvements to be made.  There are major appliances nearing the end of their useful lives.  There is a constant list of repairs needed.

And yet, I have seen the quality of most new builds, and while I love some of the modern amenities, I can also see the value in an analog home.  I think we will keep patching up the old girl for a few years.  She has good bones, and we are making some great family memories here.

November 14, 2014

Defensive Driving

As I prepare to add a teenage boy driver to my insurance policy, I am more acutely aware of every little thing that could affect my bill, especially an accident or other claim.  This does not always mesh with my otherwise assertive driving style.

I will be honest, if my kids aren't in the car, I don't always play nice.

Don't get me wrong, I am not unsafe.  Nor am I rude.  If traffic and the situation allows, I let people in front of me, I merge politely, I even laugh off most people who are obviously in a hurry and making aggressive traffic moves.  But d-bags who need their licenses revoked, and teenagers with an attitude are going to get reciprocal treatment from me.

In my daily commute there is a double traffic light intersection where two divided state highways meet.  The space between the two lights is short, and the designated left turn lane for the second light actually begins at the first light.

This does not deter people from running to the front of the left-most through lane at the first light, and then trying to force their way across the solid line and into the turn lane before the second light.  This morning I watched someone try this move up against a driver that was clearly not going to have any of it.  Rude Escalade versus F-250 that wasn't going to let her in.  At one point they were both occupying half of the turn lane and half of each neighboring lane, putting the F-250 in oncoming traffic's path.

I applauded him for not budging.  I would have loved to have heard what each of the drivers was saying, though their driving and hand gestures provided revealing clues.  I put myself in the truck driver's seat.  I fantasized about being in the same situation, sans passengers.  I dreamed about not yielding an inch and letting her sideswipe me, as the fault would have been crystal clear, and the car type indicates someone that is likely insured, or has a hefty bank account.  Police would come, they might even ticket her for reckless driving, or illegal lane change, as the witnesses would be aligned against her.  It would be a win for all the responsible drivers around the nation.

Then I came back to reality and accepted the fact that being right wouldn't necessarily mean that the ensuing events would be pleasant.  People would be late to work because of the traffic, witnesses wouldn't really stop, the police wouldn't haul her away in cuffs for being a bitch, and would likely ask why I didn't just let her in.

But, a girl can dream, and appreciate the show when someone else drives like I wish I could.

November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day

I remember my father on this day, and his service.

I feel blessed to have been an Air Force brat for a time, and then an Army wife, for a time.  The time as an Army wife has provided more friends that are veterans, than a normal 'civilian' life would offer.  I wish I could list them all here.  I wish I could call each of them up, and thank them for protecting my freedom, and yours.

For all that serve, or have served, we owe you more gratitude than you will receive on this day, or any other, for that matter.  Please know that you are appreciated.

November 10, 2014

FOD

Let the games begin.

Now that the midterm elections are over, we can expect a great deal of unpleasant action from the Oval Office.  If the distance between Obama and Dims running for office during this election cycle is any indicator, no one will be lining up for the president's endorsement the next time around.  That means that he has no reason to make friends these next two years.

What will he do?

Push a minimum wage hike.

Increase regulation of the internet under the guise of net neutrality.

Ramp up the number of American soldiers deployed to Iraq.

Get mocked by foreign countries.

And play more golf than ever.  Golf count; 46 rounds this year.  203 since taking office.

November 7, 2014

Painting a target on their back.

I have, in my life, seen some startling examples of loyalty - both misplaced and earned.  I understand fully the meaning of the adage "blood is thicker than water", having seen people stick by family members that were clearly adulterers, liars, and criminals.

As a former Army wife, I have witnessed the camaraderie and brotherhood of those who train and fight alongside one another.  I have also seen the deadbeats and jerks who populate the military - but, as with society, they tend to self-destruct and fade away.

I don't understand what is going on with SEAL Team Six.  Granted, the men making waves are former members, but as a whole, everyone I have ever known that was a member of any sort of elite military force was honorable, committed, and obedient, honoring the secrecy that comes with the sort of missions they are tasked with, even when their service ended.

It is distasteful to me that two former members are trying to profit off of their stories of the mission that (presumably) resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden.  I don't feel that it is necessary for the American public, or the world, to know who actually pulled the trigger.  I think they are idiots for exposing themselves, and can't help but think it is simply a matter of time before they become targets themselves.

November 5, 2014

Well now, can we get some things done?

The Republicans are enjoying their victories this morning.  In my state of Texas, there were no big surprises.  The only governor we have had since Bush will be turning over the reins to another staunch Repub, one who has made national headlines during his tenure as the Texas Attorney General - one who liked to sue the federal government:
Here’s a typical workday for Texas’ attorney general: "I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home," Greg Abbott was quoted as saying to a tea party group in an April 30, 2013, Associated Press news story.
Speaking to FreedomWorks Texas in Austin on April 27, Abbott said, "I’ve sued the Obama administration now 25 times, over the last four years."
Denton, Texas fracking opponents scored a victory with their ballot proposition to ban fracking within the city limits.  Supposedly, all eyes were on this race, as a fracking ban in Texas is said to be a harbinger of things to come.  I am not sure what the ban has, or will, accomplish, as existing wells are grandfathered, and, well, they are about drilled out.  There are sure to be a number of legal challenges to the ban, and I am afraid the city of Denton will spend quite a bit of their taxpayer's money defending the lawsuits.

But, overwhelmingly, the good news is that Congress is fully in Republican control.  Control of the House was retained, and, it looks as if the final tally of seats will set a new record.  The Senate will finally be rid of Reid in the driver's seat.

It was heartwarming to watch Anthony Brown upset in Maryland, after the Obamas campaigned for him.  The same thing happened in Arkansas, where the Clintons were unable to propel Dim candidates to victory,

We can rejoice today, but I hope that no one loses sight of the next election.

November 3, 2014

FOD

Tomorrow is election day.  If you didn't vote during the early voting period, get there tomorrow.  No excuses.

While tomorrow could result in a Republican majority, we are still faced with two more years of Obama and his pen.  Things have been rather quiet lately, as the president isn't doing much out in front of the media.  And, some things he has been doing have been ill-received, and the MSM won't widely report their fallen angel when he and his wife are heckled and booed at events.

Don't assume that he isn't fuming.  And don't assume that he plans to fade quietly away.  No, I think this lame duck will go out in flames.  One of the scariest scenarios is this one:
President Obama’s upcoming unilateral legalization of millions of illegal immigrants is not just about amnesty, changing the culture, encouraging future illegal immigration, and so forth.  It’s about who will be president in 2016. It’s about creating a massive new population of potential Democratic voters for shady operators on the left to target.
But wait a second. These people can’t vote, you say. They’ll just be legal residents. It takes years to become a citizen! And only citizens vote.Think again...
ONLY FOUR STATES REQUIRE PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP TO REGISTER TO VOTE: Kansas, Arizona, Georgia and Alabama...
...In some states, the driver’s license and voter registration application are on the same form, and the applicant simply signs. In small print, the form says applicants acknowledge they are U.S. citizens. In other states, voter registration is a separate form and applicants check a box.
In either case, once signed, the forms are automatically sent to the county or state registrar of voters, and the name is added to voter rolls. State DMV officials are not required to authenticate citizenship.
Our only hope is that Obama's narcissism gets in the way of him doing anything to help out his party.