Friday, December 31, 2010

The road to Obamacare and to possible repeal

The road to Obamacare and to possible repeal  by Paul Mirengoff/Powerline

Tevi Troy at Contentions cites studies by Stanford University and the University of Minnesota finding that at least one-third of the 63-seat Democratic loss in the House of Representatives can be attributed to the electorate's negative reaction to the health-care bill. In other words, that legislation was responsible for turning a bad election and into a historically awful one for the Dems.

I don't know what methodology these two studies used, but their conclusion seems plausible enough. Indeed, if one combines displeasure over the merits of the health-care bill with dismay over what it symbolized --- Obama's broken promise to be post-partisan --- it's not difficult to believe that the Obamacare cost the Dems more than one-third of their losses in the House.

Troy's reference to the two studies appears in the opening paragraph of his very worthwhile article in the January 2011 issue of Commentary called "The Democrats and Health Care." After noting the central role Obamacare played in the 2012 election, Troy goes back in time to recount how Obama rejected warnings from Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, and others of just such a scenario. In other words, the electoral disaster was not only foreseeable, it was foreseen by the president's men.

Any liberal president would have wanted to adopt far-reaching health care reform --- it's been a staple of the Democrats' agenda for decades. But an ordinary liberal president would have heeded the advice of ordinary liberals like Biden and Emanuel to back off given the mood of the electorate. Obama's insistence on forging ahead in the face of these warnings is evidence that he is a socialist.

There are other possible explanations for Obama's persistence, to be sure. The best is Obama's arrogance, which comes through in Troy's account. But then, socialism and arrogance are not mutually exclusive.

Troy also looks ahead to discuss the possibility of repeal, citing two possible avenues:

There is actual legislative repeal, passed by both Houses and signed by the president, which cannot happen until 2013 at the earliest. And there is effective repeal, in which the body politic rejects the substance of the bill, seeks waivers and exemptions, supports defunding important provisions, and challenges it in court, all of which would have the effect of making the whole scheme unworkable.

The battles associated with "effective repeal" may shape the 2012 election through which legislative repeal might be accomplished.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Barack Obama's Department of Selective Justice--favors muslims

Barack Obama's Department of Selective Justice

We are a few days late, but it is worth noting this editorial by Investors Business Daily on the Obama Justice Department's selective enforcement of the laws:

On Monday, Justice sued an Illinois school district for rejecting a Muslim teacher's request to take a three-week leave of absence to travel to Mecca. The suit claims that the Berkeley School District discriminated against middle-school instructor Safoorah Khan, whose religion "required" her to perform the hajj, and is seeking damages for this so-called victim.

But it's not stopping there. It seeks an order mandating school officials adopt policies accommodating all Muslim customs, no matter how unreasonable.

The vast majority of Muslims never make it to Mecca on their own time, let alone their employers'. The lawsuit in which DOJ joined strikes me as another instance of "lawfare," in which radical Muslims, probably associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, are trying to carve out ever-growing spaces in which Sharia becomes the law of the land.

Attorney General Eric Holder is fulfilling a promise to pander to the special interests of Muslims. In June 2009, he pledged "a new beginning between the United States and the Muslim community" that includes "robust enforcement" of "religious freedoms."

"We are committed to using criminal and civil rights laws to protect Muslim Americans" in the workplace, housing market and schools, he said, adding that he was making it "a top priority."

Earlier this month, Holder spoke in San Francisco at the annual dinner of an anti-FBI group called the Muslim Advocates, whom he described as "partners in our work to promote tolerance."

He told Muslims gathered there that all 94 U.S. attorney's offices were partnering with the department's Civil Rights Division to act as "force multipliers" in helping to protect the Muslim community. He informed them that he'd brought a third of the nation's U.S. attorneys to Washington for an unprecedented meeting to work on being more "sensitive" toward Muslims.

"Last year," moreover, "I established an Arab-American and Muslim Engagement Advisory Group to help identify more effective ways for the Justice Department to foster greater communication and collaboration -- as well as a new level of respect and understanding -- between law enforcement and Muslim and Arab-American communities," Holder said.

"Equal justice under law" is an ideal to which the Obama administration does not aspire. Rather, as the most divisive administration in memory, it has friends, and it has enemies. Its thumb is always on the scale, one way or another.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Second Swoon: President Obama's Kept Press

The Second Swoon: President Obama's Kept Press

Wednesday's press conference may have starred President Obama fresh off his alleged big win on START and DADT, his losses on the Dream Act and the Omnibus spending bill, and the tie on the tax deal, but the big story was the eagerness of the White House Press Corp to revert to fawning treatment of their once-and-future leader.

"I think while they may be saying Merry Christmas," Mark Steyn told me on yesterday's broadcast, "but actually as far as they’re concerned, it’s Easter, that their messiah has risen from the dead, and now bestrides lame duck Washington like a colossus."

Even the leader of the rump group of real reporters at 1600, ABC's Jake Tapper, succumbed to the mood in the press room and congratulated the president on the passage of the repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. I don't think it is fair to attribute support for the repeal to Tapper on the basis of the remark, but reporters don't typically cheer the president's agenda anymore than they hiss at it.

Tapper's lapse may have been reflecting the loneliness of the holdout serious journalist when it comes to Obama. Yesterday's presser was a perfect example. The night before the press conference the president's Director of National Intelligence --James Clapper-- was stumped by Diane Sawyer's reference to Monday evening's arrests of a dozen terror suspects in Great Britain. Clapper blinked incomprehension when Sawyer asked him if the threat over there had any connections to the threat over here. An astonished Sawyer later returned to the subject and pressed Clapper, who admitted that he simply hadn't heard of the arrests, which had played nonstop on cable all day Tuesday and which I had discussed at length with New York Times London Bureau Chief on my Monday night show, --proving only that it wasn't exactly hard to get up to speed on the arrests even though they occurred across the Atlantic.

Imagine the press conference George W. Bush would have faced if either of his DNIs --John D. Negroponte or Michael Hayden-- had blanked on a major story with a network anchor the night before the questions rolled out. If either Bush appointee had been shown to be clueless about the smashing of a major terror ring in England on the week of Christmas, the tape would have rolled endlessly and the press would fairly have screamed questions about resignation demands at W.

Not this press corps and not this president. What conservatives saw yesterday was the first act in MSM's campaign to re-elect Barack Obama. The script isn't difficult to anticipate.

First, every Obama defeat --like the massive repudiation of the president's first two years in office and especially of Obamcare-- must be air brushed off the front page as quickly as possible.

Second, legislative defeats, like the ban on moving Gitmo detainees to the U.S. for trial which passed Wednesday, must not be mentioned unless, like the Dream Act, the MSM perceives political advantage in spinning the defeat in the president's direction.

Third, pratfalls by key members of Team Obama like James Clapper must vanish quickly and not be allowed to feed the public's obvious dismay with the competence of this Administration.

Next, prepare to present the GOP House as a band of rogue inquisitors eager to cobble together some sort of Whitewater II. Ignore the demands of Congress that out-of-control agencies like the FCC abandon unnecessary and ideological extreme initiatives like "net neutrality," and bury the baseline deficit from fiscal year 2007 --the last GOP budget-- of $160 billion versus the trillions spent in red ink since then.

Finally, keep all eyes off of the president's incredible record of weakness aboard, his hostility to Israel, and his inability to do anything about the rogue regimes of North Korea and Iran despite his many promises of engagement and a new start. The president's child-like approach to foreign affairs has left our friends with their heads shaking and our enemies with their hands clasping. The White House press corps, even with the Korean peninsula on the brink of all out war, must not press the president on the subject or on his manifest inability to bring any pressure to bear on the North Koreans or to do anything to stop the runaway nuclear proliferation of the gangster regime.

Wednesday's press conference featured the return of the media we saw throughout campaign 2008 --a blocking front for a hard-left president they approve of over drinks and to whose re-election they are resoundingly, and obviously, committed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

MSM Inertia: What We Can Learn from 120 Years of Climate Catastrophe Reporting.

MSM Inertia: What We Can Learn from 120 Years of Climate Catastrophe Reporting.

The media falls in love with catastrophic predictions, and is consistently 10-15 years behind(!) in reporting on what the global temperature is actually doing.

by Art Horn

The annual Climate Catastrophe Party is marching along in Cancun, Mexico, making for a lovely all-expenses-paid vacation.

At this latest doom fest, some 20,000 delegates from around the world are doing their best to keep the scary story of man-made global warming/climate change alive. I’ve been around long enough to remember a time when global warming was a non-issue — in fact, it was the very real threat of another ice age making headlines in the 1970s. With that in mind, I did an investigation into the comings and goings of predicted environmental cataclysm in modern history. What I found is that this has all happened before — the reporting of climate catastrophe has been going on for over 120 years.

What’s fascinating about the reporting is that it has encompassed the full range of temperature: searing heat and bitter cold, both reported as real and potentially deadly.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world is warming at an unprecedented rate. The irrefutable results of this global temperature heat wave will be starvation, drowning of coastal cities, mass extinctions, war, and the death of billions. These warnings come to us from many reliable sources, including all forms of news media. We have been alerted to this climate catastrophe for two decades now.

But when one looks back at the history of climate reporting, you find a remarkably consistent and recurring theme. The global temperature has cycled from cold to warm to cold to warm again over the last 120 years. The media cycles of impending climatic doom mirror the climate cycles themselves, but with a roughly ten- to fifteen-year lag. It seems whenever the world warms, the volume of global warming stories increases to match the trend. Conversely, when the climate cools the major media outlets pull on their long johns and warn us of the next ice age. However, it takes many years for the media to catch up to what the climate is actually doing.

On February 24, 1895, the New York Times reported: “Geologists think the world may be frozen up again.” The story wondered “whether recent and long continued observations do not point to the advent of a second glacial period.”

In 1912, shortly after the sinking of the Titanic by an iceberg, the New York Times reported on a professor from a Cornell University: “Professor Schmidt warns us of an encroaching ice age.” On the very same day, the Los Angles Times reported: “Fifth ice age is on the way. … Human race will have to fight for its existence against the cold.”

Was what they were reporting true? The temperature records from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia say yes. The Earth was cooling from about 1875 to 1910, about 35 years of downward temperature. During this time there would have been more ice in the Arctic, and glaciers would have advanced. The stories were based upon what scientists of the day were observing. From there, the media drew their own conclusions as to what this meant for the future climate and its effects on humanity. Many times, they chose disaster.

The oceans contain more than one thousand times more heat than the atmosphere, and the vast majority of that heat is in tropical waters. When the oceans warm, so does the atmosphere. When they cool, global temperature follows. The Pacific Ocean covers a third of the Earth’s surface and exhibits a dominant impact on the global temperature. Around 1920, the tropical Pacific Ocean began to warm. The impacts of such a warming are not always readily apparent — it takes years for glaciers and sea ice to react to the gradual ocean warming.

The huge social inertia generated by the ice age scare prior to 1910 continued to drive media fear stories of coming cold into the 1920s. On July 3, 1923, the Christian Science Monitor reported: “Captain MacMillan left Wiscasset, Maine, announcing that one of the purposes of his cruise was to determine whether there was the beginning of another ice age as the advance of glaciers in the last 70 years would seem to indicate.” On September 18, 1924, the New York Times declared the threat was real, saying: “MacMillan reports signs of new ice age.” Earlier that year, on April 6, the LA Times reported that Swedish scientist Rutger Sernander claimed there were “scientific grounds for believing” that “when all winds will bring snow, the Sun cannot prevail against the clouds and three winters will come in one, with no summer between.”

Unknown to anyone during this time was the fact that the Pacific was beginning to warm, and would continue to do so until the mid-1940s.

Reacting to this ocean warmth, the temperature of the Earth began to rise as well.The ice age stories began to fade from the headlines. On March 11, 1929, the LA Times reported: “Most geologists think the world is growing warmer and that it will continue to get warmer.” On March 27, 1933, the New York Times headline read: “The next ice age, if it is coming … is still a long way off.” Also that year, meteorologist J.B. Kincer of the United States Weather Bureau published in the September Monthly Weather Review: “Wide-spread and persistent tendency towards warmer weather.” He noted that of the 21 winters prior to 1933 in Washington, D.C.: “Eighteen were warmer than normal and all of the past 13 were mild.”

During the early 1920s, the Atlantic Ocean began its cyclic 30-year warming trend. This warmer water combined with the warmer Pacific pumped up world temperature to the point where everyone began to take notice. By November 6, 1939, the Chicago Daily Tribune published the story: “Experts puzzle over 20-year mercury rise.” The story noted: “Chicago is in the front rank of thousands of cites throughout the world which have been affected by a mysterious trend towards warmer climate in the last two decades.”

They knew it was warming, but not why. On August 2, 1952, the New York Times reported that Eskimos were eating cod, a fish not previously in their diet. The following year the Times reported that studies confirmed summers and winters were getting warmer. Again, unknown to the Times and other media outlets, was the fact that the oceans were changing again.

The stories of a warming continued into the late 1950s as the media inertia plowed forward with the popular warming stories of the 1930s and 1940s. The Atlantic Ocean had been warming since the early 1920s. This warming was keeping the Arctic milder by pumping warmer water northward trough the Gulf stream. On February 15, 1959, the New York Times reported: “Arctic findings in particular support theory of rising global temperatures.” However, the temperature of the Earth was not warming at this point, it was falling.

The massive and dominant Pacific had been cooler since the mid-1940s and would continue to be so into the middle of the 1970s. The climate data show that starting in the middle 1940s the Earth began a multi-decadal cooling trend. Around 1960 the Atlantic began to cool again. Both oceans were in their cooler phase, working together to chill the planet.

It was not until later in the 1960s that the media noticed.

On November 15, 1969, Science News quoted meteorologist Dr. J. Murray Mitchell Jr.: “How long the current cooling trend continues is one of the most important problems of our civilizations. … If the cooling continues for another 200 to 300 years the Earth could be plunged into an ice age.” On January 11, 1970, the Washington Post reported: “Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age. … Better get a good grip on your long johns, cold weather haters, the worst may be yet to come.” Fortune reported in February 1974: “It is the root cause of a lot of that unpleasant weather around the world and they warn that it carries the potential for human disasters of unprecedented magnitude.” (Sound familiar?) On June 24, Time wrote: “Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.” Newsweek said on April 28, 1975: “The Earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. … [Meteorologists were] Almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.”

So it looked like we were on the precipice of a new ice age with cataclysmic consequences for the world. Then, unannounced to all, the Pacific Ocean began to warm again, and so did the Earth’s temperature.

The warming Pacific Ocean began to nudge global temperature up in the late 1970s. This warming continued through the 1980s — soon, the ice age stories were gone. By 1993, from U.S. News and World Report: “Global Climate Change may alter temperature and rainfall patterns, many scientists fear, with uncertain consequences for agriculture.” Time wrote on November 13, 2000, that 27 European climatologists have become worried that the warming trend “may be irreversible, at least over most of the coming century.” Newsweek, in its August 8, 2005, edition: “Extremely dry weather of recent months has spawned swarms of locusts.” Was global warming the cause? The story concluded: “Evidence is mounting to support just such fears.”

On April 3, 2006, Time magazine’s cover story — accompanied by a picture of a lonely polar bear on a small piece of ice — read: “Be Worried, be very worried. Climate change isn’t some vague future problem — it’s already damaging the planet at an alarming pace.” It also stated on the cover in bold: “Earth at the tipping point. How it threatens your health. How China and India can help save the world, or destroy it.”

What can we learn from 120 years of media reporting on climate change?

1: The mainstream media outlets are going to publish whatever sells. If someone publishes a story about the world getting colder and people buy it, you can be sure there will be many more stories touting the same headline.

2: There is a long lag between what nature is doing and what the media will report. The lag seems to be anywhere from 10 to 15 years after the climate changes. There is an inertia problem with the mainstream media even when the evidence is clear.

3: When all the stories are about warming or cooling, you can be sure they are all wrong.

When government agencies or United Nations Climate Change conferences warn you that the climate is changing you can be sure that is true — the climate is always changing. Determining the direction is the hard part. Based on the past reporting of these changes, be it from global cooling or warming, the trend will have reversed many years earlier than reported.

Incidentally there has been no global warming for a decade. Get a good grip on your long johns. Maybe a trip to Cancun is not such a bad idea after all, but I’ll wait until the delegates have gone home.

Art Horn spent 25 years working in television as a meteorologist. He now is an independent meteorologist and speaker who lives in Connecticut. He can be contacted at

Monday, December 27, 2010

Govt 'creating vast domestic snooping machine'

Govt 'creating vast domestic snooping machine'

The government is creating a vast domestic spying network to collect information about Americans in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequent terror plots, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The government is using for this purpose the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators, the daily added.

The system collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of US citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing, the report noted.

The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, noted the paper, which has conducted its own investigation of the matter.

According to the report, the network includes 4,058 federal, state and local organizations, each with its own counter-terrorism responsibilities and jurisdictions.

At least 935 of these organizations have been created since the 2001 attacks, The Post said.

The probe has revealed that technologies and techniques developed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in the United States, the paper pointed out.

In addition, the FBI is building a database with the names and personal information of thousands of US citizens and residents, the report said.

The database is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators, the report noted.

In a bid to counter what is seen as a threat from radical Islam, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers people whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by US intelligence agencies, the paper pointed out.

The cost of the network is difficult to measure, the paper said. But the Department of Homeland Security has given 31 billion dollars in grants since 2003 to state and local governments for homeland security and to improve their ability to find and protect against terrorists, The Post said.

Only this year, it gave 3.8 billion dollars to local law enforcement agencies.

Copyright AFP 2008,

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yes, there truly is a declined/declining California

Is California's Decline Just More Right-Wing Propaganda?

Tim Cavanaugh
November 29, 2010

Any column about California that gets thumbs up from both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown is cause for deep suspicion, and in the case of Market MarketWatch columnist Brett Arends' sustained defense of California, the suspicion is justified.

Arends' thesis is that a cabal of rightwing pundits are manufacturing the story of the Golden State's economic troubles. He makes some points that are true: California pays out more than it receives in federal funding; the state's $2 trillion economy is the eighth largest in the world; and housing is way too expensive. (Arends conspicuously avoids looking at some of the reasons behind that last problem.)

Does this mean all the grim forecasts you hear about the Golden State (most emphatically from Gov.-elect Brown, though Arends says critics of Californianomics are motivated by animus toward the incoming third-termer) are bogus? Only if you're really willing to cherry pick your data.

Here's how Arends spreads the good news about California's investment climate (warning: heavy sarcasm ahead):

Back in the Silicon Valley glory days, in the late 1990s, California attracted an incredible 42 cents of every venture capital dollar invested in America. Ah, those were the days — when the private sector was still willing to back California with its own money. As any conservative will tell you, that’s the real voting in the economy.

How far has California fallen from those giddy days?

According to the latest data from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, in 2010 California just got a miserable, er, 50 cents of every venture capital dollar invested in America.

So, how much, according to NCVA and PWC, does that actually come to? About one-third as much as in 1999, when VCs put up more than $51 billion in funding, and less than a fifth as much as in 2000, when they put up more than $100 billion. Nationwide, VCs spent an anemic $17 billion in 2009. It's true that California attracts a slightly larger piece of the venture capital pie than it did 11 years ago, but the pie is geometrically smaller than it was then. If you think venture capital is going to lift the Golden State out of the dumps, you're wrong.

To the fact that California's debt burden is among the highest in the nation, Arends responds with what looks like a larger perspective:

The Tax Foundation is non-partisan, but by the nature of what it does it leans politically to the right.

According to them, as of 2008 (the most recent year analyzed) state and local taxes in the average state came to about 9.7% of the annual state economy.

What was it in crazy, liberal, communistical, socialistical, un-American, soviet-style California?

Er, 10.5%.

I don't know that this makes me feel any better about losing more than a tenth of my money to pay for impassable roads and the second-worst education system in America. California does particularly poorly in tax policy compared to the state it most resembles in size, demographics and general economic mix. Texas has an overall tax burden of only 8.4 percent, and as this recent study [pdf] from the Texas Public Policy Foundation explains, the types of tax and regulatory burdens a state imposes are as important as the overall tax burden. That study was co-written by Art Laffer, who had something to do with Ronald Reagan way back when, so maybe by Arends' lights it should be dismissed as partisan bickering. But even through the scrim of Arends' ironical phrasing, you're still looking at a tax burden that is nearly a full percentage point higher than that for the rest of the country. Maybe that doesn't seem like much to Arends, but he doesn't live here.

What about the state's widely discussed problem with its public sector pension liabilities? Again, Arends advises us to look at the big picture:

The non-partisan Legislative Analysts’ Office in Sacramento estimates there’s a $136 billion gap in the state pension and benefits system. It may work out to more or less. But that’s the actuarial figure at the moment.

Size of the state economy? Oh, $2 trillion a year. That’s 14 times the size of this gigantic pension-fund gap.

Of course, what matters is not how big the pension gap is relative to the state's total economy, but how big it is relative to the state government's budget. Sacramento spends a total of $86 billion a year [pdf], so the pension liability Arends describes as overstated is in fact much larger than the entire budget of the state. California already boasts the seventh-highest debt-per-capita rate in the country and the absolute lowest bond rating among the 50 states. That $2 trillion economy starts to go elsewhere (usually Texas) as you keep dipping into it to pay for reduced services.

Case in point: San Diego Tax Fighters Chairman Richard Rider (a donor to the Reason Foundation, which publishes this site) notes that the Golden State's corporate income tax receipts dropped 41.6 percent between 2009 and 2010.

I called the office of State Controller John Chiang to get an idea of what caused that shortfall. It turns out these figures are skewed by the timing of the measurement -- 2009 receipts were goosed by companies attempting to pay taxes early in response to a change in tax laws. The state's actual decline [pdf] in corporate tax receipts -- $9.446 billion in fiscal year 2010, against $12.261 billion in 2009 -- is closer to 22 percent.

That's still the eighth-worst decline among the 50 states, and it can't all be explained by the recession. Twenty states posted year-to-year gains in corporate income tax receipts. It takes some pretty strenuous denial to say none of California's corporate tax revenue losses resulted from businesses leaving the state.

Fiscal conservatives aren't against California. Reality is. The state has lost a third of its manufacturing base in a decade, its budget is structurally unbalanced, and its political leaders believe you can get out of bankruptcy by fining jaywalkers. You don't need to be a Republican or a Democrat to understand that these problems are real.

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(Read original for indents, etc)

Friday, December 24, 2010

FDA death panel pulls the plug on breast cancer drug

FDA death panel pulls the plug on breast cancer drug

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration moved to revoke its regulatory approval of Avastin for metastatic breast cancer. Withdrawing a cancer treatment is almost never done, and though the decision was expected, that does not make it any less reprehensible.

The FDA said in a statement that it is removing Avastin's breast cancer indication because the biologic does not provide "a sufficient benefit in slowing disease progression to outweigh the significant risk to patients." Ponder that "sufficient." The agency is substituting its own judgments about clinical meaningfulness for those of practicing oncologists and terminally ill cancer patients.

The risks of Avastin are real, but manageable. Clinical trials do not show that the drug extends life overall in the aggregate, but they have shown that it allows women to live longer without their disease getting worse. Avastin improves progression-free survival by about four months on average. Different patients respond differently, and the drug is far more effective in some than in others, for reasons that researchers still do not understand. There aren't any perfect therapeutic options in end-stage oncology, and Avastin ought to have remained one of them.

Looking at the same data, the European Medicines Agency-the FDA's counterpart in the European Union-decided on Thursday that it would continue to approve Avastin for breast cancer in combination with chemotherapy. In October, the U.S. National Comprehensive Cancer Network-a consortium of 21 leading cancer centers that issues evidence-based medical guidelines-reaffirmed its position that Avastin is valuable in some cases.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The new START treaty is akin to waving the white flag

The new START treaty is akin to waving the white flag

The Telegraph reports:

The Obama administration has an impeccable track record of caving in to Russian demands, as part of its controversial "reset" policy. Last year, it threw key US allies Poland and the Czech Republic under the bus, ditching plans for Third Site missile defences in deference to Russian opposition. It is now planning another surrender to Moscow, by pressing for Senate ratification of the new START Treaty in the lame duck session of Congress.

Instead of allowing the newly elected Congress to vote on the treaty, the Obama administration is trying to ram New START through without proper debate. No major treaty has ever been forced through Congress in a lame duck session.

There is mounting opposition in Washington to the New START Treaty, which would significantly weaken US security by undermining America's ability to deploy an effective global missile defence system. Dozens of senators, as well as several leading likely Republican presidential candidates are opposed to the Treaty, including Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. As Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina has warned:

The START Treaty could severely weaken America's ability to defend our people and our allies against missile attacks from nations like Iran, and we need all of the facts on how this treaty was agreed to... The newly elected Republican senators have signed a letter asking our leadership to postpone debate on START until they take office in a few weeks and have ample time to review the details. Americans didn't vote in November to ram through the Obama administration's wish list this December.

As part of its campaign to woo opponents of the Treaty, the Democratic White House has claimed that Ronald Reagan would have backed it, a simply ludicrous assertion. As Reagan's attorney general Ed Meese, and Assistant Secretary of Defense, Richard Perle noted in The Wall Street Journal, the Gipper would never have backed an arms control agreement that encumbered "the pursuit of advanced ballistic missile defense technology":

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Doctors hate obamaCare--Marc K. Siegel -

[Doctors hate obamaCare--Marc K. Siegel -


For all the times that President Obama promised "you'll get to keep your doctor" under his health-care reforms, he apparently failed to ask any practicing doctors.

A recent survey finds that countless MDs will respond to ObamaCare by limiting which patients they'll see.

The Physicians Foundation asked 2,400 doctors and American Medical Association members what they thought of the new law; a full 67 percent were against it.

More important, it asked how they'd cope with the new rules (which don't fully kick in until 2014). Sixty percent said they feel compelled to "close or significantly restrict their practices to certain categories of patients." And 59 percent said the "reform" would oblige them to spend less time with the patients they do have.

Of course, many doctors already limit how many patients they'll take on who depend on government insurance (whose fees rarely cover an MD's costs). But it'll get worse under ObamaCare: In the survey, some 87 percent said they would significantly restrict Medicare patients and 93 percent said they'd significantly restrict Medicaid patients.

How can the government claim its health programs are popular when folks who would actually deliver care are running away? I'm not worried about physicians (we'll find ways to survive), but about our patients.

All in all, the survey found that 74 percent of doctors will alter how they practice.

To stay in business under ObamaCare, doctors will have to adjust. Some will see fewer patients themselves and hire nurse practitioners to help carry the load; others will work part-time and supplement their income elsewhere. Many will join groups or become salaried employees of hospitals or clinics.

I practice medicine alone, something ObamaCare intentionally makes more difficult. Physicians like me are going to become harder and harder to find, at least, ones who'll take your insurance. Many MDs will join the growing group of "boutique" doctors who'll only see patients who pay cash up front.

That trend is no solution. Because it lacks even the oversight of insurers, this group includes many charlatans and hucksters who promote questionable treatments. Yes, it'll also have plenty of solid physicians as ObamaCare hits home -- but that's just creating a two-tier system of health care, with good care for those who can afford it and second-rate care by overstressed MDs for the rest of America.

The sad thing is we do need genuine health reform. The survey also found 69 percent of doctors saying they already lack the time or resources to see new patients.

The politicians who supported the health-reform law suggested that you have a talk with your doctor about how aggressively you'd like to be treated if you become deathly ill. Here's another question: Ask your doctor if he or she will still be around when that unfortunate time comes.

Marc Siegel is an internist practicing in New York and a Fox News medical contributor.

Reality of tax rates vs. revenue to feds

Reality Isn't Negotiable: The Government Can't Raise More than 19% in Taxes for Long

Veronique de Rugy Nov 29, 2010

This chart by Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy shows the historical path of federal taxation as a percentage of GDP using the earliest records available from the Office of Management and Budget and top marginal tax rate data from the Tax Policy Center. From 1930 to 2010, tax revenue collection in the United States has never topped 20.9%, averaging 16.5% of GDP over these 80 years. This comes despite the drastic historical fluctuation in the rate of taxes on the wealthiest Americans. As we move toward debt reduction, it is critical to keep the long-term path of the United States in mind.

In recent years, spending, not revenues, has deviated from its historical path; spending must be addressed to rectify the budget.

Veronique de Rugy explains why we can’t tax our way out of the debt on Bloomberg TV.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Updated: Two black Democrats bolt party for GOP

Updated: Two black Democrats bolt party for GOP

by Aaron Gould Sheinin

Two African-American Democrats on Thursday announced that they were joining the Republican Party.

Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell and former state executive committee member Andre Walker said the Democratic Party had grown too liberal and they are finding a new home with the Republicans.

The state GOP touted Bell as the first black elected official in modern times in Georgia to leave the Democrats for the GOP. But that distinction belongs to former state Sen. Roy Allen of Savannah, who joined the Republican Party in 1994.

Bell was introduced as a Republican at a news conference Thursday at party headquarters.

“My district is pretty Republican as it is,” Bell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “My wife and I have been thinking about this for six months.”

He said they are both conservative “and the Democratic Party has been our home. The party had conservatives and liberals both in the party. [But] this election showed us the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is very, very strong. If your’e a conservative, it became more difficult to be in the Democratic Party.”

Bell, a former national president of the College Democrats of America, was a 2004 delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Bell has two more years left on his term and said he was switching now to make his intentions known. He said he plans to run for re-election as a Republican.

Walker, who runs the political blog Georgia Unfiltered, resigned from the Democratic Party’s state executive committee. Walker was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention and is a former president of College Democrats of Georgia.

“Since the first Democratic lawmaker bolted to the Republican Party, left-leaning activists have mocked and ridiculed those individuals as being self-serving people only looking for ways to remain in office,” Walker told the AJC. “But I’m not an elected official. I don’t hold public office. I’m not trying to protect my seat. I don’t have a seat to protect. I’m just a regular citizen with a healthy interest in the political process, and I’m joining the GOP because of ideology.”

Walker, who has been increasingly critical of the Democratic Party in recent weeks, said he looks “forward to convincing other people who look like me that it’s okay to vote Republican and support Republican candidates. It’s time for the black vote to be competitive again.”

But Democrats were critical of the decisions by Bell and Walker.

“Over a year ago at an event at the White House, Ashley Bell looked me in the eye, and told me that the rumors weren’t true – he wouldn’t switch parties,” said College Democrats of America alumni spokesman Frank Chi in a statement. “We need politicians who stand on principle, not opportunism. We’re disappointed in Ashley, but we’re not surprised. As the College Democrats Alumni Association fosters a new generation of principled leaders, we know that Ashley Bell will be our cautionary tale.”

Eric Gray, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia, was more succinct: “Andre Walker switching parties is news?”

Taxpayer ripoff under guise of reparations for black farmers

Me & Mrs. Sherrod; And The $1.25 Billion Pigford II Black Farmers Settlement

(ecxerpt): Today, we’re releasing a report called “The Pigford Shakedown: How the Black Farmers’ Cause Was Hijacked by Politicians, Trial Lawyers & Community Organizers — Leaving Us With a Billion Dollar Tab.”

What have we discovered about Pigford so far?

Treasure troves of information from Lexis and Google. USDA whistleblowers. A former FBI agent who was on the verge of indictments. One of the originally discriminated-against black farmers with the goods. All these people paint a very clear picture of widespread fraud, and can testify to a complex web of bad players, including politicians, trial attorneys and community organizers.

I stumbled on the Pigford story in my defense of the Tea Party, so it’s a sweet irony that the Pigford story is exactly the kind of mess that makes the Tea Party so necessary. Politicians and trial attorneys bonded together to rip off the taxpayer, and even those farmers that were discriminated against were royally screwed.

Let me be clear, our investigation convincingly leads us to believe the USDA practiced discrimination against black farmers. Those wrongs must be rectified. But Pigford is wrought with a grotesque amount of fraud, while the truly aggrieved were mostly left high and dry.

The Pigford tale is about government run amok. It is also an indictment of the American media that is so blinded by ideology that it missed the big story yet again because taking out a political enemy was far more expedient. And furthermore it is why the American people need the Tea Party and new media as a checks and balances on corrupt politicians and their corrupt journalist counterparts.

Today will be the first of many days that will release information, testimony and documents to make the case that, at the very least, the American taxpayer (and ESPECIALLY those legitimately discriminated-against black farmers) need a full accounting of the Pigford I and II settlements.

Read the whole articles:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fresh Poll: What Do Voters Think of ObamaCare Now?

Pajamas Media » Fresh Poll: What Do Voters Think of ObamaCare Now?  By Bryan Preston

At Pajamas Media, we’ve gotten our hands on a national CrossTarget [1] poll regarding ObamaCare. CrossTarget is an Alexandria, VA, survey research firm that conducts polling for Pajamas Media, among others. The survey asked a little over 1,400 likely voters a series of questions about their political affiliation; national right direction/wrong direction; and ObamaCare, which has been the law of the land since the Democrats pushed it and President Obama signed it back in March 2010. Its margin of error is 2.6%. It was conducted Nov. 30 through Dec. 1, 2010.

To give you some sense of its sampling, Question 3 asks, Do you consider yourself a Democrat, a Republican or something else?

1. Democratic 37%

2. Republican 37%

3. Something else 26%

Question 4 is the first indication of bad news for President Obama, asking: Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction or in the wrong direction?

1. Right Direction 27.7%

2. Wrong Direction 65.1%

3. No Opinion 7.2%

There’s no better news in Question 5, which asks: How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job President Obama has been doing?

1. Strongly approve 19.7%

2. Somewhat approve 27.9%

3. Somewhat disapprove 14%

4. Strongly disapprove 37%

5. Undecided 1.3%

Strongly disapprove at 37? Us rabid Texans can’t account for all of that.

The survey gets really interesting in the ObamaCare questions. Questions 7 and 8 were the last two questions, both dealing with the subject. Question 7 asks: Will the health care plan passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama be good for the country or bad for the country?

1. Good 36.5%

2. Bad 53.6%

3. No Impact 4.1%

4. Unsure 5.8%

And Question 8 deals with a specific section of ObamaCare, the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB [2] was created by ObamaCare, and is:

[A] 15 member independent panel, to be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate — [and] is now charged with enforcing an upper limit on annual Medicare spending growth.

It’s very limited in its options:

To hit its budgetary targets, the IPAB is strictly limited in what it can recommend and implement. It can’t change cost-sharing for covered Medicare services. Indeed, it can’t change the nature of the Medicare entitlement at all, or any aspect of the beneficiary’s relationship to the program. The only thing it can do is cut Medicare payment rates for those providing services to the beneficiaries.

The IPAB has been in the news lately, as doctors and patients learn what it does [3]. It inserts a government panel into medical decision-making.

Imagine visiting your doctor and, after considering your options, you walk out with a prescription that effectively manages your illness, allowing you to lead a healthy, productive life. Now imagine being told the medicine isn’t covered because your plan’s “payment advisory board” decided it is too expensive.

No need to imagine.

The recent federal health care reform bill creates the “Independent Payment Advisory Board,” whose job is to determine which medicines to cover and which are too expensive. This panel consists of 15 presidential appointees. Starting in 2014, the advisory board will make sure Medicare meets preset spending targets each year. Those on Medicaid, those who rely on the social safety net, could find their doctors being second-guessed by accountants who don’t know what is best for the patient.

You think your HMO is run by cheapskates? Wait until they’re replaced by government bureaucrats.

So keeping that in mind, here’s Question 8 of the survey:

Established under the new health care law is the Independent Payment Advisory board. It allows fifteen unelected government officials to decide what medicines will be covered under Medicare. Critics say this board will lead to government rationing of health care for seniors. Proponents say this board is vital to controlling national health care cost. Do you support or oppose this provision of the national health care law?

1. Support 25.1%

2. Oppose 64%

3. Undecided 10.9%

Nancy Pelosi infamously said that we would have to pass ObamaCare to find out what’s in it. The Democrats passed it, and the American people are finding out what’s in it. And they don’t like it at all.

For a president whose economic policies are already proven failures, who just lost the midterms, and who just lost a high-stakes tax cut debate, poll numbers like these in the CrossTarget survey are devastating.

Article printed from Pajamas Media:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Democrats on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Roger L. Simon » Democrats on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Democrats on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

By Roger L Simon

I was amused to read the following from Mark Halperin [1] in Time magazine last week: “Is it hyperbolic to say the Democratic Party is in the midst of a nervous breakdown?”

I immediately flashed on Pedro Almodovar’s now classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown [2] (Mujeres al bordo de un ataque de nervios) in which a woman’s lover leaves her, and she tries to contact him to find out why he’s left.

In this case the lover would be the American public, which appears to be deserting the Democratic Party in droves. But the Democratic Party doesn’t seem to want to contact them. It’s only gotten worse since the election — and that was bad enough. We now have Harry Reid flagrantly acting like the corrupt padrone he is, making sure his famiglia in the casinos [3] is taken care of. (Note to Sarah Palin: Please stop supporting candidates who are obviously incompetent to hold office, as you did in Nevada. All this accomplishes is six more years of Reid. And it doesn’t reflect well on you either.)

But back to Halperin. His actual explanation for the ataque de nervios is clueless, or should I say reified? Try as he may, he can’t get outside his traditional mindset:

Democrats are understandably — and largely justified in being — frustrated that they lost an election based on Republicans defending tax cuts for the wealthy that are only expiring because of a budget gimmick championed by George Bush — and based on criticism of their apparent lack of concern over the deficit, by a party that has shown no past or current seriousness about deficit reduction and the hard choices involved. Losing those political fights was as inexplicable as it was hard for the Democrats. Maybe that’s why Thursday seemed to have donkeys melting down all over the place.

Largely justified?! Oh, I see. It’s about George Bush again. Eureka! Never mind that all those tea party demonstrators — you know, the ones that just helped elect the new Congress — were more than willing to criticize Bush spending policies as well. They were a mirage (or, I forgot, racists).

No, like a good Time mag boy, Halperin is simply kicking the can down the road, when the reasons for the Democratic breakdown are infinitely more serious, starting with this little tidbit — Keynesian economics is dead. Giving away money as the route to political success or attempted social justice just isn’t going to work anymore, because there isn’t any money to give away. And it’s only going to get worse as the population ages. The whole justification for the Democratic Party — the welfare state — is one giant Ponzi scheme that makes Madoff seem like a piker.

And everybody knows it. All across the world, from Portugal to Japan, the system is in free fall. And the only thing that could possibly save it (and even that may not be able to ) is the free market, because the bigger things are, the less socialism (hard or soft) is likely to succeed. In fact, its principles, like them or not, only lead us, slowly or quickly, back to the old Soviet Union.

Talk about reasons for an ataque de nervios. How about a full bore psychotic break?

The Democratic Party will have to reinvent itself or become a major instrument of American, even global, decline.

(for links and sources):

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mark Tapscott: Washington is why the economy is not growing

Mark Tapscott: Washington is why the economy is not growing Washington Examiner

With unemployment still near 10 percent, and experts saying that won't change much, if at all, in 2011, it seems clear the economy is dead in the water. We need look no further than right here in the nation's capital to understand why.

On every front, the federal government is creating more investment-killing tax uncertainty, issuing endless pages of new bureaucratic regulations on the economy, and preventing firms from taking actions that could create hundreds of thousands of new positions and kick-start a muscular recovery with real legs.

Political grandstanding by President Obama and Democratic leaders of the lame-duck Congress like Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York on extending the Bush tax cuts is only the most obvious example of how Washington is why the economy is at a standstill.

The same Obama who now says he doesn't want to extend the Bush tax cuts for "the rich" said last year that "the last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses further in a hole."

The recession is officially over, but with unemployment barely below recession levels and virtually no new jobs being created, it should be clear now is not the time to raise taxes and "put businesses further in the hole," either, whether by letting the Bush tax rates on upper incomes expire, or adopting Schumer's demagogic idea of raising taxes on "millionaires."

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out yesterday, at least 80 percent of the income received by Schumer's rich villains is from business investments, so increasing their taxes will, as Obama said, put them into deeper holes.

The Bush tax cuts are only one front in this debate. Obama is also tightening the federal bureaucracy's regulatory straightjacket on economic growth. As the Heritage Foundation reported a week before the election, the hidden tax of regulation costs at least $1.75 trillion annually. That's twice as much as the government collects in taxes on individuals.

Citing Government Accountability Office figures, Heritage said "federal agencies promulgated 43 rules during the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, that impose significant burdens on the private sector. The total costs for these rules were estimated by the regulators themselves at some $28 billion, the highest level since at least 1981, the earliest date for which figures are available."

And contrary to the conventional wisdom, Obama's red tape explosion was preceded by a Bush administration regulatory carpet-bombing of the private sector that increased the cost of doing business by at least $70 billion.

Then there is the Obama Permitorium on energy exploration and production here in the United States, which threatens even greater long-term damage to the economy's ability to generate new jobs and growth.

After a federal judge forced Obama to drop his ill-advised moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the government has approved only 16 new permits for companies to start new shallow-water wells. That compares with 171 last year at a time when Obama's political appointees at the Interior Department were slow-walking every new permit request.

In every way possible, Obama and his Big Green radical environmentalist allies are making it vastly more difficult, if not completely impossible, for energy companies to harvest the vast new energy resources that have become accessible in recent years and that could free this country from OPEC.

Instead, Obama is spending billions of tax dollars to subsidize alternative energy programs that cannot possibly replace the energy produced by oil, coal or natural gas until 2030 at the earliest. In other words, Obama is strangling the economy.

Like Reagan said, "government is not the solution, government is the problem."

Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's CopyDesk blog on

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why the Tea Party resonates with human dignity

Why the Tea Party resonates with human dignity


The Party is far from perfect, but it taps into a hidden human desire to live a life crowned with self-esteem.

One Friday night at my home, a dear friend who runs a large charitable foundation raised his glass to toast the demise of the Tea Party, which he branded a group of racists, xenophobes and bigots. Taken aback, I responded that to my knowledge the Tea Party is focused simply on more limited government and the reduction of government spending. I didn’t know racism was part of the platform, I said.

But he was adamant that the Tea Party’s small-government rhetoric was an attack on low-income minorities.

Lost in the debate about the morality of the Tea Party is any discussion about its underpinnings in human nature. The principle purpose of government is to provide the optimal conditions under which human beings can acquire their most important necessities, the highest of which is dignity.

Governments provide many essentials for their citizens, from law and order to social services, from good roads to education. If it’s a socialist government, it may even provide cradle-to-grave benefits, or if it’s a more Right-leaning government, it may emphasize robust national defense. But the one human essential that government cannot provide is human dignity.

Dignity is something acquired through personal effort. Dignity is the human aura that comes through self-reliance.

Its underlying premise is independence. A dependent life is a fundamentally undignified life. Self-respect is earned through the sweat of one’s brow. An heir to a great fortune may travel the high seas in a 100-foot yacht and soar through the air in a Gulfstream V. But he will remain without dignity so long as he is living on someone else’s dime.

Yes, people want to pay their bills. They want nice houses and material comforts. But more than anything else they seek an existence infused with a sense of relevance and purpose. We seek redemption, but wish for it to come through our own devices.

IN MANY cultures the loss of dignity, or face, becomes a reason to terminate life itself. The Talmud states that shaming someone in public is worse than murder, because the public humiliation makes them wish they were dead.

America’s rapid rise to global economic power was not an accident, but the direct result of a fierce individualism and rugged self-reliance on the part of its citizens.

Where European populations were content to live under anointed rulers, Americans threw off the yoke of a foreign sovereign and tamed a vast wilderness. For Americans, divine right translated as manifest destiny – the ability of an immigrant nation who arrived on these shores with nothing, to spread their accomplishments from sea to shining sea. In so doing, Americans claimed a level of independence and dignity that had few historical precedents.

The welfare state claims it is more moral than capitalism, which it sees as selfish and materialistic. There is some truth to this claim, especially when capitalism is allowed to run rampant, becoming soulless and deadening. But for all its flaws, capitalism fosters an independence that promotes dignity while socialism creates a reliance that subverts self-esteem. Yes, the government must provide a safety net for a rainy day, but only selfreliance creates a sunny life.

I recently heard a philanthropist tell of visiting a soup kitchen that had asked for his support. He was skeptical that the people eating there were actually in need; perhaps they simply came because the food was free. But the rabbi who ran the facility asked him: “Are you capable of asking someone for food?”

The philanthropist answered that he was not. “Well then,” the rabbi responded, “if someone is forced to ask me to eat, I have to believe he is truly hungry.”

The story illustrates both the necessity of providing essential social services for those in need, while always being mindful never to allow that need to become a permanent dependency. True, socialist governments provide without people having to ask. But the effect is the same – a corrosive dependence on the hand that feeds. The effort to recapture the dignity that springs from selfreliance is what the Tea Party should be all about.

Countries like Britain, Greece and Spain are undertaking drastic austerity measures to rescue themselves from economic collapse. In truth, however, their move away from reckless entitlements and wholesale capitulation to organized labor has less to do with their inability to afford vast social services than it has to do with reversing the corruption these services were fostering in their populace. My progressive friends speak to me about how a compassionate society takes care of its citizens. That is true. But it must also take care to ensure that it never robs its citizens of the nobility of spirit which is their birthright.

Does having your job preserved by a union when you consistently underperform induce pride? Can you feel good about yourself when you’re in a profession in which only collective pressure keeps you receiving a paycheck?

Maimonides famously lists levels of charity, with the provision of a vocation being the highest. The Tea Party is far from perfect, but in emphasizing self-reliance, it taps into a hidden human desire to live a life crowned with self-esteem.

The writer, international best-selling author of 24 books, heads This World: The Values Network, an organization dedicated to spreading universal Jewish values to heal America. His newest book is Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ramirez just nails the essence of the "deficit" question

Whatever happened to the Constitution?

Whatever happened to the Constitution?  by Scott Johnson/Powerline

As R.J. Pestritto has demonstrated, the intellectual roots of modern liberalism lie in an assault on the ideas of natural rights and limited government. They eventuate in an administrative state and rule by supposed experts. Obamacare represents something like the full flowering of modern liberalism.

The roots of modern liberalism are reflected in the scholarly work of Woodrow Wilson. Reading Wilson is an educational experience. It is shocking to read the expressions of his disaffection for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

Wilson's expressions of disapproval are the precursor to Barack Obama's disdain for the Constitution and the Warren Court. Obama perfectly reflected Wilson's views in his 2001 comments on the civil rights movement and the Supreme Court. In the course of the famous radio interview Obama gave to WBEZ in Chicago, Obama observed that the Warren Court had not broken "free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties." To achieve "redistributive change," the limitations of the Constitution would have to be overcome by the Court or by Congress.

Franklin Roosevelt touted welfare state liberalism in the "second Bill of Rights" that he set forth to Congress in his 1944 State of the Union Address. "Necessitous men are not free men," Roosevelt asserted, and enumerated a new set of rights, among which were the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation, the right of every family to a decent home, and the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

Implicitly arguing that the teaching of the Declaration had become obsolete, Roosevelt asserted: "In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed."

Abraham Lincoln's argument with Stephen Douglas also came down to a disagreement over the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln articulated this disagreement with special gusto in his critique of Douglas on July 10, 1858.

According to Douglas, the teaching of the Declaration had no general applicability beyond the immediate situation that confronted the Founding Fathers. Restating Douglas's argument, Lincoln asked "in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form." This is certainly one of the questions that is raised in acute form by the doctrine of welfare state liberalism in general and by Obamacare in particular as one case in point.

The economic "rights" asserted by Roosevelt in his second Bill of Rights differ and conflict with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are claims on the liberty of others. If I have a right to medical care, you must have a corresponding duty to supply it. If I have a right to a decent home, you must have a duty to provide it.

The argument for the welfare state belongs in the same family as "the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden." That's Lincoln again.

Lincoln memorably derided the underlying principle as "the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it."

If Obamacare is constitutional, we have experienced the demise of limited government. If the government can, among other things, command citizens to purchase health insurance of a prescribed shape and size, you can bet it will be using this power in a variety of (other) unpleasing ways in the future. As the Tea Party folks recognize, it's time to take a stand.
(Go to link for numerous additional links)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The debate between liberals and conservatives has become, ever more explicitly, a debate about American exceptionalism

Liberal Exceptionalism

The debate between liberals and conservatives has become, ever more explicitly, a debate about American exceptionalism — precisely as a National Review cover story predicted last spring. Conservatives seek to defend that exceptionalism from what they regard as the threat posed to it by the Obama administration’s agenda. Liberals have not yet hit on a unified response to this charge, but their commentary bears out our contention that these days their attitude toward American exceptionalism ranges from discomfort to hostility.

This liberal commentary has had three themes: that American exceptionalism is a ridiculous or dangerous idea; that President Obama is just as supportive of it as conservatives are (in which case, shouldn’t liberals who make the first argument be denouncing him?); and that conservatives are using exceptionalism to insinuate that Obama is a foreigner.

The liberal case begins by confusing exceptionalism for jingoism. Thus Michael Kinsley calls exceptionalism “[t]he theory that Americans are better than everybody else” and that “the rules don’t apply to us.” Peter Beinart says that Republicans are in thrall to “an anti-government ideology premised on the lunatic notion that America is the only truly free and successful country in the world.”

It is true that most Americans, and a disproportionate number of conservative Americans, consider this country to be the greatest nation in human history. But what believers in American exceptionalism affirm is a different proposition: that there are distinctive features of American society and governance — of our creed and our culture — that have contributed to our success. That view does not entail any obligation on the part of our leaders to believe in our country’s superiority to other nations, let alone to proclaim it constantly, as the liberal caricature of our view would have it.

Nor do we deny that President Obama wishes the best, as he sees it, for the American people and seeks to bring it about. Our claim is that his agenda will undermine distinctive and valuable national traits. So, for example, further socializing health care will foster a culture of dependency, entitlement, and centralization.

The claim that Obama, too, is an exceptionalist rests on a different (and incompatible) misunderstanding of the concept. The fact that he has from time to time suggested that America has “core values” that are “exceptional” and spoken warmly of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence does not come close to demonstrating that he has any appreciation for what separates us from a social democracy. What matters is that his agenda would shrink that gap significantly.

Kinsley ended his column by defending liberals against a mostly imagined slur. “If you think your country is in danger,” he asks, “how is it unpatriotic to say so?” It isn’t unpatriotic. It isn’t sinister. And it’s what we have done.


As always, thank you for your support and please don't hesitate to call or write if you have questions or comments. I can be reached at or (814) 883 - 8067.

Paul Olivett, Associate Publisher

National Review, Inc.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The polling just gets worse for the left

Poll: over half of Americans say they are worse off under Obama via Laura Ingraham/staff

Bloomberg reports:

More than 50 percent of Americans say they are worse off now than they were two years ago when President Barack Obama took office, and two-thirds believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

The survey, conducted Dec. 4-7, finds that 51 percent of respondents think their situation has deteriorated, compared with 35 percent who say they're doing better. The balance isn't sure. Americans have grown more downbeat about the country's future in just the last couple of months, the poll shows. The pessimism cuts across political parties and age groups, and is common to both sexes.

The negative sentiment may cast a pall over the holiday shopping season, according to the poll. A plurality of those surveyed -- 46 percent -- expects to spend less this year than last; only 12 percent anticipate spending more. Holiday sales rose by just under a half percent last year after falling by almost 4 percent in 2008.

"It's definitely different this year than it's been," says poll respondent Larry Deyo, a 38-year-old father of two in Marlton, New Jersey. "I can't really do too much with spending." He says he lost his job at a kitchen and bath design center when the company closed, and he's now working at a Home Depot Inc. store with a "significant decrease" in pay.

More Reps than Dems--read and weap lefties

Republicans Now Outnumber Democrats  by John at 10:07 PM
This month, for the first time since Rasmussen Reports has been measuring partisan affiliation, more American adults describe themselves as Republicans than Democrats:

These numbers are based on a survey of 15,000 adults, an unusually large number by polling standards. If affiliation were measured among likely voters, the numbers would be even more favorable to the GOP.

The political tide is still flowing strongly in the Republicans' favor. It is hard to say, at this point, how far the tide might carry Republican candidates and principles.


Monday, December 13, 2010

From unexpected mouths: raising taxes bad for economy!!!

Larry Kudlow — CNBC, Stock Market News — Money Politics Blog — Sell Bonds, Buy Stocks - CNBC

For once, top Obama economic advisor Larry Summers got it right. Warning opponents of the big tax-cut deal, Summers told reporters, “Failure to pass this bill in the next couple weeks would materially increase the risk that the economy would stall out and we would have a double-dip recession.”

Too bad Mr. Summers didn’t advise the president to cut taxes across-the-board two years ago, rather than push for the misbegotten $800 billion government-spending package. That policy dismally failed to ignite a real economic recovery or to lower the unemployment rate.

But it’s never too late to promote good policy.

And echoing Summers, in recent months any number of demand- and supply-side economists warned of a double-dip (or nearly so) unless the Bush 2003 tax cuts were extended. The economy would be demoralized from a rollback of incentives to work, invest and take risks. Plus, roughly $600 billion of cash (including the alternative minimum tax) would be drained from the private sector.

Whether Obama is really changing his stripes and abandoning class-warfare, big-government spending remains to be seen. But at least he is out there defending the huge tax-cut package, which is pro-growth, along with a South Korean free-trade deal, which also is pro-growth. Certainly it’s a turn for the better for the White House.

In the wake of the tax-cut announcement, a number of Wall Street forecasters are upping their growth estimates for 2011 and beyond. The consensus seems to have lifted real GDP by nearly a full percentage point. And if the economy can grow by 3.5 to 4 percent, the likelihood of a sizable decline in unemployment literally grows stronger.

Recent polling data show overwhelming public support for the turn toward pro-growth tax cuts. The most recent Gallup poll reveals that 66 percent of voters support the deal. That includes 67 percent of independents, 52 percent of Democrats, and 85 percent of Republicans. Surveying likely voters, Scott Rasmussen finds that 56 percent favor the tax-cut deal while only 29 percent oppose it. Even political liberals are split on the issue: 43 percent favor the tax-cut extension, and 41 percent are opposed.

However, there is a rump revolt going on in the bond market, where tax-cut naysayers say rising Treasury yields indicate that the biggest fear is a hike in the deficit. Since the Obama tax-cut announcement, 10-year Treasury rates have jumped over 30 basis points to about 3.25 percent. However, three-fourths of that market-rate increase comes from a jump in real interest rates, according to the Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS) market.

That’s exactly what should happen. Keeping marginal tax rates down for successful earners, investors and small-business entrepreneurs will increase economic growth. Therefore, the economic-growth component of bond rates reflects that by normalizing upward.

It’s a positive sign, not a negative one. It has little or nothing to do with the deficit, which actually will shrink as the economy grows faster. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 1 percent faster growth reduces the ten-year deficit outlook by nearly $3 trillion. Low-tax growth must be part of the deficit solution.

The rise in real interest rates from growth-oriented tax cuts is also helping support the dollar. And all that, in turn, continues to boost the stock market. It wouldn’t be surprising if the tax-cut push for stronger growth moves Treasury rates to 3.5 or even 4 percent as the economy gathers steam from refreshed incentives.

So sell your Treasury bonds. But stronger growth amidst record profits will drive stocks higher.

The Obama/GOP tax-cut package is really a bit of pro-growth shock therapy. The vast majority of folks worried that the Bush tax rates would expire and the economy would face a debilitating tax hike. In this sense, freezing the tax rates provides an incentive effect, and at the very least instills more confidence.

At least for the next couple of years, before real flat-tax reform is possible, tax rates will be held at historically low levels. Thus, a major uncertainty factor has been removed.

Of course, the tax-cut deal is far from perfect. But a price has to be paid for a compromise that will enhance economic growth. And yes, the budget deficit is an ongoing problem. But as we listen to people like Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, the new House Budget chairman, it is clear that deep spending cuts are on the way in the new year.

So common sense suggests selling bonds, buying stocks, and holding onto the dollar. This new investment strategy builds on a long-overdue tax-cut-extension package that surely will lift the economic spirits.

© 2010 CNBC, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Obama's poll numbers point to his defeat in 2012

Obama's poll numbers point to his defeat in 2012 Washington Examiner By: Byron York

President Barack Obama pauses as a woman in downtown Kokomo, Ind., stretches the yellow police tape to grab a souvenir photo during a visit to tout the city as a success story of the Recovery Act, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.We're fast approaching the halfway point in Barack Obama's term. With Nov. 2 behind him, everything the president does will be calculated to boost, or at least not harm, his chances of re-election in 2012. What's not clear is whether he fully appreciates how badly the coalition he led to victory in 2008 has frayed in just two years. A look inside his poll numbers suggests that if he cannot turn around some key trends, he'll be a one-term president.

Just look at the exit polls from 2008, which reveal the demographic contours of Obama's support. Compare those with Gallup's weekly analysis of the president's approval rating, drawn from multiple polls broken down by age, gender, political philosophy, and the like. Throw in some insights from the midterm elections, and the mix shows a dramatic deterioration in Obama's 2008 support. "His majority coalition is not there," says Republican pollster David Winston. "What he put together, at least in the way he put it together, just isn't there."

Start with voters who call themselves independents. Obama won 52 percent of them in 2008; now, according to Gallup, he is at 42 percent. Obama's party as a whole fared even worse among independents in the midterms, losing them to Republicans by 19 points. If Obama does anywhere near that badly in 2012, he'll lose.

Next, women. In 2008, Obama won 56 percent of female voters. Today, he's at 49 percent. If that number doesn't improve, he'll be in deep trouble. (Obama is also down with men, from 49 percent in 2008 to 44 percent now.)

Even younger voters, a key part of Obama's coalition, are peeling away. In '08, Obama won 66 percent of voters 18-29 years of age. Now, he's at 58 percent. That might seem pretty good, but not when you consider his deterioration among other age groups. Obama has dropped 5 percentage points among voters in and around middle age, and 8 percent with voters above 65. If those trends continue, he'll lose.

Then there are white voters. In '08, Obama won 43 percent of whites. Now, he's at 37 percent -- a dangerously low number for his re-election hopes. He won 67 percent of Hispanic voters in 2008; now, he's at 58 percent. Even support among black voters, a bedrock for Obama, has ticked downward; after winning 95 percent of blacks in '08, he's now at 89 percent.

Just one group has stuck with Obama through it all. In '08, he won 58 percent of people with graduate degrees. Now, he's at 59 percent. It appears that academic types will be with Obama always, but they're not enough.

Everyone expects some of Obama's lost voters to come back in 2012. "Presidential elections are different from midterms," says David Winston. "You'll see a slightly larger turnout among younger voters, a slightly larger turnout among African-Americans, making the electorate a little more liberal. But everybody across the board turns out at higher rates."

And that includes conservatives, of whom there are more every day. Gallup has found that the number of people who call themselves conservative has gone up sharply since 2008, "fueled by heightened conservatism among independents."

"He's got to realize the reason he lost independents," says Winston of the president. "He thinks it was about communications. It wasn't. It was about substance and policy." Whether Obama can gracefully back away from the policies that got him in trouble -- federal spending, Obamacare -- is simply not clear.

Obama supporters point to the example of Bill Clinton, whose approval dipped to 40 percent after losing Congress in 1994, only to climb to 54 percent before winning easy re-election in 1996. Maybe that will happen again.

But Clinton's former pollster, Doug Schoen, doesn't see it that way. Schoen recently did a survey asking voters whether Obama deserves to be re-elected and found that 56 percent believe the president doesn't deserve another term, while just 38 percent believe he does.

Despite his problems, there are still ways Obama can win. His greatest hope, as always in politics, is that the other side will screw up. Maybe the newly empowered House Republicans will do a terrible job, or the GOP will nominate an awful presidential candidate. But that just underscores a stark reality. At this point, it will be hard for Obama to save himself. He'll need a lot of help to win a second term in the White House.

Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent, can be contacted at His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blogposts appear on

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

'This is Why the American People Have Thrown You Out of Power'

'This is Why the American People Have Thrown You Out of Power'

If you ever needed reminder of the smug arrogance of Democrats, save this video.

Monday, the presiding speaker was California's Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson.

When Indiana Republican Rep. Steve Buyer sought recognition to speak for....

...five minutes about some pending veterans legislation, she said no. He revised his request to one minute.

Looking confused and taking verbal directions from someone off-camera, Richardson again denied the request.

Buyer persisted, growing outraged that one sitting representative was highhandedly refusing to recognize another, even for one minute. "This is why," Buyer declared, "the American people have thrown you out of power."

Richardson confers again with someone unseen. This, not incidentally, is the kind of government coverage of the legislature that C-SPAN seeks to reform. The television cameras in the House are run strictly by the House, with focus on the person speaking and nothing else.

by JammieWearingFool

A Lost Thanksgiving Lesson

A Lost Thanksgiving Lesson By John Stossel

Had today's political class been in power in 1623, tomorrow's holiday would have been called "Starvation Day" instead of Thanksgiving. Of course, most of us wouldn't be alive to celebrate it.

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.

Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That's why they nearly all starved.

When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.

"So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented," wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

In other words, the people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.

"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many."

Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623.

What Plymouth suffered under communalism was what economists today call the tragedy of the commons. The problem has been known since ancient Greece. As Aristotle noted, "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it."

If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free-rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty.

What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.

Here's the biggest irony of all: The U.S. government has yet to apply the lesson to its first conquest, Native Americans. The U.S. government has held most Indian land in trust since the 19th century. This discourages initiative and risk-taking because, among other reasons, it can't be used as collateral for loans. On Indian reservations, "private land is 40 to 90 percent more productive than land owned through the Bureau of Indian Affairs," says economist Terry Anderson, executive director of PERC. "If you drive through western reservations, you will see on one side cultivated fields, irrigation, and on the other side, overgrazed pasture, run-down pastures and homes. One is a simple commons; the other side is private property. You have Indians on both sides. The important thing is someone owns one side."

Secure property rights are the key. When producers know their future products are safe from confiscation, they take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible.

That's the lost lesson of Thanksgiving.