Thursday, December 17, 2009

Political Digest December 17, 2009

PolI 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.

Spirit of America
Help the troops in what is OUR war, not, Obama’s war, despite what the media say.

Help the Navy Seals
Who gave the murderer a fat lip.

President Obama writes a new health reform prescription
Just another BO promise to get the rubes to vote for him, like so many others. Excerpt: On the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to take on the drug industry by allowing Americans to import cheaper prescription medicine. "We'll tell the pharmaceutical companies 'thanks, but no, thanks' for the overpriced drugs -- drugs that cost twice as much here as they do in Europe and Canada," he said back then. On Tuesday, the matter came to the Senate floor -- and President Obama forgot the "no, thanks" part. Siding with the pharmaceutical lobby, the administration successfully fought against the very idea Obama had championed. "It's got to be a little awkward," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). It's even more awkward for millions of Americans who are forced to pay up to 10 times the prices Canadians and Europeans pay for identical medication, often produced in the same facilities by the same manufacturers, simply because the U.S. government refuses to rein in drug prices.

Drug Prices
Why are drug prices higher in the US? Well, it costs about a billion dollars to bring a new drug to market, because they have to test for and describe even the remotest side effect, or the Trail Lawyers (who run the Democrat party top to bottom) pounce. Other countries don’t have multi-millionaire trial lawyers, as lawyers are paid by the hour, not a percentage of their wins. So less trolling for people with deep pockets, like drug companies. The costs also include money to defend against these suits, or pay awards when juries grant the poor victims millions—which come from our healthcare costs. So other countries allow drug companies to price drugs at cost to produce plus profit, but not to capture development costs, including all the drugs that don’t pan out. In effect, Americans subsidize drug development for the entire world. Once we price drugs without development costs, new drugs won’t be developed, as doing so would lose money, and the stockholders, probably including you and I in our retirement accounts, don’t want the value of their stocks to go down. If such pricing had been in effect 50 years ago, the drugs that hold off AIDS and heart disease, among others, would not be on the market, and millions now alive would be dead.

How about this. Rather than re-import drugs at lower prices than sold here, thus under-cutting the market, require the drug companies to sell drugs in the US for the lowest price they sell them for in other countries. Faced with losing development costs or the US market, they’d stop selling drugs in countries that didn’t allow them to price at US prices. Faced with the loss of access to such drugs, other countries would have to allow pricing that made their citizens bear some of the development costs, thus sharing the costs fairly, or not get the drugs. That would help, though Britain and other socialized-medicine countries already deny high cost life-saving drugs to people. But they voted for socialized medicine. Let them die, not Americans.

Public cooling to health-care reform as debate drags on, poll finds
Excerpt: As the Senate struggles to meet a self-imposed, year-end deadline to complete work on legislation to overhaul the nation's health-care system, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds the public generally fearful that a revamped system would bring higher costs while worsening the quality of their care. A bare majority of Americans still believe government action is needed to control runaway health-care costs and expand coverage to the roughly 46 million people without insurance. But after a year of exhortation by President Obama and Democratic leaders and a high-octane national debate, there is minimal public enthusiasm for the kind of comprehensive changes in health care now under consideration. There are also signs the political fight has hurt the president's general standing with the public. (You think there’s cooling now? Wait until it goes into effect, scheduled for after the next presidential election be design. The cooling then will cure Global Warming!)

More on the poll in The Fix
Excerpt: Majorities believe the costs of their own health care as well as the nation's overall health care will rise if the bill becomes a law. Just 37 percent believe the quality of care they receive will be better under the new plan as compared to 53 percent who said the care would be superior if the status quo was maintained….. That simple fact is why passing some sort of health care bill is only half the battle. The other half will be in going out across the country in 2010 and selling it. That work will fall, primarily, to members of Congress, and how they succeed at it may make or break many a political career.

Obama urges Senate to pass health-care bill; Lieberman signals support
Excerpt: Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), once a critic of the legislation, appeared to be warming to the $848 billion package after Senate leaders said they were ready to jettison a plan to extend Medicare coverage to uninsured people as young as 55, an idea Lieberman denounced over the weekend. He said Tuesday that he expects to support the bill if that provision is dropped. That would leave Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) as the only known holdout among the 60 lawmakers who caucus with Democrats. Senate leaders and White House officials were working hard Tuesday to convert the former Nebraska insurance commissioner, who has said he will not support the measure unless it bars the use of public money for abortion.

Burris Threatens To Filibuster Health Care Without Public Option
Another vote on the auction block. Bet he gets a lot less for it than the Distinguished Senator from LA who sold hers for $300M.

Dean On Health Care: "Kill The Senate Bill"
Gee, even the liberals don’t like it anymore. But BO HAS to have something. You could run a used diaper through the senate, write “Healthcare Reform” on the top, and BO would sign it as a great victory for the public. Excerpt: Dean says the time has come for Senate Democratic leaders to kill the current health care reform bill because it's no longer worth supporting. Dean is upset that the Democrats appear willing to weaken a public option provision in the bill in order to secure the vote of Independent Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman.

Durbin: Dems will have votes to pass health reform by next week
Excerpt: Democrats will have enough votes to pass healthcare reform in the Senate by next week, said Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Tuesday. Durbin defended concessions made by Democrats to win over centrists' votes, and rejected using the budget reconciliation process to force through a more aggressive health bill.

Hoyer: House can pass healthcare reform bill without public option
Or with one. Or anything that says “Healthcare Reform” on the top.

Senate's Solution: Consumer Choice Is Dead on Arrival
When politicians control healthcare, the decisions will be political. Excerpt: Force Americans to buy health insurance just like we do with auto insurance. Make insurance companies accept everyone who applies, including those who buy insurance only when they're sick. Don't let insurance companies sell plans that don't cover everything. These three forms of health insurance regulation-individual mandates, guaranteed issue and coverage mandates-have been attempted in a number of states, including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Washington. The results are described below.

Union pulls back on supporting bill
The wheels may be coming off. Excerpt: The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) backed out of an event with other organizations promoting the Senate healthcare reform bill Wednesday over concerns about changes made to the legislation to accommodate centrist Democrats. The SEIU had planned to participate in a Capitol Hill press conference along with the AARP, the liberal advocacy group Families USA, Consumers Union and the American Cancer Society Action Network. As recently as Tuesday morning, the organizations distributed an advisory to the news media that included the SEIU.

Liberal blogger targets Lieberman's wife
Nice folks, those leftists. Willing to hurt fund-raising for breast cancer research to get even. Even the Mafia leaves family alone in their hits. Excerpt: As a measure of just how impassioned the health-care reform debate has become as it heads into the critical pre-Christmas stretch, consider this: Blogger and liberal activist Jane Hamsher has launched a drive to boot Sen. Joe Lieberman's wife from her role as an international spokesperson for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the breast cancer charity that organizes the annual Race for the Cure fundraising run.

Obama wrote a personal letter to North Korea's Kim Jong Il
Direct negotiations at the Socialist Autocrat to Socialist Autocrat level. This should produce…yawns. But I hope I’m wrong. Excerpt: Bosworth artfully evaded reporters' queries about the letter in Seoul last week, after he left North Korea. Asked whether he had brought a letter, he sidestepped the question, saying: "As for a message to the North Koreans from President Obama, in effect, I am the message." Reporters in Asia then reported that he had denied he had carried a letter. (If you are getting confused by leftwing theology, Bosworth is “the message.” Obama is “the way and the life.”)

Speaker Pelosi to shield vulnerable members from controversial votes
An old political game. Don’t get the members on record. And if you have a big majority, you let some members vote “off,” thus they can pretend to voters they were opposed to things they would have supported if their votes were needed. They can tout their “independence” but it’s really just a loose leash. Helps Blue Dogs. Excerpt: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has privately told her politically vulnerable Democratic members that they will not vote on controversial bills in 2010 unless the Senate acts first. After a year of bruising legislative victories that some political analysts believe have done more to jeopardize her majority than to entrench it, Pelosi is shifting gears for the 2010 election. The Speaker recently assured her freshman lawmakers and other vulnerable members of her caucus that a vote on immigration reform is not looming despite a renewed push from the White House and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The House will not move on the issue until the upper chamber passes a bill, Pelosi told the members.

Is Keynesian Stimulus Working?
Excerpt: The president said that we’ve had to “spend our way out of this recession.” We’ve certainly had massive spending, but it doesn’t seem to have helped the economy, as the 10 percent unemployment rate attests to. It’s not just that the Obama “stimulus” package from February has apparently failed. The total Keynesian stimulus is not measured by the spending in that bill only, but by the total size of federal government deficits. The chart shows that while the federal deficit (the total ”stimulus” amount) has skyrocketed over the last three years, the unemployment rate has more than doubled. (The unemployment rate is the fiscal year average. Two months are included for FY2010.)

Commission Outlines Plan to Reduce Debt
What? Stop buying votes by mortgaging the future? Neither party will like it. Excerpt: A commission led by former lawmakers, congressional budget staffers and economists today outlined a plan to do what current Washington policymakers have been unable to do: bring the rising federal debt under control. After meeting for the past year, the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform laid out a six-step plan designed to prevent a sudden debt-driven crisis that would likely spur higher interest rates and lower standards of living. The goal is to “change our fiscal policies from one of inebriation to one of sobriety,” Bill Frenzel, a former ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee and one of three co-chairs for the 34-member commission, told reporters today.

Welcome to the real world
Excerpt: The trouble is, the city is broke. Mr Bing’s office sits high above Detroit’s barren streets. “We have not made the structural changes we should have made,” he explains. Few cities have such a sprawling workforce—50 bargaining units in all—or so little money to pay for it. But Detroit is not alone. Most cities and states will collect only meagre revenues for at least the next year. While politicians mull tax increases and service cuts, public-sector workers continue to gobble up money—in Philadelphia, they account for 61% of spending. The crisis, however, at least illuminates a simple fact. The status quo is unaffordable. For years, public-sector workers have basked in an alternative reality. Nevertheless, as private-sector unions have faded, public-sector ones have thrived. In 2008 37% of government workers were unionised, nearly five times the share in the private sector (see chart), and the same share that was unionised 25 years earlier. Over that period, the share of unionised private-sector jobs collapsed from 17% to 8%. In 2009, for the first time, public workers comprised more than half of America’s union members. Democrats in particular have little incentive to anger workers, who are often their electoral foot-soldiers, and neither party wants to prod them to strike, since they hold monopolies. Those who defy unions do so at their peril. In 2005 Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, tried to curb the unions’ power. His effort was quickly terminated.

What It Doesn’t Take To Grow Michigan
Excerpt: Between 2005 and 2008, the 10 states that grew their graduate base the most performed no better than the bottom 10 states in per capita personal income growth: The average income growths for both groups was 14 percent. So much for growing the economy by growing graduates If we look at states with the fastest growth in per capita personal income compared to those with the slowest income growth, the facts become even more troublesome for Mr. Glazer: The 10 states where the people's incomes were growing the fastest saw the number of degreed residents increase by just 2 percent on average, while the 10 slowest income-growth states had 2.8 percent more grads at the end of that period. So much for fast-growing states growing their graduate populations.

Political Careerism The Root Of Growing "Economic Development" Empire
Excerpt: At least 58 separate types of "economic development" entities or programs are currently operating in Michigan, according to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The scope of this activity is broad and includes grants; discriminatory tax breaks; direct and indirect subsidies; subsidized loans and loan guarantees; financing authorities; "enterprise zones" and "incubators"; job training programs; and more. Probably a majority of Michigan's 1,859 local governments participate to some degree, plus most or all state universities and community colleges. At best, these programs do nothing to grow the economy of a city, state, region or country, and in many if not most cases, they are actually counterproductive, says the Mackinac Center. If these programs don't work, why do lawmakers keep expanding them? There are three reasons.

Live at Copenhagen: The Trouble With Tuvalu
Excerpt: Even the United Nation’s 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (putting aside for a moment the Climategate-fueled concerns that this study is overly alarmist) projects 7 to 23 inches of sea level rise by century’s end. The lower end of this range is little different from historic rates - sea levels tend to rise between ice ages - and is a far cry from Al Gore’s scary claim of 18 to 20 feet in his book and documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Even more amazing, measurements show no sea level rise at all (actually a slight decline) around Tuvalu for the last half of the 20th century, even during decades where temperatures increased. (Cabanes et el., Science, “Sea Level Rise During Past 40 years Determined from Satellite and In Situ Observations, vol. 294, pp 840-842.) Unwilling to let the facts get in the way of a good handout, Tuvalu is demanding foreign aid from the U.S. and other developed nations in order to cope with global warming.

FAA Says Wasteful Spending ‘All Good’
Excerpt: It’s not uncommon to hear the claim made that the “stimulus” would have had a greater economic impact had the money been focused on infrastructure. But proponents of public “investment” in infrastructure seem to forget that the government allocates capital on the basis of politics rather than economics. Government is naturally inefficient because it is immune to the market signals that guide private actors who stand to lose their own money should an investment not pan out. A perfect example is federal spending on airport infrastructure. The USA Today’s Thomas Frank has been doing good work looking at how the Federal Aviation Administration distributes funds to the nation’s airports. In his latest piece, Frank analyzed FAA records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and found that taxpayer money is being put to questionable use:

Sen. Kerry wavers on backing for cap-and-trade bill in Copenhagen
Excerpt: “I can’t tell you the method or the means, amount, by which we might price carbon. I can’t tell you that. We have not resolved that issue yet,” Kerry said at a press conference after his speech at the international climate summit.

Pelosi: 'I'm in campaign mode'
Excerpt: And many political prognosticators are now warning that the number of vulnerable House Democrats who have been left exposed for supporting liberal healthcare and climate change positions that won’t become law is high enough to potentially threaten Pelosi’s majority when voters head out for the 2010 midterm elections.

Saudi Arabia to flog 75-year-old for breaching sex segregation rules
In case you think only young girls suffer under Islamic law.

Harassment across Arab world drives women inside
Excerpt: The sexual harassment of women in the streets, schools and work places of the Arab world is driving them to cover up and confine themselves to their homes, said activists at the first-ever regional conference addressing the once taboo topic. Activists from 17 countries across the region met in Cairo for a two-day conference ending Monday and concluded that harassment was unchecked across the region because laws don't punish it, women don't report it and the authorities ignore it. The harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, is a daily experience women in the region face and makes them wary of going into public spaces, whether it's the streets or jobs, the participants said. It happens regardless of what women are wearing. (What does one expect in countries where the laws are based on religious doctrine that sees women as second class citizens or chattel?)

Mystery as Lockerbie bomber goes missing from home and hospital
Gee, thought he was dying? Fooled again.

UK: Jihadists who plotted to blow up shopping center had been granted permission to work as security guards
Excerpt: Why not? To disallow them would have been "Islamophobic." "Manchester terror suspects cleared to work as guards," by David Leppard for The Sunday Times, December 13: en members of a suspected Islamist terror cell, said by MI5 to be plotting to blow up a shopping centre and a nightclub in Manchester, had been granted permission by the Home Office to work as security guards in Britain.

A Nobel Prize...for Ignorance of Islam?
Excerpt: Toward the end of his speech the President lapsed into banalities that bordered on intentional misrepresentations. His line about “those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam” has become boilerplate on the Left, invoked like a talisman every time Islam is mentioned. But it is nonetheless pure fantasy. As I and other commentators (Ray Ibrahim, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, among others) have pointed out numerous times, those who perpetrate violence in the name of Islam and Muhammad are in no wise “distorting” or “defiling” the world’s second-largest religion—they are, rather, simply taking literally the violence enshrined in the Qur’an and emulating the historical example of Muhammad himself. Obama then followed with the second axiom of American liberals when discussing Islam—be sure to adduce the Crusades: “these [Islamic] extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded.” Why, yes they are, Mr. President. But there are thousands of years of human history preceding the Crusades, many also amply recorded, and wars in the name of God long pre-date what the medieval Catholic Christians did. In fact, one only has to go back a few hundred years prior to the First Crusade of the 11th century to see that Muslim armies violently overran Christian lands in Egypt, Anatolia, North Africa and Spain—all in the name of Allah. But of course Muslims and Islam can never be held to account, according to our President’s worldview, for their invocation of Allah to kill, conquer and enslave. Those depredations must have been carried out by just a few "extremists," no doubt embittered by something one of George Bush's ancestors had done.

Second Graders Sing About Allah?
Where is the ACLU?

Debt crisis portends liberalism's end
Excerpt: With its most vigorous advocate in memory presiding in the White House and commanding Democratic majorities in Congress, it's difficult to believe that the end of liberalism may be within sight. We base this suggestion not on a hunch or on wishful thinking, but on mathematics. The Petersen-Pew Commission on Budget Reform has produced a new report warning that "[o]ver the past year alone, the public debt of the United States rose sharply from 41 to 53 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Under reasonable assumptions, the debt is projected to grow steadily, reaching 85 percent of GDP by 2018, 100 percent by 2022, and 200 percent in 2038." Long before the debt reaches such stratospheric levels, the commission warns, "Fears of inflation and a prospective decline in the value of the dollar would cause investors to demand higher interest rates and shift out of U.S. Treasury securities. The excessive debt would also affect citizens in their everyday lives by harming the American standard of living through slower economic growth and dampening wages, and shrinking the government's ability to reduce taxes, invest, or provide a safety net.

Privileged Exemption
Excerpt: It is no accident that those who never face real world consequences for the bad decisions they make can be so casually indifferent to their irresponsibility. Such consequences are for "little people," and casual indifference can be reduced to one idea: if push comes to shove, I've got mine, the hell with everyone else. The rest of us? Elitists insist that we don't eat meat or food with trans-fats, don't drive big cars, that we turn our thermostats up in summer and down in winter, mustn't smoke, and shouldn't have too many kids. We, not they, must learn to live with—and be happy with—less. Affluence isn't for everybody.

Schumer has a flight to forget ("privileged exemption.")
Excerpt: When the flight attendant walked away, the witness says Schumer turned to Gillibrand and uttered the B-word. “The senator made an off-the-cuff comment under his breath that he shouldn’t have made, and he regrets it,” Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon told Shenanigans.

Truth in error
An error was edited into Robert Poppiti's column. The list of corrupt politicians should have included the name of former Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, not William Jefferson Clinton. --News Journal (Wilmington, DE) correction

Free Nobel Prize
Funny picture.

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