Friday, August 30, 2013

Mr. 'Nobel Peace Prize' not so noble

Something’s not quite right with the Syrian situation.  As we go to war with the Assad regime under the assumption of their use of chemical weapons the facts just don’t add up.  Consider that Assad’s troops had been routing the rebels in the days leading up to the attack.  Also consider that Assad had been warned, in no uncertain terms, that his use of chemical weapons would incur the wrath of the United States and other western powers.  Why would he do it?

It’s my belief that he didn’t.  Who had the most to gain from a chemical weapons attack?  The rebels.  We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Syrian rebels are being led by al Qaeda.  They have committed some unspeakable atrocities in Syria.  If al Qaeda wanted to take control of Syria their best option would be to the have our military bombard Assad’s troops from off-shore.

Which begs the question: What are we doing aiding al Qaeda?  Last time I checked we were at war with them.  The whole ‘Arab Spring’ debacle has resulted in undesirables seizing power in the Middle East.  The Muslim Brotherhood, itself a terrorist organization, took control of Egypt, suspended the constitution, instituted Sharia law and had to be ousted by the military.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham flew to Egypt to meet with senior officials of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Obama has invited them to a meeting at the White House.  FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before a House committee that the Muslim Brotherhood has supported terrorism not only overseas but right here in America.  And our elected officials are meeting with these people?

Don’t believe the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization?  Consider their motto: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."  Sounds like a peaceful bunch, doesn’t it?

We can argue over whether the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group but there’s no arguing that al Qaeda is and they’re the ones in charge of the Syrian rebels.  The rebels have declared their allegiance to al Qaeda.  And now we’re helping them take over the country.

So, we’re aiding the terrorists in Syria.  We helped bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt.  We supported the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in Libya which our own State Department and the U.N. Security Council have listed as an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group.  Have we lost our minds!?!

What on earth could be the motivation?  I’ll toss out one theory.  What’s the shortest route to getting Americans on the green energy bandwagon?  High gas prices.  What’s the quickest way to raise global oil prices through the roof?  Putting a bunch of terrorists in charge of oil-producing countries in the Middle East.  If you have a better theory I’d love to hear it.  Frankly, I think that’s the least damning theory for this administration.  All others range from outright incompetence to blatant support for radical Islam’s quest to rule the world.

It’s by no coincidence that we have been systematically toppling regimes that have, for decades, kept the terrorists in check only to replace them with the terrorists themselves.  

Like Mohamed Zrig.  He was denied refugee status in Canada because of terrorism.  He was the leader of the Movement of the Islamic Tendency which later became Ennahda.  Ennahda is the ruling party in Tunisia, where this whole Arab Spring began.

And the Arab Spring could not have sprung without the aid of Barack Obama.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Obamacare train is coming

It’s becoming an all too familiar refrain.  People are calling my radio show with stories of being down-sized to part-time status so their company can get around the Obamacare regulations.  One lady, age 59, called in to say that she’d been a nurse at a hospital for 21 years.  Because of lower reimbursements from the government she’s been let go.  She says the hospital is firing its older nurses because they make more money.  Of course, under Obamacare more people will be flocking to the hospitals which will be understaffed with less experienced healthcare professionals.  It’s a recipe for disaster.

One guy told me when he started at a major grocery store chain 12 years ago 90 percent of the employees were full time.  Now only 9 percent are full time.  It’s frightening.

Obamacare is quickly turning the American workforce into a bunch of part-timers.  That means these folks will have to find second jobs which means even fewer jobs available.  The healthcare plan that ostensibly was designed to help people is causing millions of Americans to not only lose their healthcare but now they’re making even less money.

You’d think President Obama would see this and realize he’s made a mistake but this is exactly what he hoped would happen.  Those who get thrown off their employer’s insurance end up at the doorstep of the exchanges.  Depending on their income, these folks will qualify for large subsidies from the government.  It’s a trap and it was designed to be a trap from the beginning.

Those fortunate enough to retain their full-time status won’t fare much better.  Once companies realize they can pay a $2,000 fine and turn those employees over to the exchanges there’ll be a stampede to do so.  Essentially, we could see the vast majority of Americans standing in line at the new healthcare exchanges waiting for their handout from the government.

So, who qualifies for a subsidy?  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation calculator, a family of five with the parents at age 50 and making a family income of $110,000 per year gets a healthcare subsidy of over $6,000 from the government.  About 90 percent of the population makes less than that amount which means potentially 90 percent of Americans could be getting assistance from the government.

Two points on that.  There’s no way we can afford to subsidize 90 percent of Americans.  That means something has to give.  What will give first is the amount of money the government reimburses doctors and hospitals which means a lot of doctors will be leaving the profession and a lot of hospitals will be closing down.  The second point is having 90 percent of the people beholden to the government is just what the Democrats want.  You’ve seen how they’ve used the Mediscare tactic to get votes.  Imagine the stump speeches about those mean, old Republicans who want to take away your healthcare subsidy.

Here’s what we can expect down the road.  Most of us will be on the healthcare exchanges, meaning we will be required to purchase our own insurance.  Most of us will qualify for subsidies.  Reimbursements for healthcare will drop significantly and a lot of good doctors will retire early.  Potential doctors will use their talents to go into professions more lucrative and we’ll see and shortage of doctors.  Healthcare quality will suffer greatly if you can actually get in to see a doctor.

The vast majority of Americans don’t want this.  The only solution left is for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to defund Obamacare.  Unfortunately, that’s our last best hope. 

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Don't cry for Oprah

By now you’ve heard of the Oprah Winfrey flap in Zurich, Switzerland.  Oprah alleges she dropped into a chic boutique to have a look around.  When she asked to see a $42,000 handbag behind the counter, according to Oprah, the clerk told her she couldn’t afford it.  The clerk has gone public with her side of the story saying she actually offered to show Oprah the bag but she didn’t want to see it.

The insinuation is that Oprah was discriminated against not only because she’s black but because she’s a plus-size woman.  The incident has brought to the fore once more the issue of discrimination.  Oprah has a history of sort of playing the victim.  It’s rather hard to swallow from a woman who’s worth over $3 billion.

It does raise another issue, however.  Regardless of what really happened in Zurich, people do still judge other people by appearances.  It’s a fact of life that’s not likely to change anytime soon.  The question is really not how you change it but how you respond to it.

I’ve actually been in a black bar where I found it hard to get service.  I suppose I could play the victim but I find such a role unbecoming.  As we stood at the bar watching the bartender take orders from other patrons acting as if we were invisible, my brother asked, “Can a white man get a drink in here?”  I felt as though I was in the nightclub scene from “Animal House” but that simple statement broke the ice and the bartender, who moments before acted as if he’d rather we not be there, was in stitches.  The other black patrons around us broke up laughing and from then on everything was fine.

My point is a lot of people will face discrimination in their lives.  The real test is in how you react to it.  I find it odd that Oprah sat on her alleged discrimination story for almost a month until the week of the premiere of her new movie, “Lee Daniels: The Butler.”  Coincidence?

There’s no doubt that black folks in this country have been subjected to ungodly discrimination and worse throughout the history of this nation.  There’s also little doubt that this is no longer 1955.  I would suspect if I dropped into that little boutique in Zurich wearing my usual garb of Diamond Gusset Jeans and Polo shirt the lady behind the counter would probably assume I couldn’t afford a $42,000 handbag either.  In my case she’d be right.

In an interview with “Entertainment Tonight,” Oprah said the Zurich sales clerk didn’t “obviously know that I carry the black card,” referring to the American Express Centurion Card.  AmEx is mum on the exact number of people who have one but rumor is you have to charge at least $250,000 a year to get one.  Needless to say, that leaves most of us out of the club.

It’s really hard to feel sorry for a woman who’s listed by Forbes as the richest celebrity in the world.  Not to take anything away from Oprah.  She is 100 percent self made and that’s something to be celebrated.  Regardless of inferior service in Zurich, she’s certainly not to be pitied.

Oprah has lived the American dream like few others ever have.  Whatever discrimination she’s had to endure in her life has obviously not held her back.  That’s the teachable moment in all of this.  Oprah had a chance to make the point that you can’t let other people, no matter how bigoted, stand in your way.  She blew it.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Latest terrorist scare should be a wake-up call

It’s obvious from the recent events at our diplomatic outposts in parts of the world that the war on terrorism is far from over.  Notice that we did not close embassies in predominantly Christian countries or predominantly Jewish countries.  We closed embassies in Muslim countries.  Perhaps a bit of unintended profiling from an administration that keeps trying to sell us on the idea that we’re not really at war with Muslim terrorists.

Make no mistake about it.  We’re at war with radical Islam.  We can pretend that’s not the case but it doesn’t change the facts.  When a nation is at war with a certain people it just makes sense to look at people who fit the profile a little more closely.  It was that head-in-the-sand approach that got us killed on 9/11.  Then Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta strictly forbade any type of profiling.  One airline ticket agent said he checked a man in at his counter and a chill ran down his spine.  He said everything about the man told him he was a terrorist but he had to “mentally slap” himself and process the ticket anyway.  That man turned out to be Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers.

It’s this continued naiveté that continually makes us vulnerable.  The Fort Hood terrorist attack by Maj. Nidal Hasan is still officially logged as a “workplace shooting.”  The mainstream media, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing when we knew the suspects were Muslim, continued to caution us not to jump to conclusions.  It’s conclusion-jumping that makes us safer.

Apparently, the Obama administration jumped to a conclusion when it closed embassies in Muslim countries.  They had intelligence indicating another “9/11-style” terrorist attack and, to their credit, they acted accordingly.  Which raises the interesting question of why we still allow people who fit the profile from countries known to sponsor or encourage terrorism into our country?  We can debate the NSA snooping and its merits in keeping us safe but much of it would be totally unnecessary were we to simply take some common sense steps to ensure that those most likely to kill us aren’t allowed into the country.

That’s not even counting the possibly hundreds of thousands of people from terrorist-sponsored nations who have slipped into this country under the cover of darkness across our southern border.  While Congress is fixated on an amnesty program they are completely ignoring the biggest threat to our country.

Hopefully, the all-out alert recently at our embassies will be a wake-up call to the nation.  We cannot let our guard down.  And we cannot tip-toe around the political correctness of the threat.  Not all Muslims are terrorists but most of the terrorists these days are Muslim.  To ignore that fact is to leave us wide open to another attack.

We need to, first and foremost, secure our borders and stop this nonsense about amnesty.  We also need to cancel visas from anyone who might fit the profile of a terrorist.  The risk is just too great. It’s time we got serious about this terrorist threat.  We’re never going to kill it completely, especially overseas, but we certainly need to be taking every precaution here in the U.S.  Closing embassies is one thing but what about the threat that’s already here?  What do we do about that?  In some senses it’s already too late.  The back door has been left open for too long. Sleeper cells are already here.  At the very least we should be profiling those who might already be members.

We ignore the truth at our own peril.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Curing American poverty

The Associated Press recently conducted a study based on all manner of government statistics and national surveys and determined that Americans’ economic security is low compared to prior decades.  They based their determination on how many Americans have either lived below the poverty level, taken government assistance or been unemployed or a combination of the three.  Aside from the government assistance, I’ve been there.  Many of us have.

The point of the study was to try and figure out how to make Americans more economically secure but they sidestepped a major factor.  Many Americans are economically insecure for the very reason that they’re trapped on public assistance.

We hear the president and others complain about a shrinking middle class.  If the middle class is shrinking it’s because some are moving up, not down.  The poverty rate was arrested by LBJ’s Great Society.  After a decade of decline in the poverty rate prior to the big social programs the poverty rate has remained pretty much steady since the mid-‘60s.  It fluctuates a point or two depending on whether or not we’re in a recession but the percentage of people in poverty hovers between 12 and 15 percent.  From 1959 until the Great Society the poverty rate dropped from around 22 percent to 14 percent.  Since then we’ve sort of been locked in a holding pattern.

Before I make this next point I want you to suspend your emotions and think logically.  Poverty, by and large, is the product of bad choices.  Yes, I know there are some exceptions but the vast number of poor people are poor because of the choices they’ve made in life.  Whether or not you’re poor is based largely on whether or not you can find and hold a job.  The recession notwithstanding, many people can’t hold a job either because of their personal habits – i.e.: drugs and/or alcohol – because they don’t show up for work or because of their attitudes while they’re at work.

Plenty of people show up for a job interview ill-prepared, improperly dressed and lacking basic personal hygiene.  These are easy fixes but for reasons unknown some people don’t want to be told what to do.  But a major culprit of cyclical poverty is the very Great Society that was designed to lift people out of it.  You know the drill.  We have people now in third generation dependence because that’s the way they were raised.  Living free of government shackles is not even an option for too many Americans.  It should be.

Conservatives judge success of their policies by how many people are off welfare.  Liberals judge their success by how many people are on it.  Take the food stamp program, for example.  The number of people on food stamps has exploded during the Obama administration and they crow about it.  It’s a national disgrace.  Abuse is rampant and Obama made it even easier to get on the program.  He justified that by saying he needed to do it because of the recession but think about that for a moment.  If there’s a level at which one needs public assistance then hard times will bring more people to that level.  We don’t need to go out to the street to greet them.

We also need to come to terms with the fact that plenty of people are poor and happy.  Elitists love to look down their noses at poor people and assume they can’t be happy unless they surround themselves with the trappings of wealth.

I’m all about showing poor people a way out but first they have to want to go.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.