Link to Classic Fiddling Ant

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dang, Obama Gets One Right


For the past six years it is hard to find anything that Obama has done that deserves the praise of conservatives. Yesterday, he spoke of his support for The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposal to end payday loan traps.

It is an embarrassment to conservatives that most of the support for the payday loan industry comes from free marketers and libertarians. They see no problem in shrewd businessman taking advantage of desperate poor people who don't have a grasp of the trap that is set for them when they use these services.

In supporting the need to crackdown on payday loan abuse, the Associated Press reported the story of Wynette Pleas, an Oakland, California single mother of three including a blind son. Pleas borrowed $255 to pay her electric bill and buy groceries. The payday lender got access to her checking account and tried to withdraw money that wasn't there. The overdraft activity resulted in the bank closing her account. Meanwhile, fees and penalties ballooned the $255 debt to an incredible $8,400!

The Pleas story is extreme, but not uncommon. Investigative reporter Gary Rivlin wrote an excellent primer on the payday loan industry in his book, Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. - How the Working Poor Became Big Business. The reader will find story after story of how smart businessmen take advantage of poor people with few other options to clean out their limited assets. They tap into their low wage income and repo cars these poor borrowers can ill afford to lose since that takes away their transportation to work. Rivlin's book points out that while some payday loan customers are able to use these services without paying through the nose, the payday loan stores focus on getting clients who have become repeat customers to borrow again and again. It is not uncommon for these customers to pay more than $500 in interest in fees during the year on a $500 loan. Without these high profit clients, the payday stores can't stay in business, even if it ruins the borrowers.

Condemnation of this sleazy industry is not limited to anti-business liberals. Payday lending is illegal in some very conservative states, such as Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina. Somehow poor people in those states are able to get by without "help" from payday lenders. Federal action to stop this type of fiscal abuse is a good thing. If people can keep more of their own money, they have less need to seek government assistance.

If people don't have a chance to take this "easy" money loan, they will find they have to become better prepared at controlling their income and spending. Yes, greater personal responsibility, a novel thought! 



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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is Cruz a Goldwater or a Reagan?


Controversial U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has announced he is running for president. He is the darling of the Tea Party and the boogeyman of liberals. His chances on becoming president will depend on whether he can follow Ronald Reagan's example and not Barry Goldwater's example.

Both Goldwater and Reagan had impeccable conservative credentials, but Goldwater was unable to win the presidency while Reagan was a successful candidate.  What was the difference and whose path with Cruz follow?

Goldwater was trounced by the uncharismatic Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Goldwater famously said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." It played well with his conservative base, but it was not a way to attract the votes he needed to defeat Johnson. Goldwater's bumbling of the civil rights issue chased many blacks who had voted for Eisenhower and Nixon to switch over to the Democrats, a problem that has plagued the Republican party to this day. His far right campaign was costly to Republicans when down ticket candidates for congress lost big time, giving the Democrats historic majorities they were able to use to pass damaging welfare programs that have since cost America more than $15 trillion without making a dent in poverty.

Reagan was just as conservative as Goldwater, but he was no ideologue when it came to campaigning. He made sure he appealed to moderates to get the votes he needed to win. For example, when running for governor of California in 1968, he asked Goldwater to stay out of California and not campaign for him, it would not get him any votes. On the other hand, he went out of his way to visit former President Eisenhower (not a conservative) to get his endorsement. When he ran for president in 1976 he picked liberal Senator Richard Schweiker as his running mate during the primaries. He lost to Gerald Ford, but he showed he was not leaning to the hard right. When he did get the nomination in 1980, he picked moderate George Bush as his veep. His 1980 message was crafted to appeal to moderates that did not vote for Goldwater. He clobbered Jimmy Carter and did even better in 1984 against Walter Mondale when he won 49 states.

Goldwater and Reagan make a good contrast on how a conservative can lose or win a general election. If Cruz tacks right, he can't get the moderate votes he needs to win. Surveys show, with little variability over time, that 35% of voters are conservatives, 25% are liberals, and 40% are moderates. A conservative who can't win over moderate votes will lose every time. A conservative who is able to win the moderate vote will win every time.

By all accounts, Ted Cruz is amazingly smart. He is an excellent communicator and he can more than hold his own in any debate. His challenge is, does he want to win the debate in the eyes of conservatives, or does he want to win the votes needed to win by presenting a message that moderates will agree with?

Extremism in national politics is no virtue. And moderation in the pursuit of the presidency is no vice.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fiddlin' - Hillary and Trey Gowdy Sing a Duet!


Congressman Trey Gowdy is not giving up on forcing Hillary Clinton to turn over her emails to find out what she really knew about the Benghazi tragedy.  Here is their face-off set to music. Enjoy!

The Email’s Mine
Sing to the tune The Girl is Mine made popular by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.


[Hillary]
Every night I’m pres’dent in my dreams.
Yes, I hid them from the press.
I'm so proud I am the only one,
With a server at my address.


[Hillary]
The email’s mine.
The doggone email’s mine.
I know it’s mine,
Because the doggone email’s mine.


[Trey Gowdy]
I don't understand the way you think,
Saying that it’s yours not mine.
Sending lawyers and your silly staff,
Really just a waste of time.


[Trey]
Because it's mine.
The doggone email’s mine.
Don't waste your time,
Because the doggone email’s mine.


[Trey]
You lied on Benghazi!
(You lie anywhere)


[Hillary]
But I’ll dodge you endlessly!
(Never will I share)


[Hillary & Trey]
So come and go with me
to lawyer up


[Hillary]
But we both cannot have it,
So it's one or the other,
And one day you'll discover,
It’s deleted forever and ever!


[Trey]
I don't build my hopes to be let down,
'Cause I really feel it's time.


[Hillary]
You will never get any files from me,
'Cause, you know, I’m not that kind.


(Hillary)
The email’s mine.
The doggone email’s mine.
Don't waste your time,
Because the doggone email’s mine.


[Hillary & Trey]
[Trey] It's mine. [Hillary] It's mine.
[Trey] No, no, no, it's mine.
[Hillary] The email’s mine. [Trey] The email’s mine.
[Hillary] The email’s mine. [Trey] The email’s mine.


[Trey]
The email’s mine. (Mine, mine) Yep, it's mine.
The email’s mine. (Mine, mine) Yep, it's mine.


[Hillary]
Don't waste your time
Because the doggone email’s mine
The email’s mine, The email’s mine


[Trey]
Hillary, we're not going to fight about this, okay?


[Hillary]
Trey, I think I told you, I'm a deleter not a fighter.


[Trey]
I've heard it all before, Hillary.
I can call you in, make you testify, don't you remember?


[Hillary]
Well, after calling me, I’ll say, “What difference does it make?”


[Trey]
Is that what you’ll say?


[Hillary]
Yes, I’ll say it, you keep dreaming.


[Trey]
I don't believe it!


[Hillary & Trey]
The email’s mine (mine, mine, mine).

[Fade-Out/Repeat]




For an index of all Fiddling Ant parody songs, click here.


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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Wrong $15 Trillion War on Poverty

The Wrong $15 Trillion War on Poverty


Originally Posted January 8, 2015 / Reposted March 17, 2015

It was 51 years ago today that President Lyndon Johnson declared his War on Poverty. Since that time federal and state government has spent more than $15 trillion on welfare programs. This staggering amount has helped poor people with food, housing, and medical assistance, but it has not eliminated poverty by any means.

The programs set up by President Johnson and the 1960's Democrats created a massive wealth transfer to benefit poor people via huge government bureaucracies. The money moved, but poor people remained poor.

The saddest part of all this wasteful spending is that Johnson knew in 1965 that his programs did not address the biggest problem contributing to poverty among blacks. It was 50 years ago that Kennedy academic Patrick Moynihan released his study, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. Despite having impeccable progressive liberal credentials, Moynihan was honest enough to recognize the facts, even if they would not be well received by his party.

Moynihan reported "at the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family." He blamed the increase in out-of-wedlock births as the key cause of black poverty.

As we are all aware, the federal government's welfare laws made no attempt to address this problem. If fact welfare made the problem worse, with many poor black women finding that they could get more welfare assistance without a husband in the home. Moynihan was concerned that the rate of out-of-wedlock black births in 1963 was 25%.

Now 50 years later it is over 70% for blacks and over 40% for the general population. Talk about a big time FAIL.

When the great Chicago running back Walter Peyton was a young boy in the 1950s, he noticed that black men who abandoned their children were ostracized by the black community. You were expected to do all you could to support your family.

Johnson's welfare programs replaced black fathers with Uncle Sam to the great harm of black families.

The 1965 Moynihan report shows that Democratic leadership knew what the real problem was but chose to ignore it. After 50 years we are still paying the price for the harm created by this failure of government to take steps to support families instead of destroy families.


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Transgenderism is a Mental Disorder


In the classic TV comedy M*A*S*H, Corporal Klinger's plan to get out of the army was to wear dresses, which would clearly show that he was crazy and should not be allowed in the army. Even crazier is the unsupported claim that there are now 15,000 servicemen (and some women) who are transgender.

Yesteryear's comedy is today's reality.  A Florida teen is getting his own realty show on TLC. Jazz Jennings is a biological male, who was decided to pass himself off as female. He's getting nothing but love from the media about this confusion, although there is an 80% chance that he will later decide he is a man after all.

Until the most recent edition, Gender Identity Disorder was considered a mental illness in the DSM used by psychologists. This is no longer the case. The DSM has once again decided that being politically correct was more important than pursuing science. This happened before in the early 1970's when a political vote removed homosexuality as a mental condition from the DSM rather than debating peer reviewed science research.

Despite the relabeling, knowledgeable experts are not convinced. Dr. Paul R. McHugh, once the John Hopkins Hospital psychiatrist-in-chief and currently a Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry is plain spoken. He says transgenderism is a mental disorder and sex change is biologically impossible. A sex change is not the solution these people need. He has noticed that people who have had sex change operations have a suicide rate 20 times greater than the non-transgender population. Gender change is not the solution to the problem and only makes things worse.

Dr. Meg Meeker is another advocate for not ignoring the science and to not appease to the propaganda of the LGBTQ advocates. In her practice, dealing with non-celebrity transgender patients, she has observed that most people with gender identity disorder are not happier after changing their self identified gender. In fact, many who change gender, later change back, showing that it is not a cut-and-dried-no-choice condition. Dr. Meeker's view is that being transgender is just a symptom to a more complicated problem, one that is not helped by surgical mutilation. She is particularly concerned when children are encouraged to decide they are the wrong gender. The science tells her that sexual orientation is not solidified until someone is an adult.

The LGBTQ community, with it's allies in Hollywood and increasingly the main stream media, and Democrat Party are moving on from their victories regarding gay marriage. As you can see from the higher positive profile being given to transgendered individuals, there is a concerted attempt to normalize an even more bizarre fringe behavior. The goal is drive mass opinion to accept gender identity disorder as a positive thing and to label those that disagree as haters.

This is unfortunate, since the very people they think they are unburdening, are the ones that are not getting the professional help they need.

UPDATED 3/3/12016:
A recent North Carolina law requires that people use the bathroom and locker room that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate. LGBTQ activists plan to challenge the law in the courts. Will they be able to explain how someone can be transgender today, but decide tomorrow not to be?

Transgender people should not be bullied, but we shouldn't allow bathroom laws meant to accommodate them to at the same time basically open such facilities to anyone of the opposite sex.


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Monday, March 9, 2015

Updated: Disembodied Voice Saves Baby


Updated February 23, 2016


On March 6, 2015 Jenny Groesbeck was killed when her car left the road and landed upside-down in the Spanish Fork River. The next morning a fisherman noticed the out-of-place vehicle and called the police. Four officers responded to the call.  Here is what the Deseret News reported happening:

Dewitt was one of the first officers to arrive. The incident was originally reported as a possible abandoned vehicle in the river. But as he got closer, he said he could see the mother inside. Three more officers arrived almost simultaneously at the river.
And that's when they heard a voice.
"We were down on the car and a distinct voice says, 'Help me, help me,'" Dewitt recalled.
"It wasn't just something that was just in our heads. To me it was plain as day cause I remember hearing a voice," officer Tyler Beddoes said. "I think it was Dewitt who said, 'We're trying. We're trying our best to get in there.'
"How do you explain that? I don't know," he said, adding that the voice didn't sound like a child.
"It was a positive boost for every one of us because I think it pushed us to go harder a little longer. I don't think that any one of us had intended on flipping a car over that day," Beddoes said. "We know there was some other help there, getting us where we needed to be."
When the officers flipped the car onto its side, that's when they realized that a child was still inside.
"I was terrified there was a little baby," Dewitt said. "My initial instinct was that she was dead. When we were able to cut her out, pass her out, the first thing I saw was her eyes fluttering. So it was kind of a positive sign of life for me, at least. But knew she wasn't out of harm's way, either."
After Dewitt discovered the child, firefighters Paul Taultomadakis and Lee Mecham jumped on top of the vehicle.
"Got the door open, and Lee jumped up with me and held the door while I kind of got down inside, grabbed the baby girl, lifted her out of the water and unhooked the car seat," Taultomadakis said. "Didn't really think about anything except trying to get her out. Once I got ahold of her, I could tell that she still had some life."
After Taultomadakis pulled Lily out, the police officers and firefighters started passing her up the hill until she got into Warner's arms.
"I ended up with the child in my arms and I just ran up the hill and into the ambulance and we drove off, started CPR and anything we could do to just save her," he said.
Lily was improving Sunday, according to Jill Sanderson, Groesbeck's sister.
"She is doing remarkably well considering the circumstance. The doctors have been hopeful so far," Sanderson said. "We would like to express our appreciation to the Spanish Fork rescue team for saving the baby's life."
To read the full Deseret News story, click here.

Curiously, but perhaps not unsurprisingly, the story was pick up by Time Magazine. This version mentions the part about a baby surviving after hanging upside down all night, but it totally ignores the trooper statements about hearing a voice that guided them to the rescue. It is disappointing that the mainstream secular humanist media refuses to recognize the hand of Providence at any time.

Events such as this likely happen more often than we hear about, because mainstream media is hesitant to share anything that would support the existence of God. So much for reporting the news, Time Magazine. Miracles happen. Deal with it.

One of the offers involved in the rescue, Tyler Beddoes, was greatly impacted by the experience (who won't be!). He teamed up with Ptolemy Tompkins who helped the once dead neurosurgeon Eben Alexander write the national best seller Proof of Heaven. The book about Beddoes's experience is called Proof of Angels and it is being published by Simon and Schuster.





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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Hillary Emails: The Watergate Connection


Clinton watchers are not really surprised to learn that Hillary Clinton decided to keep all of her emails as Secretary of State on a server kept at her home instead of using the State Department email system as required by law. They are even less surprised that we have now learned that she has wiped her email server clean. The Clintons have operated for decades following the rule that laws apply to everyone else, but they can make their own rules.

Anyone remember when Hillary Clinton somehow make a killing in the cattle futures market back in the 1980's with no commodities experience? Her supporters and the main stream media looked the other way to this suspicious action.

The Hillary email fiasco should remind us of a formative period in Hillary's life. In 1974 she was a young lawyer working for the House Committee on the Judiciary investigating the Watergate scandal. Hillary got an education on how not to handle harmful evidence. President Nixon installed a tape recording system in the Oval Office that ended up causing his downfall. Congress ordered the recordings turned over and Nixon had no other option than to comply. His secretary Rosemary Woods erased the infamous 18 1/2 minutes (see photo above) where Nixon likely discussed the Watergate break-in with his chief of staff Bob Haldeman. No one believed the erasure was a mistake, but to this day no one knows what was said. This is the dumb way to destroy evidence.

Hillary avoided the whole possible Watergate problem by keeping total control over the storage of her emails. By maintaining control of the server that stored her emails, no independent party can obtain any communications she wanted to hide. Emails could be deleted without anyone knowing and that is exactly what she did. Any incriminating emails are by now eliminated, never to be found. This is the smart way to destroy evidence.

If Nixon had personal control over the tapes, he might have been able to avoid impeachment.

If Hillary is able to avoid a scandal from Benghazi, she may be able to thank her forethought to reject using the State Department email system and setting up her own private email so she could destroy all evidence of wrongdoing.

Tricky Dicky has nothing on you, ma'am.


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