Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Political Digest December 22, 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.

The future of healthcare
My predictions.

Merry Christmas, Snake
A short story about Christmas in Vietnam. Hope you like it.

For Democrats, health-care debate exposes deep wounds
Excerpt: Amid the spectacle that has become the health-care debate, Democrats have taken comfort in the belief that they will be rewarded politically if in the end they pass something -- almost anything. That proposition is being sorely tested in these final days of maneuvering. For all the talk of the damage President Obama has sustained during this long and difficult year, congressional Democrats have suffered at least as much -- and will have to face the voters far sooner than the president.

Mystery $100 Million Payoff Buried In Senate Health Bill http://newsrealblog.com/2009/12/20/mystery-100-million-payoff-buried-in-senate-health-bill/
Excerpt: Buried on pages 328 and 329 of the proposed Senate health care bill is an appropriation for an undisclosed state to recieve $100,000,000 from The Federal Treasury to “build or expand a state university medical school.” The language doesn’t specify which lucky state gets this massive infusion of our tax dollars, and the language seems to leave open a rather broad definition of how this money is to be spent. (Update: A new report says it was a gift to Sen. Chris Dodd, to help his re-election chances in CT. Well, we knew it wasn’t for Mitch McConnell or John McCain!)

Wrong way to reform healthcare
Excerpt: Right-way reform begins with the recognition that we are all trapped in a dysfunctional system in which normal market forces have been systematically suppressed. Consequently, we all have perverse incentives to make costs higher, quality lower, and access to care more difficult than would otherwise be the case. To correct this state of affairs, perverse incentives must be eliminated. And that means liberating people from the dysfunctional trap in which they find themselves. Every doctor, every patient, every nurse, and every hospital administrator knows where there is waste and could — if motivated — act to eliminate much of it. Everyone on the provider side knows ways of improving quality, if only the incentives to do so were at hand. One way of liberating doctors and patients is to get rid of third-party payment altogether. In markets where this has been done, low-cost, high-quality, accessible care is the rule. Direct service doctors, for example, communicate with patients by telephone and e-mail, they keep electronic medical records and prescribe electronically. They provide coordinated care and help patients get lower prices for diagnostic tests and specialists care. Overall, they are very accessible and they lower the time cost as well as the money cost of care.

Trial lawyers buy Democrats in Congress
Excerpts: Neither of the Obamacare proposals now before Congress includes a medical malpractice reform provision despite the fact that the public wants one -- and that it would cut annual health care costs by $200 billion. A medical malpractice reform provision would protect doctors from expensive lawsuits filed by avaricious class-action plaintiffs' attorneys who have driven malpractice insurance rates into the stratosphere. Judging by Federal Election Commission data on the political contributions of people associated with the top 15 class-action plaintiffs' law firms, it's no accident that malpractice reform is not part of health care "reform": Trial lawyers are investing heavily in their Democratic friends who control the White House and both chambers of Congress.

The political world's winners and losers in health-care reform
Excerpt: With all 60 Senate Democrats (finally) lined up behind the health-care bill, the legislation looks likely to be approved by the world's greatest deliberative body by Christmas Eve. The Fix's gift to you, loyal reader? A look back on the fight that was -- and what a fight it was! -- to see who won and who lost.

Democratic incumbents beware!
Excerpt: A series of national polls released in recent days suggest the American people are mad as hell and they aren't going to take it anymore. In a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll just 22 percent approve of the job Congress is doing. Just 38 percent said their Member of Congress deserves to be re-elected while 49 percent said it is "time to give a new person a chance". That "throw the bums out" mentality is particularly dangerous for Senate Democrats who have five incumbents on our new Line.

Radical Islam meets a buffer in West Africa
But it sounds like it is weakening. Excerpt: An increase in attacks has included the killing of an American teacher and a suicide bombing in Mauritania, the kidnapping of two Canadian diplomats in Niger, and the executions of a British tourist and a Malian colonel in Mali. All were attributed to an al-Qaeda branch made up mostly of Algerians that has ranged southward to hit in urban Mauritania and establish a rear base in the Malian desert. Mali remains proudly moderate, and most people here dismiss extremist ideology as too foreign and brutal to be accepted. But Mali in some sense has become a test case as its government has accepted tens of millions of dollars in American aid intended to stave off what U.S. officials say could be a growing threat of radicalism in parts of Africa where Muslims make up the majority. "It does not find a lot of purchase among local people," a State Department official said of the extremist group, known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. But, the official said, "the problem has gotten a lot worse in the past three, last one year. . . . It's one that requires attention."

Fed's approach to regulation left banks exposed to crisis
Interesting read. All the smart guys in banking and politicians of both parties. No mention of how the Community Reinvestment act started the risky lending, in fact required it.

Worth Reading: Corrupting expectations http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/16/corrupting-expectations/
Excerpt: Assume you are a scientist and have been given a major financial grant to prove that the mythical unicorn really did exist. You know that as long as you can demonstrate some progress in showing the unicorn might have existed, your financial grant will be renewed each year, provided some other scientist does not come out with substantial evidence that the unicorn could not have existed. Under such conditions, you would have a very strong incentive to disregard much of the evidence that the unicorn could not have existed and each year provide only the data that could demonstrate that the unicorn might have existed. You also would have a very strong incentive to attack any scientist who raised serious questions or provided evidence that the unicorn could not have existed. You even might go so far as to refer to them with the disparaging term "unicorn deniers" and attempt to use your influence with other scientists who also are receiving grants dependent on the existence of the unicorn to try to prevent the unicorn deniers from publishing their findings in well-regarded scientific journals. The recently released e-mails (by whistleblowers or hackers, depending on your prejudice) between some of the best-known scientists behind global warming showed that they succumbed to the all-too-human tendency to protect their turfs and pocketbooks, despite the evidence.

Sen. DeMint battling NRSC chair Cornyn over conservative primary candidates http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/73157-demint-battling-cornyn-over-conservative-primary-candidates
Excerpt: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is locked in a battle with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) over the future makeup of the Senate Republican conference. DeMint (S.C.), the chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee, is going toe-to-toe with Cornyn in Senate Republican primaries. (And the winner is…Harry Reid.)

Murtha cleared of Congressional ethics charges http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Friday-night-news-dump-Murtha-cleared-of-Congressional-ethics-charges-79721547.html
Dems find Dems innocent. Surprise. Excerpt: While everyone is understandably obsessed with whether or not the Senate will pass this monstrosity of a health care bill, Congress decided they wouldn't find a better time to announce this news:...The Office of Congressional Ethics has closed its investigation into Reps. John Murtha (D-Pa.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) and their relationships to the lobbying firm PMA Group, and the OCE advised against a formal House ethics investigation, the lawmakers’ offices said Friday

What Are President Obama's Actual Objectives? http://townhall.com/columnists/AustinHill/2009/12/13/what_are_president_obamas_actual_objectives
Excerpt: He campaigned against private sector economic mismanagement, and the 'harsh realities' of global capitalism. He pledged during his campaign to end corruption in both the government, and the private sector. He campaigned against private sector economic mismanagement, and the 'harsh realities' of global capitalism. He pledged during his campaign to end corruption in both the government, and the private sector. After he took office, he claimed that he had 'inherited' the worst economic situation in his country's recent history. And then, the new President sought to consolidate his power. Once privately-owned enterprises became government-owned and operated entities, and were 'restructured' so as to become, essentially, 'workers' cooperatives.' Not surprisingly, unemployment remained persistently high, even as the new was implementing his much-celebrated 'reform' measures. And while private citizens had to struggle with the worsening economic conditions, government officials nonetheless continued to exert increasing levels of control over the nation's wealth, and also continued to enrich themselves from that wealth, despite the suffering of 'the governed.' Does this seem like a description of the first 11 months of the Obama Presidency? What I've described here thus far portrays the conduct of President Obama and members of his Administration fairly succinctly. Yet, this is actually a description of the ascendency of Hugo Chavez, the once freely elected President and now rapidly-morphing-into-a-dictator of Venezuela.

It's time to recognize we have trade competitors, not partners http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704398304574598031665178094.html
Excerpt: With the official unemployment rate at 10% and the real unemployment rate over 18% (accounting for people who can only find part-time employment or have given up looking for work), it's clear that job creation should be the country's top priority. That is why I firmly believe we need additional economic stimulus. But this time we need to do it the right way. Here are three steps we can take that will move the economy forward without increasing the federal budget deficit. These steps will also dramatically reduce our trade deficit, promote genuine rules-based free trade, and position us to remain the world's leader. (Fat Chance. If it doesn’t increase the size of government, by hiring more Democrat-voting employees, Democrats are not interested.)

King of the Blacks
Excerpt: No doubt there is more to the story but on its face it is damning. How is it that the “queen of the Asians” is a straight “A” student while the “king of the Blacks” is the kid that flunked 8th grade? This -- however badly we wish it wasn’t so - is the paradigm concerned Black parents are battling. This is what distinguishes us as parents from the parents of our son’s non-black friends. This is why his mother and I feel a tremendous pressure that our son NOT be the black kid that can’t make the grade; why we have no patience for shucking and jiving – why we are not satisfied with a B average. We cheat him if we do not push him to be better -- if we do not demand that he achieve. If he does not reach his fullest potential he cheats us. “To those to whom much has been given...” My son has been tremendously blessed and he is now charged with carrying the banner of the people. It may not be fair, but that is the way of the world.

America's Survival Is At Stake http://townhall.com/columnists/RogerChapin/2009/12/21/americas_survival_is_at_stake
Excerpt: Never before in our history has an American president, deliberately and by design, risked our very survival to a maniacal enemy power sworn to remove America from the world. Yet from all appearances, this is exactly what Obama is doing by failing to vigorously oppose Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. But in spite of the fact that over 60% of the public favors militarily destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities, there’s nary a word of protest from the Republicans in opposition. They’re so paranoid about being labeled warmongers, they have shamefully abdicated their own national security responsibilities, just as John McCain did during his presidential run.

Gun Owners Must Travel in Boxes – Obama Signs Bill With Major Typo http://newsrealblog.com/2009/12/21/gun-owners-must-travel-in-boxes/
Excerpt: It may sound absurd. But President Obama signed a bill into law Wednesday that requires passengers who carry firearms aboard Amtrak be locked in boxes for their journey. It’s a mistake in the law’s wording. But for now, the clerical error is the law of the land.

Finding Allah at Ground Zero
Excerpt: Ground Zero is just down the road, a global symbol of Islamist violence. But in a half-destroyed building in Lower Manhattan, a new Muslim place of worship has opened. The founders hope it can help heal the wound opened by Sept. 11 -- around the corner from where the attacks took place.

David Headley Said to Have Helped Terrorists Target Nuclear Plant http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/headley-target-nuclear-plant/story?id=9375929
Excerpt: The Chicago man charged with helping plot the terror attacks one year ago in Mumbai also photographed and conducted surveillance of a nuclear weapons fuel plant in Tromboy, India, according to Indian and U.S. law enforcement authorities. (If say ten million Indians died, it would be a small price to pay for not using enhanced interrogate on terrorists.)

Muslim police chef defeated in 'bacon roll' tribunal faces £75,000 legal bill http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1237184/Muslim-police-chef-defeated-bacon-roll-tribunal-faces-75-000-legal-bill.html
Playing the Islamic Victim card flops. Excerpt: The £23,000-a-year chef claimed suggestions by his bosses that he should wear gloves and use tongs left him 'stressed and humiliated'. Muslims are banned from eating pork under Islamic law. But Mr Khoja, 62, lost his claim in May after a police employee told an employment tribunal how she saw Mr Khoja eat bacon rolls and sausages.

Who is more respected, Sarah Palin or Al Gore? http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Who-is-more-respected-Sarah-Palin-or-Al-Gore-79754177.html
Excerpt: But the striking thing is that Sarah Palin, after all the criticism that has been directed at her, finished tied for sixth place, respected by 13 percent of respondents, and Al Gore, after all the praise that has been directed at him, was in eighth place, respected by eight percent. (The poll was taken just before the global warming fiasco in Copenhagen, which seems unlikely to have a positive effect Gore's ratings.)

Republicans make new accusations in Walpin
firing http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/18/AR2009121804283.html?wpisrc=nl_pmpolitics
Excerpt: Republicans questioned statements by Alan Solomont, CNCS's former board chairman who is also Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Spain. Solomont told Republican investigators in July that he only discussed the Walpin matter with the White House counsel's office, according to Republican aides. Visitor logs released in November show Solomont made 17 visits to the White House beginning in January, including a June 9 meeting with Michelle Obama's then-chief of staff, Jackie Norris. That meeting occurred five days after it was announced that Norris would leave her White House post to be a senior CNCS adviser and a day before Walpin was dismissed. Republicans suggest Solomont and Norris discussed the case.

In wake of mammography guidelines, U.S. health task force faces new scrutiny http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/19/AR2009121902280.html?wpisrc=nl_pmpolitics
Excerpt: The once-obscure federal panel that triggered a firestorm with its new mammography guidelines would get far greater authority under the health-care reform proposals pending in Congress, sparking more debate about its power and independence.

Passing health reform could be a nightmare for Obama
Excerpt: Barack Obama's quest for historic health-care legislation has turned into a parody of leadership. We usually associate presidential leadership with the pursuit of goals that, though initially unpopular, serve America's long-term interests. Obama has reversed this. He's championing increasingly unpopular legislation that threatens the country's long-term interests. "This isn't about me," he likes to say, "I have great health insurance." But of course, it is about him: about the legacy he covets as the president who achieved "universal" health insurance. He'll be disappointed. Even if Congress passes legislation -- a good bet -- the finished product will fall far short of Obama's extravagant promises. It will not cover everyone. It will not control costs. It will worsen the budget outlook. It will lead to higher taxes. It will disrupt how, or whether, companies provide insurance for their workers. As the real-life (as opposed to rhetorical) consequences unfold, they will rebut Obama's claim that he has "solved" the health-care problem. His reputation will suffer. It already has. Despite Obama's eloquence and command of the airwaves, public suspicions are rising. In April, 57 percent of Americans approved of his "handling of health care" and 29 percent disapproved, reports the Post-ABC News poll; in the latest survey, 44 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved. About half worried that their care would deteriorate and that health costs would rise.

A Fatal Tendency of Mankind. Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing. But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. ... This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man -- in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain. --French economist and author Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) The Patriot Post www.patriotpost.us/subscribe/

Humor by e-mail—author unknown
--They told me if I voted for McCain, the nation's hope would deteriorate, and sure enough there has been a 20 point drop in the Consumer Confidence Index since the election, reaching a lower point than any time during the Bush administration. --They told me if I voted for McCain, the US would become more deeply embroiled in the Middle East, and now, tens of thousands of additional troops are scheduled to be deployed into Afghanistan . --My Democrat Party friends told me if I voted for McCain, that the economy would get worse and sure enough unemployment is at 10%. --They told me if I voted for McCain, we would see more "crooks" in high ranking positions in Federal government and sure enough, several recent cabinet nominees and Senate appointments revealed resumes of scandal, bribery and tax fraud. --They told me if I voted for McCain, we would see more "Pork at the trough" in Federal government and sure enough, 17,500 "Pork Bills" showed up in Congress since January 2009. --I was also told by my Democrat friends that if I voted for McCain, we would see more deficit spending in Washington D.C. and sure enough, the deficit is higher in one year than in the first 200 years of the Republic. --Well, I voted for McCain in November and my Democrat friends were right... all of their predictions have come true. It’s all my fault.

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