Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Political Digest March 30, 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.

Must read: The Most Important Feature of ObamaCare is Something No One is Talking About
The collapse is coming. Excerpt: How much time are people willing to spend calculating and arguing about the cost of something that cannot happen anyway? Apparently, quite a lot. On Capitol Hill at least, the most important issues in health reform seem to be budget issues: How much will ObamaCare cost? Will it add to the deficit? Or reduce it? Poll after poll has shown the public is not buying the official estimates. And as often happens, public opinion on this matter is more reliable than expert opinion. Here’s why. ObamaCare will require just about every nonelderly person in America to buy health insurance, the cost of which is going to rise at twice the rate of growth of their incomes. At the same time, the legislation will prevent people from all of the natural adjustments you would expect in the face of rising premiums. They will not be allowed, for example, to scale back and choose more limited insurance. They won’t be allowed to shift to catastrophic-only plans or rely more on self insurance through Health Savings Accounts. In the short run, one of two things will happen with respect to this dilemma. The government (1) can insulate people from rising health insurance costs by providing them with ever increasing subsidies, or (2) it can allow the cost of mandatory health insurance to consume an ever-increasing share of the family budget. Neither approach is tenable.

Must read: A battle won, but a victory?
Excerpt: Barack Obama hopes his famous health-care victory will mark him as a transformative president. History, however, may judge it to have been his missed opportunity to be one. Health care will not be seriously revisited for at least a generation, so the system's costliest defect — untaxed employer-provided insurance, which entangles a high-inflation commodity, health care, with the wage system — remains. Obama could not challenge this without adopting measures — e.g., tax credits for individuals, enabling them to shop for their own insurance — that empower individuals and therefore conflict with his party's agenda of spreading dependency. On Sunday, as will happen every day for two decades, another 10,000 baby boomers became eligible for Social Security and Medicare. And Congress moved closer to piling a huge new middle-class entitlement onto the rickety structure of America's Ponzi welfare state. Congress has a one-word response to the demographic deluge and the scores of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities: "More." There will be subsidized health insurance for families of four earning up to $88,200 a year, a ceiling certain to be raised, repeatedly. The accounting legerdemain spun to make this seem affordable — e.g., cuts (to Medicare) and taxes (on high-value insurance plans) that will never happen — is Enronesque. As America's teetering tower of unkeepable promises grows, so does the weight of government, in taxes and mandates that limit investments and discourage job creation. America's dynamism, and hence upward social mobility, will slow, as the economy becomes what the party of government wants it to be — increasingly dependent on government-created demand. Promoting dependency is the Democratic Party's vocation. The party knows that almost all entitlements are forever, and those that are not — e.g., the lifetime eligibility for welfare, repealed in 1996 — are not for the middle class. Democrats believe, plausibly, that middle-class entitlements are instantly addictive and, because there is no known detoxification, that class, when facing future choices between trimming entitlements or increasing taxes, will choose the latter. The taxes will disproportionately burden high earners, thereby tightening the noose of society's dependency on government for investments and job creation. (Did I mention that the collapse is coming?)

Health-care overhaul leaves Democrats in stable condition
Excerpt: After steering the landmark health-care reform bill through Congress, the Democratic Party's leaders have emerged mostly unscathed, according to a new Washington Post poll, but they have not received a notable boost in approval ratings. Shifts among core constituencies suggest that President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) may have reaped some benefit from the legislation's passage, but the public's take on the Democratic Party has not budged, and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) appears to be losing popularity. None of the central players in passing health-care reform appears to be winning favor with the bill's opponents. Views on Pelosi tilt negative but are closely divided, with 42 percent approving of the way she is handling her job as speaker, and 46 percent disapproving, in line with her ratings in a January Post-ABC News poll. Although her overall rating is stable, the survey finds the speaker gained in strong support among Democrats, liberals and those who support the reform package.

The Fix: Health Care poll
Excerpt: A new Washington Post poll released over the weekend provides a mixed bag of data on the recently passed health care bill. Here are five facts you need to know from the poll: 1) Forty-eight percent of those tested approve of how President Obama has handled health care while 49 percent disapprove, a slight improvement for the commander in chief from an early February poll when he stood at 43 approve/53 disapprove. 2) Democrats in Congress are still more trusted (47 percent) to handle the issue of health care than Republicans (34 percent). That gap has narrowed since the February poll, however, when Democrats stood at 56 percent to just 29 percent for Republicans. 3) Support (and opposition) for the bill has barely changed from early February until now. Then 46 percent supported the proposed changes in the bill while 49 percent opposed them; today it's 46 percent support, 50 percent oppose. 4) An enthusiasm (or is it an anger) gap still exists. While 15 percent said they were enthusiastic about the changes to the health are system, 26 percent said they were angry about them. 5) President Obama's messaging that people who like their health insurance can keep it as is doesn't appear to be getting through to the public. Six in ten believe that the bill passed by Congress will require all individuals to make changes to their health care.

Is the health care bounce history?
Pollster Scott Rasmussen’s latest sample suggests that Barack Obama’s approval rating bounced slightly upward when the House passed the health care bills March 21 and has since subsided. Rasmussen’s approval index, subtracting the percentage strongly disapproving from the percentage strongly approving, was -21 on March 20 (reflecting interviews conducted March 17-19), dropped to -10 on March 23 (interviews conducted March 20-22) and today is back up to -16 (interviews conducted March 25-27). Strong approval topped out at 32% on March 25 and is back down to 28%, just a little above the level in the month before passage of the bills March 21. Strong disapproval is at 44%, the highest it’s been. Tentative conclusion: Passage of the bill increased strong approval from and enthusiasm among Democrats for a short time. It did not decrease strong approval from and enthusiasm among Independents and Republicans opposing Obamacare. Gallup’s daily tracking tends to support this conclusion. Gallup’s sample of adults gave Obama a high of 51%-43% approval in the week the health care vote was pending; it’s back down to 46%-46% today.

ObamaCare Nightmare just beginning
Excerpt: The top line numbers are bad but not daunting for the pro-Obamacare forces: 50% of Americans oppose the changes in the new law while 46% support them. But the numbers also show that most Americans believe the new law will cause "the overall health care system in this country" to get worse, "the quality of the health care you receive" to get worse, and "your health insurance coverage" to get worse. The poll also shows that most Americans believe the law will weaken Medicare and that there is "too much government involvement in the nation's health care system." And strong majorities of Americans believe Obamacare will increase the federal budget deficit (65%), increase "your health care costs" (55%), and increase "overall costs of health care in this country" (60%). The American people are right on all counts. And if the events of last week are any indication, these beliefs will only harden over time.

Health Care Overhaul Likely to Strain Doctor Shortage
Actually, there is also already a growing shortage in some specialties, like hip and knee surgeons. This will increase as fewer bright folks want to deal with declining incomes and growing hassles in medicine. Thank you, BO. Excerpt: Primary care physicians already are in short supply in parts of the country, and the landmark health overhaul that will bring them millions more newly insured patients in the next few years promises extra strain. The new law goes beyond offering coverage to the uninsured, with steps to improve the quality of care for the average person and help keep us well instead of today's seek-care-after-you're-sick culture. To benefit, you'll need a regular health provider. Yet recently published reports predict a shortfall of roughly 40,000 primary care doctors over the next decade, a field losing out to the better pay, better hours and higher profile of many other specialties. Provisions in the new law aim to start reversing that tide, from bonus payments for certain physicians to expanded community health centers that will pick up some of the slack.

Good shooting!
Excerpt: In his latest superb book, Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell describes the “intelligentsia” as people who are certain how many shots a police officer should fire in a stressful situation, even though they have never even fired a shot on a pistol range. Today, the Detroit Free Press reports on a protest by the usual suspects over “the controversial shooting of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah.” They seem to think that the fact that he was shot 21 times by the pursuing FBI agents he pulled a gun on is significant. It is. It means that the Detroit FBI office is up to par with weapons training. I would be worried if a fleeing felon who turned to fire at a group of FBI agents in hot pursuit was only hit 2 or 3 times. Fewer hits on Abdullah would have meant more bullets flying around the neighborhood that might hit actually “peaceful” innocent people. But the worst contention by the protesters was that Abdullah was “a peaceful man” who was targeted by the government because he was black.

The Supreme Court and FDR's Power Grab
Excerpt: How great a chance do we have to overthrow ObamaCare in the courts? To answer that question we need to look into that bleak pit of falsehood and mendacity that America's left would like us to ignore at all costs, the historical record. We need to look at the original effort to nationalize the American economy, the one attempted by Obama's model, Franklin D. Roosevelt, by means of the New Deal. FDR was never quite clear about what he wanted to do. He was clear about the goal, but not about how to get there. Not unlike Obama, he left that problem to various retainers, in this case the members of the Brain Trust.

The Government Pay Boom
The recession has been good to Democrat political supporters, like trial lawyers and government employees. The collapse is…oh, you knew that? Excerpt: It turns out there really is growing inequality in America. It's the 45% premium in pay and benefits that government workers receive over the poor saps who create wealth in the private economy. And the gap is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 1998 to 2008 public employee compensation grew by 28.6%, compared with 19.3% for private workers. In the recession year of 2009, with almost no inflation and record budget deficits, more than half the states awarded pay raises to their employees. Even as deficits in state capitals widen and are forcing cuts in services, few politicians are willing to eliminate these pay inequities that enrich the few who wield political power.

Stuffing union coffers with taxpayer cash
You will belong and support the part, nicht var? Excerpt: One day last fall, approximately 40,000 private day care owners in Michigan woke up to discover they had become members of a public sector union. Most had no idea what was coming. Here's how it happened: The United Auto Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees worked with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to conduct a vote-by-mail union election. Of the 40,000 day care workers in the state, only 6,000 responded to the ballot they received in the mail. But that was enough for the state to declare all of the day care owners would henceforth be represented by the newly organized Child Care Providers Together Michigan union. According to the Wall Street Journal, Michigan's Department of Human Services collects $3.7 million in union dues for the newly created union. These dues are collected by taking money out of child care subsidies the state pays to day care providers.

Can Obama avert a fiscal catastrophe?
No. Anyone who thinks the healthcare bill will lower the deficit is smoking Hopium. The collapse is coming. It can no longer be avoided. Excerpt: Last summer President Obama told me that once health reform became law, he could pivot to the "broader structural changes" needed to bring the federal deficit under control. Without health reform, he said during a July telephone interview, there would be no hope for fiscal reform. With it, he would be in a position to "start laying out a broader picture about how we are going to handle entitlements in a serious way." Well, it's been six days since he signed the bill, and he still hasn't saved Social Security. Just kidding. We can give him another day or two. But the long-term threat is no joke, as Obama has acknowledged many times. If Obama does not pivot, the country will be in serious trouble. Why? According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last week, Obama's budget plan has the government spending one-quarter of the national economy (25.2 percent of gross domestic product) 10 years from now, while collecting revenue that's less than one-fifth (19.6 percent). Such a gap isn't sustainable for any country. The United States would have to borrow so much money that in interest alone the government would be spending 4.1 percent of GDP -- compared with 1.4 percent this year. Other programs -- for defense, for the poor, for national parks, for everything -- would be squeezed more and more. The United States would be increasingly at the mercy of China, Saudi Arabia and other lenders.

Business backgrounds are working for first-time GOP candidates
Early returns in governors' and Senate races across the country show men and women who have spent their entire lives in the private sector making significant gains in their first runs for office.

Report From Liberal Cable Outlet Shows That More Guns Equals Fewer Firearms Deaths
Excerpt: A new report published by MSNBC.com shows that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens results in fewer deaths from the use of firearms. “Firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens prevent 1 million robberies, murders and rapes every year,” John Pierce, a Virginia-based gun-rights activist with opencarry.org, told MSNBC.com.

Seven arrested in FBI raids linked to Christian militia group
when I heard Michigan, I figured they were going after Muslims in Dearborn. Silly me, that wouldn’t be PC. This is a boon to the narrative the Leftstream media loves to push. Excerpt: At least seven people, including some from Michigan, have been arrested in raids by a FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as part of an investigation into an Adrian-based Christian militia group, a person familiar with the matter said. The suspects are expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Monday. On Sunday, a source close to the investigation in Washington, D.C. confirmed that FBI agents were conducting activities in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties over the weekend in connection to Hutaree, a Christian militia group. Detroit FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold told The Detroit News the federal warrants in the case are under court seal and declined further comment.

Congressman finds political vitriol follows him home to Ohio
Media getting him sympathy by playing up small fringe group. But in my view, politicians’ homes and families should be off limits. Offices and public meetings are fair game. Excerpt: Rep. Steve Driehaus spent the first Sunday of his two-week break from Washington this way: He made breakfast for his wife and kids, took his son to his mother's house and bought the boy a bicycle while his wife and daughters went shopping. Outside his Cincinnati home, a few angry protesters wouldn't allow him a full escape from the raw and vitriolic discussions that have embroiled the health-care debate for more than a year. They showed up to decry the freshman congressman's vote for the overhaul, standing in the chilling rain most of the afternoon Sunday holding signs that read: "Driehaus Voted to Destroy Our Children's Future" and "Remember in November." Sunday's gathering, which never included more than three people at a time, was anchored by Jim Berns, a libertarian who has run for Driehaus's seat three times and for the state legislature 10 times. He wore a suit and waved at the congressman's neighbors -- a couple of whom greeted him with a middle finger, others with a thumbs-up.

Some in Indonesia praise, seek to replicate China's fight against United States
Moderate Indonesia? BO just cancelled a trip home there to jam healthcare down our throats. Excerpt: Amid cries of "God is Great," the former chief of staff of the Indonesian army joined hard-line Muslim activists in a Jakarta ballroom last week to denounce the United States -- and praise China as a model of how to stand up to Washington. "We should do what China has done; America must follow our rules," declared retired Gen. Tyasno Sudarto. Veiled women and bearded men, seated separately to avoid mingling of the sexes, shouted praise for Allah and jabbed their fists in the air. Another speaker hailed China for defying Washington's "neo-liberal" economic creed. The boisterous event, organized by an Islamic organization called Hizb ut-Tahrir, brought together two groups of Indonesians that don't usually mix -- fervent champions of an Islamic state and zealous secular nationalists. What united them was a shared fury at Washington and the hope that Beijing can put America in its place.

Moscow subway explosions kill at least 38
Amazing that despite the best efforts of Bush, Obama, MSNBS, Fox and a host of others, so many Muslims haven’t gotten the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Maybe because the Qur’an and Hadith don’t agree? Nah. Excerpt: Two female suicide bombers set off powerful explosions in separate subway stations in central Moscow during the morning rush hour Monday, killing at least 38 people and injuring more than 60 others in what officials said was the deadliest and most sophisticated terrorist attack in the Russian capital in six years

Afghan corruption: How to follow the money?
The problem is that most of the Third World has a view of corruption that is more like Chicago than the Kennedy School of Government view. We try to make our third world ally into a little liberal democracy and undermine them, leading to a much more repressive regime. For examples see Vietnam, Iran, Cambodia under the Cambodian Reds (Khmer Rouge), and Zimbabwe.

Islamic Regime and America’s Elites
Excerpt: The Islamic regime in Iran has a pool of defenders among the American “elite” media, political analysts, activists, and academia. They are invited to and welcomed in Iran, assigned to a “handler” who makes sure the honored guests are dined (not wined), taken to the assigned places and given approved talking points....The Western supporters of the Iranian regime even ridiculously refer to University of Tehran polls, and swear by their fairness and accuracy. They do not know or do not care, or both, that Iranian universities are run by an uneducated Shiite clergy appointed by the “supreme leader.” They do not know or do not care, or both, that paramilitary forces are in control of the university campuses around the country, and that plainclothes guardsmen have been in every hallway and every classroom since the 1998 nationwide student uprisings. Are they deliberately trying to mislead Americans? These are the same people who support liberal groups like the ACLU, which exploit freedom to take advantage of its privileges — but when it comes to Iran’s theocracy, oppression is totally acceptable. (From a Marine buddy who says: While keeping in mind this is an opposition site, this report still brings home the disparity between what we see in news reports (mostly by email as other media are severely censored) and what our "distinguished" visitors have to say about life in Iran. RGP)

Obama Team Is Divided on Tactics Against Terrorism
Between what? Surrender or retreat? Excerpt: Senior lawyers in the Obama administration are deeply divided over some of the counterterrorism powers they inherited from former President George W. Bush, according to interviews and a review of legal briefs. The rift has been most pronounced between top lawyers in the State Department and the Pentagon, though it has also involved conflicts among career Justice Department lawyers and political appointees throughout the national security agencies....The outcome of the yearlong debate could reverberate through national security policies, ranging from the number of people the United States ultimately detains to decisions about who may be lawfully selected for killing using drones.

Christ on cross ‘could be porn under Indon law’
Excerpt; Even the naked body of Christ may be considered as pornography after Indonesia’s Constitutional Court approved a new anti-porn law, Catholics fear. The fears arose after the Constitutional Court declared the anti-pornography law (enacted by the Government in 2008) to be compatible with Indonesian public policy, Fides reports. Fides sources say that in Indonesian civil society, among moderate Muslims, Christians, and Hindu groups, as well as associations dedicated to protecting freedom and human rights - especially in eastern Indonesia- have challenged the document. “It is not that we are pro-pornography,” explained Catholic sources of Fides, “but because it is feared that this law - accepting a controversial generic definition of ‘pornography,’ which includes ‘any attitude and any artistic-cultural form of communication that excites a sexual instinct or is contrary to morality,’ lends itself easily to exploitation: the fundamentalist Muslim fringe can use it to penalize non-Muslims and, ultimately, seek to impose strictly traditional customs, even the Sharia.”

NU rules in favor of underage marriages
Based on the example of the Prophet, the perfect example of conduct, who consummated the marriage wit his youngest wife when she was nine, according to the most reliable Hadith. Except: The minimum age of 16 years to marry under the prevailing 1974 marriage law is not a sharia-binding regulation for Muslims, according to Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) jurists. The panel of sharia experts announced there was no age limitation for marriage under Islamic law. They did not cite gender; but the law states that women must be at least 16 to marry, while the minimum age for men to marry is 18. The experts said Muslim parents can marry off their underage children, but strongly appealed for marriages to only be carried out after the child has reached puberty. The jurists underlined that couples in which both are underage must abstain from sexual intercourse until they are deemed physically and mentally capable of doing so.

US 'may not veto UN resolution on Jerusalem'
Juden, Raus! Putting Israel in its place. Excerpt: The US is considering abstaining from a possible UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, sources suggest to the BBC. The possibility surfaced at talks in Paris last week between a senior US official and Qatar's foreign minister. The official said the US would "seriously consider abstaining" if the issue of Israeli settlements was put to the vote, a diplomat told the BBC.

After Obama-Netanyahu flap, Israel backers urged to express support
Supporters of Israel are being urged to write their lawmakers amid tensions between the Obama administration and the Jewish state. The Israel Project, an organization that backs Israel through direct engagement with the media, is urging its supporters to vocally promote a “free and open Jerusalem” by writing elected officials and contacting the media.

We the People
Well done clip.

This has been going around the net. Might be hard to get Congress to vote for!: Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution” "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

Part Time job
You’ll recall that after the Democrats’ candidate for Lt. Governor withdrew when it was revealed he was arrested for holding a knife to the throat of his prostitute girlfriend, I applied on line. (Holding a knife to the taxpayers’ throats would have been fine.) The Gov-Lite thing didn’t work out. They picked the daughter of former Senator Paul Simon, because the State Rep. who came in second was, as Harry Reid would say, a little too dark skinned for the ticket. But I have a new opportunity. The local Fox Channel job board reported a P/T opening for a photo archive assistant….at Playboy magazine. (Really). This weekend I’m going to run over to Iowa, which is where I think the application line probably starts.

Obama Policy Barrage Combats Dem Reelection Threat
Satire: Facing the specter of another two years of Democrat stagnation in Congress, President Barack Obama reportedly plans seize the momentum generated by the bipartisan opposition to his health care reform initiative in order to move boldly on reforming Wall Street, education, energy, employment and Little League Baseball…all at once. “The president spent the last year overcoming resistance from his own party in Congress,” said senior White House adviser David Axelrod. “If he doesn’t launch an all out, multi-front war right now, these same people could be reelected. That’s a nightmare scenario.” The new White House strategy consists of forcing Democrats to declare what they believe on a welter of issues that affect the daily lives of ordinary Americans.


  1. Any Washington Post(Pravda East) has to be viewed a suspect. The Rasmussen Daily polls are not so kind to Barry, Nanny, and Company.

  2. Now, they're crying and threatening to take back the House in the upcoming November Elections. Good luck with that. Here's some things to consider: By the November elections, most of the following will already be in place ...

    1. Adult children may remain as dependents on their parents’ policy until their 27th birthday
    2. Children under age 19 may not be excluded for pre-existing conditions
    3. No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage
    4. Free preventative care for all
    5. Adults with pre-existing conditions may buy into a national high-risk pool until the exchanges come online. While these will not be cheap, they’re still better than total exclusion and get some benefit from a wider pool of insureds.
    6. Small businesses will be entitled to a tax credit for 2009 and 2010, which could be as much as 50% of what they pay for employees’ health insurance.
    7. The “donut hole” closes for Medicare patients, making prescription medications more affordable for seniors.
    8. Requirement that all insurers must post their balance sheets on the Internet and fully disclose administrative costs, executive compensation packages, and benefit payments.
    9. Authorizes early funding of community health centers in all 50 states (Bernie Sanders’ amendment). Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay.
    10. AND no more rescissions. Effective immediately, you can't lose your insurance because you get sick.

    Republicans who continue to blast this bill do so at their own peril. At this point, the wise thing for them to do is drop the subject and find another area to attack the Democrats on as this is clearly a win for the Democrats.

    It didn't have to be this way. The Republicans could have gotten involved and even stolen the limelight from the Dems by beating them at their own game. They had some pretty good ideas in the 90s and Mitt Romney's plan for Massachusetts is not a bad start. But instead Republicans chose to champion tort reform as the solution which, by every economist's account, would only lower costs by 1.5 to 2% at best.

    And you know what the most ridiculous part of all this is? The Democratic Healthcare Bill is based on Republican ideas from the 90s, policy suggestions from the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, as well as the Massachusett's Healthcare Plan signed by Republican Mitt Romney.

  3. Oh, goody. More talking points, more accusations, no solutions. Typical jarhead logic.