Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ready or Not, Here They Come

You all remember that phrase, right?  It was how the game of Hide 'N Seek began right after you counted to ten.  Oh, but then it says "They" not "I".  That is because the two topics I am addressing today are not games, but a warning of what is to come.  What is the "They"?

Part of "they" is Obamacare.  Funny how during the campaign our President embraced this label for his Affordable Care Act.  I wonder if it was because it massaged his ego or if he knows that this first huge step towards socialized medicine in the United States is going to be anything but affordable.  So was he thinking, let them put my name on it so as not to remind people that we sold it to them as "affordable", even though it will be anything but. 

In less than a year, this 4-trillion dollar health care overhaul is supposed to be fully operational.  Unfortunately, the costs will be there but the plan will be a little late arriving.  Experts now acknowledge that one of the few potential cost saving benefits we might see out of Pelosicare...uh, sorry, Obamacare...,the Health Care Exchanges, will not be operational at the Federal level on time.  And, they cannot provide an estimate when the Federal Exchange might be in place.  [Note: 27 out of our 50 states have opted out of creating a state run Exchange, depending on the Federal Exchange for their coverage, 19 are trying to get theirs up and running and the rest are trying to fashion a combination state/federal exchange.]  

These exchanges are supposed to lower the cost of health care, but what will happen instead, assuming they can get them up and running, is that more of the exploding cost of health care will be passed on to the taxpayers.   That be you and me, folks.  27 States figured that out pretty quick and opted to let the Fed take the hit.  So, ready or not, here they come. 

The second "they" is about drones.  Now, I am not going to drone on and on about drones, which have been covered in the news lately, ad infinitum.  But I will weigh in on the concept of using drones on American soil.  For those of you just returning from your month's vacation on Mars, unmanned drones with unbelievable firepower have been used for some time on foreign soil to "take out" enemy targets with amazing accuracy and swiftness.  Their usefulness and effectiveness in combating terrorist cells, training camps and even high-ranking Al Queda individuals has been nothing short of amazing. 

Do I support using heavily-armed Predator Drones that some 19-year old "pilot" with a joystick in Bismark, North Dakota can use to put a Hellfire missile into Abdul bin Nasti's teacup while he sits in some tent in Pakistan plotting the next 911 attack on America.....oh, hell yeah!  Not even on my sympathy radar.  O.K. what if Abdul is an American citizen?   I could give a horse's pa toot.  He should have thought about that before he entered the tent in Pakistan.....send in TWO Hellfires.

O.K. so now let's say Abdul is an American citizen on American soil and we have credible intelligence that he is plotting the next 911 with some of his Sandland buddies up in a cabin in the Adirondacks?  What do we do now?   OR, what if we find out that Bennie the Blade is plotting an assassination attempt on the President tomorrow from his location in rural Virgina?  OR, what if we find out that Marco Bombinonso, stateside drug kingpin, is having a conference of 20 dealer/distributors at his estate at Lake Tahoe?   Does the government have the right to kill American citizens on American soil with the use of drones?   As despicable and evil as these men may be and as expedient and cost effective a solution to these problems the drone presents, I say Nay Nay! 

American citizens are guaranteed a right to trial and to defend themselves in a court of law.  To make exception to that Constitutional guarantee is to put us on a slippery slope that will lead to the downfall of our justice system; the finest and most just such system in the world.  Relying on the tried and true...capture/arrest/indict/try/secure conviction/sentence/incarcerate method is still the best course.  Drones have no place here.

O.K., now what if Abdul, the American citizen, is in the van, loaded with 2 tons of plastic explosive and we have just confirmed, without doubt, his plan is to drive it right up to the White House front door in less than 10 minutes (barring traffic on DuPont Circle) and the only deterrent in the area capable of preventing this disaster is the Predator drone flying surveillance overhead?  Do these exigent circumstances justify the exception?

Ready or not, here they come!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Man with the Plan

Perhaps you missed this important piece of news in your favorite newspaper (yes, Virginia, they still do exist), your favorite talking heads show on TV or the instant, micro-second news feed to your new Smartphone.  If so, you may learn this here first.  Astronomers at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory have just discovered the largest black hole in the Universe, located in a galaxy called NGC1277 (I like to call it Big Al) which is a mere 220 light-years from Earth, practically right around the corner in our space neighborhood. 

Now, for those of you who are less familiar with deep space objects, black holes are the super vacuums of the universe.  They are vast voids of nothingness with gravitational attractions so strong that not even light can escape their inertial force.  They suck in everything in their neighborhood like a giant sinkhole in Florida.  Of course their neighborhood is a bit larger than Tampa.

This black hole is massive.  It has a mass 17 billion times larger than our own Sun, which is a somewhat puny star by galactic standards but still a pretty big puppy.  Another way to look at it is the diameter of this black hole is 11 times larger than the orbit of Neptune around our Sun.  How big is that?  Well, the diameter of Neptune's orbit is approximately 5.4 billion miles (it takes 164 years for one revolution) so this black hole is over 59 billion miles wide.  To put this in perspective, if you took all of the dollars in our national debt and laid those 17 TRILLION dollar bills end-to-end, it would easily fit inside this new black hole.  In fact, we could increase our debt to over $ 623 TRILLION and it would tuck in very nicely, save a buck or two.  So, never fear, boys and girls, it does not seem possible that even President Obama can spend enough to fill a black hole as large as this one, even though I am sure history will give him an "A" for effort.  But, hey, I did not come here to bash our President (even though, God knows, he deserves it), but rather to make a point about science, as we know it, and the Great Scientist in the Sky.

New discoveries are being made every day about our Universe and its origins, current status, and, even its ultimate fate.  We are discovering that, indeed, ours might not be the only universe out there.  Scientists now theorize with growing certainty, there may be parallel universes surrounding our own and not just a few....the collective whole of which is referred to as a Multiverse.  Imagine our Universe, with its hundreds of billions of galaxies and each galaxy filled with hundreds of billions of stars (and black holes) multiplied by billions.  The theoretical total is unfathomable by most....even more so than the national debt.  But there is One who not only understands it all but created it all. 

Call him (or her) God.  Call him Allah.  Call him whatever your heart knows him as or don't call him anything.  Just ask yourself this one question.  How is it possible that all of Creation could be one unimaginable cosmic accident?  In my mind, it isn't.  On the next clear night you have where you live, step outside and look up to the heavens and think about it.  Isn't it all unfolding as it should?  I believe it is.  And, it is one of the reasons, among many, why I believe in The Man with the Plan.