Friday, November 20, 2009

Political Digest November 20, 2009

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

White House backs off cancer test guidelines
Breast Cancer is a political disease, so the decisions are made by politicians responding to political pressure groups, not by doctors and patients. We spend six times as much on breast cancer research per breast cancer death as we do on lung cancer research (the biggest cancer killer) per lung cancer death. When’s the last time you saw a “run for the cure” a ribbon or a postage stamp to find a cure for lung cancer, or prostate cancer, a male disease?

Reid rolling out big guns to push healthcare bill to 60 needed votes
Excerpt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has recruited an all-star team of former senators — Vice President Joe Biden, Tom Daschle and Ken Salazar — to push healthcare reform over the finish line. Reid (D-Nev.) plotted strategy with the vice president, Interior Secretary Salazar and former Majority Leader Daschle (D-S.D.) on Wednesday, days ahead of a crucial vote to begin debate on the bill that needs every Democrat. Reid’s all-star team indicates that the administration and Democratic leadership are now using all the persuading power and arm-twisting prowess available to them to carry President Barack Obama’s signature agenda item to a successful conclusion. A handful of Democratic centrists are holding out on the procedural vote, wanting time to read the legislation.

Reid uncertain of tally as healthcare bill heads for rare Saturday vote
If you live in Nebraska, Louisiana or Arkansas, get on the phone to your senator! Excerpt: Senate is headed for a rare Saturday vote to advance its major healthcare reform bill without a guarantee of success, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated Thursday. At a rally with supporters of the healthcare reform bill, Reid would not say he had secured commitments from all 60 members of the Democratic Conference to vote for the legislation — an absolute necessity given unanimous opposition from the 40 Senate Republicans. We'll find out when the votes are taken," Reid said. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), one of three Democratic holdouts, said Thursday that he would announce his intentions prior to the vote but also made clear he still has major misgivings about the legislation, particularly on issues such as federal funding for abortion and the creation of a government-run public option insurance program. Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) are also uncommitted.

What we know about Senate Healthcare Plan
Excerpt: …we learn that "one Senate Democratic leadership staffer acknowledged that the cost estimate did not even represent an official preliminary score from the CBO but was a representation of "preliminary feedback" that Reid has gotten from the nonpartisan Congressional agency." In other words, we do not know how much it will actually cost. We also know that the Senate has severely weakened the pro-life language of the legislation. It comes no where close to the Stupak amendment language. We also know that the legislation purports to cut the deficit. How? By massive and painful tax increases, including raising the payroll tax on Medicare.

AARP Received $18 Million In Stimulus Money
Excerpt: AARP, which has given its full-throated support to Democratic health care legislation even though seniors remain largely opposed, received an $18 million grant in the economic stimulus package for a job training program that has not created any jobs, according to the Obama administration's website.

Unlawful health reform?
Excerpt: In 2006, long before there was an Obama administration determined to impose a command-and-control federal health-care system, a young orthopedic surgeon walked into the Goldwater Institute here with an idea. The institute, America's most potent advocate of limited government, embraced Eric Novack's idea for protecting Arizonans from health-care coercion. In 2008, Arizonans voted on Novack's proposed amendment to the state's Constitution: "No law shall be passed that restricts a person's freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type. No law shall interfere with a person's or entity's right to pay directly for lawful medical services, nor shall any law impose a penalty or fine, of any type, for choosing to obtain or decline health care coverage or for participation in any particular health care system or plan."

No Afghan decision before Thanksgiving
“Then they sent for replacements, for the wounded and lame, but the troops that were coming, never came, never came, never came.” –Ballad of the Alamo. Must make the troops’ families feel good. President Wobbly in command. Wonder if he has a picture of General McClellen in his office.

Lieberman launches Fort Hood hearings without any government witnesses
President Transparency turns opaque. Doesn’t want to jump to conclusions like he did with the Cambridge cop. Excerpt: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) held the first congressional hearing into the Fort Hood shootings with minimal cooperation from the Obama administration. No administration officials appeared at Thursday’s Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing despite requests by Lieberman. President Barack Obama had pressured House and Senate panels to hold off on congressional investigations until federal authorities finished their probe into the killings of 13 people at Fort Hood, but Lieberman decided to go ahead with his panel’s work.

Soldiers know: Ft. Hood's message to troops
Excerpt: "This is larger than the Army," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell yesterday. "These are issues that need to be looked at department-wide." Well, that shouldn't take any longer than a year or two -- scant comfort to the soldiers and Marines silently going into harm's way wondering whose side that man with the gun over there is really on. Silently, because Army Chief of Staff George Casey was lightning-quick to restate the service's blame-assessment priorities following the Nov. 5 shootings at Fort Hood: "Speculation could potentially heighten backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers…What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here." Thirteen dead and 42 wounded, and the Army's top officer is concerned first and foremost about diversity -- and you can bet nobody in uniform is going to disagree with him. To his face.

Police Chief Apologizes to Muslims over Fugitive Arrests
Dhimmitude in Detroit.

Did Holder stiff Senate on Justice Dept. lawyers who defended jihadis?
Excerpt: Some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee were taken aback Wednesday by Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to reveal conflicts of interest involving Justice Department lawyers who, before joining the Obama administration, worked on behalf of Guatanamo detainees. One reason it has taken so long to deal with the Guantanamo cases is the number of legal challenges lodged by lawyers for the detainees, some of whom are now working on detainee matters in the Obama Justice Department.

Turn Thomson prison into training camp of our own,0,6027124.column
The always-readable John Kass. Excerpt: If Obama really wants the Gitmo Gang in Illinois, it's going to happen. After all, he is the president of the United States of America. So let's bow low, as if he were the emperor of Japan and we're a bunch of terrified peasants, almost touching our foreheads to the ground, without a shred of imperialistic American dignity. OK, President Obama, you win. We'll take the Gitmo Gang. But only on one condition: In exchange, we want all the convicted American politicians currently living in cushy Club Feds to be transferred immediately to the Thomson Correctional Center so they can bunk with the terrorists and corrupt them too.

'Newsweek' cover of Sarah Palin is sexist
Excerpt: I am not one of the great admirers of Sarah Palin as a political leader, but fair is fair, and the Newsweek cover of Palin sexist, pure and simple. The photo was taken as an athletic shoot, and to put it on the front page of a major weekly newsmagazine was totally out of context, biased and sexist. We have all seen pictures of President Barack Obama showing some skin in a bathing suit, but these were political paparazzi photos and were not placed on the cover of major news magazines. The Palin photo was just as sexist as the recent piece by the National Republican Congressional Committee that suggested the Speaker be put in her place. Just as sexist as some of the barbs that have been directed toward Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over many years.

The most important number in politics today
Except: 48. That's President Barack Obama's job approval rating in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, one of the rare times he has dipped below the critical 50 percent in a national survey since taking office in January.

Morning Fix: Stupak as Democratic anti-hero
Several interesting items in this Fix.

US public debt tops 12 trillion dollars for first time
Excerpt: WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US public debt topped 12 trillion dollars for the first time in history, Treasury officials disclosed Tuesday, moving past a key barrier that raised hackles in Congress. Treasury data showed Monday's outstanding debt at 12.031 trillion dollars, up from 11.999 trillion on Friday. The ballooning debt reflects the massive deficit spending by the government in an effort to revive an ailing economy over more than one year. The public debt topped 10 trillion dollars in September 2008. The debt is quickly approaching the statutory limit of 12.104 trillion dollars, meaning Congress would have to raise the ceiling to prevent a shutdown of government operations. (At some point, we won’t be able to sell bonds to China and other countries, unless we pay very high interest rates, which will add to the debt, thus increasing the spiral downward. When they refuse to buy at any price, everything goes crash. Wish I could run a pool on the crash date, but the money I’d take in would be worthless anyway.)

Trade Dispute Undercuts Obama's Korea Trip
Have I mentioned before that all the historical evidence is that free trade increases economic prosperity, while trade barriers, though loved by unions, create hard times as Smoot-Hawley did in the 1930s? but politicians will sell your prosperity for union votes.

To revive New York's economy, attack lawsuit abuse
Excerpt: A Manhattan jury awarded $14.1 million to a woman who lay down on New York City subway tracks and was hit by a train during a failed suicide. Another New York City jury gave $9.3 million to a man who fell on subway tracks while inebriated and lost his left arm. Another drunk on the tracks was awarded $6 million. Earlier this year, a Brooklyn judge upheld a decision to grant an 11-year-old boy $1.03 million in damages for pain and suffering he experienced after fracturing his ankle playing soccer during gym class…..An alliance between personal-injury lawyers and state legislators, grounded in delivering votes and campaign contributions, has killed attempts to enact common-sense reforms. Last year, lawyers doled out nearly $5 million to political activities, making them the sixth-largest contributor group in the state. The plaintiffs' bar deploys its numbers and wealth through longstanding, well-organized political campaigns to block reform and create new rights to sue. State lawmakers recently proposed at least 15 new "lawyer earmark" bills that would increase avenues for litigation. Legislators, beholden to deep-pocketed lawyers, remain indifferent to the plight of ordinary citizens and ignore the open-and-shut case for reform…..Lawsuit reform would jump-start the state's economy and make it more competitive. According to the Pacific Research Institute's report, if such reforms were put in place, New York would create at least 86,000 new jobs, increase state output $17 billion annually, boost state tax revenues by more than $1 billion a year, raise the income of every New Yorker by more than $2,600 a year, attract new customers and entrepreneurs to the state and cut insurance premiums up to 16% per annum.

Obama again fails to salute Americans but remembers to salute Russian flag

NY-23 virus in voting machines
Excerpt: GOUVERNEUR, NY - The computerized voting machines used by many voters in the 23rd district had a computer virus - tainting the results, not just from those machines known to have been infected, but casting doubt on the accuracy of counts retrieved from any of the machines. Cathleen Rogers, the Democratic Elections Commissioner in Hamilton County stated that they discovered a problem with their voting machines the week prior to the election and that the "virus" was fixed by a Technical Support representative from Dominion, the manufacturer. The Dominion/Sequoia Voting Systems representative "reprogrammed" their machines in time for them to use in the Nov. 3rd Special Election. None of the machines (from the same manufacturer) used in the other counties within the 23rd district were looked at nor were they recertified after the "reprogramming" that occurred in Hamilton County.

New PPP Poll: Obama Approval of Those Older Than 65 Years Old Now At 33%
Excerpt: The poll also found that 26% of Americans think ACORN stole the election for Obama last year, including 52% of Republicans. Overall 11% view the organization favorably while 53% have a negative opinion of it. The survey’s margin of error is +/-3.0%. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify. Obama's Health Care Plan has those over 65 at 60% disapproval.

Watch unemployment grow county by county since 2007
Interesting website. ND looks good.

Thank You to Vietnam Vets
This is the letter I sent home when I was in Iraq in 2004.
Must Read for Vietnam Vets. Excerpt: So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?" In my opinion, it came down to one thing: . I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us. After, it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake. Somewhere during the late 1970's and into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So, starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the era. We treated our troops like the heroes they were, acknowledged and celebrated their sacrifice, and rejoiced at their homecoming instead of spitting on them.

Obit: Lewis Millett; awarded Medal of Honor after bayonet charge
Another hero gone. The country has fewer such men every year. A thin line of heroes protects us now.

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