Thursday, September 24, 2009

Political Digest September 24, 2009

Apparently I have to repeat this with each post, as some of my leftie readers are using the usual liberal tactic of trying to hang every opinion in the articles I post around my neck. I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. For example, the author of the “Expand Medicare” article below isn’t great at math.

Turmoil doesn't deter Murtha,0,2674290.story
Excerpt: Named for the chairman of the powerful House appropriations subcommittee on defense, who has shepherded most of its funding, the Murtha Institute was supposed to embark on projects to protect America from terrorists and clean up environmental dangers. Much of the work went to companies and friends close to the Pennsylvania congressman, and few of the projects met their goals, a Washington Post investigation shows. But its spotty performance and internal turmoil have not deterred the longtime Democratic representative or his alma mater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which houses the center, from seeking more funds….In doing so, he has raised questions among watchdog groups and critics about the use of taxpayer money for projects that appear to mostly benefit Murtha loyalists. "He who pays the most homage to Murtha is the one who gets the money," said Cathy Wentzel, a former manager of a research group linked to the Murtha Institute, who left when her boss was fired.

McChrystal to resign if not given resources for Afghanistan
On a lot of blogs. Excerpt: Within 24 hours of the leak of the Afghanistan assessment to The Washington Post, General Stanley McChrystal's team fired its second shot across the bow of the Obama administration. According to McClatchy, military officers close to General McChrystal said he is prepared to resign if he isn't given sufficient resources (read "troops") to implement a change of direction in Afghanistan: Adding to the frustration, according to officials in Kabul and Washington, are White House and Pentagon directives made over the last six weeks that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, not submit his request for as many as 45,000 additional troops because the administration isn't ready for it. In the last two weeks, top administration leaders have suggested that more American troops will be sent to Afghanistan, and then called that suggestion "premature." Earlier this month, Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that "time is not on our side"; on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged the public "to take a deep breath."

Pelosi and Hoyer split on Afghanistan?
Excerpt: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he wants Gen. Stanley McChrystal to brief Congress about the need for more troops in Afghanistan, leaving open the possibility that he might support an increase."I think it would be very useful at some point in the future for Gen. McChrystal to share with Congress his views, his proposals and his sense of the success the changed strategy would bring," Hoyer said on Tuesday.

Predicting Obama’s Fall,2933,554020,00.html?test=latestnews
Al Qaeda calls Obama a liar. Hope this doesn’t help their fund raising like it did for Joe Wilson!

Less Peril for Civilians, but More for Troops
As U.S. Toll in Afghanistan Rises, Lawmakers and Families Are Questioning New Restrictions
Excerpt: Over the same period, U.S. troop deaths in the war more than doubled -- 96 this year, compared with 42 last year -- prompting worries that McChrystal's constraints and other tactical changes are creating advantages for a resurgent Taliban. Of the deaths this year, about a third are known to be from roadside bombs, and about 21 troops were killed in attacks involving small-arms fire or grenades and in some cases bombs, according to the Defense Department. The cause of death for another third is listed by the military only as combat operations, while the rest died from nonhostile incidents, airplane crashes or other causes. McChrystal, in a major assessment disclosed by The Washington Post on Monday, castigated the U.S. military in Afghanistan for being "preoccupied with protection of our own forces." He wrote that U.S. and other military personnel must minimize their time in armored vehicles and walled bases and "share risk, at least equally, with the people." McChrystal also called for coalition troops to "radically increase" joint operations with Afghan forces. Both steps, he said, mean greater risk for coalition troops in the near term but could "ultimately save lives in the long run."

Stakes are high for Mass. gov on Kennedy successor
Excerpt: "He has two huge constituencies he has to please," said Democratic political strategist Mary Ann Marsh. "One is Massachusetts voters, who he has to stand in front of in less than a year for re-election. The other is President Obama, who he wants to succeed, whose success is pivotal to Massachusetts — and who he wants to get help from to win re-election next year." All that explains why the first-term governor has been regularly consulting not only with the White House about his pick, but also with a campaign team that has a myriad of Obama connections. Statehouse aides usually involved in major administrative decisions say they have been cut out of the discussion, and Patrick has personally culled the list of names and overseen their vetting.

Specialist NHS clinics are 20 times more likely to botch hip operations
Excerpt: Patients who have hip replacement operations at specialist NHS clinics are 20 times more likely to need painful and expensive repair work. Operations on two-thirds of patients in one treatment centre showed clear evidence of below standard surgical procedure, a study revealed. Leading surgeons warned that a lack of supervision in the NHS clinics amounted to a dereliction of duty by the Government. (Coming soon to a health care system near you.)

One in six NHS patients 'misdiagnosed'
Coming soon to a health care system near you.

Medicare for all,0,2423855.story
Excerpt: Why not start with something as familiar and popular as the program that paid for your mother's hip replacement or your grandfather's bypass surgery?

Why not? Well, maybe because Medicare will already be broke by 2017!
Excerpt: Medicare is now paying out more than it receives and it faces as a result insolvency in eight years, two years earlier than projected in last year’s report, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said today in a statement.

Turning the Senate into the Chicago City Council
Excerpt: “Using the budget reconciliation process to pass health reform and climate change legislation…would violate the intent and spirit of the budget process, and do serious injury to the constitutional role of the Senate.” These are not the words of a Republican or a conservative activist. This is a warning issued on April 2 of this year from the former Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate, Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.).

Socialized Medicine: Look for the Union Label
Excerpt: Occasionally, watching the hate speech of MSNBC provides useful information. Last night, the two most influential leaders of the American labor movement clearly laid out their plan to partner with the Democratic Party in foisting the “public option” on the American people. It sounds exactly like the one I outlined two weeks ago, and it may be unstoppable. The new president of the nation’s largest union demonstrated seriousness in his interview. Richard Trumka made his first television appearance as head of the AFL-CIO on The Rachel Maddow Show last night. Maddow introduced Trumka, whom she said had been “named” president of the mammoth union (presumably she couldn’t bring herself to say “elected”), and Trumka promptly threatened “to try to make [the Democrats] live up to their promises about health care.” Sounding a more activist voice than his predecessor, John Sweeney, who was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, he declared:

The Best Health Reform May Be to Kill Cap-and-Trade
Excerpt: The Heritage Foundation provides a more comprehensive estimate, projecting a family of four would pay an additional $4,609 per year by 2035. Annual job losses would average 1.15 million between 2012 and 2030, with job losses rising to nearly 2.5 million in 2035. Higher unemployment rates mean more uninsured. In 2007, employers provided health insurance for 63 percent of Americans under age 65 and paid for nearly 90 percent of all private health insurance policies. Although the newly unemployed may extend their health benefits through COBRA, many can’t afford to. According to Families USA, family health insurance premiums under COBRA equal, on average, 84 percent of unemployment benefits received.

Senator Baucus declares war on middle class
Excerpt: The 35% excise tax on insurance will be applied to the amount by which the cost of the insurance exceeds $8,000 (individuals) or $21,000 (families). However, these thresholds are indexed to the consumer price index (CPI), not the medical price index (MPI). Since the CPI grows at about one-third the rate of the MPI, eventually all insurance will exceed the cap and be subject to the tax. The Joint Economic Committee Republican staff has calculated that two of the individual plans currently sold to federal employees, for example, would be immediately taxed. After 10 years, 11 of the 17 (FEHBP) individual plans would be subject to taxation and 6 of 17 family plans — including the most popular plan (Blue Cross Blue Shield Standard Option) in both cases. Even more disconcerting is the implicit tax on middle-income workers created by the employer play-or-pay mandate. Take an employee earning $50,000 a year and suppose “credible coverage” offered through an employer costs $13,000 for a family. Under Baucus, the maximum premium the employee can be charged is 13% of income, or $6,500. So the employer must pay the remaining $6,500. But since fringe benefits are a substitute for wages, the employer’s annual $6,500 premium payment would come out of the wages that otherwise would have been paid. Under the Baucus bill, the employer does not have to provide insurance. But if the employer does not, the employee must obtain this insurance in the Exchange and the government will provide the $6,500. However, (and this is where Baucus differs from the other bills) the employer will be “fined” $6,500 anyway. So no matter where the employee gets his insurance he will still pay the full cost — part directly (out of pocket), and part in reduced wages.

Charter Schools Pass Key Test in Study
Excerpt: New York City students who win a lottery to enroll in charter schools outperform those who don't win spots and go on to attend traditional schools, according to new research to be released Tuesday. The study, led by Stanford University economics Prof. Caroline Hoxby, is likely to fire up the movement to push states and school districts to expand charter schools -- one of the centerpieces of President Barack Obama's education strategy. (Really? The administration killed vouchers to let poor black kids in DC go to Charter Schools that were doing well. Poor black kids don’t deserve good schools like the Obama kids, if it interferes with Union votes for Dems. See below.)

CNN Commentary: Obama, Dems wrong to kill school vouchers
Excerpt: Yet tucked into that bill is an amendment pushed by the president's former colleague in the Senate, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, who used his influence to essentially kill the District of Columbia school vouchers program. Oh sure, it will be portrayed that the Democrats aren't killing the program, but the initiative calls for no new students to be allowed entry, unless approved by Congress and the District of Columbia City Council.

Choosing the Right College
Excerpt: Among the things you need to know about a particular college is whether it has a real curriculum or just a smorgasbord of courses, so that it is possible to graduate knowing nothing about history, economics or science, for example. Some of the most prestigious colleges in the country are places where you can graduate completely ignorant of such fundamental subjects. What also matters is whether the intellectual atmosphere is one in which competing ideas are explored and debated, or one in which there is a prevailing orthodoxy of political correctness that a student can challenge only at the risk of being ridiculed by the professor, given a low grade or-- in some places-- suspended or expelled for violating a campus speech code by giving an honest opinion about things where an orthodoxy is imposed, such as issues involving "race, class and gender."

Book Review: World Peace through World Trade
But the leftwing crowd, in hock to the unions, is against free trade. Must be pro-war, I guess.

Rallies catch fire against Obama's 'Minion Media' 'Operation: Can You Hear Us Now?'
Think how big the protests would be if most conservatives didn’t have jobs and careers that came first. Excerpt: American citizens outraged by President Obama and the actions of Congress have set their sights on a new target – the so-called mainstream media – with tea-party protests now set to boil in front of more than 30 press offices across the U.S.

Condi: The should-be face of the GOP
Excerpt: I interviewed Rice onstage last week on the closing day of Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit, where she achieved a star-turn -- and did so while mounting a vigorous defense of former President Bush's oft-vilified foreign policy, and delivering a pointed critique of President Obama and congressional Democrats. After praising President Obama and his team as "patriots who are going to try to do what's best for the country," she nevertheless warned about letting down our guard against another terrorist attack. "I am grateful -- I don't say proud, just 'grateful' -- that there wasn't another attack over the past eight years," she said. "But every day terrorists plot and plan to try to attack us. They only have to be right once. We have to be right 100% of the time. But I know, too, that can only happen because men and women in uniform are fighting on the front lines."

Obama's time warp: The U.S. is still the bad guy
Excerpt: But some people, including Barack Obama, whose college thesis written in those years has never been made public, seem stuck in a time warp in which the United States is the bad guy. That, at least, seems to explain Obama's latest foreign policy moves, starting with Honduras, where the president was ousted by the Supreme Court for violating a constitutional provision that forbids any moves to seek a second term. (Other Latin countries, notably Mexico, have similar constitutional prohibitions.) The White House immediately interpreted this as a military coup and decided that, this time, the United States would come out on the side of "the people." In fact, we find ourselves siding with a friend of the Iranian mullahs, Hugo Chavez, who swept aside similar constitutional limits in Venezuela, and opposing the elected Congress, courts and civil society of Honduras.

New poll: Democrat lead over GOP is smallest in five years; doubts about Obama continue to grow
Excerpt: The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked respondents whether they would prefer to see next year's elections result in a Congress controlled by Democrats or a Congress controlled by Republicans. The result: 48 percent say they would prefer Democrats in control, and 45 percent say Republicans. That three-point Democratic lead is down from seven points lead in July and nine points in April. It's also far smaller than the massive 19-point lead Democrats held over Republicans in June 2008. So in less than a year and a half, the Democratic margin has fallen from 19 points to 3.

Big Green is a profitable enterprise
Excerpt: The chart below lists only the top beneficiaries of the Green non-profit culture. Among the honorable mentions is former Clerk of the House Jeffrey Trandahl, who made a mere $270,000 at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 2007. For the purpose of comparison, Fred Smith of the pro-business Competitive Enterprise institute, which deals mostly with environmental issues as well, makes just over $200,000. (Clearly, I’m in the wrong racket!)

Intellectual Rapists
The state of Academic Freedom in America.

Declaration of Independence gets PC revision for kids
Correcting the Founding Fathers, er, Founding Folks errors.

Analysis: Why everyone is saying no to Obama
Jerusalem Post excerpt: Everyone has worked it out by now: The great secret is out. America’s economy has made Obama a weak president, and he will likely remain weak throughout his first term. He has about two years to pull the American economy out of its free-fall before he begins his reelection campaign. If he can do it, and that’s a big if, chances are good that he’ll get reelected, and in his second term he can try to pull some geopolitical strings. But for the next three years, expect to see a world that says no to Obama. No meaningful and dramatic diplomatic initiative can come out of the White House in the next three years, as long as Obama remains weak.

Obama the impotent
Left-leaning UK Guardian excerpt: Besides the ongoing battle over healthcare, this week sees two showdowns between Europe and the US that will reveal further slippage in American global leadership. The first showdown comes today at a UN special session on climate change in New York City; the second will come at the end of the week at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, where America and Europe will butt heads over financial system reforms designed to ensure that the AIGs of the world can never again cause an economic collapse. (Must be racism in Europe’s left.)

Obama’s ACORN connections
Turns out he never heard of them.

Obama’s Sudden ACORN Amnesia
Excerpt: In a weekend interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Obama suddenly came down with a case of selective amnesia regarding his former employer, the radical left-wing activist group ACORN — which just happens to be pure public-relations poison right now. Incredibly, the president, himself a former Alinskyite community organizer who worked for, trained for, and represented ACORN in court as its lawyer, told Stephanopoulos he hadn’t been following the ACORN story recently.

Muslim Man Beheads Christian in Egypt
The Religion of Peace. All Religions are equally peaceful, you know. The Leftstream Media tells me so.

Humor from the Patriot Post ("
"President Obama scrapped the missile defense system designed to protect Poland from Russian attack Thursday on the seventieth anniversary of Russia's invasion of Poland. This explains why Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy. He wanted one of Neville Chamberlain." --comedian Argus Hamilton

"The fall season is a little different this year -- even squirrels are distancing themselves from ACORN. Because of all these scandals, the executive director of ACORN said she will fire any employee who's 'too stupid to understand they're not reaching professional standards.' Why can't we get this rule for Congress?" --Jay Leno

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