Date ►►► November 30, 2009
An online story notes the following about government-supplied food stamps:
Nearly half of Americans, and 90 percent of blacks, now receive food stamps at some time before reaching 20, according to an analysis of 30 years of national data that sociologists at Washington University in St. Louis published in early November.
By a remarkable coincidence, nearly half of Americans, and over 90 percent of blacks, subsequently become Democrats.
Wheels of Fire
I love beginning posts with personal anecdotes, which you can deduce from the fact that I never do it. No time like the present to start!
One week in high school, my all-time second-favorite social studies teacher, Lyle Thornton Wolf, presented us with a fascinating unit:
On Monday, he passed out forty-eight distinct high-school and college level American history textbooks (there being 48 students in the class). Each of us got a different textbook, though some were merely later versions of an earlier text that somebody else had. Each of us took his book home with instructions to read and "brief" (like a lawyer would) the factual events -- not interpretations or speculations -- recounted in his book about the Boston Massacre.
Then on Wednesday, Mr. Wolf began going through the incident, student by student, making a "comparison table" on the blackboard using every important fact from each book... e.g., the number of colonists killed by the redcoats, the number wounded, how many lobster-backs and Yankee doodles were present, what provocation (if any) did the colonists give to the soldiers, how long the shooting lasted, who was the first shot, and so forth.
As a court trial followed the shootings, and that trial took eyewitness and forensic evidence (future President John Adams defended the soldiers), one would expect nearly all the facts to be reported the same way in every textbook. Not so; there was significant variation in the details taught to students about that infamous eruption of anti-democratic violence.
But Mr. Wolf didn't stop there, and this was his genius; he was more interested in teaching us good researching skills than specific numbers of people killed in the Boston Massacre. Thus he also made each of us read the footnotes, endnotes, and any other errata indicating the source of the supposed facts reported in his assigned book; he then put up a posterboard list of all the textbook titles arranged like a matrix.
As we reported the sources for each book, Mr. Wolf drew an arrow from the source to the book that cited it. After about ten books, we quickly realized that not a single one of the 48 textbooks cited any primary document or original source material; each cited only other high-school or college textbooks. In fact, only a couple of them cited texts not already in our hands (both times older editions of books we did have).
Worse, the entire set of citations was a snarl of textbook "daisy chains": Textbook A (let's say it was the 1962 edition) would have an arrow pointing to B (1964); B pointed to C (1965), which pointed to D (1968)... but D then pointed to a later version of textbook A, say the 1970 edition.
In other words, there was no "ultimate source": The books just referenced and reinforced each other.
Thus it was hardly a surprise that, variations aside, all the books agreed on the core issues: The colonists were disorderly but didn't provoke the shooting; no colonist used a firearm; the British were almost entirely to blame; and they only got off because of the eloquence of Adams. The issue was closed; no need to rethink any basic premise. After all, if that interpretation of the data wasn't perfectly true, what are the odds that all those textbooks would just happen to agree with each other?
On Saturday, as Climategate really began to heat up, the princes of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) started to get their backs up. They were driven to agree, at long last, to release the raw data behind their predictions... or as much of it remained after they deliberately destroyed most of it in the 1980s.
Faced with the charge that the data they destroyed could have shown that globaloney theory was built on sand (and fabricated sand at that), one of the university's vice chancellors concocted a novel counterargument:
Professor Trevor Davies, the university's Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Enterprise and Engagement, said yesterday: "CRU's full data will be published in the interests of research transparency when we have the necessary agreements. It is worth reiterating that our conclusions correlate well to those of other scientists based on the separate data sets held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies."
Like a speech by Barack H. Obama's teleprompter, it sounds good out of the corner of your ear; but in reality, this argument is a complete non-sequitur. And the inability of Professor Davies to apprehend his own paralogia speaks volumes about the real failure of the anthropogenic global climate-change (AGCC) cabal.
The charge against the CRU is not that they know their theory is unfounded, nor yet that they deliberately and with malice aforethought suppress the opposing view, nor that they do so for sinister, political reasons. Not a bit of it.
The real charge is that certain scientists have utterly bought into AGCC; they consider themselves the "anointed," and they're so adamant in their cosmic certainty that they reject any contrary claims or findings as so much nonsense, unworthy even of an answer. The anointed treat AGCC heresy as they would treat Holocaust denial or creationism.
But while no reputable scientist denies the Nazi mass murders or rejects evolution by natural selection, AGCC hardly enjoys such universal acceptance. In fact, it is quite controversial, with reputable, published, peer reviewed scientists in relevant fields on both sides of the issue.
AGCC proponents insist that they are more numerous than AGCC critics; but scientific consensus is not settled by voice vote. In order for a "consensus position" to form on man-made climate change, it's not enough to have 75% of scientists agree, or 80%, or even 95%. Rather, every respected scientist in a relevant field must agree; and every objection or demur lodged by such a respected scientist in the atmospheric sciences must be fully and completely answered to the satisfaction of the entire field. So long as that remains undone, the hypothesis remains controversial, and there is no consensus.
Scientific consensus is very different than, say, political consensus, which can mean at little as a two-to-one majority; mistaking the one for the other is scientific malpractice.
But that is precisely what to call a process where supposed "consensus" is achieved by patently unscientific means -- by extorting scientists into pledging undying support for the AGCC thesis and renouncing all dissenters as unscientists, on pain of never getting another grant, publication, or university position if they refuse.
This isn't a scientific argument, it's a street brawl!
To the anointed (I deliberately use the Thomas Sowell term from his seminal book, the Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy), denying the obvious cosmic truth of AGCC brands the denier as a pseudo-scientist; since pseudo-scientists are just quacks and charlatans, there is no need to answer any of his objections, conveniently enough.
Ergo, all respected scientists agree with AGCC theory... because by definition, if you don't agree, you're not a respected scientist.
Given that explosive charge -- that AGCC theory has become a scientific cult -- it's immediately apparent that if the charge is true, we would expect to find the identical problem rampant at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Indeed, Goddard is in fact run by James Hansen, who was one of the first major scientists to sound the globaloney alarmism klaxton, even before the Kyoto Protocol, and has been perhaps the biggest booster of the idea that there is a scientific "consensus" on AGCC (and that anybody who disagrees is not a real scientist).
But if the NOAA and ISS are completely controlled by the anointed, just as the CRU appears to be, then it's hardly surprising that they come up with similar global temperature timelines; more than likely, they all link to and cite each other.
Such a "consensus," based upon shared computation, methodology, and analysis, is purely artifactual... just like the "consensus" of the core story of the Boston Massacre: an artifactual consensus forced by incestuous linkages between ostensibly independent publications.
With such deep links of people, methods, and funding between all three groups, it would be astonishing were they not completely in synch with each other.
What is needed to make the argument that Professor Davies evidently wants to make is the following:
- AGCC supporters within the community should push for full funding of respected atmospheric scientists who are AGCC skeptics.
- Skeptics must be given access to all raw data used by supporters to make their case.
- Skeptics must be allowed to pursue different methodologies and new data streams beyond those used again and again (changelessly) by supporters.
- Results discovered by skeptics must be treated fairly in the scientific literature, not rejected as "pseudo-science" merely because they come to a different conclusion on a controversial, cutting-edge topic.
There are of course limits and caveats; let's take a small detour into another field of science to see the right way to answer skeptics. Recently a new attempt is underway to destroy the edifice of evolution by natural selection; its supporters call it "intelligent design" (ID). Its thesis is that some biological processes are too complex to arise naturally, so they must have been consciously designed by an intelligent being.
The alert reader will immediately realize that, window dressing aside, the "intelligent being" must exist outside the normal confines of physical law -- else how could it manipulate the biology of an entire planet -- and outside the timeline of the universe... else where did the intelligent being itself come from? Thus, whether IDers are willing to admit it or not, they're talking about God, and this is a variation on Creationism tarted up as science this time.
The same reader will also recognize that such a thesis is literally untestable:
- Just because we cannot explain how a particular biological system evolved doesn't mean it's inexplicable, nor that it's too complex to have evolved naturally. It just means we can't explain it today. No system can ever unambiguously satisfy Michael Behe's requirement of "irreducible complexity," so no evidence can ever be produced to prove ID;
- No claim of ID can ever be falsified, even in theory; if a designer is so intelligent, so powerful, and so remote as to be invisible that it can manipulate the entire biological spectrum of life on Earth, then it's also clever enough to be able to hide its own tracks. So there is no possible experiment that can disprove it, either.
Logically, then, since Intelligent Design can neither be proven nor disproven, it is not science. But wait, what about everything I said about consensus above? Very well: Despite the logical problems of ID, evolutionary biologists have answered ID's questions anyway. Behe presented numerous examples of what he called "irreducible complexity" -- a system so complex that its individual components would have no function, hence confer no evolutionary advantage, hence the system itself -- the sum of the components -- could not have evolved.
But scientists have in fact broken down each of these systems (e.g., the eye, the bacterial flagella) into components and shown how each really did have a function... albeit a different function than what the system eventually evolved to perform. They have answered all of Behe's questions, and he has not responded to any of their counterarguments.
Thus at some point, the field of biology must cease considering Behe and his fellow IDers to be "respected scientists"... not out of prejudice or because the biology mainstream disagrees with them, but rather because the IDers refuse to play by the rules of science everyone else must follow. Their own actions (and inaction) brands them pseudoscientists.
By contrast, while some AGCC supporting scientists make an effort to respond to the arguments of the skeptics -- for example, about the role sun activity plays in forcing temperature changes -- very few of the skeptical counterarguments have been answered satisfactorally, even to scientists who more or less support AGCC: They agree that skeptics are playing by the rules of science, using proper methodology, taking all previous results into account, and so forth; they admit the counter-argument is powerful and must be answered; they agree it hasn't been so far; but they have confidence that it will eventually be shown to be in error.
(Note, I'm not saying the skeptics have "proven" that AGCC is wrong; only that supporters have not proven it is right... and the supporters have the burden.)
That is not the sign of scientific consensus; that is the sign of scientific controversy. And that is the difference between those scientists skeptical of AGCC and those contrarians who refuse to accept evolution by natural selection.
There is no requirement to respond to ill-performed experiments that purport to overturn long-settled science without any willingness on the part of the contrarians to engage in scientific debate. There simply isn't enough time to debunk them every time they bubble up again, lest we be dragged into a creationism-like endless loop of demanding an infinite number of "missing links." But honestly performed experiments by scientists ready and willing to engage in proper debate, using data not denunciations, must be answered; that is the scientific method in action.
Similarly, nobody outside a particular journal can mandate that it publish submitted paper. But journals need to be forcefully reminded that their mission is to discover reality -- not mold it into a congenial shape.
Finally, it's important to bear in mind that there are "anointed" on the anti-AGCC side as well; it's entirely possible that a "skeptical" inquirer may actually be a true believer in the opposite of AGCC. He might reflexively reject pro-AGCC evidence, even from his own experiment, because he "knows" it's a crockobaloney. Such charlatans who have ceased being scientists (on both sides) should be shunted aside; but we mustn't throw out honestly interpreted experimental results that produce alternative, natural explanations for recent temperature rises (or deny such rises altogether).
Only after skeptics get their day at bat can the scientific community truly get its mits around what is really happening to the Earth's temperature, what effects (bad and good) that might have, and what, if anything, we can do about it -- and whether we should if we could.
I am quite disappointed that a vice chancellor at such a highly respected venue as the University of East Anglia would be unable to reason through to a scientific solution... and would lunge instead for the classic "teen logic" argument: "But Mom, all my friends are doing the same thing!"
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 29, 2009
We haven't posted since Thursday because for us, Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet; it's a complicated dance involving my sister's in-laws and trying to juggle two Thanksgivings at two different locations, coupled with several other family members having made commitments for Friday and Saturday -- don't ask! So we're doing our Thanksgiving today. (And we personally are the ones who make the turkey, stuffings, gravy, cornbread, pies, baklava, and such; so we've been busy cooking.)
But I have a quick post before I must go make the giblet gravy from the turkey drippings...
AP has a story up essentially recapitulating what you all already know if you read Big Lizards -- or Power Line, Patterico's Pontifications, Hot Air, our dearest Michelle, or pretty much any other political blog. I'm sure even Daily Kos has discussed it, the fact that, while there were sixty votes (barely!) in the Senate to kick off debate, there are nowhere near sixty votes to finish debate and move to a vote; I doubt there are even fifty:
The 60 votes aren't there any more.
With the Senate set to begin debate Monday on health care overhaul, the all-hands-on-deck Democratic coalition that allowed the bill to advance is fracturing already. Yet majority Democrats will need 60 votes again to finish.
Some Democratic senators say they'll jump ship from the bill without tighter restrictions on abortion coverage. Others say they'll go unless a government plan to compete with private insurance companies gets tossed overboard. Such concessions would enrage liberals, the heart and soul of the party.
There's no clear course for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to steer legislation through Congress to President Barack Obama. You can't make history unless you reach 60 votes, and don't count on Republicans helping him.
Yes, yes, we already know that; but for those poor schlimazels who get their news from the daily newspaper, this story will be a stunner. However, here is the part that caught my attention:
But Reid is determined to avoid being remembered as another Democrat who tried and failed to make health care access for the middle class a part of America's social safety net.
When did an attempt to extend health insurance to the deserving poor -- and force, under threat of prison time, everyone else to buy health insurance, even if they don't think they need it (perhaps they have a medical savings account and catastrophic care coverage) -- when did AP drop the pretense and admit that this boondoggle was really an entitlement program for the entire "middle class," whatever that is?
I know that's what it always secretly was; but I mean to ask, When did Democrats and their press accessories after the fact decide to openly acknowledge that the poor have nothing to do with it?
There are more buried nuggets in this story, starting with the casual truculence of this attack on Capitalism:
[ObamaCare] would ban onerous insurance industry practices such as denying coverage or charging higher premiums because of someone's poor health.
"Onerous" means burdensome, unfair, oppressive; since people already in "poor health" before signing up for insurance will cost Aetna or Blue Cross much more money, why shouldn't they have to pay somewhat higher premiums? Again, I thought the problem arose when folks with pre-existing conditions were flatly denied coverage... because that would force them into already overtaxed trauma centers for the most minor of medical treatments.
Of course we cognoscenti already knew the bill includes a sneaky provision to stop insurance companies from charging even slightly more for those with pre-existing conditions; but I hadn't seen before, in the health-insurance debate, such a buck-naked presentation of "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs!" I thank the Associated Press for finally fessing up and letting their cards fall on the table.
By the way, AP gives us some new statistics:
The public is ambivalent about the Democrats' legislation. While 58 percent want elected officials to tackle health care now, about half of those supporters say they don't like what they're hearing about the plans, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
Half of 58% is 29%; so if we add together those supporters of health-insurance "reform" who reject the specifics of ObamaCare and the 42% who don't think we should even be monkeying with it right now -- instead of doing something about the wars or jobs or somesuch -- that appears to make around 71% not in favor of the bill, submitted to the Senate by Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%). A 70-30 split against ObamaCare among the electorate doesn't augur well for the bill's passage.
There is no new information about the content of Reid's radical revisionism; but the revelation that the major media are finally turning somewhat honest in the debate, letting people know a least a few of the "onerous" details (they still won't mention the staggering taxes), makes it distinctly less likely that "PinkyCare" will ultimately pass: Silence was always key to success.
Sorry, Harry; I'm afraid you're going to be remembered as the Democratic senator who screwed up ObamaCare. Or to be more precise, the former Democratic senator.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 26, 2009
...And I hope you had matzoh-ball turkey noodle soup. And wear your overcoat. Don't make so much noise when you eat, you want people should think you were raised in a barn? Oy!
Date ►►► November 25, 2009
Well, surprise, surprise: a Swiss court has abruptly and inexplicably reversed itself; it will now grant Roman Polanski bail in the amount of $4.5 million, though that might still be reversed on appeal:
A Swiss court granted Roman Polanski bail on Wednesday, accepting $4.5 million to allow him to remain under house arrest at his chalet. The director will stay in prison for up to 10 days while the Swiss government decides whether to appeal.
The Swiss Criminal Court reversed its previous rejection of bail, saying it was confident the large cash guarantee would compel Polanski to remain at his chalet in the Swiss resort of Gstaad under house arrest and monitored by an electronic bracelet.
The court said it still viewed him as a high flight risk.
I'm confused: If the court still views Polanski as a "flight risk," if he already fled once when facing just a few weeks more in prison, then why does it even consider granting him bail?
But who knows; maybe there is something in Swiss law requiring it, I have no idea. I'm really interested in another aspect of this question, one based on a hypothetical (that actually seems fairly likely to me):
- Suppose bail is finally granted;
- Suppose Polanski makes bail and is sent to his chalet in Gstaad under "house arrest;"
- Then suppose he escapes again, right back to next-door France.
Would liberals -- and their neolibertarian allies, on this and many, many other issues recently -- cheer the escape? Would they treat child-raper Roman as a folk hero, the way earlier liberals treated John Dillinger -- and the way they worship Robin Hood as a hero even today?
I would be far more upset if the latter group did so than the former; I expect more from libertarians than from liberals. I don't know why; lately it seems that so-called "movement libertarians" are actually wereliberals, who go barking mad and howl at the moon every November of an even-numbered year. Still, at least they pay lip service to concepts such as rule of law and the idea that violent crime should be suppressed; liberals seem quite content using naked force to steal whatever they cannot beg or borrow.
So would those two subsets of humanity cheer the escape of Roman Polanski, if such eventuates?
I ask because I'm not sure. On the one hand, liberals revered those two armed robbers and murderers, Mr. Dillon and Mr. Hood, because they saw them as "great redistributionists."
Oddly, a great many people who call themselves "movement libertarians" feel the same way -- though it seems strange that folks who claim Capitalism as their greatest economic ideal would cheer "spreading the wealth around." (Of course, the strong libertarian support for candidate Barack H. Obama in 2008 augurs that the libertarian rejection of forced income redistribution may not be as strong as it once was.)
I've heard libertarians argue that Robin of Locksley and John Dillinger were actually "anarchists," and they were really attacking "the State" and the centralized banking system. However, what they really did, in reality or in fable, was steal from "the rich" -- i.e., any non-pauper who traveled the roads in Sherwood, anyone who made a bank deposit -- and give to themselves... and incidentally, give just enough to the poor to get a good rep as philanthropists, so the ordinary citizen wouldn't rat them out (the Jesse James gang used the same tactic). Thus, they're more like French revolutionaries than political anarchists.
But in any event, Roman Polanski cannot possibly be considered a "great redistributionist" by either liberals or libertarians; so that should, in theory, argue against either group being happy if he escapes the authorities yet again.
On the other hand, both groups -- let's just call them "the libs" collectively -- whined and bitterly complained when he was captured in the first place; the libs urged his release by Swiss authorities so he could not be extradited back to the United States.
Whatever their mysterious reasons for taking the rapist's side, the fact that they did makes it immensely hard to take the other side if he escapes: It would be tantamount to admitting they were foolishly wrong before; and both branches of the libs share an almost genetic inability to admit folly, at least in my experience.
Both parties include in their "definition of self" the deeply rooted belief in their own mental superiority to, well, everyone; but especially to conservatives, whom libs see as religious fundamentalists akin to the mullahs of Iran -- or snake-handling, tongue-speaking, charismatics and zealots (to the extent libs even know the difference). There simply is no way in Hades that a lib would ever admit he was wrong about an issue if that meant a conservative was right.
On the third hand, the libs (especially lib journalists) appear to suffer from a great and shared confusion about the nature of the actual crime committed by Roman Polanski. Sadly, the ignorance even infects the very Breitbart story we've been quoting... and Andrew Brietbart is supposed to be one of the good guys!
The verdict does not affect the Swiss Justice Ministry's ongoing assessment of whether Polanski should be extradited to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl. Polanski fled sentencing in Los Angeles a year later.
Just to set the record straight, Polanski did not "have sex" with a thirteen year old girl, no matter how much the libs would like to rewrite the crime to fit "the story" they want to tell... the story of hinky, uptight Victorians who want to persecute this brilliant artist just because they hate sex.
Polanski drugged and raped a struggling, terrified thirteen year old girl -- first orally, then anally, then vaginally. Then he paid her mother half a million dollars as a bribe -- and also had his lawyers threaten the little girl into silence, saying they would bear false witness against her, telling the mass media, hence the world, that she was a whore who was just trying to shake Polanski down.
After the victim was intimidated out of testifying, the prosecutors cut the best deal they could; and Polanski pled to statutory rape. He served six weeks in prison; but instead of going to court to get his final sentencing, he escaped and fled to la Belle France.
Roman Polanski is an escaped violent felon. But to a whole subsegment of the country, including most journalists, his only crime was "having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl," who (nudge, wink) probably instigated the whole thing anyway.
Since it's all just about sex (just like Bill Clinton, who both liberals and libertarians also elevated to heroic stature during his impeachment), there is a strong impetus for the libs to cheer Polanski's possible future escape. Those conservative theocrats never want us to have any fun!
Taking all in all, I would bet a lot of money that most libs would set up a whoop and a holler if Polanski took advantage of Swiss generosity and escaped custody. Again.
So the next question is -- could he escape? And would he if he could?
The court in Geneva expresses confidence:
"The 76-year-old appellant is married and the father of two minors," the court said as it considered Polanski's offer of a cash bail secured by his apartment in Paris. "It can be assumed that as a responsible father he will, especially in view of his advanced age, attach greater importance to the financial security of his family than a younger person."
The court said Polanski would be subjected to "constant electronic surveillance" at his chalet and an alarm would be activated if he leaves the premises or takes off the bracelet.
But I'm not so sanguine. All the electronic bracelet can do is alert authorities that he has fled; it can't stun him with an electrical shock like a taser, nor can it prevent him from walking, running, or even flying in a helicopter. If he picks his time carefully -- a holiday, late at night -- he could dart into a waiting car (or helo) and get the hell out of Dodge. All right, out of Gstaad.
The Swiss cops would probably call Polanski's cell phone first, and he would tell them he's sitting quietly in his chalet; they would send a patrol out to investigate, wasting more time. By the time light finally dawned on the cheese-making bell ringers, Roman Polanski would have a big enough head start that, like a reverse von Trapp family, he could speed over the Alps and back into sanctuary in next-door France. There, he could jeer the hapless, dour authorities, thwarted in their attempt to limit human freedom -- rather, limit the license granted to artistic aristos to seize their pleasures where they will, and to hell with how the peasants feel about it.
Sure, he would lose his money; but he probably hocked his Swiss chalet to get the cash in the first place. It's clear that if he escapes, he would never be able to return to that chalet anyway, so who cares if it's forfeited to whomever put up the dough? (I'm sure the Swiss would never be motivated by $4.5 million to drag their feet on recapturing him, for they are all honorable men.)
But wait -- what about his kids, his paternal responsibility? Without those millions, he might not be able to send Morgane and Elvis to the finest schools in old Europe, thus depriving them of the elite, aristocratic upbringing which is their birthright, as the princess and prince of titled cinematic royalty. Who could imagine Roman Polanski doing anything to harm a child?
Yes, I think Roman Polanski could easily arrange an escape if he's minded. And I strongly suspect that liberals (and movement libertarians) would set up a lusty celebration if he did. I'm not sure they would, but that's how I'd bet it. They bemoaned his arrest, why wouldn't they cheer his escape?
I don't care much about liberals; anybody who could support socialism and Jacobism, now that we know where they inevitably lead, is so far gone already that one more lump of vile abuse won't move them any further down the circles of Hell.
But my evidence-based suspicion fills me with a great sense of loss for the libertarian movement I once proudly joined, back when I thought they really meant what they said: that the only true crimes where those rooted in "force or fraud." The only fraud was their claim that they actually opposed the initiation of force... at least when an aristocrat was merely enjoying his "droit du seigneur."
Alas, I must conclude that contemporary libertarians don't reject feudalism; they envy it.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
When we accused Democrats of trying to unplug Grandma from life-support to save a few bucks, they called us fear-mongers. They called Sarah Palin "delusional" when she rightly pointed out that medical rationing would amount to a "death panel." But a recent airing of CBS's 60 Minutes offers a textbook example of what is going to happen all across the nation if we let ObamaCare pass.
Radio talk-show host Mike Gallagher alerted his listeners to this chilling segment that aired last week, titled The Cost of Dying. Correspondent Steve Kroft noted the enormous cost of end-of-life medical care -- then blamed that expense for bankrupting Medicare:
Every medical study ever conducted has concluded that 100 percent of all Americans will eventually die. This comes as no great surprise, but the amount of money being spent at the very end of people's lives probably will.
Last year, Medicare paid $50 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients' lives -- that's more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education.
And it has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenditures may have had no meaningful impact. [Tell that to Grandma. -- SY] Most of the bills are paid for by the federal government with few or no questions asked.
You might think this would be an obvious thing for Congress and the president to address as they try to reform health care. But what used to be a bipartisan issue has become a politically explosive one -- a perfect example of the costs that threaten to bankrupt the country and how hard it's going to be to rein them in.
The message was crystal: Medicare is spending too much money keeping useless old people alive. Codgers are burning up precious money the government could use for something more important, like protecting endangered species or insuring street bums. The mantra is, "Grandma, shut up and die already."
All right; granted that end-of-life care costs a lot of money. But why? What would it take to "rein in" these costs?
First, it's easier for doctors to manage patient care if the patients are all together in a hospital. Second, Doctors are paid based on the number of patients they see or procedures they order, and hospitals get paid by the number of beds they fill and tests and procedures they perform... this creates financial incentives to hospitalize patients, as opposed to dealing with them as outpatients spread all over a city.
Then once hospitalized, the patient will probably be examined by numerous resident specialists, and each will put the patient through a great many tests, many of which are conducted purely defensively, to ward off malpractice lawsuits. One 85-year-old mother discussed in the 60 Minutes program was seen by twenty-five specialists in the last two months of her life:
"You think they were running up the bill to make money? Or running up the bill or giving her all these tests because they really thought it might help her? Or to cover their…rear?" [Steve] Kroft asked.
"Yeah, to cover their rear," [the patient's daughter] replied.
Finally, there are exhorbitant costs associated with the structure of Medicare itself. It covers the entire cost of medical care, and doctors and hospitals are obliged to accept what Medicare gives them. The patient often does not even know how much the taxpayers are paying. "No cost to the patient" equals no incentive to be frugal about unnecessary tests:
In almost every business, cost-conscious customers and consumers help keep prices down. But not with health care. That's because the customers and consumers who are receiving the care aren't the ones paying the bill.
These are obvious problems, but there are equally obvious solutions:
- If doctors and hospitals were protected from frivolous lawsuits by strong tort reform, they would not be driven to order a ridiculous number of oddball tests just to guard against litigation that results in "jackpot justice."
- If Medicare operated more like normal, private insurance -- scrutinizing specific costs, covering only a certain percent of the cost of medical procedures, and requiring patient co-pays -- beneficiaries would probably be more skeptical about authorizing multiple testing regimes. (This is the idea behind Medicare Advantage... which the Barack H. Obama administration is intent upon killing.)
- And if more procedures could legally be performed by nurses, medical technicians, pharmacists, and other providers below the level of doctor, there would be less incentive for patients to enter the hospital or linger there, since they would have more alternatives.
But, that's too easy -- and it doesn't allow for a complete government takeover of health care, which is the hidden purpose of ObamaCare.
So what is the major goal of a national health service -- as Great Britain has? It certainly doesn't cost less than a private system, nor is the health care itself better, or even as good. None of the reasons given logically make the case for nationalized health care.
But there is another power that governments can only obtain by implementing government health care, national health service, single-payer health care, socialized medicine, or whatever else the government chooses to call it: It gives the national government life-and-death control over every citizen. Every resident is in the same boat as murderers; the government gets to decide, thumbs up or thumbs down.
Under a national health service, the taxpayers foot the bill; which gives the government its hook to demand "regulation and oversight" of how much they spend. This, in practice, means complete control over who gets medical treatment.
The government can set up a "death panel" -- in Medicare, it's called MedPAC, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission -- that tells us when we're allowed to receive treatment and survive, and when we've outlived our usefulness to the State and must be denied care, so we can hurry up and "decrease the surplus population."
MedPAC doesn't decide on the basis of individual worth or the patient's politics (at least not directly); but by declaring what procedures can be performed on which groups of patients, and having no effective competition, the feds find themselves with the power to decide who gets treated and who gets thrown under the bus, all in the name of cost cutting and protecting the taxpayers (the same ones they plan to soak with huge tax-rate increases):
Charlie Haggart is 68 years old and suffering from liver and kidney failure. He wants a double transplant, which would cost about $450,000. But doctors have told him he's currently too weak to be a candidate for the procedure.
At a meeting with Haggart's family and his doctors, Dr. Byock raised the awkward question of what should be done if he got worse and his heart or lungs were to give out.
He said that all of the available data showed that CPR very rarely works on someone in Haggart's condition, and that it could lead to a drawn out death in the ICU.
"Either way you decide, we will honor your choice, and that's the truth," Byock reassured Haggart. "Should we do CPR if your heart were to suddenly stop?"
Sounds reasonable enough; Dr. Byock is just engaging in end-of-life counseling. But is he really the neutral arbiter, trying to explain all of Charlie Haggart's options? Read on:
"Either way you decide, we will honor your choice, and that's the truth," Byock reassured Haggart. "Should we do CPR if your heart were to suddenly stop?"
"Yes," he replied.
"You'd be okay with being in the ICU again?" Byock asked.
"Yes," Haggart said.
"I know it's an awkward conversation," Byock said.
"It beats second place," Haggart joked, laughing.
"You don't think it makes any sense?" [Steve] Kroft asked the doctor.
"It wouldn't be my choice. It's not what I advise people. At the present time, it's their right to request it. And Medicare pays for it," Byock said....
"I think you cannot make these decisions on a case-by-case basis," Byock said. "It would be much easier for us to say 'We simply do not put defibrillators into people in this condition.' Meaning your age, your functional status, the ability to make full benefit of the defibrillator. Now that's going to outrage a lot of people."
"But you think that should happen?" Kroft asked.
"I think at some point it has to happen," Byock said.
Easier for whom, the patient or the doctor? And how long does Dr. Byock expect each patient still to have the right to be resuscitated if his heart stops? Byock sounds as though he expects "hope and change" to come very soon now for the aged and their cockamamie idea that they might be worth saving.
Dr. Byock's answer seems to have distrubed Steve Kroft, the 60 Minutes correspondent:
"Well, this is a version then of pulling Grandma off the machine?" Kroft asked.
That is exactly what conservatives have been saying; evidently, Sarah Palin isn't the only person who is "delusional."
But here is where it truly strikes home to every American, not just senior citizens on Medicare:
"Every other major industrialized nation but the United States has a budget for how much taxpayer funds are allocated to health care, because they've all recognized that you could bankrupt your country without it," David Walker told Kroft.
Asked if he is talking about rationing, Walker said, "Listen, we ration now. We just don't ration rationally. There's no question that there's gonna have to be some form of rationing. Let me be clear: Individuals and employers ought to be able to spend as much money as they want to have things done. But when you're talking about taxpayer resources, there's a limit as to how much resources we have."
Yes, that's true. But when you're talking about ObamaCare, there is no limit on the number of Americans who will be pushed into a taxpayer-funded system.
Once we all receive our health care at public expense, then we can all be subject to the same rationing that Dr. Byock proposes. "Equality" will reign: Everybody will be equally bankrupt, equally unemployed, and equally short-lived.
Again, the answer is clear; but it's the exact opposite of the direction the Obama administration is taking us: The solution to this dilemma is to reduce the number of people receiving government-run health care, not multiply it by a hundred! That's like trying to cure a flood by sending a tidal wave.
Did Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) have something like ObamaCare in mind?
Date ►►► November 24, 2009
I Don't Care About an Afghanistan Troop "Surge"...
It's worse than useless unless accompanied by a change in strategy from the Vietnam-era search and destroy, which seems to be our unstated current strategy -- or its close cousin, Slow Joe Biden's "counterterrorism" strategy -- to the one that Gen. Stanley McChrystal insists is the only strategy that can actually succeed: counterinsurgency (COIN).
Alas, I cannot tell from the news coverage whether the decision of Barack H. Obama is likely to include a COIN strategy; it's all vagueness, handwaving, and fog, like "a comprehensive strategy" and "an effort muscular enough to 'dismantle and degrade' the enemy and ensure that 'Al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot operate' in the region"... meaningless phrases that every Commander in Chief says about every campaign strategy in every war.
As usual, the left-stream media focuses only on the number of troops -- and on how angry it will make liberals to add any new forces at all. For the One They Thought They Were Waiting For promised them a major American defeat, which they could blame on President Bush. He swore!
So evidently Obama is as sanguine about lying to the Left as he is about lying to the rest of America. I'm sure this will do wonders for his mob approval.
(Actually, that was a typo for job approval... but upon due consideration, I decided to keep it!)
In fact, the Times article devotes far more column inches to speculating how the One will choose to announce his decision than to, you know, exactly how we plan to win: Will it be a short address from the Oval Office, or a long, soporific speech in another venue? (I predict the latter; the voice of the TOTUS will be heard in our land.)
But the only strategic mention of any kind that I can find is what all news accounts agree upon: Barack Obama plans to focus very strongly on an exit strategy.
Yes On Dr. No!
Sen. Joseph "Smilin' Joe" Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Democratic) has drawn his foot in the sand:
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, speaking in that trademark sonorous baritone, utters a simple statement that translates into real trouble for Democratic leaders: "I'm going to be stubborn on this."
Stubborn, he means, in opposing any health-care overhaul that includes a "public option," or government-run health-insurance plan, as the current bill does. His opposition is strong enough that Mr. Lieberman says he won't vote to let a bill come to a final vote if a public option is included.
I don't believe he can ever back away from that absolutely flat statement, and he is not the kind of politician who blithely flips and flops: He will vote against cloture at the end of debate unless the government "option" is stripped from the bill; he insists he'll do so even if the government option comes with "opt out" or a trigger:
So any version of a public option will compel Mr. Lieberman to vote against bringing a bill to a final vote? "Correct," he says.
And when Lieberman makes it plain he's doing so, he will be joined by more or less moderate Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK, 80%), Mary Landrieu (D-LA, 65%), and Ben Nelson (D-NE, 75%). They've already expressed very public reservations against the bill; why should they piss off their constituents and damage their reelection chances if ObamaCare is going to be blocked anyway? It's all pain and no gain.
And if those four go, I suspect others might follow: Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN, 70%), Max Baucus (D-MT, 80%), and Tim Johnson (D-SD, 80%) are all possible defectors -- if others have previously defected, making their own defections irrelevant to the bill's survival.
To put it bluntly, Lieberman's adamant refusal to vote for cloture is the first hole in the Democratic dike; it will very likely lead to more.
Unsurprisingly, Sen. Lieberman focuses on a very different worry than do Republican conseratives:
[Lieberman] insists his objection isn't based on the oft-expressed conservative fear that a public option would lead to a government takeover of health care. He says he doubts this or any subsequent Congress would allow that.
Rather, his objection is based on fiscal risk: "Once the government creates an insurance company or plan, the government or the taxpayers are liable for any deficit that government plan runs, really without limit," he says. "With our debt heading over $21 trillion within the next 10 years...we've got to start saying no to some things like this."
Fine with me; it's a perfectly valid argument. I really don't care why he opposes the government option so strongly, so long as he does!
Mind, Lieberman does want health-insurance reform; he just rejects ObamaCare as currently constituted. He still supports increasing insurance coverage (I don't know if he supports a mandate) and doing something about people being denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
But this leads right back to where I began: I believe the Democrats will manage to pass something which they will label health-insurance reform; it just won't be the massive government takeover that liberal fascists long to impose.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
One pitfall -- or do I mean pratfall? -- into which a disturbing large percent of conservatives fall -- including Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and a rasher of conservative columnists -- is to pooh-pooh such supposedly "elitist" pastimes as dance, serious music, and art. I suspect that if you scratch many self-proclaimed conservatives, you will hit populism without having to drill too deeply; populists (in the socialist sense) eschew putative "highbrow" entertainment in favor of the manly pursuits of the masses... hence the snorting rejection of "feminized" entertainments such as the TV show Dancing With the Stars.
Here is how DWTS works; hat tip to Wikipedia:
The show pairs a number of celebrities with professional ballroom dancers, who each week compete by performing [ballroom and Latin ballroom] dances. These are then given scores by a panel of judges. Viewers are given a certain amount of time to place votes on their favorite dancers, either by telephone or (in some countries) by the Internet. The couple with the lowest combined score (judges plus viewers) is eliminated. [Wash, rinse, repeat until one couple is declared the winner.]
They award the winner a trophy that the senior host, Tom Bergeron (of America's Funniest Home Videos fame) calls a "mirror-ball trophy," after the perennial prop in a 1970s disco... though to me, the trophy looks more like a giant, gold-plated golf ball.
The show is a miracle of wholesome entertainment -- and it should be exactly what real conservatives like: People entertaining the audience without resorting to explicit sex, sadistic violence, rejection and mockery of traditional American values, anti-religious hysteria, or Republican/conservative-bashing, which are all staples of most fiction television and TV (so-called) "news" shows. Other than a Mussolini-like obsession with being a "regular guy," I cannot fathom why so many conservatives go out of their way to spit upon DWTS and anybody who participates in the show.
Tom DeLay was a contestant in this season's DWTS; he actually did reasonably well, but he had to drop out due to a foot injury (a pair of them, actually). He certainly did not disgrace himself, as Hewitt and Medved and other conservatives (neocon in Medved's case) confidently and derisively asserted he would.
In any event, Sachi and I just watched the finale of DWTS; all three finalists performed three dances each: One assigned dance (e.g., Argentine Tango or the Cha-Cha-Cha), a group dance, and a "freestyle" dance wherein anything went.
Those of you who have been watching this season know that the three finalists are Kelly Osbourne (daughter of Ozzy Osbourne, former lead singer for Black Sabbath), singer/songwriter Mýa Marie Harrison, and entertainer Donny Osmond. At the end of the finale, based on the judges' scores (half the final score, the other part being supplied by the TV audience's vote), Mýa led with 87 points out of a possible 90; Donny was next with 85; and Kelly brought up the rear with 76, I believe.
As half the score comes from viewer votes, either Mýa Harrison or Donny Osmond could win; Kelly Osbourne is quite far behind Mýa and likely cannot catch up on viewer votes.
This season was fairly lackluster, though Donny Osmond stood out as the pre-eminent entertainer of, in my opinion, the entire show, all seasons. Mýa is a pretty good dancer, but I believe the judges have been overscoring her for some time now. Kelly started as a whiny cry-baby with the attention-span of a horsefly; but she blossomed (no better word) into a confident and adept dancer, not in the same league as most of the other dancers -- certainly not in technical merit -- but endlessly engaging.
Anyway, the point of this dreary and sordid post is simply this: I want to go on record predicting that, regardless of the fact that Mýa Harrison currently leads the pack, I predict that the winner tonight (Tuesday night) will be Donny Osmond: Last week, he ended up in last place on the "leader board" (counting only judges' scores), following an entirely uncalled for, and in my opinion unprofessional, set of scores for his first dance; yet despite being in last place, his fan base saved him by voting overwhelmingly. Osmond did not even end up in the bottom two, I don't believe.
I take it that he likely has the most numerous and enthusiastic fans of any of the contestants. Since he is only two points behind Mýa on the judge's scoreboard, I predict he will prevail. While Mýa may have a large following -- I have no idea -- I doubt they would be big fans of DWTS; contrariwise, fans of Donny Osmond are exactly the sort of folks who would watch a dance-contest television show.
In fact, Donny Osmond is the conservative that folks should have been watching all during this season; Tom DeLay was just a distraction. I have nothing against the former House Majority Leader; in fact, I firmly believe he is being railroaded by Travis County District Attorney and diehard Democrat Ronnie Earle, who indicted him on what I believe to be knowingly false charges, the purpose of which was to force him from public office. Even so, Donny Osmond is more interesting to me, because he has forged a successful career in the music industry, in movies, and on the stage... all while being openly and unapologetically conservative.
Osmond is not a political activist (though he did support California's Proposition 8, overturning the Cal Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage); he lives his conservatism in real life, his honesty, decency, and rectitude unquestioned. Not even D.A. Earle at his vilest could have found a hook to hang an indictment of Donny Osmond.
He is, however, a Mormon; and I suspect that there is a certain animus against Osmond on that basis, just as there is against Mitt Romney. I also detect the traditional sneering by hyperintellectuals directed against instinctual conservatives like Walt Disney, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, George Murphy -- and Donny Osmond (as well as against his sister Marie). Add in the populist problem, and I suspect that if Donny Osmond were ever to run for office, he would receive the "Palin business" from a large chunk of the conservative high-verbals.
(I trust Walt Disney more than the chattering class, and he was on the side of the Osmond Brothers; they got their first real break performing at Disneyland in 1958, while Uncle Walt was still alive and running the whole Disney empire.)
I make a secondary prediction: If Donny Osmond wins, he will still be utterly ignored by "movement" conservatives, despite the great potential for spreading the conservative memes using folks like Osmond. Thus the head severs itself from the body.
So sad; I see this rejection by Donny's natural constituents as another sign of the terrible and perhaps unbridgeable rift between the conservative "intellectual" (most aren't very) elite and the rank and file conservatives and Republicans. Nowhere is that rift more obvious than here in California, where the Cal GOP appears to have made a deal with the devil: They pledge not to try to expand their numbers from abysmal up to rotten, ceding the permanent majority to the Democrats... in exchange for the latter's assurance that they will allow the current Republican incumbants to serve out their wretched and meaningles careers without any serious Democratic opposition.
Thus have the elites thwarted the will and desire of the Republican electorate. So it goes.
Date ►►► November 23, 2009
Times Slimes Obamic Climes
The mighty New York Times has abruptly woken from its slumber to discover that President Barack H. Obama hasn't been doing too well recently on the approval front; Adam Nagourney has finally noticed a couple of disturbing facts:
Mr. Obama’s decline a year into his term comes as he struggles through a decidedly sour climate. The unemployment rate has jumped above 10 percent and shows no sign of abating. At this point, even if Mr. Obama cannot be blamed for causing the economic decline, Americans are growing impatient with him to fix it.
His main legislative initiative -- the health care bill -- is the subject of a messy fight in Congress, displaying Washington in the very bitter partisan light that Mr. Obama promised to end. It has provided Republicans with a platform to stir concerns that Mr. Obama is using the health care overhaul to expand the role of government beyond the comfort level of many Americans; polls suggest that these arguments have helped sow significant doubts.
Nagourney is still not quite sure this is really happening; it could just be an artifact of the One being outside the country for a few days. But he does concede that there might be the faint beginnings of something happenin' here...
Still, there does seem to be the suggestion of a trend here.
Approval of Barack H. Obama from inauguration to 23 November 2009
Gee... you think?
InstaReynolds wrote a short (now there's a shock!), powerful (ditto) post yesterday (which happened to be the 46th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, though that that is neither here nor there). In the post, Glenn Reynolds analyzed the narcissism rooted deep in the 2008 election -- and it's not the one you're thinking of:
I think Obama’s “charisma” was based on voter narcissism -- people excited not just about electing a black President, but about themselves, voting for a black President. Now that’s over, and they’re stuck just with him, and emptied of their own narcissism there’s not much there to fill out the suit. As Ann Althouse says, “I think what Obama seems to have become, he always was.”
This is what is meant by a phrase some have used that is undoubtedly racially offensive -- but also certainly true in a very deep sense: "Barack the magic negro." American voters felt great joy in finally being able to vote a black man into the Presidency of the United States; and even those who have neither racial animus nor guilt should be pleased that there is no longer a color barrier for the most powerful position in the world (though still a gender barrier). It's impossible to forget that for most of our history, that "color barrier" was all too real and all too deliberate, even after the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
But once the magic wears off, and we find ourselves stuck with the quotidian edition of Barack H. Obama instead, then the narcissistic impulse to support him fades. When he is left with only himself, his policies, and his appointees, then many erstwhile supporters recoil and ask, "What hath Man wrought!"
So in that sense, Nagourney's headline (which I'm sure he didn't write) -- "An Unsurprising Slide for Obama" -- is quite true. But that is no comfort for la Casa Blanca; because Nagourney notwithstanding, the reaction is not a temporary blip in an otherwise smooth presidential trajectory. As the graphic above graphically illustrates, the slide is not only not surprising, it's not sudden; neither does it show any sign of suddenly stopping.
We rightly congratulate ourselves (collectively) for electing a black president over a white candidate that nobody could call unAmerican, dishonorable, or ridiculous, however much we may wish he were a better Republican. But when we're done patting ourselves on the back, we feel no compulsion to re-elect him after he has proven himself such a risible, unprepared, unqualified farce. This slide is permanent, changeable only if Obama himself changes significantly:
Mr. Obama’s aides argue that the political culture of Washington is too fixated on each new bit of approval-rating data.
“I think the history of these things is that Washington becomes absorbed with them,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “But not every day is Election Day. There’s not all that much relationship about what these things mean and what’s going to happen in an election a year -- or three years -- in advance.”
Axelrod can spin like a whirling Dervish, but he cannot bring the magic home again; Obama will never again enjoy a default approval of 65%. Like every other president, he will rise and fall (mostly the latter, if I'm any judge) on the basis of what he does and how he governs.
Adam Nagourney does have one point quite right:
Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster, has long argued that the gap between the public’s views of Mr. Obama and of his policies is politically significant [sic -- I think he meant "insignificant"], and that it is only a matter of time before the two measures meet. If that happens, Republicans could find it easier to engage Mr. Obama, whether by challenging him on policies in Washington, or running against him in Congressional elections next year, the way Democrats ran against George W. Bush in the 2006 midterms.
This of course explains the rush of the Democratic caucus in Congress to pass anything and everything they can this year; because by next year, too many of them will be fighting for their political lives to risk it all on pushing unpopular, deviant, even terrifying legislation that nationalizes more and more of American life, empowering the federal government at the expense of the people.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 21, 2009
Don't Have a Seizure Over the ObamaCare Cloture Vote...
...You'd only have to rely upon ObamaCare to cure you!
This post by John Hinderaker at Power Line is fairly typical of what I've been reading:
Mary Landrieu announced today that she will vote for cloture on the Democrats' government medicine bill tonight. The Democrats now have 60 votes and will be able to pass their version of government medicine.
By great good forture, this is a cross between a crocodile and an abalone *: All that this means is that the Democrats have sufficient votes to invoke cloture on beginning the debate on ObamaCare; it does not imply they will have the votes to end debate and actually vote:
Senate Democrats said they had clinched the votes needed on Saturday to propel major health care legislation to the floor for weeks of full debate, as the majority party’s two last holdouts said that they would not block consideration of President Obama’s top domestic initiative.
Some Democrats and one of the two Independents (Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-CT, 85% Democrat) have committed only to the former and not the latter; Lieberman has emphatically stated that unless there are very significant changes, he will not vote for cloture to end debate and vote.
UPDATE from Politico:
“I believe it is going to be very clear at some point very soon that there are not 60 votes for the current provision in the bill and that the leader and the leadership will have to make a decision, and I trust they will figure out how to do that,” Landrieu said....
Two of those planning to vote yes today – Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) have already said they’d join a filibuster of the bill, Nelson to strengthen its abortion restrictions and Lieberman to stop the public option. Lieberman has said he believes other Democrats would do the same, though none warned of that in remarks Saturday.
Landrieu announced her vote earlier in the day. "My vote today to move forward on this important debate should in no way to be construed as . . .an indication of how I might vote as this debate comes to an end," she warned. "It is a vote to move forward. … But much more work needs to be done.”
That should make it quite clear what today's vote means -- and what it does not mean.
It was practically a foregone conclusion that the Democrats would get enough votes to start the debate; even if a Democrat or Indie planned all along to vote against cloture at the end, thus not allowing it to come to an up-or-down final vote (that the Democrats would be guaranteed to win), he would almost certainly vote to begin the debate: Not to do so would make him look utterly intransigent. A Republican can get away with that because the bill is so lopsidedly partisan, but a Democrat has to seem more open to its consideration.
Everything now depends upon the debate itself -- in particular, which amendments are passed and which voted down. I'm still confident that if the liberals manage to retain any of the following in the final bill:
- Abortion funding
- The new marriage penalty, encouraging Americans to shack up instead
- The massive, unprecedented tax increases during a recession and with double-digit unemployment
- The half-trillion dollar raid on Medicare
- The obvious rationing of medical care (already starting with the heavy hand of the government stopping doctors from advising mammograms for women aged 40-50)
- The legal mandate to buy expensive health insurance (with those who refuse facing prison time yet!)
- Or of course the public option that will simply detonate all private health insurance
...Then several so-called "Blue Dog" Democrats (plus Joe Lieberman) will revisit the question of cloture at the end.
Be of good cheer; this isn't the end of the fight but only the beginning. If the Republicans can stay unified, then we will only need one, single senator who supports cloture today to oppose it at the end, and we will have stopped this dreadful monstrosity.
And even if they all hold firm, and PinkyCare passes the Senate -- it still must be reconciled with the House version, and that too will be subject to cloture requiring 60 votes.
Finally, I am nowhere near as pessimistic as others on the inevitability of some version of ObamaCare being implemented, even if it passes both chambers and is signed by the president. If the Republicans can take over even a single chamber -- a possibility made much more likely by the passage of a staggering tax, the looting of Medicare, and looming medical-care rationing -- then the GOP can stop the actual implementation of ObamaCare simply by refusing to fund it... and that cannot even be vetoed by Barack H. Obama, because it would be a negative act: They can fail to vote for funding, and that effectively kills it. (In fact, Republicans can even run on a "reverse the vote!' platform.)
So put on your manly gown, gird your loins, and pull up your socks; we still have many bites left at the apple, quite a few more chances to strangle this serpent in the grass. Stopping debate from beginning was always the least likely of all possible ways to kill ObamaCare.
Man up -- we've still got a fight on our hands!
* A "crockabalone," of course!
Date ►►► November 20, 2009
Imagine No al-Qaeda, It's Easy If He Tries...
The national-defense syllogism of President Barack H. Obama is pristine in its consistency:
- The war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis is over! It ended on January 20th, 2009, when the One We Have Been Yearning For was finally inaugurated.
- It was just one more of those failed policies from the previous administration. The war criminal Bush brought it on himself when he enraged the world by launching an unprovoked invasion of Iraq.
There are still a few criminal gangs that want to commit crimes against individuals inside the United States. The attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, the attacks on the World Trade Centers and some other public building -- these were crimes: serious perhaps, but no different in substance from a home-invasion robbery or a residential burglary.
And we already know how to deal with crime: After the next 9/11, we'll issue an immediate and sweeping flurry of indictments against the suicide perpetrators.
- Of course, you can't stop a burglary with missiles and bombs... therefore we should stand down all those needless, senseless military defenses -- think of the money we could save!
And to gain the love of the whole rest of the world, we should proudly and publicly proclaim that we've done so:
The commander of military forces protecting North America has ordered a review of the costly air defenses intended to prevent another Sept. 11-style terrorism attack, an assessment aimed at determining whether the commitment of jet fighters, other aircraft and crews remains justified....
The review, to be completed next spring, is expected to be the military’s most thorough reassessment of the threat of a terrorism attack by air since Al Qaeda’s strikes on Sept. 11, 2001, transformed a Defense Department focused on fighting other militaries and led to the Bush administration’s “global war on terror.”
Think of it: No more fighter jets fueled and ready to shoot down airliners... no more American troops sent all over the world... no more Guantanamo Bay... no more torturing innocent farmers and scholars kidnapped from Tora Bora. With all the protections against crime we now have -- security screenings at airports, locked cockpit doors, no-fly zones around wherever the Obamacle happens to be -- who needs military force?
The eight-year national nightmare is over; it turns out that the entire premise of "war" was flawed to begin with, as the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other criminals prove. And the money, the expense! Just think how all those billions that could be better spent on seizing control of health care and crippling America's energy production:
The assessment is partly a reflection of how a military straining to fight two wars is questioning whether it makes sense to keep in place the costly system of protections established after those attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Though the last of the air patrols above American cities were discontinued in 2007, the military keeps dozens of warplanes and hundreds of air crew members on alert to respond to potential threats.
“The fighter force is extremely expensive, so you always have to ask yourself the question ‘How much is enough?’ ” said Maj. Gen. Pierre J. Forgues of Canada, director of operations for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, which carries out the air defense mission within the United States military’s Northern Command.
What could possibly go wrong?
We cannot stick with the old regime of military defense anyway; we just don't have the resources:
General Forgues said the American and Canadian fleets of fighters, refueling tankers and radar planes “are always in high demand and low supply.”
Rather than do something crazy and counterproductive, like increasing the supply of fighters and refueling tankers to match the demand, it's so much easier simply to reduce demand by ending the air defenses.
But of course, nothing is carved in stone yet; that Canadian general who runs the American air defense at NORAD, Pierre Forgues, is merely conducting a review. Who can say how it may turn out?
General Forgues cautioned that there was no predetermined outcome of the review and that it was possible the commitment to the air defense mission would remain the same, or even increase.
Just as Obama, after careful consideration, may actually choose a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and send even more troops than Gen. Stanley McChrystal has requested -- who can say? It's still under review.
The Times notes the truly staggering expenditures of the Bush regime's warmongering and jet-jockeying over the skies of America: Combat air patrols over our cities cost (brace yourselves) in excess of $50 million every week. That's more than $2.6 billion each and every year -- an utterly unsustainable expense, fully equal to an entire week of the price for ObamaCare. How can we possibly continue to bankrupt ourselves by paying for such unnecessary, imperialist, neoconservative militarism?
Thank goodness our nation came to its senses in time to elect a president who believes in strength through disarmament. It's no wonder he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; Barack Obama is Mother Teresa on steroids.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Maritalphobic Democrats Strike Again!
Generally we use the "Matrimonial Madness" category for discussions of same-sex marriage; but not this time. Today, in a bolt from the blue (staters), the Senate Democrats have snuck a ringer into Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid's (D-NV, 70%) version of ObamaCare... they created a new tax with a nasty "marriage penalty" to punish dopes who actually tie the knot, instead of simply living together (evidently the Democrat preferred option):
Senate Democrats' health care bill would create a new marriage penalty by imposing a tax on individuals who make $200,000 annually but hitting married couples making just $50,000 more....
"Yes, this structure can create a 'marriage penalty' for some couples. It also creates a 'marriage bonus' for others," [Jim Manley, a Reid spokesman] said. "A married couple with one wage earner can earn up to $250,000 without facing this higher tax, whereas a single person in the same job with the same pay would be hit by it."
But a married couple in which each earner makes $150,000 would be hit with the tax, whereas an unmarried couple living together with the same incomes would not.
Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform, said the new marriage penalty comes on top of an existing one that's always been part of the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare.
Say what they will, it appears that Democrats simply cannot abide the institution of marriage. They seek to destroy it any way they can:
- "No-fault" divorce;
- Enacting adoption laws that don't "discriminate" against unmarried adoptive parents;
- Altering the very definition of marriage willy-nilly;
- And now by heavily taxing marriage -- but not shacking up.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 80%) is beside himself:
"If you have insurance, you get taxed. If you don't have insurance, you get taxed. If you need a life-saving medical device, you get taxed. If you need prescription medicines, you get taxed," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who is leading the fight against the bill.
And now, if you get married, you get taxed.
But it's not just marriage that Democrats hate and fear; they also despise patients who want to control their own medical care:
Several relatively small tax increases will be aimed at health savings accounts and medical savings accounts. One will change the definitions for medical expenses that qualify as itemized deductions. Another will raise the penalties for withdrawing funds from these vehicles. A third would limit health-related flexible spending arrangements.
"All of these changes are designed to make health savings accounts less attractive and cripple consumer-directed health care plans," said Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Altogether, they would raise about $20 billion through 2019.
Take that, you villains trying to decrease your own health-insurance premiums via MSAs and catastrophic care! We can add a couple more to McConnell's collection: If you have an expensive health-insurance plan, you get taxed. If you have a cheap health-insurance plan... you get taxed.
Liberals and Democrats: They're nothing if not consistent in their hatred of every traditional American virtue, from self-reliance to traditional marriage to fiscal sobriety to self-defense to American exceptionalism.
Say... let's put them in charge of all energy production, all financial transactions, defending the nation against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, and the medical care of every individual American. What could possibly go wrong?
Date ►►► November 19, 2009
"Not Getting It" as the New Democratic Religion
Many, many years ago -- around the time of the battle of Gettysburg, I think -- I heard a radio commercial for some MBA school. For some unknown reason, it was seared, seared in my mind.
The advert has a number of employees gathered around the water cooler (I suppose; it's radio, not TV). They're all stunned by the recent promotion of Fred, and each gives increasingly bizarre and utterly irrelevant premises why he (one she) should have been promoted instead:
"I keep my desk cleaner than anyone else in the department!"
"I wear a two thousand dollar suit!"
"I offered to paint the boss' house!"
"I'm the tallest guy here!"
Then the last fellow, voice practically breaking in anguish:
Whenever I read stuff like this from the Democrats, that commercial always bubbles up in my memory...
Any tax imposed on financial transactions would have to take effect internationally to prevent Wall Street jobs and related business moving overseas, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.
"It would have to be an international rule, not just a U.S. rule," Pelosi said at a news conference. "We couldn't do it alone, we'd have to do it as an international initiative."
The top Democrat's comments seemed to spell longer odds for the Wall Street tax, which some Democrats in the House of Representatives are proposing as a way to pay for job-creating legislation.
The "Wall Street tax?" Somehow I missed this one. By "financial transactions," they can only mean what the rest of us call Capitalism. I read further:
The tax, which could raise $150 billion per year, would tap into widespread public outrage at Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis, but support is lackluster among key legislators.
First, if there is "widespread public outrage at Wall Street," it was surely whipped up by Democrats themselves, especially during the 2008 presidential and congressional elections. But second -- a hundred and fifty billion a year? Over ten years, that works out to -- ah -- let me get my calculator... to $1.5 trillion dollars over ten years! A trillion and a half sucked out of the economy into the maw of federal government... so what is it supposed to buy us? Oh, here it is:
Democrats in the House aim to pass legislation designed to create more jobs before the end of the year to ease double-digit unemployment levels that threaten an economic recovery. The Senate is expected to act early next year.
The bill could include increased road construction, money to help states avoid layoffs of police and other public employees, and a further extension of unemployment benefits, Pelosi said.
Other options include extending health-insurance subsidies for the jobless, a tax credit for businesses that create jobs, more funding for energy-efficiency programs, and low-interest loans for small businesses.
Well for Pete's sake -- Nancy Pelosi has sideburns!
We're currently experiencing the worst unemployment rates federally and statewide in decades; businesses, especially small businesses, have been crippled by excessive regulation, soaring energy costs, skyrocketing health-care costs, and of course by draconian taxation levied by all levels of government.
So what is the Democrats' solution? It's as rational as pi: Pass another massive tax on "financial transactions" (wouldn't that hit everybody, not just Wall Street?) -- in order to "create more jobs." "Oh, of course we all support that Capitalism stuff, something about buyers and sellers... but surely you understand that companies can't create jobs; that requires federal legislation!"
And it sure worked out well the last time, didn't it? I mean way, way back in February, when the Democrats enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- the first "stimulus" bill, without which unemployment might have risen as high as 8.2%. It worked... it stimulated the economy so much that now they're talking about a massive new tax on Capitalism to pay for government-created jobs.
Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) enthuses about the scheme:
"This is just something that is on the table, it hasn't been developed to a high priority, but it has substantial currency in our caucus," Pelosi said.
I find it increasingly hard to believe that liberals and Democrats are merely stupid, too dense to understand the fundamental premise of the market: That the "invisible hand" of the market allows buyers and sellers to find each other... so long as the "invisible foot" of government doesn't trip them up.
More and more, I am driven to the conclusion that the liberals in Congress and the White House reject the doctrine of Capitalism as heresy against their religion of government-enforced altruism... much the way many Fundamentalist Christians and Jews reject evolution in the (mistaken, I argue) belief that evolutionary biology denies God. Liberals appear to believe that altruism, complete selflessness, is the only moral way to resolve "crises" like hunger, health care, poverty, and security. Worse, they believe that altruism is even more effective when embraced at gunpoint.
A true altruist will take food from his own starving child to give to the starving child of a stranger; he is harsher on his friends than his enemies, because he must deny all forms of self interest, including sentiment.
But liberalism demands not only forced personal altruism but forced national altruism as well; so they cripple their own country to empower the worst and strangest countries in the world, just to prove how selfless America is (when driven by Democrats). Thus they make us bow before kings and fawn over tyrants, then kick our democratic allies in the shins and betray them to their enemies.
This cannot be sheer idiocy; never attribute to stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice: Leaders of mass movements usually know exactly what they're doing. Alas, in this era, the strongest mass religion is the First Church of Enforced Altruism... and it may require a religious civil war to take back our country.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
If Joe Lieberman Is the Democrats' "Lindsey Graham"...
...Are we required to despise him too?
Politico notes that when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) announced he would not merely vote against ObamaCare but would filibuster it -- at least the final motion to call the question -- he burnt many bridges back to the Democratic Party:
“My sense is that when he announced he would filibuster the public option, he was saying goodbye to the Democratic Party,” said Doug Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll in Hamden, Conn. “My sense is, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
In a new Quinnipiac poll, Connecticut voters said by a 2-to-1 margin that Lieberman’s views on the issues put him closer to Republicans than to Democrats....
In an interview, Richard Blumenthal, the state attorney general, said he’s getting more encouragement from Democrats in Connecticut to consider a challenge to Lieberman in 2012. A February Quinnipiac poll found that Blumenthal would beat Lieberman by a 28-point margin.
Sounds grim, until one reads the next paragraph:
A September Research 2000 poll found that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell would defeat both Blumenthal and Lieberman in a potential three-way 2012 matchup; the same poll found that 68 percent of the state’s voters support the public option.
Lieberman has turned into quite a Republican ally in this medicine-war for the soul of America:
Lieberman said it’s the “wrong time” to create a government insurance program, claiming it would increase the national debt, probably raise taxes and increase premiums for insurance holders.
But Democrats said that Lieberman is employing GOP talking points in distorting the virtues of a public option, noting it’s the one entity that could control costs -- by adding a major new provider to the marketplace that would force private insurers to reduce their costs.
Yes, "control costs" by using the same tactics as Great Britain's National Health Service (NHS): rationing or denying medical care; encouraging the old and feeble to die quickly to spare their children; and jacking up both taxes and federal debt simultaneously, thus making it nearly impossible even to pay for the programs already in place, let alone all the new or expanded programs Barack H. Obama hopes to institute.
I would find it sad but amusing if Lieberman were to lose his bid for reelection -- only to be replaced by a popular Republican former governor. But the important question remains begged: If we "Ned Lamont" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%), will we retain that seat? Or would it turn out the same as when Ned Lamont "Ned Lamonted" Lieberman in 2006?
Date ►►► November 18, 2009
How to Win Fiends and Infuriate Voters
The Washington D.C. City Council is poised to slap same-sex marriage (SSM) on the table in our nation's capital, whether the citizens want it or not. And now, to add insult to penury, the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics [sic] has made its own contribution to democracy... it has rejected a traditional-marriage initiative from the ballot:
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on Tuesday denied a petition to put a ballot initiative before city voters that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
The decision came the same day the D.C. Council scheduled a Dec. 1 initial vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
The two-member elections board said it could not accept the Marriage Initiative of 2009, filed by the Stand4MarriageDC coalition, because it "authorizes discrimination prohibited under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act." About 100 people testified during a hearing on the initiative last month.
"We have considered all of the testimony presented to the board and understand the desire to place this question on the ballot," board Chairman Errol R. Arthur said. "However, the laws of the District of Columbia preclude us from allowing this initiative to move forward."
Let's put this in context: The Board has ruled that it cannot allow the citizens of D.C. to decide whether to ban SSM, because if they vote to do so -- which they likely would -- that would "violate" the very law it just replaced!
Now in most jurisdictions, if citizens enact a new law that supercedes an old one, then the superceded law is no longer operative. It is defunct. It has ceased to exist. It is an ex-law. If it wasn't nailed to its perch, it would be pushing up daisies.
But evidently in D.C., laws passed by the Council abide forever and and a day; and they can never be overturned by the people, despite their supposed citizens' initiative. New York is shortly to have "show-trials," but Washington D.C. already has "show-votes."
But of course, when the party in power* is so consistently, relentlessly, belligerently opposed to its own constituents, it's no wonder they fear democracy almost as much as do the mullahs of Iran. As H.L. Mencken is reputed to have said -- or written -- or thought up -- or wished he had thought up -- "If the government can't trust the people, why don't they just dissolve them and elect a new people?"
I would not be shocked to discover the Board and the City Council right now poring over the lawbooks, trying to find some precedent to do exactly that.
* The thirteen-member Council of the District of Columbia comprises 11 Democrats -- and 2 "independents."
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Women in Politics
The other day a lady called on the phone; during a conversation about something else, she asked me, “Mr. Ross, do you dislike women politicians?”
I immediately replied that I liked Sarah Palin, to which she shot back, “But that’s only because she’s foxy!” I should have said, “I really like her since I saw her on the cover of Newsweek!” But instead I replied that I also liked Margaret Thatcher, the former, great conservative British prime minister, who by no one’s estimation, even when she was a young woman, could have been called “foxy” or even attractive.
The lady’s point was that I had once again (in an editorial) attacked Hillary Clinton by pointing out how shrill she can be. She concluded that I don’t like women in politics.
This seems to be a common theme among Democrats too; just last week, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, 100%) issued the statement that the GOP is a "party that doesn't respect women” and said that it is “repulsed” by women.
That’s silly. I dislike liberal women politicians, because they are liberals, not because they are women. The fact that most liberal women are shrill and unattractive and make taking a vow of celibacy look fetching at times only underscores my point.
And that point is that currently, most of the prominent women in politics are liberals. Or at least it was until fairly recently; but with the rise of Sarah Palin -- and two weeks ago Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN, 100%), who organized the huge protests in Washington to try to defeat the House health care plan -- it’s just plain inaccurate to say that there aren’t good, prominent women conservatives in politics. And I like ‘em.
On the other hand, it isn’t hard to divine that liberals and Democrats have their own problem with women in politics who are, as my interlocutor of last week said, “foxy.” This could be because their most prominent representatives are people like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer, who are to “foxy” as Edsel is to T-Bird. Or, to brutalize a dead horse, Hillary again... about whom no one will ever write, “Hillary Clinton, in a glamorous off the shoulders Georgio Armani pantsuit straight off the runway." But that’s all right; we want secretaries of state to be intimidating. (I’m being unkind: None of them would stop a clock, although she might make it lose an hour or two a day.)
I’ve had fun with Mrs. Bill Clinton’s less attractive characteristics -- mainly her ability to sound like most men’s ex-wives -- as well as her tendency towards authoritarianism. That and the fact that every week she reminds me more and more of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. [Or perhaps former Secretary of State Warren Christopher. -- DaH]
But I digress.
That’s a whole level of discussion removed from the way the media, and especially liberals, piled onto Sarah Palin, attacking her for her supposed lack of intelligence and dignity (compared to the man who is now vice president) and implying that she was a bad mother because she brought a Downs syndrome baby to term. Or for being from the Podunk state of Alaska, home of the snowbillies. No good universities there to get prestigious degrees from, like say, Bryn Mawr [a.k.a. Vowelless U. -- DaH].
She was also, almost by definition, attacked for being beautiful, as though it is wrong to be both smart and sexy. Oh, and conservative! And lest we forget, that Mrs. Palin speaks like one of the common people. Those sort of attacks will probably also now be aimed at Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who, needless to say, is also a very attractive woman.
I know not what course other men may take, but give me beautiful women in my Republican party, or give me death. That’s preferable to Hillary, Barbara, and Nancy put together -- a rather daunting visual image.
Date ►►► November 17, 2009
The Commissar Vanishes - Leaving Only His Smile
Strongman Attorney General Eric Holder has announced formation of a new "Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force;" the new task force was created via Executive Order by the stroke of Barack H. Obama's magic signing pen:
"Mortgages, securities and corporate fraud schemes have eroded the public's confidence in the nation's financial markets and have led to a growing sentiment that Wall Street does not play by the same rules as Main Street," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said at a Washington news conference. "Unscrupulous executives, Ponzi scheme operators and common criminals alike have targeted the pocketbooks and the retirement accounts of middle-class Americans and, in many cases, devastated entire families' futures."
"We will not allow these actions to go unpunished," he continued. "By punishing criminals for their actions, we will send a strong message to anyone looking to profit from the misfortunes of others."
Its mandate -- and its targets -- are clear:
Holder and other officials said they have been vigorously pursuing financial fraud cases already and that the task force would build off those efforts. The SEC, which has been severely criticized for missing numerous warning signals about Bernard L. Madoff's Ponzi scheme, has reorganized and streamlined its enforcement efforts and is launching special units to focus on derivatives and securitized products, insider trading and market manipulation, and fraud by hedge funds and investment advisors, Khuzami said.
In a Bloomberg article, Holder gets even more specific:
The aim of the new task force is “to prevent another meltdown from happening,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “We will be relentless in our investigation of corporate and financial wrongdoing.”
Does anybody notice what is missing from this list? How about the government officials whose corrupt regulation caused the housing collapse in the first place?
- The members of Congress who enacted the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977;
- The Jimmy Carter administration officials who flogged it through;
- The Bill Clinton administration officials who hijacked it, using it as a blunt instrument to force lenders to lend too much money to people too poor (and too irresponsible) to pay it back;
- The current members of Congress who blocked George W. Bush's attempts to repeal some of the regulatory mandate-madness, which he saw was leading to exactly the collapse that occurred;
- And of course, those members of Congress and officials of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac who were neck-deep in the slime of the Countrywide Financial scandal, including Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND, 95%) and Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT, 100%) -- both still chairing the very committees responsible for "overseeing" the very institutions who were pushed by the very same CRA to lend to the very folks whose greed for more house than they could afford led to the very financial crisis swamping us today.
All of whom are today pushing for an even more robust Community Reinvestment Act -- and not a single one of whom will be targeted by Obama's spanking new Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (which is totally different, of course, from the "Corporate Fraud Task Force," which President Bush established in 2002). And so, having wrought his havoc and accepted his bribes, the commissar vanishes yet again, leaving only his mysterious, enigmatic, Cheshire-Cat smile.
Thank goodness our Attorney General has his head screwed on straight.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
An Insidious "Loan"
Because it takes a two-thirds majority of the legislature to raise taxes in California, the lawmakers and the governor last summer came up with something called “an involuntary tax-free loan” from you and me to the State. That did not require a two-thirds majority.
All of us who get paychecks now find that our state withholding tax is ten percent higher than it was last month. That’s not enough to notice for most people, which is the first reason why it’s insidious. And of course, next year we “might” be able to get the money back when we file our state income tax returns.
This might also be called “theft,” except that the State has general police power; presumably, even if the state government decided to confiscate all of our money, it could still be called “an involuntary tax-free loan.” It’s not real theft unless the man with the gun says it is.
Reminds me of Alfonse Capone’s avuncular saying: “You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word.” So how does Governor Arnold and his fellow Democrats in Sacramento differ from Scarface Al?
Earlier this year, some of us who had tax refunds coming from the State were issued state warrants, i.e. IOUs. Even when the State said that it was going to make good on the IOUs my bank refused to let me deposit the warrant. So I was forced to open an account in Escondido just to get my hands on a few hundred dollars of my money. Oh and to my bank: thanks!
Which brings up the second insidious thing about this “loan.” Many people who file next year may be paid with state warrants. Some of those will, because the amounts are so low, just say “to heck with it,” and not try to cash the darned things. (Kind of like when you get a rebate from AT&T and they require you to do so many things to claim it that statistically only half of the people will actually qualify.)
A hefty percentage of the state’s residents will just let the State keep the money. So the involuntary loan becomes an involuntary gift.
Merry Christmas, Arnold!
Date ►►► November 16, 2009
California, the 54th State, Creating or Saving Lots of Jobs!
According to the Recovery.gov website, California -- with its 101 congressional districts -- has created or saved a total of 110,185 jobs since the Obamic stimulus bill passed.
Oddly, other, less reliable sources report that "the state has lost 732,700 jobs over the last year."
And those same other sources also seem to be under the impression that California has only 53 congressional districts; we certainly have only 53 U.S. representatives! But if that's true, how could the federal incompetocracy of Barack H. Obama report the specific number of jobs "created or saved" -- along with the total stimulus spending required to create or save them -- in California congressional districts 57, 64, 67, 76, 80, 91, and 99? Not to mention district 00, and the inexplicable district labeled simply "congressional district?" (Those last two are always colored green on our maps, while the other 99 alternate between red and black.)
Our higher-numbered districts (and the unenumerated one) aren't doing well by the stimulus policy, alas. California congressional districts that do not actually exist created or saved a scant 24.2 jobs (I think the last two-tenths of one job comprise teenaged baby-sitters, drunken bums who won't stop singing "Crazy Train" until you give them a quarter, three-card monte experts, and community organizers). Worse, they sucked up $5,740,757 to create or save those 24 jobs (sorry, 24.2 jobs), which works out to $237,221.36 per job per seven months (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed in February, and the recovery.gov figures are from September) -- or $406,665.19 per job per year.
Even assuming that 67% of the cost per job is overhead -- federal building maintenance costs, salaries for government employees, payoffs to ACORN and the SEIU, etc. -- that means each job must offer an average compensation package of $134,199.51. Wow -- where do I sign up to be created or saved?
With the new transparency, it's easy to see exactly how the administration is able to report such stellar economic improvement so quickly. All I can say is hip hip, chin chin for the One!
Oh -- and can we have our 44 other congressmen, please? (Hat tip to Power Line's Scott Johnson.)
Cross-posted on Hot Ayres' rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 15, 2009
Extradition Indecision - Obamic Options 005
John Hinderaker adds a chilling but disturbingly plausible appendix to the end of a Power Line post by Scott "Big Johnson" Trunk. The post examines the likely effects of trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other high-profile terrorists in civilian court; at the end, Scott wonders why President Barack H. Obama is so determined to try some terrorists in federal court, while others are tried in military commissions. John's addendum follows:
On our radio show yesterday, Andy McCarthy proposed an explanation that amplifies on Scott's last paragraph. He suggested that the Obama administration views KSM et al. as its allies (my paraphrase) in its war against the Bush administration. Obama expects them to make their treatment by the Bush administration, real and imagined, the centerpiece of their defense, with the possible result that Bush, Cheney, and others may be indicted as war criminals by European countries or international courts, thereby satisfying the far left of the Democratic Party, which Obama represents.
This leads me to another Obamic Option question (the fifth):
Assume for sake of argument that some court in Madrid, let's say -- one that declares it has "universal jurisdiction" -- watches the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, then decides to indict George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, John Yoo, and of course Karl Rove for "war-crimes" supposedly committed against KSM and other terrorist detainees.
The question is this: Would President Obama agree to extradite all or some of these defendants to Spain for trial? How would the American people react to such an unprecedented decision by the American president?
Our previous Obamic Options offerings were:
- Obamic Options 001
- Obamic Options 002: The Limits of Tolerance of Pinkos
- Another Noble Obamic Musing - Obamic Options 003
- Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? Obamic Options 004
Date ►►► November 14, 2009
If Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack H. Obama argue that an American federal district court has jurisdiction over Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- all of whose alleged crimes were committed outside the United States -- simply because he plotted to kill Americans... then would they also argue that the same court has jurisdiction to arrest and try Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
After all, he certainly plotted to send his Qods Force minions to kill Americans in Iraq; and they have successfully done so.
Do Holder and the Obamacle really want to open this kettle of worms?
Date ►►► November 13, 2009
Michael "Miss-the-Point" Medved Strikes Again
In the first hour of his show today, Michael Medved was objecting to the staggeringly stupid decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, each accused of planning the September 11th attacks, on trial in a civilian court in New York City. (Of coruse, the policy could only have been announced had it been enthusiastically approved by President Barack H. Obama; so let's not blame Holder... blame Holder's boss.)
Well of course Medved opposes the scheme; he is (generally) a conservative, and what conservative could possibly support such an asinine policy?
But I was driven to distraction when Medved explained why he was against it. Because of the danger it would provoke another terrorist attack against New York? Because of likely attempts by terrorists to free the Gitmo Five? Because of the horrible risk that they might be acquitted, simply because we would be hamstrung by threats to national security?
Why no: Michael Medved's main argument, which he repeated over and over, was that such a trial would cost too much money.
"This could cost as much as a hundred million dollars!" he hyperventilated -- which, by the way, is less than one one-millionth of the cost of ObamaCare. Several callers took their cue from Medved, calling to complain about wasting all that taxpayer money.
Where to begin? Talk about missing the dead cow on the tennis court. The reason the Holder decision is utterly insane is not the money; and it's not that it would give a "platform" for the terrorists to spout their anti-American propaganda, which Medved also mentioned en passante. I'm sure the courtroom will be closed; and even if there is a TV feed, it will be court controlled, which the judge can order shut down if the defendants begin ranting. (Not that a raging Khalid Sheikh Mohammed screaming "God damn America!" would be a good recruiting tool to convert Americans to jihadist Islam anyway.)
The real danger is twofold:
- It establishes a precedent that such terrorist attacks, launched from a foreign country by foreign nationals, with the aid and support of other foreign nations, are simply criminal acts that should be tried in civilian court, alongside carjacking and check kiting cases.
We must understand that such attacks are the future of warfare. We're not going to be subject to a missile barrage directly from Iran; when Iran attacks us in future, it will be through the agency of another KSM and Ramzi Binalshibh.
- It carries the distinct risk that terrorist attorneys can "game the system" to get all five terrorist detainees acquitted... on grounds that demonstrate once again why we need to try these terrorists via military tribunals, not the civilian justice system (which was never set up to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants).
The defendants' attorneys, probably supplied by CAIR or some other terrorist-linked organization, can use a peculiar tactic to practically force an acquittal: They can claim that they cannot possibly defend against the charges without knowing exactly how they were found, how they were captured, what intelligence led them there, who were the sources for that intel (so they can be subpoenaed into court), what methods were used to collect it, and so forth. Thus, they will demand all such documents -- probably more than a million pages of heavily, heavily classified material -- during discovery.
Obviously, we cannot possibly hand that over to the defendants' attorneys. Even if the attorneys are Americans, how do we know we're not putting such vital intelligence data into the hands of another Lynne Stewart? Even the incompetocracy of Obama will be bright enough to realize it cannot release such intel... which will give the attorneys the perfect opening to demand all charges be dismissed.
In addition, they're sure to move to dismiss charges against KSM on the grounds that Mohammed was "tortured," i.e., waterboarded. This will give the federal courts yet another crack at formally declaring waterboarding to be torture -- which would make it much easier for Team Obama to prosecute our anti-terrorist interrogators... and once again blame George W. Bush for all the woes afflicting America.
At that point, all will be in the hands of a federal judge, then an appellate court panel, then the Supreme Court, where it will ultimately be decided by how Justice Anthony Kennedy feels that day. If he woke up grumpy, we could find all five of them (or perhaps just the most well-known terrorist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) acquitted, out on the streets, and quickly back in Iran or Pakistan or Indonesia, receiving a hero's welcome -- and returned once again to the terrorist fold.
(Medved did mention one other problem: That the civilian trial itself, no matter how carefully managed, would almost certainly compromise American intelligence gathering. But he presented it only as a quote from somebody else, at the very end of the hour.)
Honestly, the hundred-million dollar cost is the least of the perils to which such jackassery exposes us.
Queerly enough, the Justice Department also announced that other terrorists from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility will be tried -- by military tribunals!
But the administration will prosecute another set of high-profile detainees now being held at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba -- Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen, and four other detainees -- before a military commission.
Why the difference? Because Nashiri attacked a military target, the U.S.S. Cole? But the 9/11 plotters attacked the Pentagon -- which is also a military target, I would reckon. Both KSM and and Nashiri were captured abroad, in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, respectively. Both are foreign nationals: KSM is a Kuwaiti, Nashiri is Saudi Arabian. Both planned their crimes abroad.
The only difference appears to be that Nashiri's target was an American ship sitting at anchor in Yemen, while Mohammed's targets were all in the United States; but this hardly seems such an important distinction that we couldn't have tried Mohammed and his five pals in a military tribunal as well, where we could much more securely control the circulation of any discovery documents that could compromise American national security.
I just don't understand what's so hard to understand about the insanity of this grandstanding move -- whose real purpose, I suspect, is to find yet another way to blame everything on Bush. But evidently, it's too subtle a point for Michael Medved to grasp. Yes, I agree, we spend too much federal and state money; we should significantly reduce spending and dramatically drop the tax rates.
But for heaven's sake, that's not the big problem in this case.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 12, 2009
"I Reject Your Reality..."
"...And substitute my own!"
So reads a t-shirt often worn by Adam Savage, one of the two original starts of the Discovery Channel's series Mythbusters, which I have slavishly watched since the very first episode (I think that was the episode where they busted the myth of the rocket-propelled car launching into the air).
The tee commemorates a pithy summary Adam Savage delivered on the show, I can even remember whether he meant it optimistically or sarcastically: "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" I remember Adam saying that, but I can't recall now what precipitated the remark. But after today, I suggest he send his wonderful t-shirt to another fellow who now has a greater claim to it: President Barack H. Obama.
Take a look and tell me I'm exaggerating:
President Barack Obama rejected the Afghanistan war options before him and asked for revisions, his defense secretary said Thursday, after the U.S. ambassador in Kabul argued that a significant U.S. troop increase would only prop up a weak, corruption-tainted government.
"I'm not happy with the options reality has offered me; I demand you produce new fantasy options more to my liking!"
Let's take an Eikenberry detour. Yes indeed, he was once a military commander in Afghanistan; but he's not the commander now, and he hasn't been for well over two years -- during which time the situation has changed dramatically. Note that he also left before Gen. David Petraeus achieved such a thorough and remarkable victory in Iraq using a very similar strategy.
In 2007, as the Iraq COIN was picking up, Eikenberry was named Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and NATO was not officially involved in the Iraq War (as they are in Afghanistan). Thus I see no evidence that Eikenberry has spent any significant time studying the Iraq COIN -- or even talking to David Petraeus, who, as Commander of CENTCOM, is now McChrystal's boss.
Nor was Ambassador Eikenberry a COIN specialist when he wore a uniform instead of a suit. So why should his advice trump McChrystal's in the Obamacle's mind? (Except for the obvious explanation: Because what Eikenberry says, by happenstance or design, precisely matches what Obama wants to hear.)
Eikenberry's argument for why we should abandon Afghanistan is not exactly subtle; I think it boils down to the peculiar idea that the purpose of a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy is to "prop-up" the existing government, whatever it may be; therefore, since we don't like the fellow that Afghan voters elected, Hamid Karzai, we shouldn't prop it up by implementing a COIN strategy. Instead, we should focus on "training" the indiginous Afghan troops.
Most others experts on the subject I've read -- I'm certainly not an expert, so I must rely on others, such as Fred Kagen or David Petraeus -- seem to believe the purpose of COIN is to improve civilian security throughout the country, thus to enlist civilian support for the war effort against the insurgents and deny the latter the chaos and collapse they need to seize the government.
It needn't incorporate any support for the specific civilian government at all, just for the concept of democratic voting. All we need from Karzai is that he not interfere with Afghan troops' participation in COIN-related joint patrols and operations... which is, incidentally, exactly how we go about training the local forces, both military and tribal militia, in the first place. No joint ops -- no training.
Here is the Eikenberry thesis on display:
Obama's ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, who is also a former commander in Afghanistan, twice in the last week voiced strong dissent against sending large numbers of new forces, according to an administration official. That puts him at odds with the current war commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who is seeking thousands more troops.
Eikenberry's misgivings, expressed in classified cables to Washington, highlight administration concerns that bolstering the American presence in Afghanistan could make the country more reliant on the U.S., not less. He expressed his objections just ahead of Obama's latest war meeting Wednesday.
But there is an even more disturbing possibility: If AP is accurately recounting Eikenberry's objections (and I don't know that to be the case), then he, too, believes that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendations consist of nothing but "send 40,000 more troops" -- rather than "implement a COIN strategy, then decide how many troops we need." (McChrystal adds, "Psst... it turns out to be about 40,000 more than we have right now"). This would put the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the same conceptual box as the elite news media.
It's hard to swallow the contention that a former lieutenant general (that's a 3-banger) in the United States Army would be blissfully unaware of what counterinsurgency strategy is, and how it differs from a counter-terrorism strategy... where we "fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt". I hope that's not the problem. But if not, then what makes Eikenberry think he's more fit to opine on Afghanistan than the general that Barack Obama himself hand-picked to do just that? (And who is, as I understand it, an expert on COIN strategy.)
(There is a third, even more disturbing possibility: That Eikenberry knows very well that McChrystal is right, that a COIN strategy is the only one that leads to victory; but the ambassador believes that victory is the last thing Obama wants. In that case, Eikenberry may be quietly conspiring to lose the war, either to give Obama's leftist supporters the terrible American defeat they demand, or to deny President Bush the victory he earned. Or both. I certainly hope this is not what's going through Eikenberry's mind!)
But back to the One, who is ultimately calling the shots here. His philosophy of "I reject your reality and substitute my own" is, in fact, the standard modus vivendi of liberalism. As in:
- "I reject the reality that one must work hard, or at least smart, to live well; I substitute the reality where I can sit around and smoke pot all day but still receive a national income (big enough to pay for my dope)."
- "I reject the reality that says the best remedy for bad speech is more good speech; I substitute the reality where we can simply outlaw or ban bad speech, and then all that will be left is good speech."
- "I reject the reality that increasing health-insurance demand (via mandate) while decreasing supply (by driving companies out of business) will result in much more expensive insurance; I substitute the reality where a complete government takeover will lower costs, improve care, and expand the pool of those covered."
- "I reject the reality that we need cheap energy; I substitute the reality where we can tax the hell out of it, raise energy costs through the roof (as Obama himself gleefully predicted), declare more and more energy sources off-limits, and therefore make America stronger and more prosperous."
- "I reject the reality that doubling taxation of the average Joe will leave him with less money to spend; I substitute the reality where doubling taxation results in an explosion of new economic growth, causing the economy to take off like a rocket."
- "I reject the reality that Israel needs the ability to defend itself, or it will be destroyed; I substitute the reality where, if Israel will only give the Palestinians everything they want, while demanding nothing in return, the latter will be so grateful they will become fast friends with the Jewish state." (Alternatively: "I reject the reality that Jews should be allowed to have a state; I substitute the reality where Jews are so uniquely evil that they are the only "race" who should be barely-tolerated strangers wherever they live.")
To the liberal, reality is infinitely malleable: If you don't like it, just hold your breath, close your eyes, strain really hard, and intensely visualize the new reality. When you open your eyes and gasp in a lungful, the new reality will miraculously have been subbed in!
This seems to work in some environments but not others. It works great in Hollywood; and it works reasonably well in two-party politics -- averaging out to being successful about half the time. However, it doesn't seem to work much at all in warfare, where the default reality has a depressing way of contradicting the happy-facers, rudely and abruptly.
Alas, even that catastrophe could play into the hand of Barack Obama and his incompetocracy; after bargaining down the number of troops we need -- and implementing Slow Joe Biden's counter-terrorism strategy, rather than a COIN strategy -- we might be handed a signal, Vietnam-style defeat. Then B.O. could declare:
- "Clearly this means the war was unwinnable from the beginning, and my predecessor should never have invaded Afghanistan in the first place."
- "I gave the policy of the previous administration every opportunity; I even sent more troops -- not once, but twice! It's time to admit that the whole adventure was a terrible miscalculation, pull out, accept that defeat was inevitable, and MoveOn."
"Now the whole country understands why I have embarked upon a new era of Strategic Reassurance, talking to our enemies without preconditions, instead of the "cowboy militarism" of the Republican Party.
"We're going to redouble our efforts to talk Iran and North Korea into doing what's best for America, rather than what's best for themselves. I know we've tried it again and again, and it's never worked yet; but by the Law of Averages, that means we're due to hit the jackpot really soon now!"
In the long run, I don't think a strategy of denying reality is a military winner; and a long-run strategy of hoping for American defeat will not be a political winner in 2010 or 2012. But as John Maynard Keynes is reputed to have said, "In the long run, we're all dead."
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 11, 2009
I generally take holy days -- sorry, holidays -- as an opportunity for posts of a more philosophical nature, and today is no exception.
Walter Williams, one of my favorite authors (though I haven't read his recent books), has a column in which he notes the contempt that Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) holds for the United States Constitution, insofar as it might limit her power to rule over the rest of us:
At Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Oct. 29th press conference, a CNS News reporter asked, "Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?" Speaker Pelosi responded, "Are you serious? Are you serious?" The reporter said, "Yes, yes, I am." Not responding further, Pelosi shook her head and took a question from another reporter. Later on, Pelosi's press spokesman Nadeam Elshami told CNSNews.com about its question regarding constitutional authority mandating that individual Americans buy health insurance. "You can put this on the record. That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question."
He notes that it's not just Democrats but Republicans and Independents in Congress who by and large dismiss constitutional limitations on their power as unserious questions. I made a similar point in a recent e-mail I sent to our e-steamed co-conspirator, Brad Linaweaver; in response to a question he asked -- how in the world a military base like Fort Hood became a "gun-free zone," in which American soldiers were as helpless as high-school children against a lone man with a pair of gats -- I responded with a description but not an explanation:
There is something terribly wrong when a country of free men and women doesn't even trust its own soldiers to carry firearms. As I said in that 37-part phone message I left you, we're going through a period of retrenchment of government a la 1912 or 1932; it began sometime in the term of George H.W. Bush, continued through Clinton and Bush-43, and is now hitting it's apex -- I hope! -- in Barack H. Obama and Obamunism.
But as you can see, I begged Brad's question: Why do we periodically go through such "periods of retrenchment of government?" Why is it, as Williams says in his column, that "mankind's standard fare throughout his history, and in most places today, is arbitrary control and abuse by government?"
I hearken back to my second novel, Warriorwards (Baen Books, 1990), when I first began groping for an explanation. What I came to realize is this: Being a slave is tremendously attractive to most people in the world at most times of history.
The primary advantage of being a slave is complete absolution from any responsibility for one's own life; the slavemaster makes all decisions -- and he alone can be held accountable for one's life, health, and well-being. As absurd as it sounds stated so baldly, most people would rather die than take responsibility for living.
Think how many opportunities "we" -- the universal we; I don't mean every reader of this blogpost or its author) -- how many opportunities "we" seize to divest ourselves of responsibility for thinking for ourselves:
- Some give their lives to God, allowing the Bible, the Koran, a guru, the tarot, or a funny-colored crystal to think for them.
- Some rigidly follow an injudiciously chosen creed, doctrine, or ideology wherever it leads.
- A great many learn what they believe from their parents -- either slavish devotion to their familial beliefs, or childish rebellion against.
- Others succumb to peer pressure, doing and believing whatever their friends do and believe.
- Many blindly obey the law without ever thinking, "What if the law is wrong?" They are the "good Germans."
- Millions emulate celebrities.
- Tens of millions accept the worldview given us by CBS, Fox News, TV Land, or Lifetime.
- An unknown but very large number mold their lives to resemble the fictional escapades of movie heroes, sitcom stars, rap lyrics, or videogame characters.
- And many abdicate even the pitiful responsibilty of playing Follow the Leader by living drunken, drugged, dissolute lives -- "out on a leave of absence from any resemblance to reality," as John Hiatt put it in "the Tiki Bar Is Open."
These "lifestyle choices" all have one thing in common: They remove responsibility for making decisions. Adherents needn't ask what to do; somebody else will tell them. The only duty imposed upon the great majority of hypnotized souls is to sit quietly in the dark and wait for instructions.
This is as true in free nations as much as in obvious totalitarian tyrannies; the only difference is whether the State allows the handful of dissenters, who always exist, to practice their abominations openly; or whether they must practice their self-abuse -- thinking for themselves -- as a solitary vice.
Of course, a nation doesn't need a majority of its citizens accepting responsibility for their own lives in order to create a government tolerant of liberty... else no nation would ever be free. A vocal and powerful minority is generally all that is required.
But even that much is hard to maintain! In how many countries of the world is a powerful minority voice raised against tribalism, theocracy, plutocracy, socialism, racism (for real, I mean, rejecting all racial preference), and every other "ism" which human beings use to dodge the horror of thinking for ourselves? I'll bet you couldn't find more than five such countries today -- and some would argue that the true number is zero. I'm not sure I can refute them.
I personally hated childhood: I hated being told what to do -- not just because I sometimes didn't get to do stupid things, but even when the prohibition was rational; I just didn't like other people doing my thinking for me. But this may well have been influenced by my less-than-secure childhood.
I don't know how I would have turned out had my father been a benevolent despot, a man I could respect. I might have ended up as servile as Nancy Pelosi's constituents.
The reality for me was that the Grand Bargain, in which we trade liberty for security, was no bargain; it was so obviously not a bargain in my childhood that I never developed the knee-jerk acceptance of Authority that is the natural state of Man.
I have never looked into the question, but I wonder what percent of those who actually fight for liberty against their own leaders grew up in similarly unpleasant circumstances. I have great respect for those who fight for their country on behalf of their leaders; but it takes a powerful ideology of liberty -- not to mention huevos gigantescos -- to do as our forebears did in the Revolutionary War: Take up arms against one's own country when it has become a thing of loathsome tyranny.
Look, I have nothing against Tea-Partiers; they're nice, and they might even help Republicans against Democrats (and help fiscal conservatives against socialist Republicans). But let's face facts: The main reason so many people attend Tea Parties is to socialize, the same reason most Marxists, churchgoers, and Freemasons attend their own gatherings. Folks like to hang out with the like-minded, chatter and gossip, sing group-affirming songs, and in general have a holiday (and I don't mean holy day this time) with their friends.
George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin did not fight for the first (and only) revolution for liberty in order to picnic and hook up with girls.
So the real answer to Brad's question is a sad answer: Left unchecked, government grows and metastasizes like a cancer because that's what "we the people" want it to do. (Not every individual, but a sizable majority of them.) For most folks, slavery is a very attractive prospect; the real outrage comes only when they trade away their liberty for the promise of security -- and the promise is broken.
I think that is why support for President Barack H. Obama has collapsed so thoroughly. Rhetoric aside, had he actually delivered on his promise to infantalize Americans and then suckle and comfort them like babies, I don't think he would be in as much political hot water. It was only when it became clear that he had no intention of protecting us from the vicissitudes of life that opposition swelled in a tidal wave of anger and political action.
As Benjamin Franklin famously wrote (in his Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759), "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." I believe this to be true, but it's an ineffective way of educating the great majority of people. It's a moral argument, and folks tend to tune those out (they hear so many, each contradicting the other). If they were the type to analyze moral arguments and logically pick one, they wouldn't need this advice in the first place!
I've come to believe that for most, morality flows from habit; and habit is driven by necessity. You get more traction arguing from necessity, practicality, the argument from empiricism, than telling people what they should do or what they deserve to get.
The best argument for liberty, then, is not to try to persuade people that liberty is better, finer, more advanced, or more godly than slavery -- but to convince them that slavery doesn't work. So long as people think they really can trade a great deal of essential liberty for a little temporary safety, most will seize the opportunity and thank the tyrant heartily.
The task for those of us who reject the Grand Bargain even in principle is to make all the zombies realize that such a deal always, always, always falls apart in practice. The ghouls who offer it never intend to fulfill their side of the bargain; their only goal is to lull us into a false sense of security, so they can loot us of everything we think we own.
If you see an ad offering a cherry 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera for $5,000, don't bother answering it; you know going in it's a fraud, because nobody would offer so much car for so little money.
Just so, when the One says to give him complete control over your health care, and he guarantees you'll get all the medical treatment you want for less than you're paying now -- or he says that we'll have more and cheaper energy if we pass his cripple and tax bill -- or he says workers will have more freedom to choose the union they want (or no union at all) if we take away the secret ballot... well, he's offering you a Carrera for five grand.
Once a person accepts the argument from empiricism, he will be forced to begin thinking for himself, because he can't trust others to have his own interests at heart. He rightly recognizes that each throne or power has its own interests at heart. Such thinking will grow into a habit; then and only then will habit give rise to a moral imperative.
Thank reason that the president's governing policy of Obamunism is so ham-fisted and clumsy that even the lowliest zombie is starting to wake from his thanatotic sleep. Let's hope he doesn't roll over and hit the snooze button once more.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 10, 2009
A COIN Flip
Yesterday, rumor swept the dextrosphere that President Barack H. Obama was prepared to accept the recommendation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal; the president, quoth the Great Mentioner, would send 40,000 troops to Afghanistan.
And who could doubt the gossip? After all, it came from CBS, bastion of unbiased and utterly credible journalism at the highest standards of integrity. Blogs cheered; Democrats were dismayed. Hugh Hewitt was overjoyed, saying he would cheer the president when he did so.
Thus spake the net that Uncle Walt and Auntie Dan built:
Tonight, after months of conferences with top advisors, President Obama has settled on a new strategy for Afghanistan. CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that the president will send a lot more troops and plans to keep a large force there, long term.
The president still has more meetings scheduled on Afghanistan, but informed sources tell CBS News he intends to give Gen. Stanley McChrystal most, if not all, the additional troops he is asking for.
McChrystal wanted 40,000 and the president has tentatively decided to send four combat brigades plus thousands more support troops. A senior officer says "that's close to what [McChrystal] asked for." All the president's military advisers have recommended sending more troops.
All right, so the rumor was true... the rumor that CBS had reported such a story, that is. As to the accuracy of the story itself, don't hold your breath. By the time I read it, it was already prefaced with the following disclaimer, direct from la Casa Blanca, italics and all:
"Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false. He has not received final options for his consideration, he has not reviewed those options with his national security team, and he has not made any decisions about resources. Any reports to the contrary are completely untrue and come from uninformed sources."
But the swift denial from the Obamacle -- "Nonsense, I'm not through dithering yet!" -- was superfluous, just gilding the cake. Even before the administration rejected the foul contention that the Commander in Chief had actually made up his mind, the story was already meaningless blather -- because what McChrystal really needs is not a few extra troops but a whole new counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy... and the CBS story said nary a word about that question.
Nothing in the article so much as suggested that Obama had approved the general's request to implement a COIN strategy; without it, all the extra troops in the world wouldn't bring us an inch closer to victory. The new brigades would just create a target-rich environment for Taliban ambushes and al-Qaeda suicide attacks.
Let's look back to 2007; what won the Iraq war? Not merely deploying five more brigades of infantry and retaining 4,000 Marines who were to have been rotated out; what finally broke the insurgency was a change of strategy: protecting the civilian population, going on joint patrols with Iraqi militias, embedding American military personnel within Iraqi units, loosening the rules of engagement, encouraging the "salvation councils" that acted as a national front against the terrorists, and all the other elements of classical COIN.
After designing the strategy, Gen. David Petraeus calculated the total number of troops he would need, and that came to about 25,000 more than he had: Hence the so-called "surge" of troops.
But all that the leftstream media ever comprehended was "Bush is sending more soldiers" (or alternatively, "Bush is escalating the war, just like in Vietnam!") Thus, the press and the Democrats, to the extent they're not conterminous, began to use the term "surge," implying that the sole change involved was a few more warm bodies. This led to any number of liberals hooting that you can't win just by lobbing more soldiers at it.
Today, the same error infests the coverage of the McChrystal report: Newspapers and TV networks report that McChrystal has requested 40,000 more men, as if that were the sum total of military planning.
It may well turn out to be true that Barack Obama decides to send nearly that many to Afghanistan. But unless he likewise shifts decisively to a counterinsurgency strategy -- which is what Gen. McChrystal concluded was the only viable option -- those 40,000 men will do absolutely nothing to arrest the deterioration of our position in that country, or to lead us to victory against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.
I'm skeptical that the One understands this point. I fear he thinks the only choices he has to make are whether to send more men, and if so, how many. Such misunderstanding leaves us in grave danger. If Obama thinks it's just a numbers game, the temptation to "split the difference" could become overwhelming: McChrystal wants 40,000, the leftist base wants none -- so let's split the difference and send 20,000! That's a fair compromise, no?
No; it's a prescription for disaster. Difference splitting may work fine in labor disputes and buying mutual funds, but half measures are a highway to defeat in warfare. We must pick one grand strategy, implement it, and stick to it until it has a chance to work. And according to our man in Kabul, the only strategy that leads to winning the war is COIN.
Alas, whether Obama gets that point is itself a coin-flip.
Date ►►► November 9, 2009
Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? "No We Can't!"
Just an update to our earlier post, Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? Obamic Options 004. I posed the following question:
[W]ould President Barack H. Obama ever admit to the American people that -- contrary to the knee-jerk FBI statement -- such a shooting under these assumptions would almost certainly be an act of "jihadist" terrorism?
But I prefaced that question on five assumptions, four of which (all but he last) were being widely reported at the time; I wrote, "let's assume for sake of argument that the following reports are correct." (I even italicized it.) Here are the assumptions:
- The main shooter was Major Malik Nadal Hasan (or Nidal Malik Hasan -- I've seen both versions);
- Hasan was a recent convert to Islam;
- Hasan was "violently hostile" to the deployment of American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq;
- That the two persons currently being held in custody are, in fact, collaborators in the massacre.
- That the two in custody were also recent converts to Islam or radical Moslems.
As it turned out, most of the original assumptions for sake of argument were wrong:
- Yes, it seems pretty solid that Nidal Malik Hasan was the shooter.
- But he was not a recent convert to Islam -- he is a lifelong Moslem who is now a radical Moslem (I don't know whether he has always been radicalized or whether it's a recent event).
- He was certainly "violently hostile" to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
- But the two people briefly held in custody were not collaborators and were released.
- I don't have any information whether they were Moslems, so let's call this unconfirmed.
However, my point not only stands but is bolstered. How? How can my point become stronger when 60% of the underpinning of premises on which it was based has been kicked down?
Should be obvious: Because each discarded assumption has been replaced by even more solid evidence that Hasan's massacre at Fort Hood was not senseless and motive-free, but was in fact an act of putative jihad.
We now know about Hasan's repeated anti-American, anti-infidel outbursts, his justification of suicide bombings, his incomprehension that American Moslems could possibly fight against their "brothers" in Afghanistan and Iraq. We now learn that he posted jihadist messages on the internet, that he had contacts with a radical imam who preached at the mosque that the 9/11 butchers attended, and even that he evidently attempted to contact al-Qaeda.
He was not a recent convert, but he was a radical jihadist. He evidently acted alone when he committed mass murder, but at least two witnesses insist he shouted "Allahu Akhbar" as he did it.
Let's just jack up the question and run the new, more careful reporting under it in place of the discarded assumptions; when you finish tightening the bolts, the same question is even more urgent now than it was four days ago.
And now we appear to have an answer: No; Barack H. Obama cannot bring himself to call this brutish massacre "an act of 'jihadist' terrorism." It simply is not in his nature, nor his best interests -- which do not seem to coincide with the best interests of the United States.
Honesty may be the best policy, but it's not Obama's policy.
The Forgotten Architects
What is missing from these two articles?
The first is from the Associated Press, commemorating the anniversary of the historic day when the Berlin wall came a-tumblin' down:
Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev crossed a former fortified border on Monday to cheers of "Gorby! Gorby!" as a throng of grateful Germans recalled the night 20 years ago that the Berlin Wall gave way to their desire for freedom and unity....
Merkel, who grew up in East Germany and was one of thousands to cross that night, recalled that "before the joy of freedom came, many people suffered."
She lauded Gorbachev, with whom she shared an umbrella amid a crush of hundreds, eager for a glimpse of the man many still consider a hero for his role in pushing reform in the Soviet Union.
"We always knew that something had to happen there so that more could change here," she said.
"You made this possible -- you courageously let things happen, and that was much more than we could expect," she told Gorbachev in front of several hundred people gathered in light drizzle on the bridge over railway lines.
And here is the New York Times' take on the same meeting:
Mrs. Merkel’s symbolic walk across the Bornholmer Strasse bridge, accompanied by Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, and Lech Walesa, the former shipyard worker who led a fight against Moscow-backed Communism in Poland, came as Berlin prepared for an evening of celebration to mark the moments on Nov. 9, 1989, when the wall began to crumble....
She said that a “new generation is growing up who are embedded in Europe, for whom the world is much more open than for our generation.”
“That is worth fighting for,” she said. The bridge was packed shoulder to shoulder with people, and the biggest cheer came when Mrs. Merkel thanked Mr. Gorbachev for the reforming attitude he brought to the Soviet leadership. The crowd chanted, “Gorby, Gorby, Gorby....”
During the celebrations, a long line of 1,000 oversized painted dominoes are to be toppled along the route of the wall as a symbol of its collapse in the heady days of 1989 when dictatorships tumbled across eastern Europe. German television said Mr. Walesa would push over the first domino, reflecting Poland’s lead in Eastern Europe’s campaign against Communism.
What is missing? How about even a single mention of the true architects of the fall of the Berlin wall? The wall was not brought down by Mikhail Gorbachev; he desperately wanted to preserve the Soviet Empire... all of it. Nor was it brought down by Lech Walesa, who wanted only for Polish authorities to allow trade unions and strikes in that country.
German citizens did not just wake up one day and begin dismantling the wall, out of the blue. And American protesters were not protesting against the Berlin wall in 1989 -- they were too busy protesting against the efforts to dismantle it!
Forgotten -- or more accurately, airbrushed out of the picture in an American instance of "the Commisar Vanishes" -- are the two men who actually wrought that change in the face of strident, almost hysterical opposition by virtually the entire world: Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan. Neither receives so much as a mention in either article -- nor in the articles by the Washington Post or Reuters.
Only the Wall Street Journal reluctantly brings up Reagan, almost as an embarassment; he sneaks in through the back door in a single throw-away line in the eleventh paragraph of a 15-graf story. And the reference is preceded by the following expurgated history:
Ms. Merkel, then a 35-year-old physicist living in East Berlin, was among those who walked through the open gate into democratic West Berlin that night. On Monday she led former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and Lech Walesa, leader of Poland's Solidarity movement, across the bridge, through a chaotic throng that Ms. Merkel said reminded her of the real event 20 years ago.
The chancellor thanked both men for their contributions to the democratic revolutions that swept Eastern Europe in 1989. The independent trade union Solidarity challenged Communist rulers who claimed to speak for the workers, while Mr. Gorbachev "bravely let things happen" in Poland, East Germany and other former Soviet satellites, Ms. Merkel said to cheers from onlookers. For 28 years the Berlin Wall stopped East Germans from visiting or escaping to West Berlin, an enclave of the democratic, capitalist West inside the Communist bloc during the Cold War. The fortified and guarded Wall fell to crowds of ordinary citizens 20 years ago after an East German official bungled the announcement of new travel regulations, giving media the impression that the border lay open with immediate effect.
While Germans have celebrated that happy accident in recent days and weeks, Ms. Merkel's government has been at pains to commemorate the wider context of reforms, mass protests and democratic revolutions across Eastern Europe in 1989.
Symbolically, Mr. Walesa and former Hungarian Communist reformer Miklos Nemeth were due to tip over the first of the decorative dominoes on Monday night.
Solidarity led the first non-purely-Communist government in the Soviet bloc following its victory in June 1989 elections. Mr. Nemeth, as Hungarian prime minister, opened his country's border with Austria in May 1989, a move that allowed thousands of East Germans to flee to the West and set off the unravelling of the Iron Curtain that had divided Cold War Europe.
Yeah... that's how I remember it. (One must bear in mind that the only portion of the WSJ that is in any sense "conservative" -- is the Opinion section. The rest could be written by Reuters, and frequently is.)
The Los Angeles Times does deign to mention Reagan, at least; but it saves him for an opinion piece -- in which James Mann of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies argues, in a rather snide and smug tone, that Reagan really had no intention of bringing down the wall or dismantling the Soviet Union; rather, he was anxious to buddy up to Gorbachev and preserve the evil empire, so we could do business with it. (Mr. Mann makes Reagan out to be more dovish than Jimmy Carter.)
Confused? Here's a sample:
But how significant was the speech, really? How important was its seemingly defiant tone in reuniting Berlin and "winning" the Cold War? [Note the scare quotes]
To many American conservatives, the answer to those questions is simple: Reagan stared down the Soviet Union. And the Berlin Wall speech stands as the dramatic symbol of Reagan's challenge and triumph.
But those who say this ignore the actual history and context of the speech. In fact, Reagan's address served the purpose of shoring up public support as he moved to upgrade American relations with the Soviet Union. It was Reagan's diplomacy with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, bitterly opposed at the time by his conservative former supporters, that did the most to create the climate in which the Cold War could end.
The Cold War just... ended. For some inexplicable reason.
It's an amazingly tendentious opinion piece, the only purpose of which is to pooh-pooh the obviously silly idea that Reagan had any animus towards the USSR; rather, all his blustery rhetoric was just cover for a Kissengerian realpolitik. Reagan just wanted to improve our bargaining position -- he never meant for the Soviet Union to fall! One gains the impression that Ronald Reagan might even have been horrified at the loss of a negotiating partner...
Mr. Mann's thesis is a patent absurdity, and I don't care if the entire Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies gives it a hearty thumbs-up. Mr. Mann argues that Reagan spent four decades fighting against the evil that was (and may yet be again) the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and then he abruptly turned a corner in the late 1980s and started liking them, trying to prop them up as long as he could. Mr. Mann is an idiot -- but a useful one for today's American Left. He is not literally unintelligent, in the sense of a Joe Biden or a Barack H. Obama; but by his anti-Right animus, he has allowed the Left to make a fool of him.
Reagan himself famously said that if he succeeded in his goals (one of which was the destruction of the Soviet Union), he didn't care who got the credit. But we, the living, cannot afford the luxury of such magnanimity. We cannot allow the American and Euro-Left to hijack the credit for ending the Cold War, when they were the very ones who tried mightily to perpetuate it, and indeed tried their crooked best to ensure victory for the other side.
Why not? Because the same Left is today beavering away at restoring that same evil empire, this time under the tender mercies of Russia's Vladimir Putin and his sock puppet, Dmitri Medvedev; under the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il, in North Korea; under Hu Jintau in China; under Oogo Chavez in Venezuela and los bros Castro in Cuba... and especially under the leveling regime of the United Nations, which treats socialist, totalitarian states that impose tyranny with the same respect as they treat free, independent states that promote individualism and liberty. Hey, who are we to say which is best?
Reagan and John Paul II were not "commisars," and we must not allow them to vanish from the picture. They stood proud and strong for clear principles of freedom, democracy, self-determination, individual responsibility and accountability, and Capitalism -- the great marriage of liberty and economics. Above all, both men, following in Thomas Jefferson's footsteps, had "sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." (Of course, Jefferson would have listed the Church itself among those tyrannies.)
It is long past time for us anti-Leftists to take back the Right.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 8, 2009
A Tale of Two Mentalities
There are so many categories for this post because it touches on so many hot-button issues; but I picked "Dhimmi of the Month" as the primary category. We never did get the polling software off the ground, so you can't vote on it... but I'll still use the category when appropriate.
Sadly, today it's appropriate.
The Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen. George Casey, has just uncovered the greatest threat exposed by the Fort Hood massacre, presumably committed by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Is it radical jihadism? A future Islamic terrorist attack in the United States? The use of political correctness as a human shield for potential murderers? The inability of the Army to notice that one of its members swam in currents of hate so strong, they seared his soul (as Winston Churchill put it)?
No. Gen. Casey has identified the real danger: a potential anti-Moslem backlash!
General George Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, said on Sunday that he was concerned that speculation about the religious beliefs of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 12 fellow soldiers and one civilian and wounding dozens of others in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, could “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.”
“I’ve asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that,” General Casey said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union. “It would be a shame -- as great a tragedy as this was -- it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.”
General Casey, who was appeared on three Sunday news programs, used almost the same language during an interview on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” an indication of the Army’s effort to ward off bias against the more than 3,000 Muslims in its ranks.
“A diverse Army gives us strength,” General Casey, who visited Fort Hood Friday, said on “This Week....”
“The speculation could heighten the backlash,” he said on “This Week.” “What happened at Fort Hood is a tragedy and I believe it would be a greater tragedy if diversity became a casualty here.”
Losing our "diversity" would be "a greater tragedy" than the Fort Hood massacre itself? Does any rational human being actually believe this? And does any military historian believe that "a [religiously] diverse Army gives us strength?" I think it clear from context that Casey is claiming that having a tiny handful of Moslem soldiers -- 3,000 out of nearly 1.1 million soldiers -- somehow makes the Army "stronger."
This is ludicrous. I'm positive having Moslems in our ranks doesn't make us any weaker, but neither does it make us stronger, except marginally: If we banned all Moslems from the ranks, we might have to accept a lesser qualified Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist soldier instead of a more qualified Moslem. But the diminishment would be slight at best.
What really makes us stronger is:
- The independence and initiative of our soldiers, especially officers and non-coms;
- Our rigorous and realistic training (with live ammunition);
- Our general population's familiarity with firearms through civilian gun ownership;
- Our technologically advanced weaponry and other warfighting systems;
- And most of all, our ideology of liberty, which gives our servicemen reasons to fight more powerful than "because I told you to."
Casey's remark is yet another example of transforming the criminal into the victim; it's political correctness run wild. And if George Casey cannot understand why Hasan's religion -- which appears by all reports to be a violent, extremist, jihadist sect of Islam -- could be the primary motive behind the otherwise senseless spree killings, then Gen. Casey should be removed as Chief of Staff. Immediately.
It's as stunning as if Eisenhower had said in 1942 that we should not "speculate" on the possible role National Socialism might play in the military aggression of the Axis, lest we create a "backlash" against soldiers with names like, well, Eisenhower. For heaven's sake, the ideology of National Socialism was the primary cause of World War II... just as the ideology of violent Islamic jihadism is the primary cause of global Islamic terrorism.
Or doesn't George Casey believe that? Of course, Casey also didnt' believe in the "surge;" he thought it would inevitably fail, leading to American defeat in Iraq. Fortunately for us (and the Iraqis), he was kicked upstairs, and Gen. David Petraeus took his place as Commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq.
I find it curious that Gen. Casey is so worried about a potential "backlash" against other, non-radical Moslems -- when has this ever happened, by the way? -- but he seems utterly unconcerned about the possibility of another massacre at another military installation by another radical [REDACTED]. I guess each of us must prioritize his own concerns.
Does Casey's response make him a "dhimmi," by which we popularly mean a non-Moslem who bends over backwards to explain away or excuse the excesses of radical jihadism? Yes, I argue it does... because Casey tries to deflect blame from the horrific ideology of jihad: "Nothing to see here, folks; let's just MoveOn!" We know that the jihadist mindset directly causes Islamic terrorism; this appears to be terrorism, perpetrated by a Moslem who increasingly appears to have been radicalized. But we can't "speculate" on this seemingly urgent question for fear of that putative "backlash."
Casey's delusional political correctness was echoed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%), naturally enough:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina, and Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat of Rhode Island, took also pains on Sunday to say that Muslims have served honorably in the military and at risk to their lives.
“At the end of the day this is not about his religion -- the fact that this man was a Muslim,” Senator Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
I wonder if Graham thinks that Osama bin Laden's hatred of the West and of Jews has anything to do with his religion; I'm afraid to ask.
In order to conclude that Hasan's religion had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack, one really must ignore an awful lot of evidence. For example (of both the evidence and how it can be brushed aside):
The San Antonio Express-News has reported that classmates in a graduate military medical program heard Major Hasan justify suicide bombings and make radical and anti-American statements. But investigators have said that Major Hasan might have suffered from emotional problems that were aggravated by the strain of working with veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the knowledge that he might soon be deployed to those theaters as well.
I think I would go along with the general premise that every radical Islamic jihadist "suffers from emotional problems;" but I understand the defense:
You really can't blame him
Only a lad
Society made him
Only a lad
He's our responsibility
Only a lad
He really couldn't help it
Only a lad
He didn't want to do it
Only a lad
He's underprivileged and abused
Perhaps a little bit confused
I note, however, that "understanding" is not the same as "exonerating."
Before we swing to the second "mentality," let's encapsulate the Casey mentality here:
On the base Sunday morning, mourners were asked [by the garrison chaplain] to pray for Major Hasan and his family, The Associated Press reported.
Yeah. That and not blaming the perpetrator are the most urgent tasks before us right now.
There is, however, another way to respond to the Fort Hood "tragedy" (man-caused disaster?); it was exemplified today by the man who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite senators:
A key U.S. senator called Sunday for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs that the man accused of opening fire at Fort Hood had embraced an increasingly extremist view of Islamic ideology.
Sen. Joe Lieberman's call came as word surfaced that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there.
God forbid we should "speculate" about how Hasam's religion might have slightly influenced his murderous actions. "This is not -- the radical imam -- I knew...!"
Classmates participating in a 2007-2008 master's program at a military college complained repeatedly to superiors about what they considered Hasan's anti-American views. Dr. Val Finnell said Hasan gave a presentation at the Uniformed Services University that justified suicide bombing and even told classmates that Islamic law trumped the U.S. Constitution.
Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wants Congress to determine whether the shootings constitute a terrorist attack.
"If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have zero tolerance," Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, said on "Fox News Sunday." "He should have been gone."
Couldn't we arrange for Gen. George Casey to be gone? He could be kicked upstairs again, this time to junior assistant deputy shavetail to the RINO Secretary of the Army, John McHugh. Then we could replace Casey with a new Chief of Staff, one with a mentality more like Joe Lieberman than George Casey.
Alas, that wouldn't work: The new Chief would have to be nominated by Barack H. Obama... and the One would probably name John Murtha!
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 7, 2009
Only One GOPsmacked Fool!
Today, the House of Representatives passed the aptly named SqueakerCare bill... "aptly named" for two reasons:
- It was introduced, and the favorable vote extorted, by Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%);
- It squeaked by with 220 Ayes to 215 Nays... 218 being the bare minimum needed for passage.
The bill stalled out until Pelosi was forced to allow a vote on the Stupak Amendment, which stripped funding for abortions from the bill (possibly); that amendment prevailed by 240-194 -- much stronger support than for SqueakerCare itself. This may not be the last word on the abortion issue, however:
Democrats were forced to make major concessions on insurance coverage for abortions to attract the final votes to secure passage, a wrenching compromise for the numerous abortion-rights advocates in their ranks.
Many of them hope to make changes to the amendment during negotiations with the Senate, which will now become the main battleground in the health care fight as Democrats there ready their own bill for what is likely to be extensive floor debate.
No word in either the New York Times article or the AP article on whether there was any resolution of the controversy over covering illegal aliens.
(The Republican plan was dismissed by Democrats -- even the Blue Dogs -- in a near party-line vote; only Rep. Tim Johnson, RINO-IL, 68% crossed party lines to vote against the GOP substitute health-care reform plan.)
Every dog has his silver lining, and the bright spot of this bill was that out of 177 Republicans voting (I think that's all of them), the total number who voted for SqueakerCare was... one: Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA, not yet rated). By contrast, 39 Democrats voted against the bill, with 219 in favor, of course.
That means Republican defectors did not hand the Democrats the victory, as I had feared they might; it would still have passed without the vote of the sacred Cao. Thank goodness for pitifully small favors!
Amusingly, one Democrat who voted for the bill was newly minted Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY, not yet rated)... despite the fact that the bill contains numerous provisions that Owens swore during his election campaign he would never support. It took Owens all of eleven hours and sixteen minutes to toss those promises into the dustbin of liberalism.
I'm certain that Conservative (and soon to be Republican) candidate Doug Hoffman is cataloging all such InstaLies for his rematch next year.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► November 6, 2009
Squirmer of the House Nancy Pelosi Doesn't Have the Votes... Yet
I picture Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) writhing and twisting in frustration; with all those Democrats, surely she can scrape together 218 to vote for SqueakerCare!
Surely not, at least not yet:
House Democrats acknowledged they don't yet have the votes to pass a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system, and signaled they may push back the vote until Sunday or early next week.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters in a conference call Friday that the make-or-break vote on President Barack Obama's push to make health coverage part of the social safety net could face delay. Democrats were originally hoping to pass the bill on Saturday_and officially, that's still the plan....
Hoyer acknowledged that Democrats are still short of the 218 votes they need to pass the bill. "There are many people who are still trying to get a comfort level that this is the right thing to do," he said. "We're very close."
So what's the hold up? Yep, the same old overreaching -- our secret weapon against the Left! Evidently, Democrats still can't agree on coverage for abortions and of illegal immigrants:
But Democrats have yet to resolve a intraparty disputes over abortion funding and illegal immigrants' access to medical coverage. They cleared one hurdle Friday when liberals supporting a government-run Medicare-for-all system withdrew their demand for a floor vote.
Translation: some Democrats demand SqueakerCare pay for abortions -- and demand it cover illegal aliens. If there was no power faction insisting on such coverage, it would be easy to insert language banning it.
Here's a point that hasn't gotten enough coverage, I think: La Casa Blanca has endorsed the House version of the bill; which means that President Barack H. Obama has formally renounced his earlier pledge to keep the cost below $900 billion over ten years. Even by the Congressional Budget Office's reckoning, SqueakerCare would cost $1.2 trillion; and the CBO is obliged to accept all the economic premises of Congress, however ludicrous they may be... for example, that Congress will be able to loot half a trillion dollars from Medicare, that they'll be able to raise vast taxes in an election year, that those taxes won't cause a recession, and so forth.
Evidently, each and every solemn oath that eructates from the Obamacle's mouth is what Mary Poppins would call a "pie-crust promise: easily made and easily broken."
Anent the abortion and illegal immigrant controversies, Democrats have run straight into the fundamental buzzsaw of nationalizing health care: There are many things that a private company can do but the government cannot. So what happens under liberal fascism, where the federal government takes control of the private sector? Here is the dilemma in a nuthouse:
- A private insurance company in a Capitalist system can offer coverage for abortions if it chooses; a great many do so.
- A private company can choose not to demand proof of legal residency before insuring a subscriber; many insurance companies follow this route.
- But when the federal government operates its own insurance plan -- and especially when it rigs the game to force more and more people into that government plan -- then there are only two options for those particularly controversial issues:
- The government plan can cover them; in which case you have the federal government funding abortion and paying for coverage of illegal aliens;
- Or the government plan can refuse to cover them; in which case, hundreds of thousands of women forced into the government plan can no longer get their insurance to pay for their abortions; and millions of illegal aliens will lose the insurance they currently pay for and rely upon.
Thus in the House and Senate, either you have moderate Democrats up in arms about federally funded abortions and a free health-care ride for illegals -- in which case the bill goes up in smoke, because there are too many Blue Dogs to ignore; or else fewer women get abortions and fewer illegals get medical insurance -- and the ultra-liberal mainstream of the Democratic Party jumps ship, leaving the bill in even worse trouble.
The only solution would be to bribe three or four Blue Dogs to go ahead and vote for the bill, knowing they will likely lose their seats in 2010. For example, the One can offer lucrative positions in the administration to any Democrat who loses reelection next year; or the Democratic leadership can offer specific Blue Dogs powerful committee chairmanships if they betray their constituents -- plus a ton of campaign cash in 2010, in both the primary and the general elections.
I assume that's what is going on; and Squeaker Pelosi's insistance that she will have the votes represents her certainty that at least that many moderate Democrats are eager to be bribed.
But the fact that she does not yet have the votes indicates either that they're holding out for a super-duper bribe... or else that Pelosi's fundamental axiom -- that all Democrats are enthusiastic participants in the Democratic culture of corruption -- is a misapprehension based upon projecting her own ethos onto other people.
The next few days will tell us which. Since we're talking about Democrats, I suspect the Squeaker's scheme will ultimately bear fruit; she'll find three or four Blue Dogs corrupt enough to accept money and power in exchange for selling their constituents down the river. But I'm always open to persuasion by hard data.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
"Respond, Bradlequin!" Said the Liz-Laz Man
The following is an addendum to my article, "Repent, Roman!" and is simultaneously available at both the Mondo Cult Forum and Big Lizards.
I'd like to thank everyone for participating in the debate, including The Fearless Polanski Hunters. We have discussed this in a more civilized manner than what's going on in the Left / Right mass media.
Many of my friends have participated, beginning with Mondo Cult editor Jessie Lilley. My thanks to Jessie for getting down and personal in her responses.
Next, I thank my co-author of the DOOM novels, Dafydd ab Hugh, for the best arguments against my position and his compliments about Yours Truly.
Naturally, I enjoyed the comments from J. Kent Hastings, J. Neil Schulman, Bill Ritch and Big Lee Haslup. It was Big Lee who saw through to the heart of the matter. He's right that what interests me most about the Polanski affair is not Polanski but the American reaction to this old case.
(I also received interesting comments from John DeChancie, Bill Patterson, Chesley Morton and Ed Kramer.)
Let me respond to one of the challenges presented by Dafydd ab Hugh. I think my biggest surprise is that he and I have such different takes on individualism.
I never wanted Polanski to get away with acting like a thug to that young teenager but I am satisfied that private justice was done when they reached a financial settlement. I am a libertarian. After all these years, I don't care if Polanski gets away with defying the American State. It doesn't do damage to the cause of individualism if this Polish Jew avoids getting beaten up in an American prison. American individualism faces more serious challenges.
Recently, I saw a special on the History Channel about Robert E. Burns, the man whose real life story inspired the 1932 Warner Brothers film I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG. The state of Georgia was outraged that this man escaped the coils of their system and wanted him extradited from New Jersey. Attorneys from Georgia argued that Burns had an unfair advantage over other fugitives because of his celebrity status thanks to a popular movie. Needless to say, the Hollywood elite back in the 30s was supportive of the fugitive.
New Jersey declined Georgia's request to send the guy back to that most democratic of all institutions, the chain gang. We must ask ourselves a question, did this celebrity driven double standard do damage to American individualism?
I do not agree with the Dafydd Theory because it strikes me as closer to egalitarianism than individualism. I don't see the Law as an Absolute! If I did, I would not fear and resist the State. I am not an anarchist, but I am a minarchist. I want to limit the reach of the State. Unlike the authoritarians who infest the American Right today, I really want a limited government. That's why I could never have a show on talk radio. I want a muscular State only to deal with dangerous enemies who truly threaten this country.
I am not equating the Polanski rape charges with the Burns robbery charges. I am equating the two men because they both had high profiles and were on the lam. The American people sometimes have more common sense than the authorities.
I cannot resist seizing the opportunity to respond to his response to my response. Brad's point is as always well taken; the law is a trollop who will sleep with anyone. But that doesn't mean that every dalliance with "the Man" is necessarily illicit.
I can boil down my fundamental axiom on individualism, and perhaps my core disagreement with Brad, to the following:
Humans have not yet evolved to the point where individualism is the default social order. I believe someday it will be, when technology has sufficiently evolved. But for all of human history, the reflexive response of groups of humans trying to survive in a frequently hostile natural and social environment has been collectivism -- collectivism that runs the gamut from the most repressive and brutal kind to a somewhat kinder and gentler oppression.
Globally, it's nowhere near as bad now as it was even just seventy years ago, still during the Dark Age of Socialism. The urge to merge has its ups and downs, but it's mostly been dropping since the original Dark Ages, following the collapse of the Roman Empire (one of the greatest disasters of humanity, from an individualist perspective).
I don't see individualism as yet able to stand and fight; so I want, perhaps peversely, collectives to fight to defend, succor, and raise it. I note we took a great leap forward on that project in the 1770s and 1780s; so you see it can be done.
But the quickest way to discredit individualism is to encourage, or even allow, people to believe that individualism is just a code word for plutocracy. Plutocracy is where "the rich" (however defined) have their own private set of laws, whose purpose is to keep themselves on top and the rest of us in chains.
That belief, true or false, traditionally leads to Jacobism in response -- in 1789, of course, but also in 1917, 1949, 1979, and we even saw a little of that in 2008 -- where possibly mindless fury at an unaccountable and static plutocracy, "rage against the machine," leads directly to a "people's revolution" that is, of course, infinitely worse.
This I believe: Individualism can only flourish when people generally believe that all are equal under the law, prince and pauper alike. Contrariwise, when it starts appearing that the rich and powerful can get away with everything, perhaps paying a small fine they barely even notice, we're tugged towards collectivism.
That is why I believe it was good that O.J. was convicted of the armed robbery; that is why I think it will be good if Polanski has to serve some time.
Date ►►► November 5, 2009
Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? Obamic Options 004
Regarding the shooting at Fort Hood; let's assume for sake of argument that the following reports are correct:
- The main shooter was Major Malik Nadal Hasan (or Nidal Malik Hasan -- I've seen both versions);
- Hasan was a recent convert to Islam;
- Hasan was "violently hostile" to the deployment of American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq;
- That the two persons currently being held in custody are, in fact, collaborators in the massacre.
And let's make one final assumption that is admittedly based on nothing more than my speculation about the nature of the shooting:
- That the two in custody were also recent converts to Islam or radical Moslems.
My question is this: In such a case, would President Barack H. Obama ever admit to the American people that -- contrary to the knee-jerk FBI statement -- such a shooting under these assumptions would almost certainly be an act of "jihadist" terrorism?
Or would he insist it was just a trio of motiveless killers, no matter what?
(Maybe he would dub it a man-caused Major disaster, suggest we respond by initiating a domestic contingency operation, and blame George W. Bush.)
Sachi believes Obama would not; that no matter how much evidence emerged, Obama would never say that this was domestic radical-Islamic terrorism. But I'm not entirely sure; he might realize that the disconnect between what he was saying and what the average guy or gal on the street was thinking would be so great that his approval would suffer significantly.
Recall, we made some assumptions up there: First, that all "facts" reported so far hold up, and second, that the accomplices were also Moslem converts or radicals. So everything I'm saying here is conditional.
But given those assumptions, what do you think the One would say?
House to Vote on SqueakerCare Saturday
I have an annoying feeling about this. It's almost a cead cert that the Democrats will find enough votes this Saturday, November 7th, to pass Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) version of ObamaCare.
I hereby dub thee SqueakerCare, to distinguish thee from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV, 70%) version, PinkyCare.
But it's the way I suspect it will happen that irks me. Darn this precognition!
Here is my Nostradamus-like prophecy:
- San Fran Nan needs 218 votes (50.1% of 435 representatives) to pass SqueakerCare out of the House.
- There will probably be 256 Democrats in the House on Saturday.
- So when the roll is called, and if no Republican votes for SqueakerCare, the Democrats can lose no more than 38 of their members and still pass the bill with 218 Dems.
- Therefore, I predict that at least forty of the Democrats will defect...
Good news? No -- lousy news!
- Yet the bill will pass anyway -- because two or three Republicans are sure to vote for it, thus saving the day for the Democrats -- and even allowing Pelosi to claim it's a "bipartisan" victory.
Why? Because they're Republicans, and there are always a handful who just can't contain themselves when they see a chance to betray their party, betray their principles, and betray their constituents.
See, they prove their "independence" by slavishly voting the Democratic line, just to demonstrate that they're not bound by party loyalty. (This of course makes them just as robotic as if they were; only they robotically gainsay anything the conservatives say.)
Net effect: The bill passes, but more Democrats are able to distance themselves from it and therefore maintain a veneer of respectable independence, so they might get reelected in 2010.
Bloody contrarian boneheads.
Date ►►► November 4, 2009
A Tale of Two Birds - the Vulture and the Eagle
Let's sing a tale of two pieces of legislation. First, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) offered up her take on ObamaCare. SqueakerCare on a nutshell:
- Puts virtually all decisions about medical care in the hands, not of the patient, the doctor, or even the insurer, but in the iron fist of the federal government.
- Outlaws competition between insurance carriers:
- Must accept all applicants;
- Cannot charge more for subscribers with pre-existing medical conditions;
- All carriers must offer the same gold-plated plans;
- Carriers cannot sell outside their own states -- yet they will also be subject to antitrust regulation; thus they must be completely governed by the federal government to avoid being sued (or indicted).
- Forces medical-care rationing:
- Rationing by waiting list (the "death queue"), where the feds hope that if they delay your treatment long enough, you will either go to some other country and pay for it -- or better yet, just die;
- And rationing by the ObamaCare Payment Advisory Commission, or whatever they'll cal it -- that is, a "death panel" -- just as the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission decides how much the feds will pay for any Medicare procedure, or whether to cover it at all. No coverage, no care... unless you had the good sense to become a multi-millionaire.
- Mandates that all Americans buy a very expensive policy, like it or not.
- Includes a strong government-run health-care component.
- Rigs the game so that employers are virtually forced by economic necessity to dump their health-insurance programs and force employees into the mandatory government option. Most Americans will lose their current health insurance in favor of the government plan, whether they want to switch or not.
- Raises taxes by many hundreds of billions of dollars, not just on medical care but on pharmaceuticals and even medical devices.
- Dramatically raises the cost of medical care and prescription drugs for everyone. Except for members of Congress and senior White House staff, including the president; top government officials are all exempted from the restrictions and rationing of SqueakerCare.
- Speaking of that program, the Pelosi bill loots Medicare to the tune of half a trillion dollars -- or more.
- Costs in excess of $1.2 trillion... and that's just the amount Democrats are willing to admit!
That's the obverse of the coin; a vulture is stamped on that face, for the Democratic bill of Nancy Pelosi is a carrion creature, feeding off the death of American medical care -- and off the dead bodies of those who don't survive the waiting lists, the payment advisory commissions, and the collapse of the prescription drug market.
But every coin has a reverse side as well. An eagle adorns the Republican face of the health-insurance reform coin. Here are the highlights of the bill just introduced by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH, 92%):
- Incentives for more subscribers to shift to a health savings account (HSA) and catastrophic-care insurance alternative; this puts health-care decisions back into the hands of patients and doctors, since all routine procedures and tests would be paid directly by the patient using his HSA, not by the insurance company. Every financial expert who has studied the issue agrees that the biggest cause of the rise in the cost of medical care is that "somebody else" pays for your treatment. When patients pay for themselves, they exercise more financial responsibility.
- GOPCare includes tort reform; it "caps non-economic jury awards in medical malpractice cases at $250,000," thus reducing the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in "defensive medicine" -- tests and procedures that are not medically warranted, whose only purpose is to stave off John Edwards, lawyers who turn the legal system into "jackpot justice."
- The Boener plan "allows health insurance to be sold across state lines," yet another cost-saving measure.
- It includes a permanent ban on federally funded abortions, except for cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.
- No mandates on employer, employee, or other American to offer or buy health insurance; no restriction on policies that companies can write (thus encouraging competition); and no regulation of what companies can charge for applicants with pre-existing conditions or whether they cover them at all.
Simple. Clean. Inexpensive. And above all, a plan that relies upon liberty, choice, Capitalism, and the American way of life... rather than the centrally controlled, authoritarian, liberal fascist approach written by congressional Democrats and egged on by the president.
The fundamental GOP philosophy is that if you make health care cheaper, then insurance will likewise become cheaper (Capitalism); and if insurance is cheaper, more people will buy it (Econ. 101). Everything in this bill is designed with that end in mind: Make health care cheaper by removing the perverse incentives of the "invisible foot" of government, driving costs up:
"As Leader Boehner has made clear, our proposal will focus on the No. 1 concern of the American people - reducing health care costs, and we do it at a price tag our nation can afford," said spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier, though Republicans have not said how much their bill would cost.
"Our proposal will help struggling middle-class families and small businesses by increasing access to affordable, high-quality health care," Ferrier said.
Everyone says a picture is worth a thousand words. Personally, I think a thousand words is a couple of good-sized paragraphs, but let's not discuss my fiction here. Just for eye-candy, take a look at this, which I, er, borrowed from Jason Simon's Farcebook page:
GOP bill (230 pages) vs. PelosiCare (1990 pages)
Pretty much says it all. (Reckon that means I can delete one my thousand-word paragraphs...)
Hip hip, chin chin.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
V: Is There Finally a Network Show That Criticizes Obama?
Last night I watched the premiere of V, the remake of the 1980s miniseries about alien "visitors" whose friendly facade masks sinister motives. In terms of quality and entertainment value it's so-so. Not great, but there are plenty of worse things on TV, and I intend to keep watching it for now.
But there's something really interesting about it: The aliens are clearly a metaphor for President Obama.
During a time of financial, political, and military strife, the aliens arrive, bringing a message of hope. Many people see them as saviors; few stop to question their motives or consider that they may not be the same as the image they present.
Expressions of doubt or criticism are seen by many as offensive. The aliens enlist the help of energetic young people to build support and root out any skeptics. The media is told that they're not allowed to ask any uncomfortable question or anything that would present the aliens in a negative light... and the media agrees to that.
The aliens even -- and I swear I am not making this up -- offer universal health care.
Of course by the end of the pilot, it's clear that the aliens do have an ulterior motive and are planning something horrible. Members of the resistance discuss what the true motivations might be; and the episode concludes with the hero pointing out that the aliens are trying to develop their most powerful weapon: Devotion.
Over the past decade, we've had to endure countless Hollywood villains who were thinly veiled (or not veiled at all) proxies for George W. Bush, and/or cartoonishly "eeeeevil" caricatures of Republicans and conservatives. It's nice finally to see some similar criticism of Obama in a mainstream, big-budget, network TV show.
Perhaps this is a sign that the veneer of the Obamessiah has finally cracked, and criticizing or doubting the President is no longer seen as taboo.
Batting .750 Ain't Bad
I must admit, I developed an emotional attachment to the NY-23 congressional race; so it got me right in the kischkes when Democrat Bill Owens topped Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. If it's any consolation, Hoffman is much better known now than he was just a month ago; which means he may be a formidable candidate in the Republican primary in 2010 -- just a few months away -- and in the November 2nd general against Owens as well.
That was the one prediction we lost; but we successfully predicted not only that Republican Robert McDonnell would power over Democrat Creigh Deeds in Virginia -- everyone got that one right, though the margin, 18%, shocked the nation -- but also that Chris Christie (R) would prevail over the most corrupt sitting governor in the United States, Jon Corzine of New Jersey.
Hugh Hewitt is fond of writing books with the title "If it's not close, they can't cheat;" pundits (I no longer must write "pundants," now that GWB has retired) mulled that Christie would have to get at least 3% over Corzine to make up for the "fraud factor." Since CC won by a resounding 5% (or as near as makes no difference), I think the victory is safe from the Halloween undead rising from their graves to force Corzine back into the governor's mansion.
While I'm wistful that Hoffman couldn't quite overcome the anti-GOP bitterness stirred up by DIABLO Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava, realistically speaking, it's much more important that we won two governorships. Recall that New Jersey hasn't elected a Republican since Christie Todd Whitman (is the name similarity just a coincidence?) won reelection a dozen years and five governors ago.
But wait; that only adds up to a batting average of .667. Where does the other .083 come from?
Well, I'm also counting as a signal victory what happened in Maine: Voters rejected a legislatively enacted same-sex marriage (SSM) law in by about 53 to 47. Thus in every election where the people themselves have had the chance to vote on SSM, they have voted it down. And that's not just once or twice but 31 times out of 31 elections.
Maine is not exactly a conservative state; in fact, the last time Maine voted for a Republican in the presidential race was George H.W. Bush in 1988. And Maine's two senators, while both technically Republicans, are about as liberal as can be: Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 12%) and Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%). (Their ADA ratings are 80% and 75% respectively, as liberal as many Democrats.)
Thus, SSM has now lost among voters in every region of the country and in conservative, moderate, and very liberal states. While we made no prediction in this race, we'll happily take the results!
All in all, some very, very good news indeed for Republicans and conservatives... and likely a harbinger of what is to come in 2010, despite Paul "Sourpuss" Mirengoff's best efforts to harsh our mellow...
Not an especially good day to be Barack H. "Oogo" Obama, though. I feel his disdain.
Date ►►► November 3, 2009
Medical Tourism - Available Soon for Americans Should ObamaCare Pass!
One of the fastest growing businesses in India is medical tourism. It's exactly what it sounds like: Patients who are unable to get medical care travel to India, at their own expense, to buy what they're denied in their home countries.
"Medical" tourism in India has been in existence for more than two centuries, with people from all over the world going to India seeking mystical oriental healing. But the new trend of medical tourism is something entirely different. The patients are not looking for Oriental mysticism or magic; they seek ordinary, reliable, modern Western medicine -- which is increasingly rationed or just plain not available in a number of supposedly civilized countries -- especially the United Kingdom and Canada.
And why would that be? What do those two countries in common? Government run "socialized" medicine, of course. In recent years, Europeans who cannot obtain necessary medical treatment in their own countries are booking flights to and reserving hospital beds in the world's second most populous country.
In the past few weeks, congressional Democrats and the administration of Barack H. Obama have hawked ObamaCare by trotting out scores of alleged patients to cry their tales of woe: The for-profit American health-insurance industry is corrupt and evil, taking years' worth of premiums while refusing to pay for medical care.
But such horror stories are not the norm; overwhelmingly, Americans with non-governmental health insurance are quite happy with it. The real insurance nightmares come from countries like Great Britain and Canada.
The health care systems in those two countries are so broken, a disturbingly large number of patients actually die while awaiting simple treaments; this of course reduces government expenditures, so the government medical providers are loathe to do anything about it. But the wait has gotten so bad, the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reports that Britain's Labour party is trying to reduce it -- down to a scant three months:
The current Labour government has now raised the stakes further. It has pledged that by 2008 there will be a maximum wait of only 18 weeks from any referral of a patient by a general practitioner to treatment in hospital if required. Such a target represents a large step up in expected performance. Current targets are that by the end of this year, no patient will wait more than 3 months for an outpatient appointment and a further 3 months for any inpatient or day-case treatment. Meeting the new target will require a massive effort, and despite considerable success to date, could it be a target too far?
Fed up with this nonsense, British patients are seeking treatment elsewhere. By a curious coincidence, so are many Oregonians, despite having a "public option" in their own state health-care system. (Or perhaps because of it.) For just one example, the "treatment" of choice by the Oregonian government bureaucrats is to offer only palliative care (relieving pain and other symptoms without actually curing the condition) -- plus a not so veiled hint that patients suffering from life-threatening cancer can always contact a physician for assisted suicide.
In Canada, the Globe and Mail (Toronto) reported last year that surgeries in the British Columbia city of Kelowna have been "postponed indefinitely" by Interior Health, the BC government health-care provider (private insurance is banned in Canada):
More than 1,000 orthopedic, gynecological and general surgery patients in Kelowna have been left wondering when their operations will take place because Interior Health has ended its contract with the private operating facility that was to do the procedures.
So many Europeans are going to India that the medical tourism industry is getting institutionalized; several travel agencies now specialize in the service, including Health Tourism India:
Some of the services that we can provide:
- Suggesting Hospitals/Clinics as per treatment required/budget.
- World-class Treatment by UK/USA trained Doctors in India.
- Fixation of appointment with Chief Doctors on top priority prior to arrival
- Arranging consultations with doctors
- Assisting in planning treatment /check up with appointment fixing and travel scheduling.
- No waiting time for surgical procedures
- Packages offered only for Medical Treatment till discharge from hospital.
- Coordinating all appointments
- Online assistance to the Patients.
An article in the Daily Mail decries the serious shortage of qualified doctors willing to work outside business hours in Great Britain's National Health Service (NHS):
The huge extent to which the NHS needs foreign doctors to treat patients out of hours is revealed today.
A third of primary care trusts are flying in GPs from as far away as Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland because of a shortage of doctors in Britain willing to work in the evenings and at weekends.
The stand-ins earn up to £100 an hour, and one trust paid Polish and German doctors a total of £267,000 in a year, a Daily Mail investigation has found.
It raises fresh concerns that British patients are being treated by exhausted doctors without a perfect command of English.
Without enough British doctors, more foreign doctors are being imported by "primary care trusts" -- which appear to be the first stop for health care through the NHS, hiring primary care physicians, referring patients to specialists, and contracting for privately owned health-care facilities. These doctors are often less qualified than their British counterparts -- and they make fatal mistakes:
Daniel Ubani had just three hours sleep after travelling from Germany before he went on duty in Cambridgeshire.The Nigerian-born doctor injected 70-year-old kidney patient David Gray with ten times the maximum recommended dose of morphine, and an 86-year-old woman died of a heart attack after Ubani failed to send her to hospital.
It is extremely difficult to sue either these doctors or the NHS itself, because they are all considered government agencies. Oddly, however, Indian hospitals have no problem hiring highly qualified UK doctors. Perhaps it has something to do with payscales and workloads.
This month, the first ever medical tourism convention will be held in Toronto, Canada. The theme? India, of course:
This is a first of its kind conference to be held in Canada. It will provide an opportunity for the Indian Health Care industry, academics, industry researchers, market and industry analysts, government officials and policy makers, to present their services and exchange ideas and develop a new vision for the future of the Medical Tourism industry. Contributions to the progress of developing new ideas to stimulate this vital industry and provide new approaches to regulating are welcome.
850,000 Canadians are invited to regain their lives, lifestyle and dignity by availing world class medical facilities in India. This exhibition will showcase the variety of world class medical services and facilities available in India and all Canadians tired of waiting in the “System” are encouraged to visit.
The way things are heading, Americans may want to book tickets at this convention as well.
Date ►►► November 2, 2009
NY-23: New York Race - Chicago Rules, and What Dede Learned From David
As the Permanent Presidential Campaign rolls along, the most recent victims are the Republicans of New York's 23rd district... who awoke today to discover something truly remarkable about erstwhile congressional candidate Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava -- that "lifelong Republican" who swore she would never leave the GOP -- and her seemingly inexplicable endorsement of the Democrat remaining in the race, Bill Owens, rather than the conservative Republican, Doug Hoffman.
They learned (if they read the news ) that -- drum roll, please: The betraying endorsement was engineered by the Barack H. Obama White House.
Politico reports that the administration and Friends of Barack lured Scozzafava to the dark side by playing on her senses of grievance and entitlement:
The story of how it went down began in Washington, where the White House and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quarterbacked the effort to secure Scozzafava’s endorsement.
According to several senior Democratic officials, Rep. Steve Israel, a Long Island Democrat and DCCC official, was dispatched to meet face to face with Scozzafava in her upstate New York district, within hours of her departure from the race, to make the case on behalf of the national party. He carried the proxy of the White House and congressional Democrats.
Scozzafava, according to one account, was receptive to the entreaties after becoming a target of intense conservative opposition over the past month. The nomination of the moderate to liberal assemblywoman who was backed by the national GOP establishment had become a rallying point for conservative grass-roots activists, who argued that she was far too liberal for them to support.
“She’s devastated that these outside interests are trying to hijack her moderate wing of the party," said one New York Democrat who had spoken to Scozzafava.
Hijack? Those forces (outside or in) were trying to push the moderates aside and support the conservative wing... just as the moderates did the exact opposite when eleven GOP party bosses anointed DIABLO Scozzafava to succeed RINO John McHugh, who jumped at the chance to join the Obama administration. (For those of you who have lived in Plato's cave for some months now, RINO is of course "Republican in name only," while DIABLO, coined by Mark Steyn, stands for "Democrat in all but label only.")
Of course, by "outside interests," the unnamed "New York Democrat" meant only conservatives across the country who rallied to Hoffman's cause, and possibly Hoffman himself, who resides in a nearby district. For some reason, the specter of a far-left president and his top aides, most from Chicago, don't count as "outsiders;" and neither do other New York Democrats who reside all over the state.
What they're really saying seems clear to me: Dede Scozzafava thought the fix was in, and she was gobsmacked by the speed of the unraveling.
She was selected by the Republican nomenklatura to succeed John McHugh; sure, she was trailing Bill Owens in the polls, but that was all just for show. When election time rolled around, Scozzafava was sure the conservatives, having made their displeasure known, would hold their noses and vote for her. After all, they had nowhere else to go.
(The same dynamic had already happened with the national GOP and several big names in the party; having nowhere else to light, they smiled and nodded and gave Scozzafava their blessings.)
She would be elected, and her life would be set: She would serve several terms then be appointed a federal judge; or perhaps she would receive a succession of appointments at la Casa Blanca, culminating in a minor cabinet position... perhaps Secretary of Health and Human Services or Director of the EPA under President Biden.
Sure, this is rank speculation on my part; but her reaction to conservatives in her own district rallying to Doug Hoffman, the collapse of her own support, her whiny departure, and her immediate embrace of the Democrat tells me that she herself feels "betrayed" by her own party... and she's lashing out in angry revenge. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.
In fact, Dede Scozzafava reminds me a lot of David Brock. Brock is a former Republican investigative writer who flipped to the Democratic side, reportedly because he was furious over being snubbed by a few conservatives at cocktail parties. (He could only name one such snubbery, by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. of the American Spectator, Brock's former employer.)
Short detour: Brock was the toast of Washington after his first and still best book, the Real Anita Hill. In that book, he took apart the self-serving portrait of Clarence Thomas' wannabe political character assassin, Nina Totenberg of NPR, exposing her as an ultra liberal, Democratic Party hatchet-girl. Brock argued (with good evidence) that Totenberg and her fellows in the anti-Thomas brigade of the "shadow government" suborned perjury by Anita Hill.
They worked hand in sock puppet with top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to attempt to destroy Thomas -- for the crime of being a conservative black man. Or as Emerge, a black magazine, so graciously put it -- "Uncle Thomas, Lawn Jockey for the Far Right."
Brock did yeoman work exposing this dark undercurrent of Democratic racism and dirty tricks. He rightly noted that if Republicans had tried the same vile tactic to defeat a black liberal Democratic Supreme-Court nominee -- accusing him of uncontrollable sexuality, a traditional racist attack on black men -- the screams of rage from Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the usual ranks fo the perpetually aggrieved would have rolled three times 'round the world. David Brock was feted and petted, courted and bedded.
But after his second book, the Seduction of Hillary Rodham -- in which he was perceived as having cuddled a bit too close to his subject -- he drifted off everybody's A-list.
Gone were the invites to cocktail parties starring top congressional Republicans, the talk-show circuits, the frequent appearances as guest commentator on TV ("the Republican," given twenty seconds to counter the six Democrats who had yammered on for twenty minutes about whatever issue burned that day).
Brock reportedly flew into a Rumplestiltskin-like rage at his maltreatment, especially at parties; he flipped completely, turning not only Democrat but attack-dog Democrat. He published Blinded by the Right, an unreadable screed against everyone he had formerly worked with; and he accused Republicans of rejecting him because he was openly gay.
Of course, he was openly gay when he published the Real Anita Hill, and that didn't seem to bother Republicans. Logic is not the long suit of avatars of self pity.
I have no idea whether Scozzafava ever met David Brock; the latter quickly dropped off the radar, after the sensation of his complete betrayal and subsequent toadying up to the far left lost its novelty. But she is following the same pattern as he, and I strongly suspect for the same reason: Thwarted entitlement.
Just as Brock believed his future was set (he was going to be the next conservative icon, a literary Rush Limbaugh, and incidentally a multimillionaire best seller), so Scozzafava -- judging by her campaign, her collapse, and her subsequent openness to complete betrayal of her former party -- saw the actual vote as mere formal flummery. She had already won the seat when the boys in the back room anointed her. They promised!
It turns out, Politico notes, that Scozzafava was promised power, prestige, and support if she flipped -- especially if she formally turned her coat. Such promises are invariably part of the wooing process... and almost always disingenuously so:
Also critical was [New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon] Silver’s assurance, in a phone conversation with Scozzafava, that the state Assembly Democratic caucus would embrace her if she chose to switch parties, now viewed as a real possibility after her endorsement Sunday of Owens.
Yep. I'm sure that next year, New York state Democrats will be eager to shove aside some life-long Democrat in favor of a humiliated and crushed erstwhile Republican, hated by a huge number of voters in the district, who just lost an election that was expected to be a shoe-in. Lots of luck, Dede.
I make a further prediction: After tomorrow, when Hoffman wins the race -- or even if Democrat Bill Owens squeaks out a narrow victory -- the Chicago Left will toss Scozzafava aside like a used Kleenex.
She may think she will be showered with gratitude from the president; she may fantasize that she'll have an honored place in the pantheon of New York liberals; but the reality is that nobody ever trusts a traitor again, especially not the beneficiaries of her partisan treason. Instead, Scozzafava will be utterly marginalized and shunted aside, abandoned, and embittered... just as was David Brock. (Anybody hear from him recently? Perhaps, continuing our Rumplestiltskin comparison, Brock stamped his foot so hard, he opened a crack and fell through the Earth.)
Such is the fruit of betrayal. I can't work up much sympathy, either for the party bosses who called themselves "the moderate wing" of the Republican Party or for Dede Scozzafava herself; I'm repelled by those who see the democratic process as nothing but a necessary and annoying evil, the klunky mechanism for their own career ambitions -- and to hell with what their constituents want.
But I do feel some pity for those honest moderate GOP voters: It's bad enough to lose what amounts to a post-hoc primary against the conservatives, without having to be humiliated by the thoughtless and insulting antics of their erstwhile standard bearer. Gracious and fairminded Democrats must have felt the same sinking horror in 2000, as they watched Al Gore try to sue his way into the White House.
Perhaps moderate New York Republicans should likewise think a second time before picking the next champion of their cause.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
The Scozzafava Scandals
Ordinarily, I dote on every word writ by Rich Galen, cybercolumnist extraordinaire, proprietor of Mullings, my favorite non-blog blog (neg-blog?) Alas, I think he has really gone off the Newtonian end on the NY-23 race.
In today's Mullings, Rich writes the following:
The Conservatives nominated a guy named Doug Hoffman who does not live in the District, but is true to Conservative principals. [Er... sic, I think! Unless he means Ben Stein: "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?"]
Nevertheless, the National Republican Congressional Committee and other big-time Republicans supported her on the grounds that the locals know their District and having someone like Howard [sic] in the race splitting the GOP vote might well give the seat to the Democrat Owens.
I agreed. Someone e-mailed me the other day saying that people like me who live in Washington don't understand what is going on out in the "hustings." I responded that upstate New York is as "hustings" as it gets and they picked Scozzafava.
Well, no, Rich. "They" didn't pick Scozzafava. As I documented in a previous post here, she was selected in a back-room deal by eleven county GOP committee apparatchiks. The very fact that she recently plummeted in the polls, to the point where she fell off the radar in this race -- which is the only reason she dropped out, she was afraid of making an utter fool of herself if she stuck around -- proves that "they," the actual residents of that district, did not pick Scozzafava. Her support was probably below that of "don't know/no opinion" when she stalked off in a huff.
But here is the kicker to Galen's piece:
I have spent my adult life helping to elect Republicans all across the GOP spectrum. The only vote I care about is the first one: will it be for the Republican candidate for Speaker (in the House) or Majority Leader (in the Senate)? After that first vote they're someone else's problem.
If that's Galen's lone criterion, he made a very bad decision to endorse Scozzafava. Given her subsequent betrayal of the very GOP that "nominated" (selected) her, endorsing the Democrat in the race and urging all of her supporters (both of them) to vote for Democrat Bill Owens instead of Conservative Republican Doug Hoffman, what makes Galen so sure Scozzafava would have voted for John Boehner (R-OH, 92%) -- rather than Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) -- in that all-important first vote?
I think it would have been a 50-50 bet at best. Clearly, Scozzafava's liberalism trumped her party affiliation by so much that she couldn't even stand neutral; she practically fell over her own feet rushing to endorse the liberal Democrat, Bill Owens.
Given that Hoffman is no more conservative than Boehner; given that Scozzafava's liberalism is as near as makes no difference to Pelosi's; and given the former's eagerness to stab her own party in the back -- I think Galen went all-in on a three-card inside straight when he endorsed Scozzafava.
Alas, he is so off on this call, I just can't keep my lip zipped: A political party must stand for something, or it's nothing but a Alinskyite power grab. What principle (or principal) of the Republican Party does Scozzafava embody?
She's a social liberal and a fiscal train wreck. She evidently hates conservatives, one of the core groups of the GOP, with such passion that she would rather see a liberal Democrat win than a Republican who calls himself conservative, no matter how reasonable. Either that, or she was so enraged at the very idea that some peon dared interfere with her free ride to the Capitol dome, that she decided if she couldn't win, she would make damn sure no Republican would win.
That's a pretty despicable instance of playing dog in the china shop.
I don't believe for one second Galen's claim that "the only vote [he] cares about is the first one," the organizing vote. When he wrote that, he included a huge bunch of implied but unstated caveats:
- He certainly would not support a Republican who was also a Ku Klux Klansman, such as David Duke.
- Nor would Galen support a corrupt politician just because he was the Republican.
- And I suspect there are policy positions that are so outrageous, Galen would hold his nose and vote for the Democrat rather than a Republican who espoused them; for an obvious example, suppose a "Republican" ran on a platform of ObamaCare, the energy cripple and tax bill, declaring defeat and withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq, doubling all federal taxes, and enacting a federal law reimposing racial preferences on all those states that have repudiated them. I would be shocked if Galen could possibly imagine supporting such a nominee... even if he promised faithfully to vote for Boehner in the organizing bill. Oh, wait...
A political party must stand for something; and when the "nominee" (selectee) is as far outside the foundational principles of the Republican Party as Scozzafava appears to be, then even if it throws the election to the Democrat, one cannot in good conscience vote for her. Galen made the same sad error that Newt Gingrich made. Each fell into the sin of thinking of this election as nothing more than a political game and point tally, rather than what it is: a decision that could turn out to be life or death (for our military personnel, for example) and could turn out to be existential for the GOP.
There is a fine line here: We don't want to throw over reasonably good incumbents and establishment candidates running in purple districts; we don't want a policy of always supporting the hardest-right candidate in the GOP, because that could easily end up electing the Democrat, if the district as a whole is not as conservative as the candidate picked by the local GOP. More often than not in politics, the best is enemy of good enough.
But on the other hand, there are some principles that a candidate simply may not violate if he wants Republican support. While Dierdre Scozzafava is nowhere near the sludgey bottom of people who call themselves Republicans (David Duke springs to mind), she is certainly far enough down the pickle barrel -- and Hoffman is a good enough gamble -- that we should leave the DIABLO to ferment all on her own, rather than run the risk of letting her drag the party down to the depths along with her.
Galen and Gingrich should have thought a second time before leaping aboard the Establishment Express.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
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