"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chavez and Gaddafi Labor to Redefine Terrorism in More Acceptable Terms

Apparently Venezuela's President-for-life Hugo Chavez and Muammar Gaddafi are trying to redefine terrorism.

From Benedict Mander at the Financial Times (Via Drudge Report): "Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi have joined forces to urge the world to redefine 'terrorism'.

"After a summit last weekend for African and South American leaders on the Venezuelan island of Margarita, the two leaders signed a document rejecting attempts to link terrorism to 'the legitimate struggle of the people for liberty and self-determination'.

"While emphasising the importance of attacking terrorism 'in all its forms, including state terrorism', the controversial duo called for an international conference to establish a new definition for the concept of terrorism."

I'm sure all the free world will breathe a sigh of relief, now that two people so intimately associated with terrorism are on the job. But where do the Gaddafi/Chavez dream team believe "real" terrorism lies?

"The two leaders – who have both come under attack from the US and others for allegedly supporting terrorism – also pushed for wholesale reform of the United Nations Security Council, which Mr Gaddafi referred to as the 'Terror Council' at the UN General Assembly last week.

"Mr Chávez, who denies accusations of backing the Colombian Marxist guerrilla group FARC, generated unease during the summit when one of his ministers said that Iran was helping Venezuela in the detection and testing of uranium deposits in remote areas near the Brazilian border. Another minister subsequently denied that this was the case, stating that Venezuela was only working with Russia to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

"Calling for an 'anti-imperialist' front across Africa and Latin America, Mr Gaddafi and Mr Chávez also proposed the establishment of a South Atlantic Treaty Organization to rival Nato. They also mooted the creation of a bank spanning the two continents, following the recent inauguration of South America’s Bank of the South with start-up capital of $7bn that is to be increased to $20bn.

"'We are changing history, we are standing up to imperialism, to the bourgeoisie and backwardness, to 500 years of colonialism that has assaulted our people,' said Mr Chávez [emphasis mine]."

Ah ha! So, real terrorism comes from the UN Security Council, and imperialism, and the bourgeoisie's backwardness and colonialism. Got it.

So really, terrorism doesn't exactly exist-- at least not in the way we think of. I mean sure, terrorism is traditionally thought of as violence targeting civilian populations to bring about political change through fear, threats of further violence and coercion, but actually it's just a manifestation of violent class struggle. And the real terrorists are those who oppress the struggling masses with their backward bourgeois colonialism and such. Hmm. Where have I heard that before?

"Mr Chávez earlier also singled out Zimbabwe’s leader, Robert Mugabe, for praise during the summit meeting over the weekend. 'I wish to give our moral, spiritual and political support to Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe,' Mr Chávez said. 'They seek to make Mugabe pay for being anti-colonialist.'"

Ah yes... that final shout out to the brutal thug Mugabe. Classy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chia Obama Once Again Available-- I was Worried



According to JammieWearing Fool, the Barack Obama chia head is coming to a CVS store near you.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, "Chia Obama is back.CVS stores have started selling the controversial Barack Obama Chia pottery plant kits that Walgreens dropped last April amid protests.

"Now, Joseph Enterprises Inc. is prepping to move the 500,000 kits that it had stored in four Chicago-area warehouses since Walgreens bailed and other retailers decided to stay away.

"Everybody was afraid that it might be considered racist ," said Joseph Pedott, president of the San Francisco-based company."


Racist? Naw. Tacky? Yeah...

Berkeley Chancellor and Vice Chancellor Call for Fed Bailout Money

Robert J. Birgeneau and Frank D. Yeary, the chancellor and vice chancellor of UC Berkeley, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post Sunday entitled "Rescuing Our Public Universities" (h/t to Instapundit and TaxProf Blog).

Birgeneau and Yeary write: "Our private and public research and teaching universities have contributed greatly to American prosperity. Public universities by definition teach large numbers of students and substantially help shape our nation. The top 10 publics have more than 350,000 undergraduate students. By comparison, the eight Ivies educate less than a sixth of that number. Public universities with strong state support have an admirable cross-section of ethnically and economically diverse students. In essence, their student bodies look like America. They are the conduits into mainstream society for a huge number of highly talented people from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as the key to the American dream of an increasingly better life for the middle class.

"Yet over several decades there has been a material and progressive disinvestment by states in higher education. The economic crisis has made this a countrywide phenomenon, with devastating cuts in some states, including California. Historically acclaimed public institutions are struggling to remain true to their mission as tuitions rise and in-state students from middle- and low-income families are displaced by out-of-state students from higher socioeconomic brackets who pay steeper fees. While America is fortunate to have many great private universities, we do not need to add to the list by privatizing Berkeley, Illinois, Rutgers, etc. On the contrary, we need to keep our public research and teaching universities excellent and accessible to the vast majority of Americans.

"Given the precarious condition of state finances, we propose that President Obama emulate President Lincoln by creating a 21st-century version of the Morrill Act.

"Specifically, the federal government should create a hybrid model in which a limited number of our great public research and teaching universities receive basic operating support from the federal government and their respective state governments. Washington might initially choose a representative set of schools, perhaps based on their research achievements, their success in graduating students, commitment to public service and their record in having a student body that is broadly representative of society.

"Washington would provide sufficient additional funding for operations and student support to ensure broad access and continued excellence at these universities. A portion of these resources would ensure that out-of-state and in-state students pay the same tuition and have access to the same financial aid packages. The combined federal-state funding must be sufficient for these universities to maintain their preeminence as well as charge moderate fees to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents."

Excuse me while I wretch.

Why is the response of financially strapped state schools to beg the federal government to raise taxes to pay for their costs? Does it even occur to them to re-examine their spending?

Every public college campus I have been on (I'm not sure how many, but many more than twenty-five across the Pacific Northwest, California, Southwest and out into Texas) has been in the midst of expanding their campuses. All of them. Always a building project-- never an exception. Paying young athletes to play for their school (even in a relatively unheralded sport like women's volleyball at CSUN) is so common that reports and investigations of malfeasance have become little more than scripted vaudevillian routines.

Before Birgeneau and Yeary come crawling on their hands and knees, begging eloquently to the great Obama (mentioned in the article-- though shouldn't they be begging to the American people?) for more money, they should take time to look over their own school's budget. They don't mention doing that in their article. Nothing like "Even after a careful examination of our budgets, we can find no way to significantly reduce our budgets without an unacceptable decrease in the quality of our education, high wages, and our name-brand sports teams." They didn't even make the pretense of softening their hard-sell with that sort of lie.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Added New Blog! Carol's Closet


I've added a new link to the Blog List: Carol's Closet.

Carol's a Floridian who's got a number of interesting posts up-- some background on Roman Polanski, a post on Charlie Crist, some nice words about Marco Rubio, and more. Go check it out.

Thanks, and my apologies to Carolyn Tackett for not linking back sooner.

*NOTE: I try to be very liberal about linking to people who link to me, but sometimes I miss someone out there (hey, this "interweb" place is all big 'n' stuff). If you have a link to this blog and I don't have you on this blog's Blog List, then leave a comment somewhere and I'll very likely link back.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Aspen Colorado Officials Tell Residents to be Mean to Bears

I smell a tragedy and then a lawsuit coming...

Check out this article by Bert Rudman from ABC News.com (via Drudge Report) Apparently bears are becoming more of a problem in Aspen Colorado. A food shortage, or something, is prodding bears to wander into town and go throw the human garbage for food. Anyone who has lived in a rural area around bears knows this is not at all unusual. Bears eat almost anything and love easy-to-get, high-calorie human trash.

What is unusual, at least to me, is the advice that officials are giving to residents. "Officials are now concerned that across Colorado too many wild bears have developed a tasted for human food and are getting used to people. They are now actively telling residents to be, literally, mean to the bears. Yell at them, throw rocks and if they charge you, stand up to them.

"'You want to be as big, as large as possible, and you always want to fight back with a black bear,' said [Randy] Hampton [a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife]. Black bears tend to be timid and are generally not aggressive.

"'When they are utilizing our environment as their habitat in that manner, they are also very likely to defend that territory, ' said Hampton. 'And so it can be a dangerous situation when bears get to the point where they are breaking into homes to get food.'"

Throw rocks at bears? And act big? Where did these guys get this advice from? The "kind warrior" Timothy Treadwell?

Okay, let's state the obvious here. Bears are unpredictable creatures. They are big, tremendously strong, and even a cub can inflict the kind of damage a trained pit bull or German Shepherd would envy. All kinds are dangerous. Yes, some people can talk about "tame" bears --one of my uncles owned a black bear as a pet for many years and it never attacked him or anybody else-- but you're really fooling yourself.

I cannot believe that any official would suggest that people go out and provoke and agitate bears. I mean is this Randy Hampton's first day? Okay, I can understand that you want to keep bears away from humans to decrease the likelihood of attacks, but this "advice" doesn't seem to be the best way to protect people... The official word is that they advise citizens to go out "act big" and "throw rocks" at bears? Seriously? Is this the Onion?

I've been around bears before, but I'm no expert... however I can assure you that if a some strange occasion arose for me to go outside and yell at bears (there's no chance in hell I'm going to throw rocks at one unless there's a vital emergency of some sort), I'd be armed with a high-powered rifle with a reasonable bore size-- .30 caliber at least-- in case it charges. Of course, no wildlife spokesperson is going to say to go out armed-- I mean that would be encouraging people to protect their lives or something.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Mystery of the Disappearing Headline: Sarkozy Brings Obama Back to Reality

Check out this post on BigGovernment.com by Maura Flynn. Following Obama's piteously naive speech at the UN (best described by someone [I don't remember who] as a sophomore's brave attempt at "stirring" during his high school's mock UN), French President Nicolas Sarkozy had a few choice words for Obama.

According to Alex Spillius in his National Post front page article, "Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, came close to mocking his American counterpart for his good intentions after the summit passed a resolution to 'seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.' But the resolution set no specific targets or fresh mandates.

"Mr. Sarkozy said resolutions were pointless unless they were backed up with action as pressure grows for stronger sanctions to counter the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.

"'We live in the real world, not a virtual world,' Mr. Sarkozy told the 15-member council. 'President Obama dreams of a world without weapons, but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.

"'Iran, since 2005, has flouted five security council resolutions. North Korea has been defying council resolutions since 1993.'

"'I support the extended hand of Americans, but what good has proposals for dialogue brought the international community? More uranium enrichment and declarations by the leaders of Iran to wipe a UN member state off the map,' he said referring to Israel.

"Mr. Sarkozy had previously called the U.S. President's disarmament crusade 'naive.'"

So ,the French President believes that the Obama is acting in a toothless manner, that Obama's policies have either already failed or are doomed to failure, and that these polices are dangerous to the world. Where's all that European Obama-love the MSM proudly invokes?

While I have to agree with Sarkozy on this one, what is really interesting is the MSM's reaction. They are utterly silent on the matter. Can you imagine the gleeful headlines had this been Sarkozy's reaction to George Bush? The AP, Reuters, etc. would have been all over it...

I suppose part of the silence due to people like Steven Thomma at McClatchy's penchant for presenting Obama as some sort of chess master/genius of international politics.

From the article: "For weeks, Obama played a form of international chess to build a unified multi-national front against Iran while preserving the option to talk and negotiate. He abandoned plans for a ballistic missile defense in Europe, apparently in part to win Russian cooperation, slapped tariffs on Chinese tires, arguably to prod them along, then huddled with their leaders and finally rolled out the news that he'd held close to the vest for months — that Iran has a secret uranium enrichment plant."

Oh, I see... Obama gave up ally Poland's and ally Czechoslovakia's interests so that the Russians would support sanctions against their invested (as in lots of money invested in) ally Iran... And he "prodded" China with this tire tariff nonsense (which we'll pay for when we go try to buy tires this year) to get them to ignore and risk their invested (again lots of money) interests in Iran... It all makes sense now... I suppose repeatedly snubbing Gordon Brown (most recently here) was also part of the complicated "plan" to build a "unified multi-national front." And I guess somebody didn't give Sarkozy his own copy of the script-- or is President Sarkozy also working some complicated and subtle subterfuge for Obama's interests? Give me a break... Did Obama's strategy of jamming "health care reform" down our collective throats before the August recess demonstrate the subtle touch of a political genius?

Of further interest, is the fact that the National Post seems to have pulled the front page article I quoted from its website. If you go to nationalpost.com the article is completely absent. A search on the website for the article's title "Nuclear Loggerheads" pulls up this, while a search for the writer "Alex Spillius" pulls up two completely unrelated articles he wrote, one from April 20, 2009, the other from September 17, 2009.

The UK's Telegraph has a version of Spillius' article which contains much of the same language with some additions by Gordon Brown and gives Obama the last word on the matter. Some vintage Obamaguff: "'We know there are plenty of cynics, and that there will be setbacks to prove their point,' said Mr Obama. 'But there will also be days like today that push us forward – days that tell a different story.'"

Sarkozy is seeing the writing on the wall of Obama's toothless appeasement/disarmament policy. The MSM not only is refusing to read this writing, is not only refusing to report on Sarkozy's dissent, but is busily singing the praises of Obama's "clever chess game." This does not bode well.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gerald Warner on Obama's UN Address

Not surprisingly, Gerald Warner is not a fan of the UN. I'll let him explain in his own words.

From his Telegraph Blog: "The United Nations is the favourite platform for posturing, self-advertising hot-air merchants, so it was a given that Barack Obama would treat it to an especially epic, ozone layer-demolishing emission of Obamaguff today and he did not disappoint. 'We have sought in word and deed a new era of engagement with the world.' Aw, puleeze! 'I say this not to sow fear, but to state a fact: the magnitude of our challenges has yet to be met by the measure of our action.' No kidding?"

And a little later, "Looked at one way, The United Nations has been the largest crime syndicate on earth. A founding member of its Security Council, the former Soviet Union, had 20 million murders to its credit. This was dwarfed in 1971 when Red China, still benevolently ruled by Chairman Mao, joined, with 65 million deaths on its hands. In that environment, North Korea, with its puny 2 million murders, seemed almost a liberal democracy. Not only are mass-murdering dictatorships freely admitted, but the UN displays a sense of humour in allocating them internal responsibilities.

"Thus, Cuba (16,000 summary executions, 100,000 political prisoners) has repeatedly been elected to the UN Human Rights Commission. In 2003, Libya was elected to chair the Commission, whose members included Algeria, China, Cuba, Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe. It is a pity the Third Reich was no longer available – it could have chaired a commission on race relations."

[...]

"The corruption at the UN would make a Sicilian godfather wrinkle his nose in distaste. The Oil-for-Food scandal netted $21bn for UN hoods and their associates, while the infant mortality rate in Iraq soared. That was only the tip of the iceberg: the other scams are multifarious. The UN does not even know what its expenditure is or how many people it employs – a fiscal dyslexia reminiscent of the European Union."

Read the whole thing. It's pretty short and Warner's rhetoric is almost always entertaining.

EU Funding Computer Plan for Finding "Abnormal Behavior"

File this under "uh oh" heading. It appears that the European Union is developing computer programs to monitor private citizens computers to detect potentially violent or abnormal behavior.

From Ian Johnston at the Telegraph (h/t BARCEPUNDIT): "A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims to develop computer programmes which act as 'agents' to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.

"Its main objectives include the 'automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence'.

"Project Indect, which received nearly £10 million in funding from the European Union, involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and computer scientists at York University, in addition to colleagues in nine other European countries.

"Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a 'sinister step' for any country, adding that it was 'positively chilling' on a European scale."

[...]

"Miss Chakrabarti said: 'Profiling whole populations instead of monitoring individual suspects is a sinister step in any society.

"'It's dangerous enough at national level, but on a Europe-wide scale the idea becomes positively chilling.'

"According to the official website for Project Indect, which began this year, its main objectives include 'to develop a platform for the registration and exchange of operational data, acquisition of multimedia content, intelligent processing of all information and automatic detection of threats and recognition of abnormal behaviour or violence'.

"It talks of the 'construction of agents assigned to continuous and automatic monitoring of public resources such as: web sites, discussion forums, usenet groups, file servers, p2p [peer-to-peer] networks as well as individual computer systems, building an internet-based intelligence gathering system, both active and passive'.

"York University's computer science department website details how its task is to develop 'computational linguistic techniques for information gathering and learning from the web'.

"'Our focus is on novel techniques for word sense induction, entity resolution, relationship mining, social network analysis [and] sentiment analysis,' it says."

Great...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Victor Davis Hanson Hits the Nail on the Head

Writing in the NRO, Victor Davis Hanson really managed to sum up much of how I've felt about Obama's administration for the past six months or so.

From his column "Barack Obama, College Administrator" (h/t Pundit and Pundette) Davis writes "If you are confused by the first nine months of the Obama administration, take solace that there is at least a pattern. The president, you see, thinks America is a university and that he is our campus president. Keep that in mind, and almost everything else makes sense.

"Obama went to Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard without much of a break, taught at the University of Chicago, and then surrounded himself with academics, first in his stint at community organizing and then when he went into politics. It shows. In his limited experience, those who went to Yale or Harvard are special people, and the Ivy League environment has been replicated in the culture of the White House.

"Note how baffled the administration is by sinking polls, tea parties, town halls, and, in general, 'them' — the vast middle class, which, as we learned during the campaign, clings to guns and Bibles, and which has now been written off as blinkered, racist, and xenophobic. The earlier characterization of rural Pennsylvania has been expanded to include all of Middle America.

"For many in the academic community who have not worked with their hands, run businesses, or ventured far off campus, Middle America is an exotic place inhabited by aborigines who bowl, don’t eat arugula, and need to be reminded to inflate their tires. They are an emotional lot, of some value on campus for their ability to 'fix' broken things like pipes and windows, but otherwise wisely ignored. Professor Chu, Obama’s energy secretary, summed up the sense of academic disdain that permeates this administration with his recent sniffing about the childish polloi: 'The American people . . . just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act.' Earlier, remember, Dr. Chu had scoffed from his perch that California farms were environmentally unsound and would soon disappear altogether, 'We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.'

"It is the role of the university, from a proper distance, to help them, by making sophisticated, selfless decisions on health care and the environment that the unwashed cannot grasp are really in their own interest — deluded as they are by Wal-Mart consumerism, Elmer Gantry evangelicalism, and Sarah Palin momism. The tragic burden of an academic is to help the oppressed, but blind, majority.

"In the world of the university, a Van Jones — fake name, fake accent, fake underclass pedigree, fake almost everything — is a dime a dozen. Ward Churchill fabricated everything from his degree to his ancestry, and was given tenure, high pay, and awards for his beads, buckskin, and Native American–like locks. The 'authentic' outbursts of Van Jones about white polluters and white mass-murderers are standard campus fare. In universities, such over-the-top rhetoric and pseudo-Marxist histrionics are simply career moves, used to scare timid academics and win release time, faculty-adjudicated grants, or exemption from normal tenure scrutiny. Skip Gates’s fussy little theatrical fit at a Middle American was not his first and will not be his last.

"Obama did not vet Jones before hiring him because he saw nothing unusual (much less offensive) about him, in the way that Bill Ayers likewise was typical, not an aberration, on a campus. Just as there are few conservatives, so too there are felt to be few who should be considered radicals in universities. Instead everyone is considered properly left, and even fringe expressions are considered normal calibrations within a shared spectrum. The proper question is not 'Why are there so many extremists in the administration?' but rather 'What’s so extreme?'

"Some people are surprised that the administration is hardly transparent and, in fact, downright intolerant of dissent. Critics are slurred as racists and Nazis — usually without the fingerprints of those who orchestrated the smear campaign from higher up. The NEA seems to want to dish out federal money to 'artists' on the basis of liberal obsequiousness. The president tells the nation that his wonderful programs are met with distortion and right-wing lies, and that the time for talking is over — no more partisan, divisive bickering in endless debate.

"That reluctance to engage in truly diverse argumentation again reveals the influence of the academic world on Team Obama. We can have an Eric Holder–type 'conversation' (a good campusese word), but only if held on the basis of the attorney general’s one-way notion of racial redress.

"On most campuses, referenda in the academic senate ('votes of conscience') on gay marriage or the war in Iraq are as lopsided as Saddam’s old plebiscites. Speech codes curb free expression. Groupthink is the norm. Dissent on tenure decisions, questioning of diversity, or skepticism about the devolution in the definition of sexual harassment — all that can be met with defamation. The wolf cry of 'racist' is a standard careerist gambit. Given the exalted liberal ends, why quibble over the means?

"Some wonder where Obama got the idea that constant exposure results in persuasion. But that too comes from the talk-is-everything mindset of a university president. Faculties are swamped with memos from deans, provosts, and presidents, reiterating their own 'commitment to diversity,' reminding how they would not 'tolerate hate speech,' and in general blathering about the 'campus community.' University administrators instruct faculty on everything from getting a flu shot, to covering up when coughing, to how to make a syllabus and avoid incorrect words.

"Usually the frequency of such communiqués spikes when administrators are looking for a job elsewhere and want to establish a fresh paper trail so that their potential new employers can be reminded of their ongoing progressive credentials.

"Obama has simply emulated the worldview and style of a college administrator. So he thinks that reframing the same old empty banalities with new rhetorical flourishes and signs of fresh commitment and empathy will automatically result in new faculty converts. There is no there there in health-care reform, but opponents can be either bullied, shamed, or mesmerized into thinking there is."

Read the whole thing. It is dead-on in the world of academic politics, and I think a near-perfect way of presenting the Obama administration and it's overall attitude and general disdain of the American "common rabble."

Health Care Reform: Taxation for Mere Existence

William A. Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection has an excellent point regarding health care reform that many critics, especially those Congress, are ignoring.

In his short post, "Get Rid of the Mandate," Jacobson writes "I have argued before that the focus on the public option, while necessary, missed the key defect in Democratic health care restructuring plans. The problem is the health care mandate, which by the way, Barack Obama opposed during the campaign.

"The mandate that every individual carry health insurance under threat of punitive taxes is a corrosive tool which changes the way we understand taxation. For the first time, we will tax people not on their economic activity, but on their failure to engage in economic activity. While arguments over whether such a tax is constitutional are interesting, the real issue is political.

"Do we want to empower the government to use its taxing powers to force people to take action? If the right to be left alone is a foundation of our liberty, are we willing to jettison that foundation? If taxation is the means to achieving a health care mandate, are we prepared to have the IRS play the role of health care enforcer?

"There is no current equivalent. While many states impose mandatory auto insurance requirements in order to drive, individuals have the alternative of not driving. With the health care mandate there is no alternative. If you exist, you either obtain 'acceptable' health insurance coverage or you are taxed."

[...]

"The debate over the mandate is a debate we need to have. It goes to the very heart of who and what we are as a nation. If we can mandate health insurance under threat of taxation, then there is no limit to what else can be mandated under the threat of taxes.

"It is time to get rid of the disease, not just treat the symptom. It is time to get rid of the mandate from the Democratic health care restructuring plans."

Jacobson is quite correct in his assertion that this mandate of conformity or taxes is unique within the U.S. and I fear that his concern about where this precedent could lead are well-founded.

Aside from the coercive nature of taxing people into "good" or "responsible" behavior (buying health insurance), allowing any form of government this sort of latitude in taxation is foolish. Congress derives its power from spending money, the more money the more power it can wield-- the more it can "get things done," in more politic (or perhaps euphemistic) language . This basic fact should be well understood. If a new source of income is found, i.e. a new method of taxing, it is inconceivable that Congress will not pursue it.

We could be taxed for all sorts of behavior and choices... not merely "nanny" taxes on sugary or high-fat foods and other such nonsense, but taxed for failure to indulge in federally approved behavior (such as buying health insurance).

This is a dangerous premise for Congress to indulge in. I think Jacobson is quite right. The "public option" shouldn't be ignored, but it is imperative that the mandate be pursued and tossed as well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FCC Czar Advocates "Truly Good White People" Stepping Down "So Someone Else Can have Power"


Another czar, another fringe-dweller...

Check out this NewsBusters.org piece by Seton Motley. Mark Lloyd is the FCC's Chief Diversity Officer (the Diversity Czar), and he had some interesting comments in his recent past.

Here's a quick list:

1) He admires the Venezuelan Marxist leader Hugo Chavez's control of media.

A quote from Lloyd himself (video available at link) June 10, 2008 National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) in Minneapolis, Minnesota: "In Venezuela, with Chavez, is really an incredible revolution - a democratic revolution. To begin to put in place things that are going to have an impact on the people of Venezuela.

"The property owners and the folks who then controlled the media in Venezuela rebelled - worked, frankly, with folks here in the U.S. government - worked to oust him. But he came back with another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.

"And we've had complaints about this ever since"


Admirable.

2) Lloyd believes that too many white people are in positions of power in the media and need to step down.

A quote from Lloyd (video available here) at the 2005 Conference on Media Reform: Racial Justice: "During the Clinton Administration, largely because of Congress who was then very concerned about affirmative action and believed that - although affirmative action largely benefited white women - that affirmative action was largely viewed as something that was benefiting blacks. Not necessarily any of the other racial groups (his laughter) but blacks. And that blacks had gotten enough and it was time to do something about this. These affirmative action programs needed to be stopped. We have not made much improvement since we've begun to pull back (sic) from those things in the mid 1990s.

"The conversation about how we communicate with each other despite being aware of the clear impressions that I know that I make in rooms that I walk into, when people hear my voice, is a challenge. How much do I express the... I think really pretty obvious complaints of black Americans in rooms full of whites.

"This... there's nothing more difficult than this. Because we have really, truly good white people in important positions. And the fact of the matter is that there are a limited number of those positions. And unless we are conscious of the need to have more people of color, gays, other people in those positions we will not change the problem. We're in a position where you have to say who is going to step down so someone else can have power.

"There are few things I think more frightening in the American mind than dark skinned black men. Here I am [emphasis mine]."

I'm sort of curious as to who exactly whom this "we" refers to. Apparently a group that Lloyd believes possesses the power to force people out of their jobs for not being colorful or homosexual enough.

So to recap, the FCC's Chief Diversity Officer who, in his own words, flaunts his race-consciousness, openly admires Hugo Chavez's heavy-handed control of the media, and believes that "[w]e're in a position where you have to say who is going to step down so someone else can have power."

Nice.

Ah yes... Isn't it wonderful to live in this "post-racial" world? It seems bizarre to me that anyone can claim this as Obama seems to busily fill his czar positions with some of the most race-conscious people he can find. Is this a surprise coming from someone who listened to Rev. Wright for twenty or so years? But, I guess I'm a racist for bringing any of this up anyway...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Congress' Chief Budget Officer Says Seniors Will have Medicare Benefits Cut Under Current Health Reforms

While it's hardly much of a surprise that if you make massive cuts in Medicare you get a reduction in benefits, Congress' chief budget officer is duly confirming the obvious.

Here's the AP article by Erica Werner (h/t Instapundit).

"Congress' chief budget officer is contradicting President Barack Obama's oft-stated claim that seniors wouldn't see their Medicare benefits cut under a health care overhaul.

"The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators Tuesday that seniors in Medicare's managed care plans would see reduced benefits under a bill in the Finance Committee.

"The bill would cut payments to the Medicare Advantage plans by more than $100 billion over 10 years.

"Elmendorf said the changes would reduce the extra benefits that would be made available to beneficiaries.

"Critics say the plans are overpaid, while supporters say they work well.

"Obama says cuts to Medicare providers won't reduce seniors' benefits."

So nonpartisan CBO says that cuts will reduce benefits, but Obama says there won't be a reduction in benefits. Hmm. Who do you trust? The guy who says it's better for everybody if you "spread the wealth around?"

It appears to me that Obama thinks it's better for "everybody" to have their benefits cut in the name of social justice-- or at least the "everybodies" who aren't politically connected.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Personal Update (another one?!)

Sorry for not posting more in the last couple of days. I think I'm experiencing blog-burnout. Although political wheels are spinning right now, I just can't seem to get up enough interest to write anything long-winded enough to post...

Also I'm reading Before the Big Bang by Brian Clegg, and it's really pretty fascinating and hard to put down. And I've finally got a working computer with all the right programs loaded, so I've started writing again. Just a short story for right now, to get my mind back into a narrative mind-set. This time I'm keeping both a CD and flash drive back-up along with a hard copy. I'm not losing a summer's worth of work again...

Anyway, I should be back blogging pretty regularly soon.

Thanks,
Yukio Ngaby

Friday, September 18, 2009

Obama Action Figures Were Prescient





Who knew these Chinese action figure poses were actually a sign of things to come? Could this be actual photographic proof of Dragon in Dream's oracular powers?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Legal Insurrection on the Race Card: Dead On

Check out this post by William A. Jacobson "An Allergic Reaction To The Race Card." I think Jacobson really nailed it in that post. Excellent.

The Left seems to not understand that the more they cry racist at mere opposition, the more pathetic they seem. Yet, this isn't just a matter of "crying wolf" too many times. It's also a matter of polarizing the US, creating racial divide while the country was in the process of coming together. Creating and exacerbating racial strife to score political and mascot points is an action beneath contempt.

I've got to add that I have a definite soft spot for Jacobson's blog. It was only after reading his blog for a month and listening to a webcast radio interview he did with, I think, Mark Finkelstein that I gathered myself up and decided to start my own blog. Jacobson was, and continues to be, an inspiration for me.

I hope that doesn't sound like hollow praise, or a conniving appeal for more notice. It's not.

Jeremy Jordan and Measure 11

Check out this post in NW Republican. Frankly it's a bit shocking. I've been so wrapped up on national politics, I've been quite negligent in keeping myself informed on more local issues.

This story is horrendous.

Jeremy Jordan was sentenced to 70 months in prison after jumping into a car and running down a man on a bicycle while attempting to flee the scene of an attempted robbery (he was trying to steal beer following the cashier's refusal to sell it to him). He was highly intoxicated at the time. Blood drawn from him five hours after the accident was at a .12 BAC (the legal limit in Oregon is .08). It is conservatively estimated that at the time of the crash he was at .20 BAC. The bicyclist he ran down was merely passing by, apparently intoxicated, but writing straight, on the correct side of the rode and with his bicycle's light on.

Mr. Jordan ran down the man, never slowed, while fleeing the scene. He did this despite the fact that the bicyclist's body destroyed the windshield of Mr. Jordan's car, and he had to drive eight miles with his head stuck out the car's side window in order to see.

The bicyclist was severely injured. In the words of District Attorney Schrunk "The victim suffered devastating head-injuries, internal injuries, and many broken bones, including his legs. He was in a coma for several days, and the doctors believed he would die. He spent about six months in various medical and rehab facilities, including a month in Emanuel, and had to re-learn how to talk, walk and recognize his wife and family (he still has overwhelming cognitive issues, speech problems, and uses a cane or walker-this is a man who was an outdoor enthusiast, a hiker, biker, and world traveler). He is now a completely different person and will have a caregiver for the rest of his life."

So basically a drunk man (Mr. Jordan) attempts to buy beer, physically tries to steal it when the grocery refuses to sell it to him, scuffles with the clerk and elderly security guard, flees the store on foot into the neighborhood. He comes back ten minutes later, either angry or scared, jumps into his car and runs down a passing bicyclist as he floors it out of the parking lot. Without a pause, he drives home leaving the man for dead, locks his damaged car in his garage, and is soon after arrested by police since his licence plate had knocked off by the impact of the bicycle.

Oh, and Mr. Jordan has a history of violence and drunkenness (despite his assertion that has has no history of violence). Again from District Attorney Schrunk "First, there is his prosecution for Assault IV in 2002 in Washington. Like his 2004 DUll, it was diverted and ultimately dismissed, as was a charge of Obstructing a Law Enforcement Officer, but he pled to the assault and was supervised for one year on probation. In 2000 he was arrested for Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct, and Criminal Mischief. He pled guilty to Resisting Arrest, was placed on 18 months probation, and the other two charges were dismissed. In addition to this criminal history, Jordan has a juvenile record that includes Theft I in 1995, Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in 1991, and Burglary I in 1989."

Amazingly, Mr. Jordan is now part of a campaign to overturn the popular Measure 11 (wikipedia article here) under which he was sentenced.

From I AM COYOTE at NW Republican "Mr. Jordan wrote a letter to Governor Kulongoski (another enemy of the rule of law) asking for help in repealing Measure 11, the measure under which Mr. Jordan received his sentence. The letter, which was the basis of the story in The Big Ho and HO-P-B, portrayed Mr. Jordan as an innocent victim of the system, who received far too harsh of a sentence given the nature of his crime."

The post has both the letters of Mr. Jordan and District Attorney Schrunk. As to be expected, the disparity between them is enormous. Most particularly cloying in Mr. Jordan's letter is what follows: "What I did was reckless and stupid, but not intentionally violent. My problem is alcohol. I would never have made any of those bad decisions in a sober state. I even tried to prove to the court that I am serious about staying sober by voluntarily completing a 90-day treatment program. But the court and the DA mocked my efforts and still would not budge off of the Measure 11 charge. It makes me wonder why it’s so important to them that I serve a mandatory sentence."

Mr. Jordan attempted to rob a store, then ran down a bicyclist as he fled. This is not intentionally violent?

Distirct Attorney Schrunk responds "Defendant states in his August 2009 letter to Oregonian colunmist Susan Nielsen that he was unaware of his 'alcohol problem' until after the crash. First, this misses the point. The 'problem' is not the alcohol, but instead Mr. Jordan's violent and reckless acts that night directed at three victims, starting with the robbery and ending with his driving into a vulnerable human being and leaving him lying in the road. He claims in his letter to you not to have acted violently, yet clearly he did, and the alcohol is his excuse. While he has an alcohol problem, and I'm sure he knew that, he claims that, after his 2004 arrest for DUI1, Reckless Driving, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Speed Racing, and Refusing a Breath Test, and receiving the privilege of entering a DUII diversion program to treat this alcohol problem (with dismissal of all the charges) he failed to take the program seriously, choosing instead to treat it as 'a joke.' Well, it was not a joke. Instead, while he had the chance to get treatment and get sober, attend the Victims' Panel (which involves victims of DUn drivers telling them what other DUI1 drivers did to them), and take his problem seriously, he chose instead to call this secondchance "a joke," with devastating results for our victim.

"Apparently to prove his point that his prior diversion was a 'Joke," defendant had posted on his MySpace page before the crash photos of him drinking, including one of him drinking beer while at the wheel of a car. The page was taken down quickly after his arrest, but the victim's family downloaded the photos before the page was removed. These photos clearly prove defendant's view that drinking and driving itself is 'a joke.' These photos are available should you care to see them."

Mr. Jordan continues "I believe the community would be well served if Measure 11 could be reformed to give first-time felons like me an opportunity to participate in a rehab program such as AIP, which provides focused drug and alcohol treatment, while suspending up to two years of a remaining prison sentence. In addition, 20% – 30% in good time/work time would also be motivating toward successful rehabilitation into the community. Why not offer such incentives to allow offenders to prove if they are ready to be a part of society again? As it is now, there is nothing for Measure 11 offenders to do here and nothing to prove, which leaves the door open to gang lifestyle and other criminal behavior.

"My opinion is that Measure 11 should be reserved for violent repeat offenders. First-time offenders should have the opportunity to turn their lives around. Current Measure 11 inmates should receive psychological assessment and review of their crime to determine eligibility of any time-reducing programs.

"I support your efforts in Measure 11/mandatory sentence reform. To see the real face of a Measure 11 offender and the impact this had on my family, please visit our blog at 70months.wordpress.com, where this letter will be shared with a readership that supports Measure 11 reform."

Inherent in Mr. Jordan's letter is the idea that Mr. Jordan is the victim, that Mr. Jordan is not really responsible for his actions, that the alcohol was in control. The bicyclist was likewise a victim, barely mentioned, and only some thing for Mr. Jordan to take heroically take responsibility for after the fact, after he was sentenced, and during his campaign to reduce his time in jail.

Mr. Jordan's new found sense of responsibility is a bit hard to take. Where was the responsibility following his other DUI? Where was the responsibility during his "joke" rehabilitation? Where was his responsibility as he drove home with his head stuck out the window, looking past the shattered glass and pieces of the man he had just run down? Where was this sense of responsibility in Mr. Jordan following the accident? Was it there as he locked his car in his garage? Was it there as he spent several hours not reporting the accident, undoubtedly hoping that the police would never come?

Ah yes... With this sterling example, surely Measure 11 should be reformed. The tragedy of Mr. Jordan's incarceration is just too much to bear.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Recommended Article on Civil Rights Enforcement

Check out Jennifer Rubin's post "Why Did Holder’s Justice Department Dismiss the Black Panther Case?" (h/t Instapundit) As can be reasonably surmised from the title, it's about the Obama Department of Justice's dismissal of a default judgment against the New Black Panther Party over voter intimidation in.

But it's about more than simply that.

From the post, "And therein lies the most likely answer to the mystery as to why the Obama team would want to undo a victory in a high-profile civil rights case. The notion that civil rights laws apply to all citizens, and are not on the books merely to protect minority groups or to pursue white racists, is an anathema to the liberal civil rights establishment and their sympathetic partners in the Justice Department.

"Another attorney familiar with the inner workings of the Civil Rights Division agrees with this take. He observes that Department staff 'openly and proudly advocate for a different standard' depending on the race of the alleged civil rights violator. He contends that this view extends now up to the attorney general and to staff attorneys who 'say it openly at the Justice Department when the topic of "reverse" discrimination comes up.' He explains:

"'The half dozen of these cases the Bush Justice Department filed (and won) are loathed and criticized openly in the halls of the Department by so-called committed civil rights attorneys. Open contempt for these cases establishes one’s civil rights bona fides, especially to the new political appointees in the Civil Rights Division.'

"'The Department must refocus on the traditional mission of civil rights enforcement.” These are well-understood code words to mean federal law will not be used to bring cases against black defendants or institutions that discriminate against whites. … Sometimes these people express contempt for fair enforcement of the law to people who silently agree that the law should be enforced fairly, but don’t dare let anyone know they think it.'

"This view is borne out by recent comments by Eric Holder, in explaining his hiring spree in the Civil Rights Division to the New York Times:

"'The division is 'getting back to doing what it has traditionally done,' Mr. Holder said in an interview. 'But it’s really only a start. I think the wounds that were inflicted on this division were deep, and it will take some time for them to fully heal.' . . . He described his Civil Rights Division efforts as more restoration than change. The recent moves, he argued, are a return to its basic approach under presidents of both parties — despite some policy shifts between Republican and Democratic administrations — before the 'sea change' and 'aberration' of the Bush years."

"Translation: the civil rights laws will be interpreted and enforced not as protecting anyone who is discriminated against or intimidated on the basis of race, as the civil rights laws provide, but as protecting only those of certain races."

Read the whole post. It's not long, and well worth both the time and thoughtful consideration.

New Link Added! FreeThemm.com

I've added a new link to the Blog List. FreeThemm.com is a sight dedicated to Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, and Miss Maryam Rustampoor, two women imprisoned in Iran without charge since March 5, 2009. Like too many others, they currently languish in Iran's notorious Evin Prison where they are reportedly in poor health.

The reasons for their imprisonment is difficult to ascertain. The government offers some vague label of "anti-government activists," while those demanding their release assert it is because both women are Christian.

Whatever the truth (the government of Iran does actively discriminate and intimidate non-Muslims), these two women are like many other prisoners in Iran, held with neither formal charge nor trial.

Visit this sight, do research on your own, but don't simply ignore Miss Rustampoor and Miss Esmaeilabad.

My thanks and h/t to Quite Rightly at Bread Upon the Waters for keeping up with this story, and humanizing it, for many weeks now.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Recommended Essay on Free Speech


Check out Derek Hunter's "You Don't Have a Constitutional Right to Free Speech" from BigGovernment.com.

Hunter discusses how the Constitution does not grant the right to free speech, but protects the right from abridgement. So really, we should say we have the Constitutionally protected right of free speech. It's a subtle difference in grammar, but creates a huge difference within legal and political theory. The legal rights of the First Amendment are not granted, but protected by the Constitution.

Give it a read. It's worth your time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Obama's Health Care Address to Congress Part 1: Lies

Obama rolled out the big guns to save the flailing health care reforms. Piling on the trappings of office and expecting Washington decorum to buoy his unpopular health care reforms, Obama strode out chin high to address the Joint Sessions of Congress. While many in the media buzzed with anticipation at this chance to revel in Obama's oratory skills-- and indeed their tween-like superlatives have been giddily shouted with a Miley-Cyrus-fan-like devotion-- the actual content of Obama's speech (transcript here) was thin on fact, thick on unrealistic promises, alarmist, intentionally distorted and ultimately disturbing.

After amazingly hailing the stimulus bill a success (the unemployment rate topped at 9.7%-- thus far-- higher than White House projections if the stimulus was not passed and far in excess of the promised 8% should the stimulus bill be passed), Obama then disingeniously paints the health care issue as though it were a single puzzle, a Gordian Knot, that no one has ever solved. And now, like Alexander the Great, he steps up to cleave these health problems in two and forever fix our health care issues.

His words: "I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. (Applause.) It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session. (Applause.)

"Our collective failure to meet this challenge -- year after year, decade after decade -- has led us to the breaking point [emphasis mine]."

Notice the way in which he talks about historic health care reform. "This cause..." "This challenge..." And my personal favorite "Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform..." It's as if health care has been a single issue for the past century, as though the health care issues that Theodore Roosevelt faced in 1901 were, ridiculously, the same as today. "[Y]ear after year, decade after decade--" of collective failure "-- has led us to the breaking point."

While painting a picture of historic urgency, Obama has reduced a century of health care issues into being a single problem, a singular challenge that has never been resolved. It has been a "collective failure."

Well that is nonsense, of course. As common sense will tell you, great strides have been made across the board in health care over the last century. X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, fiber optic cameras and other diagnostic techniques and devices have made the dreaded phrase "exploratory surgery" an almost foreign term. The average life expectancy of Americans has steadily increased in the last century (white male in 1901: 48.23 and in 2004 75.7), the survival rates for cancer patients has steadily increased, the death rate and instances of cardiovascular disease has steadily decreased. Dreaded diseases such as polio, typhoid fever, small pox, typhus, and numerous other killers have been brought to heel.

The likelihood of becoming sick or dying from tainted food (a dire problem before and during the 19th and early 20th Centuries) has likewise vastly decreased. As Ronald Bailey points out, "In 1900, six years before Upton Sinclair wrote his great muckraking book, The Jungle, about the filthy conditions in the meatpacking industry, the death rate from gastritis, duodentitis, enteritis, and colitis was 142.7 people per 100,000. It is likely that most people experienced bouts of intestinal distress several times a year. Today, accepting CDC calculations of 5000 deaths per year implies a hundred-fold reduction, to just 1.4 deaths per 100,000 people."

A "collective failure" indeed... The reforms that Theodore Roosevelt called for "nearly a century" ago have nothing to do with the health care debate of today. The many issues Roosevelt was concerned with have been largely solved for all Americans. To draw a direct historical line from HR3200 to Theodore Roosevelt is manipulative, disingenuous, and foolish.

Obama illustrates the need for reform and the evils of private health insurers with this tale of woe. "One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn't reported gallstones that he didn't even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it."

That indeed does sound horrible. Unfortunately for Obama, it isn't true.

From Sweetness and Light (h/t Pundit & Pundette): "This is the sad story of Mr. Otto Raddatz, a case that Mr. Obama has cited several times before, including in his August 16th editorial in the New York Times.

"For the record, however, the case is not exactly the way Mr. Obama has characterized it, at least according to the sworn testimony of Mr. Raddatz’s sister.

"From Ms. Raddatz’s opening statement, from pages 58-59 of the transcript (a pdf file) of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation Committee hearings on 'The Termination Of Individual Health Policies By Insurance Companies,' Tuesday, June 16, 2009:

"'Otto began more chemotherapy for purposes of preparing him for a stem cell transplant. In the midst of his chemo treatments, Otto received a phone call and letter from Fortis Insurance Company stating his insurance was canceled. It was rescinded all the way back to the effective date of August 7, 2004.'

"'This meant none of his cancer treatments would be covered. Most importantly, he would not be able to receive the stem cell transplant need [sic] to save his life. My brother only had a very small window of time in which to have the stem cell transplant. He needed to be scheduled within the next 3 to 4 weeks.'

"'My brother was told he was canceled during what they called a "routine review" during which they claimed to discover a "material failure to disclose". Apparently in 2000 his doctor had done a CT scan which showed an aneurysm and gall stones. My brother was never told of either one of these conditions nor was he ever treated for them and he never reported any symptoms for them either.'

"'After months of preparation, the stem cell transplant could not be scheduled. My brother’s hope for being a cancer survivor were dashed. His prognosis was only a matter of months without the procedure.'

"Mr. Radditz was faced with having to pay for the stem cell transplant himself in order to save his life.

"However, Mr. Raddatz’s lawyer sister contacted the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. They investigated and found that the doctor who did the CT scans could not remember whether he had ever told Mr. Raddatz about his findings.

"Consequently, the insurance company overturned their original decision to rescind her brother’s coverage, and he was reinstated in the words of his sister, "without [any] lapse."

Again, from Ms. Raddatz’s sworn testimony:

"'After two appeals by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Fortis Insurance Company finally overturned their original decision to rescind my brother’s coverage and he was reinstated without lapse. This is after weeks of constant phone calls between myself and the Attorney General’s Office and we were literally scrambling hour by hour to get this accomplished so that my brother wouldn’t lose his 3- to 4-week window of opportunity that he had prepared for and lose his opportunity to have the procedure.'

"In other words, Mr. Raddatz’s did receive the stem cell transplant without delay.

"Indeed, Ms. Raddatz does not seem to claim anywhere in her testimony that the insurance company’s actions shortened her brother’s life. (Though she does accuse them of having been cruel and unethical.)"

Later Ms. Radditz says "He did indeed receive the stem cell transplant. It was extremely successful. It extended his life approximately 3-1/2 years. He did pass away January 6, 2009, and he was about to have a second stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, due to certain situations, his donor became ill at the last minute and so he did pass away on January 6. But again, it extended his life nearly 3-1/2 years and at his age, each day meant everything to him…"

This is a sad event, needlessly stressful for those involved, and an example of an unsympathetic bureaucracy's bungling. But the event is not how Obama described it. Obama lied. While Mr. Raddatz did pass away --3 1/2 years after the incident-- his treatment was not delayed and he did not die because of his insurer's actions. To state otherwise, as Obama did, is a deliberate misrepresentation (not a distortion nor oversimplification, but a lie) to fit Obama's narrative.

As Sweetness and Light notes "Meanwhile, in this very same speech Mr. Obama accused others of misrepresenting the facts."

Notable from Mr. Raddatz's story is:

1) The fact that Mr. Raddatz had an outside legal force to appeal to (the Attorney General's Office) which HR3200 severely limits

2) That current health proposals create dozens more governmental bureaucracies to administer health benefits (are government bureaucracies known to be more responsive and humane?)

Obama goes on to denounce any opposition as some of the worst Washington has to offer. "During that time, we've seen Washington at its best and at its worst."

[...]

"But what we've also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have towards their own government. Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned."

Blaming opposition to these reforms merely on partisanship is a bit of a laugh. The fact is the Democrats control both the House and Senate, and the Republicans couldn't stop these proposals if they were completely united. It is dissension in the ranks of the Democrats that holds back the bill. A fair amount of this dissension is caused at the grassroots level by angry local town halls, unfavorable polls, and the widespread American disbelief that federal bureaucracies can administer health care with such efficiency that we save money. It is the belief that American citizens do not want this sort of government health care that holds back Democrat politicians from voting along party lines.

Obama once again reiterates that bureaucrats will not be involved with important decisions about your health. "And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need."

This is simply untrue. As I have posted before, HR3200 sets up a Health Benefits Advisory Committee (HBAC). The HBAC would be stacked with presidential appointments. And what is the function of the HBAC? According to the language of the bill itself (pg. 32) "The Health Benefits Advisory Committee shall recommend to the Secretary of Health and Human Services [...] benefit standards [...], and periodic updates to such standards." In other words, they will determine what is covered and not covered by a government approved health plan. Okay, granted they will "recommend" benefit standards to the Secretary of Health and Human Service, but what are the odds that Kathleen Sebelius won't take a recommendation from a board made up almost exclusively of Obama appointees? The "care that you need" is determined by them-- not by you and not by your doctor.

The Senate HELP Committee bill has a similar provision, the establishment of the Medical Advisory Council (MAC). MAC would essentially perform the same function as the HR 3200's HBAC, namely determine benefit standards.

Once again, can we not see the unavoidable lobbying for diseases to be covered? Health benefits will become political currency, various groups with some vested interest will be lobbying the HBAC, or MAC, or whatever alphabet soup council the plan will come up with for coverage and money. In other words, not only will bureaucrats be in the way of you and the care you need, but so will lobbyists, the media (depending on what disease they wish to illuminate), and special interest groups. This has happened in Britain under the yoke of its NHS and National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as the following article, merely one of many, illustrates.

Britain's National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)-- great acronym, huh?-- decided to not offer some drugs to NHS kidney cancer patients. "It concluded that the drugs - bevacizumab, sorafenib, sunitinib and temsirolimus - did not offer value for money [bang for the buck in American bailout jargon]." This prompted some of the "UK's top cancer consultants to warn that NHS drug 'rationing' is forcing patients to remortgage their homes to pay for treatment."

NICE's response? "Andrew Dillon, the NICE chief executive, and Sir Michael Rawlins, NICE's chairman, told the Sunday Times the NHS did not have unlimited funds to provide all available treatments.

"'There is a finite pot of money for the NHS, which is determined annually by parliament,' they said."'If one group of patients is provided with cost-ineffective care, other groups - lacking powerful lobbyists - will be denied cost-effective care for miserable conditions like schizophrenia, Crohn's disease or cystic fibrosis.'"
Health care is degraded into a matter of lobbying the government for funds. This is what the Left and Obama want for America?

NICE also has banned life prolonging cancer drugs due to cost. "Thousands of patients with terminal cancer were dealt a blow last night after a decision was made to deny them life prolonging drugs."The Government's rationing body said two drugs for advanced breast cancer and a rare form of stomach cancer were too expensive for the NHS [National Health Services]."

The number of lies, distortions and half-truths that Obama has packed into this speech is really quite amazing. My posting hasn't even covered half of them. But perhaps some of these fallacies come from the most essential lie that he has told: namely that there is "a plan." The only "plan" that has been voted on in Congress is HR 3200, a badly written 1018 page monstrosity, which doesn't even come close to fulfilling any of Obama's stated requirements-- and will incur massive deficits in the process of failing. As far as I know, the copious number of Senate bills (at least four) are still in committee.

So while Obama can promise all of us lower rates, higher quality of care, universal coverage, and that it will all be paid for by trimming away waste and taxing the wealthy, he has no way to show how this will be accomplished. THERE IS NO PLAN like the one he's described. There's nothing even close.

This speech seems more like an exercise in political philosophy than a serious proposal; a rebuttal to middle-right concerns that is founded more in wishes and unrealistic expectations of government efficiency than nuts-and-bolts reality. He appears to be like a poli-sci professor assigning an essay topic-- not a president with a real and horrifically important proposal.

More coming in Part 2: Demanding Conformity for "Social Justice"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Added New Link: Andrew Breitbart's "Big Government"

From the makers of BigHollywood comes this brand new website. Here it is: BigGovernment.com-- also available on the Blog List.

Right now they're headlining a story about an indie undercover investigation of Baltimore's ACORN office. It's a bit distressing. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sarah Palin Responds to Obama's Speech

Sarah Palin gives a deft response to Obama's overwrought plea for health care reform and conformity. This was posted on facebook this evening (h/t NewsBusters.org).

"After all the rhetoric is put aside, one principle ran through President Obama’s speech tonight: that increased government involvement in health care can solve its problems.

"Many Americans fundamentally disagree with this idea. We know from long experience that the creation of a massive new bureaucracy will not provide us with 'more stability and security,' but just the opposite. It's hard to believe the President when he says that this time he and his team of bureaucrats have finally figured out how to do things right if only we’ll take them at their word.

"Our objections to the Democrats’ health care proposals are not mere 'bickering' or 'games.' They are not an attempt to 'score short term political points.' And it’s hard to listen to the President lecture us not to use 'scare tactics' when in the next breath he says that 'more will die' if his proposals do not pass.

"In his speech the President directly responded to concerns I’ve raised about unelected bureaucrats being given power to make decisions affecting life or death health care matters. He called these concerns 'bogus,' 'irresponsible,' and 'a lie' -- so much for civility. After all the name-calling, though, what he did not do is respond to the arguments we’ve made, arguments even some of his own supporters have agreed have merit.

"In fact, after promising to 'make sure that no government bureaucrat .... gets between you and the health care you need,' the President repeated his call for an Independent Medicare Advisory Council -- an unelected, largely unaccountable group of bureaucrats charged with containing Medicare costs. He did not disavow his own statement that such a group, working outside of 'normal political channels,' should guide decisions regarding that 'huge driver of cost ... the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives....' He did not disavow the statements of his health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, and continuing to pay his salary with taxpayer dollars proves a commitment to his beliefs. The President can keep making unsupported assertions, but until he directly responds to the arguments I’ve made, I’m going to call him out too.

"It was heartening to hear the President finally recognize that tort reform is an important part of any solution. But this concession shouldn’t lead us to take our eye off the ball: the Democrats’ proposals will not reduce costs, and they will not deliver better health care. It’s this kind of 'healthy skepticism of government' that truly reflects a 'concern and regard for the plight of others.' We can’t wait to hear the details on that; we look forward to working with you on tort reform.

"Finally, President Obama delivered an offhand applause line tonight about the cost of the War on Terror. As we approach the anniversary of the September 11th attacks and honor those who died that day and those who have died since in the War on Terror, in order to secure our freedoms, we need to remember their sacrifices and not demonize them as having had too high a price tag.

"Remember, Mr. President, elected officials work for the people. Forcing a conclusion in order to claim a 'victory' is not healthy for our country. We hear you say government isn’t always the answer; now hear us -- that’s what we’ve been saying all along.

- Sarah Palin"

Again, Palin has hit the nail on the head. And that's probably why the Left hate her with such venom.

Immediate Personal Reaction to Obama's Health Care Address

Obama once again trots out his vaunted oratory skills. Determined to save his lauded medical reforms, Obama poured on the emotions invoking the deaths of unnamed citizens and Ted Kennedy.

But all that aside, Obama offers nothing new to a debate that has been raging for months now. While he calls for calm and blames partisan bickering (all but calling out Sarah Palin) for the failure to jam through massive-scale "reform" at any financial cost in record time, Obama says nothing new. Instead he follows a commonly tried-and-true political course (which he hypocritically lambastes in his speech as "timidity") and presents these intrusive measures as moderate.

Obama has failed to address the concerns of citizens in a variety of ways.

1) Cost. While Obama promises not to sign anything that will increase budget deficits (he has a real great history of that), he does not present any new argument as to where the money for the massive funds that will be required will come from. He instead restates the stale and disproven argument that eliminating Medicare's waste and abuse, combined with an increase in efficiency (hardly a hallmark of federal legislation) will somehow pay for it all.

Sorry, but people didn't believe it then and they are unlikely to believe it now. Increasing numbers of insured and increasing benefits demands spending money. Government bureaucracies have never had a history of bringing down costs by simply trimming waste. Such beliefs are nonsense and not based in any reputable history or fact.

2) The Blame Game. Obama once again accuses partisan bickering for blocking this legislation. Nonsense. The Dems have an enormous majority in both the House and Senate. What has blocked this hard-Left legislation is moderate Dem concerns, and the concerns of American citizens who have made their displeasure known at town-hall meetings, demonstrations, and other vocal means.

3) Government Over-Regulation. Obama repeats the call for government regulation of the insurance industries, echoing the Left conviction that more government is the answer in the situation. Currently, the medical industry is under some of the tightest federal regulation around. Health insurers are legally restricted from competing across state lines. The results have been the current state of affairs. Obama would have us believe that tighter regulation would a) increase competition and b) improve costs and care. This hasn't happened with past regulation and governments that have put very tight restrictions on health insurers, such as Canada and Britain, have created "imploding" or "draconian" systems.

Many people do not have faith in federal government bureaucracies and do not believe that further regulation will do anything but harm the current system. Obama offers nothing but personal assurances that his view is right. Sorry-- but that's not enough to overcome history, foreign examples, and common sense.

4) Government Coercion. Obama proposes to force all Americans to purchase health care. People don't generally like being coerced into doing anything, especially purchasing something they feel they can do without. Invoking the nebulous term "social justice," Obama believes that people can be penalized and taxed into doing what is right-- in this case buy health insurance.

He rather laughably uses the idea that since we have to purchase car insurance, we should likewise have to purchase health insurance. No one has to purchase auto accident insurance (as far as I know). What must be purchased is liability insurance. In other words, if you cause an accident or an injury to someone else, you have to show the ability for someone to pay for your negligence. This doesn't mean that if your car breaks down, you must have insurance to fix it or purchase you a new car. His analogy is either deliberately manipulative or patently foolish.

5) Public Plan. While Obama addresses the public plan option at some length, he does not go into detail on how it is to be implemented. Moreover, he does not dispel any misgivings the American people have of it. They need reassurance through details and examples, something specific. Instead he merely gives us numbers and personal reassurances of a non-existing plan. That doesn't cut it.

6) Attacking Individualism for the Greater Good. My favorite part of the address is the end, however. I will go into more detail in a later post with a transcript, citations, and links, but for now I'm working from notes and memory.

To climax his speech, Obama emotionally juxtaposes American "rugged individualism" with social justice as embodied in Ted Kennedy. While going out of his way to not denounce individualism, Obama seems to paint a picture of social justice being at odds with individuality while invoking universal health care as a "moral" imperative. Basically he seems to say, put aside your individual opinions so that we can pass this moral bill to cover all Americans with "secure" health care. Do it for Ted.

In other words, American individualism is fine, but for now shut up, don't question me, my nebulous plan, nor Congress' gargantuan and bloated bills. Ted's a good guy and wouldn't want you to.

Nice.

I'll put up a longer, more detailed post later with a transcript, quotes, citations, etc. For now, this is just a quickie personal reaction.

A New Political Spectrum?

Check out "Rethinking the Political Spectrum" by David G. Muller, Jr. in American Thinker.

Muller discusses the inherent problems of the current political spectrum (Communism on the far-Left, Fascism on the far-Right) and suggests an alternative. "The mental framing device of a political spectrum is not a bad idea in itself. There are indeed relationships among tyranny, liberalism, conservatism, and other political phenomena that lend themselves to depiction on a spectrum. But the spectrum must reflect reality.

"There is something nonsensical about a political spectrum that spans the range between tyranny and ... tyranny. If one end of the spectrum is the home of tyranny, then shouldn't the opposite end of the spectrum be the home of liberty, tyranny's opposite? The new spectrum is a rough measurement of liberty: very little liberty on the left end, quite a bit on the right end. At the left extreme reside the hard tyrannies of communism and fascism, as seen historically in such places as the Soviet Union, China, Germany, or North Korea. A bit to the right are the softer tyrannies of socialism, as commonly practiced in Western Europe. Liberalism comes next, then 'moderation.' Moving further along the spectrum toward greater liberty, one finds conservatism, and finally libertarianism."

In a previous post, "Fascism: the Badly Understood Insult" back in April, I discussed how Fascism is not a product of American Right thought (obviously one must distinguish from American Right and other countries' Right as conservatism is, to a debatable degree, dependant upon the current regime as well as a country's unique political history), but of Marx-influenced socialist ideals.

Muller asserts this confusion is based upon Stalin's need to justify his betrayal by Hitler in WWII. "Indirectly yet powerfully, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is responsible for the classic political spectrum commonly used to show the relationships between schools of political thought and the systems they engender. This is what happened:

"Adolf Hitler's National Socialist movement was, as the name clearly says, a party of the left. While not explicitly Marxist-Leninist, National Socialism accepted the essentials of that worldview while adding Germanic racial supremacism to the mix. This is not the place to lay this out in detail, but it is part of the historical record. Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism includes the best recent treatment of the subject. Thus it was not astonishing that in 1939 Hitler and Stalin found ample common interests to establish an alliance, nor did it astonish that Communist Party members in the West almost unanimously took up support for Nazi Germany. The alliance simply recognized the ideological kinship between the two.

"Then in 1941, Hitler turned on his fellow socialist and invaded the Soviet Union. How was Stalin to explain or rationalize this turnabout? What ideological signboard could he put around Hitler's neck that would make sense in the Soviet political context? Certainly Stalin could not let it appear he had been duped by a fellow socialist, nor could he allow Hitler to give socialism a bad name. The solution was to label the bad guys, Hitler and the Nazis, as polar opposites of the good guys, Stalin and the Communists. Fascism - a leftist, socialist doctrine - was abruptly and absurdly labeled a phenomenon of the extreme right.

"From 1941 onward into the postwar era, Soviet propaganda, diplomacy, and scholarship consistently depicted Nazism as a right-wing phenomenon, communism on the left, with the Western powers arrayed on a vague spectrum somewhere in between. Western academics and journalists fell into the same practice, often but not always because of their own leftist sympathies. Few bothered to contest the analysis and assumptions that underlay the new model, and it was a convenient way to depict and describe political camps. Thus the classic political spectrum of the 20th century became second nature to everyone, not just to communists."

I'm not about this assertion, but it does deserve some of my time for research. One must look at the political theory pre-Stalin, perhaps even pre-Lenin, from source material written in that era, but this is not quite as simple as it may seem. Usually (undoubtedly in this case), one has to do a great deal of translation. It must be realized that the presuppositions of the era are wholly different from presuppositions we have now, but that, like now, these presuppositions are presented as truth.

Muller may be onto something, but his article is far too short for the subject matter, too broad and vague and makes a basic error in language. Muller attempts to frame his new political spectrum on gradient levels of tyranny (moving from libertarianism on one end to Fascism/Communism on the other). This makes makes for an easy light side/dark side comparison, after all tyranny is firmly on the side of the Left. Yet, this is merely an anarchist's view (anarchy as a semi-formal theory is given no place in Muller's political spectrum) in which any regulation is necessarily a form of tyranny and oppression.

Gone is the historically demonstrable reality that when there is a lack of any form of regulation tyranny invariably develops. Whether in the political form of a strong man leader, the rule of an aristocratic elite, or the economic form of monopolies and trusts, authority (in some form) asserts itself either from the outset as highly oppressive force, or eventually developing into systemic oppression. It is one of the reasons behind the American Constitution's writing and inception.

Muller should have said that the new political spectrum's gradient is dependant on governmental control rather than tyranny-- or if Muller insists upon using the word, governmental tyranny. After all, the tyranny of monopolies and trusts can and often do operate outside of formal political control.

While Muller is quite correct in his assertion that the current political spectrum is inaccurate and in need of revision, Muller needs to treat the matter with more time and detailed thought if he is to truly challenge such a widely established and broadly accepted theory. What must likewise be gone is the ideological stance that Muller clearly rests upon as he writes his article. One must separate oneself, as much as possible, from ideological notions when writing theory-- even at the expense of personal convictions.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Stifling Conservative Best-Sellers in the Media

Check out this essay from the Culture and Media Institute (h/t Michelle Malkin). It addresses the "glaring imbalance in network coverage of liberal best-sellers and comparable conservative titles."

From the piece: "During the first six months of 2009, 25 books that can be described as 'liberal' or 'conservative' appeared on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Best-Seller List. More of those books (14) were liberal, but conservative authors enjoyed a combined total of 95 weeks on the List. Liberals had 80. At this writing Michelle Malkin’s 'Culture of Corruption' had been on the list for four weeks, and was currently at No.1.

"But no matter how commercially successful conservative books and authors have been, they were slighted by the three broadcast networks. The most glaring evidence of bias against conservative books was the networks’ complete neglect of the single most successful book on the list, radio host Mark Levin’s 'Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto.' Levin’s book spent 12 weeks at No.1, and as of this writing had yet to fall out of the top 10.

"The Culture and Media Institute analyzed how ABC, CBS and NBC covered those 25 hardcover nonfiction best-sellers, and found that the networks gave liberal books and authors dramatically more (and more favorable) coverage than their conservative counterparts. Of the 11 conservative authors on the list, just four received any coverage on the networks.

"On the other hand, the networks covered 11 out of 14 liberal authors. Of the three not covered, one was not an author in the conventional sense – it was President Obama, and the 'book' was his January 20 inauguration speech.

"When authors appeared on the networks for interviews, conservatives received markedly different treatment than liberals. From Matt Lauer calling Elizabeth Edwards’ book 'stirring,' to Harry Smith telling Ann Coulter, 'You have this kind of sophomoric sort of simplistic kind of view of so many things,' hosts made it clear where their ideological sympathies lay."

Read the whole piece. It is highly recommended.

Sarah Palin Opinion Piece in The Wall Street Journal

Check out this opinion piece by Sarah Palin published in The Wall Street Journal. I'm often amused (in sort of an appalling way) at how Palin is under constant attack from the Left. I wonder if it has anything to do with a sort-of gender spin on the idea of "inauthentic." A previous post covered what I believe is the source of much of this Left ire (in this case regarding black conservatives).

This opinion piece probably reflects how a great deal of Americans feel, and the distrust that they have in the government-- not as an entity as the Left would have you believe, but in the federal government's efficiency and its ability to cost-control. Anyone that possesses even a little knowledge of history and bureaucracy knows the dubious history of the fed's track record in those departments.

Palin writes: "How can we ensure that those who need medical care receive it while also reducing health-care costs? The answers offered by Democrats in Washington all rest on one principle: that increased government involvement can solve the problem. I fundamentally disagree.

"Common sense tells us that the government's attempts to solve large problems more often create new ones. Common sense also tells us that a top-down, one-size-fits-all plan will not improve the workings of a nationwide health-care system that accounts for one-sixth of our economy. And common sense tells us to be skeptical when President Obama promises that the Democrats' proposals 'will provide more stability and security to every American.'

"With all due respect, Americans are used to this kind of sweeping promise from Washington. And we know from long experience that it's a promise Washington can't keep."

[...]

"First, ask yourself whether the government that brought us such 'waste and inefficiency' and 'unwarranted subsidies' in the first place can be believed when it says that this time it will get things right. The nonpartistan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) doesn't think so: Its director, Douglas Elmendorf, told the Senate Budget Committee in July that 'in the legislation that has been reported we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.'

"Now look at one way Mr. Obama wants to eliminate inefficiency and waste: He's asked Congress to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council—an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs. In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of 'normal political channels,' should guide decisions regarding that 'huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives . . . .'

"Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through "normal political channels," they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we've come to expect from this administration."

Check out the whole thing. It's a good read.