Saturday, December 12, 2009

Political Digest December 12, 2009

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.

Agent Orange
In response to a Chicago Tribune series on Agent Orange, I posted this politically incorrect fact sheet on the blog. Please share.

Senators offer Copenhagen boost
We can do it. Just need death panels. The more people we kill, the less CO2 they breathe out, and CO2 is now a regulated, dangerous pollutant! This bill is great news for India and China, which will do nothing except import our economy. Anyone have recipes for Polar bear? Excerpt: Three senators crafting a compromise climate bill have endorsed a national greenhouse gas emissions cut of 17 percent by 2020. The emissions target was included in a proposed framework on Thursday from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). It mirrors House-passed legislation and represents the target President Obama will offer on behalf of the U.S. at the Copenhagen international climate talks.

Pharmaceutical deal holding up bipartisan health amendment
Excerpt: A deal between the White House and the pharmaceutical industry is holding up a bipartisan amendment to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from abroad, according to a member of the Senate Democratic leadership. The Senate has been debating the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), since Tuesday but has not held a vote, which is contributing to a stall in the floor action on healthcare reform. Dorgan’s measure, which would permit bulk exports of medicines from countries such as Canada, enjoys broad and bipartisan support and likely has the backing of more than 60 senators, which would guarantee its adoption on the healthcare reform bill. Tension between the White House and Democratic supporters of the so-called drug reimportation amendment is primarily behind the delay, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday. (What? The Transparent Hope and Change White House makes deals with evil special interests? Could it be because the Exec of the Pharma association is a former Democrat congressman who gets paid $2M a year? And, before you say it, yes, I’m jealous.)

Key Copenhagen group releases draft climate plan
Stand and deliver! All you need to know about what this is all about. Excerpt: The draft also calls on rich nations to provide fast-start funding over the next three years for developing countries to cope with climate change, but doesn't specify an amount.

Inside the MedPAC meeting, where the tough cost calls get made
Excerpt: Haven't heard of MedPAC? Well, you might soon. It's the 17-member commission that advises Congress on Medicare -- most notably, recommending payments rates to hospitals and other medical providers. And under the legislation now inching toward the finish line, it or a commission like it would be empowered to take a far greater role in overseeing Medicare, with authority -- of greater strength in the Senate than House bill -- to make the hard decisions to slow growth in health care spending, free of the political pressures that are now brought to bear on Congress. When Sarah Palin warned about "death panels," it was partly MedPAC that she had in mind. The commission is meeting to review its recommended payment rates for next year, a process that is, on its face, exceedingly dry and sober, but with enormous stakes for the medical industry, which helps explain the dozens of suits packed into the room to watch. And as it turns out, the commission got word this week that the stakes could get even larger -- Senate Democrats are working on a deal that would involve dropping the "public option" in exchange for, among other things, letting people between age 55-64 who are without employer-provided health coverage buy into Medicare. If that were to happen -- and hospitals and doctors are already gearing up to make sure it doesn't -- that would mean several more million Americans whose health care would be paid at rates determined by the 17 people in this room at the Ronald Reagan Building.

WaPo: “Legislative Sausage” Health Care Plan Could Lead to Single-Payer Insurance
Excerpt: Most significantly, though, the Washington Post sees Sen. Reid’s bill as a “dramatic step” toward a single-payer health care system, even if the public option is not on the table: [T]he last-minute introduction of this idea within the broader context of health reform raises numerous questions — not least of which is whether this proposal is a far more dramatic step toward a single-payer system than lawmakers on either side realize.

Fraud suspected in Miami-Dade diabetes care
Excerpt: Medicare paid $520 million to Miami-Dade home healthcare agencies for treating diabetic patients, more than what the agency spent in the rest of the country combined, according to federal investigators. (And they plan to expand Medicare, thus expanding the fraud target.)

Coal company cuts 500 jobs, blames environmentalists
The Obama jobs program.

Average Federal Government Worker Pay $71, 206
The real Obama jobs program. Excerpt: The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data. Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months — and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted. Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector. The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.

The New Socialism
Excerpt: WASHINGTON -- In the 1970s and early '80s, having seized control of the U.N. apparatus (by power of numbers), Third World countries decided to cash in. OPEC was pulling off the greatest wealth transfer from rich to poor in history. Why not them? So in grand U.N. declarations and conferences, they began calling for a "New International Economic Order." The NIEO's essential demand was simple: to transfer fantastic chunks of wealth from the industrialized West to the Third World. On what grounds? In the name of equality -- wealth redistribution via global socialism -- with a dose of post-colonial reparations thrown in. The idea of essentially taxing hard-working citizens of the democracies in order to fill the treasuries of Third World kleptocracies went nowhere, thanks mainly to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (and the debt crisis of the early '80s). They put a stake through the enterprise. But such dreams never die. The raid on the Western treasuries is on again, but today with a new rationale to fit current ideological fashion. With socialism dead, the gigantic heist is now proposed as a sacred service of the newest religion: environmentalism.

Bristol man, 82, kills intruder in his home
A bit old, but just saw this one. Excerpt: Bradley Harvell, an 82-year-old veteran who suffers from emphysema, has owned a .357 magnum for 25 years, but until Sunday night, he'd never fired it. It was the powerful handgun that Harvell used to shoot and kill the man he described as resembling a western-style "train robber" who barged into his house, shot him twice with a stun gun and tried to steal his money. Harvell shot the man twice, first in the stomach area and then in the head, during the struggle at Harvell's home on County Road 333, according to the Liberty County Sheriff's Office.

Saudi Arabia, the country that won't allow churches or synagogues, calls for boycott of Switzerland over minaret ban
Multi-culturalism is a one-way street. To a dead end.

Arab countries fail on human rights
Excerpt: Human rights deteriorated across the Arab world in 2009 with torture widely practiced in several countries, an Arab watchdog said in a report released on Tuesday. The report by the independent Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies surveyed 12 countries and said that most of them repressed human rights activists, press freedoms, and discriminated against religious minorities. The state of human rights in the 12 countries—Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen—"has worsened compared to 2008," the report said.… The report also said that US policies were "wholly inimical to reform and human rights in the region," and accused President Barak Obama's administration of abandoning support for reform initiatives in the Arab world.

Poll on the economy and BO
Probably meaningless, but fun.

Ted Kennedy, Pro-Lifer
Kennedy in 1971: Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old….Once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire….I also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society’s problems…When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared enough about human beings enough to…fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.

Video: Statue of global savior unveiled in Indonesia

The Employee Meeting
Excerpt: A friend sent me this recently. Another friend was able to determine this is a fictional account of a business owner holding a meeting with all of his staff, but it's an excellent explanation of how higher taxes on "the rich" trickle down to affect all of us.

Excerpt: "Miss, I was wondering why you or the administration hadn't said anything about Pearl Harbor day," I started off, cautious optimism mixed with controlled outrage. "I'm afraid that we won't be making such an announcement," she said matter-of-factly. "And the reason?" I persisted, by now completely uninterested in professional protocols, like keeping my job. "You don't seem to understand, Rabbi. We are a multicultural school district. We have many student here that are of Japanese ancestry. Such a show of overt patriotism might make them uncomfortable. Apparently, this delicate matter of cultural sensitivity on your part needs some attention."

"Government, like fire, is a useful servant, but a fearful master."--George Washington

Elegy in a Country Churchyard
(With apologies for my revisions to G. K. Chesterton, who wrote this about England. Some things never change.)

They who worked for America
They have their graves at home,
And the bees and birds of America
About the grave can roam.

But they who fought for America,
Following a shining star,
Alas, alas for America,
They have their graves afar.

And they who rule in America,
In stately Congress met,
Alas, alas for America,
They have no graves as yet.

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