Sunday, August 30, 2009

Economic Facts of Life

Essay: Twenty Economic Facts of Life
Robert A. Hall, MEd, CAE
August 29 2009

The world economy is such a complex system that no single person—or group of people—can understand the hundreds of billions of variables and interactions that comprise the entire system. Thus it is understandable that economists—like experts in other disciplines—argue endlessly about what the results of various trends, policies and developments will be. These arguments are colored by each economist’s worldview and life experience, as they are for the rest of us.

But there are some basic economic principles that have proven consistent, and that are fairly easy to understand. You may argue the physics of a complex system like the universe, but still have to agree that H20 turns from liquid to solid at 0°C at sea level on a fairly consistent basis, even if your worldview says it should freeze at 5°C. As Senator Patrick Moynihan reportedly quipped to a colleague, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."

But facts can be slippery things, starting with the old bromide, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” In many of our current political debates, too many people seem to prefer their own facts, and to ignore the evidence of long experience, because the evidence doesn’t fit their worldview.

Here, then, are what I consider to be Twenty Economic Facts of Life, which guide my thinking in policy matters.

1. People do more of what they are rewarded for doing, and avoid what they are punished for doing.

If that seems obvious, politicians and voters forget it all the time. Both JFK and Reagan lowered Capital Gains Taxes and discovered that government revenue went up, as more people invested money, rather than put it into other areas. Likewise, CGT increases have resulted in reduced government revenue. When I pointed this out to a liberal newspaper columnist in Madison, WI, his response was that it was a Republican, Pro-Business fact, and he wasn’t interested in those kinds of facts. He felt entitled to his own facts. But promising to “soak the rich” in the name of fairness is often counter-productive for government revenue, however popular it is with economically-ignorant voters.

Maryland is a recent example. They decided to drastically increase taxes on people with million dollar incomes, only to find that the following year they had about half as many folks reporting million dollar incomes. Some of that decline was doubtless due to the recession, but a lot of it was due to millionaires relocating their legal domiciles, and often their businesses to states like Florida with no income taxes. Zero-income tax Texas is still doing fairly well in this recession while high tax California is crashing, and liberals can’t figure out why.

When you punish people for investing in job-creating businesses, they will create fewer jobs, and you will collect fewer tax dollars, not more. It really is that simple.

Politicians also do what they are rewarded for, and their reward is votes. The next election is at most two or six years away. Voters love government spending and hate government taxes. So politicians get re-elected by voting for spending and against taxes. This results in an almost-permanent government fiscal crisis and ever-higher deficits. During my five terms in the Massachusetts senate, I observed one senator who never voted for a tax bill, but voted for every spending bill or spending increase to the state budget—with one exception. She always voted against legislators and judges pay raises, which, regardless of the merits, had minuscule fiscal impact on total spending. But it had a large PR impact, as with the help of a lazy press that never dug too deeply into the details of the budget, she trumped her fight for fiscal responsibility—these pay-raise votes—to her constituents. And she was re-elected year after year, becoming the dean of the senate. She wasn’t the only one following this "spend, but don’t tax" strategy.

2. There aren’t enough “rich” to pay for everything we want.

The IRS reported that in 2006, only 5% of the taxpayers made $153,500 or above, but that 5% paid 60% of the total taxes. (This was under the Bush tax cuts, which Democrats say favored “the rich.”) The 50% of the taxpayers with the lowest incomes paid a total of 3% of the taxes. “We’ll spend and just raise taxes on the rich, they can afford it,” is fraudulent as a Ponzi scheme, because you soon run out of “the rich.” There aren’t enough of them, and the poor don’t pay taxes, so when government spending goes up, most of it is going to come out of people in the middle, because that’s where most of the money is.

The politicians will try to delay that reality through borrowing, hide it in fees, or disguise it in inflation. But when the government spends a lot more money, it’s going to come out of the hides of middle income earners one way or another.

3. Politicians will sacrifice the country’s long term economic interests for their short term political welfare.

President Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley anti-trade tariff bill against the advice of a thousand economists. Many economists believe that was the key to a collapse of world trade, which turned what might have been a severe recession into the great depression. But, contrary to the myth that he did nothing, Hoover was under great pressure to do something, even if wrong, and he did what was politically popular, not what made economic sense. When it didn’t work, he was defeated anyway.

Once Republicans got control of Congress in the 1990s, they started spending money in the kind of amounts they had criticized Democrats for, because spending gets you votes. Politicians using their own money to buy votes is illegal, but using our grandchildren’s money to buy votes, by passing earmarks, pork barrel spending and entitlement programs, is not only legal, but practiced by both parties. Someone pockets every one of those dollars, and is thus inclined kindly toward the politician who provided it. The party out of power always criticizes this, as Obama did the Bush deficits (ignoring that they were approved in 07 and 08 by Democrat-controlled Congresses). But once in office, Obama’s first-year deficit was greater than all eight years of the Bush deficits combined, as hungry supportive constituencies had to be rewarded in the name of economic stimulus, to keep them voting Democrat in the future.

Elections are short term, while deficits are a long term problem. Thus we usually have deficits.

4. Free trade increases economic prosperity.

Free trade is popular with everyone, until it impacts their own income. Then workers and businessmen alike howl about “sending American jobs overseas.” (Liberals always wanted to help the downtrodden in other countries—but that didn’t mean the downtrodden should have jobs, only handouts. Like the poor in our cities.) The historic record is clear. Free trade increases prosperity among all the trading partners. After Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress passed NAFTA, the number of jobs in both countries went up—Ross Perot notwithstanding—just as the European Market has increased prosperity in Europe.

People circulating e-mails urging boycotts of “foreign” goods should recall how prosperous we were when international trade collapsed in the 1930s. But both businessmen and workers howl if they are the ones paying the price, so “saving American jobs” by barring trade will continue to be popular with politicians. Barack Obama is only the latest politician to pander to this ignorance.

5. Cause and effect in large economic systems are often impossible for most people to discern or understand.

When people who complain about high taxes and deficit spending still vote for their member of Congress because of the new bike path he brought to the district, making no connection at all, it’s little wonder they can’t understand economics. The jobs lost to NAFTA were concentrated in some industries and the workers and businessmen who lost out were very vocal. People demanded their public officials do something about the loss of jobs. Because the larger number of jobs gained were spread around the economy, people holding them usually had no idea they owed their jobs to free trade—and were doubtless clamoring against NAFTA in support of those who lost jobs!

Coupled with the voters’ notorious short term memories, this gives politicians endless chances to manipulate the ignorant. As Lincoln might have said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, and them’s pretty good odds.”

6. Waste is in the eye of the beholder.

Give me a couple of CPAs, a calculator and a laptop and I believe that in a month or so I could balance the Federal Budget. After which, a howling, outraged mob would rip me into cat food. All our politicians say they want to bring down the cost of healthcare. One of the huge healthcare costs is malpractice insurance and the defensive medicine that results from the threats of lawsuits. So are these billions in savings on the table in “healthcare reform?” They are not. A majority of legislators, particularly among Democrats, are lawyers. Lawyers get the benefit of these lawsuits and don’t see it as waste at all. It’s not a topic for discussion.

This is why the rest of us may fume at the extravagance of the “Murtha Airport,” but Congressman Murtha gets re-elected by his constituents, who don’t realize that to get their pork airport, Rep. Murtha has to go along with the other Congresscritters taking pork home to their districts, at the expense of his constituents.

7. Government never runs efficiently.

Business, which is organized with the sole goal of making a profit, has a hard time running efficiently. Non-profit organizations, where there are a lot of goals other than profit, have a bigger challenge. And in government, the bureaucrats are rewarded for following the rules, regardless of how much sense they make. Plus, they are subject to political influence in the decision making process, and the rules are set up to reward favored political constituencies, not efficiency. The results they strive to achieve are continued employment for both the bureaucrats and the politicians, not the efficient conduct of whatever the program’s mission is.

Name a government agency or program that you’d hold up to the corporation where your IRA is invested as a model. The Post Office? The DMV? The Pentagon? Medicare, Medicaid, the VA or the Indian Health Service? The Highway Department? Social Security? The Congress, state legislature or city council? (Okay, I’m cheating a bit—we wouldn’t really want them to be more efficient.)

A classic case was reported by John Steele Gordon in his essay, “Why government can’t run a Business.” According to Gordon, “In 1913, for instance, thinking it was being overcharged by the steel companies for armor plate for warships, the federal government decided to build its own plant. It estimated that a plant with a 10,000-ton annual capacity could produce armor plate for only 70% of what the steel companies charged. When the plant was finally finished, however -- three years after World War I had ended -- it was millions over budget and able to produce armor plate only at twice what the steel companies charged. It produced one batch and then shut down, never to reopen.”

8. When government makes you poorer, it’s a tax.

If the government spends money, but doesn’t raise taxes, and instead prints more dollars, it causes inflation. (See Jimmy Carter.) If it gets really bad, it causes hyper-inflation, as in Zimbabwe, where it can cost billions of Zimbabwe dollars for a loaf of bread. Inflation makes your dollars worth less, so you are poorer. Government caused inflation is a hidden tax on your income and your retirement savings.

If the government passes legislation that makes things cost more, such as the proposed “cap and trade” energy bill to fight global warming, it makes you poorer. It might be necessary, or for a good cause. But if they make heating your home or buying gasoline 10% more expensive, there’s no difference between that and putting a new 10% tax on energy. In either case you are worse off—they just don’t call it a tax.

9. The free market makes better decisions than central planners.

One would think, logically, that one person in charge—a czar for the economy, to use the currently popular term—could look at the big picture and make better decisions. And that is what the statists always believe. But the opposite is true.

Every day in our economy, billions of economic decisions are made by millions of people. When you decide to buy whole wheat bread rather than white, the czar would have to be able to predict that, in advance, for you and 300 million other people, and order all the steps in production to increase whole wheat—for people like you, but not those who prefer white this week.

Each step of the way requires specialized knowledge and experience. The guy who knows how to make a tractor doesn’t know how to grow wheat. The farmer doesn’t know how to get it to the bakery; the baker doesn’t know what sells in a particular neighborhood like the grocer does. There are hundreds of steps and decisions for every product. The czar would have to be God—which is why people always, always have higher standards of living in free economies than in planned economies. (Government bureaucrats and politicians only think they are God.)

10. Business people make economic decisions, politicians make political decisions.

Much was made of the “fact” that banks discriminated against blacks, “proved” by their giving home mortgages to whites at higher rates than to blacks. So the government stepped in, and created the Community Reinvestment Act to force banks to give loans to poor black people, thus earning votes for those politicians. This was followed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, huge loan schemes guaranteed (though they claimed not) by the taxpayers to be sure poorer folks could own homes. Thus started the housing bubble which was the first domino in the current recession. Attempts by the president and some legislators to more tightly regulate Fannie and Freddie were beaten back by supporters, ever eager to cry “racism” to get more dollars for their voting constituencies.

But the brilliant economist Dr. Thomas Sowell points out the banks were in business to make a profit. If loans to poor blacks in the inner city were profitable, they—or someone else—would have been making them already. And Asians were getting mortgages at higher rates than whites—were Asians running the banks and discriminating against whites? No. Asians had better repayment rates than whites, and whites better than blacks, thus making loans to them safer and more profitable. Sowell, for those who don’t know, grew up in a poor black family in NC.

11. There is no political freedom without economic freedom and property rights.

If you cannot own a home and a business and be free to run it as you wish, other freedoms are meaningless. If the government controls your shelter and your livelihood (from the root word “life”), it can tell you what to say, do and think. You are a slave as surely as any slave on a plantation in the old south, because the Master controls where you can live, how you can live, and what you eat and own. The right to own property is the most basis right, in terms of economic prosperity.

12. Government grows at the expense of individual economic and political freedom.

Most of us recognize that government is necessary to provide for the common defense, protect us from criminals, and provide infrastructure we cannot provide individually, like roads and harbors. We are neither anarchists on one end of the political spectrum, believing there should be no government, nor total statists on the other end (communists, Nazis, fascists, socialists) who believe the individual should always be subservient to the ruler’s idea of the “common good”—that is, to the state. The statist tendency is always to build the power of government at the expense of the individual’s freedom, as people keep telling politicians they should do something to solve perceived problems—and the politicians respond. But government owns most of the means of coercion—the military and police—and it has the power to take part or all of your income, to take your house, to tell you where to work. It was to thwart this tendency that the founders established the separation of powers—now much eroded—preserving to the states and the people any power not expressly granted to the federal government.

13. Power equals money.

You have a full wallet, but the guy in the alley has a gun. Suddenly he has a full wallet. The more power government, large corporations, large unions or criminal gangs have, the more money they will extract from the rest of us.

14. Corruption, crime, violence and instability make people poor.

One has to look no further than our large cities to see this at work. Would you open a factory to employ people where you would be hit for bribes by the local government? If you had to hire people based on politics, rather than skills? If you couldn’t get insurance because arson was rampant in the area? If crime made employees fearful of coming to work? Welcome to the American metropolis, run by Democrat bosses.

Many of the poorest third world countries are rich in resources, and have willing workers, but investors won’t start businesses there for the same reasons they prefer not to invest in corrupt, crime-ridden inner cities. Plus, there is always the fear that the third-world government thugs will seize your property. So the people languish in poverty, while the oligarchs get rich off them—and our foreign aid.

The classic example is Zimbabwe, which under the evil rule of a minority white government, led by Ian Smith, exported food to many other countries. But minority rule was “unjust,” so the world, the US included, helped to bring down Smith’s government and install black majority rule in the person of Robert Mugabe, a Marxist-Maoist. Mugabe appropriated white-owned farms and gave them to his black supporters, but was unable to appropriate the experience, knowledge and work ethic of the white farmers. Famine ensued, tens of thousands died, black life expectance fell from 64 to about 36, hyperinflation and terror stalked the land. The people are desperately poor because of corruption, crime, violence and instability, as investors do what is in their self-interest. And liberals called it “justice” because the statists had won.

15. The lower the cost of a “good,” the more of it will be consumed.

Last year when gasoline went to well over $4 a gallon, usage fell dramatically, burning the oil speculators and bringing down the cost. My step-daughter was driving home with the AC off to save pennies on a tank of gas, which she was paying for, then cranking up the AC in the house, which I was paying for—the AC at home was a free good to her.

No matter how many times this truth is proved, politicians still don’t get it. Are expenditures for medical care too high with the average American paying 13 cents on the dollar out of pocket for care? Let’s make it “free” and see if total costs go down.

People in supermarkets try free samples of foods they’d never give a second glance to, if they weren’t free. “Cash for Clunkers” was predicted to cost $1B in three months, but it burned through $3B in one month. It was “free money.” But even folks who hated the idea of the program figured if they were going to have to pay higher taxes to cover it, they might as well reap the benefits. (This is known as the “Tragedy of the Commons.”)

16. Government does not create wealth.

Wealth is created when investors start businesses, hire labor and produce goods or services. When government “stimulates” the economy by putting money in, it has to take money out of the economy elsewhere, through higher taxes (dollars spent on taxes don’t get spent in other parts of the economy) or through borrowing (money lent to the government is not invested in the private sector).

And whenever government gives a dollar (or a dollar’s worth of some good, like medical care) to someone who didn’t earn that dollar, it must take that dollar from someone who did earn it through labor or investing (perhaps in a retirement fund.) The person who earned the dollar doesn’t get the benefit of it—the other person does.

If I steal your wallet, and spend the money in it, is that better for the economy than if you had spent it yourself? Or is it just better for me and the favored people I spend it with?

17. Everyone tries to improve his or her own economic situation.

Whenever my wife and I are house hunting—all too often due to my career—we always think that there are houses just out of our price range that would be perfect. I’m sure if we could afford a million dollar house (we aren’t close), we’d be dreaming of a $1.3M cottage. And so it goes. People work to improve the lives of their families and themselves—and appetites are unlimited. Economic systems that ignore people’s commitment to self interest are doomed. The free market system harnesses people’s efforts to improve their lives, to make everyone more prosperous. Other systems discourage economic activity and innovation.

18. Money isn’t the only cost of something.

Time is a cost. My wife and I love yard sales and flea markets, and delight in finding bargains. But is the money we save worth the time investment? Probably not—especially when many of the treasures we find were unknown desires until we saw them. It’s really a hobby, rather than a sound economic strategy. If you did your grocery shopping at ten stores instead of one or two, you could take advantage of the sales and specials at each, and save a great deal on your grocery bill. So why don’t you? Because time is a cost as well, often a more painful one. Just learning where the sale items are takes a lot of time. (See Dr. Thomas Sowell’s writings on the cost of knowledge.)

19. Bankruptcies and failure are vital to the economy.

It’s not just success that makes our economy work. If a company can’t fail, its owners and employees have no incentive to be efficient, to provide the most desirable goods and services at the best price. In short, it becomes like government, which can’t fail because it can always get more money—from you. This is why so much of the current economic bailout is so troubling to conservative, free-market economists.

20. There can never be equal outcomes and trying to achieve them is harmful.

It doesn’t matter how many government programs you pass, or how much you talk about fairness or social justice, I’m never going to have the life style of Michael Jordan or Donovan McNabb. Oh, I can say it’s racism that gives them a better, richer lifestyle than me, but the truth is they had slightly better athletic talents, a marketable skill I didn’t have, and thus got ahead. No government program can give me justice and equality, by making my lifestyle—and everyone else’s—equal to theirs. Nor is it desirable to bring everyone to the same level. If the outcome was the same for the kids who partied and did drugs as it was for Bill Gates, what is the incentive for hard work and creation?

In 1965, I was an 18-year-old private on mess duty in the Marines. I asked a fellow “messman” how come his coffee was so bad. “I make it double strength,” he said. “If I make it regular strength, they drink three pots during chow. Double strength they only drink one, so I do less work and get paid they same.” There, my friends, is socialism. When there are no incentives—except, perhaps, fear—for doing better, no one does better.

I have seen the future—and it doesn’t work.


A Marine Vietnam Veteran, Robert A. Hall holds a BS in Government from the University of Massachusetts and an MEd in history from Fitchburg State College. After graduating from college, he served five terms in the Massachusetts Senate. He is not an economist. For a better understanding of economics than he can possibly give, he recommends Basic Economics and Economic Facts and Fallacies, both by Thomas Sowell, PhD.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Political Digest August 29 2009

Police: Sex offender kept victim, kids in shed
Excerpt: PLACERVILLE, Calif. — A woman who was snatched from a bus stop as an 11-year-old child in 1991 turned up Thursday after being held for the past 18 years in isolation in a backyard compound by a convicted sex offender who fathered two children with her, police said. The details about her time in captivity emerged after Jaycee Lee Dugard surfaced at a police station in Northern California, nearly two decades after she vanished outside her home. Police said Phillip Garrido, 58, held her the entire time as a virtual slave, sheltered from the outside world in tents, sheds and outbuildings in his backyard in suburban Antioch. "None of the children have ever been to school, they've never been to a doctor," El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar said. "They were kept in complete isolation in this compound, if you will." There was electricity from electrical cords, rudimentary outhouse, rudimentary shower, "as if you were camping," he said. Prison officials said Garrido admitted the kidnapping after meeting with his parole officer. He brought Dugard and the two children, ages 11 and 15, to the meeting. (Given the opportunity, I would shoot him dead. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.)

Holder's Decision To Probe CIA Hints At a New Dynamic
Excerpt: Holder notified the White House that he was reluctantly leaning toward naming a prosecutor to review whether laws had been broken during interrogations -- the very thing Obama had said he wanted to avoid. And the word Holder got back, according to people familiar with the conversations, was that the decision was up to him. The back story to Monday's appointment of a career prosecutor to review CIA interrogation methods illustrates Holder's influence in the new administration and sheds light on the emerging and delicate relationship between the White House and the Justice Department. In this and other big battles, including the decision to release memos this year by Bush administration officials giving the green light to harsh interrogation tactics, Holder and his Justice Department have prevailed over strong objections from the CIA and the intelligence community. Holder hasn't won every one of those battles, but he has won many. (If the jihadists hit DC hard, I hope Holder survives to walk through the carnage. This is the guy who helped Clinton pardon Marc Rich.

The lion of the left
Excerpt: Who can forget Kennedy's outrageous 2006 inquisition into the integrity of then Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito? In 1987 when Ronald Reagan nominated Alito to be a U.S. District Attorney, Kennedy's vote was among the Senate's unanimous consent. And when Sam Alito was nominated for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1990, he again received Kennedy's vote and unanimous consent from the Senate. But after impugning Alito's character in his Supreme Court hearings, Kennedy blustered, "If confirmed, Alito could very well fundamentally alter the balance of the court and push it dangerously to the right." Of course, Kennedy was an expert at "borking" judicial nominees. Indeed, he is responsible for the coining of the term. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated an exceptional jurist, Robert Bork, to the Supreme Court. During Bork's confirmation hearings, Kennedy proclaimed, "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens." Despicable. (This article brings some balance to the drive for sainthood underway, but is mostly negative.)

IRS could cut limits on 401(k) allocations
The good news just keeps rollin’ in.

Transparency, Science and the EPA Revisited,0,901567.story
Excerpt: The agency used secondary scientific sources, studies that largely weren't adequately peer-reviewed and the selective use of scientific studies to justify a policy decision they wanted to make. And in terms of trials based on myth, exactly the opposite -- we don't want decades of publicly accessible evidence to be ignored. To enact effective policy we need transparency and scientific data which is beyond question, not data deemed beyond questioning, concludes Peck.

Rangel, Again
Excerpt: Yes, the House -- which is controlled by fellow Democrats -- has begun investigations. But so far it's failed to act. And there's scant reason to think it ever will. Dems may rather tolerate such sleaze than take on the Ways and Means Committee chairman, but they do so only by smearing their own reputations. But this shouldn't stop law-enforcement officials from launching their own probe. Rangel's lengthy, inexplicable "oversights" demand immediate action. (When a Black President and Black AG ignore wrong doing by blacks, like this of the thugs blocking voting places in Phila, it feeds racism.)

Obamacare: The Only Exit Strategy
Truly scary.

This Point Cuts Both Ways
Excerpt: Forget death panels. If you're really interested in putting a stop to the public option (and some truly entertaining town hall meetings), let's talk circumcision panels…. Now people at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (those folks who often carry themselves as if they, too, had the ear of the Lord) are mulling a national campaign to promote "universal circumcision" for all boys in the United States in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV. Additionally, as The New York Times reported this week, the CDC is thinking about expanding the campaign to target promiscuous adult heterosexual men.

Waxman Takes on Drug Makers Over Medicare
Excerpt: Drug makers contend they have already worked out a 10-year, $80 billion cost-savings deal with the White House and crucial Senate gatekeepers on the trillion-dollar health care overhaul. The industry says that trying to add Mr. Waxman’s provision could scuttle that agreement. “You not only break the deal, but you break the bank for us,” said Billy Tauzin, chief executive of the drug industry’s trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA.

Mali: Women's rights bill blocked; Muslim leaders called it "the work of the devil" Why? Well, for example, "under the new law women are no longer required to obey their husbands, instead husbands and wives owe each other loyalty and protection." Oh, and a minimum age of 18 for marriage, which would contradict Muhammad's example -- a "beautiful pattern of conduct," per Qur'an 33:21.

Stop 'emotionalizing' the cap-and-trade debate
Excerpt: Environmental activists who favor anti-global warming regulations like the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill now before the U.S. Senate have long claimed that government intervention is essential to save the planet from an imminent man-made catastrophe. In fact, only Waxman-Markey threatens to be a man-made catastrophe. The bill would create billions of dollars' worth of government credits to businesses that reduce carbon emissions. Businesses that exceed the required reductions could sell the credits to firms that fail to do so. The approach won't work because it would use a government mandate to create a market for which there is no consumer demand. Since the American economy is mainly powered by energy produced from carbon fuels and will be for the foreseeable future, reducing carbon emissions requires slowing or eliminating economic growth, with the result that 2 million more Americans will become unemployed by 2012, according to an analysis by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Similarly, the Brookings Institution -- certainly no sentinel of rightward analysis -- also predicts dire economic results from Waxman-Markey.

Climate Change This Week: The Rich Must Pay
Under the guise of improving the world, underneath all the spin, "progressives" usually want to tear something down so they can remake the world in their image. How refreshing it is on the rare occasions they actually admit this -- at least then we know what we're dealing with. In a recent interview with the BBC, Greenpeace leader Gerd Leipold admitted that a goal of the envirofacists is to destroy the rich. "The lifestyle of the rich in the world," Leipold said, "is not a sustainable model." By extension, neither is the U.S. -- the richest country in the world. Leipold and his drones are calling for the suppression of economic growth in America in order to stop climate change. Obama's got his back. But even halting our growth is not good enough. African leaders are also calling for rich countries to hand over $67 billion dollars a year to offset the effects of global warming on that continent. And the creative ideas keep coming. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, citing pollution in the Northwestern hemisphere, is calling for compensation for the famines in his country during the 1980s -- apparently he has found scientists to blame us for that, too. The Patriot Post

On a tiny strip of land narrower at its narrowest point than many American townships,
Israel has built a modern economy with a GDP per capita just shy of $30,000 – and within striking distance of the European Union average. If you object that that's because it's uniquely blessed by Uncle Sam, well, for the past 30 years the second largest recipient of U.S. aid has been Egypt: Their GDP per capita is $5,000, and America has nothing to show for its investment other than one-time pilot Mohammed Atta coming at you through the office window.-- Mark Steyn

Friday, August 28, 2009

Political Digest August 28 2009

Massachusetts Senate Seat
The Democrats in Massachusetts changed the law when Kerry was running for president, calling for a special election instead of appointment by the governor, to prevent Romney naming a successor to President Kerry. Now they have a vacancy, a Democrat governor, and need that vote in the US Senate. They should be able to jam a bill through the “Great and General Court” (as the Massachusetts Legislature was known) as soon as it can meet. BUT, if the Senate President and/or the Speaker of the House has ambitions to be appointed, or to control the appointment, the bill could be held up while a deal is cut. Watch for the Boston Globe, that bankrupt liberal organ, to put on the heat to allow the governor to appoint. Meanwhile, the Gov isn’t all that popular. And there’s a secret amendment in the Massachusetts Constitution that requires the Senate President, House Speaker and the Governor to all hate each other, regardless of party. I speak as a former member of the Massachusetts Senate, which we called the “upper house” and the House members called “the other body.”

The Coming Wellstone Effect?
Excerpt: Ultimately, it is their inflexibility and arrogance that comes from their policy greed (I want it now, I want it all) that could drive them to politicize the funeral of Senator Kennedy to the point of it repulsing the American public. The Democrats should remember their experience with the Senator Wellstone funeral. Given the moral certainty of liberals and their arrogance in their views, their pent-up demand for some good news on health care and their urge to imprint Senator Kennedy permanently on the historic record, combine that all and then add a truck load of saturation coverage from the boot-licking mainstream media, and a Senator Wellstone funeral blow-back effect is a real likelihood. Then, the Democrats will have truly used Senator Ted Kennedy’s death to effect the exact opposite of what Senator Kennedy would have wanted.

Changing the Name
Notice that the administration has taken a leaf from Al Gore’s playbook. With global temps dropping since the 90s, the Climate Alarmists are no longer referring to “Global Warming” but to “Global Climate Change.” (Any change is bad, is caused by humans and requires us to kill our economy.) BO & Company, having run into a buzz saw at the Town Hall Meetings, has changed the goal from “Health Care Reform” to “Health Insurance Reform.” In BO’s memorable phrase, they are trying to put “lipstick on a pig.” But it’s still a pig.

Now that the AG is going after CIA operatives, they will doubtless be more considerate of Al Qaeda “detainees” in the future. Some day, President Obama may return from a political speech someplace, to find Washington DC and his wife and daughters incinerated by a terrorist A-bomb. He’ll proudly say that it was worth it as long as we didn’t waterboard anyone to find out about it in advance. God forbid, but I think the AG’s political investigation makes it ever more likely.

Democrats Vow to Return Money from Financier
Nemazee, a Top Fundraiser for Party, Is Charged With Fraud Related to Loan
Excerpt: Just 11 months ago, Hassan Nemazee ranked as one of the Democratic Party's premier money men -- hosting a $28,500-a-head fundraiser in his luxurious home on New York's Upper East Side for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. On Wednesday, Nemazee returned to the same $20 million Park Avenue apartment under house arrest, charged with lying about his assets in order to secure a $74 million loan from Citibank. He is required to wear an electronic security bracelet to ensure that he doesn't leave the building. The charges prompted a scramble among top Democrats to distance themselves from Nemazee, 59, who together with his wife has contributed more than $750,000 over the past 15 years to federal committees and candidates, including Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, records show. (Ah, that Democrat “culture of corruption” Nancy Pelosi warned us about. But it bears repeating. There are good, honest, decent, intelligent, caring people who are Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, Male and Female, Black, White, Brown and Yellow. And there are slimeballs in every category too. Defending wrongdoing because you share a party, race, ethnicity or religion with the miscreant makes you part of the problem. Defending Gov. Sanford because he’s a conservative is just as wrong as Holder’s refusal to prosecute vote intimidation in Philadelphia because the thugs were black.)

Mayhem Crosses the Border with Informers
Excerpt: EL PASO -- José Daniel González was living the sweet life in America. He bought the $365,000 two-story Mediterranean with the tile roof and swimming pool. He started a trucking company, was raising a family. But on a Friday night in May, he was executed in his front yard -- eight shots, tight pattern, close range. According to police detectives, González knew the man who ordered his killing. He also knew the man who stood on his lawn and watched him die. These things are often personal, especially among high-level drug traffickers.

For Intelligence Officers, A Wiki Way to Connect Dots
Intelligence agencies sharing information? Gee, novel idea.

Specialists Under Fire: Health care reform takes aim at the most highly-trained physicians
Interesting data on the threat to access to care.

Doctor’s website on HCR

3,900 stimulus checks went to prison inmates
And they want the government to run health care.

Afghanistan Apocalypse
Excerpt: Their conclusions: (1) A significant escalation of the war will be necessary to avoid utter defeat. (2) Even if tens of thousands of troops are added to the US occupation, it won't be possible to determine if the US/NATO effort is succeeding until eighteen months later. (3) Even if the United States turns the tide in Afghanistan, no significant drawdown of US forces will take place until five years have passed.

Richardson Probe 'Was Killed in Washington'
Holder is too busy going after CIA folks who tried to prevent another 9/11 to be worring about little things like voter intimidation by black thugs in Phila, or political corruption among Democrats. This is the guy who promised a “non-political” AG office. You’d laugh if you weren’t crying.

The Actions That Are Necessary Now: "$10 for Tark."$10_for_tark
Excerpt: The country is on the edge of unleashing hyperinflation which will not only destroy economic growth for years to come but also wipe out the savings of millions of retired Americans. It is unconscionable that the country is borrowing so much money, and there is no rationalizing it except as a ruthless political payoff to the president's most loyal constituencies. It is a poisoned payoff, however, as this sort of economic recklessness will undermine the quality of life for every American.

Pelosi Radioactive in… California?
Excerpt: It’s no surprise when a Southern Democrat in a GOP-leaning seat - someone like Parker Griffith - runs like a scalded dog from Nancy Pelosi. Indeed, if Democrats hold a narrow edge in the House after the 2010 elections - a genuine possibility - they will nervously count the Blue Dogs to see how many will withhold votes from Pelosi. But it should be surprising that even Democrats in California are trying to distance themselves from her:

Alleged mastermind of Jakarta attacks arrested: the director of an online Islamic "information portal"
Excerpt: And yet he, too, missed the memo about Islam as a "religion of peace." Or he just plain "misunderstood" it. Funny how that keeps happening.

Medical advice on Libyan bomber 'in doubt'
Excerpt: JUSTICE secretary Kenny MacAskill was last night under pressure to reveal more details of the medical evidence that led to the release of the Lockerbie bomber, after it emerged that only one doctor was willing to say Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi had less than three months to live. Labour and Conservative politicians have demanded the Scottish Government publish details of the doctor's expertise and qualifications, amid suggestions he or she may not have been a prostate cancer expert.

10-year-old Muslim bride turned over to 80-year-old husband from whom she had been hiding
(No outcry from American feminists?) Excerpt: AL-LAITH: A 10-year-old bride was returned last Sunday to her 80-year-old husband by her father who discovered her at the home of her aunt with whom she has been hiding for around 10 days. A local newspaper said the husband, who denies he is 80 in spite of claims by the girl’s family, accused the aunt of meddling in his affairs. “My marriage is not against Shariah. It included the elements of acceptance and response by the father of the bride,” he said. He added that he had been engaged to his wife’s elder sister and that this broke off as she wanted to continue with her education. “In light of this, her father offered his younger daughter. I was allowed to have a look at her according to Shariah and found her acceptable,” he said. (Well: "The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with 'Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death)." -- Bukhari 7.62.88)

Hamas Plays Host to Pedophilia
Sickening if true. Our tax dollars at work.

Court Rulings Increase Lawsuit Abuse, Reduce Patient Care
But they can’t figure out why health care costs keep going up.

Gov. Haley Barbour: Obamacare is going too far, too soon, too fast, and costing too much
Excerpt: It took Obama six months to pick out a family dog. Cramming health care reform down the country's throat in a fraction of that time scares people who have been told, accurately, the various bills contain a billion-dollar combination of tax increases and Medicare spending cuts.

Dean says Obamacare authors don't want to challenge trial lawyers
Excerpt: Asked by an audience member why the legislation does nothing to cap medical malpractice class-action lawsuits against doctors and medical institutions (aka "Tort reform"), Dean responded by saying: “The reason tort reform is not in the [health care] bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on. And that’s the plain and simple truth,” Dean is a former physician, so he knows about skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance rates, and the role of the trial lawyers in fueling the "defensive medicine" approach among medical personnel who order too many tests and other sometimes unneeded procedures "just to be sure" and to protect themselves against litigation.

NH court orders home-schooled child into government-run school
Excerpt: Although the marital master making recommendations to the court agreed the child is “well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level” and that “it is clear that the home schooling…has more than kept up with the academic requirements of the…public school system,” he nonetheless proposed that the Christian girl be ordered into a government-run school after considering “the impact of [her religious] beliefs on her interaction with others.” The court approved the order.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Political Digest August 27 2009

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy Dies at 77 after Cancer Battle
Conservatives should take no joy in this, no dancing in the streets as Muslims did on 9/11 or liberals would if George W. were to die or Sarah Palin be raped and murdered as a liberal blog suggested would be fitting. Nor do we have to join in the Michael Jackson style canonization sure to come or to forget the flaws, from the Harvard cheating scandal, to a young woman left to drown while he walked past lighted homes to try to get off the island and establish an alibi, to the frat-boy life style, to the privileged opposition to wind power when it might disrupt the Kennedy view. Rest in peace.

Democratic Fundraiser Charged With Fraud
Nemazee Worked For Kerry, Clinton, Obama Campaigns
If he was a Republican, Nancy Pelosi would be talking about the “culture of corruption” again. More here:

Deficit Projected To Soar With New Programs
10-Year Estimate of $9 Trillion Fuels Critics of President's Agenda
How fondly we remember Democrats slamming Bush for much smaller deficits. Excerpt: White House budget director Peter Orszag played down the grim forecast as unsurprising, saying the update merely brings White House projections in line with those of outside experts. He noted that this year's deficit is now expected to approach $1.6 trillion -- the highest on record and the biggest as a percentage of the economy since the end of World War II, but slightly smaller than officials had feared. Still, with town hall meetings across the country erupting with bitter complaints about rising federal spending and the fear of greater government intrusion into people's lives, the new projections are likely to complicate Obama's ambitious legislative agenda when Congress returns in September.

Federal budget numbers now stratospheric
Excerpt: It's publicly held debt is projected by the White House budget office to total a whopping $17.5 trillion by 2019 - a figure so big it is three-quarters of the nation's entire economy - and big enough that it would send Reagan's stack of thousand-dollar bills into satellite orbit.

Obama's 09 deficit exceeds all eight years of Bush red ink
But who cares? Democrats have the usual answer: Bush made him do it.

Debt Clock

Dear Foreign Minister Bildt
Excerpt: As you know well, a leading newspaper in your country, Sweden, earlier this month published an article alleging that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians to harvest their organs.

Why Is Obama Dissing Doctors?
Excerpt: There he was again with the profit motive. Only this time he was actually making the argument that the doctor would be so malevolent as to allow the diabetic in question to purposefully worsen the condition, just to cash in. I cannot repeat this strongly enough--his willingness to view doctors with such contempt and disrespect sickens me, as it should every medical practitioner in the nation. As best as I can tell there is no other industry that swears to the ideals of such a lofty vision as is found in the Hippocratic Oath.

The Health Care Quiz
I was 7/8.

Three Reasons Why Government Can't Run Health Care
Excerpt: What if your husband had come home last Friday night and announced that he had racked up almost 30 percent more debt on the family credit card - including the mortgage and car loans - than he had told you about just a month ago? Would you trust him to go out and start spending money to remodel the kitchen? And do you think he could get a loan to do it? But that's exactly what the Obama Administration did with their weekend news dump. They announced late Friday that the amount of money they don't have but are nonetheless planning on spending over the next ten years isn't the astonishing $7 trillion they estimated in May but is instead an astounding $9 trillion. Add this to the fact that, after the administration sold its health care reform proposal on the grounds that it will reduce costs to the Treasury, the independent Congressional Budget Office determined that the House plan will actually cost an astounding $1 trillion-$1.5 trillion in the next ten years, which will be added directly to the federal debt. The director of the CBO testified before Congress last month that "[i]n the legislation that has been reported we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs."

Suggestion from a blog reader
Your articles are great, and they are making the E-mail circuit. However, while these things may be inspiring, are they effective? What sort of action are they provoking? This is a humble but positive suggestion that might gain traction if you included it on your website. Those of us opposed to "OBAMACARE" are sending BAND AIDS with a big "NO" on it to the president, and members of congress. They would have to take note if they were buried in band aids. Just feel the need to overtly express my dissent. This was the only means I found. If you have a better idea, my ears are open. How can we stop this rape of our freedom, by a band of thieves? We are looking at pure evil. It is frightening. I have never been near a gun, but I find myself thinking about being helpless if violence breaks out. These people play rough. What would I do if confronted?

Ozone-Friendly Chemical Said to be Causing Global Warming
Excerpt: This latest research highlights the potential unintended consequences of government regulation, and it further supports the position that drastic measures to curb greenhouse-gas emissions are premature, insofar as research is ongoing and current questions remain unanswered and new questions emerge. As an alternative to hasty, sweeping, climate-fighting mandates and regulations, a better approach is to take whatever time is necessary to continue important research and gather the information that will put us in a better position to protect the environment and consumers.

Global Warming Hard Data in Charts

What Will They Learn?
Excerpt: ACTA conducted research to see whether 100 major institutions require seven key subjects: English composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and science. What ACTA found was found was alarming, reporting that "Even as our students need broad-based skills and knowledge to succeed in the global marketplace, our colleges and universities are failing to deliver. Topics like U.S. government or history, literature, mathematics, and economics have become mere options on far too many campuses. Not surprisingly, students are graduating with great gaps in their knowledge -- and employers are noticing."

Obama's Plan to Desecrate 9/11
Excerpt: The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry. This effort to reshape the American psyche has nothing to do with healing the nation and everything to do with easing the nation along in the ongoing radical transformation of America that President Obama promised during last year's election campaign. The president signed into law a measure in April that designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service, but it's not likely many lawmakers thought this meant that day was going to be turned into a celebration of ethanol, carbon emission controls, and radical community organizing.

Rangel lowballed net worth by half
Excerpt: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., has amended his 2007 financial disclosure forms, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars in previously undisclosed assets. The news was first reported on the Website of Congressional Quarterly earlier today. The site reports that Rangel filed an amended financial disclosure statement earlier this month to include $250,000 in a Congressional Federal Credit Union, "land in southern New Jersey and stock in PepsiCo and fast food conglomerate Yum! Brands," CQ reports. The amended report doubles Rangel's net worth reported in the original form filed in 2008. Rangel holds the gavel of the House tax writing panel. He is under investigation by the House ethics committee for failing to pay back taxes and suspicion of engaging in a pay-for-play scheme involving donations to a school named after him. Ethics is also probing a trip Rangel took to the Caribbean with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Democrats put a fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus in charge of the Caribbean investigation. (He’ll get a pass. Democrats will tolerate any level of corruption in black politicians rather than offend black voters. See “Sen. Roland Burris” and many others.)

The 'burqa robberies': Man clad in Muslim garment and armed with an axe steals £150,000 designer watches
Excerpt: Staff at the shop told police the offenders, including the one wearing the burkha, were all male.The other two were wearing dark clothing and had their faces covered. All are thought to be Asian. (British PC speak for Pakistanis) The incident is the latest in a spate of 'burqa robberies' where thieves conceal their identity with the full-body garment typically worn by Muslim women.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Political Digest August 26 2009

The Great Escape
Another must-read from Dr. Sowell
Excerpt: The great escape of our times is escape from personal responsibility for the consequences of one's own behavior. Differences in infant mortality rates provoke pious editorials on a need for more prenatal care to be provided by the government for those unable to afford it. In other words, the explanation is automatically assumed to be external to the mothers involved and the solution is assumed to be something that "we" can do for "them."

How Tort Reform Cut Florida Workers' Compensation Costs
We could do a lot to reduce the costs of defensive medicine, which would save many billions, but with the League of Leftwing Lawyers running the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, fat chance. They don’t want to cut costs if those costs go to lawyers’ incomes.

Taxes too high? You ain't seen nothing yet.
“If (Barack Obama) is elected president, no one making less than $250,000 a year will pay a penny more in taxes.” Some people were stupid enough to believe that.

High-Speed Boondoggle
Why Obama's bet on rails is an expensive mistake
Excerpt: The Obama administration's enthusiasm for high-speed rail is a dispiriting example of government's inability to learn from past mistakes. Since 1971, the federal government has poured almost $35 billion in subsidies into Amtrak with few public benefits. At most, we've gotten negligible reductions—invisible and statistically insignificant—in congestion, oil use or greenhouse gases. What's mainly being provided is subsidized transportation for a small sliver of the population. In a country where 140 million people go to work every day, Amtrak has 78,000 daily passengers. A typical trip is subsidized by about $50. Given this, you'd think even the dullest politician wouldn't expand rail subsidies, especially considering the almost $11 trillion in projected federal budget deficits between now and 2019. But no, the administration has made high-speed rail a top priority. It's already proposed spending $13 billion ($8 billion in the "stimulus" package and $1 billion annually for five years) as a down payment on high-speed rail in 10 "corridors," including Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and Houston to New Orleans.

United Kingdom: Over 45,000 National Health Service Staff Call in Sick Each Day
When healthcare providers become government employees.

Oil Industry Details Costs of Climate Bill
Excerpt: By 2030, U.S. refining production could drop 17 percent from today's levels if the climate bill is passed as currently proposed. The drop would have to be made up by foreign imports, meaning the United States could end up relying on other countries for 19.4 percent of its refined fuel -- nearly twice the amount it imports today.

G.I. Jane Breaks the Combat Barrier
Women at Arms: Living and Fighting Alongside Men, and Fitting In
Two interesting articles on women in combat today. I’ve long said that in a tight spot I’d rather have a female Marine next to me than the average weenie found on today’s university campuses.

Obama’s Human Rights Disaster'
Excerpt: I think there are two explanations for Obama policy. The first is that they associate the freedom agenda and the promotion of democracy with President Bush, so they reject it. The desire to dissociate from a previous Administration is understandable, but not when it comes to human rights. Promotion of human rights was also Carter policy and Clinton policy, in some ways, so what they are actually abandoning is decades of foreign policy consensus. The second explanation is the one you suggest, left-wing politics. These apology tours suggest a view that America has been a source for trouble, violence, oppression and not an inspiration for freedom. It's a version of the old McGovernite view that we are a bad country and the more we do in the world the worse off everyone will be. Reagan won in 1980 in part because he did not believe that, and the American people don't believe it; they believe we are the greatest influence for good on the face of the earth. And they are right.

Death of a Libel Tourist
Excerpt: Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz died in Jeddah last Saturday. The 60-year-old former owner of the Saudi National Commercial Bank and banker for the Royal family also owned a charity, the Muwafaq (blessed relief) Foundation that funded al-Qaeda and Hamas, to name but a few. He should be remembered not only because of his involvement with the shady Bank for Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) aka “banks for crooks and criminals” and the illegal purchase of the First American Bank in Washington, DC, in the early 1990s, but mostly because inadvertently he led Americans to better protect their free speech rights.

National Suicide
Excerpt: Remember when the deficit was so bad that Democrats said we (or more accurately the Republicans) were placing a terrible burden on our grandchildren?
That was several trillion dollars ago. Democrats now appear perfectly fine with extending the growing deficit and national debt to their great-grandchildren. Perhaps politicians think they will never be held accountable three generations from now because they won't be around to explain to those not yet born why they refused to stop our financial hemorrhaging.

Unions fighting for 10 Billion dollar payoff in health care rationing bill.
Excerpt: These would be the (generous) health care plans that the UAW essentially extorted out of the auto industry. Also note that this is in addition to the percentage of the auto industries already traded to labor unions in exchange for assumption of obligations stemming from those health care plans. And now the expectation is that the unions will be able to pass along the costs of early retirees to the government - which is to say, you. Put another way: fully one percent of the health care rationing bill’s minimum final cost will go towards rewarding the UAW’s original health-care looting.

Democrats Organizing to Actively Disrupt Rep. Paul Ryan’s Townhalls
Wait, I thought it was the insurance companies flooding town halls with “Astroturf”?

Back on Uncle Sam's plantation
Excerpt: The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities, dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families. Through God's grace, I found my way out. It was then that I understood what freedom meant and how great this country is. I had the privilege of working on welfare reform in 1996, passed by a Republican congress and signed into law by a Democrat president. A few years after enactment, welfare roles were down fifty percent. I thought we were on the road to moving socialism out of our poor black communities and replacing it with wealth producing American capitalism. But, incredibly, we are going in the opposite direction.

Reid faces political squeeze between fellow Dems and Nevada voters
Excerpt: The weekend brought bad news for Reid as he faces a potentially tough fight for a fifth term in 2010. A Mason-Dixon poll showed Reid would trail two prospective Republican opponents, former University of Las Vegas basketball player Danny Tarkanian and state GOP chairwoman Sue Lowden by 11 points and 5 points, respectively.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Political Digest August 25 2009

Bay State health insurance premiums highest in country
When something is cheap, people use more of it. Basic Economics. Free healthcare is very cheap.

Explaining the Town-Hall Protests
Excerpt: Why are they so angry? The reasons are manifold, but the single biggest reason is the arrogance of our elected officials in Washington. Think about it. For the past seven months a small group of politicians has been meeting behind-closed-doors with powerful special interests to decide whether you will be able to keep your current insurance, where you will be directed to get new insurance and at what price, what fines you and your employer will have to pay if you don't conform, and how they're going to get your doctor to change the way he or she practices medicine. In the process, they never asked you what you thought about anything. If you are not mad about this, odds are you don't understand the situation. Remember, according to a Fox News poll conducted last month, 84% of Americans rate the quality of their insurance as "excellent" or "good." When they voted for Mr. Obama for president, they thought "universal care" meant helping some unfortunate Americans obtain insurance they cannot otherwise afford. Not once did candidate Obama say he was going to make changes that affected them and their health care. In fact, he promised the opposite.

The Competition Cure
Excerpt: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius routinely calls for more choice and competition in health care. In his weekly address this past weekend, President Obama raised the issue directly: "The source of a lot of these fears about government-run health care is confusion over what's called the public option. This is one idea among many to provide more competition and choice, especially in the many places around the country where just one insurer thoroughly dominates the marketplace." We take it this refers to a state in which one insurer holds most of the business. It is no secret that this page is all for competition in the marketplace. If indeed that's the goal, allow us to suggest a path to it that will be a lot easier than erecting the impossible dream of a public option: Let insurance companies sell health-care policies across state lines.

Union Car Czar Poised to Dictate America's Manufacturing Policy
Excerpt: The Obama Administration may elevate Ron Bloom, head of the government's auto task force, to a job that would set U.S. manufacturing policy more broadly, people familiar with the matter said. Bloom's responsibilities at the new position? They're extensive, to say the least. As the chief policy maker on manufacturing, Bloom would be charged with reviewing U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. His job would likely encompass trade, taxes and other economic issues . . .

Town Hall Meeting with U.S. Congressman Brian Baird
Marine vet at Congressman’s Town Hall meeting.

Health Care and Infant Mortality: The Real Story
Excerpt: African-American babies are far more likely to die than white ones, which is often taken as evidence that poverty and lack of health insurance are to blame. That's entirely plausible until you notice another racial/ethnic gap: Hispanics of Mexican or Central or South American ancestry not only do consistently better than blacks on infant mortality, they do better than whites. Social disadvantage doesn't explain very much.

What's with Obama's Obsession: Body Parts?
Excerpt: In speech after speech on the need for the federalizing control of a national health care system President Obama has taken to insulting the wrong people--physicians--but beyond that he has turned them into orated illustrations of terror.

Barack Obama’s Administration Kills a Military Fly Over
Excerpt: For 42 years, the God and Country Rally in Idaho has started its rally with a military fly over. The God and Country Rally is a non-denominational rally that supports American soldiers. For 42 years the Pentagon has carried out the military fly over. Not any more. In Barack Obama’s America, the military is no longer allowed to do such things if the group requesting the fly over is Christian oriented.

Our Veterans deserve better than Obama's VA 'Death Book' directive.
Where death is a viable option!

Interesting GW video

Taliban cuts off index fingers of two women who voted
More of the values BO says we share with Islam.

Obamacare-Point and Counterpoint
Excerpt: By Frank S. Rosenbloom, M.D. Mr. Obama has gone back on the campaign trail to try to sell his health care reform to the nation. Mostly hand-picked, sympathetic attendees have been showing up to his town hall meetings. He continues to make the same points regarding health care reform, which need to be addressed specifically. I hope to address more in future articles.

Another Promise Broken -- in Record Time
Excerpt: The outstanding example of this cynical manipulation of justice is how a case against the New Black Panthers, which the Department of Justice described as a "black super-racist organization," has been quickly and quietly shelved with minimal attention to the law and the Constitution.

Muslim smugglers hid heroin in Koran -- watch for the international riots
Excerpt: Remember Newsweek's spurious "Koran in the toilet" story, and the outrage and murder it touched off? There is almost certainly going to be no similar outcry from Muslims about this story -- which provides yet more evidence of the fact that that outrage was trumped up in the first place, politically motivated, and designed to try to intimidate the West into making various concessions. This incident has no such potential value, and thus will drop into the memory hole with no jihadists noting or remembering it.

The Puzzling War on the Elderly
There are a group of private health plans that are ostensibly doing everything President Obama says he wants to accomplish with health reform:
--They provide subsidized coverage to low- and moderate-income people who could otherwise not afford it.
--They control costs better than conventional insurance by eliminating unnecessary care.
--They provide higher quality care.
--They have no pre-existing condition limitations and some plans actually specialize in attracting and caring for patients with multiple illnesses.
--They provide an annual choice of plans.
--They even compete against a public plan.
So what does President Obama think about these plans? He wants to get rid of them, or at least cut them way back. So do many Democrats in Congress.

"Only a large-scale popular movement toward decentralization and self-help can arrest the present tendency toward statism.... A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers."--English writer Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Political Digest August 22 2009

From a friend in London, a British WWII vet:
Re: Scotland releases Lockerbie bomber, on "Compassionate Grounds" as he is supposedly . . ... . . . "dying from Prostate Cancer" . . . .. .

You will note that I added "supposedly".

When I saw him, on the TV News, boarding the plane for his FREE flight home to Libya, he didn't look as if he were dying and he had his face carefully covered, probably so that the cameras could not see his grin of defiance and victory.

I wonder, yes I wonder, if his release is not really due to recent visits to Libya to meet Comrade Qaddaffi on the part of several British Governmental High-Ups, and their securing much-wanted Oil Concessions ?

Oh! yes I wonder, yes, I wonder!


Lockerbie bomber gets hero's welcome in Libya
Excerpt: GREENOCK, Scotland (CNN) -- The man convicted of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, two decades ago received a boisterous welcome when he landed in his native Libya on Thursday. Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, suffering from terminal prostate cancer, was freed from prison in Scotland, with Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill citing compassionate grounds for the release and saying al Megrahi was "going home to die." A large crowd, waving flags and honking horns, greeted al Megrahi at the military airport in Tripoli.

Say, if you got a $4,500 “cash for clunkers” credit on your new Government Motors Barackmobile, is that taxable income? After all, the car you turned in was destroyed, so had zero value.

Slipping into quicksand
Excerpt: His popular support is hemorrhaging because all of his major initiatives are either failing in execution or in the legislative process. According to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, 57 percent of Americans say the $787 billion economic stimulus is having no effect on the economy or is making it worse. An even higher percentage -- 60 percent -- doubt the stimulus will improve the economy in the years ahead. A new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll shows a whopping 72 percent of Democrats, Republicans and independents would like to see the balance of the unspent stimulus money -- about $600 billion -- returned to taxpayers.

Who is for a single payer healthcare system like Canada?
Round up the usual suspects.

Detainees Shown CIA Officers' Photos
Did they give them the guys’ home addresses as well?

Our Ongoing Catharsis
Excerpt: So the Bush-era inability to articulate positions, to balance budgets, to explain what we were doing in Iraq, to admonish Wall Street grandees to slow it down a bit, translated into Obamism. By 2008, we did not wish to hear the surge finally worked and Iraq with it, that Bush gave billions to African AIDs relief, worked with allies, ran a clean government, and kept us safe from terrorist attacks for seven years. No, the country was angry for his lapses and was ripe for a Cleon right out of Aristophanes. And so again, we got Obama. And now the American public belatedly learns that the reaction to Bush is not balanced budgets, careful clear exegesis, but rather the Hollywood alternative of cap-and-trade, enormous tax increases, soaring deficits, nationalized health care, a general attitude that “they” owe “us,” and Europe is our model.

Attorney: FBI trained NJ blogger to incite others
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A New Jersey blogger facing charges in two states for allegedly making threats against lawmakers and judges was trained by the FBI on how to be deliberately provocative, his attorney said Tuesday. Hal Turner worked for the FBI from 2002 to 2007 as an "agent provocateur" and was taught by the agency "what he could say that wouldn't be crossing the line," defense attorney Michael Orozco said.
"His job was basically to publish information which would cause other parties to act in a manner which would lead to their arrest," Orozco said. Prosecutors have acknowledged that Turner was an informant who spied on radical right-wing organizations, but the defense has said Turner was not working for the FBI when he allegedly made threats against Connecticut legislators and wrote that three federal judges in Illinois deserved to die.

Our Health Care Crisis: Age, Obesity, Lawyers
Excerpt: The biggest cost is not malpractice awards, which annually drive up U.S. health care costs by 1% to 2%--$20 billion to $40 billion a year--although that's bad enough. Most costly is the individual doctor's perceived threat of a career-ending malpractice award and his or her incentive, therefore, to practice defensive medicine. This occurs when a doctor, fearing a lawsuit, orders a battery of costly diagnostic tests to rule out the highly improbable, even when the obvious cause of sickness or injury is staring him in the face. A Massachusetts Medical Society study discovered that in one year Massachusetts wasted $1.4 billion on defensive medicine. Prorated for the entire U.S. population, the cost would be about $66 billion a year. Another study cited by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons puts the cost of defensive medicine much higher--$100 billion to $178 billion per year. I believe it. …Age, obesity and defensive medicine are the trillion-dollar elephants in the room. Whether your preference for health care reform springs from the political left or right, you have to start with these three facts. Otherwise, you're just a political bloviator.

43 People in U.S., Mexico Face Drug Charges
Excerpt: Law enforcement officials announced criminal drug-trafficking charges Thursday against 43 people in the United States and Mexico, including suspected leaders of prominent cartels in a country that has been plagued with gun violence.
Federal agencies including the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the cases, filed in New York and Chicago. Eight defendants were arrested in the past week, and several current and former suspected kingpins in the organized-crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa cartel remained at large, authorities said.

Cap and trade hurts the economy without helping the environment
Excerpt: Businesses are not fans of the legislation. A study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce showed that cap and trade will reduce the national GDP by roughly $350 billion, cut net employment by 2.5 million jobs, and cost the average U.S. worker hundreds of dollars in annual earnings over the next 20 years. Cap and trade will result in higher energy costs, reduced salaries and higher prices for goods that are produced in the United States. Political conservatives call the legislation the "mother of all pork bills," and they view it as another in a long line of government handouts to industries favored by Democrats. In order to pass the legislation through the House, in fact, Democrats forged an agreement whereby 85 percent of the credits that are to be given away for free will go to companies and industries chosen by Democratic House leadership. Special interests, conservatives say, would profit on the backs of working families.

Whose Medical Decisions? Part IV
Excerpt: What they are trying to do is to create an America very unlike the America that has existed for centuries-- the America that people have been attracted to by the millions from every part of the world, the America that many generations of Americans have fought and died for. This is the America for which Michelle Obama expressed her resentment before it became politically expedient to keep quiet. It is the America that Reverend Jeremiah Wright denounced in his sermons during the 20 years when Barack Obama was a parishioner, before political expediency required Obama to withdraw and distance himself. The thing most associated with America-- freedom-- is precisely what must be destroyed if this is to be turned into a fundamentally different country to suit Obama's vision of the country and of himself. But do not expect a savvy politician like Barack Obama to express what he is doing in terms of limiting our freedom.

As vets await checks, VA workers get $24M bonuses
The folks who will soon be running our health care system.

Bike Raffle to support the troops

Funny e-mail going around
"Let me get this straight. Obama's health care plan will be written by a committee whose head says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it, signed by a president who smokes, funded by a treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that is nearly broke. What could possibly go wrong?"

"You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
- Adrian Rogers, 1931