Thursday, November 21, 2013

Give Thanks

Every Thanksgiving for as many years as I can remember, my mother had a tradition at Thanksgiving dinner. After my father prayed over the food, my mother asked each of us to name one thing that had happened in the last year that we were thankful for. As I got older, knowing that I would have to state what I was grateful for, I started thinking about the year a couple of weeks in advance of the holiday, and I found that even in difficult years, I had a lot to be thankful for. My mother's tradition, which she continues to this day, has helped me to really think about the meaning of Thanksgiving each year.

For many of us, 2013 has been an exceptionally tough year. Last Thanksgiving, as I looked at 2013 knowing that Obama had been re-elected and there was no chance of stopping the onslaught of new regulations which would--and did--close my mortgage company of fifteen years, I had very little hope. In fact, 2013 turned out to be a brutal year, for me and for a lot of other people. With 90 million unemployed and underemployed Americans and the lowest participation in the workforce in decades, it might be very easy for a lot of us to focus on the problems rather than our blessings. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving I have compiled a list of some items for which I personally am grateful.

1. Obamacare is now in serious danger. After years of warnings that Obamacare would spike premiums, raise the cost of health care, and limit access to good medical care for millions of Americans, the whole nation is now having to admit what we have known all along. Finally even the mainstream media is starting to line up against this mess--the new issue of Time Magazine is featuring a realistic portrayal of the long-term consequences of President Obama's signature law. In addition to the five million people who have lost their individual plans, there are as many as 100 million more Americans who stand to lose their employer-sponsored health plans next year.

Don't misunderstand--I am not glad that people are losing their health coverage. But I am glad that this nation is finally waking up to the real-world consequences of socialist big government. The truth is that Obamacare is desolating the U.S. economy. It is transforming Americans into a nation of part-time and temporary workers with no hope of bettering their situations. Unfortunately, most Americans overlooked the obvious problems with this law until they could see how it was going to personally affect them. Now, with Obamacare's popularity at just 31%, we might have a real chance for a full repeal, and that could turn around our entire economy.

2. The captain is sinking with his ship. None of President Obama's scandals or leadership failures has ever stuck in the past, but it is really hard to run away from a piece of legislation that in popular usage bears your name. The epic failure of the roll out of Obamacare has exposed in embarrassing detail just how out of touch and removed from reality President Obama really is. As his personal approval tanks along with approval for his law, he is going to have a much harder time steam rolling through other massive pieces of big government legislation, such as amnesty and gun control. The more weakened he is personally, the less damage he is able to do to the country.

3. For the first time in a long time we have a good number of solid, true conservatives in and out of government who are standing on principle fighting for the Constitution and smaller government. I am very encouraged by the work of Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah who have stood up against this government's most egregious abuses without fear or apology. And now there are others--Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, for instance. My own Congressional representative, Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico, is one of the lesser known, unsung heroes of the conservative movement. We have a solid block of conservatives who are willing to face ridicule and criticism and fight for the Constitution and that is something for which I, personally, am very thankful.

Not all of the champions of conservatism are in government. When Jim DeMint announced last December that he was leaving the Senate to take over leadership of the Heritage Foundation, I was depressed. DeMint was, for a long time, a lone voice for conservatism in the Senate, and I was sure that without him there would be no one at all to stand up for conservative values (a fear which proved to be completely unfounded.) While I agreed with his assertion that we lost the 2012 elections because we had failed to properly articulate our message to the American people, I did not believe that DeMint would be able to "sell" Americans on conservative values. I was wrong. Under DeMint's leadership, the Heritage Foundation's presence has grown dramatically. Some of this growth is easy to measure--Heritage has gained more than half a million new followers on Facebook this year. I share their material every morning and I can see that through a steady production of posters, pictures, videos and blogs, DeMint is explaining, clearly and concisely, why freedom is preferable to socialism, why small government is preferable to Big Brother, and how Americans can once again be exceptional. DeMint is a powerful reminder that one person who is completely focused can make an enormous difference. He is also a reminder that conservative principles DO make sense because they work in the real world--we just have to go out and share our message with everyone around us.

4. We are still alive, and we are not alone! "Don't worry about things--food, drink and clothes. For you already have life and a body--and they are more important than what to eat and what to wear. Look at the birds! They don't worry about what to eat--they don't need to sow or reap or store up food--for your heavenly Father feeds them...And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don't worry about theirs. Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't He more surely care for you....So don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time." (Matthew 6: 25-34 TLB)

Now that's something we can be thankful for every day! Happy Thanksgiving.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

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Friday, November 15, 2013

A Whole Drawer Full of Good Ideas--That Don't Work

My brother Chris has been on his job for over twenty years. For at least a decade of that time he has worked in management. He worked his way up from an entry-level photo journalist when he was nineteen years old to an operations manager of the top television station in El Paso with a very simple philosophy--a manager should know the jobs of those he manages. He was able to train news photographers because he had been a news photographer. He was able to manage IT because he has worked in IT. When he took over management of master control, he spent hours running master control himself so that he knew what the job entailed. As he explained to me this last weekend, this approach to management has multiple benefits--one of which being that he is able to "fill in" in case of staff shortages--but the primary benefit is that when one of his employees comes to him with a story about why something is not working or why a deadline has been missed or what they need to do to fix a problem, he knows immediately whether they are being honest or merely making up some excuse. He has the hands-on experience to dissect excuses and to determine whether a particular story is the truth.

Yesterday as I watched President Obama stumble through that painful presser with a series of apologies and excuses (you know it's really bad when ABC News describes the president as "deflated"), I was reminded of the value of my brother's words. President Obama started out by assuring us over and over and over that everyone who had liked their insurance policy and doctor could keep them; more recently, he and his surrogates also promised that the disastrous website would be fixed by the end of November. Yesterday he finally admitted that neither of those promises was true--as of yesterday he says that the website will be working substantially better on November 30 than it was on October 1st, which even POTUS admits is a very "low bar" and that a year from now it should be working still better. As for the Americans who lost their coverage, he proposes an administrative fix to allow insurance companies to continue to sell the plans that don't conform to the Affordable Care Act for an additional year.

As experts immediately pointed out, the problem with these cancelled policies is just not that simple. Insurance companies have already begun cancelling these policies in order to comply with the ACA--the people who have been dropped are not going to be able to just turn around and go back on. What Obama really did was punt--he left it up to the insurance commissioners in each state to determine whether they would allow companies in their individual states to continue to sell these policies for another year. Within hours of his comments, Washington State Insurance Commission Mike Kreidler had announced that his state will not provide cover for the White House by allowing the continued sale of these policies because to do so is not fair to the insurance companies in the state. (The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has also said that the fix will not work.) And, of course, Obama said nothing about the very real issue of potential increases in premiums for policies that are allowed to continue in effect.

Even Huffington Post led with an article about the intense criticism of Obama's demeanor, his apologies, and his approach to fixing this mess. The real problem with Obama's policies--other than the fact that he leans slightly to the left of Karl Marx--is that he has no practical experience whatsoever, and it is really starting to show. One reason he becomes so "deflated" when faced with problems like the growing backlash over his signature health care law is that he has never solved any problems. He went from being a "community organizer" and cheerleader of all things socialist to having to try to implement his ideas in the real world. Now he is finding out that all of that liberal theory doesn't work out so well in real life, and he is at a complete loss as to what to do next.

Just over a week ago, Obama made a speech in which he said that he wanted the GOP to get to work on the other items on his agenda--immigration reform, climate change, etc. and that if they did not do so he was going to start implementing his ideas through executive order. Saying that his Administration has a "whole drawer full of good ideas", some of which he has the power to implement on his own, he threatened to circumvent Congress wherever he can. Yesterday's attempted "fix" was one such circumvention. Obama is still thinking and talking like an academic who only has to propose theories that may never get tested in real world situations. His "drawer full of good ideas" is not unlike a "pocket full of miracles". In a perfect utopia--what my mother always described as "the land of chocolate soldiers and wax lips" everyone can have health insurance that works perfectly; a university education can be free to all and all can benefit from such an education equally and tap their fullest potential to "be all that they can be"; and all energy can be produced by an endless supply of solar power. In utopia, birds are not killed by windmills and solar panels; in utopia, declaring war on coal does not lead to increased unemployment in coal-producing states and increased energy costs nationwide;  in utopia, quantitative easing does not cause inflation so that low interest rates which benefit Wall Street lead in turn to higher prices on everything else which elevate costs for average Americans. In utopia Americans don't need to borrow money for mortgages so when leftest ideologues like Elizabeth Warren help to craft bills like Dodd Frank and agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which constrict lending and the flow of money there are no adverse consequences. In utopia, good ideas abound because they don't have to face the litmus test of real world problems.

In real life, entitlements discourage personal initiative; artificially low interest rates DO cause inflation; restrictive lending policies make it harder for Americans to own their own homes and start their own businesses, and insurance for all is ending up as insurance for none. By the Obama Administration's own admission, fewer than 107,000 Americans have signed up for Obamacare, while five million Americans who were previously insured have lost their health care coverage because of this new law. Far from increasing the number of insured Americans, Obamacare is causing more and more Americans to end up uninsured. Rather than addressing the legislation that caused all of these problems, Obama is trying to patch it with a "fix" that doesn't work any better than the original law--a patch that he undoubtedly pulled out of his "drawer full of good ideas". It is just a real shame that he lacks the experience to understand that just because something sounds like a good idea does not mean it will actually work.

Alexandra Swann's novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at


Friday, November 8, 2013

5 Things Obama Should be Apologizing for, but Isn't

This week President Obama "apologized" to the American public on NBC for his Obamacare mantra, which he repeated as many as 36 times, "If you like your health insurance; you can keep it. If you like your doctor; you can keep him." We all now know for certain what we conservatives strongly suspected all along--this was a patently untrue statement. As the Obamacare rollout has taken place, millions of Americans are getting notices that their health insurance policies, which they did actually like very much, are being cancelled because they don't comply with the new law. In the effort to make everything "fair" and everyone "equal" we now have young men paying for maternity care and people who are childless covering the cost of pediatrics as part of the cost-spreading wealth redistributing policies of the Obama Administration.

Obama's apology on NBC was not unlike the old joke where somebody calls another person an idiot and then, when forced to apologize says, "I'm sorry that you're an idiot." If you listen carefully to what he actually said, he apologized for not making it clear that some Americans might lose their coverage. If you read between the lines a little you will hear a loud and clear, "I'm sorry you weren't smart enough to understand how this was going to work and now you're mad." The President whose most famous tag line is "Let me be clear," is apologizing for not being clear enough in a statement made over and over about how his signature health care law would work. He's not apologizing for lying to everyone; nor is he apologizing for ruining the health care of millions--he is merely apologizing to the American public because they believed what he said in the first place.

With that in mind, I have compiled a list of five things that I believe Obama should apologize to the American people for. I do this with the clear understanding that such an apology is not coming--now or ever. But that in no way changes the fact that an apology--followed by action--is owed.

1. Obamacare. No, not just the rollout or the "misstatements" about Americans losing their coverage. Obama should be apologizing for the entire debacle. This is a law that was passed with backroom deals by politicians who did not even bother to read it before voting for it. We need a heartfelt sincere "I'm sorry" for giving the IRS power over our lives and health care, for causing the loss of health insurance for millions of Americans, for forcing millions more into part-time employment under 29 hours a week and for raising costs of insurance. If he wants to apologize for misinforming the American people, he could apologize for convincing millions of Americans that they were going to get something for nothing--that somewhere on this planet there actually is a free lunch. Only now are Americans beginning to understand that the "free" health care they were promised is actually very expensive. Obamacare is a disaster that will only get worse with time; an apology won't fix it but sincere contrition for this mess would be a good starting point to getting some real solutions.

2. Dodd Frank: The OTHER huge piece of legislation from 2010 is also just beginning to make itself felt. In two months the qualified mortgages will go into effect, along with the 3% caps on points and fees. Small business people who make their livings originating mortgage loans are finally waking up to the fact that caps on points and fees in the QMs are not workable with a small business model and will in fact drive them out of business. Dodd Frank makes the Wall Street banks too big to fail, makes the small business owners too small to succeed and eliminates the dream of homeownership for nearly 50% of Americans who qualified to purchase homes in 2010. In 2014 as this law fully takes effect, the ramifications will echo through the housing and mortgage markets for a long time.

3. The NSA surveillance program: Not only is the government recording all of OUR phone calls and Internet communications; apparently they are recording all the whole world's phone calls and Internet communications. This is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Amendment in our country, and a slap in the face to world leaders who are supposed to be our allies. Obama should apologize to the American people on two fronts: First for violating our Constitutional rights and second for making us the laughingstock of the world by letting our security protocols be exposed.

4. Climate Change Regulations/War on Coal: At a time when American businesses and individuals are struggling, Obama is working to make energy more expensive via his climate change regulations and his war on coal. Without control of both houses of Congress, Obama has had no chance of passing his climate change bill, so in the absence of such a bill, he is enacting more and more climate change regulations through executive order and administrative action. Through these regulations, and particularly his newest executive order issued last Friday, Obama is using the power of the presidency to remake the nation into a socialist urban utopia where energy is scarce and expensive, housing is limited and expensive and the American dream of a home and car is just a vague distant memory.

5. $17 Trillion Deficit--and Counting... Whereas Senator Obama told us that high deficits were unpatriotic, President Obama has hosted a five year spending spree, which includes presiding over the largest debt increase in one day in our nation's history--$328 billion incurred on October 17, 2013 after the standoff over the debt ceiling and the government shutdown ended. Under the terms of the deal made with Congress, the president has the power to borrow as much money as he likes between now and February when the debt ceiling battle begins again. Experts predict that we will see a total of $700 billion in new debt by that date--taking us close to the $18 trillion dollar mark. We can expect about $21 trillion in debt by the end of Obama's second term. This massive debt is the result of government bailouts to big corporations, expansion of welfare entitlement programs and expansion of government itself, all at a time that many middle class Americans lost their homes, businesses and savings, jobs and futures. We are going to spend the next several decades paying for a party that we did not even get to attend. For that, Obama owes this entire country an apology.

Alexandra Swann's novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at