Friday, November 27, 2009

The More We Think of It, The Less We Think of It

The longer the debate goes on regarding Health Care, the less the American people feel that Obama and his sycophantic Congress are on the right track. Let the debate continue.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters nationwide now rate the U.S. health care system as good or excellent. That marks a steady increase from 44% at the beginning of October, 35%in May and 29% a year-and-a-half ago.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% now say the U.S. health care system is poor.

It is interesting to note that confidence in the system has improved as the debate over health care reform has moved to center stage. The latest polling shows that only 38% favor the health care legislation currently working its way through Congress.

Most liberal voters (51%) now rate the current health care system as poor. However, 62% of conservatives say it’s good or excellent. Among political moderates, 44% say the health care system is good or excellent while 26% say it's poor.

The Age of Bread and Circuses

There are a lot of correlations between the United States an the Roman Empire. We take many of our concepts of governance from the Romans. They were once a proud and noble people and were an example of power and prestige in the ancient world.

The Roman Empire declined and is now no more than history. Their fate is instructive; let us not be seduced by "Bread and Circuses":

This phrase originates in Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal (circa 100 AD ). In context, the Latin phrase panis et circenses (bread and circuses) is given as the only remaining cares of a Roman populace which has given up its birthright of political involvement. Here Juvenal displays his contempt for the declining heroism of his contemporary Romans:
… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses
Juvenal here makes reference to the Roman practice of providing free wheat to Roman citizens as well as costly circus games and other forms of entertainment as a means of gaining political power through populism. The Annona (grain dole) was begun under the instigation of the popularis politician Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 123 BC; it remained an object of political contention until it was taken under the control of the Roman emperors.

Spanish intellectuals between the 19th and 20th centuries complained about the similar pan y toros ("bread and bullfights"). It appears similarly in Russian as хлеба и зрелищ ("bread and spectacle").

Aldous Huxley used the phrase in Brave New World Revisited as an example of one of the ideas he used as a theme in Brave New World.

Lipstick on the Pig

The Washington Post tries to put a good face on the state of the economy, but for me, it's just not happening:

Economy limping back to strength

The unemployment rate will remain elevated for years to come, according to a forecast released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve that addresses for the first time economic conditions at the time of the next presidential election.

It paints a grim picture. Top Fed officials expect the unemployment rate to remain in the 6.8 to 7.5 percent range at the end of 2012 and said it could take “about five or six years” from now for economic activity to return to normal. The jobless rate was 10.2 percent in October.

That sober forecast came on top of a revised government estimate also released Tuesday of economic output in the third quarter showing that the recovery got off to a slower start over the summer than previously thought.

Government efforts to prop up the economy — including the $787 billion stimulus package passed in February, the “Cash for Clunkers” program to support auto sales this summer, and a zero interest rate policy by the Federal Reserve — are helping. The contribution of government spending to gross domestic product in the third quarter was actually higher than originally reported, the Commerce Department said.

But so far, the impact of these efforts has not been enough to engender a strong rebound.

“It is a slow-motion recovery,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. “It sure doesn’t look like the beginning of a normal, rapid recovery.”

The math is simple: The U.S. economy is capable of growing at roughly 2.5 to 3 percent a year, thanks to population growth and technological improvement, and needs to grow faster than that to create large numbers of jobs and significantly improved standards of living.

Following the last recession of comparable depth for example, in 1981-82, gross domestic product growth averaged a 7.8 percent annual rate for four quarters.

In this recession, by contrast, the five current Fed governors and 12 presidents of regional Fed banks expect growth of 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2010 — which would be enough to bring the unemployment rate down only slightly.

Sorry, but this doen’t paint picture of “limping back to strength”; it sounds like an economy on life support. A pig is a pig is a pig, regardless of cosmetics.

Oh, and who was President during the ‘81-’82 recoverery of which they speak? Let’s see, ummmm…..oh yeah, a fellow by the name of Ronald Reagan.

Alas, this time, all we have is Obama for three more years.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Disgraceful Naivete

Obama demanding release of additional 1,000 terrorists

Arutz Sheva is reporting that President Obama is demanding that in connection with the terrorists for Gilad trade, which is being made with Hamas, Israel release an additional 1,000 terrorists as a 'gesture' to 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen.
In response to U.S. demands that Israel free an additional 1,000-some terrorists as a "gesture" to Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, Lieberman said that previous releases of Fatah terrorists "have not proven themselves. The Olmert administration did this several times and it did not work, and we do not plan to allow it to happen," Lieberman said.
What right does Obama think he has to make demands on Israel regarding imprisoned terrorists? He has been no friend to Israel and continues to make her life difficult, while extending the hand of friendship to her enemies.


We all have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Yes, there are a lot of us going through very difficuly times right now, but we still live in the greatest country on Earth.

Let us be thankful for our military men and women, particularly those serving in God-forsaken places this Thanksgiving, and acknowledge that God has not forsaken them and neither should we; they are the protectors of all we hold dear.

Certainly, the landscape in America has undergone a profound change during the past year, and not for the better, but it cannot change who we are, or what we stand for, unless we allow it. There will be a dawn, there always is. Americans instictively look toward the horizon, let us follow that instinct.

In closing, a retrospective:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist

March 31, 2004: Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as the charred and mutilated bodies of U.S. contractors hang from a bridge over the Euphrates River in Fallujah, Iraq.

Is this any way to fight a war?

Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told

The three, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.

I am the first one to say that our troops should behave honorably. Rapes, mutilations, civilian massacres and the like are simply not acceptable and should be punished to the full extent of the UCMJ.

What we have here, however, is a bloody lip of a man responsible for not only murder, but the hideous mutilation of the murdered. And these SEALs are being Court Martialed for this monster's bloody lip?

This is a ridiculous and disproportionate reaction on the part of the Navy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Musings on "My Generation"

I think a lot of our problems started in the 60s, when young “Boomers” (like me) became involved in politics. The problem was that they (we) let uninformed idealism (which we had in abundance) outweigh good sense (which we had not yet developed).

The problem was exacerbated when people actually started to listen to us. The worship of “youth” is a dangerous thing when picking leadership.

Every generation that comes along thinks that they have “discovered the answer”, only to realize, with time, that their lofty convictions were merely the foolishness of youth. That’s not to slam young people; foolishness is part of the charm of youth.

We seem to have lost the healthy respect for wisdom over the past 30 years or so.

I wince every time I hear polls of “what young people” think. I mean, think of what your outlook on life was when you were 18, 19, or in your early 20s versus what it is today.

I also wince when people talk about “getting more young people involved in the system”. This is the very thing that beget us Obama; people who knew nothing, but were intent on electing “the fist black President” because they wanted to “make history”.

I hate to say it, but from what I’ve seen of a lot of people, I would prefer that they don’t vote; they are woefully uninformed on practically every subject and are far too easily swayed by empty slogans and emotionalism.

The much maligned newt Gingrich made some very good points in a book he wrote back in the 80s. He said that the maintenance of civilization is the handing down of values to succeeding generations, and that a civilization can literally be lost in the span of one generation.

Boomers came from good stock; the WWII generation. Alas, many of us neither respected or emulated the accomplishments or fortitude of our parents – we rebelled. While rebellion is a natural outgrowth of youth, at some point, it should be replaced by the acceptance of the standard of preceeding generations. Not nearly enough of us accepted that standard and we have endangered the republic, as a result.

In the case of the Boomers, due to our large numbers, we overwhelmed society and actually felt that we were the leading edge of a societal revolution….and we were, only not for the better.

Many of us DID accept the standard, eventually, and I am proud to be one of them. We became the Neo-Cons who were instrumental in the “Reagan Revolution”. Still, I am ashamed at many of my co-generationalists, and what they have wrought through their abject refusal to accept their mistakes and acknowledge the damage.

But oh, how I still love the music from those days; it was a bit of a renaissance that still echos to this day.

I think that what gave me the clue though, and steered me away from the Leftist preaching from these people was the fact that, while they constantly criticized capitalism and “big business”, they were all under contract with major record labels and were making $Millions for themselves as well as the record companies. That fact seemed to have been lost on many who took their political words as gospel.

Where are they now? Likely still living a soft, cushy life off the royalties. That’s all fine with me, it’s the sheer hypocrisy that is troublesome.

The 60s/70s were nothing short of an ad campaign; “big business” sold us the music, the clothes and the entire lifestyle, neatly packaged for a gullable, foolish generation, so that we could think that we were “rebelling against The Man”. “The Man” was deeply grateful for the business!

As I look around, many young people are adopting “the look” of those days; the bell bottoms, tie-dyed shirts, etc., and history, thus repeats itself.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Welcome to New York!

Then again, maybe not. Rep. Peter King (R-LI) is the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, and he brings up some interesting points in a column published on Saturday:

Unfortunately, President Obama may have set into motion a process that could result in Khalid Sheik Mohammed walking free. By moving his and the other cases from the military-commission system to the civilian courts, the president has granted KSM constitutional rights -- which defense attorneys will certainly seek to exploit in order to bog down the pace of the judicial process.

Whenever the case actually comes to trial, we're likely to see a circus-like proceeding potentially lasting years, in which the attorneys will undoubtedly try to paint the brave and selfless US military and intelligence community as the terrorists.

The cases against these and other terrorists are, not surprisingly, based significantly on classified intelligence gathered over many years. By prosecuting these men in civilian court instead of a military commission, the government will have a more difficult time protecting the sources and methods of gathering that intelligence -- disclosure of which would place American lives in jeopardy.

For example, a civilian court judge could throw out Khalid Sheik Mohammed's confession because the intelligence operatives who captured him failed to read him Miranda rights. The bottom line is that, because of Obama's decision yesterday, KSM could be acquitted for any of a host of reasons -- both foreseeable and unforeseeable.

It just makes one wonder "what the hell is Obama thinking?".

A Little Perspective, Please?

And, of course, Victor Davis Hanson provides it:

What Bush Inherited, and What He Left Left Behind [Victor Davis Hanson]

George W. Bush inherited a recession. He also inherited the Iraq no-fly zones, a Middle East boiling after the failed last-minute Clintonian rush for an imposed peace, an intelligence community wedded to the notion of Saddam's WMD proliferation, a Congress on record supporting "regime change" in Iraq, a WMD program in Libya, a Syrian occupation of Lebanon, Osama bin Laden enjoying free rein in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, a renegade Pakistan that had gone nuclear on Clinton's watch with Dr. Khan in full export mode, and a pattern of appeasing radical Islam after its serial attacks (on the World Trade Center, the Khobar Towers, U.S. embassies, and the U.S.S. Cole).

In other words, Bush inherited the regular "stuff" that confronts most presidents when they take office. What is strange is that Obama has established a narrative that he, supposedly unlike any other president, inherited a mess.

At some point, Team Obama might have at least acknowledged that, by January 2009, Iraq was largely quiet; Libya was free of WMD; Syria was out of Lebanon; most of the al-Qaeda leadership had been attrited or was in hiding; a homeland-security protocol was in place to deal with domestic terror plots; European governments were mostly friendly to the U.S. (unlike during the Chirac-Schröder years); and the U.S. enjoyed good relations with one-third of the planet in China and India.

The fact that in the Bush years we were increasingly disliked by Ahmadinejad, Assad, Castro, Chávez, Kim Jong Il, Morales, Ortega, and Putin, may in retrospect seem logical, just as their current warming to the U.S. may prove to be cause for alarm, given the repugnant nature of these strongmen.

Bottom line: Obama's second year as president is coming up, and it is long past time to move on and let historians judge the Bush years.

The Cadidate vs. The President on KSM

The Obama Justice Department has decided to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. In other words, a foreign national, the man who admittedly planned the 9/11 attacks, will be afforded the same rights and privileges as an American Citizen, in a civilian court.

Back in 2006, he believed that Mohammed should receive a military trial:

Just as in the case of Afghanistan, the Candidate and the President differ wildly in their opinions.

This, clearly, is no small issue. This man is not a "mass murderer"; he's a war criminal and should stand trial before a military tribunal just as was the case during the Nuremburg Trials after World War II.

This approach sets a dangerous precedent in delivering justice to terrorists in the future.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who's in Charge of Protocol?

Seriously, isn't it a bit unseemly for the American President to be bowing like this before the Emperor of Japan? While I understand the "the bow" is customary in Japan, the depth of the bow is wholly dependent on each person's status; the deeper the bow, the lower your status.

In Japanese culure, the depth of one's bow is highly calculated and symbolic.

Obama is bowing to this imaginary "Emperor" as though he were a common Japanese citizen, or perhaps the garbage collector!

As an American President, a simple head nod would have been more than sufficient in the interest of politeness. The depth of this bow is absolutely demeaning to the The Office and our country.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, note how other world leaders handled the same situation (H/T IMAO):

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Cadidate vs. The President on Afghanistan

July 21, 2008:

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday that United States needs to focus on Afghanistan in its battle against terrorism.

"The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism," Obama said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I think one of the biggest mistakes we've made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq," he said.

Obama said troop levels must increase in Afghanistan.

"For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three," he told CBS. "I think it's very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough."

So sayeth Candidate Obama more than 15 months ago. So what had President Obama done on this "precarious and urgent" situation?

Uh, nothing. That "central focus on the battle against terrorism" seems to have blurred considerably, nearly to the point of myopia. In fact, his dithering on what to do is becoming dangerous:

A key adviser to NATO forces warned today that Barack Obama risks a Suez-style debacle in Afghanistan if he fails to deploy enough extra troops and opts instead for a messy compromise.

David Kilcullen, one of the world's leading authorities on counter-insurgency and an adviser to the British government as well as the US state department, said Obama's delay in reaching a decision over extra troops had been "messy". He said it not only worried US allies but created uncertainty the Taliban could exploit.

Speaking in an interview with the Guardian, he compared the president to someone "pontificating" over whether to send enough firefighters into a burning building to put a fire out.

I didn't think he had the foggiest notion of what he was doing as Candidate Obama and nothing that President Obama has done in the last 10 months has changed my mind. He's apparently making war decisions based on political calculations and nothing could be more injurious and demoralizing to those brave men and women waiting for reinforcements.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

About those 40 Million Without Health Care

Another point, if I may, regarding the Health Care debate.

IF (supposedly) 40 million uninsured Americans (13%) is a reason to nationalize the Health Care system, is 10.2% unemployed Americans a reason to nationalize the entire economy?

If unemployment hits 13%, will that be a reason?

The American people are down, but there is still time on the clock; let’s use it wisely.

40+ Million Uninsured?

Even if the much bantered-about “40+million uninsured Americans” figure is correct (which I doubt), that’s 13% of the population. That leaves us with 87% of the population who are insured.

The Bill that was just passed requires (under penalty of law) that everyone purchase some sort of health insurance. This indicates to me that a healthy portion of that 13% are young, healthy individuals who do not consider health insurance a priority, whether they can afford it or not. If they simply could not afford it, why would they make it a law that they buy it?

It just seems to me that dealing with the 13% would have been a lot easier, and cheaper, than scrapping the current system, screwing the 87%, and making life miserable for 100%.

Simple things like allowing health insurance companies to go market between states and reform of malpractice laws would have been small, incremental steps that would have helped.

As for the 13%, let’s see who they are and find out their situation before we scrap the whole system on their behalf.

I sincerely believe that this is part of the “never let a good crisis go to waste” mentality of this administration; they have turned a “problem” into a “CRISIS!!” in order to nationalize a very large portion of our economy. Even in full view of this naked power grab, they dare to still bristle at the word “socialism”.

If this is not a classic example of socialism, what is it?

Be Careful What You Wish For: The Health Care Bill

My fellow citizens, we have been had. The Obama administration and the Democrat House of Representatives have taken a major step in nationalizing our Health Care System, and if you think it's bad now, it's about to become exponentially worse.

Those who have longed for "reform" may well get their wish, those who voted for "change" last November will get theirs as well. Alas, neither will look nearly as good in person as in the rosey pictures you were presented. As said Mark Steyn this morning, "Governmentalized "health care" puts us on the fast track to Euro-sclerosis and redefines the relationship between citizen and state in ways that make genuine conservative politics all but impossible."

An illuminating article by Betsy McCaughey of the Wall Street Journal on the Health Care bill that passed the House in the dead of night:

The health bill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is bringing to a vote (H.R. 3962) is 1,990 pages. Here are some of the details you need to know.

What the government will require you to do:

• Sec. 202 (p. 91-92) of the bill requires you to enroll in a "qualified plan." If you get your insurance at work, your employer will have a "grace period" to switch you to a "qualified plan," meaning a plan designed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. If you buy your own insurance, there's no grace period. You'll have to enroll in a qualified plan as soon as any term in your contract changes, such as the co-pay, deductible or benefit.

• Sec. 224 (p. 118) provides that 18 months after the bill becomes law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will decide what a "qualified plan" covers and how much you'll be legally required to pay for it. That's like a banker telling you to sign the loan agreement now, then filling in the interest rate and repayment terms 18 months later.

On Nov. 2, the Congressional Budget Office estimated what the plans will likely cost. An individual earning $44,000 before taxes who purchases his own insurance will have to pay a $5,300 premium and an estimated $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, for a total of $7,300 a year, which is 17% of his pre-tax income. A family earning $102,100 a year before taxes will have to pay a $15,000 premium plus an estimated $5,300 out-of-pocket, for a $20,300 total, or 20% of its pre-tax income. Individuals and families earning less than these amounts will be eligible for subsidies paid directly to their insurer.

• Sec. 303 (pp. 167-168) makes it clear that, although the "qualified plan" is not yet designed, it will be of the "one size fits all" variety. The bill claims to offer choice—basic, enhanced and premium levels—but the benefits are the same. Only the co-pays and deductibles differ. You will have to enroll in the same plan, whether the government is paying for it or you and your employer are footing the bill.

• Sec. 59b (pp. 297-299) says that when you file your taxes, you must include proof that you are in a qualified plan. If not, you will be fined thousands of dollars. Illegal immigrants are exempt from this requirement.

• Sec. 412 (p. 272) says that employers must provide a "qualified plan" for their employees and pay 72.5% of the cost, and a smaller share of family coverage, or incur an 8% payroll tax. Small businesses, with payrolls from $500,000 to $750,000, are fined less.

Eviscerating Medicare:

In addition to reducing future Medicare funding by an estimated $500 billion, the bill fundamentally changes how Medicare pays doctors and hospitals, permitting the government to dictate treatment decisions.

• Sec. 1302 (pp. 672-692) moves Medicare from a fee-for-service payment system, in which patients choose which doctors to see and doctors are paid for each service they provide, toward what's called a "medical home."

The medical home is this decade's version of HMO-restrictions on care. A primary-care provider manages access to costly specialists and diagnostic tests for a flat monthly fee. The bill specifies that patients may have to settle for a nurse practitioner rather than a physician as the primary-care provider. Medical homes begin with demonstration projects, but the HHS secretary is authorized to "disseminate this approach rapidly on a national basis."

A December 2008 Congressional Budget Office report noted that "medical homes" were likely to resemble the unpopular gatekeepers of 20 years ago if cost control was a priority.

• Sec. 1114 (pp. 391-393) replaces physicians with physician assistants in overseeing care for hospice patients.

• Secs. 1158-1160 (pp. 499-520) initiates programs to reduce payments for patient care to what it costs in the lowest cost regions of the country. This will reduce payments for care (and by implication the standard of care) for hospital patients in higher cost areas such as New York and Florida.

• Sec. 1161 (pp. 520-545) cuts payments to Medicare Advantage plans (used by 20% of seniors). Advantage plans have warned this will result in reductions in optional benefits such as vision and dental care.

• Sec. 1402 (p. 756) says that the results of comparative effectiveness research conducted by the government will be delivered to doctors electronically to guide their use of "medical items and services."

Questionable Priorities:

While the bill will slash Medicare funding, it will also direct billions of dollars to numerous inner-city social work and diversity programs with vague standards of accountability.

• Sec. 399V (p. 1422) provides for grants to community "entities" with no required qualifications except having "documented community activity and experience with community healthcare workers" to "educate, guide, and provide experiential learning opportunities" aimed at drug abuse, poor nutrition, smoking and obesity. "Each community health worker program receiving funds under the grant will provide services in the cultural context most appropriate for the individual served by the program."

These programs will "enhance the capacity of individuals to utilize health services and health related social services under Federal, State and local programs by assisting individuals in establishing eligibility . . . and in receiving services and other benefits" including transportation and translation services.

• Sec. 222 (p. 617) provides reimbursement for culturally and linguistically appropriate services. This program will train health-care workers to inform Medicare beneficiaries of their "right" to have an interpreter at all times and with no co-pays for language services.

• Secs. 2521 and 2533 (pp. 1379 and 1437) establishes racial and ethnic preferences in awarding grants for training nurses and creating secondary-school health science programs. For example, grants for nursing schools should "give preference to programs that provide for improving the diversity of new nurse graduates to reflect changes in the demographics of the patient population." And secondary-school grants should go to schools "graduating students from disadvantaged backgrounds including racial and ethnic minorities."

• Sec. 305 (p. 189) Provides for automatic Medicaid enrollment of newborns who do not otherwise have insurance.

For the text of the bill with page numbers, see

Clearly, this should be a wake-up call for anyone who thinks that this bill will do anything but destroy our current system in favor of a system that is doomed to failure in terms of cost and quality of care.

Simply put, this places your Health Care in the hands of the government; the same government that has horribly mismanaged practically everything it has touched.

President Obama has said that the plan is "paid for"; I don't buy that and neither should you. This will become the most expensive, dysfunctional boondoggle in the history of the United States, and it is coming at a time when deficits and the debt are at levels that are economically unthinkable. The President has said that they will enough waste and fraud in the current system to pay for this monstrosity; were it so easy, why has no one plugged these leaks before?

By the time the system is in shambles, Obama will be long gone, as will most of the legislators who have facilitated this abominable bill and you will be left holding the bag.

YOUR taxes are going up and YOUR care is about to plummet. For those of you who voted for "change", you're about to get it. When you see the horrible face of what you have wrought, just remember those who brought it it to you and try to make wiser choices in the future.

Even better; come to your senses and STOP this now before it's too late.