Monday, August 31, 2009

Free American Health Care Now!

This is Bill Bennett's petition on health care reform. "Free" is about freedom, not cost.

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Steyn: Airbrushing out Mary Jo Kopechne

When Kennedy cheerleaders do get around to mentioning her, it’s usually to add insult to fatal injury. As Teddy’s biographer Adam Clymer wrote, Edward Kennedy’s “achievements as a senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne.”

You can’t make an omelette without breaking chicks, right? I don’t know how many lives the senator changed — he certainly changed Mary Jo’s — but you’re struck less by the precise arithmetic than by the basic equation: How many changed lives justify leaving a human being struggling for breath for up to five hours pressed up against the window in a small, shrinking air pocket in Teddy’s Oldsmobile? If the senator had managed to change the lives of even more Americans, would it have been okay to leave a couple more broads down there? Hey, why not? At the Huffington Post, Melissa Lafsky mused on what Mary Jo “would have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history . . . Who knows — maybe she’d feel it was worth it.” What true-believing liberal lass wouldn’t be honored to be dispatched by that death panel?

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kennedy the Catholic

Kennedy’s death also brings the Church face-to-face once again with the fact that there is a massive problem of basic Catholic education — catechesis — among the faithful. So many Catholics — even some clergy — make an absolute out of prudential issues such as economic policy, while relativizing absolutes, such as abortion, euthanasia, and marriage. This is done in the face of clear, binding teachings from John Paul the Great, who said that no other right is safe unless the right to life is protected, or, as Pope Benedict wrote recently in Caritas in Veritate, that life issues must be central to Catholic social teaching.

This also marks the passing of a certain type of cultural Catholicism — Northeast, Irish and increasingly Italian, concerned with obtaining political power while maintaining an identification with the Church, yet happy to relinquish the substance of the faith if it gets in the way. Indeed, today such cultural Catholics have dispensed even with the identity aspect and are often outright hostile to the Church of their baptism.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Elliott Abrams: The Soviet Standard Returns

“It’s important to look at human rights more broadly than it has been defined. Human rights are also the right to a good job and shelter over your head and a chance to send your kids to school and get health care when your wife is pregnant. It’s a much broader agenda. Too often it has gotten narrowed to our detriment.”

No one would be surprised to hear that such words were spoken by Mikhail Suslov, the long-time ideological chief of the Communist party of the Soviet Union, or by Khrushchev or Brezhnev, or by Castro or Ceaucescu, or by any other chieftain from the “socialist countries.” But that quote actually comes from Secretary of State Clinton, in an interview this month with the Wall Street Journal. It is an astonishing revival of the old Soviet line, now taken up by an American official.

In case Mrs. Clinton has fallen for the line that promoting human rights is a George Bush–Ronald Reagan right-wing conspiracy, a few words from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural may be in order. When Kennedy asserted that we were “unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world,” he quickly added that we would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” 

Not a “good job,” not “shelter,” and not “health care when your wife is pregnant.” Democrats used to be for liberty too.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

White House projects bigger deficits, bigger debt

We absolutely had to rush to pass a stimulus bill without even taking time to read it, and now the administration tells us things are far worse than expected.  Doesn't sound like it saved or created much of anything.  The Obama administration is developing a bad habit of over-promising and under-delivering.  So let's double-down on a nationalized health service.  What could possibly go wrong?

The federal government faces exploding deficits and mounting debt over the next decade, White House officials predicted Tuesday in a fiscal assessment far bleaker than what the Obama administration had estimated just a few months ago.
Figures released by the White House budget office foresee a cumulative $9 trillion deficit from 2010-2019, $2 trillion more than the administration estimated in May. Moreover, the figures show the public debt doubling by 2019 and reaching three-quarters the size of the entire national economy.
Obama economic adviser Christina Romer predicted unemployment could reach 10 percent this year and begin a slow decline next year. Still, she said, the average unemployment will be 9.3 in 2009 and 9.8 percent in 2010.

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Rangel’s Wealth Jumps After Disclosure

Doing the people's business...

House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel, already beset by a series of ethics investigations, has disclosed more than $500,000 in previously unreported assets.

Among the new items on Rangel’s amended 2007 financial disclosure report were an account at the Congressional Federal Credit Union worth at least $250,000, an investment account with at least $250,000, land in southern New Jersey and stock in PepsiCo and fast food conglomerate Yum! Brands. None of those investments appeared on the original report, which was filled out by hand and filed in May 2008.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Steyn: Why the Stimulus Flopped

Meanwhile, in Brazil, India, China, Japan, and much of continental Europe the recession has ended. In the second quarter this year, both the French and German economies grew by 0.3 percent, while the U.S. economy shrank by 1 percent. How can that be? Unlike America, France and Germany had no government stimulus worth speaking of, the Germans declining to go the Obama route on the quaint grounds that they couldn’t afford it. They did not invest in the critical signage-in-front-of-holes-in-the-road sector. And yet their recession has gone away. Of the world’s biggest economies, only the U.S., Britain, and Italy are still contracting. All three are big stimulators, though Gordon Brown and Silvio Berlusconi can’t compete with Obama’s $800 billion porkapalooza. The president has borrowed more money to spend to less effect than anybody on the planet.

Actually, when I say “to less effect,” that’s not strictly true: Thanks to Obama, one of the least indebted developed nations is now one of the most indebted — and getting ever more so. We’ve become the third most debt-ridden country after Japan and Italy. According to last month’s IMF report, general government debt as a percentage of GDP will rise from 63 percent in 2007 to 88.8 percent this year and to 99.8 percent of GDP next year.

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ObamaCare the Musical

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The Death Book for Veterans

If President Obama wants to better understand why America's discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your Choices."

Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

When the government is paying for your "free" health care, it's not surprising that the bureaucrats might want to "bend the cost curve" by encouraging patients in need of expensive care to ponder their patriotic duty to die.  It's your choice of course, just think about all the children who will go hungry tonight because you insist on being hooked up to a respirator.  I mean, the government can't afford to take care of everybody.  We've got to make some tough choices.  As the President says, in matters of Life and Death, the government is God's partner.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Jesus for ObamaCare?


The leadership team's expenditure of moral authority is costing them in my eyes and in the eyes of others, most particularly when they deceive themselves into using the spiritual pulpit for political ends.

But all told, I suppose I should to submit to the notion that we should let the government take our labor by force and give it to those who are deemed in need by bureaucrats. Doesn't that count as helping your neighbor?

As Jesus often said, "Let's get the government to do something about it."

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Real Joker Artist Remains Armed and Dangerous


By any interpretation we have a much more powerful image than the Time cover, one that grabs you in a glance. "Obama? Joker? Socialism? Humm, what does that mean? What could that mean?" Whatever you may think about the statement the poster still has power. Once seen, it cannot be unseen.

But wait, there's more.

Just because the image is finished does not mean that the Appropriationist's artwork is finished. For an image to grab you in a glance, you have to be able to see it. The real "art" here, the real edgy move, was to print this up in many multiples, and start plastering them in various urban locations.

That's the final move and the one that takes guts. After all, with Obama riding high as the dominant pop culture icon of the era, it wouldn't do to stumble into a group of his fervid supporters in a dark underpass while pasting these images up. You just might get popped for your art.

Once done, the last move in your bit of political agitprop is to fade back into the shadows and let the media take its course. The media. So obvious, really, aren't they?

The LA Times is trumpeting this "discovery of the artist" as a major scoop. It's not. It's just internet research from a Flickr tip. It's the kind of "reporting" that doesn't take more than a Blackberry and a telephone.

The classic "Who done it?" remains. It's not the Kuchinch supporter rendering spooky mash-ups on the Internet that's the hero of this classic bit of Appropriationist art. It's the mysterious Man in the Arena with a bunch of Samizdat Smash the State posters and a pot of paste for sticking them up.

As many others have suggested, "Why so socialist?" would have been better.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cut Medicine in Half

Written a couple of years ago, but very applicable to today's debate on health care...

So I want to say loudly and clearly what has yet to be said loudly and clearly enough: In the aggregate, variations in medical spending usually show no statistically significant medical effect on health. (At least they do not in studies with enough good controls.) It has long been nearly a consensus among those who have reviewed the relevant studies that differences in aggregate medical spending show little relation to differences in health, compared to other factors like exercise or diet. I not only want to make this point clearly; I want to dare other health policy experts to either publicly agree or disagree with this claim and its apparent policy implications.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Terrorists Get Appeals, Obamacare Patients Don’t

Tucked into several pages of this epic monstrosity (H.R. 3200 ishere—if you can get it to load) are various “limitation on review” provisions. They are designed to vest President Obama with unilateral, non-appealable control over available treatments and their costs. That is, Americans will have no recourse to challenge errant or capricious executive-branch decisions in the courts. 

For example, let’s say you’re hospitalized for some condition or procedure and are discharged, but you relapse and need to go back to the hospital. Not so fast. Under Democratic health-care reform, the government will be rationing hospital treatment. You will not be readmitted unless Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (or one of her anonymous minions) has decided enough people suffering the same ailment have been discharged — freeing up whatever HHS, in its infinite wisdom, sees as adequate resources to allow you a second bite at the apple. 

To what conditions or procedures does this rule apply? As Duke professor John David Lewisnotes, it’s any “condition or procedure selected by the Secretary.” As if that weren’t bad enough: The bill states that “there shall be no administrative or judicial review” of the readmissions measures. It’s the Sebelius way or the highway.

The URL for H.R. 3200 is:

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Friday, August 14, 2009

The Myth of Valley Wages

What the numbers don’t show you is that, the big established companies aside, Silicon Valley is economically very ill. Not mortally — at least not yet — but the Valley of myth, the Valley that sparked the digital revolution, that drove much of the new job growth and new wealth in the U.S. over the last two generations, and that transformed our daily lives forever, is now a fading shadow of its former self.

Government regulation (Sarbanes-Oxley, options expensing and now the White House’s insane plan to crush the venture capital industry under banking-type oversight) and Washington’s current anti-Small Enterprise/pro Big Business animus is quickly destroying the Valley’s historically unique environment for growing entrepreneurs and new companies. There is no available venture capital, the cost of running a start-up in terms of time and money wasted on government paperwork (and probably taxes soon as well) is through the roof, and there is no exit strategy – i.e., a liquidation event where the risk-takers get rewarded for their success, such as an IPO – other than selling out to one of the big companies.

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2006 Flashback: Pelosi Tells Anti-War Protesters ‘I’m a Fan of Disruptors’


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Flying Congresswoman Feels Global Warming

 > Detroit, Mich. - Michigan just experienced its coldest July on > record; global temperatures haven't risen in more than a decade; > Great Lakes water levels have resumed their 30-year cyclical rise > (contrary to a decade of media scare stories that they were drying > up due to global warming), and polls show that climate change > doesn't even make a list of Michigan voters' top-ten concerns.
> Yet in an interview with the Detroit News Monday, Senator Debbie > Stabenow (D., Mich.) - recently appointed to the Senate Energy > Committee - made clear that fighting the climate crisis is her top > priority.
> "Climate change is very real," she confessed as she embraced cap and > trade's massive tax increase on Michigan industry - at the same time > claiming, against all the evidence, that it would not lead to an > increase in manufacturing costs or energy prices. "Global warming > creates volatility. I feel it when I'm flying. The storms are more > volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes."
> And there are sea monsters in Lake Michigan. I can feel them when > I'm boating.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Charles Murray: Tax Withholding and a Separate Payroll Tax Hide the True Burden of Government

The issue is that it is inherently problematic to have a democracy in which a third of filers pay no personal income tax at all (another datum from the IRS), and the entire bottom half of filers, meaning those with adjusted gross incomes below $33,000, have an average tax rate of just 3%.

This deforms the behavior of everyone—the voters who think they aren't paying for Congress's latest bright idea, the politicians who know that promising new programs will always be a winning political strategy with the majority of taxpayers who don't think they have to pay for them, and the wealthy who know that the only way to get politicians to refrain from that strategy is to buy them off.

For once, we face a problem with a solution that costs nothing. Most families who pay little or no personal income taxes are paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. All we need to do is make an accounting change, no longer pretending that payroll taxes are sequestered in trust funds.

Fold payroll taxes into the personal tax code, adjusting the rules so that everyone still pays the same total, but the tax bill shows up on the 1040. Doing so will tell everyone the truth: Their payroll taxes are being used to pay whatever bills the federal government brings upon itself, among which are the costs of Social Security and Medicare.

The finishing touch is to make sure that people understand how much they are paying, which is presently obscured by withholding at the workplace. End withholding, and require everybody to do what millions of Americans already do: write checks for estimated taxes four times a year.

Both of those simple changes scare politicians. Payroll taxes are politically useful because low-income and middle-income taxpayers don't complain about what they believe are contributions to their retirement and they think, wrongly, that they aren't paying much for anything else. Tax withholding has a wonderfully anesthetizing effect on people whose only income is a paycheck, leaving many of them actually feeling grateful for their tax refund check every year, not noticing how much the government has taken from them.

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Yale refuses to publish Mohammed cartoons

the Yale University Press, decided to publish a book about the Danish cartoons without the Danish cartoons.

According to a piece in The New York Times, John Donatich, the director of Yale University Press, said that the decision not to include the cartoons was "difficult."

Really? Why was it difficult? Mr. Donatich presides over part of an academic institution whose motto is "lux et veritas," "light and truth." His "difficult" decision announced to the world that his motto timiditas et deditio: "cowardice and surrender." 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Newt: What's a year of life worth?

The British single-payer bureaucrats arrived at the price of an additional year of life in the same way they decide how much health care all British people will get, through a formula called "quality-adjusted life years."

That means that if you're sick in Great Britain, government bureaucrats literally decide if your life is worth living and, if so, how much longer and at what cost.

If it's more than $45,000, you're out of luck.

In the highest levels of the Obama Administration there is a theory of how to ration health care that is troublingly reminiscent of the British system of "quality-adjusted life years."

Dr. Ezekial Emanuel is a key health care advisor to President Obama and the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Earlier this year, Dr. Emanuel wrote an article that advocated what he called "the complete lives system" as a method for rationing health care.  You can read it here.

John Mackey: The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America

Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.

Read the whole thing for free-market proposals on how to reform health care in America.

A Taste of Their Own Medicine

A Taste of Their Own Medicine. (Coburn Amendment #226) For many liberals in Congress, a new public health-insurance plan, to compete against private health insurance, is an absolute "must" for health-care reform. Virtually all independent analysts estimate that, given the special advantages of taxpayer subsidies and regulation, that the competition would be rigged, and millions of Americans with private health insurance today would be dumped by their employers into the new public plan. Sen. Tom Coburn proposed an amendment that would require all members of Congress and their staffs to enroll in the newly-created public health-insurance plan. This means that they would be required to give up their private insurance coverage (nationwide there are 283 plans competing for federal employees' dollars), which is today provided through the popular and successful Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). With many members of Congress openly willing to create incentives that would drive Americans out of their existing private coverage, Senator Coburn put his colleagues to a test. Although ten Senate Democrats voted against it, the Coburn amendment passed by one vote. Taxpayers should watch very closely whether this amendment is preserved or buried.

I'll give Congress their fleet of private jets if they agree to live on the "public" health care plan.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Town Hall decorum and a bit of history

I remember the anger 20 years ago. I was running Roll Call, the congressional newspaper, at the time. President Reagan signed the Catastrophic Coverage bill into law in July 1988, and Congress repealed it in November 1989. Six years later, Richard Himelfarb published an entire book on the subject, Catastrophic Politics. He described in detail how seniors "angrily confronted lawmakers on their trips home."

Nor is the concept of organizations getting people out to town hall meetings something new. Democrats used trade unions this way to help defeat President Bush's effort to reform Social Security and stave off the system's insolvency.  [...]

The truth is that the uproar over the lack of decorum at some of today's town hall meetings is a sideshow. President Obama and many Democrats in Congress are trying to push changes in healthcare that Americans, quite simply, do not want. People are skeptical of plans that will vastly increase government spending at a time of record budget deficits—and they fear losing what they prize most: the ability to choose their own doctors and not suffer the kind of rationing that plagues European and Canadian systems. In addition, judging from history, they think that further government intervention will raise costs.

Fishy statements about health care reform  

Keith Hennessey reports some "fishy" statements to

I call to your attention several fishy statements about health care reform legislation made by a gentleman named Dr. Douglas Elmendorf.  He claims to be Director of the "Congressional Budget Office" and has posted frequently about health care reform on his website,  This information takes the form of personal posts on his Director's Blog, as well as in-depth reports that have the veneer of competent, thorough, impartial professional analysis.  The IP address of his site is, and his organization has named their hideout the "Ford House Office Building."

Elmendorf appears to have several hundred followers in his organization, which has extraordinary influence over many in Congress.  I understand that some right-wing Members of Congress support and even vote for his annual funding source.

Read the whole list at the link.  I look forward to the response from the White House.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Barone: Government Health Care in Stealth Mode

Sounds "fishy" to me:

Obama has never made his ultimate goal a secret; it's the same as Schakowsky's and Hacker's. The video shows him saying in October 2003, when he was running for the U.S. Senate, "I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care program." He adds, "We may not get there immediately," noting the Democrats must "take back" the White House and both houses of Congress -- a condition fulfilled last Jan. 20.

Campaigning for president in May 2007, he says, "But I don't think we're going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately." That seems to imply that his goal remains the same as it was in 2003. "There's going to be potentially some transition process -- I can envision a decade out, or 15 years out, or 20 years out, where we've got a much more portable system." Which of course government health insurance would be. You couldn't get away from it. The president's defenders depict this video and others like it as a patchwork of irrelevant and misleading statements. They also cite Obama's oft-repeated pledges that any health care bill he would sign would let you keep the insurance you have. They don't address the point, raised by Hacker, that you can't keep it if your employer stops offering it.

But, as Schakowsky says, "This is not a principled fight." Schakowsky, Hacker and Obama believe, out of idealism but also perhaps for crass political reasons, that America would be better off with a single-payer system like Canada's or Britain's. But they realize that they're operating in a country where most voters don't agree. The video helps us understand how they're seeking to reach their single-payer goal through government-option stealth.

Barone, you have be reported to  You are undermining the President who want to bring free health care to all.  The CyberStasi will deal with you.

Tom Coburn: Ten Questions Politicians Won’t Answer [on Health Care]

Senator Tom Coburn is one of two physicians in the Sentate.  Read the whole thing.

5. If the public option is so wonderful, will you lead by example and vote for a plan to enroll you and your family in the public option?

I offered an amendment in committee to force members of Congress to enroll in the public option. Nine out of eleven Democrats on the health committee who back the public option refused. If the politicians creating the public option don't have confidence in it, neither should the American people.

I've introduced a bill along with Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.) and Reps. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) called the Patient's Choice Act that guarantees coverage and choice for every American without raising taxes or increasing spending. In fact, our bill will save taxpayers at least $70 billion. Many other members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, are working on alternatives that don't herd the American people into a government-run program.

The choice is not between the public option and nothing. The choice is between the public option and an option that can win the support of the public. The future of health care truly is up to you.

Ken Gladney attends protest outside SEIU St. Louis headquarters

Like Jim Treacher said, if Gladney was an Obama supporter, right now he'd be more famous than Rodney King.

"Don't Tread on Me"

BREITBART: I am Kenneth Gladney

Last week, a black gentleman named Kenneth Gladney went to a town-hall meeting hosted by Rep. Russ Carnahan, Missouri Democrat. While passing out "Don't Tread on Me" flags, he was viciously attacked by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members. One called him a [n-word].

These union thugs were directed by the White House to go to the protests and "punch back twice as hard." And they did.

While the attack was captured on video and is available on YouTube, Mr. Gladney's horrifying story is absent from MSNBC's 24/7 media cycle. Mr. Krugman has yet to write about it. And Mr. Cooper has yet to condemn the attack.

Painting Protestors as "Partisan Mobs with Lies About Health Reform"

Supporters of President Obama formerly signed up as members of "Obama for America" received an email today from Mitch Stewart, the director of the group's current incarnation, Organizing for America, to show up at town halls and congressional offices as a counter to the protestors against the president's health care reform push.

Painting the protestors as "Insurance companies and partisan attack groups... stirring up fear with false rumors about the President's plan," Stewart's email tells supporters whom their member of Congress is and even provides information about town hall meetings they may be holding.

Writes Stewart: "As you've probably seen in the news, special interest attack groups are stirring up partisan mobs with lies about health reform, and it's getting ugly. Across the country, members of Congress who support reform are being shouted down, physically assaulted, hung in effigy, and receiving death threats. We can't let extremists hijack this debate, or confuse Congress about where the people stand."

I Am The Mob video:

In peril in Pyongyang? Those girls were in greater danger sharing a plane with Bill Clinton

I quote this mainly for the Bill Clinton joke...

A Mail on Sunday investigation has unearthed some rather surprising facts about the pair – facts that show they were hopelessly ill-prepared for their 'mission' to the Chinese-Korean border, that they were working for a minor television organisation run by a former ambulance-chasing lawyer and, while they no doubt did not intend to be captured, the hapless twosome ended up as valuable pawns in an international game of bluff and double bluff.

Indeed, from the whole tawdry affair only one clear winner has emerged – an exuberant Bill Clinton – even if, according to an insider, 'the joke in the White House was that the girls were safer in North Korea than on the plane going home with Bill'.

The two women were sent to China in March to do a report about North Korean refugees pouring over the border. A source familiar with Current said: 'It was the sort of bleeding-hearts liberal story that would play well to their target market. But then Laura decided to take it a step further.'

'Laura is sweet but not very street-smart,' said the insider. 'She was sent to China to make a routine programme about refugees crossing the border from North Korea but, according to Kim Jong Il's people, she was walking across the border and leaping about.

'The official North Korean report said Euna was holding the camera. Of course, there was speculation they were working for the CIA. Forget that. This has been a farce. It couldn't be more embarrassing for Obama and the agency. No one hired these girls. No one in Washington had ever heard about them until they were captured by the North Koreans.

'From everything I have heard about Laura, she is a Valley girl who wanted to play in the big league.  I think she did this as a stunt to compete with her sister. Lisa Ling works with people like Oprah. Laura earns peanuts at a network no one has heard of. This was her big chance.'

Friday, August 07, 2009

Peggy Noonan: ‘You Are Terrifying Us’

But most damagingly to political civility, and even our political tradition, was the new White House email address to which citizens are asked to report instances of "disinformation" in the health-care debate: If you receive an email or see something on the Web about health-care reform that seems "fishy," you can send it to The White House said it was merely trying to fight "intentionally misleading" information.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas on Wednesday wrote to the president saying he feared that citizens' engagement could be "chilled" by the effort. He's right, it could. He also accused the White House of compiling an "enemies list." If so, they're being awfully public about it, but as Byron York at the Washington Examiner pointed, the emails collected could become a "dissident database."

All of this is unnecessarily and unhelpfully divisive and provocative. They are mocking and menacing concerned citizens. This only makes a hot situation hotter. Is this what the president wants? It couldn't be.

Dear Peggy Noonan, we respect your right to free speech.  Nevertheless, you have been reported to for your irresponsible criticism of our program to bring health care to millions of poor, hard-working Americans.  The whole WSJ enterprise deserves a visit from the  

Carry on, fellow health care recipients, and thank Obama that you won't be left to die in the streets, which is exactly what would happen if the Republicans get their way.

Who's Behind the Internet Snitch Brigade?;_ylt=Avrrgsmwj4q1dnk.pyPSVtr9wxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTJnbWpzMThiBGFzc2V0A3VjLzIwMDkwODA3L29wXzE5MTA5MTMEcG9zAzEwBHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDd2hvMzlzYmVoaW5k

Czardom has its privileges. This week, President Obama's health care overlord, Nancy DeParle, launched a taxpayer-funded initiative to recruit an Internet Snitch Brigade that will combat "disinformation about health insurance reform." As the White House explained in a special online bulletin:
"These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain e-mails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an e-mail or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to"

Consider this blog "flagged".  So far no one from the has come after me, but I'm sure they're concentrating on the big boys like Instapundit, HotAir, NRO, Rush, Hannity, etc. before the cut off the power supply to the small fry like me.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Great Crash of 2008: Are governments or markets to blame?

Finally, I want to consider who are the winners from this on- going global financial crisis? The answer is: China, India and Goldman Sachs!

Let us consider the latter. This also provides a clue to the political economy behind the current crisis in its epicenter the US. As in the numerous Third World financial crises the question to be asked is who are the 'rent-seekers' who created the crisis and whose reluctance to take a 'hair cut' prevents the domestic polity from accepting the obvious cures. So that ultimately the intervention of an external agency like the IMF is need to administer the necessary cures. The crisis was caused by financiers taking ever risky gambles with the complicity of the government. This is reflected in the changing share of US domestic corporate profits that have gone to the financial sector. From 1973 to 1985 it was 16%. In the 1990s it oscillated between 21-30%. In the last decade it reached 41%. This was accompanied by a dramatic increase in pay: which rose from 1999=108% of the average for all domestic private industries to 181% in 2007. This great increase and concentration of wealth has created a new financial oligarchy similar to the one in the early years of the last century, which has great political weight in the US. At its head is Goldman Sachs. It has provided the Treasury secretaries under the last 2 US presidents and numerous alumni have held and continue to hold influential posts in devising and implementing US economic policy. (see Simon Johnson: "The Quiet Coup", The Atlantic Online, May 2009).

This explains some of the bailouts. Why for instance was Lehman allowed to go the wall but AIG was 'saved'? Lehman had the misfortune of both being a major competitor to Goldman's and being run and staffed by the 'barrow boys' from the Bronx rather than the Ivy League gentlemen manning its rival. AIG was saved I suspect because, as appeared when Congress forced AIG to disclose what it had done with its bail out money, it had to disclose that most if it was to pay off its counterparties, the major one being Goldman! It is ironic that just as the century old rise, decline and now fall of GM, which marked the era of American industrial ascendancy, with one of its chairman claiming that "what was good for GM was good for America", should now be followed by an era in which seemingly "what is good for Goldman is good for America", or more generally Wall Street.

Congress in Fantasyland

Congressional "logic" could also be applied to housing.

Why not knock down all houses built in America before 2000 and replace them with new and more energy-efficient houses? Wait -- we already evidenced the results of that experiment -- it happened in New Orleans. Rather than the government directly knocking down the houses, Hurricane Katrina did it for us. Are the people of New Orleans better off or worse off because of Katrina? Are all of the American taxpayers who footed much of the rebuilding cost -- hundreds of billions of dollars -- better off or worse off because of Katrina?

Many in Congress argue that the reason New Orleans is still a mess is because of federal, state and local government mismanagement and corruption. Yes, but now don't they want the government to run the health care system? And these folks are telling us that their new medical system will cover more people, will cost less, give us better care and not add to the budget deficit -- hmmm. Fantasyland!

Quite simply, upper-income people have options. History shows that when tax rates are raised, many will choose to work less (leisure is nontaxable), retire earlier than they had planned and save and invest less in taxable, productive activities. Those making more than $160,000 per year would need to have their taxes roughly tripled to take care of just this year's deficit. (One merely has to look at the tax evasion practiced by the chairman of the congressional tax writing committee, the secretary of the Treasury and the former majority leader, et al. at today's tax rates to know that they and their colleagues, as well as most everyone else, will find either legal or illegal ways to avoid paying the tax.)

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Why the Stimulus Isn't Working

Derek Thompson over at The Atlantic highlights this interesting factoid about the stimulus, complete with graph:

The best explanation I've found for why the stimulus didn't work is this graph from the GAO analysis of the stimulus act. It shows pretty clearly that the 76 percent of stimulus spending through the first four months went to fill in the gaping holes in Medicaid and state budgets. In other words, the stimulus isn't acting like a pole vault lifting job creation above the baseline. It's been acting like a crutch to keep state budgets and payrolls from tumbling.

Color me shocked. I realize there are people that think it's a noble goal, but spending billions preserving the status quo in government over the next four months while America bleeds jobs is most certainly not the rationale given to the American people who were told there was an immediate need to railroad through an economic stimulus.

Senators to put brakes on ‘cash for clunkers’

Republicans also pointed out that the administration had originally estimated the first $1bn in funding would last until November. Instead it is expected to run out in the next few days.

"When the administration comes bearing estimates, it's not a bad idea to look for a second opinion," said Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader. "All the more so if they say they're in a hurry."

Prospects for overcoming a Republican filibuster were also dealt a blow on Monday with objections from a number of leading Democrats. Dianne Feinstein, the senator from California, and Chuck Schumer, the New York senator, both want to raise the fuel efficiency standards of the subsidised vehicles, 250,000 of which have now been funded.

If they manage to extend the program, look for some enterprising Chinese company to start making new 'clunkers' and selling them for $3000 just so you can collect the $4,500 trade-in money.  Maybe the government should pay car thieves to target clunkers, as long as they promise to cut them up for spare parts -- we wouldn't want anyone buying a clunker and reselling it to the government.  They'd never thing of doing something like that in New Jersey.  Couldn't happen.

If this idea takes off, we could pay people to throw stones at their windows and offer a government subsidy for energy-efficient replacement windows.  Maybe inner city gangs could be recruited by community organizers to vandalize old buildings so that they could be fixed up with stimulus funds.

We could even apply this brilliant economic principle to health care.  Let's hire mafia hitmen to take out old people who spend disproportional amounts on operations and drugs.  Thing of the savings, and the huge reduction in the carbon footprints of those elderly folks.  Now, we're talking about a real "cap and trade" program.