Thursday, August 20, 2009

Political Digest August 20 2009

It bears repeating. I post things to my blog because I think they are of interest, not because I necessarily agree with all—or any—of the contents. ~Bob

If healthcare is a “right,” isn’t housing and food? Thus shouldn’t anyone who owns a house with, say, more than 1,500 square feet per occupant be required to house homeless people until below the 1,500 SF level? And if they spend more than 200% of the national average on food, including dining out, shouldn’t they be required to feed homeless people until they are below the benchmark? Maybe we could put Al Gore’s energy-pig mansion and the $100M he earned from Global Warming to some good use.

Rebutting Obama on ‘death panels’
Excerpt: When Obama speaks of cutting “inefficiencies” and reducing costs, he means that he will reduce the amount and quality of healthcare available to the elderly. Denied state-of-the-art medications and necessary surgical procedures, patients will be faced with the grim likelihood of their imminent demise. In the face of this reality, end-of-life counseling will be both necessary and, given the choices, welcome.

Debate's Path Caught Obama by Surprise
Public Option Wasn't Intended as Major Focus
Excerpt: But at a time when the president had hoped to be selling middle-class voters on how insurance reforms would benefit them, the White House instead finds itself mired in a Democratic Party feud over an issue it never intended to spotlight. "I don't understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo," said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We've gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don't understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform."

Can California Be Competitive (Again) in 2010?
Excerpt: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina's decision to open an exploratory committee to weigh a possible challenge to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2010 creates the possibility that Golden State Republicans may well field their most competitive statewide ticket in more than a decade next November. If, as expected, Fiorina runs against Boxer, she could well headline a ticket with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman who is regarded as the Republican gubernatorial frontrunner -- giving the GOP two prominent businesswomen with the sort of personal wealth that will allow them to be competitive statewide. "This will be the strongest [Republican] ticket since 1994," predicted Rob Stutzman, a California Republican consultant advising Whitman's bid. "Two strong Republican women is definitely a fresh take for voters.”

Americans still skeptical about Obama’s plans
Excerpt: A plurality believes Obama’s health plan would worsen the quality of health care, a result that is virtually unchanged from last month’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. What’s more, only four in 10 approve of the president’s handling of the issue, which also is unchanged from July.

White House Backs Right to Arms Outside Obama Events
The guy who took a gun to the Obama event was a great help to Obama, allowing the media to paint the opponents as dangerous nuts.

Fact, Fiction, and the Laffer Curve
Excerpt: In other words, the current system assumes the tax rates have no impact on taxable income. Because of congressional budget rules, this leads to a bias for tax increases and against tax cuts. But if politicians increase tax rates, people will earn and report less taxable income, says Mitchell. A recent example comes from the state of Maryland, which imposed a higher tax rate on the so-called rich in 2008. This tax increase supposedly was going to generate an additional $100 million for the politicians. Instead, tax collections from rich people fell by more than $100 million.

The Corporate Income Tax and Workers’ Wages: New Evidence from the 50 States
Excerpt: Specifically, a one percent drop in the average tax rate leads to a 0.014 percent rise in real wages five years later. In dollar terms, that means wages rise $2.50 for every one dollar reduction in state-local corporate income taxes. The reverse is also true: A one percent hike in the average tax rate leads to a 0.014 percent drop in real wages, or roughly a $2.50 loss in wages for each one-dollar rise in corporate tax collections.

Progressive, Black, Hispanic caucuses pledge more than 120 "no" votes on health co-op plan
Excerpt: The liberal wing of the House Democratic caucus is launching a counter-offensive to efforts by the White House and Senate Democrats to back away from a health care reform bill that includes a strong public option. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., who heads the 84-member House Progressive Caucus, said she sent a letter to Heath and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius telling her that her faction will not support a bill that does not include a "robust" government-run plan. If most of the Progressives stick with Woolsey on the threat, the House would be unable to pass a final health care reform bill without a public option, despite signals from the Obama administration that it would accept such a plan.

Demystifying health cooperatives
Excerpt: The Obama administration is working hard to convince supporters that the president is still fighting for a government-run health insurance plan open to all Americans. The scramble is to convince liberals that the president hasn’t already accepted the idea of a non-profit health care co-operatives — an alternative plan offered by moderate Democrats in the Senate. But with Americans increasingly resistant to the idea of a big, expensive plan, the co-op idea might be the only one that could survive in Congress. But could a co-op help solve the problems facing American health care?

Stand-ins hold spots in line for lobbyists
Only in America.

Axelrod’s Very Big Problem
Excerpt: Connections to lobbyists; big payouts coming while holding federal office; nepotism - and all for the evil, wicked, nasty pharmaceutical industry (or, at least, that is how its characterized in lefty talking points). This is the change we wanted? Anyone else besides me smell a rat here? We already know that Obama won’t prevent the trial lawyers from profiting off his health care plan…now we know his people are in the hip pocket of the pharmaceutical industry. It there a special interest - other than, ya know?, the people - which isn’t feeding at the public trough while Obama talks “reform” of the system?

Whose Medical Decisions? Part II
The Sutton quote is now considered bogus, made up by a journalist, but the article is excellent.

The Great Disconnect
Excerpt: All across the country, Members of Congress are facing very angry constituents over the issue of health care. So ferocious has been the response that an estimated two-thirds of the Members are not even going to hold town hall meetings. Reportedly, our elected representatives are shocked. I don't know why. At least a month earlier, my colleagues and I at the National Center for Policy Analysis became aware of their anger as we collected more than 1.1 million signatures on the petition and read all their e-mail responses. Where, you wonder, were the politicians as this anger was boiling over? Don't they have staffers who answer their telephones and open their mail? Anyway, a great disconnect has emerged. It may be serious enough to cause the Democrats to lose control of the Congress in the next election. How did this happen? I think there are three causes.

Dear Senator Mike Enzi and Heritage Foundation: Shut Up.
Because I am a big fan and come from a family of donors to the Heritage Foundation, I take no pleasure at all in writing this post. But this must be said. The Heritage Foundation, which played a vital part in building conservative support for Romneycare in Massachusetts, is setting the stage for Republican capitulation on healthcare. This is the second time in less than a year that Heritage will have been instrumental in organizing a conservative collapse in opposition to big government. The first time was when Heritage gave conservatives cover to support TARP, calling it “vital and acceptable.” Now with healthcare, because Heritage is trying to be “helpful”, confusion is starting to crop up among Republicans in Congress at a very critical time in the healthcare debate. Capitulation and compromise are now on the table using a bastardized version of a Heritage proposal.

Iran: Protestors alleging rape in detention told to provide four witnesses as proof
Excerpt: A new twist on the Qur'anically prescribed requirement of four witnesses (4:15, 24:4, 24:6, and 24:13) to "prove" a sexual offense. So many aspects of Sharia, including this one, are illogical and unjust when followed conventionally, but as such, they also provide ample opportunities for additional, imaginative forms of abuse by corrupt, unaccountable authorities.

California: Muslim gets 70 months for plot to attack U.S. synagogues and kill Jews
Excerpt: “Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews." -- Sahih Muslim 41.6985

Swedish blood libel: Jews stealing organs from Palestinian children and selling them
Excerpt: Ancient blood libel revived as a rhetorical weapon against Israel. The Swedish-language article, ”Våra söner plundras på sina organ,” (Our sons' organs are being plundered) is in Aftonbladet here. Thanks to Ted Ekeroth for sending this in -- Ted also kindly sent in the Google translation, which is below. If any human being, meanwhile, can translate this and send it in, I will replace this mechanized gabble. Ted notes that "the article is written by the left-wing radical and Israel-hater Donald Boström, and he is given the title of 'journalist.'"

First-hand Witness to Staged Obama Town Hall Meeting in Belgrade, Montana
Excerpt: By now you have probably heard that President Obama came to Montana last Friday. However, there are many things that the major news has not covered. I feel that since Joe and I live here and we were at the airport on Friday I should share some facts with you. Whatever you decide to do with the information is up to you. If you chose to share this email with others I do ask that you DELETE my email address before you forward this on. On Wednesday, August 5th it was announced locally that the President would be coming here. There are many groups here that are against his healthcare and huge spending so those groups began talking and deciding on what they were going to do. The White House would not release ANY details other than the date. On about Tuesday Joe found out that they would be holding the "Town Hall" at the airport. (This is only because Joe knows EVERYONE at the airport) Our airport is actually located outside of Belgrade (tiny town) in a very remote location. Nothing is around there. They chose to use a hangar that is the most remotely located hangar. You could not pick a more remote location, and you can not get to it easily. It is totally secluded from the public.

A War Grows in Afghanistan: Does Obama have the courage to win it?
Excerpt: But concerns remained. In a speech to the Foreign Policy Initiative on March 31, 2009, four days after Obama's announcement, Senator John McCain offered words of support for the president's approach. But he also warned that Obama could face charges of LBJ-style incrementalism because he had refused to provide General David McKiernan with the full complement of troops he had requested--the general had called for an additional 30,000 men to be deployed to Afghanistan. It was more analysis than criticism, but his message was clear.In the four months since, McCain says he has seen "alarming signs" that Obama may not have meant what he said about winning in Afghanistan. In an interview on August 3, McCain blasted the White House for ruling out additional troops even before McChrystal, the man Obama chose to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has had an opportunity to finish his strategic assessment of the war there.McCain was particularly incensed by an article that appeared on the front page of the Washington Post on July 1. (He brought it up to me without being asked about it.) Bob Woodward had accompanied Obama's national security adviser, General James Jones, on a trip to Afghanistan. Woodward's article described, with in-the-room detail, Jones warning against requesting more troops. General Lawrence Nicholson had told Jones that the force was "a little light," and Jones said that the troop levels had been decided and that requests for more were unwelcome.Well, Jones went on, after all those additional troops, 17,000 plus 4,000 more, if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have "a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment." Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF [Whisky-Tango-Foxtrot] -- which in the military and elsewhere means "What the [expletive]?" Nicholson and his colonels--all or nearly all veterans of Iraq--seemed to blanch at the unambiguous message that this might be all the troops they were going to get.

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