Friday, October 1, 2010

Political Digest for October 1, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Thank God it wasn’t a Qur’an
Or there would have been trouble and the President would have spoken out.

Boehner surprise: Dems barely get votes to adjourn after floor speech
Excerpt: House Democrats on Wednesday barely won a 210-209 vote to adjourn the House without extending the Bush tax cuts. Thirty-nine House Democrats voted against adjournment after Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) urged opposition to the motion in a floor speech that said it would be irresponsible for Congress to leave without providing certainty on the tax issue. Dozens of Democrats in tough races voted against adjourning. Vote no on this adjournment resolution. Give Congress a chance to vote on extending tax rates," Boehner said. Boehner's floor speech turned the vote on adjournment into a referendum on the tax cuts, which has divided Democrats for months. President Obama wants to extend tax cuts for families making less than $250,000, while allowing taxes to rise on income above that threshold. Many centrist Democrats have joined Republicans in arguing for extending all of the tax cuts. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Wednesday that the House would not vote on the expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts before lawmakers break for the November midterm elections. The House is expected to conclude its work late Wednesday or early Thursday morning. (Sure. “Blue Dog” Democrat Rep. Bart Gordon was against ObamaCare—until the polls told him he couldn’t win. He announced he wasn’t running and voted for it. Re-elect Democrats and watch the economy get slammed by tax hikes in January. Count on it. ~Bob.)

ObamaCare's redistribution of health
Excerpt: New projections from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid paint a stark picture of the impact of the ObamaCare law: We're in for a massive redistribution of health resources. When the projections were released this month, news reports stressed that the president's "reform" utterly fails to slow the growth of health-care spending. Every year through 2019, employers and consumers will face higher premiums than if the law hadn't passed. But worse news is how radically the Obama law spreads the health wealth around. In 2014, a staggering 85.2 million people -- 31 percent of all nonelderly Americans -- will be on Medicaid and CHIP (the Medicaid-like children's health program). This accounts for the majority of those who'd gain health coverage. Amazingly, only 3 percent more people will have private insurance. President Obama pledged to reduce the number of uninsured by making health plans affordable -- but that's not how his law actually does it. Rather, it loosens Medicaid eligibility by raising the income ceiling and barring asset tests. In short, it pushes our country toward a welfare state. Often, workers put up with low salaries to get good health benefits for their families. But the new law stipulates that Medicaid recipients get the same benefits that employers are required to provide workers. That will diminish the incentive to work -- another step toward reversing welfare reform. Why stick it out on the job if the benefits are just as good in Medicaid?

The Era of Rationing Begins
Excerpt: Supporters of health reform said it would never happen. Maybe they got caught up in their own rhetoric. Maybe they just didn't want to believe it was possible. But rationing in America has started. By December, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to revoke approval of the drug Avastin for the treatment of advanced breast cancer. United States Senator David Vitter of Louisiana has described the anticipated move as "the beginning of a slippery slope leading to more and more rationing under the government takeover of health care." It seems that even loyal Democrats have noticed the Obama administration's not-so-subtle policy shift toward rationing. According to Politico, many of the 34 House Democrats who voted against the health reform bill are aggressively touting their "no" votes in campaign ads. The FDA claims its decision won't be based on cost, but Avastin isn't cheap -- a full regimen costs about $100,000 a year. Jean Grem of the FDA's Oncology Drug Advisory Committee was cited in the The Wall Street Journal explaining why she voted to deprive breast-cancer patients of Avastin: "We aren't supposed to talk about cost, but that's another issue." Two years ago, the FDA approved Avastin for breast cancer on the condition that further research would show the drug extended life expectancy. Everyone expected the drug to maintain its approval. Avastin has proven to be a wonder drug for countless women with stage IV breast cancer, slowing the disease's progression and dramatically extending life.

McDonald's May Drop Health Plan
Excerpt: McDonald's Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul. The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers' health plans as the law ripples through the real world. Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn't loosen a requirement for "mini-med" plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans. The requirement concerns the percentage of premiums that must be spent on benefits. While many restaurants don't offer health coverage, McDonald's provides mini-med plans for workers at 10,500 U.S. locations, most of them franchised. A single worker can pay $14 a week for a plan that caps annual benefits at $2,000, or about $32 a week to get coverage up to $10,000 a year. Last week, a senior McDonald's official informed the Department of Health and Human Services that the restaurant chain's insurer won't meet a 2011 requirement to spend at least 80% to 85% of its premium revenue on medical care. McDonald's and trade groups say the percentage, called a medical loss ratio, is unrealistic for mini-med plans because of high administrative costs owing to frequent worker turnover, combined with relatively low spending on claims. Democrats who drafted the health law wanted the requirement to prevent insurers from spending too much on executive salaries, marketing and other costs that they said don't directly help patients. McDonald's says the new health law threatens coverage for many workers, like these in Times Square. McDonald's move is the latest indication of possible unintended consequences from the health overhaul.

When do rules for the common good cross the line?
Excerpt: As Barack Obama told us at the Democratic convention in 2004, we are not a red and blue nation, etc., etc., etc. True enough, but we are a high-density/low-density nation. As a smallish-town girl come to the humongous city, I am all too aware of the appeal and horror of centralized government. Simply put, the more people cram themselves into small spaces, the more government will be involved in their lives. This isn't the stuff of revelation, of course, but it's a useful metaphor for the two prevailing worldviews now in conflict. If you live in a large urban area, chances are you are accustomed to lots of rules and regs. But to the newcomer, fresh from living largely independently by her own wits, the oppression of bureaucratic order is a fresh sort of hell. Not only did I move from a small town in South Carolina via a relatively quiet neighborhood in Washington, I also left a solo writing operation to join CNN, an international organization with layers upon layers of human management. Not that I'm complaining. Just sayin'. But between rules for potted plants on an apartment terrace and a building ban on lighting birthday candles, I've uttered more than once, "Now I know what it's like to live in communist China." Without, of course, the conveniences. (There’s my problem. I’m a low-density kind of guy, living in high-density Blagobamaville. ~Bob.)

Tea-Party Movement Gathers Strength
The way things are going, I think there’s money to be made investing in pitchforks and torches. ~Bob. Excerpt: The tea party has emerged as a potent force in American politics and a center of gravity within the Republican Party, with a large majority of Republicans showing an affinity for the movement that has repeatedly bucked the GOP leadership this year, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found. In the survey, 71% of Republicans described themselves as tea-party supporters, saying they had a favorable image of the movement or hoped tea- party candidates would do well in the Nov. 2 elections.

University of Chicago Law Prof's Blog About Struggling on $400Gs Draws Fire
Excerpt: A prominent college law professor's posting of his family's finances on the Web to make the case that they're struggling to make ends meet -- despite their estimated $400,000-plus income -- has lit the fuse of an online debate that he claims has made him the target of an "online lynch mob." Todd Henderson, a corporate law professor at the University of Chicago -- and a neighbor of President Obama -- says that since he posted his finances online he's been barraged with comments such as "die yuppie scum," forcing him to shut down his blog out of fear for his family…. He said he and his wife, a doctor, paid $100,000 in federal and state taxes last year and $15,000 in property taxes. He wrote that they have a mortgage on a house they own a short distance from President Obama’s home, and they are paying off $250,000 in Student Loans. With an annual income of more than $250,000, he wrote, he and his wife are far from super-rich.

Blog reader being hit by Obamacare
I am 66. When I turned 65, I opted for a Medicare Advantage plan (assume you know what that is). I have not really "tested" it nor do I wish to. Yesterday, I received a letter saying the plan will cease on January 1, 2011. They gave me some options. Coincidentally, on Rush's show yesterday, he announced a different co. in the northeast was dropping their Medicare Advantage plans as of January 1. Of course, this had been predicted after passage of Obamacare, so I was already looking at alternatives. At that point, a young self-employed man called in to announce he was notified of a premium increase of about 30% from a traditional health insurance company. Now, I don't fault any of the insurance providers. They are trying to operate in "Bizarro World" AKA Obamaland. No one knows what the rules are (whatever the government decides on a particular day?). So uncertainty abounds and a CYA mentality sets in. It has with me-big time! Frankly, I am surprised the economy is doing as well as it is. All of this is just a harbinger of things to come. Any country that would elect an Obama must necessarily expect all manner of horrors and outrages. Nothing in Obama land is so perverse that it can be ruled out. Best. –RG

Tea Party Movement is a Revival of the Middle Class
Excerpt: This liberal critique of the tea partiers -- a dangerous mob, but of marginal importance in post-racial America -- is a curious paradox. Why fear and loathe a movement said to be narrow in its views and scope? The answer was given to us in a remarkably prescient book, Christopher Lasch's "The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy," posthumously published in 1995. The noted historian, whose intellectual journey carried him from the left in the '60s to the populist right by the '90s, would have been giddy over the tea party. Lasch believed the only hope for American democracy lay in a revival of the middle class, particularly what were once known as middle-class virtues. The book title is an explicit ironic commentary on Jose Ortega y Gasset's 1932 (first English translation) classic: "The Revolt of the Masses."

The battle for the House: Where are the two parties spending their money?
Excerpt: The two national party committees tasked with winning House seats have begun to spend down their bank accounts on scads of ads that provide our best window yet into what each side views as its biggest opportunities and vulnerabilities. The National Republican Congressional Committee has now bought ad time in 31 districts, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has bought time in 24. The NRCC has spent nearly $6 million as compared to $3.7 million for the DCCC. The NRCC and DCCC have also reserved time in 55 and 67 districts, respectively, but reserving time is not the same as actually buying it since money can be moved almost until the moment the ads are scheduled to run. For the most part, the seats considered most vulnerable to switching parties are being ignored by both sides -- a sign that they may well be lost causes. Most of the districts targeted thus far are considered second-tier pickups -- the seats that will almost certainly make the difference between Republicans winning 39 seats, and not. There's any number of ways to slice and dice the data but we decided to break them down into three categories: districts where both committees are up with ads, districts where only Democrats are running commercials and districts where only Republicans are on TV….. At the moment, Democrats seem resigned to significant seat losses -- choosing to focus their money on three dozen or so races on which their control of the majority almost certainly rests.

Senate blocks recess appointments with deal between Dems, GOP
Excerpt: Senate Democrats agreed Wednesday night to a Republican demand to block President Obama from making recess appointments while Congress is out of town campaigning for the midterm elections. Democratic leaders have agreed to schedule pro-forma sessions of the Senate every week over the next six weeks, a move that will prevent Obama from making emergency appointments, according to Senate sources briefed on the talks. Democrats agreed earlier in the day to a Republican demand to cut spending levels for government agencies in order to pass a stop-gap spending measure. Democrats are eager to get back home to defend their record to voters and they couldn’t do that until the spending bill passed. Under the law, the president can only make a recess appointment if the Senate is adjourned for more than three consecutive days. By scheduling pro forma sessions twice a week, lawmakers can take away Obama’s ability to make recess appointments. Obama had more than 110 executive- and judicial-branch nominees pending on the Senate’s executive calendar as of Wednesday afternoon. The Senate approved 54 of Obama’s nominees late Wednesday evening, including a dozen ambassadors, 11 U.S. Marshals and six U.S. attorneys.

House adjourns after passing short-term fix to fund federal government
Excerpt: The House adjourned for the final time before the midterm elections early Thursday after passing a stop-gap funding measure to keep the government running while lawmakers campaign for their jobs. The bill, known as a continuing resolution, was approved 228-194 shortly after midnight. The Senate passed the measure earlier Wednesday by a vote of 69-30. The vote concluded an abbreviated pre-election legislative session that was dominated by a bill that neither chamber ultimately acted on: a proposal to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. Democrats came into the session with an ambitious agenda that became more limited as campaign politics and spending concerns took hold. In a busy legislative day on Wednesday, the House passed bills to extend healthcare benefits to first responders at Ground Zero on 9/11 and to confront Chinese currency manipulation. Lawmakers also approved the Intelligence Authorization Act, as well as dozens of non-controversial measures. But Congress did not get to several pieces of legislation, including a bill pushed by the White House and first lady Michelle Obama to boost funding for child nutrition initiatives. The unfinished business sets up what one Democratic senator has called the “mother of all lame-duck” session after the elections, in which Congress will have to grapple with the expiring tax cuts, an omnibus appropriations bills and other measures. Both chambers are scheduled to return Nov. 15, about two weeks after the election.

Rep. Rangel welcomes pre-election ethics trial
Excerpt: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) expressed frustration Wednesday with the House Ethics Committee and indicated that he would welcome a public trial on charges that he violated 13 House ethics rules before the November midterm elections. (Wink, wink. Sure he would. But a lot safer for them to give him a slap on the wrist after the election, when most voters stop paying attention. ~Bob.)

Stock rally might be best economic stimulus
Excerpt: Lower taxes. Shovel-ready projects. Handouts from Uncle Sam. Those all have been touted as ways to boost the sluggish economy. But former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan has suggested a different form of economic stimulus: an old-fashioned stock rally with legs that makes investors feel richer and CEOs more confident. In a recent speech, Greenspan said the "most effective" stimulus is rising stock prices — not more government spending. Many Wall Street experts agree. "The stock market is a barometer of how people feel," says Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. "Higher stock prices inspire confidence and help ignite spending.” (The coming Obama Tax Increases will kill any rally. But therein lies a Catch-22: Stocks are unlikely to keep rising if individual investors keep yanking cash out of stock funds. Right now, there is a disconnect between what Main Street investors say about the stock market and what they are actually doing with their money. Thanks to the best September performance for stocks since 1954 — Friday's big rally left the Standard & Poor's 500 up 9.5% since August — the percentage of individual investors who say they are "bullish" has risen to as high as 50% this month, up sharply from a two-year low of less than 21% in late August, a poll by the American Association of Individual Investors found ~Bob.)

Big Green: Portrait of a Big Green activist who scares your kids
[Part 4 of 5.] Of all the questionable lessons being {taught to} American public schools students, the idea that Legos are destroying the planet might just be the most absurd. "Riding in the car one day with his parents in Tacoma, Wash., Rafael de la Torre Batker, 9, was worried about whether it would be bad for the planet if he got a new set of Legos," according to the New York Times. Where once we dispensed practical advice to children about consumerism like "waste not, want not," today's public schools too often teach kids that their new toys make them part of an apocalyptic death cult. According to the Times, Young Rafael's class had just watched "The Story of Stuff," an animated anti-capitalist diatribe by former Greenpeace employee Annie Leonard. The program, which was financed in part by left-wing Tides Foundation, is widely used by teachers suffused with environmental dogma. Leonard claims her video has been viewed by more than three million people online, and some 7,000 copies of the DVD have been sold. Another environmental group, Facing the Future, is developing curricula designed around the program for schools in all 50 states. ...Leonard describes herself as an "unapologetic activist," and isn't shy about painting hyperbolic doomsday environmental scenarios for children. In Leonard's 20 minute documentary, she explains the production of consumer goods with this: "Extraction, which is a fancy word for natural resource exploitation, which is a fancy word for trashing the planets." Leonard embraces the long-discredited Malthusian view of natural resources, intoning darkly that "we are running out of resources and we are using too much stuff. ... In the past three decades, one third of the planet's natural resource base has been consumed - gone." Further, according to Leonard, we live on a "finite planet" where rain doesn't replenish water tables, new trees can't be planted and grown, and there are no new supplies of resources such as metals and fuels to be discovered.

A difficult time for health insurance companies in Massachusetts
Excerpt: This has to be a very difficult time for insurance companies in Massachusetts. Notwithstanding that they are non-profits, they are under a lot of scrutiny with regard to reserve margins and profitability. Much of this is unfair, but I think that is just a sign of the times. Hospitals face a similar issue, too. Doctors are certainly next in line. But the Massachusetts insurers have an additional problem. They have been participants in creating a very large disparity in payment rates among hospitals, rate differentials based mainly on providers’ market power. They are now under pressure to limit rate increases to hospitals, but the ones that come up for renewal are not necessarily the ones that have received higher rates. Nonetheless, insurers are telling those who are up for renewal that they should expect no rate increase at all, or at best, an increase well below the rate of medical cost inflation. Those hospitals, by definition, are the ones without market power. So if the insurers hold them to low rate changes, the disparity between the have’s and the have-not’s will grow. This enhances the market power of their competitors, allowing them to poach doctors into their networks and gain still more market power. This increases the percentage of patients who go to the high-rate providers, aggravating the overall health care cost situation. (Last winter, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick denied proposed rate increases by 85% of all health insurers in the Commonwealth, ignoring the fact that most are non-profit organizations to begin with. A few increases have since been approved (for politically well-connected companies, of course), but most new policies are being written with no particular guaranteed term of fixed payments (in anticipation of later increases--of unknown size--being approved). By coincidence, this is an election year.... Politicians make decisions for political reasons, ONLY. Ron P.)

The Bipartisan Fight Against the Obama Tax Hikes
Excerpt: At 20 minutes after midnight this morning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gaveled the House out of session, assuring that Congress will now adjourn until after the November elections without taking any action to stop the Obama tax hikes. Earlier in the day, 39 Democrats defied Speaker Pelosi and voted with the minority to keep the House in session until they could vote on the impending tax hikes. Speaker Pelosi, who rarely votes on day-to-day legislation, was forced to cast the tie breaking vote (210-209) on the adjournment resolution. To the members of the majority who broke ranks with Speaker Pelosi, the meaning of the vote was clear: a vote to adjourn was a vote to raise taxes.

Scientists overcome hurdles to stem cell alternatives
Excerpt: Scientists reported Thursday they had developed a technique that can quickly create safe alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, a major advance toward developing a less controversial approach for treating for a host of medical problems. The researchers published a series of experiments showing they can use laboratory-made versions of naturally occurring biological signals to quickly convert ordinary skin cells into cells that appear virtually identical to embryonic stem cells. Moreover, the same strategy can then coax those cells to morph into specific tissues that would be a perfect match for transplantation into patients. The work, by a team led by Derek J. Rossi of the Children's Hospital Boston, was praised by other researchers as a breakthrough. (So much for having to defeat the evil Republicans so we can cure disease. ~Bob.)

Al-Qaeda’s European Terror Plot
Excerpt: Western Europe has been on edge recently, with fears of terror attacks. On September 17 this month Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, announced that it was “only a matter of time" before a terror attack was carried out in Britain by UK subjects. He suggested that people who had gone from Britain to Somalia to attend Al Shabaab training camps would be the assailants. He also spoke of the possibility of Northern Ireland potentially being subjected to a terror attack. This would be made by members of the “Real IRA.” Shortly after Evans’ warning, a British terror suspect, with apparent ties to Al Shabaab, was arrested at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport by the Netherlands’ Royal Marechaussee military police. The man, of Somali origin, had intended to board a plane bound for Entebbe in Uganda. He had taken a linking flight from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport in Britain. His arrest had followed a tip-off from U.K. counter-terrorism officials. Yesterday, the Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated for the second time in two weeks. The first warning had come on September 14. The warning on Tuesday evening had come from a message sent from a pay-to-use public phone. On both occasions, the landmark was swept for evidence of bombs, and nothing was found. There have been four bomb warnings in the same number of weeks in Paris and, on each occasion, security has taken the threat seriously. (This story seems to have been dropped by the media? That’s because it is a threat from Muslims, not Tea Party members. ~Bob.)

Cyber War on Iran: the Siemens Connection
Excerpt: While the boors and bores of the mainstream media continue to focus on the “crucial matters” of our time such as Stephen Colbert’s tedious appearance before Congress and whether a Delaware senatorial candidate spent two days as a witch in high school, news of real importance is breaking all around us. I am not just referring to the cataclysmic testimony by Chris Coates in front of the Civil Rights Commission on Friday, but to a yet bigger story with a potentially huge implications for geo-politics — the recent (and possibly ongoing) cyber attack on Iranian computers that may have temporarily crippled the nuclear capability (and who knows what else) of the totalitarian Islamic state. Yesterday, I wrote some preliminary words about this highly sophisticated attack by the so-called “Stuxnet” worm; today we learn the startling news the Iranians themselves have admitted that something serious has happened. Such admissions are certainly not common from the secretive state. From Asia Bizz: The Iranian Ministry has stated that some 30000 industrial computers have been infected by Stuxnet. One of the main operations done by Stuxnet is that it extracts vital information from these systems and then sends it somewhere abroad. Iran has termed this virus as a spy virus, as it is deploying vital data to other countries. On the other hand it is said, a similar attack has been reported from Iran’s latest nuclear power plant facility, but these reports have not yet been confirmed.

How Dems hope to sell 'broccoli'
Excerpt: It is a lawyers' adage: If you have the law on your side, argue the law; if you have the facts, argue the facts; if you have neither, pound the table. Forgive the Democrats for their table-pounding. They can't run on their record, which has two pillars. One is the stimulus that didn't stimulate as they said it would (or else unemployment wouldn't be above 8 percent). The report that the recession ended in June 2009 means the feeble recovery began before stimulus spending really started. The second pillar is the health-care legislation. It remains as unpopular as it was when the administration told Americans to pipe down and eat their broccoli. Unable to campaign retrospectively, Democrats also can't campaign prospectively: "Elect us and get more broccoli!" Hence the table-pounding: The Tea Party is a death panel for America's happiness. As the year began, we were warned that Tea Partiers wouldn't play nicely with others -- wouldn't abide by the mores and outcomes of the two-party competition. It is, however, some anti-Tea Party "moderates" who exemplify repulsive politics this year.

S.D. School District Distributes Guide to Help Illegal Alien Students Avoid Deportation
Your tax dollars at work, protecting lawbreakers. ~Bob. Excerpt: Excerpt: A countywide public school network for at-risk children is encouraging teachers to address students’ concerns about immigration raids and deportations — an effort that’s receiving mixed reviews from law enforcement agencies. Police are objecting to one key element: an illustrated guide on how to protect yourself from raids by not saying too much, not carrying certain documents and not signing forms without consulting a lawyer. The guide, which was distributed to teachers and students at two recent events, depicts burly police officers in sunglasses and fear-stricken immigrants in handcuffs who refuse to give information before speaking to an attorney. It includes a wallet-sized “know your rights” card.

Ayodhya holy site crisis
A long Islamic record of building mosques on other religions’ holy sites, to crush them. See Temple Mount for more evidence. ~Bob. Excerpt: The religious site where the Babri mosque was destroyed in 1992 in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya has been a flashpoint between Hindus and Muslims for years. BBC News looks at the troubled history of the disputed holy site. 1528: A mosque is built on the site which some Hindus say marks the spot where one of the most revered deities in Hinduism, Lord Ram, was born. 1853: First recorded incidents of religious violence at the site. 1859: British colonial administration erects a fence to separate the places of worship, allowing the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus.

Americans Still Cling to Ignorance
Excerpt: The bookish, twice-unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson once sighed that if most thinking people supported him, it still wouldn't be enough in America because, "I need a majority." For some reason, Democrats have chosen to follow the disastrous model of Stevenson and not that of feisty man-of-the-people Missourian Harry Truman -- though the former nearly wrecked the party and the latter got elected. Former President Jimmy Carter likewise seems to feel that he's still too smart for us. Carter, who turns 86 on Friday, is hitting the news shows to explain why he remains America's "superior" ex-president -- and why more than 30 years ago he was so successful yet so underappreciated as our chief executive. Most Americans instead remember a very different President Carter who finished his single term with 18 percent inflation, 18 percent interest rates, 11 percent unemployment, long gas lines, and a world in chaos from hostage-taking in Teheran and Soviet communist aggression in Afghanistan and Central America. Now, John Kerry -- who failed to win the presidency in 2004 and recently tried to avoid state sales taxes on his new $7 million yacht -- is voicing similar frustrations about Americans' inability to fathom what their betters are trying to do for them. He is furious that an unsophisticated electorate might not return congressional Democratic majorities in 2010. Kerry laments that, "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on." Instead it falls for "a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening." … In the 2008 campaign, Michelle Obama at one point said of her husband's burden, "Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics." That sense of intellectual superiority was channeled by Barack Obama himself when he later tried to explain why his message was not resonating with less astute rural Pennsylvanians: "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." (Actually, Thomas Sowell reports that Stevenson wasn’t as “bookish” as Truman. “Adlai Stevenson was certainly regarded as an intellectual by intellectuals in the 1950s. But, half a century later, facts paint a very different picture. Historian Michael Beschloss, among others, has noted that Stevenson “could go quite happily for months or years without picking up a book.” But Stevenson had the airs of an intellectual — the form, rather than the substance. What is more telling, form was enough to impress the intellectuals, not only then but even now, years after the facts have been revealed, though apparently not to Mr. Kristof. That is one of many reasons why intellectuals are not taken as seriously by others as they take themselves. As for reading the classics, President Harry Truman, whom no one thought of as an intellectual, was a voracious reader of heavyweight stuff like Thucydides and read Cicero in the original Latin. When Chief Justice Carl Vinson quoted in Latin, Truman was able to correct him. Yet intellectuals tended to think of the unpretentious and plain-spoken Truman as little more than a country bumpkin.

AP Sources: Emanuel to resign as White House chief of staff Friday, to begin Chicago mayor bid
We gotta get out of this place. ~Bob.

Obama’s Generals
Excerpt: Obama had to do this 18-month surge just to demonstrate, in effect, that it couldn’t be done . . . the president had treated the military as another political constituency that had to be accommodated.” –LTG Douglas Lute, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan as quoted in the Washington Post .The past three days the Washington Post has been serializing the new Bob Woodward book, “Obama’s Wars,” on the front page of that paper. Though I have been stunned by what I’ve read I haven’t been surprised. That a feckless and un-serious man when elected president would pursue a war in a feckless and un-serious way should surprise no one. What has left me stunned is the fact that Obama never seriously considered whether winning the war in Afghanistan (or sealing the victory in Iraq) was in the national interests of the United States. His lodestar was rather an arbitrary and precipitous withdrawal date in July 2011. Here you have it in black and white. The surge of troops into Afghanistan was below the number recommended by his military advisers. Obama did not support the surge, he was fixated on an early withdrawal, but he lacked the courage to make that decision. How a president can continue to waste the lives of young Americans in a war he neither believes in or cares about is beyond my comprehension. Worse, no one is surprised that Obama would do this. Anti-Americanism is seems to have been programmed into his DNA, to the point where everyone just expects him to act this way. But that isn’t what this story is about. It’s about the people around him, including our most senior uniformed leaders - men who know better - who have allowed this to happen. (So a General says the troops are dying to prove that liberals are correct that we can’t win? ~Bob)

What did you “dabble” in?
Pushing the statement by Christine O’Donnell that in high school she dabbled in witchcraft (apparently the major news of the week) the cartoonists are having fun. Bill Clinton: “I dabbled on a blue dress.” Michael Moore: “I dabbled in cheeseburgers.” I’m sure my readers can think of more (try to keep them clean) to post as comments. Like the following. Charles Rangel: I dabbled in tax evasion.” Maxine Waters: I dabble in political intervention in my husbands banks. Alexi Giannoulias: I dabbled in loans to crooks. Barack Obama: I dabbled in Christianity. And Islam. Obama’s cabinet: I dabbled in paying taxes.

If Terrorism is Not a Muslim Threat, What About Muslim Violence?
Excerpt: A study (pdf) from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill maintains that the terrorist threat posed by radical Islam has been greatly exaggerated. The study captured front page headlines in Arab News and newspapers throughout the Muslim world. Charles Kurzman, one of the co-authors of the study, maintains that fewer than three dozen murders have been committed by American Muslims on American soil. What Kurzman fails to take into account are the number of murders committed by non-American Muslims on American soil and the homicides perpetuated by members of the Nation of Islam. The actual figures show that Islamophobia is a justifiable stance since Muslims have been responsible for the murders of 5,000 Americans in the past fifty years. This number includes the nearly 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11 and the hundreds of victims of the so-called Zebra killings that took place in the 1970s.

Thailand, Islamic rebels disguised as policemen fire on crowd: 5 dead and 3 injured,-Islamic-rebels-disguised-as-policemen-fire-on-crowd:-5-dead-and-3-injured-19582.html
Didn’t get the memo. Five years from now they’ll demand to build a mosque there to “promote peace. ~Bob.

Ali? Bah!
Excerpt: Despite being a bit of an old showbiz queen, I’m not much for the huggy-kissy photo wall of me sharing a joke with various luvvies. I make an exception on the bureau behind my desk for a shot of yours truly and a beautiful woman, Somali by birth, Dutch by citizenship, at a beachfront bar in Malibu at sunset. I like the picture because, while I look rather bleary with a few too many chins, my companion is bright-eyed with a huge smile on her face and having a grand old time—grand, that is, because of its very normality: a crappy bar, drinks with cocktail umbrellas, a roomful of blithely ignorant California hedonists who’ll all be going back home at the end of the evening to Dancing With the Stars or Conan O’Brien or some other amusement. Ayaan Hirsi Ali can’t lead that life. She lives under armed guard and was forced to abandon the Netherlands because quite a lot of people want to kill her. And not in the desultory behead-the-enemies-of-Islam you-will-die-infidel pro forma death-threats-R-us way that many of us have perforce gotten used to in recent years: her great friend and professional collaborator was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a man who shot him eight times, attempted to decapitate him, and then drove into his chest two knives, pinning to what was left of him a five-page note pledging to do the same to her. What would you do in those circumstances? Ayaan and I had repaired to that third-rate bar after a day-long conference on Islam, jihad, free speech and whatnot. That’s usually where I run into her, whether in Malibu or at the Carlton Club in London or at a less illustrious venue. Would you be doing that with a price on your head? Or would you duck out of sight, lie low, change your name, move to New Zealand, and hope one day to get your life back? After the threats against the Comedy Central show South Park the other week, Ms. Hirsi Ali turned up on CNN to say that the best defence against Islamic intimidation is for us all to stand together and thereby “share the risk.” But, around the world, every single translator of her books has insisted on total anonymity. When push comes to shove, very few are willing to share the risk. The British historian Andrew Roberts calls her “the bravest woman I know.” I would say she is not only the bravest but also, given her circumstances, the most optimistic. I have an unbounded admiration for her personally, but a not insignificant difference philosophically, of which more momentarily. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s great cause is women’s liberation. Unfortunately for her, the women she wants to liberate are Muslim, so she gets minimal support and indeed a ton of hostility from Western feminists who have reconciled themselves, consciously or otherwise, to the two-tier sisterhood: when it comes to clitoridectomies, forced marriages, honour killings, etc., multiculturalism trumps feminism. Liberal men are, if anything, even more opposed. She long ago got used to the hectoring TV interviewer, from Avi Lewis on the CBC a while back to Tavis Smiley on PBS just the other day, insisting that say what you like about Islam but everyone knows that Christians are just as backward and violent, if not more so. The media left spends endless hours and most of its interminable awards ceremonies congratulating itself on its courage, on “speaking truth to power,” the bravery of dissent and all the rest, but faced with a pro-gay secular black feminist who actually lives it they frost up in nothing flat.

Islamophilia: Generating a Social Disease
Excerpt: There are many afflictions upon mankind that can be identified in qualified terms; corruption in politics, nihilism in philosophy, behavior in culture and everything from murder to simony in religion. Collectively, those areas of affliction could complement the fullness of society. Today, we are looking at a predatory affliction that I see as a social affliction; a social disease, if you will. I call it Islamophilia. Given the ardor in negotiating against any examination of Islamic development, I look at this situation as a new chic - among some it has even become a radical chic; not unlike body piercing or tattoos, or the hirsuteness of the Sixties, and I term it impassioned Islamophilia. Let me emphasize I’m looking at its goal of totality. Now, the last thing I’m going to do is look at Western History and let it off with five “Our Fathers” and five “Hail Mary’s”. But before historical mavens get all excited, let me reminds us all that we have labored and campaigned to exorcise our demons; and we do yet. Clio, that Muse of History, bears a pretty hefty conscience. And, before I sound as though I’m going to lecture, let me advise you, I have no such license. In recent years we have been issued by the victim industry a new term: “Islamophobia” It’s been taken as the new secular sin. It is hurled about when one merely questions the appropriateness of the application of anything that is even remotely associated with Muslims as pertains to politics (world, national or provincial), philosophical, cultural or religious (again, I admit to my broad brush of the social). Even questioning text-books, mandatory diet inclusions to zoning ordinances in which the slightest inference of an Islamic factor is harshly challenged. It’s as though a fire was set.

I see white people
Excerpt: I thought the University of Wisconsin was a major photo-op. Where are the photos — vistas of hopeful, youthful faces? There’s a tiny thumbnail here in the NYT. Help me find some pictures or I’m going with the theory — offered by those who looked at my pictures — that the crowd was — as all those news media people loved to say about the Tea Party rallies — overwhelmingly white. My pictures were taken on Bascom Hill and the Memorial Union Terrace — overflow areas with piped in sound/video. I did not go through security and into the Library Mall area where the President could be seen in person, and I thought we were going to get some grand wide-angle shots of the President and his enthusiasts.

IL Rep. Schakowsky: The ‘Right’ to Abortion Creates ‘Obligation’ For Tax-Payers to Fund Them
Excerpt: Rep. Jan Schakowsky says, “The right to abortion creates an obligation for taxpayers to fund them.” Schakowsky also backed the assertion that abortion is safer than childbirth. (My Congress Critter. But I think the name is spelled “Shesacommie.” So the right to own guns thus creates a government obligation to buy me one? I’ll take an M-14 please. ~Bob)


  1. I'll bet the McDonald's Corporation is just giddy with relief for the Obama Administration providing convenient cover for them to cut employee medical costs. It's a wonderful system, the fat cat plan managers of the health insurance company refuse to guarantee even a meagerly 80% of premium dollars would be spent on benefits. So rather than blame the insurance executives for exorbitant administrative costs inherent in a profit motivated system, McDonald's takes the easy way out and blames President Obama then giggles all the way to the bank. Then Americas right says "We told you so". The guys at the top, never ever, ever take a pay cut. That slice of the pie is reserved for workers. Some American Dream!

  2. Hazardous chemicals are being assembled in USA Greek monasteries transported by old hags undetectably diluted within supposed alternate medications ostensibly because local medications are contaminated with pesticides and hormones designed to genetically overcome resistance to "Jewish" Propaganda. Athens Archbishop Christodoulos said we deserved 9/11 (ISBN 960-252-007-8). Greece has always been a state conduit of islamosoviet terrorism. On the Thursday before Easter Greeks chant pogrom inciting Beatitudes against "godslaying lawless Jews"in Greek, but change it to "Assemby of Jews" in English. They removed American Archbishop Iakovos because he was too American and Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos because he was too friendly with Israelis. Old witches who used to work at diners until they dropped now slip "Elder Protocols" and other terror claptrap in the pews.

  3. I would like to say that you need to first study a little economics, statistics, actuarial science, and business before you talk about the "evil corporations". First, in Massachusetts, the best example of what to expect from the health care overhaul, even the non-profit health insurance companies have had to request similar rate increases. Since they have no profit motive, why do they need to raise their rates just as much as for profit companies? for the answer see my second point.
    Second, all insurance is based on the expected losses. There is an entire science dedicated to this study: actuarial science. If you add benefits or increase losses, rates by force must increase. This is true no matter who runs the program. Third, not that I am a fan of McDonalds, but they try to attract good people by paying a little better than their competition. This has included providing basic health insurance.
    As a small business owner, I have always taken care of my employees like family. However, apparently according to you and definitely this administration, I am part of the problem. This, even though I have always provided excellent, %100 COMPANY PAID health insurance from Aetna (similar to the Aetna plan my wife has through the major university hospital that employs her) for my employees and their families. By the way, my wife pays $180 per month toward her plan.
    I could go on, but I'll just close with:

    David R. Fry
    A Service Company, Inc.
    Quantum Solar Solutions, LLC.