Thursday, December 31, 2009

The not-so-great orator...

Suddenly, Obama’s not so fluent any more from Neo NeoCon:

Obama was always a fluid if vapid speechmaker, although his off-the-cuff statements featured a lot of hemming and hawing. But I’ve noticed something that seems new: hesitancy even when he speaks from a prepared text.

Obama now seems to go off-teleprompter more often—perhaps because he’s been critiqued so much for its use—and when reading from notes on a lectern he stops and starts, as well as using a tennis-match-like repetitive back and forth movement of his head.

What’s more, Obama’s disfluencies have an odd cadence, coming at times that seem unnatural, as though he’s distracted and not even thinking about what he’s saying but rather merely reading it from a text he’s never seen before. Is he nervous? Lying? Nervous about lying? Nervous about being caught in lying? Aware that the gift he’s relied on his entire life is going or perhaps even gone, now that he needs it most?

Whatever the cause, I imagine it must be quite frightening to Obama (rather like losing your turns). He’s accustomed to having the magic touch when he speaks, and now he’s become self-conscious, watching every word. Many have remarked on his changed affect, as well; we hear descriptions such as “passionless” and “not properly engaged.”

Here’s a tape of Obama speaking about the Northwest Airlines bomber (we’re still searching for the proper name for the incident; I prefer the “BVD bomber” myself). I think you’ll be able to see what I’m talking about:

F for Obama on his first priority

Barack Obama gets an 'F' for protecting Americans

By Toby Harnden World Last updated: December 30th, 2009

There is no more solemn duty for an American commander-in-chief than the marshalling of “every element of our national power” – the phrase Obama himself used on Monday – to protect the people of the United States. In that key respect, Obama failed on Christmas Day, just as President George W. Bush failed on September 11th (though he succeeded in the seven years after that).

Yes, the buck stops in the Oval Office. Obama may have rather smugly given himself a “B+” for his 2009 performance but he gets an F for the events that led to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarding a Detroit-bound plane in Amsterdam with a PETN bomb sewn into his underpants. He said today that a “systemic failure has occurred”. Well, he’s in charge of that system.

The picture we’re getting is more and more alarming by the hour. Here are some key elements to consider:

1. Abdulmutallab’s father spoke several times to the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and visited a CIA officer there to tell him, apparently, that he feared his son was a jihadist being trained in Yemen. According to CNN, the CIA officer wrote up a report, which then sat in the CIA headquarters at Langley for several weeks without being disseminated to the rest of the intelligence community. This was not just a casual encounter. Again according to CNN, there were at least two face-to-face meetings, telephone calls and written correspondence with the father. If it’s true that the CIA sat on this then it beggars belief.

2. After 9/11, the huge bureaucracies of the Homeland Security Department and the Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) were created. Inside the DNI, the National Counter Terrorism Center was created. These organisations were created to “connect the dots”. It may well be that the fault lay with NCTC and not the CIA – CIA spokesman George Little says here that “key biographical information” and information about “possible extremist connections in Yemen” was passed to NCTC. If NCTC knew about it, then did someone at the National Security Council within the White House? There’s a huge blame game beginning so we’ll no doubt know soon enough.

Read the rest:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dr K simply, brilliantly nails the essence of O

Krauthammer: “The regime is weakening. This is a hinge in history. Everything in the region will change if the regime is changed. Obama ought to be strong out there in saying it’s an illegitimate government; we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people in the street. When he talks about diplomacy he should be urging our Western allies to that have relations to cut them off. He ought to be going into the UN every forum denouncing it. This is a moment in history, and he’s missing it."

Liberals/other Bush-haters don't wanna think...

DP: Supreme ironic hypocrisy over the comparisons Ashcroft vs. Napolitano from NRO:

Never mind that many of Ashcroft’s worst alleged sins are now pretty much Obama-Pelosi policies. But the Napolitano-Ashcroft comparison is telling.

Ashcroft was demonized for suggesting that Americans be on the lookout for terrorists. One of Napolitano’s main talking points these days is the need for vigilance from the public. Heck she claimed the “system worked” because a flying Dutchman took out the “alleged” terrorist.

Ashcroft was demonized because he allegedly was turning America into a police state where political enemies were targeted (remember that’s why Naomi Wolfe had a years-long mental breakdown). Janet Napolitano oversaw a report that singles out American citizens and returning vets as potential terrorists because of their political views.

Ashcroft was mocked as a provincial hick who didn’t know much. Napolitano — who runs our immigration service and was governor of a border state — thinks it’s not a crime to illegally cross the border and insists that the 9/11 hijackers came from Canada.

John Ashcroft was a dangerous ideologue because he believed the war on terror is real. But Janet Napolitano isn’t a dangerous ideologue for believing the war on terror isn’t real?

What sounds more ideologically blinkered after 9/11?

More on the the tyranical side of Obama's EO

"Obama Surrenders U.S. Sovereignty: His INTERPOL Executive Order"

Quietly, Obama just made it much easier for the International Criminal Court to go after American "war criminals." by Bob Owens via Pajamas Media:

At, Steve Schippert and Clyde Middleton have dug up the bizarre and unsettling issuance of an executive order recently signed by President Barack Obama. Executive Order — Amending Executive Order 12425, signed December 16 and released a day later, grants the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) rights on American soil that place it beyond the reach of our own law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)...

If the president of the United States has an aboveboard reason for making a foreign law enforcement agency exempt from American laws on American soil, it wasn’t shared by the White House...
Some bloggers covering this story are noting that the law enforcement agency to which Obama has extended such extraordinary powers to has had a dismal past...
But INTERPOL’s past isn’t what concerns us at this moment. Its current actions and the actions of our president are those that we question.

With the flourish of a pen and no warning at all, Barack Obama surrendered American sovereignty to an international force with a checkered past. To what end?...

The consensus opinion among those commenting on this development is that the most radical president in American history seems to be intent on submitting American citizens to the whims of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Previous administrations have been very leery of signing onto agreements that would make citizens susceptible to the ICC, due to the possibility that U.S. servicemen could be dragged into show war crimes trials. Such events are obviously heavily politicized, and demands for war crimes arrests can come from any government, even those that sponsor terrorism or genocide themselves....
If President Obama and his radical allies in the Democratic leadership have their way, American soldiers could presumably be brought up on charges as war criminals by enemy nations and marked for arrest and deportation by an international police force on American soil. They would face charges in a foreign land without the constitutional protections they fought and bled to protect. The White House seems to be on the bewildering path of giving al-Qaeda terrorists who murder innocent women and children more legal protection than the very soldiers that risk their lives trying to bring terrorists to justice. The asinine court-martial charges being brought against three Navy SEALs based upon the word of a terrorist they captured suddenly make a sickening kind of sense.

It also stands to reason that Obama’s seeming willingness to put American soldiers’ lives in the hands of a corrupt international community could also be brought to bear against his political enemies. Foreign investigators of dubious intent, and our own left-wing extremists, have long branded officials of the previous administration “war criminals” for actions they’d taken in the war on terror. It is entirely conceivable — perhaps even likely — that these same organizations and enemy governments that went after 25 Israeli government officials through INTERPOL and the ICC would quickly move to indict a wish list of current and former U.S. government officials for alleged “war crimes.” Former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney would obviously be at the top of such a list of politically motivated suspects, but such a list could just as easily include General David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, congressmen, and senators...

Read the whole piece for links and full commentary:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Not wild accusation if Obama really does it

"Why Does Interpol Need Immunity from American Law?" [Andy McCarthy via NRO]

You just can't make up how brazen this crowd is. One week ago, President Obama quietly signed an executive order that makes an international police force immune from the restraints of American law...

Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol's property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America's defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?

Steve Schippert has more at ThreatsWatch, here.

Questions not asked reveal much about MSM

Covering Up The Obama Failure: What We Still Don't Know About The Christmas Terrorist Attack

Posted at Hugh Hewitt's blog:
Here are links to today's lead stories on the Christmas terrorist attack from the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The key graphs come at the very end of the Times' story:

Mr. Mutallab visited the embassy on Nov. 19 and told officials his son had been radicalized, was missing and might be in Yemen, said a State Department spokesman, P. J. Crowley. Mr. Crowley said that Mr. Mutallab did not say he believed his son planned to attack Americans, but that he expressed general concern about his radical views.

The information was taken seriously, Mr. Crowley said, but was judged insufficient to warrant revoking Mr. Abdulmutallab’s visa, although his file was flagged for investigation if he reapplied. Embassy officials representing several security agencies discussed the information on Nov. 20 and sent a cable to Washington. His name was added to a database of 550,000 names with suspicion of terrorism ties, but it did not go onto the 4,000-person no-fly list.

Here's part of the Post's account:

Authorities said there was no reason to suspect Abdulmutallab of dangerous activity until his father visited the embassy in Abuja on Nov. 19. The next day, under a program called Visa Viper, mandated by Congress to ensure all terrorism-related information is promptly reported to Washington, the embassy sent a cable saying the father was "concerned that his son was falling under the influence of religious extremists in Yemen," a State Department official said.

The State Department, under existing procedures, passed the Viper information to the National Counterterrorism Center for entry in its terrorism database. Neither the State Department nor the NCTC, officials said Monday, checked to see if Abdulmutallab had ever entered the United States or had a valid entry visa -- information readily available in separate consular and immigration databases. "It's not for us to review that," the State Department official said.

The Post noted earlier in its story that London authorities had placed Abdulmutallab on a watch list last May.

The key, and as-yet-unanswered-and-apparently-unasked, questions are obvious: What does it take to get on to the "no fly" list? Who dropped the ball on the "Visa Viper" team? To whom did the terrorist's father speak in Nigeria and at what length? What sort of information was passed back to the U.S. in the cable --a line, a paragraph, an "urgent urgent" warning in big red block letters?

In short: What happened? Where are the details? The names of thos involved and the hour at which they failed to act?

Who is running the DHS effort in Amsterdam? Who is supposed to be watching the people London is watching as they go to and from the al Qaeda-friendly confines of Yemen? Do we even share information with Great Britain anymore or is the president's obvious antipathy for England mirrored down the line of the entire executive branch?

Ask yourself what the response of the nation's elite media would be if this had happened in December, 2007 and George Bush was at his ranch? Would the press lazily accept a two minute statement followed by golf? Would Bush's DHS chief Michael Chertoff's bland assurance that "the system worked" followed by a retraction the next day be absent from the news or be running on a near-endless loop? Would demands for Secretary Rice's head be heard from the left? Would we have anonymous quotes from "senior Adminsitration officials" and leaks from CIA operatives?

Or would we have the sort of non-coverage President Obama is benefitting from?...

Read the rest:

Coverage in British press--better than that in America:

Terrorist attempt just symbol of O's failure

"President Obama's year of blunders is ending with the worst failure yet by the president and his team: An Islamist terrorist penetrated the United States and came very close to perpetrating the greatest mass-casualty attack within the U.S. since 9/11." (by Hugh Hewitt at Washington Examiner)

The president's first year in office has been marked by a string of pratfalls.

President Obama's massive stimulus didn't.

His hasty takeover of GM didn't restore confidence in the brand or faith in the company's executive team or future.

Obamacare has failed to persuade even 40 percent of the American people of its merits and depends upon the enthusiasm of such brilliant lights as Barbara Boxer, Al Franken and Bernie Sanders to pass.

The president's rhetoric about restraining spending has been washed away in a flood of red ink far vaster than all that has gone before it. And despite this profligate hemorrhaging of money the country doesn't have, unemployment is in the double digits and key industries like home building remain moribund.

His repeated appeals to the radical mullahs of Iran have not only failed to initiate any sort of constructive engagement, but a year into his "new diplomacy" the radical Islamists atop the power structure in Tehran are mowing down dissidents in the streets.

And now at least one foreign-born terrorist has breached American security -- despite a specific warning given by the terrorist's father to American officials six months ago -- only weeks after the worst act of a domestic Islamist terror since the war began.

The president is abandoning Iraq, and his dithering on Afghanistan has started a necessary surge but attached an expiration date to it.

Perhaps the close call over the approach to Detroit will wake up the responsible members of the president's party, and perhaps they will ask for a meeting in which they can lay out the obvious truths:...

Read the whole article:

Monday, December 28, 2009

War on terror is not, not criminal prosecution

Andy McCarthy:

The people now in charge of our government believe Clinton-era counterterrorism was a successful model. They start from the premise that terrorism is a crime problem to be managed, not a war to be won. Overdone “war on drugs” rhetoric aside, we don’t try to “win” against (as in “defeat”) law-enforcement challenges. We expect them to happen from time to time and to contain, but never completely prevent, the damage.

Here, no thanks to the government, the plane was not destoyed, and we won’t get to the bottom of the larger conspiracy (enabling the likes of Napolitano to say there’s no indication of a larger plot — much less one launched by an international jihadist enterprise) because the guy got to lawyer up rather than be treated like a combatant and subjected to lengthy interrogation. But the terrorist will be convicted at trial (this “case” tees up like a slam-dunk), so the administration will put it in the books as a success … just like the Clinton folks did after the ‘93 WTC bombers and the embassy bombers were convicted. In their minds, litigation success equals national security success.

It is a dangerously absurd viewpoint, but it was clear during the campaign that it was Obama’s viewpoint. The American people — only seven years after 9/11 — elected him anyway. As we learn more painfully everyday, elections matter.

Outrageous reaction from Janet Incompetano

Napolitano should quit.” “I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the pevious appearance. It is her basic position that the ’system worked’ because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was ‘foiled’ by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically. I would wager that not one percent of Americans think the system is ‘working’ when terrorists successfully get bombs onto planes (and succeed in activating them).”

Read the rest by Jonah Goldberg:

Public disapproval of unpopular O-care + corruption=...

PETER WEHNER: The Culture Of Corruption. “When it comes to the public outrage that will emerge based on the deals that took place to secure passage of the Senate health-care bill, the degree of tone-deafness among Democrats is nothing short of startling. . . . These people strike me as hermetically sealed off from how most of the rest of the country view this subject. As these backroom deals become more and more widely known, anger will swell up among voters. It is bad enough to jam through a bill on a strict party-line-vote against overwhelming opposition from the public; for it to have happened only because various Members of Congress were (legally) bribed will magnify the intensity of the opposition. And for politicians to take such obvious pride in the pay-off will make things even worse. The populist, anti-Washington wave out there, which is already quite large, will only grow, and grow, and grow.”

via Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit

Revealing, scary analysis of Obamism by VDH

Where Did These Guys Come From? The Origins of Obamism by Victor Davis Hanson (Go to original article for extended, full ideas):

I do not think it will be easy to delay Obamism. It is not just that both houses of Congress are under liberal leadership with ample majorities, with a White House and captive media egging them on. The problem is that now the entire engine of the federal government is harnessed in the most unapologetic way to pushing through a far left agenda. There is no shame, no hesitancy in using the full powers of the state.

How does that work out? Without qualification (remember we are in a new age of transparency and ethical reform) votes are bought with hundred-million-dollar earmarks; the attorney general predicates judicial action on the political ramifications of indicting or not indicting; federal bureaucracies (watch the EPA if cap and trade stalls) are devoted to the new Caesar rather than the letter of the law.

Such a strange scenario we have found ourselves in—a clear majority of Americans is opposed to almost everything Obama has to offer; congressional representatives know they are acting against the will of the people, but know too that they are offered all sorts of borrowed money for their districts to compensate for their unpopular actions. And a charismatic commander in chief believes that he can charm even the angriest of critics, and that anything he promises (Iran’s deadlines, closing of Guantanamo, new transparency, no more lobbyists, etc) means zilch and can be contextualized by another “let me be perfectly clear” speech spiced with a couple of the usual “it would have been impossible for someone as unlikely as me to have become President just (fill in the blanks) years ago”

No, I would not count Obama out. So what drives his agenda? What are its origins?

Here are the three most prominent catalysts.

Equality of Result

What Barack Obama advocates is as old as Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics, the agenda of the classical dêmos and Roman turba....


But there is another element to Barack Obama besides progressive statism. A number of contemporary –isms and –ologies (multiculturalism, moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, post-modernism) also help to explain Obamism, especially in cultural terms...

It works like this: The ghetto resident, the denizen of the barrio, the abandoned and divorced waitress with three young children, can all chart their poverty and unhappiness not to accident, fate, bad luck, bad decisions, poor judgment, illegality or drug use, or simple tragedy, but rather exclusively to a system that is rigged to ensure oppression on the basis of race, class, and gender—often insidious and unfathomable except to the sensitive and gifted academic or community organizer....

The Chicago Way

A third and final ingredient to Obamism is the Chicago way. Here we see an interesting updated version of the old big-city, Daley thuggery. Rahm Emanuel threatens recalcitrant congressmen with reminders of the long Obama memory. The Axelrod/Jarrett clique ensures that the government channels stimuli to blue-states, that key Congress people are bought off with tens of millions of government largess, that every campaign promise—from no lobbyists and airing on C-span health care debates to posting impending legislation on the Internet for set durations and “reaching across the aisle”—is simply cynical fluff that no sane person would take seriously.


In short, we have a traditional statist bent on redistribution (Obama’s words, not mine), updated with the postmodern belief that race/class/gender oppressions require government affirmative reactions (which also abroad explains why we reach out to enemies and shun allies), all energized by an ends justify the means Chicago bare-knuckles apparat...

What Are We Left With?

The most blatant cynicism in recent American political history—a man who ran as a bipartisan who is the most partisan we’ve seen, a healer whose even flippant comments are designed to offend, a statist who assumes that the sheared sheep cannot stampede somewhere else, a reformer who trusts his honey-laced rhetoric can disguise Daley style-corruption.

On that happy note....

One of source articles on CARB scandal

Start your self-enlightment with:

Here is one excellent article (go to blog link for entire piece): CARB-gate: Climategate’s Little Sister in California

Dear Readers: The elite media is suppressing news related to forged data and academic harassment of thoughtful skeptics related to “Anthropogenic (Man-made) Global Warming”. They are doing the same thing to a science-based scandal currently rocking California that I will henceforth call “CARB-gate”.

CARB-gate is essentially Climategate’s Little Sister. CARB refers to the California Air Resources Board, whose antics are detailed here and inn These to frauds are nearly identical in skullduggery, abuse of power, and the potential for economic catastrophe — they only differ in scale...

Here are the main points of similarity; click the associated links to find more background information:

* Misuse of data to create enterprise-crushing regulation. Click HERE for CARB info.

* Perpetration of fraud on the public, to further support regulations based on faux science. Click HERE for CARB info.

* Targeting and harassment of skeptical experts who argue that the faux science data is……actually completely fake! Click HERE for CARB info.

* Devastation of impacted industries and the people reliant on them, with the potential for economic collapse.Click HERE for CARB info.

* Arrogant proponents of man-made global warming, who continue to argue that the science is settled and continue to press for needless restraints on the free market and human ingenuity. Click HERE for CARB info.

* The media and political elites continuing the stone-walling, despite the fact that now most citizens realize it has all been a big, bad fraud...


The good news is that some progress is being made. San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who is serves on CARB, is calling for a halt to the implementation of CARB-rules based on fraud. As detailed in the links presented earlier, application of these rules has killed many California businesses, and driven many others to Nevada and other states. He writes the following piece: Time to clear the air and breathe:...

Read the whole article with extensive links:

Another source article on CARB scandal

California Eco-Bureaucrats’ Voodoo Science Kills Jobs

“None of this is real,” said the then acting California Air Resources Board (CARB) Scientific Review Panel (SRP) Chairman John Froines during a 1998 Scientific Review Board Meeting. During the discussions, panel chose to rely on bad data to craft regulations now killing small businesses throughout the state. The comment referred to the data being considered as the basis for developing rules that controlled levels of particulate matter from diesel exhaust. Though the numbers were unreal, the unintended consequences of CARB rule enforcement based on voodoo science is very real...

CARB is similarly ignoring real numbers and applying voodoo science tactics.

Why are they doing this? It is important to understand that CARB has a $700 million/annual budget and 1300 employees. That is enough money to fund 7000 teachers! Or give 700, one-million dollar small businesses loans each year – loans that could be repaid to the citizens once these enterprises proved successful. Government entities backed by so much public monies are not readily inclined to part with it...

Read the whole article:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Palin called them "death panels"; Reid enshrines them

Palin: I told you so! by Ed Morrissey

It didn’t take long for Jim DeMint’s outrage over highly unusual language protecting a care-rationing board to generate a response from Sarah Palin. This came just days after Politifact called her statement about “death panels” the “lie of the year,” but the attempt to rule any Congressional motion that changes the rulings of the Independent Medical Advisory Board out of order in perpetuity has highlighted once again this rationing board and its potential impact in a government-run system. And that, Palin writes at her Facebook page, was her point all along:

No one is certain of what’s in the bill, but Senator Jim DeMint spotted one shocking revelation regarding the section in the bill describing the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (now called the Independent Payment Advisory Board), which is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients – also known as rationing. Apparently Reid and friends have changed the rules of the Senate so that the section of the bill dealing with this board can’t be repealed or amended without a 2/3 supermajority vote. Senator DeMint said:

“This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law. I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. If you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates. I mean, we want to bind future congresses. This goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future congresses.”

In other words, Democrats are protecting this rationing “death panel” from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to “bend the cost curve” and keep health care spending down?

The Congressional Budget Office seems to think that such rationing has something to do with cost. In a letter to Harry Reid last week, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf noted (with a number of caveats) that the bill’s calculations call for a reduction in Medicare’s spending rate by about 2 percent in the next two decades, but then he writes the kicker:

“It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.”

Though Nancy Pelosi and friends have tried to call “death panels” the “lie of the year,” this type of rationing – what the CBO calls “reduc[ed] access to care” and “diminish[ed] quality of care” – is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor.

All health care gets rationed in one manner or another, as does every commodity (except air, although with cap-and-trade, that would change). Insurers ration, and so do consumers in a fully free-market system such as the Lasik or cosmetic-surgery industries. The difference is that those systems involve free choice, especially the latter. With insurers as third-party payers, there is less free choice, but the solution to that is more competition and better ability to be completely portable — or better yet, the removal of third-party payers for normal health care services.

When government rations commodities, it does so with the force of law. Considering the power it would have had in a completely government-run system to make the kind of decisions now left to insurers in a competitive market, people are correct to be worried about how exactly IMAB would bend the cost curve. Their mission in the ObamaCare bill is to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.” The way ObamaCare is structured, the only way to hold down costs would be to start denying more treatments, or to cut compensation to the point where long wait times take care of the rationing by discouraging access to a dwindling number of providers. Will that prevent more deaths and make Americans healthier?

With insurers, consumers have the option to find another insurer or self insure. Those options won’t exist in a government-run system, and are seriously limited in ObamaCare, even in the latest incarnation. Without those options, the IMAB’s decisions will be inescapable — and thanks to Harry Reid’s language, citizens won’t even have the opportunity to challenge IMAB actions in Congress. It’s an abomination.

Update: I just talked to a source on Capitol Hill who wants to make sure everyone understands the mechanics of the issue. The bill sets up a supermajority threshold of 67 votes to bring accountability to IMAB decisions, and the rule on being in or out of order can get waived at 60 votes. However, as this battle shows, even getting to 60 is almost an impossibility, let alone 67. Clearly Reid wants to put accountability out of reach with these radical propositions.

Unfunded medicaid mandate--part of $hell game

"The mother of all unfunded mandates" by Paul Mirengoff at Powerline

Now that the Medicare expansion has been stripped from the Democrats' health care legislation, we would do well to focus on the Medicaid expansion. The legislation would expand eligibility for Medicaid to those whose income equals 133 percent or less of the poverty level. According to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, this would add roughly 15 million people to the program. In his state, the increase could be as high as 50 percent.

Where will the money for the expansion come from? Not from the federal government. If the feds were to foot the bill, this would explode the pretense that the legislation is "revenue neutral." To keep up that pretense, the bill would leave the states to pay for the expansion after the first three years. Gov. Barbour estimates the size of that bill at $25 billion. Call it the mother of all unfunded mandates.

The problem, of course, is that the states cannot afford to pay for the Medicaid expansion. Indeed, many states are already struggling with the cost of Medicaid as it is currently constituted. In Tennessee, for example, Democratic governor Phil Bredesen has capped the state's program, barring new entrants. Yet the Dems would require a massive expansion.

Most states face balanced budget laws. So unlike the feds, they cannot borrow from the Chinese or from anyone else. Their only options would be to raise taxes or cut services. As a practical matter, they would do both. A significant portion of the budget cuts would have to come from the education portion of the state's education budget, since that's where the majority of state money is spent. That's why Gov. Bredesen has described the options in the event of a Medicaid expansion as putting one's state "into bankruptcy" or its education system "in the tank."

The Medicaid expansion would create additional problems beyond cost. For one thing, when people exit from private policies to go on Medicaid, the price of premiums for these policies rises. As a result, many businesses, especially small ones, may well stop offering health insurance to their employees.

For another thing, a Medicaid expansion would exacerbate existing problems of access to Medicaid. Because more than one-third of doctors refuse to accept Medicaid patients, states are having a tough time making sure that those who are currently eligible for Medicaid actually have access to treatment. Imagine the effect on accessibility in the event of a massive expansion of Medicaid.

When the entire charted warming is from "adjustments"

Adjusting the Data: Climategate opened the floodgates, and the faux-scientific edifice of global warming is being swept away. by John Hinderacker at Powerline:

It is important to understand that none of the charts and graphs that purport to depict the Earth's climate ever show you raw data. None. Always, the data are adjusted; and always, the data for the late 20th century are adjusted upward. Computer scientist Charlie Martin cites an example:

The Climategate files forced the UK Meteorological Office to make at least part of their raw data available. One of the first was Willis Eschenbach, at Watts Up With That. Read the whole discussion and also Eschenbach's answer to a critique published in the Economist for the details, but here is the "money shot":

In this figure, the blue line is the raw data. The black line is the adjustments that had been applied to that data, and the red line is the result following the adjustments.

That's right--the purported warming is all in the way the data are adjusted. This happens over and over again. Are these adjustments based on science or politics? If you've read the East Anglia emails, as I have, the question answers itself. The global warming project is political to its core, and lacks any scientific integrity.

UPDATE: Sometimes, of course, the data are hard to ignore. Snow is falling in Copenhagen; here, a couple of residents brush snow off the "overheating" globe:
Americans to Congress: Do Nothing! (from Powerline's John Hinderacker):

The Democrats' desperate effort to enact a health care bill--any health care bill!--flies in the face of a growing consensus of the American people that the existing proposals are half-baked and that Congress should abandon the issue for now. The current Rasmussen survey finds that the percentage of voters who believe that passing the Democrats' plan will be better than doing nothing has shrunk to 34, while a strong majority, 57 percent, say that it would be better to do nothing.

This sentiment is driven largely by the fact that by 54 percent to 25 percent, Americans believe they will be worse off under the Democrats' plan.

So we are witnessing a remarkable spectacle: the Democrats are rushing to enact a bill, the contents of which are still a mystery, basically so that they can say they passed something, even as the American people have figured out what is going on and want Congress to stand down.

Republican Senate sources now say that the key cloture vote on health care may come in the middle of the night on Sunday/Monday. So if you're planning on calling your Senator, or any of the Senators who reportedly are wavering, now is the time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Even agw believer admits to corrupt science

The Politicization of Peer Review by Jonathan H. Adler (Volokh blog)

Among other things, the release of e-mails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit has laid bear the efforts of a handful of climate scientists to manipulate how the peer review process handled research that could undermine claims of a climate science “consensus.” As climate scientists David Douglass and John Christy detail here, the CRU e-mails reveal a concerted effort to sandbag one of their publications, both in the peer-reviewed scientific literature as well as on the purportedly neutral climate science blog RealClimate. Patrick Michaels and Roger Pielke Jr. have more.

What these and other episodes reveal was that there was a concerted effort to stage-manage the appearance of an ironclad consensus at the expense of the scientific process. Rather than make an open and honest argument that, despite persistent uncertainties, there is substantial theoretical and empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that human activity is contributing to a gradual warming of the atmosphere, they focused on squelching dissenting scientific views, corrupting science in the process. As I’ve noted many times on this blog, I believe there is sufficient evidence of human contributions to climate change to justify a meaningful policy response, including measures to accelerate energy sector innovation and a revenue-neutral carbon tax. But such policies should be advanced on the merits, not scientific subterfuge of the sort engaged in by those at CRU.

Americans have no idea how much Medicare gets cut, services reduced

MEGAN MCARDLE: Our Coming Medicare Debacle. “Medicare cuts range from easy to hard, and we just used up the easiest ones–cuts which, if you’ll notice, weren’t all that easy. Doing this bill means it will be even harder in the future to cut Medicare, because the cuts we will have to make will almost definitionally mean deeper service cuts, and greater political controversy. . . . So we aren’t done talking about healthcare. We haven’t even really started. Our budget problems loom as big as ever, and we just used up both political capital, and some of our stock of tax increases and spending cuts, to pay for something else.”

Posted by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit

The pinnacle of influence, insight--Rush Limbaugh

"Excellence Gets a Nod from Mediaweek" [Kathryn Jean Lopez via NRO]

Not known to be Dittoheads, the industry magazine declares: “No radio host or personality comes close to Rush Limbaugh in size of audience or volume of political discourse. The man manages to stay in the headlines no matter who’s in the White House or who’s gunning for him.”

That has certainly proven to be the case.

Of course, if you listen you know why.

With talent .... oh, you know the rest ...

Nicely done, El Rushbo. He's become a beacon on the airwaves. If it's noon EST, wherever you are, where there is a radio, there is some sanity — and entertainment — in an upside down world.

Senate Dems, like liberal judges, want $ for ACORN

"Exclusive: ACORN Qualifies for Funding in Senate Health Care Bill" from Weekly Standard (use link for entire--and not too long--article)

Senator Roland Burris is claiming credit for a provision in Harry Reid's "manager's amendment," unveiled Saturday morning, that could funnel money to ACORN through the health care bill...

According to a Senate legislative aide, the scandal-plagued Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now could qualify for grants under this provision. ACORN would also qualify for funding on page 150 of the underlying Reid bill, which says that "community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups" may receive grants to "conduct public education activities to raise awareness of the availability of qualified health plans."...

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas message from Newt Gingrich

I have nothing to say beyond watch the whole thing to see why this is a "Christmas message."
"How the Nazis Tried to Steal Christmas, Cont'd" [Jonah Goldberg]

From another article on the subject, this time at the Independent.

"The baby Jesus was Jewish. This was both a problem and a provocation for the Nazis," explained Judith Breuer, who organised the exhibition using the items she and her mother collected at flea markets over 30 years. "The most popular Christian festival of the year did not fit in with their racist ideology. They had to react and they did so by trying to make it less Christian."

The regime's exploitation of Christmas began almost as soon as the Nazis took power in 1933. Party ideologists wrote scores of papers claiming that the festival's Christian element was a manipulative attempt by the church to capitalise on what were really old Germanic traditions. Christmas Eve, they argued, had nothing to do with Christ but was the date of the winter solstice – the Nordic Yuletide that was "the holy night in which the sun was reborn".

The swastika, they claimed, was an ancient symbol of the sun that represented the struggle of the Great German Reich. Father Christmas had nothing to do with the bearded figure in a red robe who looked like a bishop: the Nazis reinvented him as the Germanic Norse god Odin, who, according to legend, rode about the earth on a white horse to announce the coming of the winter solstice. Propaganda posters in the exhibition show the "Christmas or Solstice man" as a hippie-like individual on a white charger sporting a thick grey beard, slouch hat and a sack full of gifts.

But the star that traditionally crowns the Christmas tree presented an almost insurmountable problem. "Either it was the six-pointed star of David, which was Jewish, or it was the five-pointed star of the Bolshevik Soviet Union," said Mrs Breuer. "And both of them were anathema to the regime." So the Nazis replaced the star with swastikas, Germanic "sun wheels" and the Nordic "sig runes" used by the regime's fanatical Waffen SS as their insignia.

Housewives were encouraged to bake biscuits in similar shapes. One of the exhibits is a page from a Nazi women's magazine with a baking recipe: "Every boy will want to bake a sig (SS) rune," proclaims the accompanying text.

The Nazification of Christmas did not end there. The Christmas tree crib was replaced by a Christmas garden containing wooden toy deer and rabbits. Mary and Jesus became the Germanic mother and child, while dozens of Christmas carols, including the famous German hymn "Silent Night", were rewritten with all references to God, Christ and religion expunged. At the height of the anti-Christian campaign, an attempt was made to replace the coming of Christ the Saviour with the coming of Adolf Hitler – the "Saviour Führer."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man?

Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man? [Fred Schwarz via NRO]

President Obama’s deficiencies as a leader result from his fundamental lack of honesty. A true leader says, “This will be difficult, but it has to be done, and with your help, we can make it happen.” A charlatan says, “Hey, it’s no problem at all — and free ice cream for everyone!” That might work once or twice, but pretty soon people start to catch on.

A case in point: Yesterday at the White House, Obama said:

"I just want to be clear, for all those who are continually carping about how this is somehow a big spending government bill, this cuts our deficit by $132 billion the first 10 years, and by over a trillion in the second. That argument that opponents are making against this bill does not hold water."

Now, first of all, the president is muddling — one has to suspect deliberately — two very different things: spending and deficits. If I withdraw $10,000 from the bank and spend $9,000 of it, I have $1,000 more in my pocket than I had before, even though I’ve just spent a lot of money. That doesn’t mean I earned or saved $1,000. Similarly, if you make the ludicrous assumption that all the budget trickery in Democare actually reflects reality, the bill amounts to a massive tax increase (direct and indirect), coupled with a slightly less massive spending increase. But it’s still a “big spending government bill” — or, more properly, a “big spending and even bigger taxing government bill.”

Yet the real situation is even worse, because all the budget trickery in Democare doesn’t reflect reality. As Matthew Continetti points out at The Weekly Standard, not only are many of its projections bogus, but it relies heavily on the “doc fix,” which President Obama and everyone else in the United States knows will never happen. So in this case it’s like withdrawing $10,000, spending $12,000, but saying that you’ll save $3,000 next year by quitting smoking — and this time you really, really mean it. One thousand bucks clear profit, baby!

When a football coach is a good motivator, people say that “his players would run through a brick wall for him.” The key, of course, is that he never actually asks his players to do it; if he did, they would change their minds about him soon enough. And since America’s taxpayers have already collided with a series of budgetary brick walls during Coach Obama’s first year in office, it’s no surprise that they have grown very skittish about trying it again.

Because movies have ceased being politics-free

Here are a couple of reviews of "Avatar" that explain how it is that one of the biggest, grandest sci-fi epics reeks of leftist anti-capitalist, anti-military, anti-corporate, anti-American sub-or-not-so-sub-plots and themes:

"The Case Against 'Avatar' Reihan Salam, How James Cameron's sci-fi epic gets capitalism wrong."

"Heaven and Nature"  By ROSS DOUTHAT

"It’s fitting that James Cameron’s “Avatar” arrived in theaters at Christmastime. Like the holiday season itself, the science fiction epic is a crass embodiment of capitalistic excess wrapped around a deeply felt religious message. It’s at once the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, and the Gospel According to James.

But not the Christian Gospel. Instead, “Avatar” is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.

"But not the Christian Gospel. Instead, “Avatar” is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world. ...

They're either too stupid to know how much it'll cost--or they're too dishonest to admit it

How Much Will Health-Care Reform Cost? More Than the Reformers Announced [Veronique de Rugy via NRO

From the Iraq War to the space station, government programs almost always end up costing much more than they were supposed to. They also usually end up doing more than they were supposed to. Health-care reform won't be any different. Watch this new Reason TV video narrated by editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie and see for yourself:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Phony numbers from Obama and CBO

Krauthammer's Take [NRO Staff]

On the CBO score of the Senate health-care bill:

That CBO estimate is completely wrong, and when Obama cites it, he is being completely cynical.

Number one, the only reason it ends up with a surplus is because it strips out — well, it assumes that there will be cuts in reimbursements for doctors of 21 percent next year with no increase over a decade. It's 100 percent certain that is not going to happen, but it's in the bill because [there will be] will be a separate provision that will strip it out. So once you calculate that in, you're already in the red.

Secondly, and this is the most important, it supposedly costs $850 billion over ten years. But 98 percent of the costs of the bill are in the last six years. So it's a trick. If you actually look at real charges, you start in 2014 when the benefits kick in and you go out ten years, then the cost is not slightly under $1 trillion. It is $1.8 trillion or $2.5 trillion, which means it will blow an enormous hole in the deficit....

You cook the books by presenting the assumption that the CBO is required to assume will happen — but what everybody understands is not going to happen. That's why the ostensible CBO number looks good. The real number is devastatingly in deficit. …

Judge: Dem wooden soldiers marching to oblivion

Clark Judge of WH Writers Group, posting at Hugh Hewitt's blog, summarizes the essential fraud called "health care reform:"

"The March of the Senate Democrats" By Clark S. Judge, managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.

As one early morning report puts it, the Senate is now “marching” to passage on Christmas Eve of its version of health overhaul. Three motions preliminary to a cloture vote have passed 60-40, all Democrats for, all Republicans against. What does this Democrats-only bill do? What are the consequences?

As it stands today, the health overhaul bill is a hoax. We all may know some part of the litany, but it is worth keeping in mind just how many forms this hoax takes.

The administration promised overhaul would come with not a penny of new taxes for Americans earning under $250,000 a year, later lowering that to $200,000 for individuals. Estimates now hold that 25 percent of Americans earning under $200,000 will see their taxes go up. ( <> )

The administration has said repeatedly that if you like your current plan the health overhaul will let you keep it. But the bill includes numerous definitions of care that will act as Federal mandates layered on top of the state mandates that have done so much to drive up health insurance costs. Insurance plans that don’t comply will have to change or close down. Those that change will be the New Coke of health care. Same label. Different formula. Different taste. Current plans in name only.

The administration insists that the bill will lower the deficit over the next decade. That’s because tax increases will kick in early, benefits much later (see ). But after the government’s planning horizon has expired, the bill will take spending as a proportion of national income permanently beyond the levels reached only in a single year in our history to date – the peak year of spending in World War Two. This will mean not just higher deficits but a fundamental altering of the American economy, with the U.S. embracing the economics of Europe.

Yet among the bill’s assumptions is that Congress will cut Medicare reimbursement of doctors. Already cuts and slow payments have led to doctors opting out of Medicare in rising numbers. Is Congress really prepared to impose and stick by cost containment that hollows out the program? If not, even within this decade the Senate’s deficit projections will prove a hoax.

And with Nebraska now receiving Medicaid cost relief apparently in perpetuity and Louisiana getting something similar, how long will it be before every senator will demand federal absorption of these state budget busters? And what will that do to the federal deficit?

History points where we are going. As Sally Pipes (one of the nation’s most astute economists analyzing the health overhaul and president of Pacific Research Institute, which I chair) has noted, in the mid-60s when Medicare was passed “it was projected to cost $12 billion in 1990. Well in fact it cost $107 billion. Last year it cost $427 billion; it’s estimated in 2017 to cost $884 billion.” Today Medicare carries a $73.4 trillion unfunded liability – a national debt six times as large as our official nation debt.

Senate Democrats clearly do not understand or perhaps even care about nation’s finances. They are under tremendous, even unprecedented, pressure from the White House and special interests like the thuggish Service Employees International Union. The only numbers left to move them come from the polls...

Here is where the issue stands today, then. If Democratic senators up for reelection see their numbers tank between now and Christmas Eve, one or two may say no. Which senators? The most likely are those from centrist states: Indiana’s Evan Bayh, North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan, and Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln. But unless polls make overwhelmingly clear that voters understand the hoax, abhor it, and will remember it on election day eleven months hence, the march of the Senate Democrats will continue, health overhaul will pass the Senate on Christmas Eve, and in all likelihood will pass the Congress in January or early February. Wooden soldiers on parade.

Just so--Constitutional self-governance dies

Gregg: Welcome to a New America [Robert Costa via NRO]

American government changed last night. “We are now functioning under a parliamentary form of government,” says Sen. Judd Gregg (R., N.H.) in a conversation with NRO. “An ideological supermajority in Congress, along with a government run by community organizers, has taken over.”

“They’ve taken over the student-loan program, they’ve taken over the automobile system, and now they’re taking over the health-care system. There is no limit to their belief that people should be controlled by smart bureaucrats in Washington,” says Gregg. “They’re putting our country on a path that will reduce the quality of life for the next generation, undermine our nation’s wonderful exceptionalism, and Europeanize our economy to curb its growth.”

Harry Reid’s health-care bill “was purchased,” says Gregg. “Our system of checks and balances is gone. We now have a government that lurches with great speed even though our system is founded upon incremental change.” And don’t hope that the House stops the runaway train, he says. “I think the House is ideologically even further to the Left than the Senate. There are many people there who are committed to taking us down the road toward nationalization.”

“In the future, discretionary dollars won’t be able to be spent on college or a new house, but on this massive new burden for Americans,” says Gregg. “Eventually, at some point, the pressures on the private sector will tip the scales so that employers offering private insurance send people over to the health-care exchange. It’s all part of their ultimate goal to get a vast amount of people subsidized by the government.”

This is an “unsustainable course for our nation,” says Gregg. “We can’t sustain the debt we’re adding. Soon we’ll reach banana-republic status.”

And the winner is...abortion

'It seems that abortion is more dear to them than socialism.' [Andy McCarthy via NRO]

That's James Taranto's take in the WSJ. As James put it in yesterday's Best of the Web:

"Bringing ObamaCare to the floor requires an affirmative vote from every non-Republican in the Senate, which means that [Sen. Harry] Reid and his men will fail in their efforts unless they persuade [Sen. Ben] Nelson to vote with them. To win over [Sen. Joe] Lieberman, the Dems were willing to give up government-run insurance in the form of both the "public option" and the "Medicare buy-in." It seems that abortion is more dear to them than socialism.

We'd like to take this opportunity to point out that this is an example of how Roe v. Wade distorts American politics. Decided almost 37 years ago, that ruling was supposed to have settled the question of abortion once and for all. Instead, by circumventing the normal political process that produces compromise and consensus, it exacerbated divisions and ensured that disagreements over abortion will scuttle efforts to get other things done."

That said, if Roe ends up aborting ObamaCare, we'll be the first to applaud.

Dr K's takedown of Hopenchangen climate summit

(alternately Hopenhagen, NoHopenhagen, NoHopenchangen...) Krauthammer's Take [NRO Staff] From Fox News All-Stars:

On the results of the Copenhagen climate-change summit:

I think Copenhagen will go the way of Kyoto, and that means nothing of importance will come out for a simple reason, the American people aren't stupid — as they said in 1999, by a vote of 97-0 in the Senate to the Clinton administration, they are saying to the Obama administration, and it's listening.

The American people will not accept an agreement where we have serious cuts in carbon emissions imposed on the United States, which will mean a serious constriction of the U.S. economy, a lowering of our standard of living, if the Chinese (who are the largest CO2 polluters on the planet) and the Indians ... do not accept limits, as they will not, because the result of that is (a) there is no effect on warming — whatever coal plant America shuts down, the Chinese and Indians are going to open [another] and so there will be no effect on the climate – and (b) it will, in effect, be a huge transfer of wealth and jobs out of the West, out of the American economy, into China and India.

Adding on to that is the Clinton proposal of a fund of $100 billion a year of which America will ultimately contribute probably a third — it always does in these international agreements — from our treasury, our money from taxpayers, directly into the treasuries of the poorer countries, the majority of whom are kleptocracies, and some of whom like China and India are lenders.

It makes absolutely no sense, and Americans are simply not going to accept that, which is why nothing of importance will we sign out there. . . .

It's the same story that happened in the late '90s. If the Chinese and Indians and the others who are developing will not match our cuts, it makes no sense economically or even scientifically — [it] will have no effect on the climate, even if you accept all of the climate science and global warming as a reality.

So it has no [climactic] effect and it is [just] a transfer of wealth. It will never be accepted.

And the Chinese were clear today — they are not interested in arresting their own development on which the legitimacy of the regime depends. It is a dictatorship. It depends on a prosperous nation to stay in power. It is not going to jeopardize that in the name of the speculative warming claims, and if it doesn't, nothing is going to happen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's simple really: nothing should impose on nature

HOW IMPORTANT IS CONTROLLING CARBON EMISSIONS? NOT VERY. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in Congress on Monday to protect a million acres of the Mojave Desert in California by scuttling some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for the region. I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who keep telling me it’s a crisis start acting like a crisis.

by Glenn Reynolds via Instapundit

Read the original:
"The Health-Care Backlash" by Peter Wehner via Commentary:

Here are some thoughts on where things stand in the aftermath of the certain passage of the Senate health-care bill.

1. Few Democrats understand the depth and intensity of opposition that exists toward them and their agenda, especially regarding health care. Passage of this bill will only heighten the depth and intensity of the opposition. We’re seeing a political tsunami in the making, and passage of health-care legislation would only add to its size and force.

2. This health-care bill may well be historic, but not in the way the president thinks. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen anything quite like it: passage of a mammoth piece of legislation, hugely expensive and unpopular, on a strict party-line vote taken in a rush of panic because Democrats know that the more people see of ObamaCare, the less they like it.

3. The problem isn’t simply with how substantively awful the bill is but how deeply dishonest and (legally) corrupt the whole process has been. There’s already a powerful populist, anti-Washington sentiment out there, perhaps as strong as anything we’ve seen. This will add kerosene to that raging fire.

4. Democrats have sold this bill as a miracle-worker; when people see first-hand how pernicious health-care legislation will be, abstract concerns will become concrete. That will magnify the unhappiness of the polity.

5. The collateral damage to Obama from this bill is enormous. More than any candidate in our lifetime, Obama won based on the aesthetics of politics. It wasn’t because of his record; he barely had one. And it wasn’t because of his command of policy; few people knew what his top three policy priorities were. It was based instead on the sense that he was something novel, the embodiment of a “new politics” – mature, high-minded and gracious, intellectually serious. That was the core of his speeches and his candidacy. In less than a year, that core has been devoured, most of all by this health-care process.

Mr. Obama has shown himself to be a deeply partisan and polarizing figure. (“I have never been asked to engage in a single serious negotiation on any issue, nor has any other Republican,” Senator McCain reported over the weekend.) The lack of transparency in this process has been unprecedented and bordering on criminal. The president has been deeply misleading in selling this plan. Lobbyists, a bane of Obama during the campaign, are having a field day.

President Obama may succeed in passing a terribly unpopular piece of legislation – but in the process, he has shattered his carefully cultivated image. It now consists of a thousand shards.

6. This health-care bill shouldn’t be seen in isolation. It’s part of a train of events that include the stimulus package, the omnibus spending bill (complete with some 8,500 earmarks), and a record-sized budget...

Together, these actions tell quite a tale. Mr. Obama has revived the worst impressions of the Democratic party...Barack Obama is in the process of inflicting enormous damage to his presidency and his party. And there is more, much more to come.
Read the whole thing:

Obama's economic smoke/mirrors/shell game

Washington Times editorial absolutely nails it:

"What is Obama smoking?"
White House claims of stimulus-based recovery are a pipe dream
Apparently, the debate over the economy is over, and it's settled science that government spending stimulates growth. At least that's what President Obama wants you to believe. On CBS' "60 Minutes" on Dec. 13, he boasted, "What we now know, and every economist who's looked at it will acknowledge this, is that [the stimulus] helped us [stem] the panic and get the economy growing again." Mr. Obama's exaggerations are starting to sound a lot like Al Gore's claimed "consensus" about global warming - a formerly hot topic that has cooled down recently.

Also on Dec. 13, Lawrence H. Summers, Mr. Obama's top economic adviser, professed on multiple news shows that since the economy didn't lose as many jobs in November as it had lost in January, that proves the $787 billion stimulus package saved the economy. Mr. Summers cited forecasters, saying most agree with him that unemployment will start improving in the spring. That's a bit of a yarn since the 52 forecasters surveyed each month by the Wall Street Journal predict virtually no change in unemployment through June. But, in any case, that indicator does not imply things would have been worse without hundreds of billions in government spending.

Mr. Summers somehow fails to use that same yardstick - what forecasters were predicting - when evaluating how the stimulus has performed up to this point. Back in February, before the stimulus plan was passed, the 52 business economists and forecasters expected the unemployment rate this month to be at 8.8 percent, showing only a small increase from the 8.2 percent level of 10 months ago. Instead, the unemployment rate is hovering at 10 percent.

White House predictions were even more rosy, and off base. On Feb. 28, with the stimulus already passed, the Obama administration's own forecast predicted an average unemployment rate for the year of just 8.1 percent. Despite the unemployment rate being 2 percentage points above what his own team promised, the president trumpets that his policies are working. Give us a break.

None of this is surprising. At the beginning of the year, we predicted many times that this big increase in unemployment would occur, precisely because of the stimulus.

Moreover, if Obama officials really want to take credit for changes in the unemployment rate, they are going to have to try to explain why the U.S. unemployment rate is soaring much faster than the rate in other countries. As Fox News reported earlier this month: "Among the 21 countries with available data for unemployment from January to October, the U.S. experienced the second biggest increase, going from 7.6 percent to 10.2 percent (a 2.6 percentage point change). The average increase for the non-U.S. countries was just 0.8 percentage points, just one-third what we experienced. Only Ireland faced a larger increase."

Many times this year, Mr. Obama and his economists explained away the problems and griped that it was hard to turn the economy around because there was a worldwide recession. The troubled economies in the rest of the world supposedly were dragging down the American economy. This line of argument makes no sense given that our downturn was larger than just about everybody else's dip.

The president refuses to admit the truth of the matter - that the economy was going to get better if the so-called stimulus had never passed. Whether one looks at the predictions of forecasters or the Obama administration's own predictions, the implications are the same: Mr. Obama's policies delayed the recovery.

Remember this when Dems blather about...

...fiscal responsibility...or deficit reduction...or some other unintentional laugh line:

Is ‘Son of Stimulus’ Just Another Bait and Switch? [Kevin McCarthy]

Imagine the following scenario: A friend comes to you in desperate need of a loan. That friend spent his own money, but a medical emergency has occurred, which is why he needs the loan. Now imagine that, after you have loaned money to the friend, he or she doesn’t use it for that medical emergency, but instead spends it elsewhere. Imagine how you would feel.

That is why I find it appalling that Democratic congressional leaders last night passed a bill to use unspent and repaid TARP funds to help pay for another stimulus. Remember, in October 2008, Congress authorized — against the wishes of millions of Americans, including me — a $700 billion Wall Street bailout. This emergency bailout supposedly was needed to stabilize the financial markets and prevent an economic meltdown. Whether or not we actually needed a bailout, the funds were approved and the federal government committed to borrowing $700 billion from American taxpayers.

Common sense dictates that when the government no longer needs the unspent and repaid TARP funds, it should return those funds to the taxpayers. Americans expect this of their government. They do not expect their government to borrow money from taxpayers under the guise of averting a banking meltdown, only to use that money for some other purpose.

Cynics would argue that this type of bait and switch is merely politics as usual. But after listening to many who have expressed their frustration with our government and the way it spends taxpayer dollars, I would argue that tolerating this type of fraud is unacceptable.

I believe that we should have allowed TARP to expire at the end of this year, and that we should return all unspent and repaid TARP funds to American taxpayers by using those funds to reduce our public debt. This would send a message that our government can be honest about its use of taxpayer funds.

— Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) is chief deputy whip for House Republicans.
"Change Nobody Believes In--A bill so reckless that it has to be rammed through on a partisan vote on Christmas eve." (Wall Street Journal editorial; use links for full article):

...Mr. Obama promised a new era of transparent good government, yet on Saturday morning Mr. Reid threw out the 2,100-page bill that the world's greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new "manager's amendment" that was stapled together in covert partisan negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what's in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning. After procedural motions that allow for no amendments, the final vote could come at 9 p.m. on December 24.

Even in World War I there was a Christmas truce.

The rushed, secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that "reform" has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state. An increasing roll of leaders in health care and business are looking on aghast at a bill that is so large and convoluted that no one can truly understand it, as Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted on the floor last week. The only goal is to ram it into law while the political window is still open, and clean up the mess later.

• Health costs. From the outset, the White House's core claim was that reform would reduce health costs for individuals and businesses, and they're sticking to that story. "Anyone who says otherwise simply hasn't read the bills," Mr. Obama said over the weekend. This is so utterly disingenuous that we doubt the President really believes it.

The best and most rigorous cost analysis was recently released by the insurer WellPoint, which mined its actuarial data in various regional markets to model the Senate bill. WellPoint found that a healthy 25-year-old in Milwaukee buying coverage on the individual market will see his costs rise by 178%. A small business based in Richmond with eight employees in average health will see a 23% increase. Insurance costs for a 40-year-old family with two kids living in Indianapolis will pay 106% more. And on and on.

These increases are solely the result of ObamaCare...

• Steep declines in choice and quality. This is all of a piece with the hubris of an Administration that thinks it can substitute government planning for market forces in determining where the $33 trillion the U.S. will spend on medicine over the next decade should go.

This centralized system means above all fewer choices; what works for the political class must work for everyone. With formerly private insurers converted into public utilities, for instance, they'll inevitably be banned from selling products like health savings accounts that encourage more cost-conscious decisions.

Unnoticed by the press corps, the Congressional Budget Office argued recently that the Senate bill would so "substantially reduce flexibility in terms of the types, prices, and number of private sellers of health insurance" that companies like WellPoint might need to "be considered part of the federal budget."

With so large a chunk of the economy and medical practice itself in Washington's hands, quality will decline. Ultimately, "our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies would suffer most of all," as Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier recently wrote in our pages....

• Blowing up the federal fisc. Even though Medicare's unfunded liabilities are already about 2.6 times larger than the entire U.S. economy in 2008, Democrats are crowing that ObamaCare will cost "only" $871 billion over the next decade while fantastically reducing the deficit by $132 billion, according to CBO.

Yet some 98% of the total cost comes after 2014—remind us why there must absolutely be a vote this week—and most of the taxes start in 2010. That includes the payroll tax increase for individuals earning more than $200,000 that rose to 0.9 from 0.5 percentage points in Mr. Reid's final machinations. Job creation, here we come.

Other deceptions include a new entitlement for long-term care that starts collecting premiums tomorrow but doesn't start paying benefits until late in the decade. But the worst is not accounting for a formula that automatically slashes Medicare payments to doctors by 21.5% next year and deeper after that....

• Political intimidation. The experts who have pointed out such complications have been ignored or dismissed as "ideologues" by the White House. Those parts of the health-care industry that couldn't be bribed outright, like Big Pharma, were coerced into acceding to this agenda. The White House was able to, er, persuade the likes of the AMA and the hospital lobbies because the federal government will control 55% of total U.S. health spending under ObamaCare, according to the Administration's own Medicare actuaries....

"After a nearly century-long struggle we are on the cusp of making health-care reform a reality in the United States of America," Mr. Obama said on Saturday. He's forced to claim the mandate of "history" because he can't claim the mandate of voters. Some 51% of the public is now opposed, according to National Journal's composite of all health polling. The more people know about ObamaCare, the more unpopular it becomes.

The tragedy is that Mr. Obama inherited a consensus that the health-care status quo needs serious reform, and a popular President might have crafted a durable compromise that blended the best ideas from both parties. A more honest and more thoughtful approach might have even done some good. But as Mr. Obama suggested, the Democratic old guard sees this plan as the culmination of 20th-century liberalism.

So instead we have this vast expansion of federal control. Never in our memory has so unpopular a bill been on the verge of passing Congress, never has social and economic legislation of this magnitude been forced through on a purely partisan vote, and never has a party exhibited more sheer political willfulness that is reckless even for Washington or had more warning about the consequences of its actions. ...

Dems chipping away at efforts to stop illegals

Every City a Sanctuary City [Mark Krikorian] (via NRO):

The Democratic amnesty bill (HR 4321) is relatively modest in size, compared to other recent efforts, at a "mere" 644 pages. But those pages are packed with juicy bits of open-borders goodness. I mentioned some of the highlights yesterday, here and here, but there's plenty more.

For instance, Sec. 183 of the bill prohibits any state or local assistance in enforcing immigration law. This means repeal of the successful 287(g) program (examined in a Center for Immigration Studies report here). But it would also seem to preempt laws in Arizona and Oklahoma and elsewhere requiring that some or all employers in those states use the E-Verify program for screening out illegal aliens among new hires.

Such a prohibition on state and local governments from partnering with federal immigration authorities would reverse the modest gains that have been made over the past couple of years in enforcement. As constitutional law professor Kris Kobach has written, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) "has a Herculean task on its hands — one that it simply cannot accomplish alone. The assistance of state and local law enforcement agencies can mean the difference between success and failure in enforcing immigration laws. The more than 650,000 police officers nationwide represent a massive force multiplier." And it's not just a practical matter; Kobach explains the "inherent arrest authority that has been possessed and exercised by state and local police since the earliest days of federal immigration law."

Jim Edwards has also written on this topic, concluding that:

"Local law enforcement’s involvement in enforcing immigration violations would increase homeland security. It would raise the stakes of illegal immigration. It would increase the chances of an illegal alien getting caught. And it would help protect public safety at all levels."

And that's precisely why the amnesty folks don't want it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dr. K on the insanity of moving terrorists to IL

Krauthammer's take (via NRO):

On President Obama’s decision to move Guantanamo detainees to a prison in Illinois:

Well, finally, a real jobs program. ... And like a lot of the jobs being (so-called) created by the administration, these are redundant and entirely unnecessary. Guantanamo is a perfectly good place to house terrorists. It's humane. The reason it's being shut is because the international left has created, through lies and calumnies, an image of Guantanamo. Remember the false story about the flushing of the Koran at Guantanamo? And Obama is reacting to placate the international left.

Now, it is not as egregious as, for example, the trying of Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York, which is logically and morally a disgrace, undermining the … ethical foundation of the war on terror. But it is a redundancy and it doesn't solve the problem.

The problem is that there are some terrorists that we will detain without trial, no matter what happens. And it's not the location that is the issue. It's either going to be in Guantanamo or Illinois or somewhere. The issue remains.

The Left, the ACLU, will be after this, and there will be a federal judge there to say these people [the terrorist detainees] have rights beyond the rights that they have right now.

And even though the Department of Homeland Security is assuring us that these terrorists are not acquiring residency, they are like immigrants outside of America, there is no assurance that the judge is going to uphold that and that ultimately some of these miscreants are not going to be released into American streets.

From one who was there, was once lefty...

...and once believed the kind of crap peddled by the international lefties that populate the agw/Copenhagen climate crowd--Roger L. Simon:

...Yes, it’s comical, but it’s quite worrisome, if you examine the true game afoot. Copenhagen was intended as an important advance toward world governance. On the face of it, it’s a beautiful idea. When I was younger, I was highly attracted to it. But my up-close-and-personal encounters with the UN have turned that attraction to near revulsion. It’s very clear that under global government – because of its size and natural inefficiencies – accountability is nigh on to impossible, transparency nothing but a distant dream, very often not even desired. In short, it’s 1984. And COP15 was just that – legions staring at world leaders on Jumbotrons as they blathered platitudes, while negotiations were conducted behind closed doors. (That’s bad enough in our Congress, but on a global scale…?)...

Read the rest:

Iraq war success...Bush's fault/legacy

POLL: Iraq War A Success: “Here’s a final set of numbers from our new NBC/WSJ poll that we find fascinating: 57% say the Iraq war has been successful, versus 40% who say it has been unsuccessful. It’s a reversal from July 2008, when 43% said Iraq was successful, and 53% said it was unsuccessful.”

Yeah, but that was when there was a lot of election-related propaganda. Now that’s dissipated, being no longer useful.

by Glenn Reynolds

And yet we're told its irrational to think...'t controlled health care would be used as a tool/weapon against those not supportive of political powers-that-be (i.e. Republicans):

Report: Democratic districts received nearly twice the amount of stimulus funds as GOP districts

By: Mark Hemingway (Washington Examiner--use link for full article)

December 16, 2009 A new analysis of the $157 billion distributed by the American Reinvestment and Recovery act, popularly known as the stimulus bill, shows that the funds were distributed without regard for what states were most in need of jobs.

“You would think that if the stimulus money was actually spent to create jobs, there would be more stimulus money spent in high unemployment states,” said Veronique de Rugy, a scholar at the Mercatus Center who produced the analysis. "But we don't find any correlation."

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia is one of the nation's most respected economic and regulatory think tanks and has a Nobel prize-winning economist on staff. The econometric analysis was done using data provided by -- the government website devoted to tracking the stimulus data -- as well as a host of other government databases.

Additionally, Mercatus found that stimulus funds were not disbursed geographically with any special regard for low-income Americans. “We find no correlation between economic indicators and stimulus funding. Preliminary results find no statistically significant effect of unemployment, median income or mean income on stimulus funds allocation,” said the report.

The Mercatus Center analysis also found that Democratic congressional districts received on average almost double the funding of Republican congressional districts. Republican congressional districts received on average $232 million in stimulus funds while Democratic districts received $439 million on average.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Science is not politics, policy is not science

"ClimateGate and the Cost of Blurring Science and Politics"

Jonathan H. Adler via Volokh

Daniel Sarewitz and Samuel Thernstrom, of Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes and the American Enterprise Institute respectively, co-authored an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times on how the debate over leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, and climate change more broadly, is colored by the mistaken idea that science can resolve contentious policy questions that implicate fundamental values. As the note, “If ‘pure’ science dictates our actions, then there is no need to acknowledge the role that political interests and social values play in deciding how society should address climate change.” It also leads to excessively politicized conflict over scientific findings and prevents honest debate over the underlying policy questions.

Read the whole article for quotes, links: