All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Saturday, October 31, 2009

N.Y.'s 23rd Congressional race more interesting: Republican quits

When I posted Litmus Test: Watching Doug Hoffman's N.Y. 23rd race with great interest on Thursday, I never anticipated that the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, would suspend her campaign on Saturday! This is amazing.

I wouldn't have known about it, but someone asked a question about starting a 3rd party at Congressman Sensenbrenner's Town Hall meeting and mentioned that Scozzafava had dropped out of the New York race. Wow. I wondered, Could that be true? As soon as I returned home, I checked Drudge. Sure enough, it was:

"Republican Dede Scozzafava announced Saturday that she is suspending her campaign in the Nov. 3 House special election in New York, a dramatic development that increases the GOP's chances of winning the contentious and closely-watched race."

Her analysis of her unpopularity shows she just doesn't get it.
"'In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be. The reality that I've come to accept is that in today's political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money—and as I've been outspent on both sides, I've been unable to effectively address many of the charges that have been made about my record,' she said in a statement. "

In my opinion, it wasn't the money, it was her anti-Republican positions! She was after all pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-stimulus spending, pro-card check, to name a few.

If she had been even a moderate Republican, I doubt conservative people from all over the nation would have rallied against her with donations of time and money.

I would like to point out that though many in the media, and even within the Republican party, would like to discount former Gov. Sarah Palin's ability to influence, she was one of the first to throw her support to the true conservative, Doug Hoffman.

It is a good thing November 3rd is just a few days away, this is getting exciting.

*The Town Hall was well attended, about 200. I hope to post a report on Monday.

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Paul Ryan & Jim Sensenbrenner discuss Pelosi Health Care bill today & Sat.

Congressmen Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner will be discussing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's ObamaCare Health Care Reform bill today and tomorrow, all 1,990 pages of it!

Paul Ryan will be at the Franklin Library* today, Friday, Oct. 30th, at 11am, for a press conference.

Jim Sensenbrenner, along with State Representative Leah Vukmir, will be at the Elm Grove Library** at 12:30pm on Saturday, Oct. 31st. This was a regularly scheduled Town Hall meeting, but somehow, I think the discussion will be primarily about the Pelosi bill. Since Vukmir was a nurse, she will be able to add some insights into this so-called health care reform bill.

Not that Nancy Pelosi is rushing the 1,990 pages of regulation and spending, but the plan is that the House will vote on this toward the end of next week. (Can anyone even read and understand those 1,990 pages by then?)

I heard Paul Ryan on Mark Belling's show yesterday, hour 2. Give it a listen. (It is a very straight forward discussion which begins at the beginning of the hour.) Here are a few highlights:
  1. Pelosi's bill cuts $526 billion from Medicare, WITHOUT affecting services! (Why don't they do that now?)
  2. About 64% of Seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage private plans option.
  3. Pelosi's bill includes $572 billion in INCOME TAX INCREASES. This would put top earners and small businesses, who file on their personal returns, into a 54% tax rate. "Capitalism can't work" at this tax rate.
  4. Employers will be able to ditch their appprox 15% of salary designated for providing health care and just pay the 8% penalty. This will dump private insurance company group coverage, provided by employers, to the government plan. (Which underpay doctors and hospitals, like Medicare/Medicaid.) So much for you being able to keep your plan. You can't keep a plan your employer is no longer offering!
  5. Pelosi's plan covers illegal aliens and abortion. Without any amendments to prohibit this coverage, all will be covered at taxpayer expense.
  6. The bill CLAIMS to be budget neutral, in fact, they promise it will REDUCE the deficit by $104 billion.(If you believe that, I would like to talk to you about The Great Pumpkin.)

Oh, and did I mention that there will be NO AMENDMENTS ALLOWED? Pelosi doesn't want her Democrat members to have to vote against amendments to exclude abortion and illegal alien coverage.

I urge you to call your Representatives and Senators, since Reid's version of this will be coming to the senate soon.

Jim Sensenbrenner (202) 225-5101

Paul Ryan (202) 225-3031

As long as I am calling my senators, I am also urging them to vote against Cap and Trade, which the senate started hearings on this week.

Russ Feingold (202) 224-5323

Senator Herb Kohl (202) 224-5653

CBO's summary of the Pelosi Health Care Reform Bill
(It's just 60 pages long, with a 15 page summary, instead of 1,990 pages.)

*First District Representative Paul Ryan
11 A.M. CT – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2009
Franklin Public Library, Fadrow Room
9151 West Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

**Fifth District Representative Jim Sensenbrenner
12:30 P.M. CT – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2009
Elm Grove Public Library
13600 Juneau Blvd.
Elm Grove WI 53122

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Litmus test: Watching Doug Hoffman's N.Y. 23rd race with great interest UPDATE

The 2010 elections are being talked about as a possible comeback for Republicans. But even more important are the few early races, such as Virginia and New Jersey's governor races and New York's 23rd Congressional District race. The 23rd, to me, is the most important, because it will be the litmus test on conservatism vs rinoism in the Republican party.

In that November 3rd New York race for the U.S. House of Representatives, the GOP, several key house republicans such as House Minority Leader John Boehner (who I think has been doing a fairly good job in unifying the Republicans against the stimulus bill, etc.), and Newt Gingrich (shame on you, Newt, its stuff like this that totally dilutes any good messages you have) have endorsed liberal State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.

Why was she selected? She isn't a Republican in her convictions! She is pro stimulus spending, pro abortion, pro gay marriage, and pro card check. Scozzafava was endorsed by ACORN, need I say more? Do we really need someone more liberal than Sen. Olympia Snowe in the House? What for? Just to get another "Republican" member who votes with the Democrats? Is it any wonder polls show that 73% of Republicans think the GOP has lost touch with its base?

The 23rd district New Yorkers fortunately still have a choice in 3rd party candidate Doug Hoffman. He is the real conservative and is endorsed by many conservatives such as Former Governor Sarah Palin, former Senators Rick Santorum and Fred Thompson, former Congressman Dick Armey, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, conservative talk show hosts such as Mark Levin, and the New York Post.

Why is this race important to me, since I live in Wisconsin and he is running in New York?

Because if Hoffman can pull it off, it should put the fear of Tea Party attendees into every Blue Dog Democrat and every Rino Republican. It would be a signal that the sleeping giant has awakened and if these Blue Dogs and Rinos vote for any Obamacare reform or Cap and Trade, we are watching and more importantly, we are VOTING!

I really do not favor a 3rd party system, but this case is different: there is no primary for this seat because it is a special election to fill a vacancy. Third party races do sometimes work for the good*. Sen. Joe Lieberman ran as an independent and won. (He of course was the incumbent and had great name recognition.)

But still, this 23rd District is a good test case scenario. If Hoffman loses, what do you really lose? It isn't like Scozzafava would vote with Republicans much anyway.

IF the Democrat wins, same story. The seat is up for grabs again in 2010. Maybe Hoffman will run again, and this time the Republican party might realize that their supporters want a real conservative, not a republican with rino-itis.

New York's 23rd Congressional district is upstate, in the more conservative part of the state: "a district with about 46,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats." (New York state, as I have heard, is much like Wisconsin, where Milwaukee and Madison are liberal, and the remaining parts of state more conservative.)

Hoffman opponents are quick to point out his district went 52% for Obama last year, but I would think reality has since taken the bloom off that hope and change rose. Although Hoffman is not a gifted speaker his "message has clearly resonated with others who are 'fed up,' including Tea Party activists..."

The 52% who voted for the gifted speaker last November, maybe this time will go for the man of substance? That's the change I am hoping and praying for.

UPDATE: Politico: In shift, GOP leaders embrace Hoffman "In a newly-released poll commissioned by the liberal blog Daily Kos, Hoffman is within one point of Owens, 33 percent to 32 percent, with Scozzafava lagging well behind in third place with 21 percent. ...He [Hoffman] leads Scozzafava 41 to 34 percent among Republicans—a sign that GOP voters are increasingly identifying with Hoffman as the true Republican candidate."

*Abraham Lincoln was one of 4 candidates running for president in 1860. Lincoln won despite not being on the ballot in several states with 40% of the popular vote. He was the first president ever elected from the newly created Republican party.

More reading: NY23: 'Do You Believe in Miracles'?
Tuesday's Elections and the Democratic Agenda
Santorum says Hoffman is practical choice

House Republicans may face a 'civil war' over Scozzafava bid
Thompson on NY-23 race: We're not 'deaf, dumb and blind'
House Republicans may face a 'civil war' over Scozzafava bid
Poll: GOP losing touch with base

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Health Care:...About those pre-existing conditions

Today's post is part 2 of yesterday's Pre-existing conditions: Could any insurance company stay solvent this way?

Early on in the health care debate, President Obama promised that his health care reform would not exclude anyone because of a pre-existing health condition. (The House and Senate versions of the bill all prohibit private insurance companies from excluding pre-existing conditions.)

If you didn't know better, you might assume that no one with a pre-existing medical condition could ever get health insurance, thus making Obama's healthcare reform a necessity.

Since most people, by the time they are 40 years old, have some sort of pre-existing medical condition, does that mean they are unable to get health insurance?

Well, yes and no. It was my understanding that if a person (or their spouse) had an employer who offered group health insurance, the answer was NO, they were not banned from obtaining group health insurance.

Just to be sure of my position, I called my insurance carrier, Humana. Here is what I found out:
  1. If you (or your family if you have a family plan) were previously insured with another company, you are covered under the new insurance carrier, regardless of treatment in the past--your pre-existing conditions.
  2. You are still considered previously insured even if there was a lapse of up to 60 days* of insurance coverage. This would be important if you moved or changed jobs.
  3. If you were unemployed, thus uninsured, for longer than 60 days, purchasing a COBRA insurance policy would guarantee future coverage. Wisconsin's BadgerCare and Medicaid also count as maintaining health insurance coverage.
  4. IF you let all health insurance coverage lapse during your unemployment (or never had health insurance), and then get a job from a company offering group insurance, you may still enroll in their group policy plan. All dependent children will be fully covered immediately on family plans. You will be covered immediately for everything EXCEPT the conditions you were previously treated for. Coverage for those pre-existing medical conditions will not be covered until a 6 to 12 month waiting period has passed.
They also confirmed that pre-existing conditions were medical conditions you were treated for by a doctor in the past, such as high blood pressure.

We see that group health insurance plans then can be very helpful to people with pre-existing conditions. The offering of group health insurance by an employer becomes an important asset in evaluating future employment opportunities.

If unemployed, keeping COBRA coverage is imperative, however, the monthly premium can be prohibitive. This is one area some reform would be helpful in. Say, if unemployed, a major medical only COBRA plan could be offered? Major medical being just for major needs, thus less expensive than the more comprehensive group plan. Or, possibly some interim group plan offered for the unemployed?

The Humana reps I spoke with were from the group insurance division and did not have the facts on private policies and pre-existing conditions. But I have seen Humana ads that tout basic individual coverage for under $70/month. That rate would be for a healthy young adult. (I had a plan like that after I graduated from college and got my first job. Although I was under 25 and still living at home, my parents did not have a family health insurance plan that covered me.)

As an individual ages and experiences health issues, private insurance policy premiums rise. The very nature of insurance is shared risk.** Those that don't need the insurance help build reserves in the insurance company so that they can pay out for those in need. If those younger, healthier individuals choose to enroll in employer offered group policies, their premiums help offset the group members with greater needs.

But should Obamacare pass, those same healthy young adults, who choose to carry no health insurance, will be required to pay for Obamacare health insurance at the same percentage rate of income that the unhealthy, older adults pay.

Do we need some sort of health insurance reform? Yes, but not the House and Senate version. As I mentioned above, providing some sort of interim plans during times of unemployment would be good. Possibly group plans for those in high risk would be helpful too? These would come from the private sector. At least for the present, the pre-existing condition isn't as excluding as the president would lead us to believe it is.

*I had called 2 times. One agent told me 60 days, the other 90 days.

**With private life insurance or long term care policies, age and medical conditions enter into the equation for calculating premium rates. The higher the risk, the higher the premium. For example, my long term care policy charged me slightly more for my age group because I have low thyroid function.

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pre-existing conditions: Could any insurance company stay solvent this way?

One of the many things Obamacare Health Care reform promises to correct is eliminating the pre-existing condition exclusion from private health insurance policies. As I understand it, Obamacare will force all insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions without increasing their premiums. (Page 18, lines 4 - 23 of the Baucus Senate Finance Committee bill, a pdf of all 1,502 pages of the bill.)

Another Obamacare mandate is that all Americans must carry health insurance whether they want it or not. If they do not obtain health insurance, they will be fined or taxed, initially at a rate of $200 during the year 2014 phase in period, on up to $750 in year 2017. (Page 197, lines 2 -6 of the bill)

So during the year 2014 phase-in period, some people might be tempted to not enroll in any health insurance plan. After all, under Obamacare rules, if they get sick, they just pay the $200 fine and then they can get health insurance.

How on earth could any insurance company offer that kind of coverage?

Let's just look at homeowners insurance. Wouldn't you like to eliminate your yearly premiums and not worry about a tree falling on your home or worse yet, a catastrophic total loss due to fire? If homeowners insurance followed Obamacare rules, all you would have to do is pay that $200 tax/fine and then get full coverage!

What about auto insurance? Don't bother to insure your cars, just drive uninsured. Get in an accident? Just pay the fine and get your car repaired and your insurance company will pay for damages and liability. Or, drive like a maniac, rack up accidents and tickets without worry you will be dropped or charged more.

Nice, eh?

Obviously, doing business that way, no insurance company could remain solvent for long, without raising it's premiums drastically. Yet, that is pretty much how Obamacare Health Care reform is set up in it's present state.

Maybe that is the whole idea?

Only government can offer coverage like that without solvency worries. (The government just increases taxes, fees and the deficit to cover losses.)

Unlike driving recklessly, sometimes we get sick through no fault of our own. So how do health insurance companies handle pre-existing conditions?

Stay tuned for the next installment: About those pre-existing conditions.

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thank you, Senator Kohl & Senator Feingold, for voting "Nay"

I don't often have reason to say, Thank you, to our Wisconsin Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold. But after yesterday's Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 1776 failed, I do! Both Kohl and Feingold voted against the Cloture Motion.

In all, 12 Democrats joined all the Senate Republicans in rejecting this ram through tactic. (Check for other naysayers. Of interest to me was now Democrat Arlan Specter voted Yea, Rino Republican Olympia Snowe voted Nay.)

The Heritage Foundation's, A Whole New Health Care Ball Game explains why that failed vote was important. You see, it was the first floor vote test on Obamacare. Up until this point, the votes were just committee votes: (My emphasis throughout)

"You have to read all the way to page A-25 in today’s New York Times to learn about it, but the Senate took its first floor vote on Obamacare yesterday and the White House lost. Big. The NYT reports: 'Democrats lost a big test vote on health care legislation on Wednesday as the Senate blocked action on a bill to increase Medicare payments to doctors at a cost of $247 billion over 10 years. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, needed 60 votes to proceed. He won only 47. And he could not blame Republicans. A dozen Democrats and one independent crossed party lines and voted with Republicans on the 53 to 47 roll call.'

The failure to move forward with S. 1776 (the "Doc Fix"), as presently written, does not mean that the Senators are necessarily against increasing payments to doctors treating Medicare patients. It just means that they did not approve of the tactics of shifting $247 billion from Obamacare Health Care Reform to S. 1776 without any means of paying for it:

"The Obama administration is trying to add $247 billion in deficit health care spending one week, and then turn around and claim their health care plan is deficit neutral the next. The trickery has come in for some heavy bi-partisan criticism. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he thought the tactic is a “mistake”, and Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) told Politico: “I am for the fix, but I don’t think we should blow the roof off the deficit — not at a time when we are already running record deficits.”

I will call Senators Kohl 202.224.5653 and Feingold's offices 202.224.5323 and tell them, thanks for voting Nay on the Cloture Motion for S. 1776. I will also ask them to vote Nay on any future Health Care Reform bills that come to the Senate floor. In my opinion, they need to scrap the Baucus bill (and House versions) and go back to the drawing board!

More reading: An Open Letter to the United States Senate: Don't Deceive Taxpayers by Hiding Health Care Reform Costs!

Reid Plans Monday Cloture Vote on $247 Billion Health Care Bill : "...Reid's proposal would bring the cost of health care legislation to above $1 trillion, and ensure that it creates deficits -- in violation of President Obama's pledge. By doing a smaller and separate $247 billion bill, it will be easier to claim that the larger health care bill they push is deficit neutral."

Heritage Foundation: The Senate Begins Voting on Obamacare This Week: "This week the Senate is set to vote on a measure that would approve spending for almost one quarter of Obamacare’s $1 trillion price tag. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has introduced, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is moving to the floor, S. 1776 which, as we explained yesterday, raises Medicare provider reimbursement rates by $247 billion over the next ten years and $3 trillion over the next 75...."

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

District 7 Informational Meeting, Wed. Oct. 21, 7-9pm

The following email was sent to me by my City of Brookfield Alderpersons, Lisa Mellone and Renee' Lowerr. They will be at City Hall Wednesday evening to answer your questions regarding District 7 issues. (District 7 covers the southeast corner of Brookfield.)

Of interest for all City of Brookfield residents, is the public hearing on the proposed city budget on Tuesday, Nov. 17th, 7:45pm in Council Chambers at City Hall.

District 7 Residents,

Reminder: District 7 Informational Meeting this Wednesday, Oct. 21st from 7-9 pm (Open House) in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

Topics include:

Stormwater and Flooding Issues. Tom Grisa, Director of Public Works, will give a short presentation and answer your questions pertaining to the city’s stormwater management efforts. Two large rain events in both June of 2008 and 2009 drastically impacted many residents in the city with flooded basements.

2010 Proposed Budget: There will be an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed 2010 Budget.

Mayor’s Budget

Finance Committee Amendments

In addition, there will be a public hearing on the proposed budget on Tuesday, Nov. 17th, at 7:45 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

We hope to see you this Wednesday!

District 7 Alderpersons

Lisa Mellone and Renee Lowerr

780-0805 853-9657


Friday, October 09, 2009

How will you shoo the flu? A vaccine or vitamins?

A friend asked last week, Are you concerned about the H1N1 virus? No, I said.

Will you get the H1N1 vaccine?
NO! I then muttered something about they would have to hog-tie me before I would get it. I believe the vaccine is more dangerous than the actual flu.

She then asked, Are you getting a regular flu shot? I said, No, never have, most likely, never will. Why do you ask, I asked?

I'm not getting them either; I just wanted to make sure I was on the right page!

What makes her questions a little more pertinent is that she is a nurse.

I am just amazed at the flu hype. You see the regular flu shot tables set up at shopping centers and stores. People are worried that they won't be able to get their H1N1 vaccine. (Some health care workers are worried they will have to get it.)

The last time we had the swine flu scare in 1976, people rushed to get the untested vaccine and many ended up with Guillain-Barre Syndrome or French Polio. I didn't get the vaccine then and didn't get the flu either. This time around, Doctors are told to watch for Guillain-Barre again with this Swine flu scare.

So how am I planning on shooing the flu? Vitamin D. Lots of Vitamin D. Somewhere around 5,000 to 6,000 IUs a day of good quality D3 is a good place to start. (Vitamin Shoppe has Carlson brand of D3.) More and more research is showing just how vital vitamin D is in preventing many diseases and conditions. The CDC also stumbled on a link between Vitamin D deficiency and H1N1 deaths.

We Wisconsinites in the north country don't get enough sunlight to make our own Vitamin D. Supplements are the only way to ensure proper levels. My doctor tested my vitamin D levels, but certainly during flu season, increasing vitamin D3 consumption would be helpful for most people. I am not a doctor or nurse so I will just say, check out increasing your vitamin D3 intake for yourself. It might help you shoo more than just the flu.

More reading: N.Y. Health Care Workers Revolt Over H1N1 Vaccine
Swine Flu Shot Linked to Killer Nerve Disease
Watch CBS Videos Online

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation


Tuesday: Elmbrook School Board to discuss Non-resident students

Board member Glen Allgaier informed me that the Elmbrook School Board will discuss the results of his and 3 community member's analysis of Chapter 220 and Open Enrollment students in our schools at Tuesday's board meeting. This is a subject that interests me, but unfortunately, I have another commitment that night. If this subject interests you, you may wish to attend.

Along with discussing the costs, financial and otherwise, the board is also to discuss "plans for opening seats for 220 students in the fall of 2010." (Approx 7:30pm ) Agenda

The meeting begins at 6pm at the Central Administrative Offices

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation


Too many tomatoes got you in a jam? Try tomato jam!

Sometimes a homegrown tomato supply can be a feast or famine situation; after waiting forever for the first few fruits, they then all ripen at the same time. So, if you have had your fill of BLTs and tomato salads, maybe you would like to try this old fashioned favorite: tomato jam.

Tomato jam is rarely seen on the store shelves. Smucker's used to make it (don't know if they still do.) The only time I ever saw it on a menu was at Le Cellier Steakhouse at the Canada Pavilion at Disney World's EPCOT. It was spread on top of their open faced steak sandwich and it's flavor complimented the beef very nicely.

My mom made tomato jam every summer when I was a girl. and I often would help. I loved the way the jam looked in the jar with the lemon slices and cinnamon sticks showing through the glass. I also loved eating the jam on toast. When the jar was finally empty, it was a kid treat to suck on the cinnamon stick.

In my opinion, tomato jam goes rather well on light rye bread toast and served with scrambled eggs or cheese omelets.

Our recipe came from my Great Aunt Martha. Jam is best made in small batches. I usually just make the amount in 1 recipe. It makes about 4 cups of jam. You could process the jam in a water bath with canning jars and lids, but I just make it and keep it in the refrigerator. It keeps for a year or so.

Here it is: Aunt Martha's Tomato Jam

1 1/2 lemons, washed, cut in quarters, then thin sliced. Remove pips.
3 Cups tomatoes that have been peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces.
4 Cups sugar
1/2 Tablespoon butter
Cinnamon stick 1 for each jar

Small jelly or jam jars, pints or half pint jars and lids (washed in a dishwasher or sterilized) These can be canning jars and lids or used jelly or jam jars and lids that have been washed.

The process:
In a stainless steel kettle 3 quart size or larger, put in 2 C. tomatoes and 2 C. sugar into the pot. Sir in the 1/2 Tablespoon of butter to prevent scum from forming. Boil for 5 minutes. Stir to prevent burning.

Without taking off the heat, add 1 C. mixed tomatoes and lemons and another C. sugar. Boil 5 minutes more.

Add last C. mixed tomatoes and lemons and last cup sugar. Boil 5 minutes more.

Take off heat. Be careful; this is hot stuff!

Put cinnamon stick into each jar. Ladle jam into the warm jars. (I keep them in a warm oven until needed.) Leave about 1/2 inch space at top of jar. Wipe the top edge of jar with clean, damp cloth. Put jar lid on and turn upside down then back. Set aside to cool. Often the jar lids will seal down without processing--even the recycled commercial jam jars. Put in refrigerator the next day for storage.

If you want to process the jam in a water bath so you don't have to refrigerate, use canning jars and lids. Process for 10 to 15 minutes for pints.

Sometimes the jam turns out stiff; sometimes it is thin. I think it might have something to do with the amount of pectin in the lemons? Regardless of the thickness, I love the stuff. Hope you will too.

I just picked most of my remaining green tomatoes. Hopefully, they will still ripen indoors. If so, maybe a batch of tomato jam is in my future too.

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize vs. Sat. Night Live bit

You can't make this stuff up. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize!

For what? Even Saturday Night Live skewered him for his lack of accomplishment.

It is not like he hasn't done anything though. With all the bailouts and spending, we now have a deficit that is 10% of our GNP. (That level of indebtedness is considered unsustainable. The dollar is taking a beating; the price of gold has hit record highs.)

If our current deficit doesn't push us over the solvent edge, we have Cap and Trade and ObamaCare waiting in the wings to finish the job.

As for world peace, the president turned a blind eye to the Honduran and Iranian's desire for democracy and fair elections, reneged on missile shield protection for the Czechs and Poles, and is talking about a role for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Analysis: Obama's Nobel honors promise, not action, in some ways, reads much like the script from Saturday Night Live's parody on Obama's accomplishments.

Since the deadline for peace prize applications was February 1st, just 11 days after taking office, I can only surmise that the nominator really believed Obama would solve the world's problems?

As for the peace prize committee actually awarding it to Obama, well, let's just say the president joins other great men such as President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Al Gore as peace prize recipients. The prize is often more about slapping the former president's face than anything.

More reading: Comment: absurd decision Obama makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize

He won, but for what?

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Last Days of Homegrown Sweetcorn: Get while gettin' is good

Yesterday, I stopped in at Simons, our neighborhood farmstand on Greenfield Ave. and Vista View, for homegrown sweetcorn. Good sweetcorn is one of still remaining treats of summer. (Tomatoes would be another.)

I asked how much longer the sweetcorn season would last. The Simons lady said, through the weekend, maybe a few days longer.

She explained the length of the corn season all depends on when the first hard frost occurs. If we have some clear, cold nights, it will probably freeze, and that will be the end of it. The usual last day for corn is Oct. 16. (Certainly the weather has gone into full autumnal mode--I had to break down and turn the heat on last week!)

Simons has both the bi-colored and hard to find white corn. I bought both. (The white is even more tender than the bi.)

So if you love fresh homegrown sweetcorn like I do, stock up now. Homegrown sweetcorn's days are numbered.

PS Don't forget one for the pooch! We sometimes call our dog a corn-dog; he loves corn in any shape or form. He isn't alone. The lady at Simons told me their dogs on the farm eat the corn right out of the field. My canine prefers it cooked, with a little butter. ;-) My dog also loves carrots, sweet red peppers, romaine lettuce ribs, etc. He is a real omnivore.

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Quiz: Which health insurance provider rejects more claims? Private or Government?

Here is a little quiz to start your day: Which mainstream health insurance provider rejects the most claims?

Would it be those evil private insurance companies that President Obama and the Democrats criticize? Or Medicare, the one ObamaCare's public option will be modeled on? The one the AMA* supports?


From BigGovernment, AMA Endorses Largest Denier of Health Care Claims

"Beverly Gossage, Research Fellow for Show-Me Institute and founder of HSA Benefits Consulting wondered which insurance companies rejected the most claims. She found her answer in the AMA’s own 2008 National Health Insurer Report Card. The chart below appears on page 5 of the 16-page report."

Chart from BigGovernment:AMA data on biggest deniers of claims

"Of the eight insurers listed, Medicare is most likely to reject a claim, sending away 6.85% of requests. This is more than any private insurer and double that of the private insurers’ average!"

The big question for seniors seeking medical treatment is, will Medicare cover it? Even when retirees purchase supplemental plans to cover the portion of their bill that Medicare does not pay for, they are still at the mercy of Medicare coverage, not even the supplement will step in. Bottom line: If Medicare doesn't approve of it, it is an out of pocket expense.

The number of claims Medicare receives is much higher than the private sector providers, but outside of Aetna, with it's 43,317 denials (6.8%) on 637,239 claims, the remaining 6 private insurers with their total of 55,708 denials on 1,805,002 claims scored better.

At least when a claim is denied under private insurance, you still have the option to appeal or to provide more information. (I have had to do that at times with mixed results.) But if the government provider rejects you, who do you go to to appeal?

By the way, not all in the AMA support the public option. “...some member physicians at the group’s annual meeting [in June] likened the notion to communism.”

If we are to reform healthcare, shouldn't we be improving the current system instead of making it worse? Shouldn't we be allowing more choice in treatment options, more control over price of treatment, and lowering the cost of treatment?

The Senate might push the healthcare bill through soon by doing some maneuvering. They certainly don't want us or even their own legislators to know what is in the bill. If it is such an improvement, why hide it and sneak it through without time to read it?

More reading: *The AMA represents less than 1/3 of all doctors, yet Obama trots them out every time he wants to promote his health care reform bill.

Doctors Protest Obama's Plan for Health Care Reform

Heard about the BigGovernment article on Mark Levin's show last night.

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Olympic Egg On Face, or The Emperor Is Naked

I can't decide which title is more appropriate for this post. Chicago being eliminated on the first round of voting is horribly embarrassing, considering it was the president who made the pitch to the Olympic committee and presidents usually don't do that sort of thing.

It was bad enough that Obama spent millions of taxpayer dollars to go, but he also spent precious time to make the trip. He is after all the same president who for months said he was too busy to meet with our General McChrystal to discuss Afghanistan war strategy. (Obama did finally squeeze in a 25 minute meeting while en-route to Copenhagen*.)

The most devastating expenditure of Obama's ego-trip to Denmark was his squandering of world political clout. I believe that when a leader sticks his neck out for a cause, it better be an important one. Being rejected right out of the gate was a huge slap in the face.

What is most interesting to me is the reaction of the news media that cannot understand how their darling could have come up empty handed. It reminds me of the story of The Emperor's New Clothes. The media has all been fawning over their Emperor for so long, bolstered by each other and the Democrat Party, they failed to notice he was naked--totally devoid of any real experience or solutions to our many problems.

What I hope will come from this insult is that it will wake up Senate and House Democrats who still support Cap and Trade (Tax) and ObamCare despite their constituents' opposition. I hope they will realize that it is a little difficult to ride on the Obama-euphoria coattails in the 2010 elections if the president is really naked.

Post Scripts: I don't watch Saturday Night Live, but I did see this clip from the show on Boots and Sabers: SNL Rips on Obama. The T-shirt bit was funny.

*White House angry at General Stanley McChrystal speech on Afghanistan (Obama didn't have time to meet with the General about strategy but time to call him on the carpet?)

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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