Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Only on a "need to know" basis

The Democrats in the Senate of the United States have rejected an amendment requiring their health care legislation be put online a minimum of 72 hours prior to any Senate vote. The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has said that doing so is not an option because it would take Senate staffers 2 weeks to get the bill posted to the Web.

In addition to the obvious question of why a 2 week delay is such a big deal when contemplating turning 1/6 of our economy into a government program, one might ask why it should take so long for such a simple activity. There seem to be only 2 possibilities: 1) Senate staff are not competent to copy and paste the bill onto the Internet, or 2) to get the bill ready to be posted would take 2 weeks.

The latter, and more likely, explanation implies that much of it exists only as disjointed, hand-written, perhaps marginal notes and has yet to be "typed up." That is, it simply isn't available for anyone to read as a coherent whole. And it won't be for at least 2 weeks. If the vote is taken as scheduled, not only will no Senator have read it before they vote on it, no Senator could have read it because they can't possibly get a 72 hour advance on the actual content either.

Unless you count ignorance as representation you are being taxed without it, representation that is. You're certainly about to be taxed in ignorance.

Monday, September 28, 2009

You are responsible

My first exposure to Demure Thoughts came today, thanks to Day by Day.

It's worth the visit just for this,

...the practice of trying to separate a man from his actions is what has gotten this country into the s**t hole it is [in] today.

...A man is defined by his actions or lack there of. [sic] There is no separating the act from the person who commits it. That is like saying the act is a living breathing thinking entity that has the ability to stand on its own. It is f**king stupid. It is also the foundation of everything liberal in this f**king country.
...but RTWT, it starts with a comment or two on Bill Clinton: TDFU: Sunday Stupidity

The idea of "hate the sin, not the sinner" had value when most people could still feel shame. We don't generally have that ability anymore. Without that, the act is easily separated from the actor. Intrinsic values become external, disconnected, free of moral weight. Whether you should feel shame comes down to what the meaning of "is" is.

If you think what you do has nothing to do with who you are, you are probably a result of government school self-esteem training. Teaching the act as the focus is teaching getting away with it as the justification.

We're sorry.

Michigan Democrats propose health care tax surcharge

You can't imagine this stuff, much less make it up.

On the eve of a government shutdown, Michigan Democrats are proposing a 4% tax on health care - not on Doctors, not on insurance companies - on your cost of health care. Oh, and those people Barack Obama is complaining about who are a burden on the system because they don't buy health insurance even though they could? And those people who truly can't afford health care but receive it anyway? Add their 4% to your taxes, too. And have a plan for finding a new Doctor when yours moves out of state.
GOP blasts Democrats' proposed health care tax surcharge
Tax on doctors will make medical treatment more expensive, push deficit on backs of patients, health care

House Republicans today blasted a proposal by Democrat lawmakers to tax health care in order to help balance the state budget.

House Bill 5386, which is currently in the tax policy committee, levies a 4 percent tax on physicians' gross receipts. Democrat House Speaker Andy Dillon was quoted in a recent news article saying the state would be crazy not to do it.

"It is astounding to me that right now when we are in the middle of a national discussion about lowering the high cost of health care, Michigan Democrats are actually pushing for a new tax on doctors that will make medical treatment more expensive," said House Republican Leader Kevin Elsenheimer, of Kewadin. "Doctors are going to have to pass these costs onto their patients, making the cost of health care go up."

If approved, the tax would raise health care costs in Michigan by nearly half a billion dollars annually.

"House Republicans proposed a plan to balance the budget without raising taxes months ago - and our plan didn't reduce Medicaid reimbursements by any more than what the governor recommended," said state Rep. Matt Lori, of Constantine. "There is absolutely no way we are going to support the Democrat plan to tax health care just because lawmakers waited until the last minute and now are under the gun to finish the budget by Oct. 1."

Elsenheimer also said he was concerned the plan could negatively affect Michigan's growing health care industry:

"Two years ago lawmakers rammed the poorly thought out business tax surcharge through the Legislature at the 11th hour, and we've only seen unemployment go up since. Now we're about to repeat that mistake by adding a new tax surcharge on health care. It makes me wonder, who's next? Who's left to tax?"

Elsenheimer also noted that the Speaker has recently indicated that House Democrats will vote Tuesday on raising taxes.

Phyllis Browne
Communications Manager
Michigan House of Representatives
(517) 373-1690 office
(269) 806-4936 cell
The question that comes to my mind is what's the real objective? What do they want in exchange for dropping this? Some other tax that won't get them thrown out of office, I'm sure.

Let them pass it. Write down their names.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The View from Dromore

Recently, I was visited by an old friend from Dromore, Ontario, Canada. During his visit I had occasion to see my doctor because of an infection on my left ankle that was not responding to home treatment. Because it resulted from a quite minor scrape, I expected it to heal in a few days. A month later it was getting worse, so I called my Doc around 11AM Wednesday and was given an appointment at 10AM Thursday. I had a followup a week later, and he was quite pleased with the progress of the treatment (antibiotics and hydrogen peroxide soaks).

Following is the impression this made on my visitor

During my recent visit to Michigan, I was totally shocked by your ability to get a doctor’s appointment on short notice. If the American health care system is “broken”, I didn’t see it. It may be expensive, but it would appear to work the way most people would want it to work. It doesn’t matter what your problem was (not immediately life-threatening – apparently easily resolvable with antibiotics), what struck me was the speed with which you got a doctor’s appointment. I think you said you called on Wednesday and had an appointment on Thursday – unheard of in Canada in my experience. You also lost very little time from work. The appointment was at 10:00 and you were probably back at your desk by 10:30. It would appear that when you make an appointment for 10:00, the doctor actually sees you at 10:00. Interesting concept.

It made me reflect upon what would have happened to me in a similar situation under the Canadian government-run single-payer system.

First off, I have a “family” doctor and have had for over 30 years. That immediately puts me in a rather unique position. Neither he, nor any of the other doctors in my area are accepting new patients unless a current patient dies or moves away – the wait-list is years long. My doctor, who used to have his own office, is now part of a government-mandated Local Healthcare Integrated Network (LHIN) – i.e. a clinic, composed of local docs and supported by a number of nurses and nurse practitioners (a relatively new breed - registered nurses who have taken additional training and are allowed to do certain things normally done only by doctors) as well as a common administrative staff.

So, let us assume that I had a relatively minor problem similar to yours. What would my options be under the Canadian system?

There are four: 1) Ignore the problem, cross your fingers and hope it goes away on its own – an option I have taken in many cases; 2) Ask for an appointment with “my” doctor – and be prepared to wait a couple of months (not that dissimilar to option 1); 3) Ask for an appointment with any doctor at the clinic and be prepared to wait for a couple of weeks; and 4) Go to the emergency at the local hospital and bring a copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace with you as you are likely to be able to get most of the way through it while you sit in the crowded waiting room for several hours.

At the emergency, there is a one-in-six (we have six local docs) chance that I will actually see my own doctor because they are mandated to supply emergency room service on a rotating basis (I am in a rural area – this may not be true in an urban area).

In defense of the system, the common administrative staff and records at the clinic means that any doctor has complete access to my medical history. How much time they may have to review that information before seeing me is open to question. Nonetheless, it seems mildly efficient.

Also in defense of the system, if I was exhibiting symptoms of a truly serious nature (arriving at the emergency carrying a severed limb, bleeding from the ears, chest pains, etc.), I would move to the express line and would probably be seen fairly quickly.

The vagaries of our Canadian system means that I normally take option 1 (ignore the problem) or option 4 (go to the emergency). Options 2 and 3 are not really viable options.

Having said all that, no matter what my situation may be, I only need to present a health card, not a credit card. It’s “free” in the sense that I’ve already paid for it through my taxes. I will never be bankrupted or even majorly affected in financial terms by my health situation.

Again, I was impressed by your ability to get quick medical attention from your own doctor. If Americans want to experience my situation, go ahead, but I’m not sure you’ll be all that happy with the resulting process.

Rationing of services and extended wait-times are the real prices you will pay for a government-run system. Cheaper? – probably (although I question the government’s (either yours or mine) ability to run anything either efficiently or effectively). Better? - you decide.
As to the expense, it was paid for by insurance and, having given my insurance particulars many years ago, I did not need to present any card. This does not mean that I like the idea of employer-based health care, or that I had not been paying (tax exempt) premiums. Still, the visit was simple and easy, including scheduling the followup appointment.

Finally, it turns out that options 1 through 3, above, would have been pretty bad choices. The Doc explained that if the infection spread to my Achilles tendon I would have been in for significant difficulty and the insurance company in for significantly greater expense.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

State of War in the Americas?

David Ridenour makes a good point:

A State of War Exists in the Americas

I think Brazil would not have dared this provocation absent the protection of the US Secretary of State and the encouragement of the President of the United States.

Call it a foreign policy success, then. Obama does.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It isn't funny in Zimbabwe anymore

President Obama,
Treasury Secretary Geithner,
Congressman Frank and his staff,
All members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and
All the Republicans who set the ball rolling,

Please review the simple graphic above. Contemplate the subdued pastels. Revel in the serene understatement in the text of the value. Appreciate the pastoral simplicity. Absorb the artist's graceful vision. It's as if Zimbabwe had a program like our own National Endowment for the Arts. The very money is propaganda.

Artistic praise aside, I doubt you could have made an honest living as a counterfeiter in Zimbabwe. The government must have been selling the old plates as fast as they could get new ones engraved, just for the revenue, and the bill conveys the wrong message. If I had designed it, it would been a bit more authoritative and colorful,
SO THERE Sucka!"

Notice that rock in the middle of the stack? It's between a rock and... well, another rock.

And who features a pile of rocks on the face of a $100,000,000,000,000 reserve note, anyway? Maybe a government presiding over an economy where it would be insulting to put some historical hero's face on the note.

Can you count the zeros? There are 14. Coincidentally, 14 is close enough for government work to the deficit you are creating - if multiplied by a trillion.

You probably can't read the signature of one Dr. G. Gond, who promises to pay the bearer One Hundred Trillion Dollars on demand, but perhaps you can imagine your own name in that space. Does that make you wonder what Dr. Gond is doing these days? Does it give you any slightest qualm? Can we just keep printing money if you have to sign it?

But, no worries, as long as he can still wield a pen, we could give that job to Jimmy Carter. It won't bother Jimmy, so you can avoid the embarrassment while continuing to temporize that you inherited the problem. I'm sure Dr. Gond felt that way.

The Zimbabwe dollar, for reasons that are apparently confusing to you, was suspended indefinitely in April 2009. That is, in Zimbabwe today other countries' currencies are used for all transactions. Zimbabwe has no monetary system of its own.

The parallel development you might grasp would be the burgeoning international interest in replacing the US Dollar as the world's reserve currency.

I know President Bush left you some problems, I complained about his policies at the time he was setting you up, but please note, it is now your problem. Stop whining, and instead give some serious consideration to the number of Government of Zimbabwe Treasury Notes China owns.

Devaluing our currency is one way to pay off the debt you're accumulating, but that would in fact be a monstrous tax on every American who saved for their retirement, for a new home, for a new car or for medical expenses. It is a deathly blow to those capitalists who would invest in the creation of new businesses, which means (would have meant) new jobs. Inflation is a stealth punishment for the industriousness, thrift and probity you all claim to admire.

Stop it!

Your employer

Angela Merkel
Gordon Brown

Monday, September 21, 2009

Berna Lewis is Shocked...


"Outraged" by the behavior of her employees, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said, “all of our employees, if they’re too stupid to understand that they’re not reaching professional standards, we terminate them.”

One might wonder, given ACORN's history of trying to avoid paying even the minimum wage to its employees, whether inadequate training expenditures combined with exemplary executive thievery were more to blame than staff stupidity. One should wonder how management could hire so many stupid employees, from New York City to San Diego, and then blame the employees for stupidity. One is compelled to wonder what Ms Lewis means by "professional standards." Does that simply mean "the ability to get away with it?"

The question arises because this "fired if they're too stupid to reach professional standards" criterion was not applied to Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wayne Rathke. Dale embezzled a million dollars from ACORN, and Wayne covered it up for 8 years. When the board was informed, some directors demanded a comprehensive investigation. They were fired. They have their own website, ACORN 8, founded to help bring some accountability to ACORN.

Ms Lewis promised that ACORN would announce the identity of a "independent investigator" today. This has not worked well in the past, so perhaps she can tell him or her to start here (RTWT):
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has repeatedly and deliberately engaged in systemic fraud. Both structurally and operationally, ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.

Emerging accounts of widespread deceit and corruption raise the need for a criminal investigation of ACORN. By intentionally blurring the legal distinctions between 361 tax-exempt and non-exempt entities, ACORN diverts taxpayer and tax-exempt monies into partisan political activities. Since 1994, more than $53 million in federal funds have been pumped into ACORN, and under the Obama administration, ACORN stands to receive a whopping $8.5 billion in available stimulus funds.

Operationally, ACORN is a shell game played in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia through a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators. Structurally, ACORN is a chess game in which senior management is shielded from accountability by multiple layers of volunteers and compensated employees who serve as pawns to take the fall for every bad act.

The report that follows presents evidence obtained from former ACORN insiders that completes the picture of a criminal enterprise.

...First, ACORN has evaded taxes, obstructed justice, engaged in self dealing, and aided and abetted a cover-up of embezzlement by Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke.

...Second, ACORN has committed investment fraud, deprived the public of its right to honest services, and engaged in a racketeering enterprise affecting interstate commerce.

...Third, ACORN has committed a conspiracy to defraud the United States by using taxpayer funds for partisan political activities.

...Fourth, ACORN has submitted false filings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor, in addition to violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

...Fifth, ACORN falsified and concealed facts concerning an illegal transaction between related parties in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
Reading that paper would give an independent investigator a leg up in figuring out why 5 ACORN offices felt that they were not only qualified, but that it was their duty, to give advice on the specific lies necessary to get Federal funds for the purchase of a house where 13 year old illegal aliens would be used as sex slaves - and to avoid taxes on the proceeds.

The leadership is outraged at the staffers? Why aren't they handing out bonuses?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Racism loses its meaning

The left has been throwing the "racist" epithet about so much lately that it, the epithet, has lost most of its impact. At the present rate, I predict the word will be semiotically empty by Thanksgiving.

The racial ambulance-chasers have rapidly and impetuously rebranded "racism" as "one who opposes Obama." I don't think they quite meant to, because it implies a significant number of liberals progressives who ostensibly support Obama are, in fact, racists.

Many, many people people at Daily Kos, Huffington Post, firedoglake and MoveOn.org, etc. have regularly and roundly condemned Obama for being insufficiently progressive. His actions have been called a betrayal, and worse. When criticizing the President has become ipso facto, racist, all those president-criticizing progressives are, ipso facto, racists.

The words "petard" and "hoist" come to mind, because this attack on the meaning of racism brings up a problem not unlike the one that caused liberals to rebrand themselves as progressives. When all the impact has been sucked out of "you're a racist," what phrase will replace it? Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright and the inquiring minds of the Congressional Black Caucus* want to know.

Bigot? No, you can be a bigot without caring about a person's genetic code. Prejudiced? Ditto. Biased, illiberal, intolerant? Weak sisters. Chauvinist, xenophobic? The white feminists already trademarked the former, and the latter is just prejudice against people who are foreign, even if they are of your own race.

So I put it to you as a problem worthy of some thought, what word will replace "racist?" Its loss is a significant problem for the language.

*James Taranto notes that
...fewer than 1 in 4 Black Caucus members voted to stop spending taxpayers' money on an organization [ACORN] that has been caught on video at least five times offering advice on how to practice slavery.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Insufficently COI

COI is another acronym for ACORN.

The fact that ACORN employees in Baltimore MD, Washington DC, Brooklyn NY and San Bernardino, CA all gave the same advice to a couple looking for a housing loan is not surprising and is certainly evidence of organizational practice and preference.

If the New York Times is your news source, or if you watch any of the TV networks for news, you would not know the couple were openly posing as pimp and madam looking for a loan to open a brothel, using underage illegal immigrants and to avoid taxes on the proceeds. In all 4 cities ACORN reps gave essentially the same advice: Lie on the loan application, lie about the nature of your business, lie to the IRS, and avoid certain behaviors likely to attract the attention of immigration authorities or vice squads looking for sex slave operations. Not one ACORN rep questioned the morality of the business plan, or even demurred on the concept.

In light of these revelations ACORN has taken several actions. First, they fired the employees who were exposed. This is consistent with the "ACORN defense," established in the dozen or so cases where they are charged with voter registration fraud: "It was individual employees, not the organization." This is SOP.

Second, they accused the people who did the filming and anyone who reported it of "smearing" ACORN. The "vast right-wing conspiracy," don't you know, tends to be racist. This is a standard ACORN response.

Third, ACORN says workers conduct 'indefensible'
Suspends, plans audit, in wake of videos

ACORN, calling the actions of some of its employees "indefensible," has suspended advising new clients as part of its service programs and is setting up an independent review to see what happened.

ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis said in a written statement that she was "ordering a halt to any new intakes into ACORN's service programs until completion of an independent review."

The actions were taken, she said, "as a result of indefensible action of a handful of our employees."

Videos of ACORN workers giving tax advice to people posing as prostitutes and other revelations have led to growing criticism of the organization in recent days.
Now, I think I'd suspend operations, too. But it would not be because I thought any reasonable observer (even the Senate has voted 83-7 to withhold funding from ACORN) would think an "independent investigation" would change organizational practices extending from New York to California, or even identify organizational practices as a problem. If that were the result of such an investigation, the "ACORN defense" disappears.

No, I would do it because I wouldn't want any more of my employees caught on tape telling people how to obtain funding for a prostitution ring using underage illegal immigrants, avoid the law and cheat on taxes - or dispensing extra-credit advice about how to murder a husband and get away with it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two million Tea Party Express protesters

...show up in Washington D.C. and the Gannett headline, dutifully reproduced by the Lansing State Journal, is:
Tens of thousands rally in D.C. against federal spending

The first paragraph goes on to mistake the point of the rally:
WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of fiscal conservatives packed streets in the nation's capital Saturday to protest what they consider the federal government's out-of-control spending.
It's about the size and growing intrusiveness of the nanny-state, spending is but one symptom, but the story is supposed to be about flint-hearted capitalists concerned only with spending.

Gannett is probably just echoing the Washington Post.
Lashing Out at the Capitol

Tens of Thousands Protest Obama Initiatives and Government Spending
Tens of thousands of conservative protesters, many complaining that the nation is racing toward socialism, massed outside the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, angrily denouncing President Obama's health-care plan and other initiatives as threats to the Constitution. [However, the turnout was "huge."]

...The huge turnout indicated the growing frustration with Obama among conservative activists and showed that his nationally televised speech Wednesday did little to move his political opponents on health care.
Since when is "tens of thousands" a huge turnout at a D.C. rally? Wouldn't that be better put as "well over a million?"

Update 3:50PM

My italics.
Many of the participants came on their own and weren't part of an organization or group. The magnitude of the rally took the authorities by surprise, with throngs of people streaming from the White House to Capitol Hill for more than three hours.
Still, the headline says Thousands rally with or against Obama. Thousands took authorities by surprise? "Thousands" showed up in Lansing, Michigan on April 15th and July 4th.

Why do we have to read Up to two million march to US Capitol to protest against Obama's spending in 'tea-party' demonstration in a UK paper, the Daily Mail, to get an accurate report? That's rhetorical.
Up to two million people marched to the U.S. Capitol today, carrying signs with slogans such as "Obamacare makes me sick" as they protested the president's health care plan and what they say is out-of-control spending.

The line of protesters spread across Pennsylvania Avenue for blocks, all the way to the capitol, according to the Washington Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Always remember

Today is a day to honor the people who died on 9-11-2001. This video will help.

Today is a day to remember what you were doing when the planes hit the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. And how you felt on 9-12.

The President wants you to think of today as a "day of service." Perform some service if you want to, but it isn't about helping your government or your fellows. Remember that.

Update & bumped 7:34PM:

Here's an example of the first bit of the slippery slope the President's National Day of Service has set us on.
NEW YORK – Americans planned beach cleanups, packages for soldiers and save-the-tree fundraisers along with familiar remembrances in three cities to mark eight years since the attacks of Sept. 11, the first time the anniversary was named a national day of service.

"Instead of us simply remembering the horrible events and more importantly the heroes who lost their lives on 9/11, we are all going to turn into local heroes," said Ted Tenenbaum, a Los Angeles repair shop owner who offered free handyman services Thursday and planned to do so again Friday.
Now, I don't quite know if it would have been better or worse if Mr. Tenenbaum had not used the word "simply." Maybe he just meant to say we are honoring the dead and their loved ones by these good acts. Maybe. On the face of it, of course, it would seem worse if he hadn't said "simply." Except that the meaning of the day is so very simple. President Bush described it well on November 10, 2001.
"...Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.

"And the people of my country will remember those who have plotted against us. We are learning their names. We are coming to know their faces. There is no corner of the earth distant or dark enough to protect them. However long it takes, their hour of justice will come.
It is so very, very simple that Mr. Tenenbaum's words made me sad. Remembering the heroes and victims of 911 is so completely simple that it need not, should not, involve a national commitment to heroic handyman services, much less celebration with save-the-tree fundraisers, or a beach cleanup.

Maybe next year they'll clean up the beach near the Arizona.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What this country needs is prevarication reform

Our President said many things last night that were true within the narrow confines of his intentions and imagination. The speech conformed to the Clinton meaning-of-"is" principle: That is how he said things. Most of what he said, however, was logically and practically false and he cannot not know that. President Obama was not honest.

One of many things he said that I found strange was that ninety percent of all insureds in Alabama buy their health coverage from a single company. That's not necessarily strange by itself, but the President used it to bolster his repeated claim that only government intervention can provide necessary competition among health insurers. Unfortunately for the President's intended point, the reason for this particular monopoly is the government of Alabama. Alabama regulations prevent other insurance companies from competing in Alabama. That is, there's no free market.

If, as he claims, President Obama truly desires increased competition, and if, as he says, he supports a free market, then he would advocate breaking down such obvious government barriers to competition before seeking to reinvent the entire health care system on 60 days notice. This reform would be free to taxpayers, certainly reduces health insurance costs in Alabama, and can easily be reversed. Why not try it?

If the President believed his own rhetoric what he certainly would not do is blame private industry for the effects of government regulation. Though I'm sure that insurance company in Alabama lobbies hard to keep its market share at 90%, they can't be blamed for protectionism practiced by Alabama legislators.

Our President also told us how he would pay for most of Ted Kennedy's dream, "Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan." Arnold Kling supplied this rejoinder: "And if we don't pass this plan, does he intend to keep the waste and inefficiency, out of spite?"

Powerline also noticed how many of the President's comments were misleading and needlessly partisan. A particularly egregious example:

[Obama] There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false - the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
[Powerline] This is an outright lie, as Congressman Joe Wilson couldn't resist blurting out during Obama's speech. The Democrats defeated Republican-sponsored amendments that would have attempted, at least, to prevent illegals from being treated under the House version of Obama's plan. I think everyone expects that if Obamacare becomes law, illegals will receive benefits on an equal basis with citizens.

Over at Reason magazine they also noticed some reality discrepancies: Obama's Lies Matter, Too
Again last night, Obama invoked the boogeyman of "special interests" who "lie" in order "to keep things exactly the way they are," despite the fact that the special interests in this case are lining up to support the president, and that the critics of his plan tend to bemoan, not defend, the status quo. Opponents of his plan, he said, were "ideological"; Ted Kennedy's support for health care reform, meanwhile, "was born not of some rigid ideology, but of his own experience." Obama said his door was "always open" to those bringing "a serious set of proposals," and he slammed that door shut on any attempts to break the almost universally unloved link between employment and insurance. He yearned to "replace acrimony with civility," then got Democrats stomping on their feet with attacks against the Iraq War and "tax breaks for the wealthy." The center of the debate, as always, was wherever he chose to stand.
The President needed to gain trust. He needed to invoke hope and engender change. He failed.


Useful idiot or fellow traveler? You decide.

I quote from his Op-Ed in the NYT yesterday:
Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today. [Well, we tried to warn you, but you won't listen.]

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened [The infanticide programs, Tibet, internet censorship, incarceration for political opinion and coddling of North Korea aside.] group of people, as China is today, [If China is led by such paragons, what's Obama and his crowd, then, unenlightened? Is that possible for a Harvard graduate?] it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult [as may Democrats, if they absorb the courage of their lobbyists] but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. [It is also not an accident that all those examples involve electricity, that China is building a coal fired power plant every 2 weeks or that we're not building any nuclear plants at all.] China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry [So why, again, did we finance nationalizing our auto industry and defunct banks by selling T-bills to China?] and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down. [Good, let them lower their demand.]

Our one-party democracy is worse. [I did not make that last sentence up.] The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” [Thank you.] Many of them just want President Obama to fail. [Another way to say this is that we don't want him to succeed in the way of a Chinese totalitarian oligarchy.] Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. [The President would be a centrist in China, it's true.] But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions. [Obama's own party is not even as cohesive as China's totalitariat, and America is poorer for it, go figure.]
Not since Walter Duranty fawned over Josef Stalin, ignoring the show trails and denying the Soviet government created famine in the Ukraine where 20 million were deliberately starved to death, have we seen such disingenuous praise of totalitarianism on the pages of the Gray Lady. Aside from Hugo Chavez, of course, but he's a piker.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The President's speech today

Ask not what your government can do to you, ask what you can do for your government.

The reviews are in.

Stay in School, Kids. Don't Do Drugs.

Who cares what presidents think?

Obama Speech Day

Meanwhile we have some revisionism going on:

Our kids need President Obama's wisdom

[If they don't get to hear the President t]hey will also miss a perfect opportunity to discuss why nut-job conservatives got into such a tizzy over President Obama's back-to-school speech Tuesday to students across the country about the importance of assuming responsibility for their education.

Why did people who thought it was fine for the first President George Bush to address millions of schoolkids decide it was an outrage for Obama to do the same?
Somebody needs to take a way-back pill and stop hyperventilating since they can't remember the Congressional hearings a Bush I speech to students provoked. People who thought Bush I's speech was OK didn't have Obama's multi-trillion dollar favors to corporatists, fringe environmentalists and unions to worry about.

Imagine the outrage if Bush II had attempted such a speech and handed out a lesson plan in advance asking teachers to have students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals."

Here's what happened to Bush I, even absent the visceral hatred applied to his son:

When Bush spoke to students, Democrats investigated, held hearings

But be at peace, tomorrow is "adult swim" when we get to hear why we all must support Obama's health care "reform." Just remember, your kid got through it. So will you, because the only reason Obama's giving the health care speech is because you went to a Tea Party or a Town Hall, called or wrote your Congresscritter, or told your neighbors and friends what a stupid idea the health care bills are.

You forced him to talk to you. Let's see if he actually says something this time

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The wheels on the bus go round and round

Mark Levin, whom I admire, was complaining on Thursday about Glenn Beck's (though Levin did not mention Beck's name) focus on Van Jones, the President's Czar for "Green Jobs." I paraphrase Levin, "Yeah he's an avowed Communist. Yeah, he said white people are poisoning black people. Yeah, he has an agenda to destroy capitalism by incremental environmental regulation. Yeah, he's a despicable twit. But the only reason Van Jones in in government is Barack Obama! Focus on the real problem, people!"

Levin noted it was long ago obvious to sentient beings that people like Van Jones would be appointed by Barack Obama. Levin thinks detailing Jones's radical stupidity is a distraction. Well, yes, for him and for me, but not for most people. Otherwise, they'd have been protesting Obama's nomination instead of excusing his inexperience by saying he'd surround himself with good advisers.

Let us review. Jones is an avowed Communist. He excuses playing the race card because of environmentalism. He wants to destroy capitalism. (Is that redundant or just banal?) Charles Krauthammer is right that his Communist sympathy is sort of "ho, hum."

He's also right that Van Jones as a Truther, is not "ho, hum." Van Jones also thinks cop killers like Abu-Jamal Mumia should be free. That is not "ho hum," either.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign Barack Obama told audiences, 'Judge me by the people who surround me.' OK. Then Mr. Jones is relevant, especially to those who didn't understand during the campaign that Obama's associations were distasteful.

Mark Levin is right: It isn't Van Jones, Carol Browner, Ezekial Emmanuel, "Skip" Gates, Harold Koh, Cass Sunstein, Sonia Sotomayor, Eric Holder, Steven Rattner, John Holdren, Arne Duncan, Steven Chu, Susan Rice, Regina M. Benjamin, Mark Lloyd, Valerie Jarret, or any of the other official Presidential advisers who subscribe to the philosophy of Karl Marx, the ethics of Peter Singer or the tactics of Saul Alinsky who are the issue - any more than it was Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Frank Marshall Davis, Tony Rezko, Louis Farrakhan, Bernadine Dohrn, or Rashid Khalidi, who were an issue during the campaign. No, they are important because it is by listening to them we find out what Barack Obama thinks is reasonable discourse, if not precisely what he believes.

Yes, it is Barack Obama who is the issue. But since he never says what he thinks, we only find out what he really believes, as he has invited us to do, by listening to the people who surround him.

I think Jones will soon be free to pursue other employment. Obama has to be greasing the wheels on the bus. I certainly hope so.

Just in time for Michigan's budget discussions

Well, Michigan made the Wall Street Journal. As an example of what not to do.
It's one of the largest experiments in smokestack chasing in American history, but one thing it hasn't done is create jobs. An exhaustive new 100-page study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan think tank, has reviewed where all the money has gone and what came of it. The study finds that for every 100 jobs that were promised with these tax credits over 14 years, only 29 arrived. Dare we call this cash for clunkers?
How about Dollars from Dummies?
...In Michigan these programs were responsible for 0.25% of all new jobs created in the last decade, according to the study. Meanwhile, in 2007 Michigan raised business taxes by $1.4 billion on other firms to pay for many of Ms. Granholm's favored companies. Despite all the giveaways, Michigan was recently ranked as having the third most antibusiness climate among states, in a survey of executives by CEO magazine. If Michigan had simply cut taxes for every business, as Mr. Engler did in the 1990s when the state briefly led the nation in new jobs, it's a good bet unemployment would be lower.
The study is here.

Previous related TOC comment here. The punch line:
The bottom line is that government is generally very bad at picking economic winners. Jennifer Granholm is much worse than that. She should attract all kinds of business and entrepreneurs to Michigan by eliminating corporate taxes and getting right to work legislation passed. It would not take nearly as long here as it did in Ireland for spectacular results. She should take a lesson from Sir John Cowperthwaite, but he'd be her philosophical nemesis.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Reimbursement panels panel

Panel to probe health legislation
A new advisory committee appointed by government to find "a new way to define publicly funded health services" is not about delisting services or cutting costs, but about strengthening the system for patients, Alberta's health minister says.

"I believe that Albertans want the assurance that the government has a plan to modernize our system and make it more effective and ensure that the system is there when they need it and that starts by having clear, effective legislation," Health Minister Ron Liepert said on Tuesday about the work of a 16-member committee.

The committee will recommend which health-service providers and facilities should be part of a publicly funded system as guided by the Canada Health Act.
Not everyone is as excited about the single payer monopsony government re-writing of what's covered as the government is, however.
..."The system is in a mess," [Liberal MLA Hugh] MacDonald said, noting long emergency wait times, MRI cancellations at the Grey Nuns and Misericordia hospitals, and a $1-billion health-region deficit. "The government doesn't know what to do, so they strike a committee so that they can conveniently pass the ball off."
I do suspect that if MacDonald were in government he'd have less problem with this panel. However, health care is 100% politicized in Canada so he pretty much has to say something like that. Some other party hack would be saying it if Mr. MacDonald's party were the government, though. And they'd both be right.

It "is not about delisting services or cutting costs, but about strengthening the system for patients". If true, what's the problem?

Maybe it's the bit about "clear, effective legislation" being some sort of panacea. This cheerfully ignores the fact that it's legislation thought to be clear and effective in the first place that got them into this mess. Legislation that killed free market health care.
"This exercise is not about delisting services or privatizing our publicly funded health-care system, one that has served Albertans well and will continue to do so in the future," Liepert said. "What I'm talking about is expanding and improving what we already have, making our health system more responsive to the needs of Albertans."
Uh Huh. Well, I'll be interested in the recommendations, because there will only be trivial differences under Obamacare.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The very definition of a modern major death panel

Brought to you directly from the Kevorkian annex of the UK's National Health "Service."

Sentenced to death on the NHS

Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors have warned.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

Perfecting cows

Popular Science asks the question, "Is It Ethical To Engineer Delicious Cows That Feel No Pain?"

Only if they absorb CO2, excrete drugs still under patent by big Pharma, and fart fairy dust.

And to be perfect they also have to be willingly slaughtered by drowning in a sunken Oldsmobile.

H/T Instapundit

Brought to you by the letter "O"

Arne Duncan, Department of Education Secretary, has published indoctrination guidelines for government school students in conjunction with President Barack Obama's upcoming nationwide speech. The speech will be piped into the school rooms of this captive audience around noon on September 8th.

After the speech, teachers are to ask the pre-K through 6th grade indoctrinees (my suggested answers interspersed):

What do you think the President wants us to do?
He wants us to Shut Up. It's the only specific thing he's ever proposed.
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Attend a protest to advocate competition with government schools.
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
Not with a clear conscience.
What would you like to tell the President?
Enough, can't I just be waterboarded instead?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tea Party Express

I'm hoping to be in Jackson, Michigan the 23rd stop on the Tea Party Express national bus tour, on

Tuesday, September 8th at 12 noon

Rally Location:
Cascades Falls Park
1401 S. Brown Street
Jackson, MI 49203

Other venues in Michigan:

Battle Creek
Monday, September 7th at 7:30pm


Tuesday, September 8th at 3:30pm

Tuesday, September 8th at 6:30pm

More info at the links.

Would you buy a used plan from this man?

President Obama is considering making a speech prior to September 15th, the most recent deadline he set for the Senate to agree on a bipartisan health care "reform" bill. According to top presidential adviser David Axelrod, the speech would be "more prescriptive" about Obama's redefinition of health care. I'm sure it will mention his good friend, Senator Kennedy. It shouldn't, but it will.

What the President should do is resolve the profound differences in his own positions by clearly stating whether he favors a single payer universal care system now, or in the future. He could categorically reject any special interests, including his own deal with big Pharma. He could ask why tort reform has not been on the agenda. He could admit he was overwrought by his own rhetoric of fierce urgency: That demanding such fundamental change in so short a time with so little scrutiny was... yes, delusional. He could apologize for his mistakes. He's done it often enough on behalf of the whole country, so why not?

The President's original, urgent deadline for remaking 1/6th of the economy via a 1,000 page bill he outsourced to Nancy Pelosi and that nobody had time to read, much less consider, was "before the August recess." He felt no need to be prescriptive, or even forthcoming, then. So, NOW he's going to explain what should have been in the bill he didn't understand himself, but wanted forced through in July?

Why are we supposed to care now what Obama thinks about health care? He would have been overjoyed if the entire health care system had been remade in the image of Nancy Pelosi's ideals in July. He would have been quite satisfied if no one had ever read the legislation. In fact, he would have preferred it. So we're supposed to believe he cares what's in a future bill? He was willing to hang us out to dry 2 months ago, what's changed except he's had some blowback?