Saturday, September 19, 2009

Political Digest September 19, 2009

Single Payer System
Too funny.

Talking Crap
More pointed humor. Enjoy.

May the farce be with you, Obama and Daley,0,2815845.column
John Kass’s column is worth the price of a subscription to the Chicago Tribune. Excerpt: Because, after a 20-year spending spree, the money is finally gone. Daley is now so desperate for cash that he allowed parking meter rates to be increased, knowing there would be a public backlash. Now he needs that Olympic gold, to pass it out among the hungry interests and maintain control. His Olympic push is not about sport. It's never been about sport. The Olympic theme song and wondering who might carry the torch down Michigan Avenue has been part of the children's fairy tale. But grown-ups know that the Chicago Olympics are about keeping Daley in power. Period. It began four years ago, just as big business and labor and the guys behind the guys started wondering if Daley was weakening. A boss thought to be weak is a boss in danger. So just getting to this point has been a masterful political stroke on the part of the mayor….That was Daley's brilliance. The 2016 Olympics became the mortar keeping his brick house from collapsing. If he wins the Olympics, he'll stay boss for years. Even the president, who once vowed to transcend the cynical politics of the past, jumped on board. Why not? The guys running the Obama White House come direct from Daley's City Hall. (Bob’s Prediction: If Chicago gets the 2010 Olympics, there will be the biggest scandal in Olympic history, as the boys wet their beaks in the Olympic gold pond.)

House Votes to Defund ACORD
Except for 75 Democrat members of the Child Prostitution Caucus. Excerpt: The House voted Thursday to deny all federal funds for ACORN in a GOP-led strike against the scandal-tainted community organizing group that comes just three days after the Senate took similar action. "ACORN has violated serious federal laws, and today the House voted to ensure that taxpayer dollars would no longer be used to fund this corrupt organization," said second-ranked House Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia. The vote, on a provision attached to a student aid bill, was 345-75, with Democrats supplying all the "no" votes.

The $1,300 Mission to Fell ACORN
Excerpt: The proposition was outrageous, outlandish, and right up James E. O'Keefe III's alley. Hannah Giles was on the phone from the District, and she was asking him to dress like her pimp, walk into the offices of the ACORN community activist group, openly admit to wanting to buy a house to run as a brothel, and see what happened…. Republicans accused ACORN of voter-registration fraud in last year's presidential race. As a community organizer, President Obama worked for a group affiliated with ACORN and once represented ACORN as a lawyer. This week White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that "obviously the conduct that you see on those tapes is unacceptable." (Gives you hope for the younger generation.)

An open letter to Maxine Waters
Excerpt: I have read with interest reports that you want those who attend various "Tea Bag" protests to be "investigated." The reports are unclear. I cannot tell whether you mean "investigate" in the "Nixonian" sense - as a thinly veiled form of intimidation - or whether you were taking a more generous approach, such as "Let's find out what their concerns are and address those concerns forthrightly." It would be helpful for all if you would clarify your meaning. Assuming you genuinely seek to engage with critics of the Administration, permit me to introduce myself and summarize my concerns.

Historical Cycles and Public Amusement
Excerpt: It is certainly the case that young people are more likely to know the names of the four finalists on “American Idol” than four Cabinet members in present administration. As I see it, there is a correlation between the preoccupation with amusement and the dumbing down of the population. If bread and circuses, or the contemporary equivalent, fill one’s day, there simply isn’t time for serious pursuits. If this seems exaggerated, ask how many serious words are exchanged in texting or how many ideas are explored on Facebook. Which magazine sells more copies, The Star or Commentary? The obvious answers reveal some aspect of the truth. Of course, this is not to suggest that entertainment is wrong. It surely has a role in the culture. But at a time when critical, alas monumental, issues face the nation one might assume that amusement would be relegated to a backseat, however temporary that condition might be. Yet it seems as though the public is addicted to fun and games. Jay Leno, of late night talk show fame, has created a regular segment of his program making fun of undisguised ignorance. So penetrating is that ignorance that when I’ve seen it on display, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry….If my hypothesis is correct, it bodes poorly for the future. It is conceivable that the tradeoff for continual entertainment is the incremental loss of personal liberty. So subtle will that loss be at first, that it will hardly be recognized. And when recognition does take place, it will be too late to undo the structural damage. This contest between amusement and government intrusiveness and power accretion may be the most telling aspect of the Obama era. Will Americans wake up from the intoxication of sensate pleasure before liberty is lost? What a demonic question and what a potentially fearful and provocative response.

Obama’s Headwind on Healthcare It is no surprise that a nationally televised presidential speech can move support for the chief executive's program by 7 points. But it is shocking that - in the absence of any other major independent negative event - these new supporters would flee in the space of one week and that three percent more would move against him. That spells big trouble for Obama. It means that the wind is blowing in his face as he tries to make headway for his health care program. This seven point post-speech slippage in seven days indicates that all the breakfast tables and lunch counters, and medical examining rooms are abuzz with conversation about health care changes, most of it negative to the president's wishes.

The Line: A Resurgent Republican Party
Excerpt: So this week we are doing two Lines -- one today looking at the ten most influential Republican leaders in the party and then one tomorrow ranking the ten Senate races most likely to switch parties in 2010. Republicans have seen something of a reversal of fortune since we last penned a Line looking at their relatively meager list of leaders. The debate over health care has tapped into a broader discontent among the Republican base -- and many independents -- regarding the amount of spending that has gone on during the first eight months of the Obama Administration. The passion stirred by the health care debate -- and evidenced in a series of town halls across the country over the August congressional recess -- has led GOP leaders (in and out of Congress) to grow more bold in their criticism of President Obama and his policies.

Dem Senator Warns of 'Big, Big Tax' on Middle Class in Baucus Bill
But BO promised!

Obama’s unhealthy speech
Excerpt: These are code words for rationing. The panel will “encourage” doctors to adopt the “best practices” the panel recommends by limiting reimbursement rates or banning alternatives. Likely guidelines will govern who can get elective surgery like hip replacements or new knees based on the number of “quality adjusted remaining years,” the patient has. In Canada, the drug Avastin is barred by such a panel despite its proven record as the most effective anti-colon cancer drug. The ban is due not to safety concerns but solely to its $50,000 annual cost. As a result, 41 percent of Canadians with colon cancer die, compared to 32 percent of Americans. These are the kinds of “best practices” that the panel will have to impose to pay for Obama’s plan.

The Devil is in the Details: How a Sleeper Provision in Obamacare Could Bust Illinois's Budget
Excerpt: According to a report from the Federal Funds Information for States, the additional “state share” cost to Illinois for immediately expanding Medicaid to uninsured individuals who earn up to 133 percent of poverty level would cost $1.391 billion (FY 2009 numbers, at regular Medicaid reimbursement rates). It would take Illinois’s Medicaid enrollment from 2.4 million enrollees to 3 million enrollees, a 25 percent increase. However it’s fashioned, a large-scale expansion of Medicaid will come with a significant price tag, which will be difficult to reconcile with the looming deficits in the federal government’s budget and Illinois’s state budget. (This will, of course, apply to other states as well. But not to worry. “If (Barack Obama) is elected president, no one making under $250,000 will pay a penny more in taxes.” He promised.)

Imposition of “Buy American” Provisions of the Recovery Act
Excerpt: We estimate that any net increases in U.S. employment resulting from the new “Buy American” provisions will quickly evaporate as other countries implement “buy national” policies of their own. In the event that retaliation causes U.S. companies to lose just 1 percent of potential foreign stimulus procurement opportunities, the net employment loss to the United States from the Recovery Act’s “Buy American” (Have I said before that trade barriers kill jobs?)

Stadium Subsidies Continue Despite Economic Downturn
Good politics, though: welfare for the rich, bread and circuses for the poor, hose the taxpayers.

Separating 'He Lied' From The 'Elides'
Excerpt: You lie? No. Barack Obama doesn't lie. He's too subtle for that. He . . . well, you judge. Herewith three examples within a single speech — the now-famous Obama-Wilson "you lie" address to Congress on health care — of Obama's relationship with truth… Obama doesn't lie. He implies, he misdirects, he misleads — so fluidly and incessantly that he risks transmuting eloquence into mere slickness. Slickness wasn't fatal to "Slick Willie" Clinton because he possessed a winning, near irresistible charm. Obama's persona is more cool, distant, imperial. The charming scoundrel can get away with endless deception; the righteous redeemer cannot.

China Puts Up a Fighter
Excerpt: Exhibit A is Beijing's long-running effort to build a fifth-generation fighter plane equivalent to the U.S. F-22 and F-35. Such planes use extensive stealth and advanced radar and can usually "supercruise," or fly supersonically for extended periods without using fuel-guzzling afterburners. In what may be the only public reference to the program by a Chinese official, the Commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy mentioned their requirement for a fighter capable of "supersonic cruise" during 60th anniversary celebrations in April. Today this can only be achieved by the U.S. F-22A Raptor, the world's only operational fifth-generation fighter.

America's Air Supremacy Allowed to Evaporate
Excerpt: So what's gone wrong? To begin with, our enemies, current and potential, have taken note and taken steps particularly to try to neutralize the effects of American air power. The closest student has been the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Almost since the ink was dry on Cohen's essay, the PLA has both been devising ways to limit the U.S. ability to use its air power in East Asia. The Chinese have invested heavily in long range, land-based air defenses, but perhaps the most challenging Chinese capabilities are those that attempt to restrict American access to air bases in the region or to effectively employ carrier-based aviation.

Real racism?
Excerpt: “This seat was set aside for people who look like me,” said Mr. Herenton’s campaign manager, Sidney Chism, a black county commissioner. “It wasn’t set aside for a Jew or a Christian. It was set aside so that blacks could have representation.”

Pakistan human rights group says police colluding with jihadists who are murdering Christians with impunity
Excerpt: The Joint Action Committee for People's Rights (JAC), a group of Pakistan-based non-governmental organisations operating in the human rights field, has expressed concern over "increasing incidents of violence" that have taken in recent months against religious minorities, especially Christians. Their concern also includes the apparent "collusion" of some officials in the police and the prison system with "fanatics and extremists" in perpetrating crimes against members of religious minorities. According to JAC activists, anti-Christian violence in Gojra in early August and the murder of a young Christian man in prison in Sialkot show that the "government's record of protecting religious minorities [. . .] is disappointing to say the least."

Top jihadist, mastermind of Indonesia and Bali jihad attacks, dead
Today’s feel-good news story.

Doctors will quit if HCR passes
Sure it’ll improve healthcare.

Obama’s ties to ACORN
Like we didn’t know.

Under fire, Democrats abandon ACORN in droves
Like rates leaving a sinking ship! Excerpt: Back in February, during the Democrats' frenzied rush to pass the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, Republican Sen. David Vitter offered a simple, 28-word amendment: "None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used directly or indirectly to fund the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now." Vitter's amendment was shot down, 51-45, with all the votes coming from the Democratic majority.

FBI begins probe into federal stimulus fraud
Excerpt: "Experience tells us that there's a good chance that some of the money could end up in the hands of a few unscrupulous government officials and others seeking to line their own pockets," the agency said in a statement Thursday. (Gee, ya think?)

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