Monday, September 30, 2013

Kill Obamacare or Shut Down DC

Kill Obamacare or Shut Down DC
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 30, 2013

A week ago, hypocrite in chief Barack Obama led the Democrats in the use of incendiary language, accusing the Republicans in Congress of “holding the whole country hostage” by having the gall to vote against his health care program, which is the real hostage taker.

Obamacare, even prior to installation, has begun its stranglehold over the American people and the entirety of the American economy which will have far reaching affects beyond our borders.

More and more companies, great and small are making executive decisions affecting the lives of their employees by cutting back hours, turning these United States into a part time working nation with more and more people becoming increasingly dependent upon government largesse.

The problem is that with more and more people dependent upon the government, it requires a greater amount of funding – funding that comes from the people – people who work and pay taxes to fund the government. The fewer hours people work, the less they have to “contribute” to the government coffers to pay for those people no longer working, thus overburdening those who are left working to pick up a larger and larger tab.

The majority of the American people have rejected Obamacare as they understand it will ultimately cost more to provide health insurance, make demands upon companies’ hiring practices, as well as their moral discretion pertaining to what they are providing for their employees. The government seems to have this notion it can force private industry to dance to the administration’s tune – thus Obama is the hostage taker.

Small businesses are opting to pay penalties rather than cover their employees at higher rates than the penalties themselves. Obamacare is also responsible for the stunting of economic growth as businesses are not hiring in an effort to keep their employment rolls below the threshold required to provide for their employees.

The Republicans in Congress are doing the right thing by attempting to defund Obamacare. They are taking a principled stance on the possibility that the government may shut down should Obama reject a budget minus Obamacare funding. Understand that a government shutdown does not prevent the mail from being delivered. It does not prevent retirees from receiving their Social Security checks. It does not mean the United States armed forces are no longer on the job either.

If Obamacare, hyped by this administration and its lackeys in Congress as the savior of American healthcare, why have so many industries, businesses, and even Congress itself been allowed to opt out? Why has Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) called Obamacare a “train wreck,” repeatedly? Why has the teamsters’ union president James P. Hoffa, a strong Obama supporter, come out virulently against Obama’s signature legislation, calling it “a nightmare?”

Sen. Ted Cruz spoke passionately for more than 21 hours last week. Part of his oration simply stated that the Obama administration and Congress itself should set the example and play by the rules it is attempting to inflict upon the rest of America. Yes, inflict, based upon the reasons to refute Obamacare as stated above.

Yet just because the GOP wishes to defund a legislative program designed to push the United States toward socialized medicine, that is already having a negative impact on the economy, that is forcing more than a handful of doctors to close their practices and retire, the Democrats are continuing to use provocative language toward the Republicans.

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), she of the famous, “we have to pass the bill to find out what is in it,” called the GOP “legislative arsonists.” To this day, Pelosi still has yet to read the entirety of the Obamacare bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), never one to back down from a fight, as a former pugilist, called the GOP “Tea Party anarchists.” Anarchy, Sen. Reid, is an absence of government, a state of lawlessness or political disorder. No one, from either party, is calling for anarchy. But Reid, like Pelosi, is no stranger to bombastic rhetoric.

A government shutdown is not the worst thing that could occur come midnight. If it does, the blame falls squarely on the narrow shoulders of Obama, who will no doubt veto a budget sans Obamacare. A shutdown will not prevent essential services from continuing, despite Obama’s scare tactics. The bigger picture, however, is to eradicate Obamacare before it ensures any further damage. If the people think it is bad now, wait until it is actually enforced.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Obama Politicizes Navy Yard Memorial

Obama Politicizes Navy Yard Memorial
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 23, 2013

On what should have been an occasion of solemnity and the reminder of the fragility of life, Barack Obama, never being one to miss an opportunity, turned a memorial into a political speech and talking points for future anti-gun candidates.

While none of the military and administration speakers preceding Obama called for gun control during their eulogies, Obama connected the names of the victims with the demand for more gun laws at the Navy Yard memorial following the slaughter of a dozen innocent people Monday, September 16.

“If we really want to honor these 12 men and women, if we really want to be a country where we can go to work and go to school and walk our streets free from senseless violence without so many lives being stolen by a bullet from a gun, then we’re going to have to change,” said Obama, Sunday afternoon.

What Obama and the rest of the knee-jerk reactionary gun control crowd either fails to realize or is simply intentionally obtuse for political purposes, is that honest, law-abiding Americans are the ones affected by gun control laws. The United States does not need additional laws pertaining to the ownership and carrying of firearms. It needs to start by enforcing the laws already enacted.

Criminals, by their nature of being criminals, will continue to find ways to procure firearms and criminals are not impacted by potential restrictions to the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

In the case of this particular murderer, Aaron Alexis, 34, a former Navy Reservist and information technology contractor apparently wrestled with mental illness. Yet, he supposedly garnered his firearms legally. Where was the mental health system to stop Alexis from acquiring guns in the first place? Why didn’t his discharge record indicate a status that denied him the right to own a gun?

And if any law should be changed, it should be the repeal of a law signed by former President Bill Clinton denying employees on military bases or buildings like Fort Hood or the Navy Yard from carrying a firearm. In each case, where a dozen or more were slain, anyone with a firearm could have thwarted the murderer/terrorist from carrying out the heinous crimes perpetrated.

If history has taught us anything, it is that a well-armed citizenry has the ability to ward off the tyranny of a government swelled with unearned power. Those who would prefer to live in a world where guns are not accepted are free to do so – no doubt the local Starbucks will welcome you. For the rest of us who prefer to take personal responsibility for the protection of our families, homes, businesses, and property, the Second Amendment is still part of the Constitution.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Emmys Overlooked Klugman and Hagman

Emmys Overlooked Klugman and Hagman
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 23, 2013

Not a fan of the numerous televised awards programs put on by the entertainment industry to validate themselves with their self-congratulatory faux humility, I actually had a reason to check in on the Emmy Awards Sunday night September 22.

A pre-awards newspaper brief indicated that five of the deceased from the past year would be honored with individual acknowledgments throughout the program, as opposed to the traditional roll call photo montage. The five included actress Jean Stapleton, actors James Gandolfini and Cory Montieth, comedian Jonathan Winters, and producer Gary David Goldberg.

Who didn’t love Stapleton and her alter ego, Edith Bunker? And the comic genius of Winters? Goldberg’s Family Ties was a favorite of mine in the ‘80s – complete with the comparisons to Alex P. Keaton.

Conspicuously omitted without explanation were actors Larry Hagman and jack Klugman. Would four more minutes made a difference in a three-hour-plus awards program rife with bloviating speeches and witless banter?

Actually it should have been a two minute addition as Montieth should not have been singled out in the first place. The actor, 31, known for his role on Glee, died of an overdose of heroin and alcohol, and had previous bouts of substance abuse. While his co-star Jane Lynch did not omit or excuse Montieth’s substance issues, honoring his memory as it was done, glorifies his lifestyle and omits the more deserving Klugman and Hagman.

In fact, during the roll call of photos, Klugman and Hagman received the most applause. Hagman, following his role of Tony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie, was forever known as oilman villain J. R. Ewing on Dallas. Klugman, a three-time Emmy winner, was most memorably known for portraying perpetually sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple. Both actors distinguished themselves on stage as well as the big screen, and deserved the honors given the other five.

Forty years after the fact, Edith Bunker and Oscar Madison are still warmly recalled, as is J.R. Ewing 30 years hence. Will the same be said of Finn Hudson?

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stay Out of Syria

Stay Out of Syria
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 10, 2013

For more than two years the Obama administration seemed content to take a laissez-faire stance on Syria while its president, Bashar al-Assad has slaughtered more than 100,000 of his own people using conventional weapons. Now, because Assad has upped the ante to dispatching chemical weapons against his people, killing 1,429, of which 426 were children, Obama feels the need to express outrage threatening to attack Syria – even unilaterally.

The political hacks on the left, like Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, as well as a few misguided RINOs, such as senators Lindsay Graham (SC) and John McCain (AZ), support military involvement in Syria.

Military experts, such as Col. David Hunt, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, and Navy Capt. Chuck Nash, and others with years of experience in the field, oppose involvement in Syria. No good comes of it for the United States. Obama seems to want to support our enemies and terror groups because of some misguided sense of no one knows what. The internal strife in Syria will either keep Assad in power or turn power over to al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, or other terror organizations.

Many see this potential attack as a purely political move, which is poor reason to engage in a military conflict. The question must be asked, how does the situation in Syria, however horrible, and it is, for the Syrian people, adversely affect the United States and its own national security?

And, unless the national security of the United States is at risk, any attack without Congressional approval violates the Constitution. This is something that Obama knows all too well.

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an attack or imminent threat to the nation,” said then Senator Obama on December 20, 2007.
Additionally, Biden, while also in the Senate, called for the impeachment of President George W. Bush for the same thing. Now, it seems perfectly OK for this administration to act unilaterally.
Ironically, while Obama sat wringing his hands not calling Congress back to Washington during one of their numerous vacation periods, Great Britain, where America’s political and linguistic roots are, under Prime Minister David Cameron, called for Parliament to return to work and make this decision legally. Cameron respects the will of the people – even when dissatisfied. Supporting Obama and an attack on Syria, Cameron expressed disappointment when the House of Commons voted 285-272 against such an attack.

Germany said no, as did Canada, and France, initially on board, seems to be begging off. And yet, even with the embarrassment of the UK rebuke, Obama is willing to fly solo. Obama clearly is not a man of his word. “American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone,” said Obama on March 28, 2011 regarding Libya.

Kerry wasn’t even concerned about Congressional approval, but instead that of the United Nations. And while he made an impassioned, emotional speech on Friday, August 30 decrying the urgency of attacking Syria, Kerry lacked the Constitutional imperative necessary to strike a foreign nation without compelling evidence of eminent danger to the United States.

On the other hand, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) could also have called his legislative body back to work and vote to shut Obama down. As late as Saturday, August 31, Obama seems to have resigned himself to await a Congressional vote on September 9, when hopefully the balance of power as provided by the Founding Fathers, will reemerge and put an end to a situation that, on the surface, lacks strategy. Plus this would give Obama a somewhat graceful exit from an unconstitutional quest and he could then blame the GOP, currently holding a majority in Congress.

What is the end goal and desired outcome? Punishing a foreign leader is not a reason to attack a nation. Terms such as “limited strike” (John Kerry) and dropping a few missiles are neither encouraging nor decisive. Obama actually said the US should “fire a shot across the bow.” Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, who opposes force against Syria, explained that “a shot across the bow by definition, doesn’t hit anything,” and does not serve as a deterrent against people who only understand genuine force.

“He [Obama] will attack ineffectually and he will fail,” said Col. Peters, adding that “we cannot do everything. I feel for these people,” he said referring to the plight of the innocent Syrian civilians, but standing firm against American involvement.

The schizophrenia of Obama’s turn on a dime, let’s go in today unilaterally, to let’s wait for Congressional approval demonstrates there is no plan. Of course if there is one, we the people do not need to know until after the fact because to announce any military plans is akin to telegraphing them to the enemies of the United States, which in a sense is what Obama did by announcing his willingness to await Congress’ return to work on September 9. Now Assad has another week to hide munitions, kill more of his people, and prepare to defend against the United States, should there something against which to defend.

Former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, reminded viewers on Fox News of former President Teddy Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” Gillerman said “We’re not seeing the big stick,” which he defined as a sign of weakness and that the US has been lenient regarding the massacres in Syria.

Yet, we return full circle to the beginning and the nature of the urgency expressed initially by the Obama administration – very little, and the hypocrisy of cherry-picking why to pick a battle.

I prefer to return to Col. Peters comment, “We cannot do everything.” There lacks a compelling Constitutional reason pertaining to the national security of the United States. This is a civil war, not unlike that of Spain in the 1930s, where the United States also did not risk its American military treasure.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) had the unmitigated gall to compare the current situation in Syria with the Holocaust. See the above comment about the Spanish Civil War. Also, Germany was not engaged in a civil war, starting with the annexation of the Sudetenland, Hitler steamrolled through Europe with tepid opposition at best. Even then the United States remained on the sidelines until attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. At that point, the United States officially entered World War II.

Kerry also said there would not be American boots on the ground in Syria. I seem to recall a time when all the United States had in Vietnam were “advisors,” but then Kerry himself could testify to the alternative.

Like Kerry, Obama, on September 10 painted an emotional picture that tugs at our heartstrings as he described the August 21 gassing to death of nearly 1,500 Syrians, the “images are sickening.” Obama, like Reid, incorrectly likened Syria to the Holocaust simply due to the use of gas. This is not the Holocaust – and thank G-d.

When 100,000-plus had been murdered by bullets, where was the moral outrage? Why is the US left to fight this battle alone? Even after the “sense of common humanity [was] violated,” as said Obama, with the execution of Sarin gas against nearly 1,500 Syrians, there still lacks a Constitutional imperative according to Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News.

The question still remains, why now? How does the United States stand to benefit by merely sending al-Assad a message? If he is deposed and replaced, by whom will he be supplanted? The rebels have behaved in some of the most deviant, unconscionable manners. There is a video of a rebel killing a Syrian soldier, cutting out that soldier’s liver and heart, then taking a bite out of the heart.

Obama has been far too indecisive and has also telegraphed his plans which simply put any US military personnel at greater risk than should be allowed. Obama himself said that the United States is not the policeman to the world. If one set of horrific Syrians want to keep killing another set of horrific Syrians, so be it. Yes, the loss of innocent civilians is always unfortunate, but there are no guarantees that will end should the United States gets involved. Syria must take care of Syria. Should other nations wish to pony up manpower and materials they are free to do so.

Pray for peace. Not just in Syria, but worldwide. But always remember Ronald Reagan’s mantra of “peace through strength.”

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Friday, September 6, 2013

One Date, Two Tragedies

One Date, Two Tragedies
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 6, 2013

This year September 11 has more significance than in previous years and for several reasons. Of course this is the 12th year we commemorate and memorialize the terrorist attacks on American soil in New York City, Arlington, VA, and Shanksville, PA where 2,996 Americans were slaughtered by Muslim extremists who hijacked airplanes and used them as murder weapons.

This is also the first anniversary of the murders in Benghazi, Libya of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, US Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, as well as Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, also by Muslim extremists.

Having grown up in the shadows of the Twin Towers, as well as living and working minutes from the Pentagon on that once beautifully sunny Tuesday morning turned fateful and tragic, the events of that day are indelibly seared into my memory and psyche.

While listening to the roll call of the names of the victims read each year at the site of the World Trade Center, remember also, those four men on the job in Benghazi murdered by Islamo-terrorists. The men, women, and children slaughtered 12 years ago and just last year were murdered by Muslim extremist terrorists in the name of a supposed religion of peace, yet proven to be anything but by the perpetrators.

This year, as Syria is boiling over, while Iran continues striving toward nuclear capabilities, while Muslim extremism continues its perpetual reign of terror both in and out of the Middle East, peace is still the goal. Peace cannot be achieved via acquiescence or weak-kneed threats lacking backbone and follow through.

On this September 11, there is a juxtaposition between war and peace as this year’s observance falls during the Days of Awe, between the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). While we pray for peace, there is also an understanding that war, however unpleasant, is sometimes necessary.

In the prayer book for the High Holy Days there is “A Prayer for Our Country” in which we recite “May this country forever be the land of the free, where all may dwell in security and peace.”

There is also “A Prayer for Peace.” In it we recite, “I will bring peace to the land, and you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you. I will rid the land of vicious beasts and it shall not be ravaged by war.”

Pray for peace, but remember that G-d helps those who help themselves. Meaning, we must, at times, fight to retain our way of life and to live in peace.

America is viewed as weak on the global stage today, as it was in 1979-80 when 52 Americans languished in an Iranian hellhole for 444 days. It was no coincidence those hostages were released the day Ronald Reagan took the oath of office, becoming the 40th president of the United States on January 20, 1981. Iran feared the United States. Both Reagan and Obama, in their own ways, proved it is better to be feared than loved.

There has not been peace under Obama. With Reagan there was “peace through strength.” Pray for peace. Remember the fallen – both from 12 years ago, as well as last year. Work and strive to keep the United States of America “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. On September 11, 2001 he was writing for a newspaper in Northern Virginia.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Earning the Maximum: Let’s Educate to Reduce Poverty

Earning the Maximum: Let’s Educate to Reduce Poverty
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 4, 2013

In his Labor Day column, September 2, “Beyond bare minimum,” Duncan Black, a fellow at Media Matters for America, lives up to his organization’s progressive bent when he admits to pushing “a crazy idea,” pertaining to the poverty crisis in these United States.

“If I ran the country I’d implement ‘crazier’ ideas than a higher federal minimum wage. Specifically, I’d enact a guaranteed, if small, minimum annual income for all adults. A crazy idea, perhaps, but a crazy idea which would help to alleviate poverty while reducing the cost of other parts of our stingy welfare state,” wrote Black, who clearly lacks an economics background.

To be fair, he does at least recognize the insanity of his socialist scheme.

A guaranteed income for all adults? Seems like Black commandeered a page out of Karl Marx. Let me remind Mr. Black that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” wrote that ubiquitous Founding Father Thomas Jefferson in The Declaration of Independence.

The key to Jefferson’s genius was that all men are created equal. What they do from there is up to them. We live in a country that rewards hard work and smart decision making. Jefferson never said we are guaranteed a life of equality, for if that were so, it would be a life of the lowest common denominator.

Mr. Black challenged readers to formulate a better solution than his.

For starters, a minimum annual income for all adults could only be mandated by government and that would be the end of the capitalist system enjoyed since before the colonists told King George III to take a hike. A minimum annual income is not an incentive to work harder and strive for higher wages, as some people are willing to do the minimum, for the minimum, and then demand more from the government, which has no obligation to take care of healthy, able-bodied, agile-minded American citizens.

Referencing the “stingy welfare state,” Mr. Black failed to mention that in 35 states welfare benefits are actually higher than what a minimum wage worker would earn in a year. That must change. Welfare should never be higher than minimum wage. There should never be a reason for people to shun a job in favor of a government handout. The answer is not to raise the minimum wage, but lower the welfare benefits to encourage recipients to collect benefits for as short a period as possible. This would lower government payouts derived from the pockets of working people.

As someone “genuinely interested in helping the working poor,” as Black called for, I agree with him that “People who either work hard or who are willing to work hard should not face a marginal existence with near-poverty incomes.”

Returning to Black’s suggestion to conjure up a better solution than he offered, it starts with education and discipline. The hard work Black references begins in the classroom, and if we are talking about the working poor, it may be generational poverty where education may not have been stressed in the household. Coupled with a high chance that said household may be single-parent, here’s where the discipline enters the picture. Babies having babies – teen parenting leading to dropping out of school, thus a paucity of education leading to low wage jobs requiring a minimum amount of skill, thus the minimum wage as those workers are easily expendable and replaced.

I don’t want to hear the oft-repeated mantra of this is not realistic from the left. Or, you don’t understand. Having taught in inner city public and charter schools, I understand. I understand that in order to break the cycle of poverty, hard work is required. I understand that in order to stay in school and earn an education, hard work is required. I understand that in order to avoid teen motherhood or gang membership when so much negative influence is about, hard work is required.

That is the key, as stated by Mr. Black – “people who work hard or are willing to work hard.” It just starts at home and in the classroom, not once the pregnant teen or gang member already has two strikes on them. These strikes can be avoided by listening to good teachers, good parents, good priests, ministers, and rabbis who offer guidance. No, it’s not easy with all the negative stimuli abound. Neither I nor Mr. Black said it would be, nor was it meant to be, easy.

The public school system in the United States must be drastically amended if not scrapped altogether. School choice, charter schools, vouchers, and old fashioned American competition is the answer. Better schools cannot be mandated by government. Strict discipline must be meted out in all schools and a return to respect for ones elders, ones teachers, and ones parents must become the norm again along with dress codes, honor codes, and a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Order must be restored in the schools as an imperative for anyone to learn, garner a good education, and earn a job paying above minimum wage. A minimum wage job is not meant to be an end, but a beginning as one gains experience one climbs the ladder to a better job and better wages.

The crux, as Mr. Black and I agree, is the desire and ability to work hard. The difference is that he wants government to work hard to provide for the people, while I want people to work hard to provide for themselves and their families setting the examples that will permanently be ingrained in all future generations.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.