Archive for September, 2009
September 28th, 2009 at 10:41 am
Public Option Still a Focus in Health Care Debate

“Stick a fork in it.  The public health insurance option is dead!”

That’s what the so-called “experts,” commentators and junkies have been saying for weeks.  Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.  Jeffrey Young, in The Hill today, writes:

The spotlight this week will continue on the Senate Finance Committee, where amendments to add the public insurance option will be offered by Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.).

“The issue will also continue to be a battle in the House, where liberal and centrists Democrats are fighting over whether it should be included in a House healthcare bill.”

Despite the public furor, town hall meetings and taxpayer marches — all focused, at least in part, in opposition to a government-run insurance plan — the politicians in Washington are not debating whether there should be a government takeover of health care.  Rather, they are fighting over how how much of a government takeover of your health care they can get away with.

Quick question:  If the election were held today, would you vote for your current representative and Senators?

September 28th, 2009 at 10:25 am
German Voters Turn To Freedom
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In a historic election result, German voters this weekend turned toward tax cuts, free markets and labor reform, and sent the leftist Social Democratic Party (SDP) to its worst-ever performance.  What made this election historic wasn’t the reelection of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her center-right Christian Democratic Party (CDP), but rather the unprecedented success of the free-market Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Germans’ rejection of socialism.

The FDP platform calls for reduced taxes, deregulation, moderation of Germany’s suffocating labor laws and strong ties with the United States, and its leader Guido Westerwelle confidently called for tax simplification and lower rates during his victory speech.  German business also welcomed the results, with German Chambers of Industry and Commerce spokesman Heinrich Driftmann confirming that “the election result is a clear vote for courageous reforms.”  Although Chancellor Merkel was elected in 2005, her slimmer victory margin forced her to enter a governing coalition with the socialist SDP, which threw a wet blanket on her market-oriented agenda.  With the FDP’s remarkable showing, Germans expressed their desire to finally implement that freedom agenda.

This result sends a clear signal to Americans as Obama attempts to impose his own socialist model upon the United States.  Germans have seen that model first-hand during this global economic downturn, and soundly rejected it to provide a welcome example for American voters.

September 28th, 2009 at 9:08 am
Morning Links
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September 27th, 2009 at 9:39 pm
RomneyCare, a Major Political Problem for Mitt Romney
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Andy Barr, at, outlines a major political problem for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  A former and presumably future Republican candidate for President in 2012, Romney was front-and-center in pushing through and heralding unprecedented health care insurance expansion in the state.


Romney can rightfully boast that he got much what he aimed for, since less than three percent of Massachusetts citizens are currently uninsured.  But critics insist that the cost of Romney’s program has far exceeded the governor’s estimates and have targeted the plan as a prime example of what not to do on the national level.

“Even in Massachusetts there are signs of discomfort with the plan:  A June Rasmussen Reports poll found that only 26 percent of Massachusetts voters thought the state’s health care reform was a success.”

From our periodic scans of Massachusetts media regarding the growing problems with RomneyCare (and its similarities to national proposals), we think he’s got an awful tough row to hoe (as in garden tool, not hip hop slang, can’t be too careful these days) to win the Republican nomination if he just keeps defending the problematic plan, as he seems wont to do.

Still, we think Romney is a smart and honorable man.  And wouldn’t it be refreshing (not to mention unique) if he just stood up and said, “look, this was the problem and this is what we tried and it hasn’t worked, and it’s certainly not going to work on a national scale”?

September 27th, 2009 at 8:28 pm
ACORN and The New York Times
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Clark Hoyt, Public Editor (ombudsman, sort of) of The New York Times, today analyzes the Times’ “slow reflexes” on the ACORN story. 

No bias or ideology there, a bunch of editors told him, they’re just too busy covering “health care, two wars and the deep recession,” in the words of Dean Baquet, Washington bureau chief. 

Managing Editor Jill Abramson, managing editor for news, blamed “insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio,” undoubtedly forgetting that when “the New York City Council froze all its funding for Acorn and the Brooklyn district attorney opened a criminal investigation, there was still [no story].”

But just wait, conservatives.  Abramson and Executive Editor Bill Keller have now appointed an editor to “monitor opinion media and brief them frequently on bubbling controversies.”  The editor will be anonymous, so he doesn’t get, in Keller’s words, “a bombardment of e-mails and excoriation in the blogosphere.”

We have one point:  Most conservatives just want newspapers that cover news (like when the local district attorney opens a criminal investigation of a major national organization) with factual, unbiased reportage, not more he said/she said babble on “bubbling controversies.”  The bubbling controversies already have outlets (such as Fox News and talk radio), which seem to be doing a lot better than the Times.

We have one question:  Is an anonymous editor anything like an anonymous source?  It’s just a journalistic concept with which we are unfamiliar.

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September 27th, 2009 at 5:31 pm
Senator Feinstein Unfamiliar With “Centrifuges”
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In an interview this morning on Fox News Sunday, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – California) gave Americans cause for concern by demonstrating a less-than-razor-sharp familiarity with a rudimentary element of national and global security. Senator Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, stumbled immediately out of the blocks when she appeared unfamiliar with the term “centrifuge,” a mechanism that plays an essential role in uranium enrichment and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry.

Chris Wallace:   Let’s start with Iran, and the disclosure that it has been building a secret nuclear enrichment facility.  Let me start with you, Senator Feinstein.  How strong is the evidence that this is to provide fuel for a bomb, and how sure are we that there aren’t other secret facilities in Iran?

Senator Feinstein:   Well, the evidence is strong that there was, that there is, such a facility, that it’s capable of about 3,000 various…  umm…  oh, what’s the word…

Chris Wallace:   Centrifuges.


September 27th, 2009 at 11:10 am
Krugman Goes Postal
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There is something distinctly undignified when a Nobel Prize-winning economist goes postal, but then no one has accused Paul Krugman of dignity in some time.

In one of his harangues on behalf of the Waxman-Markey bill (you know, otherwise known as cap-and-tax) to supposedly prevent some future tropical creature’s diet from including boiled people, Krugman makes the argument that in 2020 the bill would cost the average family “roughly the cost of a postage stamp a day.”

Krugman did not originate the line, around a while now, one of those analogies invariably conjured up by elitists to explain to us plain folks in plain language why we can afford to fund this or that government program.

With regard to this one, we would never stoop so low as to ask what the Postal Service, yet another already bankrupt government service, will do when all those average families, who really must live within their budgets, have to sacrifice just that one postage stamp a day (and that’s if you accept Krugman’s and the government’s math).  Do Nobel Prize-winning economists ever address the idea that resources which are not infinite cannot be infinitely taken?

No, we want to be positive by urging President Obama to begin selling ObamaCare by saying it’s only going to cost every senior citizen just two-and-a-half Depends diapers a day.

September 27th, 2009 at 2:49 am
Fly Me to the Moon
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While the future of space travel may be in the private sector (see the X Prize Foundation’s website), governments are still the main players in this day and age. That’s why it’s encouraging to see this ABC News report that the U.S. is considering delaying the retirement of the Space Shuttle.

Not that the shuttle is anything exciting. Space travel started losing its appeal when the focus became the International Space Station (a sort of floating UN with freeze-dried food) instead of missions of discovery. But with space becoming an issue tied in just as closely with national security as with science & technology, leaving the US dependent on an increasingly surly Russia for our trips to outer space was never a good idea.

September 26th, 2009 at 11:28 am
If Net Neutrality, Why Not “Search Neutrality,” Google?
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As we’ve often noted, Google is one of the biggest corporate lobbyists for Net Neutrality, by which federal regulations and bureaucrats would do to the Internet what they’ve done to public education. This is corporate welfare of the worst kind, as Google seeks to cement its business model of free-riding on telecommunications infrastructure through government dictate.

But it raises the question – why not attach “Search Neutrality” amendments to any Net Neutrality legislation that it advocates?  After all, Google justifies its lobbying on the ground that Internet service providers are somehow ready to spring their sinister plan to block consumer access to various websites.  Never mind that we’ve gone two decades without any substantive problem in this regard, and never mind that the marketplace would punish any service provider that actually attempted to block consumer choice in that manner.  But even accepting its rationalization at face value, isn’t Google just as capable of blocking sites in its search results?  What is to stop THEM from suffocating consumer access?

Accordingly, we propose that if Google is serious, how about adding a “Search Neutrality” provision to any Net Neutrality bill that it advocates?  Paraphrasing your own motto, Google, don’t be evil.

September 26th, 2009 at 8:54 am
Video: Obama’s Nuclear Reality Check

After chairing a United Nations Security Council meeting on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, President Obama gets a nuclear reality check from CFIF’s Renee Giachino.  Watch this week’s Freedom Minute below:


September 25th, 2009 at 10:32 pm
Message to Newspapers: Not Even Congress Cares About You
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Yesterday there was this Joint Economic Committee hearing on “The Future of Newspapers:  The Impact on the Economy and Democracy.”

So how many of the 20 House and Senate members showed up?  Three, according to Joseph Curl of The Washington Times, including the Chairwoman, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), who wasn’t even there part of the time.

Maloney and Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Md) have introduced a bill to allow newspapers to become non-profits, since most of them can’t make a profit, having run off most of their subscribers.  No vote has been scheduled.

In a Sacred Heart University poll of attitudes about the media (mentioned on this blog yesterday, in another context), “70.4 percent said they believe the national news media are not responsive to ‘consumer preferences and market desires.’  Nearly 68 percent said they agreed with the statement: ‘Old-style, traditionally objective and fair journalism is dead.’”

What would it take to resuscitate it?  We doubt if it is possible, because most of those running today’s newspapers are too arrogant to think the opinions of readers are of value.

September 25th, 2009 at 7:42 pm
The Ridiculous Mr. Gates
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I have been skeptical of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense ever since he replaced the flawed, but honorable, Donald Rumsfeld in the final years of the Bush Administration.

Gates is one of those “non-ideological”, “pragmatic” types that the press always crows about (at least when they’re Republicans). There were many similar figures in the Bush Administration — Henry Paulson, Colin Powell, and (to a lesser extent) Condoleeza Rice, as well. What they all have in common is that their “sensibility” and “prudence” emanates from the fact that they have very few principles that they’re willing to go to the mat for. They tend towards principled timidity. For example. take a look at Gates’ comments from a CNN interview to be broadcast this weekend:

“…The only way you end up not having a nuclear-capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons, as opposed to strengthened. And so I think, as I say, while you don’t take options off the table, I think there’s still room left for diplomacy.”

Did the Secretary of Defense really just tell us that the ONLY way to prevent Iran going nuclear is to convince them that they’re stronger without a nuke that will deter almost everyone in the world from challenging them? I’m building my bomb shelter.

September 25th, 2009 at 1:30 pm
New Ramirez Cartoon: Health Care Reform Transparency

Below is the latest from Michael Ramirez:

September 25th, 2009 at 12:01 pm
McConnell to HHS: Lift Gag Order On Private Health Insurance Companies

In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Senator Mitch McConnell and other members of the Republican leadership threatened to block some of President Obama’s nominees until HHS lifts its gag order on private health insurance companies.

The gag order was put in place after Senator Baucus and others complained about a mailing Humana Inc. sent to seniors warning that the health care reform proposals advancing in Congress could result in cuts to Medicare benefits.   

McConnell’s office put out a release with excerpts from his interview on Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, during which he dicussed the letter and issue.  Below are some of those excerpts:

I sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services signed by the Republican Leadership. They have 10 vacancies of people they are trying to get appointed to the administration. None of those people will get through the Senate easily until they lift the gag order. None of these people make it through the Senate without extensive debate until they lift the gag order and allow the First Amendment to function for everyone in this country, including people who just happen to be doing business with the federal government.”

I think the Democratic majority is undeterred by the facts. The facts are that they are trying to cut Medicare. They certainly are cutting Medicare Advantage as well they are going to have a $500 billion cut in Medicare over the next 10 years. They are acting like they are not. Nobody believes that the director of the CBO has illustrated what they are doing. It is astonishing.”

Other Republican leaders who signed the letter include:  Senators  Jon Kyl, Lamar Alexander, John Thune, Lisa Murkowski, John Cornyn, Charles Grassley and Mike Enzi.

September 25th, 2009 at 10:51 am
Quote of the Day: Seat-Warmers in the Senate
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From David Boaz at the Cato Institute:

“[A]s of 2005 there were 18 senators who gained office at least partly through their family ties – sons, daughters, wives, nephews of former senators, governors, presidents, and so on.  The Founders envisioned the Senate as an assembly of wise and accomplished men, chosen for their experience and judiciousness. Political campaigns that favor the handsome, the glib, the panderers, and the best fundraisers are bad enough. But a Senate full of legacies and seat-warmers is especially unfortunate.”

September 25th, 2009 at 10:48 am
Oh How Hard It Is To Represent the People
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From Mike Soraghan,

“Politically vulnerable Democrats say Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders aren’t offering them the protection from tough votes that they did in the last Congress.

“Conservative Democrats fear that dozens of members could be swept out of their districts in the midterm election next year, and that fear has been intensifying in recent weeks.”

So why don’t they take an easy vote?  The Democratic House Caucus decides who will be Speaker.  We’d be willing to bet that just about anyone voting to remove Pelosi could have their seats in perpetuity.

September 25th, 2009 at 10:32 am
Summary of Yesterday’s Health Care Markup
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Here is a summary of the amendments considered during yesterday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing.  Chairman Baucus plans to finish work today and there is a possibility that the full Senate could take up consideration next week.  Be sure to call Congress and tell them what you think about higher taxes and government-run health care: 202-224-3121.  HT: Peter Roff

  • Menendez C4:  Ensure and clarify that children qualify as exchange eligible individuals and that there shall be the option of a child-only health insurance option and subsides in the exchanges.  Agreed to by Voice Vote
  • Enzi C6:  To provide additional choices to individuals who would otherwise be enrolled in Medicaid throught expansions in this bill.  Rejected 10-13.
  • Ensign C14:  Protecting states that saw a Medicaid increase of more than 1 percent from an unfunded mandate.  Rejected 10-13.
  • Stabenow C6:  To ensure high quality, specialized care for children and youth with special medical, psychological, social and emotional needs who can accept and respond to the close relationships within a family setting, but whose special needs require more intensive or therapeutic services than are found in traditional foster care.  Agreed to by Voice Vote
  • Menendez C9:  Ensuring quality health care for those with autism and other behavioral health conditions.
  • Crapo C2: The amendment would prohibit any expansion of the Medicaid program that would result in any additional costs for the States, now or in the future.
  • Enzi C9: To exempt any State that the State‘s revenues have declined for 2 consecutive fiscal year quarters from any mandatory Medicaid expansions.
  • Enzi C3:  Prior to implementing the employer assessments or fees described in Title 1, Subtitle D, the Secretary of Labor must certify that the implementation of such fees and assessments would not result in a reduction of workers‘ wages or an increase in the unemployment rate.  Passed 21-2.
  • Rockefeller #D10:  Revised the Medicare Commission provisions. Passed 15-3.
  • Nelson C1:  Strike provisions in Chairman‘s mark (pages 12-13) to allow states to form ―health care choice compacts. Agreed to on voice vote.
  • Grassley C9:  This amendment requires states to raise reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers (such as pediatricians, children‘s hospitals, and dentists) providing care for an eligible child to 100% of Medicare levels starting in 2014.  Rejected 10-13.
  • Bunning C3:  Amendment amends the Chairman‘s mark to require that any taxpayer who requests an exemption on their tax return from the personal responsibility excise tax be granted an exemption.  Rejected 9-14.
  • Cornyn C7:  The amendment would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to annually submit to Congress for consideration the flat dollar amount required of employers under Subtitle D.   In order to take effect, Congress must enact and the President must sign the penalty into law. Failed on a point of order 8-8.
  • Nelson D10:  Eliminate the Part D Coverage Gap and Require Drug Maker Rebates for Full-Benefit Dual Eligible Individuals.  Failed 13-10.
September 25th, 2009 at 10:21 am
Wacky World Leaders and the Mainstream Media that Back Them. Oh Goodness, Let’s Go for $5000 on This One, Alex
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Yesterday, we remarked briefly and pointedly on the paranoid delusional loon who is the (appropriately) deposed former President of Honduras, one Manuel Zelaya.   By President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (not to mention the Organization of American States), the tiny country has been threatened with economic ruin if it does not return the guy to power.

But what of the mainstream media that also supported Zelaya’s return.  Well, at least the Washington Post read that Mr. Zelaya now claims to have been “bombarded with radiation and toxic gases by ‘Israeli mercenaries.'”

So what does good old WaPo write now?  “Such behavior ought to deter any responsible member of the Organization of American States – starting with Brazil – from supporting anything other than a token return by Mr. Zelaya to office.  The Obama administration has backed such a restoration (as have we)…”

We’re much too busy to go back and parse words, but we just can’t seem to remember the emphasis on “token” by any of the aforementioned in the past.

Based on some pretty solid understanding of the Honduras Constitution and the circumstances of Zelaya’s removal by people who actually know something about the country, we think he was removed from office legally and by the book.  And now we also know, from his own mouth, that he’s certifiable.

Would a “token” return to office be in a straight jacket with Nurse Ratchet on duty?

September 25th, 2009 at 10:12 am
Shameless: Geithner Now Wants To Keep Unused TARP Funds
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The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is set to expire on December 31, and approximately $130 billion remains unspent.  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, however, now wants to keep those unspent billions and convert TARP into a permanent federal bureaucracy.

Has this administration no sense of shame or propriety whatsoever?

The TARP program was dishonestly sold to the American people one year ago as a “temporary” intrusion to keep our financial system afloat until the economic seas calmed.  Markets have long-since stabilized as they naturally do, and an enormous portion of TARP funds either remain unspent or were spent in ways totally unrelated to troubled assets.  Independent auditors also remain unable to verify the program’s success, and the Obama Administration and Pelosi/Reid Congress have us hurtling toward unthinkable levels of deficit and debt.  Despite this, but unsurprisingly to anyone with even a modest understanding of how government constantly erodes our individual freedoms, Geithner & Co. seek to make TARP permanent.

Time for another tea party at Geithner’s office.

September 25th, 2009 at 8:53 am
Morning Links
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