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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Uncivil Behavior

Uncivil Behavior

The headline from the Tuesday, September 15, 2009 edition of USA Today shouted, “What Happened to Civility?” and the front page of The Washington Times on the same date carried the headline, “Whatever Happened to Civility?”

Both papers referred to a series of well known people behaving badly.  Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina made the list by shouting out, “You lie!” during a speech by President Obama.  World class tennis player Serena Williams joined him by screaming threatening obscenities at a line judge during the US Open semifinals.  Even Michael Jordan was included for his bad taste in singling out individuals with whom he disagreed in a speech after being elected to the NBA Hall of Fame!  Not to be outdone, rapper Kanye West barged onto the stage and seized the microphone from Country & Western singer Taylor Swift who had won an award for the best female music video at the MTV awards.  He proceeded to tell the audience that she should not have received the award.

But uncivil behavior is not limited to the powerful, wealthy, and famous.  No, you and I experience it regularly as we hear young people utter foul language at the top of their lungs while walking down the street.  Or we hear it from older folks, who should know better, in a public venue such as a sports arena or a park.  

Commonly, we hear the expression, “Oh, God!” from our business colleagues and neighbors as if God’s name is just a way to emphasize a point.  The Hebrews reverenced God so much that they wouldn’t even say His name out loud.  Apparently today it’s just another slang expression.

What others have observed for several years is that America is becoming a more coarse society with each passing year.  The fact is that young people don’t have any manners unless they are taught them at home.  They certainly don’t learn them in school.  Young men don’t open doors for women and they certainly don’t give up their seat on a bus or the Metro for a woman, no matter the age.  And they are not averse to using any foul word, no matter what company they are in.

Why are we witnessing a coarsening of our society?

Psychologists rush in with all sorts of explanations.  Others make excuses such as foul language is just an expression of our more casual society.  It’s no wonder that year by year it seems to get worse and worse.

Bad behavior doesn’t seem that complex to me.  Few children receive a moral upbringing that helps them to understand that such behavior is not only improper, but wrong.  The more religion is driven out of the public square and the greater the decline in faith and trust in God, the faster public morality and good behavior continue to descend.

Today you and I can swear in public, but praying in public is frowned upon.  Filthy language is protected speech, but the Ten Commandments are banned.  Blasphemous pornography is financed by the National Endowment for the Arts, but children can be suspended from school for praying before they eat their lunch.

The bottom line is that we live in an increasingly immoral society that justifies and defends any kind of behavior, no matter how bad.  The abolition of absolute standards successfully implemented by the moral relativists is reaping a logical result—a coarsening of our society.

Monday, September 21, 2009



Most of you who read my blogs know that my dear wife, Kathi, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) about ten years ago.  Thanks to the extension of the patent period on drugs for so-called “Orphan Diseases” (by Ronald Reagan), many new drugs have been developed to inhibit the progress of MS.

Of course, because of Kathi’s diagnosis, we have supported the National MS Society in their efforts to find a cure for this disease.  We trusted the Society to focus on research and assistance to those with MS.
Our trust has been betrayed.

Last week I received an email from Scott Hanson who works for the National MS Society and who identifies himself as an “MS Activist.”  What was the purpose of Scott’s email—passage of President Obama’s national health care plan.

To say that I was shocked would be an understatement.  I was, in fact, outraged.  I was also incredulous.

How could a group that serves those with Multiple Sclerosis support a government-run national health care program?  How could such a program possibly benefit those with MS?

One would have to be a fool to believe that the goal of the Democrats and Obama is anything less than total socialized medicine.  Any government-run program that is subsidized by the taxpayers will inevitably crowd out any private insurance that must operate on a profit and loss basis.  So, what we are talking about is indeed a national health care program

In fact, Obama has said on camera that he prefers a one payer system like Canada.  The fact is Canada’s national health care system is imploding.  Doctors are fleeing, enrollment in medical schools is dropping, patients are dying while waiting for treatment, costs are skyrocketing, and care continues to deteriorate
What does nationalized health care mean to someone with an incurable disease like MS?  It means first and foremost rationing of medical care services.  How else can government reduce health care costs?  Of course, costs will not be reduced because the extra layers of bureaucracy will simply make health care more expensive and more limited.

Obamacare also means an end to the development of new drugs.  No more progress in finding cures for diseases, especially orphan diseases.  Today 96% of all new drugs introduced into the market come from private drug companies!  And it is the demand created by the American free market system that is the source of all new drugs for the world.

Unfortunately, one of the first things that Obama did when he entered the White House was to send an order to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) instructing them not to license any new drug that was not better than an existing drug.  That single order caused one big drug company to immediately close down research on several new drugs.

How do you know in advance if a drug will be more effective or better than an existing drug?  Of course, you can’t know that and therefore the risk factor for developing a new drug has become much, much higher!  Moreover, the truth is that some drugs work for some people, but not for others.  For instance, my wife was on Copaxone™ for a year or two, but it eventually stopped working.  Now she is on Rebif™ which has been working successfully for a number of years.  In contrast, a friend of ours with MS was on Rebif™ but could not tolerate the drug and is now on Betaseron™.  On paper different drugs may appear to work equally well, but in reality, everyone is different and different drugs work differently for each person.

But back to health care.  The Obama-Pelosi-Reed plan is built, in part, around something called Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) which is simply a standard for rationing health care.  It works something like this.  Standards are established that say an 85 year old woman cannot get a pace maker, but a 40 year old woman can.  A 65 year old man who needs a hip replacement must go to the back of the line while a 45 year old goes to the front of the line.

The fact is that someone who is approaching retirement with MS will not gain access to new drugs and new treatments, while a younger person might gain access.

Advocates of national health care cannot cite one instance at any point in history or in any country that has worked successfully.  Obamacare will ultimately lead to the government picking your doctor, to deciding what care or treatment you will receive, and to long waiting periods before treatment, if any treatment at all.

Obamacare will lead to shortages of doctors and nurses similar to those that exist in England and Canada. 

Obamacare means medical care by rules and regulations, not by a doctor and a patient deciding what is best in each individual case.  For example, I have an airline pilot friend that took a bad spill in a bathtub while he was in London on turnaround between flights from the US to the UK.  He was taken to the hospital where they took one x-ray.  The doctor told him that his ribs were only bruised, so he dealt with the pain and flew the plane home.  Upon returning, the pain got worse so he went to a doctor here in the US who took three x-rays.  Lo and behold, he had three clearly fractured ribs!  Now there’s not much you can do about a fractured rib, but he would not have been allowed to fly the plane back from London if it had known that the ribs were broken.  More importantly, the lesson is that rules allowing only one x-ray are just typical of what you and I can expect in medical treatment if Obamacare passes.  Medical care by rules and regulations lead to bad diagnosis, more severe health issues, and ultimately to a shorter life span.

No one can contest the fact that survival rates from cancer and other diseases are much, much higher in the US than they are in England.  Medical care in England, in Canada, and in all other countries beset by socialized medicine, are inferior in every way to the quality of medical care that you and I receive today. 

Socialized medicine doesn’t work.  That’s why medical clinics and hospitals in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Buffalo are filled with patients from Canada.  It’s the same reason that people from England and around the globe come to the US for treatment.

The United States has the best medical care in the world.  It’s not perfect, but the Obama proposal does not even address the biggest cause of high medical costs—punitive damages.

The elimination of punitive damages would immediately and dramatically lower the cost of medical care here in the US. 

Making medical insurance premiums deductible by each individual, instead of by employers, would immediately make all insurance plans more affordable and totally portable.  You could choose a deductible plan that suits your life and your situation.

Trying to solve our health care issues by having the government take over health care is like trying to do heart surgery with a hand axe instead of a scalpel—the damage will be irreversible.

I’ll say it once again, a national government-run health care system will have the compassion of the IRS and the efficiency of the Post Office.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



Ain’t it great?!  That’s what you hear when a doctor gets sued and loses a malpractice case.  Or when McDonalds gets sued for making coffee hot and a jury awards the “victim” $2 million.  Or, as a USA Today headline blared, “Pfizer fined $2.3 billion for illegal marketing.”  

And then the same person complains about the high cost of medical insurance, the rising cost of hamburgers, or the soaring cost of drugs.  Duh!

How can they be that shortsighted?

Who do they think pays for outrageous legal costs and awards?  Who do they think pays for a $2.3 billion fine?

You and I do, of course.

Malpractice insurance for doctors costs $100,000 to $300,000 per year depending on the type of doctor.  Those sky high insurance costs are paid for by the fees the doctor charges.  When those fees go up to cover their insurance premium, so does your medical insurance.  If we get rid of punitive damages, the number of lawsuits will decrease dramatically and medical insurance bills will fall accordingly.

When McDonalds has to pay out $2 million for someone else’s stupidity, or another company has to pay out totally unreasonable amounts to settle a claim for doing something stupid, the cost of the service increases.

When Pfizer has to pay out a $2.3 billion fine for “illegal marketing,” either the cost of our medications goes up or a new drug that could save a life or stop a disease gets sidetracked.
Wise up Americans!  When huge fines are paid or huge legal awards are made by the court, you and I lose.  It may make you feel good to stick it to someone, but in the end, you are the one who gets stuck.

The only ones who win are the lawyers.  

Our President claims to be promoting health care reform, yet this so-called reform does 
not include tort reform!  What kind of reform is that?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is Jesus a Liar?

Is Jesus a Liar?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably read books or heard people say that Jesus was a good person, a good teacher, but not the Savior of the world.  Of course, everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe.  But Jesus would not have been a very good person if He was a consistent liar.

When you read the Bible, you will find that Jesus was either a consistent liar, or the Savior of the world.  Here are just a few of Jesus’ words related by a number of different writers over more than 70 years.  

In Matthew 16:16-17, after Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.”  Clearly Jesus is claiming to be the long promised Messiah.  Is He lying or telling the truth?

When questioned by the religious leaders of His day in Mark 14:61-62, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?"  Jesus replied, “I am.” 

John 4:25-26 describes a discussion Jesus had with a woman at a well in Samaria.  The woman said, "I know that the Messiah is coming.  When He comes, He will explain everything to us."  Jesus responded to the woman, "I who speak to you am He."
Jesus is blunt in John 6:46-47, “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.  I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.”  Here Jesus claims to be the “one who is from God and has seen God the Father.”
In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

A conversation with a man to whom Jesus gave eyesight is described in John 9:35-37.  Jesus asked the man, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"  The man replied, "Who is he, sir?"  Jesus answered, “You have now seen him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.”

During a feast in Jerusalem, Jesus said in John 10:27-28, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”  Who can give eternal life except the Messiah?

In John 11:25-26, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”
In a powerful declaration in John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  

The quotes I have listed above are just a very few of the declarations that, according to witnesses, Jesus made proving He was indeed the long promised Messiah.  Jesus’ claim is, in fact, the foundation of the Christian faith.  Accordingly, by logic, Christianity is not just another religion.  It is either a false religion, or it is the only true religion.  You cannot have it both ways.  Jesus is either the way to Heaven or He is a fraud.  Which is it?  You make the call, is He a liar or the Messiah, the Savior of the world?  Just remember, eternity is forever.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy, RIP

Edward M. Kennedy, RIP

It’s no secret that I was not a fan of the late Senator Ted Kennedy.  To me he represented and epitomized the entirely wrong approach to government.  He believed in big government, but I see government as the primary threat to individual freedom.  He wanted to push religion out of the public square, I feel that religion is the glue that holds a civil society together.  As a Catholic he personally opposed abortion, but as a Senator he was a strong advocate of all forms of abortion.  I believe in the right to life and that equal protection under the law applies as much to the unborn as it does to someone who is 90 years of age.  He favored liberal judges who rewrote the US Constitution to fit their liberal views, I believe in original intent.  

The aforesaid gives you a pretty good idea of how I disagreed with Senator Kennedy.  Nevertheless, by all accounts he was a personally charming individual, a man of fierce personal beliefs, hard working, and inspiring to many, especially his children.  

Conservative spokesmen have reminded us of his personal shortfalls—Chappaquiddick, his nearly out of control attacks on Robert Bork, and his lack of temperament and civil discourse on other occasions.

The fact is all individuals, rich or poor, intelligent or simple, liberal or conservative, have feet of clay.  That includes you and me.  We’re all sinners.  We’re all mortals. 

Commentators, at times of the death of national figures like Senator Kennedy, like to talk about someone being in heaven or hell based on how good they perceive that individual was.  At the time of Ronald Reagan’s death, one lout commented something about Reagan roasting on a spit.  Such talk shows ignorance of the Christian religion to which both Reagan and Kennedy publicly subscribed.  

It seems to be a general concept that “good” people go to heaven and “bad” people go to hell.  The catch is that there are no “good” people by God’s standards.  As it says in Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.”  What a quandary!  In Romans 3:20 it goes on to say, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”  So if heaven depends on our “goodness,” then you and I and Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan will all fall short.  We have a problem.

God has created this perfect place called heaven, but if He lets in one person who is imperfect, then heaven is no longer perfect.  But God, in His unfathomable love, provided a solution which He described clearly throughout the New Testament, and is summed up perfectly in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The solution that God provided doesn’t require anything of us except that we believe in Jesus.  That was God’s plan and Jesus’ message.  He said it repeatedly in the New Testament, and was especially clear in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Thankfully, our going to heaven doesn’t depend on how good we have been, but only on our faith in Jesus.  That is the rock solid foundation of the Christian message.  It’s what makes Christianity unique among the world’s religions.  It’s the hope upon which Ted Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and all the powerful and not-so-powerful people in the world can depend on for going to God’s heaven.

Through God’s grace we believe and our sins are washed away.  We can enter the perfect place God has created—heaven.  All the stupid, unthoughtful, unkind, and downright evil things we have done get washed away in the flood of Jesus’ righteousness.  We can’t do anything.  God has done everything.
Pro Gloria Dei!