Archives for June 2012

Post Obamatax: now what?

Some supporters of President Obama’s massive overhaul of our national health care system have compared the individual mandate to the requirement that drivers purchase car insurance.

The analogy is fatally flawed for two reasons: driving a car is a privilege, not a right, as mandated healthcare for everybody has been said to be.

In other words, if you neither own nor drive a car, you don’t have to buy car insurance.

The second reason the analogy doesn’t work is that the minimum required insurance doesn’t protect youit covers the other guy when you are at fault.

Liability insurance covers the people who might get injured because of your improper exercise of your privilege to operate a car, assuming you have a driver’s permit and minimum coverage.

To have your own car fixed when you are at fault, you need to buy collision insurance.

The “individual mandate” now declared a new tax was opposed by almost eighty percent, nearly four out of five American voters prior to the official release of the court opinion.

It stands to reason that more people will oppose this very onerous, punitive and unpopular new tax levied on a select members of the middle class.

Why selected members of the middle class? Remember, the court also ruled that entire states can “opt out” or refuse to implement Obamatax without paying a Medicare penalty.

Republican governors on record have already announced that’s exactly what they plan to do. According to Eric Cantor, the vote to repeal Obamatax is now scheduled for July 11th, only a couple of weeks away.

Even if passed by a strict party line vote, the repeal will clear the House, putting all the pressure and attention on the Democrat-held Senate.

And, as someone at Slate astutely observed, The Filibuster Won’t Save ObamaCare From President Romney. Like I said, John Roberts is a genius.

The ugliest myth of this whole ObamaCare charade was to suggest that people without adequate health care through no fault of their own would benefit from the largesse of Barack Obama.

Granted, some people that truly need help would have gotten it. The good news is, we can still solve this problem after we get rid of Obamatax.

We need portability of health care coverage and more freedom in the insurance markets to conduct business across state lines, but those are secondary concerns to the biggest problem needing reform to improve health care and lower costs.

Remember, when asked whether an elderly patient would qualify for a pacemaker under his new healthcare law, Obama famously said, “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

Think about it…under ObamaCare, the problem won’t be that doctors refuse to treat patients who won’t pay. The problem will be that patients with the ability to pay will not be given the option, by a new class of government bureaucrats more interested in taking their money for purposes of redistribution than caring for the individual.

Remember how Nancy Pelosi famously told us the bill had to be passed so that “we could find out what’s in it?”

Now we know. More taxes and four thousand new IRS agents. And politicians to decide matters of life or death.

It stands to reason that there must be a less onerous, more cost-effective way to fix our problems with health care.  However, before we can do that we must properly identify the biggest problem in order to solve it.

While in my humble opinion, I still believe Chief Justice John Roberts will be hailed as a genius and the man who saved America over the test of time, very important work remains to be done for his good work to bear full fruit.

And what is the most important change necessary to make health care more affordable? In two words: tort reform.

Disgraced former Democrat Senator and Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards should become the poster boy for nationwide opposition to frivolous lawsuits.

His entire career and fortune was a direct result of his having “pioneered the art of blaming psychiatrists for patients who commit suicide and blaming doctors for delivering babies with cerebral palsy” in medical malpractice litigation.

Edwards won more than thirty cases of “medical malpractice” with judgments in excess of $1 million, which explains how his net worth was over $50 million dollars.

It does not explain why someone with $50 million dollars of his own money needed donors to provide a slush fund to help obscure his sordid affair and illegitimate child while participating in a presidential election campaign, all while his wife was dying of cancer. But that has nothing to do with the need for tort reform.

Think the problem of frivolous lawsuits is overblown?

Consider this recent example in my home state of Georgia, where a woman won a malpractice judgment against a cardiologist for $3 million dollars after her husband died during an adulterous menage-a-trois.

Apparently the doctor was supposed to have anticipated the man would be inclined to engage in such “strenuous behavior” and warned the lecherous pervert.

In the future, when the doctor gives such a warning, he can expect to be sued for defamation of character.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

And since when have doctors been required to be better psychics than Carnac the Magnificent?

Okay, enough levity, now for some brevity…what can we do?

Annoy the hell out of our Congresspeople, that’s what.

The TEA party and Occupy Wall Street movements have each shown us that a mobilized public scares the crap out of the career politicians in Washington.

Let’s make them really cower, by the power of the people, from now until November.

Call and write your Senator and Representative and give them a message in five short words.

Repeal ObamaCare. Pass tort reform.

The man who saved America

The reaction to the Supreme Court ruling yesterday that declared ObamaCare to  be legal was swift and palpable. The most consistently accurate polls have shown that already more than half of Americans supported repeal of the law prior to the court’s ruling.

Expect that number to dramatically increase, now that it has become clear the law is nothing more than a massive new tax disguised as yet another entitlement provided “for free” by the federal government.

Within minutes of the announcement, people on Facebook began to express renewed enthusiasm to vote this November.

Within hours, the law had a new nickname: Obamatax.

The conventional wisdom soon became that Chief Justice John Roberts had caved in to pressure from President Obama, and gave the Democrats a clear victory on his crowning achievement, the horribly misnamed Affordable Care Act.

Indeed, the early analysis showed that the final decision came so late in the game that the dissent was worded as if written by the majority, and vice versa.

The ultra liberal Daily Kos celebrated the ruling, opining that the decision “breaks the heart of every Republican and Federalist Society member.”

A liberal analyst at Slate crowed that “It is impossible for a lawyer to read even the first few pages of the dissent without coming away with the impression that this is a majority opinion that at the last moment lost its fifth vote. Its structure and tone are those of a winning coalition, not that of the losing side in the most controversial Supreme Court case in many years. But when we get to Page 13, far more conclusive evidence appears:  No less than 15 times in the space of the next few pages, the dissent refers to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s concurring opinion as “Justice Ginsburg’s dissent.”

Reaction from “the far right” and often cruel Michael Savage was to speculate that Roberts’ judgment had been impaired by his medication for epilepsy, a comment to be expected of ultra-liberal Susan Estrich–but not from a conservative.  In case you don’t remember, Estrich famously said to Michael Kinsley, suffering from Parkinson’s disease: ” Your refusal to bend to my demands “underscores the question I’ve been asked repeatedly in recent days, and that does worry me, and should worry you: people are beginning to think that your illness may have affected your brain, your judgment, and your ability to do this job.”

But a funny thing happened on the way to the DNC victory celebration. People finished reading the ruling and began to grasp what really happened yesterday.

More analysis began to appear, and moods began to swing.

Conservatives appalled by the Supreme Court’s upholding of ObamaCare began to understand and disseminate the subtle nuances of what now appears to be one of the most brilliant strategic moves in all of recorded history, worthy of Machiavelli. One writer even decided the ruling was payback for Obama’s verbal assault on the Supreme Court.

Here’s what Roberts accomplished by ruling for ObamaCare: the federal government can no longer abuse the commerce clause to expand their power. By allowing the states to “opt-out” without penalty, he effectively pulled the teeth from the law. As the chief justice wrote as part of his majority decision, “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

While giving the appearance of exercising considerable judicial restraint, Roberts delivered a very clear message to the voter.

The ramifications of the ruling continued to sink in, improving the mood of conservative analysts as the day went along and making the more astute liberals profoundly unhappier.

At American Thinker, law professor Dov Fischer concluded, “The ObamaCare tax does not apply to those who presently are untaxed, and it will not apply to the more wealthy, who will be excused because they carry health insurance anyway. Rather, the President who promised no new taxes against the middle class conclusively has been “outed” by the Chief Justice as having imposed the biggest tax on middle-class Americans in a generation.”

GOP consultant Keith Appell went even further, saying, “Chief Justice John Roberts has all but gift-wrapped the election for Republicans with this ruling. Now every single Democrat will have to defend the largest tax increase in American history during a bad economy in an election year.”

As the smoke clears, several things become obvious. An electorate demoralized by this administration’s selective enforcement of laws and federal abuse of power has suddenly been energized to vote this November. The House of Representatives will clearly vote for repeal of Obamatax, putting pressure on incumbent Democrat senators to either risk their seat or cross the aisle. Nobody wants to pay more taxes, especially the middle class, and the truth about this law has been exposed without giving the Democrats a rallying cry for November.

Thanks to John Roberts, it’s clear what ObamaCare really is–Obama’s massive new tax on the middle class.

Conversely, Republicans have a major tool for motivation of voters to turn out in a few months, courtesy of the brilliant maneuvering by Chief Justice John Roberts…the man who just may have saved America from itself.

God BLESS the U.S.A.

Rarely do I identify myself in allegiance with a political party. I order, I consider myself a Christian, an American, a conservative, and finally a native Southerner.

Though I tend to vote Republican more often than not, I refuse to consider party affiliation as important as any of my preceding identifiers. I’ll vote for a “good” Democrat in a heartbeat.

Over the years, one of my favorite expressions to repeat during disagreements has been to say, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.”

Never again will I utter those words. There are simply too many people out there who don’t deserve such a sacrifice. I just listened to some rant and rave.

In case you missed the initial story, a group of elementary school students recently were informed by their principal Great Hawkins that they could not sing Lee Greenwood’s patriotic song “God Bless the U.S.A.” they had rehearsed for months in their graduation ceremony–but they could sing Justin Bieber’s teenybopper nonsense called “Baby.”

The New York Post article about the controversy quoted teachers repeating that Hawkins had specifically said, “We don’t want to offend other cultures” as part of her excuse.

Really?

If someone is offended by American culture, why in the hell are they living in America and sending their kids to our public schools for a free education–okay, not free, but an education paid for by actual taxpayers. The school board backed the principal, deeming the lyrics of Greenwood’s song were not “age appropriate.”

Really?

Kids can’t understand what “I’m proud to be an American” means but they can easily grasp the significance of,  “I’ll buy you anything. I’ll buy you any ring…”

The move by Hawkins was stupid and the school board exacerbated the problem rather than providing a remedy, but what happened next was much, much worse.

The parents were upset the kids were not allowed to perform, so they all moved right across the street from the school to a public park where the kids could sing their song.

In a surreal turn of events, a group of militant adults tried to heckle the children and disrupt their performance, shouting things like “This is crazy!” “I’ve got a right to make noise”,  and “Racist!” at a group of kids singing this patriotic song in public.I’m sure their excuse will be to say the intended target was the Republican Congressional candidate who joined the kids, surely recognizing the photo opportunity.

The protesters were not screaming from a distance, however. A very large and vocal black man stood within arm’s length of one child while he shouted “Burn in hell!” at the adults in the back row. The little girl looked understandably intimidated by his mindless rage and profanities.

To their credit, the children retaliated and drowned out the idiotic adults, chanting “U.S.A!”

The kids left me with hope. The adults who were acting like children are beyond all hope.

Celebrity Ghost Stories

I believe in God.

I also believe in ghosts.

My belief in the former was actually facilitated by the multiple experiences I had with the latter. It proved easier to have faith in God once I believed in ghosts, especially after  my college education had destroyed Young Earth Creationism in my mind.

As I’ve made clear in the past, I primarily believe in both of these things due to personal experiences, of events that I strongly believe actually happened to me.

This does not mean that I consider myself gullible or easily fooled. I try not to make any firm conclusions prior to at least a minimal preliminary investigation.

In fact, I am quite skeptical about fantastic claims and somewhat reluctant to make them myself, especially without some form of corroboration. A good friend of mine was involved in a number of my personal ghost experiences and verifies to this day that my recollections have been accurate, if not even conservative, so I am somewhat comfortable in saying my own ghost stories are true.

Before I wrote about Scott Patterson’s alleged supernatural experience at the New Mexico State Prison, I watched a lengthy documentary about the violence that took place during the infamous riot. While I cannot attest to the veracity of his ghost story, I can verify that the events he claimed that happened during the riot did indeed happen.

Actually, the obscene violence during riot was even worse than what Patterson described. However, that does not necessarily mean that Patterson’s story is true. It merely lend some credibility to the back story of his account, and most people watching his video interview about the incident in question would reasonably conclude that Patterson apparently believed what he was saying, whether or not it was actually true.

When Daniel Stern began his own celebrity ghost story of an adventure on the moors of England by saying, “I’m not a superstitious, supernatural sort of guy. I have a record [of believing] the world is real and everything goes according to plan…” my ears perked up because the skepticism he expressed echoed my own thoughts at one point in time.

Admittedly, Stern’s story easily fit my version of the Big Picture. It would have been easy to accept his haunted honeymoon story on face value.

Except for the fact that my mind doesn’t work that way.

My cursory investigation of Stern’s story produced considerably different results than the same effort looking into Scott Patterson’s tale of haunted New Mexico State Prison.

A routine internet search for Widecombe located this letter from the secretary of the Widecombe local history group, who described the community as thriving, not spectral.  As one astute observer humorously noted, “I never heard of a ghost town having a website.”

Me neither.

Rather than driving ten miles on the rim of his flat tire as he claimed, apparently Stern and his new bride could have enjoyed a night in the picturesque Rugglestone Inn in Widecombe.

Translation: I don’t know what happened to Stern and his wife, but I seriously doubt the experience that he described actually occurred as he “remembers” it.

The evidence simply does not support his version of events.

I’m not questioning his veracity as much as the accuracy of his memory, because I don’t know of a motive why he would deliberately lie. Still, it would almost be charitable to say his account was laughably wrong and easily proved so.

But why did he tell a tale that seems obviously untrue?

The obvious motive for lying would be if his story was part of a publicity stunt, but I don’t know that Stern’s career needs that kind of jolt to improve his popularity at this point and he didn’t seem to be promoting a movie about ghosts.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Stern is already worth $12 million bucks.

Therefore, I don’t think he needs the money.

So why would he lie? It isn’t a rhetorical question; I have no earthly idea.

If he was telling a story he believed to be true, the easiest explanation would be that Stern and his wife stumbled onto the set of a zombie movie –yet as an accomplished actor with a film credits as both actor and director, it hardly seems plausible that Stern would not have recognized a movie set.

The bottom line is that I don’t know what happened…the only thing I can say is that I would not be the least bit reluctant to visit Widecombe and spend the night–though I would not make the same claim about the New Mexico State Prison.

I think the prison probably is haunted. I’d have to get paid a lot of money to spend the night there.

In yet another episode of Celebrity Ghost StoriesActor Dave Foley said, “I grew up pretty much as an atheist. But I also know from my personal experience, and the experiences of many people I know who I respect and think are intelligent people, that the ghost phenomenon is real.”

Foley recounts an incredible tale, but comes across as an intelligent and credible witness. He claims to have personally seen a man vanish into thin air (while running through the wall of his apartment) on multiple occasions.

He even had a “reasonable” explanation for why this kept happening to him.

But I still don’t get it.

I don’t understand is how anyone could accept evidence of the supernatural while refusing to believe in a supernatural Creator. Foley simply says that he can”t explain why ghosts exist.

I would easier believe all these people are liars when they claim to have seen a ghost.

But that would also make me a liar, though not a celebrity.

 

The importance of book reviews and a Kickstarter update

As an author, I realize that book reviews are critically important, as feedback for the writer as well as other prospective readers.

Reading a book takes time, a precious commodity in this day and age. There are many authors with other books competing for the reader’s attention. A positive review lets other readers know someone else enjoyed and recommends your book. As long as a negative review contains constructive criticism, they also provide valuable feedback to the writer, so they know what didn’t work and where to improve.

My first novel, Coastal Empire, received positive reviews…just not very many of them so far. My friends tend to call to tell me personally that they enjoyed my novel, rather than publishing a review for posterity. The former is appreciated, but the latter would be beneficial to me and other readers. Therefore, I entered Coastal Empire into a contest run by Reader’s Favorite to gain exposure and get another published review of my book.

Here’s what reviewer Annie B. said in her five star review about my first novel:

“Coastal Empire”, written by John “Rocky” Leonard, has its setting in the beautiful Savannah, Georgia. Our story begins with a murder and a big bang. When Sarah Reid walked into private investigator Robert Mercer office, he admired her beauty. She hired him to investigate her husband, Barry, a real estate tycoon, suspecting him of cheating on her. Mercer thought “her husband must be an idiot.” Could Barry be an adulterous husband or was it a case of identity theft? The investigation turned dangerous as the murder victims began to build up. Mercer, his faithful German shepherd Ox and his friend, a former Marine, go head to head with a dangerous network of scammers. They are involved in real estate scams and jewelry larceny in this exciting gumshoe mystery.

Fans of mystery will be thrilled with John Leonard’s debut novel, “Coastal Empire”. His characters are well done especially the lead, Robert Mercer. Mercer has more than a bit of attitude; he is acerbic and a skeptic which makes him perfect for this new series. “Coastal Empire” is a solid detective novel reminding me of a more current Marlowe mystery. This tale has several threads that Leonard successfully weaves together in a most unlikely manner. Like most mystery fans I tried to outguess the author but I found it impossible to figure out the ending on this one. I found it heartwarming that Leonard modeled Robert Mercer upon his father. This is the first book in the ‘Robert Mercer series’. In my opinion this series will be well received. “Coastal Empire” has a lot going for it: great characterization, an exciting plot and fine language. Watch for the name John “Rocky” Leonard.

I will admit that I am probably biased, but I believe my new novel, Secondhand Sight, is better written. My thoughts are that I will continue to build a readership for Coastal Empire by writing more books. The Robert Mercer sequel Purgatory is next in line–it should be ready by next January.

While I enjoy writing and have trouble making time for other things, I cannot ignore the importance of book sales and promotions. My publisher needs me to generate some sales as incentive to keep producing the finished products for me.

I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for advance book reviews for Secondhand Sight, distribution of a press release, and a small budget for targeted advertising and other promotional expenses. Please visit my Kickstarter page through this link, watch the killer book trailer video integrated into the campaign materials, and support my coming book if you’re interested.

The campaign only lasts a few more weeks, and I’ve got a long way to go. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Official Kickstarter campaign for Secondhand Sight

If you liked reading my novel Coastal Empire,I think you might enjoy my new book, officially released on September 7th.

Please consider supporting my Kickstarter campaign for Secondhand Sight.

Kickstarting Secondhand Sight

If there ever was any remaining doubt that my wife is brilliant, this Kickstarter book trailer she made for me today to promote my upcoming novel, Secondhand Sight, ought to eliminate it.

It makes me want to buy my own book. Kudos again to Jason White for his outstanding cover design.

Check out the trailer and let us know what you think.

I’ll post another update when the Kickstarter campaign goes live.

Barnsley Gardens

My wife and I celebrated our twenty-third anniversary at the Barnsley Gardens resort last week.

This most improbably located gem in north Georgia is only a few miles outside of Adairsville, about an hour north of Atlanta and south of Chattanooga with roughly the same traveling time.

My general rule of thumb for vacations is that I steadfastly refuse to stay anywhere that isn’t nicer than where I live.

No problems there.Barnsley Gardens far exceeded my wildest expectations.

In fact, I had only one complaint about the whole experience, if that’s what you would call the purpose of my call…for the first time in memory, I called the resort after we left with my concern about being under-billed for our stay.

The package we selected came with a complimentary round of golf for two OR a one-hour massage in the spa as part of the deal, or so I thought.

Since my wife doesn’t play golf and doesn’t like massage, I took the freebie that came with the package, but also booked a one-hour facial for her. When the smoke cleared from billing, it was clear to me that no charges for the facial showed up on our bill, even though I signed a slip of paper charging the service to our room bill.

It turned out that we didn’t plan a long enough stay to include golf, anyway. As you can see from the pictures, we had plenty to see, walking the breathtaking gardens and exploring the ruins of the old Barnsley manor.

Of course, “room” is a euphemism for the one bedroom standalone cottage we had to ourselves. When the staff found out it was our anniversary, we were showered with gifts, including balloons and a bottle of champagne in addition to the bottle of wine comped to our room every night of our stay.

Because I feared the spa employee getting short-changed for services received and thoroughly enjoyed, I believed it was the right thing to do, calling the billing department to call to their attention the additional charges omitted from our final bill.

Imagine my surprise when it was explained to me that we simply misunderstood the full benefit of the package. The deal wasn’t a round for two on their gorgeous but challenging golf course, or one free massage–it was one free massage per day.

We just happened to use both on the same day. The pleasant memories of our vacation were not marred by the reality of what it cost, they were accentuated by the exemplary service we got from everybody who worked there.

No, sir. You’ve paid enough. We won’t take any more of your money.

What a concept!

Needless to say, if you are looking for a serene, private setting for a first class vacation, I know just the place…