Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Political Digest February 9, 2010

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.

John Murtha dies, special election looms
Excerpt: The death of longtime Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha (D) this afternoon will set off a special election in his very competitive western Pennsylvania 12th district.
According to state law, the governor has ten days once the vacancy is officially declared to decide on the date for the special election, which can come no sooner than 60 days following that proclamation. That likely means the special election will be held on May 18, which is the date already set for federal primaries around the state. (Special elections costs the state huge sums of money and it's likely that Gov. Ed Rendell will choose to go with an already established election day to save some cash.) Murtha had held his seat with ease since 1974 even as it became increasingly more competitive between the two parties. The only semi-serious challenge to him in recent years came in a redistricting-forced primary race against then Rep. Frank Mascara in 2002, which Murtha won easily. With Murtha gone, however, the special election will be seriously contested. Murtha's district is the only one in the country won by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004 and by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008, according to Republican sources, and that trend line coupled with the volatile national environment for Democrats ensures Republicans will heavily target the contest.

The Fix: Cohen gets out
Too bad, as I thought he fit so well into the flavor of Democrat politicians in Illinois. Excerpt: Less than a week after he came from nowhere to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in Illinois, Scott Lee Cohen stepped aside amid a series of revelations regarding his personal life. "It's my hope, and I pray with all my heart, that I didn't hurt the people that I love so much," Cohen said. "All I ever wanted to do . . . was to run for office and to help the people, not to cause chaos." His departure -- much like his nomination -- will cause a level of chaos, however, as the state's Democratic central committee will be charged with selecting a replacement nominee. That committee is effectively controlled by state House Speaker Michael Madigan and, several sources told the Fix late Sunday night, that the pick will be Madigan's. State Rep. Art Turner placed second to Cohen in the primary and has strong ties to the Chicago Democratic machine. Expect some Democrats in the state to urge the selection of state Comptroller Dan Hynes, who narrowly lost a bitter primary challenge to Gov. Pat Quinn, as the replacement candidate although it's not clear whether either man would want to go down that road.

A disastrous decision
The lawyers who sit as judges drove up the cost of health care in Illinois on behalf of their trail lawyer brethren. Since lawyers run the Democrat party at all levels, the rest of us can just expect to go on paying ever more for goods and services so we can have multi-millionaire trial lawyers like John Edwards. He was right—there are two Americas. The lawyers and the rest of us. If this law was a legislative interference with the courts and juries, so are sentencing guidelines. The jury should be able to sentence a child rapist to death with no restraint from the legislature. Excerpt: The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a sound law passed by the General Assembly in 2005 to protect health care in this state. The court threw out a sound law that has worked. The court threw out a sound law and essentially told the state's lawmakers: Don't even bother to try this again. This is a disastrous decision. It declares that caps on medical malpractice awards violate the state constitution's separation-of-powers clause. The caps limited noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, to $500,000 in claims against doctors and to $1 million in claims against hospitals. The Legislature acted appropriately in response to a crisis. Malpractice costs were skyrocketing in Illinois because insurers were afraid to do business here. They were afraid of runaway jury verdicts. They also knew that more than 20 states had some caps on damages, making those states much safer places to do business. Malpractice premiums in Illinois were particularly egregious for doctors in riskier specialties such as obstetrics and neurosurgery. As a result, doctors were leaving, particularly doctors in rural areas. They couldn't afford to practice in their communities. That made it more difficult for patients to find the care they needed.

Obama invites Republicans to summit on health care
But is he inviting them to listen, or to lecture, as he did at the Republican House retreat? Despite the media’s lack of coverage, the Republicans, especially Rep. Tom Price and Rep. Paul Ryan, have put forward a lot of ideas, to which the Democrats—the party of “NO!”—said no. Excerpt: President Obama moved to jump-start the stalled health-care debate Sunday, inviting Republicans in Congress to participate in a bipartisan, half-day televised summit on the subject this month. The president made the offer in an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric hours before the network televised the Super Bowl. Obama challenged Republicans, who have been largely unified in opposing his proposals, to bring their best ideas for how to cover more Americans and fix the health insurance system to the public discussion.

Real Healthcare Reform: Kill the Lawyers
Excerpt: Unfortunately, the Democrats ignored the biggest opportunity for cost reduction: eliminating spurious lawsuits and getting ambulance-chasing lawyers out of the medical malpractice business. It is also clear that this reform is not interdependent on other reforms. Doctors spend an enormous amount of time and effort protecting themselves from lawyers and avoiding lawsuits. They order extensive, expensive tests whose only purpose is to protect themselves from lawyers, and pay outrageous malpractice insurance fees just to rid themselves of these predators. Once lawyers get involved, a doctor’s world is always turned upside down.

Why are there collectivists?
Excerpt: In a world of rational, self-interested robots, there would not be what we conventionally think of as a collectivist. There would never arise a Lenin or a Stalin or a Hitler or a Mao Tse Tung. There would not be millions of entities subscribing to their various ideologies. Nor would there be any Franklin Roosevelts or any welfare state liberals. That does not mean there would be anarchy. Social scientists understand that certain decisions are necessarily social, or collective. For example, if we are going to communicate, we need a common language. If we are going to trade with each other, we need a common law. If we are going to incorporate politically to protect ourselves internally we need a common criminal law. In dealing with outsiders we need common foreign and defense policies. But aside from communicable diseases and common threats, there is no rational reason why health care decisions need to be made collectively. Nor retirement decisions. Nor is there any reason why my choice of how to insure against unemployment, disability or premature death needs to be the same as your choice. And, to state the obvious, there is no rational reason why we need to have the same incomes

ClimateGate update
Good summary.

Wheels fall off global-warming hysteria
From Canada. Excerpt: I can't recall the wheels coming off the bus of any expert-driven hysteria as fast or as completely as they are now coming off the global-warming scare. I suppose they must have came off faster from Y2K. At 12:00:01 AM on Jan. 1, 2000, when airliners didn't fall from the sky and power plants didn't shut down spontaneously or computers didn't freeze up all over the world, the air came out of the Y2K scare instantly. Billions had been spent on preventing that disaster-that-never-was up until midnight on the final day of 1999, then almost not a penny afterwards. That is faster than the wheels are coming off the climate-change bus. But AGW -- anthropogenic global warming -- is a very close second. News of the manipulations, distortions and frauds perpetrated to advance and preserve the environmentalists' cause celebre are so numerous and coming so fast, it's hard to keep up.

India abandons IPCC, sets up own panel
Love the quote. Excerpt: The Indian government has moved to establish its own body to address and monitor science surrounding climate change, saying it "cannot rely" on the official United Nation panel. The move is a severe blow to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) following the revelation parts of its 3000 page 2007 report on climate science was not subjected to peer review. A primary claim of the report was the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, but the claim was not repeated in any peer-reviewed studies and rebuffed by scientists. India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh announced that the Indian government will establish a separate National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology to monitor climate change in the region. "There is a fine line between climate science and climate evangelism," Ramesh said. "I am for climate science."

How Government Officials Increase Home Prices
Big government at work, interfering in the market. Excerpt: Policies that increase tax revenues and regulate the growth of communities have a direct impact on the cost of construction in Washington state. Lawmakers use a variety of tools to control growth and manipulate revenues, such as building, utility and impact fees, land use regulations and business taxes. The increased costs affect the competitiveness of businesses, as well as prices consumers must pay for the goods and services, according to a new report authored by Brandon Housekeeper, a policy analyst with the Washington Policy Center.

Great Train Robbery: Minnesota Rail Line Rolls Over Taxpayers
Never believe a politicians estimate of the costs of a government project, like taking over healthcare. Excerpt: The construction of Minnesota's Northstar Commuter Rail started a dozen years ago. At the outset it sounded like a fairly modest project, one that would cost only $165 million and run from Minneapolis 80 miles northwest to St. Cloud. However, it turned out not to be so modest, says Phil Krinkie, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. The train would run on existing tracks and use readily available cars and engines so the costs would be modest. But as time passed and more engineering work was done, the cost started to escalate, says Krinkie: By 1999, the 80 miles to St. Cloud were projected to cost $223 million. In 2002 the project got cut in half, running only 40 miles from Minneapolis to Big Lake. Even though distance got cut into half, project costs continued to soar until, upon completion, the total reached a whopping $317 million.

Mass. wind farm that Obama administration might support meets strong resistance
Yup, they sure want that “green energy,” but NIMBY.

Big Government's Cronies
The Obots are interested in “Green,” alright—your green tax dollars. Excerpt: Many window-making companies struggle because of the recession's effect on home building. But one little window company, Serious Materials, is "booming," says Fortune. "On a roll," according to Inc. magazine, which put Serious' CEO on its cover, with a story titled: "How to Build a Great Company." The Minnesota Freedom Foundation tells me that this same little window company also gets serious attention from the most visible people in America. Vice President Joe Biden appeared at the opening of one of its plants. CEO Kevin Surace thanked him for his "unwavering support." "Without you and the recovery ("stimulus") act, this would not have been possible," Surace said. Biden returned the compliment: "You are not just churning out windows; you are making some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world. I would argue the most energy-efficient windows in the world." Gee, other window-makers say their windows are just as energy efficient, but the vice president didn't visit them. Biden laid it on pretty thick for Serious Materials: "This is a story of how a new economy predicated on innovation and efficiency is not only helping us today but inspiring a better tomorrow." Serious doesn't just have the vice president in his corner. It's got President Obama himself. Company board member Paul Holland had the rare of honor of introducing Obama at a "green energy" event. Obama then said: "Serious Materials just reopened ... a manufacturing plant outside of Pittsburgh. These workers will now have a new mission: producing some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world." How many companies get endorsed by the president of the United States?

Obama's Philosophically Fascist State of the Union Address
Excerpt: President Obama's State of the Union address was the greatest American rhetorical embrace of fascist trope since the days of Woodrow Wilson. I am not suggesting Obama is a Nazi; he isn't. I am not suggesting that he is a jackbooted thug; he isn't (even if we could be forgiven for mistaking Rahm Emanuel for one). President Obama is, however, a man who embodies all the personal characteristics of a fascist leader, right down to the arrogant chin-up head tilt he utilizes when waiting for applause. He sees democracy as a filthy process that can be cured only by the centralized power of bureaucrats. He sees his presidency as a Hegelian synthesis marking the end of political conflict. He sees himself as embodiment of the collective will. No president should speak in these terms -- not in a representative republic. Obama does it habitually.

He Never Listened to GOP Healthcare Ideas (Surprise!)
The myth of the promised bi-partisanship. Excerpt: In a pre-game Superbowl interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric, President Obama inadvertently admitted he has not listened to Republican healthcare ideas. Despite repeated attacks by his administration declaring Republicans to be the “Party of no ideas…no solutions,” while discussing healthcare reform Obama conceded, “What I’ve been doing is consulting closely with leaders in the House and the leaders in the Senate Senate on the Democratic side, and what I want to do is consult closely with our Republican colleagues.”

Our National Blind Spot
Excerpt: Nobody will dispute the fact that there are differences between private and public behavior. We can all think of things that we do privately that we would never consider doing in public. This holds true in politics, too. Specifically, the vast majority of Americans would never dream of stealing from another person, yet they have no compunction about wanting government to take property from some citizens to give it to others. Friends with whom we would entrust the keys to our house and all our worldly goods are often enthusiastic supporters of government programs that redistribute wealth. Few of us would imagine that a Washington lobbyist would peek out his window at home, wait for his neighbors to leave, and then sneak into their houses to take their possessions. The very image is absurd. And yet, those same lobbyists spend their working hours trying to persuade politicians to grant favors to them and send the bill to someone else.

Liberal Hate Speech
Excerpt: When Sarah Palin made Rahm Emanuel's expletive-enhanced use of the word "retarded" an embarrassment for him and the president, she forced the left to live up to its own P.C. standards. Saul Alinsky would be proud. Normally, according to the media elites' rulebook, when liberals rant, it's called free speech; when conservatives rant, it is hate speech. Members of the media elite appear to sincerely believe that liberals are less vitriolic than conservatives, and through repetition they have convinced a large part of the public that this is true. The reason liberals can "rant" without fear of being labeled terrorists is that their "rants" are justified in the eyes of the media elite. Liberals believe that their beliefs are based on the rational analysis of scientific data. Their opponents' beliefs are based on superstition and prejudice.

Public-sector unions bleed taxpayers
Excerpt: Public-sector unionism is a very different animal from private-sector unionism. It is not adversarial but collusive. Public-sector unions strive to elect their management, which in turn can extract money from taxpayers to increase wages and benefits -- and can promise pensions that future taxpayers will have to fund. The results are plain to see. States such as New York, New Jersey and California, where public-sector unions are strong, now face enormous budget deficits and pension liabilities. In such states, the public sector has become a parasite sucking the life out of the private-sector economy. Not surprisingly, Americans have been steadily migrating out of such states and into states like Texas, where public-sector unions are weak and taxes are much lower. Barack Obama is probably the most union-friendly president since Lyndon Johnson. He has obviously been unable to stop the decline of private-sector unionism. But he is doing his best to increase the power -- and dues income -- of public-sector unions

Al-Qaeda is a wounded but dangerous enemy
Excerpt: In the past six weeks, Americans have witnessed two jarringly different -- but completely accurate -- views of al-Qaeda's terrorist network. One image was that of terrorist leaders being hunted down and killed by satellite-guided, pilotless aircraft. The other was of an agile foe slipping past U.S. defenses and increasingly intent on striking inside the United States.

Al Qaeda training camps in US?

Lurching Toward Disaster in Afghanistan
Excerpt: We are rapidly lurching toward disaster in Afghanistan. We're on the brink of losing the country, not to mention the lives of some of our finest young men and women. Between the spring of 2002 and 2006, I saw nothing but progress. Afghanistan never would be Switzerland, but it was on the road to becoming a normal developing country. But from last year to this, we have made the wrong choice at a number of junctions.

Iran tells IAEA it will increase uranium enrichment
Gee, turns out that just not being George Bush and talking to them without preconditions does not change much. Excerpt: Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday that it will start producing higher-grade enriched uranium, a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the production, prompting the United States to renew threats of carefully targeted sanctions. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the Vienna-based IAEA, handed over a letter informing the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency that his country on Tuesday would start enriching uranium up to 20 percent, the state-run English-language news network Press TV reported. The higher-grade uranium would be significantly beyond the level needed to fuel nuclear power plants, the ostensible reason to date for Iran's uranium-enrichment program.

Muslim who spoke at pro-Khomeini conference and threatened columnist anointed as "the country's leading Muslim deradicalization expert"
Excerpt: Does Mohamed Elibiary, who is called in this ridiculous puff piece "the country's leading Muslim deradicalization expert," need to deradicalize himself? After all, he was one of the speakers at a December 2004 conference in Dallas entitled "A Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary," Ayatollah Khomeini. When Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News called him on this, he threatened Dreher, telling him: "Expect someone to put a banana in your exhaust pipe."

Brian O'Connor: discrimination and religious intolerance the evils of Saudi Arabia http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Brian-O%27Connor:-discrimination-and-religious-intolerance-the-evils-of-Saudi-Arabia-17554.html
Well, we can’t drill here, so we have to send them barrels of dollars. Excerpt: In Saudi society, "discrimination and intolerance" are an "evident" matter of fact, exacerbated by the "unlimited powers" enjoyed by the muttawa - the kingdom's religious police - who perpetrate crimes, violence and promote a system of widespread corruption. This is the statement of Brian Savio O'Connor, a Christian of Indian origin, for 7 months and 7 days a prisoner, chained and tortured in a Saudi jail on charges of proselytizing.

Ex-Pfc. Accused of Impersonating General
Excerpt: A Houston man was charged on Friday with allegedly impersonating a U.S. Army general by wearing a uniform decorated with more military honors than earned by famed Gen. George Patton. The FBI charged 44-year-old Michael P. McManus with five federal misdemeanors, accusing him of unlawfully wearing an unauthorized uniform embellished with some of the U.S. military's most distinguished combat medals. "The kicker was the Soldier's Medal; Patton didn't have it," said Doug Sterner, a historian who tracks military honors and "poser" cases. "There's no comparison. This guy isn't worthy to lick the dust off George Patton's boots." (Some fakers are now asserting a “first amendment” right to such fraud, if they didn’t benefit. But they all “benefit” in receiving underserved attention and admiration.)

Swedish silent sub

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