Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Health care according to Robert Reich

From a 2007 speech at Cal-Berkeley that is in the news:

* Younger people should pay more
* Healthier people should pay more
* Older people should just die- they’re “too expensive”
* There should be “less innovation” in medical technology
* You should not expect to live longer than your parents.

Gotta credit him for his honesty.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Patronage in the Baucus Bill

Michael Barone, in a piece on hidden costs in the Baucus health care bill, notes some of its cash transfers from states with less politically powerful senators to states with Senate leaders:

Kimberley Strassel points out that well-placed senators are getting special favors in the bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid gets the feds to pick up Nevada's extra Medicaid spending. Charles Schumer gets many high-cost insurance plans in New York exempted from tax. How long before other members seek similar breaks for their states?

For the bill as a whole

We can reasonably conclude that the Baucus bill -- or whatever similar measure Reid and Schumer concoct -- would vastly and permanently increase public sector spending and impose a crushing burden on the private sector in a weak economy. That burden would be particularly heavy on low earners forced to buy expensive policies or else pay stiff fines, with money they would otherwise receive as wages or salaries.

I don't think anybody seriously disputes (although most supporters will attempt to obscure the point) that any bill will be particularly tough on the middle class and below, as they are the ones least equipped to take on significant increases in their medical costs.

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Free speech under assault

Mark Steyn on the relevance to Americans of Canada's anti-free speech kangaroo court:

Why is this relevant to Americans? Because the superficial fluffily benign language of multiculturalism that comes so naturally to our rulers provides a lot of cover for the shriveling of free speech [...]

As Canadians have discovered, liberty is lost very quietly and quickly. And trying to get it back is slow and painful — particularly at a time when artists, universities, publishers, and others who congratulate themselves incessantly on their truth-telling courage find increasingly pre-emptive self-censorship the better part of valor.

The Europe of 2020 will have considerably less freedom of expression than today. American exceptionalism is going to have to be exceptionally exceptional to hold out against that trend.

To that end, the "hate crime" movement to elevate some crimes over other identical crimes based on thought-crime and the efforts by the current administration to criminalize dissent against the president should give us all pause.


Some quick hits

A lot of the short quotes or links I used to post here now go to my Twitter feed, since it takes so much less effort.

James Taranto: “Why did Obama win the Nobel Peace Prize? Because he pandered to the prejudices of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.”


JammieWearingFool on the terrorist plot against a GOP congressman: “I blame MSNBC, CNN, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the leftwing blogosphere for fostering this climate of hate against Republicans.”

Consistent standards… no fair!


Why didn’t Pinch Sulzberger get a cabinet position?


Jules Crittenden: "It's a sad state of affairs when a Frenchman mocks an American president and you have to go with the Frog."


Durable goods orders, housing sales dropped in August. Direct result of Cash for Clunkers diverting money from one kind of purchase to another? Probably, every time government incentivizes one kind of behavior it’s at the expense of another.


“I can recall no other major American speech in which the narcissism of a leader has been quite so pronounced.” In the Washington Post, mind you, on Obama's UN debacle.


The Empire State Building was illuminated red and yellow for a week, celebrating China's 60 years of communist rule. Really? What a disgusting gesture, celebrating that soul crushing death cult.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Kick me again! But why?

John Hinderaker:

What is striking to me is that the Democrats seem to be doubling down: the stimulus bill on top of TARP; government medicine; cap and trade, still not dead; and now talk of Stimulus II. The Democrats are averting their eyes from the popular outcry against their policies and are hoping–somehow–to escape retribution at the polls. I liken them to a canoeist braving the rapids with his eyes closed, hoping for the best.

It's as if they have decided that becoming a minority party for a generation is worth is if they can just transfer enough wealth, power and control from the people to the federal government. Because our history over the last 80 years has shown that once freedoms have been seized, it's hard to get them back.

They know that the people will never willingly submit to the kind of totalitarian rule that they hold as an ideal. Thus the feeling of urgency to take advantage of this small window to create the kind of Utopian fantasy world where elites make all decisions and the population is subservient, or wait a few decades for a future generation who has forgotten the events of 2009.

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How to save energy

The brilliant wit of James Tarnato:

"A world-first experiment to try and reduce energy use for the day on the Isles of Scilly was foiled after a turn in the weather caused participants to use more electricity," London's Daily Telegraph reports.

In the day-long experiment, Scilly people were asked to follow "a series of guidelines including switching off unnecessary lights and TVs when not in use and only filling kettles with the exact amount of water required." Result: Energy use dropped, but by only 1%.

The reason: "Organiser Dr Matt Prescott said the experiment was undermined by bad weather--which saw people using more power than usual." The experiment might well have been a success had it been conducted a day earlier, when it was sunny and warm.

Which leads us to a thought. What if there were a way of changing the climate so that the weather was warmer all over the world? We realize this is probably unrealistic, but if it could be done, it would be a great way to save energy.


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The gift that keeps on giving

I'm talking, of course, about John Kerry, who has the hat.

His latest gem: "Let me emphasize something very strongly as we begin this discussion. The United States has already this year alone achieved a 6% reduction in emissions simply because of the downturn in the economy, so we are effectively saying we need to go another 14%."

So the consort/Senator doesn't really have a problem with the recession, indeed, he would like to see it deepen into a permanent depression. No wonder he has been a staunch supporter of the "Stimulus", a massive new energy tax and a government takeover of the health care industry, measures which are steps in that direction.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Unfair criticism

Rich Lowry:

A buzz-generating Saturday Night Live skit mocked Pres. Barack Obama for not yet having accomplished anything. Not fair. Obama has been on a roll.

In nine months, he has breathed life into the Republican party, boosted pro-lifers, tarnished the reputation of regulation, bolstered traditional values, increased the public’s desire for immigration restriction, and shifted independent voters rightward. If only RNC chairman Michael Steele were so deadly effective.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

What's good for Republicans is bad for the country

Politics is full of contradiction. For example, for Obama to have a successful presidency almost certainly requires Republicans taking control of the House in 2010, or at least coming very close to evenly splitting it.

Similarly, if Obama continues to be the epic failure he has been thus far, making Republicans taking back the White House in 2012 likely, it will be disastrous for the country at an extremely dangerous point in history, as Victor Davis Hanson explains:

I am not a fan of the Obama agenda. But I am don’t want an impotent Commander in Chief abroad for three very dangerous years to come. So I am worried that the U.S. will be crippled with a weak, unpopular executive, as happened to Bush (35% approvals) in 2007-8. Our currency is tanking. Our debts are climbing. Our energy needs are breaking us. Our borrowing is out of control. The country is divided in a 1859/1968 mode. And the world is smiling as Obama, now hesitant and without the old messianic confidence, presides over our accepted inevitable decline. The country needs to buck up and meet these challenges head on, since the world smells blood, whether in Iran, Russia, the Mideast, North Korea, or South America, and in a mere 9 months of the reset button.

I think this is exactly right. No matter how misguided Obama's domestic agenda is to you (and to me it's incredibly foolish), we badly need him to find some wisdom and intestinal fortitude in foreign affairs. This is not an era when kicking the can down the road for four years can be overcome.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Top Ten Reasons to Accept That Job Offer from David Letterman

Pure genius from Jim Treacher:

Top Ten Reasons to Accept That Job Offer from David Letterman

10. Get to find out "Worldwide Pants" refers to his breathing
9. Whenever he has trouble performing, he can always count on Paul
8. Stupid Prostate Tricks
7. Pillow talk includes fond remembrances of working with Calvert DeForest
6. "Can Jay do this? Huh? Can Jay do this?"
5. Share in wistful late-life transition from "My girlfriend doesn't understand me" to "My wife doesn't understand me"
4. Will It Rise?
3. Tries to be nice about it when he passes you off to Biff Henderson
2. "Whoops, looks like Cheney isn't the only one who shoots people in the face"

And the Number One Reason to Accept That Job Offer from David Letterman:

1. After the sex, he lets you keep the Palin wig

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Father/son champs

With training camps open, time to update the list of father/son combos who have won NBA championships:

1. Matt Guokas Sr./Matt Guokas Jr.
2. Rick Barry/Brent Barry
3. Bill Walton/Luke Walton

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Obama's Iranian options

Stratfor has a must-read piece up on Obama's options in Iran (and Afghanistan).

Certainly, the naive idea that the problem with Iran stems from the US's refusal to engage in talks with Tehran or just be nicer to them has been thoroughly debunked. So where to go from here?

They suggest three possible courses:

First, he can impose crippling sanctions against Iran. But that is possible only if the Russians cooperate. Moscow has the rolling stock and reserves to supply all of Iran’s fuel needs if it so chooses, and Beijing can also remedy any Iranian fuel shortages. Both Russia and China have said they don’t want sanctions; without them on board, sanctions are meaningless.

Second, Obama can take military action against Iran, something easier politically and diplomatically for the United States to do itself rather than rely on Israel. By itself, Israel cannot achieve air superiority, suppress air defenses, attack the necessary number of sites and attempt to neutralize Iranian mine-laying and anti-ship capability all along the Persian Gulf. Moreover, if Israel struck on its own and Iran responded by mining the Strait of Hormuz, the United States would be drawn into at least a naval war with Iran — and probably would have to complete the Israeli airstrikes, too.

And third, Obama could choose to do nothing (or engage in sanctions that would be the equivalent of doing nothing). Washington could see future Iranian nuclear weapons as an acceptable risk. But the Israelis don’t, meaning they would likely trigger the second scenario. It is possible that the United States could try to compel Israel not to strike — though it’s not clear whether Israel would comply — something that would leave Obama publicly accepting Iran’s nuclear program.

And this, of course, would jeopardize Obama’s credibility. It is possible for the French or Germans to waffle on this issue; no one is looking to them for leadership. But for Obama simply to acquiesce to Iranian nuclear weapons, especially at this point, would have significant diplomatic and domestic political ramifications. Simply put, Obama would look weak — and that, of course, is why the Iranians announced the second nuclear site. They read Obama as weak, and they want to demonstrate their own resolve. That way, if the Russians were thinking of cooperating with the United States on sanctions, Moscow would be seen as backing the weak player against the strong one. The third option, doing nothing, therefore actually represents a significant action. [...]

In Iran, Ahmadinejad clearly perceives that challenging Obama is low-risk and high reward. If he can finally demonstrate that the United States is unwilling to take military action regardless of provocations, his own domestic situation improves dramatically, his relationship with the Russians deepens, and most important, his regional influence — and menace — surges. If Obama accepts Iranian nukes without serious sanctions or military actions, the American position in the Islamic world will decline dramatically. The Arab states in the region rely on the United States to protect them from Iran, so U.S. acquiescence in the face of Iranian nuclear weapons would reshape U.S. relations in the region far more than a hundred Cairo speeches.

If his history holds, Obama will choose weakness, but I still hold out hope that he will come to support tough sanctions backed by a credible threat of military action.

This is, oh, about 1000x more important than crafting and passing a health care bill, but never underestimate the tendency of this president to dust an end table while ignoring the elephant in the room.

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