And they’re coming to UCLA in October.
Olympia Snowe, it seems safe to assume, is following the health care debate a bit more closely than the average American.
So it is saying something that the Maine senator — a key figure in health care negotiations — admits she is stumped by the task of crafting a simple explanation for legislation of mind-numbing complexity.
“If anybody can give me an easy, 30-second solution to this multitrillion-dollar problem, be my guest,” said Snowe, a moderate Republican.
A Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, agrees. “The members don’t even understand what’s in it,” he confessed of the legislation. As for his constituents? They are “not exactly sure what this is about, and they’re not really sure whether they like it or not.”
The most far-reaching domestic legislation to move through Capitol Hill in decades has engaged the minds of many of the country’s smartest and most-informed economists and public policy engineers.
But, as the health care battle enters a critical phase — with lawmakers about to greet constituents during summer recess — the reality is that the outcome will probably be shaped less by the intelligence of advocates on any side than by the ignorance of most Americans.
…but Obama needs to be the student.
For an example of what true, post-racial America is really like, watch this:
Look what happens when the government gives away “freebies.” Demand goes through the roof and the program exposes government ineptitude.
Lawmakers and Obama administration officials scrambled this morning to find more money for the government’s “cash for clunkers” program after overwhelming demand left the $1-billion initiative nearly out of money.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Democrats in a morning meeting that House leaders were working to bring up legislation today that would transfer an additional $2 billion into the program from economic stimulus funds, according to a House Democratic aide.
Of course, free healthcare will be completely different. Sure.
Michael Medved makes a simple point regularly on his radio show: if demand for healthcare goes up (and according to liberals it most certainly will because so many have gone without) and the supply doesn’t increase (which it can’t quickly — doctors take years of training), what will happen?
The price will increase.
Maybe Obama thinks he’s above the law of supply and demand.
UPDATE: James Taranto has this:
What if you need a kidney transplant or a hip replacement and the same geniuses who’re administering clunkfare have taken over the medical system? “Sorry, we’re out of money, come back next October.” It sounds facetious, but this is what actually happens in Canada and Europe. Cash-for-clunkers was a silly idea, but perhaps a beneficial unintended consequence will be to promote a healthy skepticism about the government’s competence. And while $1 billion seems like a lot of money, it’s a bargain next to the stimulus–to say nothing of the monstrosities that haven’t (yet) made it through Congress.
by J.C. Phillips
I suppose after 15 years of marriage I should stop wondering aloud how on earth I ended up with this woman. Least ways I should stop wondering aloud when my lovely wife is within earshot. Not that after so many years it matters much, but the truth is that I don’t know how we ended up together.
We had our first date 20 years ago and if anyone at the time had told me that the silly girl with the wild red hair would be the mother of my children and my life’s partner I would have laughed out loud. Bachelorhood was too much fun. Besides I had a very definite mental picture of what my wife would look like – what her personality would be – and frankly she just didn’t match it.
The workings of the heart continue to amaze me. The brain plans and strategizes and works overtime attempting to get the loins and heart on the same page. The loins are always eager to cooperate; the heart, however, is not a team player. The heart is constantly going off on its own mucking up the works. Such was the case for me. In time I found myself longing for the silly redhead. All my intellectualizing failed to win my heart’s cooperation. I realized I couldn’t live without her.
She of course tells a different story. According to her she knew after our first date that I was her one and only; that no other man would do. Honestly, who can blame her?
At any rate, 20 years after our first date I still find myself gazing at her, my brain still trying to figure out how it all went down.
I am even more at a loss for how we have remained together so long. To paraphrase the words of the poet Langton Hughes, our marriage ain’t been no crystal stair. Far from it. The 15 years we have spent together in marriage have not been the glamorous work of the sculptor, but the modest work of the carpenter.
Reuters news service recently reported on a study by researchers from the Australian National University that claimed to identify the factors that led to a successful marriage.
The study, entitled “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” tracked nearly 2,500 couples — married or living together — from 2001 to 2007 to identify factors associated with those who remained together compared with those who divorced or separated. The results might surprise you.
For instance according to the study, couples where one partner smokes and the other does not were more likely to have a relationship end in failure. Partners in their second or third marriage were more than 90% more likely to separate or divorce than couples in their first marriage. The age of the partners was also a factor. Couples where the husband is nine years or more older than his wife are twice as likely to divorce as are husbands who get married before they turn 25.
Not mentioned among the chief indicators of marital success was love. And if what is meant by “love” is feelings that mirror the lyrics of some pop song; then I would have to agree that it falls rather low on the list of priorities. The heart it seems is not only a poor team player, but in the long run makes a lousy team captain. Don’t get me wrong; I wrote my share of mushy love letters and was killed softly with songs on the radio all the time. I am also not too proud to admit that after so many years my wife still raises my temperature. But that isn’t love – not love that makes for a lasting marriage. That kind of love is defined in behavior—as in respect, honor and protecting.
In the time my wife and I have been together we have ridden the highs of birth, upward mobility, large amounts of disposable income and good health and traveled the lows of unemployment, sickness and death. We have built a home together, traveled and spent time talking, laughing and making love late into the night. We have also learned to bite our tongues, to disagree with respect and to find words that build the other up. We have covered each other when clouds were overhead – holding each other up when the other couldn’t stand — and tried to give the other room to grow in the sunshine. That is to say; we have built a marriage together one 2 by 4 at a time.
Next week I will celebrate a union with a woman I met two decades ago and have been in lust with for 20 years. Finally, after 15 years of marriage I know what it means to love her.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday ramped up her criticism of insurance companies, accusing them of unethical behavior and working to kill a plan to create a new government-run health plan.
“It’s almost immoral what they are doing,” Pelosi said to reporters, referring to insurance companies. “Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure,” she said, adding, “They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening.”
Back in April, the White House stressed that President Obama, during his first Cabinet meeting, “made clear that relentlessly cutting out waste was part and parcel of their mission to make the investments necessary for recovery and long-term stability.” Department heads were “to identify at least $100 million in additional cuts to their administrative budgets.”
Three months later, he has gotten his wish: The White House announced on Monday that the goal has been reached.
To say such a cut is negligible is an exaggeration in the extreme. To fit that description, a cut first has to be visible. Though it was initially promoted as a seminal moment, this cut doesn’t come close to meeting even the most reachable of benchmarks.
In fiscal 2009, our federal government will spend nearly $4 trillion, according to the Office of Management and Budget’s historical tables. The $100 million cut represents 0.0025% — less than one one-hundredth of 1% — of those outlays.
Ain’t it delightful to be so much in the know?
President Obama is hosting a beer get-together today to patch up the situation between himself, Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Sgt. James Crowley, who arrested Gates on July 16. AB-InBev, Red Stripe, and Coors are taking starring roles in the meeting. The Washington Post has more:
…(T)he president, planning to crack a Bud Light at the meeting wtih Gates and police Sgt. James Crowley, is paying special attention to the taste buds of his White House guests.
“The president will drink Bud Light,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today.
“As I understand it — I have not heard this, I’ve read this, so I’ll just repeat what I’ve read,” Gibbs said, sounding very much like the president himself when he was asked to comment on the Gates arrest at a prime-time news conference last week, “that Prof. Gates said he liked Red Stripe, and I believe Sgt. Crowley mentioned to the president that he liked Blue Moon.”
Red Stripe is a Jamaican standard, Blue Moon from Golden, Colo.
From American Digest.
Was that the same grandmama he tossed under the bus?
by Professor John Evans Evans-John
Harvard School of Harvard Faculty Asshole Studies
When I first learned of the arrest of my colleague Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates after he stood up to the fascist jackboots of a declasse, ill-educated Cambridge police officer, I was of course angered — but scarcely shocked. L’Affaire Gates simply aired, in public, the dirty 100-thread-count table linen of an American culture where Harvard faculty assholes still face a daily struggle against profiling, abuse, and insolence.
It will come as no surprise that Skip’s arrest was the talk of the Douchebag Room at the Harvard Faculty Club last Friday. I and a group of colleagues had assembled for our weekly lunch; I opted for their competently-prepared Ahi Tuna Tartare and an amusing glass of ‘05 Hospices de Beaune Premier Cru Cuvee Cyrot-Chaudron. I had noticed that the Frantz Fanon Memorial Booth — Skip’s long-reserved lunch spot — was uncharacteristically empty, and asked our waiter Sergio for an explanation.
“Professor Skeep, he no is come today,” said Sergio. “I tink he is in the jail.”
Our table exchanged knowing glances, for we knew immediately that Skip was only the latest victim of a system that singles out the Harvard faculty asshole for stigmatization and unequal justice. It is a system that all of us knew too well, and provided an opportunity for an open conversation about our shared experiences as Harvard faculty assholes in America while waiting for Sergio to bring the dessert cart.
One after one came the cascade of stark stories: the rolled eyes of our department secretaries. The Spanish language mockery of our office janitors. The foul gestures of drunken strap-hanging Red Sox lumpenproles aboard the Red Line. The frequent police stops on the highway to Cape Ann and Martha’s Vineyard for “Volvoing While Asshole.” And then there are the insulting media stereotypes, where we are routinely caricatured as pompous, effete, self-important, irrelevant elitists. All, I might add, by a motley collection of lowbrow inferiors, few of whom have ever published in a peer-reviewed journal. Let alone edit one.
Read it all.
I know, most of you have already figured out why I oppose national health care. In a nutshell, I hate the poor and want them to die so that all my rich friends can use their bodies as mulch for their diamond ranches. But y’all keep asking, so here goes the longer explanation.
Basically, for me, it all boils down to public choice theory. Once we’ve got a comprehensive national health care plan, what are the government’s incentives? I think they’re bad, for the same reason the TSA is bad. I’m afraid that instead of Security Theater, we’ll get Health Care Theater, where the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we’re getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.
That’s not just verbal theatrics. Agencies like Britain’s NICE are a case in point. As long as people don’t know that there are cancer treatments they’re not getting, they’re happy. Once they find out, satisfaction plunges. But the reason that people in Britain know about things like herceptin for early stage breast cancer is a robust private market in the US that experiments with this sort of thing.
So in the absence of a robust private US market, my assumption is that the government will focus on the apparent at the expense of the hard-to-measure. Innovation benefits future constituents who aren’t voting now. Producing it is very expensive. On the other hand, cutting costs pleases voters this instant. This is, fundamentally, what cries to “use the government’s negotiating power” with drug companies is about. Advocates of such a policy spend a lot of time arguing about whether pharmaceutical companies do, or do not, spend too much on marketing. This is besides the point. The government is not going to price to some unknowable socially optimal amount of pharma market power. It is going to price to what the voters want, which is to spend as little as possible right now.
It’s not that I think that private companies wouldn’t like to cut innovation. But in the presence of even rudimentary competition, they can’t. Monopolies are not innovative, whether they are public or private.
Advocates of this policy have a number of rejoinders to this, notably that NIH funding is responsible for a lot of innovation. This is true, but theoretical innovation is not the same thing as product innovation. We tend to think of innovation as a matter of a mad scientist somewhere making a Brilliant Discovery!!! but in fact, innovation is more often a matter of small steps towards perfection. Wal-Mart’s revolution in supply chain management has been one of the most powerful factors influencing American productivity in recent decades. Yes, it was enabled by the computer revolution–but computers, by themselves, did not give Wal-Mart the idea of treating trucks like mobile warehouses, much less the expertise to do it.
In the case of pharma, what an NIH or academic researcher does is very, very different from what a pharma researcher does. They are no more interchangeable than theoretical physicists and civil engineers. An academic identifies targets. A pharma researcher finds out whether those targets can be activated with a molecule. Then he finds out whether that molecule can be made to reach the target. Is it small enough to be orally dosed? (Unless the disease you’re after is fairly fatal, inability to orally dose is pretty much a drug-killer). Can it be made reliably? Can it be made cost-effectively? Can you scale production? It’s not a viable drug if it takes one guy three weeks with a bunsen burner to knock out 3 doses.
Once you’ve produced a drug, found out that it’s active on your targets, and produced more than a few milligrams of the stuff, you have to put it into animals, then people. Does your drug do anything in animal studies? Does it do too much, like, say, killing the patient? How about humans? Oral dosing is just the start. Does your drug actually get somewhere after it’s swallowed, or do the stomach/liver chew it up? Is there any way to wrap it in a protective package long enough to let it reach its target? Do clinical trials show efficacy compared to placebo, or other drugs? How big is the market (in other words, how many people want it, how badly, and how much of an improvement is your drug)?
This is the stuff academic pharma doesn’t do, and as you can see, without it, you don’t have a drug; you have a theory. What the NIH does is supremely valuable. But so is all that “useless” effort at the pharmas.
Now, maybe government institutions could be made to produce innovations; I certainly think it’s worth trying Dean Baker’s suggestion that we should let the government try to set up an alternate scheme for drug discovery. Prizes also seem promising. But I want to see them work first, not after we’ve permanently broken the system. The one industry where the government is the sole buyer, defense, does not have an encouraging record of cost-effective, innovative procurement.
At this juncture in the conversation, someone almost always breaks in and says, “Why don’t you tell that to an uninsured person?” I have. Specifically, I told it to me. I was uninsured for more than two years after grad school, with an autoimmune disease and asthma. I was, if anything, even more militant than I am now about government takeover of insurance.
But you can also turn this around: why don’t you tell some person who has a terminal condition that sorry, we can’t afford to find a cure for their disease? There are no particularly happy choices here. The way I look at it, one hundred percent of the population is going to die of something that we can’t currently cure, but might in the future . . . plus the population of the rest of the world, plus every future generation. If you worry about global warming, you should worry at least as hard about medical innovation.
The other major reason that I am against national health care is the increasing license it gives elites to wrap their claws around every aspect of everyone’s life. Look at the uptick in stories on obesity in the context of health care reform. Fat people are a problem! They’re killing themselves, and our budget! We must stop them! And what if people won’t do it voluntarily? Because let’s face it, so far, they won’t. Making information, or fresh vegetables, available, hasn’t worked–every intervention you can imagine on the voluntary front, and several involuntary ones, has already been tried either in supermarkets or public schools. Americans are getting fat because they’re eating fattening foods, and not exercising. How far are we willing to go beyond calorie labelling on menus to get people to slim down?
These aren’t just a way to save on health care; they’re a way to extend and expand the cultural hegemony of wealthy white elites. No, seriously. Living a fit, active life is correlated with being healthier. But then, as an economist recently pointed out to me, so is being religious, being married, and living in a small town; how come we don’t have any programs to promote these “healthy lifestyles”? When you listen to obesity experts, or health wonks, talk, their assertions boil down to the idea that overweight people are either too stupid to understand why they get fat, or have not yet been made sufficiently aware of society’s disgust for their condition. Yet this does not describe any of the overweight people I have ever known, including the construction workers and office clerks at Ground Zero. All were very well aware that the burgers and fries they ate made them fat, and hitting the salad bar instead would probably help them lose weight. They either didn’t care, or felt powerless to control their hunger. They were also very well aware that society thought they were disgusting, and many of them had internalized this message to the point of open despair. What does another public campaign about overeating have to offer them, other than oozing condescension?
Of course, the obese aren’t the only troublesome bunch. The elderly are also wasting a lot of our hard earned money with their stupid “last six months” end-of-life care. Eliminating this waste is almost entirely the concern of men under 45 or 50, and women under 25. On the other hand, that describes a lot of the healthcare bureaucracy, especially in public health.
Once the government gets into the business of providing our health care, the government gets into the business of deciding whose life matters, and how much. It gets into the business of deciding what we “really” want, where what we really want can never be a second chocolate eclair that might make us a size fourteen and raise the cost of treating us.
I realize that to most people, these are airy-fairy considerations that should be overridden by the many “practical” considerations of the awesomenes of central health care. Well, I’m actually pretty underwhelmed by that awesomeness, for reasons I’ll happily elaborate elsewhere. But not here, because fundamentally, to me, the effect on the tax code and the relative efficiency of various sorts of bureaucracy are mostly beside the point. The real issue is the effect on future lives, and future freedom. And in my opinion, they way in overwhelmingly on the side of stopping further government encroachments into health care provision.a
Octagenarian House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, whose 40-something wife recently pleaded guilty to bribery charges over influence peddling (and which may implicate him), doesn’t think it’s worth his while to read the bills his gang of radicals is passing.
Shouldn’t there be a law against reckless legislating?
So I guess that the excuse is that, since they can’t read it or understand it, it’s fine just to let the House leaders (who probably haven’t read the whole thing either) reassure you that the whole thing is just fine. At least some representative’s aides somewhere have read some part of the bill so that should be enough, right? Who says that when you’re rejiggering over one-sixth of the US economy and incurring massive future debt that you need to know what it is you’re voting on.
Thousand-page bills, unread and indeed unwritten at the time of passage, are the death of representative government. They also provide a clue as to why, in a country this large, national government should be minimal and constrained. Even if you doubled or trebled the size of the legislature, the Conyers conundrum would still hold: No individual can read these bills and understand what he’s voting on. That’s why the bulk of these responsibilities should be left to states and subsidiary jurisdictions, which can legislate on such matters at readable length and in comprehensible language.
The Democratic agenda in Washington has gone off the rails just as markets are enjoying their best run of the Obama presidency, and there’s a school of thought on Wall Street that it’s no coincidence.
While a string of better-than-expected earnings reports from U.S. companies has been credited for the upswing, analysts such as Axel Merk, the portfolio manger of Merk Investments, said the stalled agenda in Congress has also helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average spike above 9,000.
“In general, I do think it’s positive it’s slowing down in Washington,” Merk said.
Brian Gardner, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, explains that when markets cratered in March, investors worried the Obama administration would nationalize the country’s banks, impose punitive rules on credit card issuers and allow judges to lower the principal and interest payments on mortgages. They saw ever-widening deficits and buckets of debt set to increase with massive healthcare legislation.
Sigbritt Löthberg’s home has been supplied with a blistering 40 Gigabits per second connection, many thousands of times faster than the average residential link and the first time ever that a home user has experienced such a high speed.
But Sigbritt, who had never had a computer until now, is no ordinary 75 year old. She is the mother of Swedish internet legend Peter Löthberg who, along with Karlstad Stadsnät, the local council’s network arm, has arranged the connection.
“This is more than just a demonstration,” said network boss Hafsteinn Jonsson.
“As a network owner we’re trying to persuade internet operators to invest in faster connections. And Peter Löthberg wanted to show how you can build a low price, high capacity line over long distances,” he told The Local.
Sigbritt will now be able to enjoy 1,500 high definition HDTV channels simultaneously. Or, if there is nothing worth watching there, she will be able to download a full high definition DVD in just two seconds.
That’s a lot of TVs to hook and quite a feat of multitasking to watch them.
Speaking before a friendly crowd at a park here Friday night, two days before she resigns, Palin invoked her soldier son to assure supporters that she is not downcast over the political frustrations that are prompting her to quit before her term is up.
She told the hundreds gathered in a military “Honor Garden” that she wanted to “do something… more worthy than speaking politics” before sharing a story about a reporter who had asked her about how she handles difficult days.
“I said, ‘Oh no,’ it is not a down day – my son called this week from Iraq,” Palin recalled, referring to her son, Track, an Army enlistee. “He is safe, he is sound. It is always a good day when my son calls.”
Interrupting the applause, Palin said: “I wish that some in the media would keep things like that in perspective, what is really important in our country. And what is important is our freedoms, America’s security, our liberty.”
Later, citing military families that have lost loved ones, she again drew loud applause by saying: “Let us continue to love our country, be proud of our country, never apologize for our country.”
Hey, Junior, you listening?
For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat’s health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years.
A key House chairman and moderate House Democrats on Tuesday agreed to a White House-backed proposal that would give an outside panel the power to make cuts to government-financed health care programs. White House budget director Peter Orszag declared the plan “probably the most important piece that can be added” to the House’s health care reform legislation.
But on Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal to give an independent panel the power to keep Medicare spending in check would only save about $2 billion over 10 years- a drop in the bucket compared to the bill’s $1 trillion price tag.
It’s two days after the eclipse, and we are still euphoric. We spent the rest of eclipse day packing up equipment, staying over at our Tianhuangping aerie. Bit by bit over the Internet, we learned of other sites: it rained at one of the other sites that we had seriously considered (the coast near Shanghai) and was foggy at the other (Moganshan, at 300 m of altitude). Suzhou, where we are now, was rainy also. And Wuhan, the other big city in the path, hundreds of miles west, had visibility through clouds, as we had, though from photos, our site seemed a bit better. As I say to everyone every few hours, “We-were-incredibly-lucky!”
Yesterday, the main part of our team of scientists and students came down the mountain, detouring by the “tidal bore,” a phenomenon of nature not related to eclipses. In a tidal bore, as the tide reverses, a row of waves moves up river against the current. We have read that the tidal bore was 10 meters high here, the highest in the world, but then heard that yesterday’s was “only” 1 to 2 meters high. Still, our group was glad we went. It was interesting to see a surfable row of waves come up river, in view for 15 minutes before it reached us. It extended perhaps a kilometer, as far as the eye could see, across the wide estuary that leads from the Pacific west to Hangzhou. And then it left standing waves after it went by.
Why is President Barack Obama in such a hurry to get his socialized medicine bill passed?
Because he and his cunning circle realize some basic truths:
The American people in their unimaginable kindness and trust voted for a pig in a poke in 2008. They wanted so much to believe Barack Obama was somehow better and different from other ultra-leftists that they simply took him on faith.
They ignored his anti-white writings in his books. They ignored his quiet acceptance of hysterical anti-American diatribes by his minister, Jeremiah Wright.
They ignored his refusal to explain years at a time of his life as a student. They ignored his ultra-left record as a “community organizer,” Illinois state legislator, and Senator.
The American people ignored his total zero of an academic record as a student and teacher, his complete lack of scholarship when he was being touted as a scholar.
Now, the American people are starting to wake up to the truth. Barack Obama is a super likeable super leftist, not a fan of this country, way, way too cozy with the terrorist leaders in the Middle East, way beyond naïveté, all the way into active destruction of our interests and our allies and our future.
The American people have already awakened to the truth that the stimulus bill — a great idea in theory — was really an immense bribe to Democrat interest groups, and in no way an effort to help all Americans.
Now, Americans are waking up to the truth that ObamaCare basically means that every time you are sick or injured, you will have a clerk from the Department of Motor Vehicles telling your doctor what he can and cannot do.
The American people already know that Mr. Obama’s plan to lower health costs while expanding coverage and bureaucracy is a myth, a promise of something that never was and never will be — a bureaucracy lowering costs in a free society. Either the costs go up or the free society goes away.
These are perilous times. Mrs. Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, has given Iran the go-ahead to have nuclear weapons, an unqualified betrayal of the nation. Now, we face a devastating loss of freedom at home in health care. It will be joined by controls on our lives to “protect us” from global warming, itself largely a fraud if believed to be caused by man.
Mr. Obama knows Americans are getting wise and will stop him if he delays at all in taking away our freedoms.
There is his urgency and our opportunity. Once freedom is lost, America is lost. Wake up, beloved America.
What Might Have Happened
Remember Obama’s initial signature speech (e.g., “there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America”), and all the subsequent conciliatory talk of no blue state, no red state America? Obama won, of course, because he captivated the tiny, but influential left, registered vast numbers of new minority voters, raised a billion dollars, and reconstituted the liberal base. But the key margin that got him from 45 to 53% were the independents and old Reagan Democrats. And what put them on board was not just their weariness with George Bush, but rather their flawed hunch that Obama was another Clinton rather than Carter, a realist and centrist rather than an ossified ideologue, who could talk well, bring factions together, and govern from the center.
Had Obama just continued his charade of the campaign in which he reassured centrists on taxes, defense, energy, and spending, he would now be in a far stronger position with Congress, and not falling in the polls.
Imagine not that in his first six months Obama had acted like a conservative (he could not since he won on a liberal agenda), but simply as a more moderate Clinton-like Democrat, albeit with more humility and skepticism:
1) Financial. Barack Obama rallies the nation in January to hang tough and await the natural upswing after the bust that followed an unusual boom period of a near decade. There is no wasted stimulus. There is no $2 trillion deficit. Instead, he promises to hold spending to an annual rise of 2%, and reassures the country that balanced budgets are on the way. Markets steady on news that we won’t be adding another $11 trillion to the debt, and Obama gets credit for the natural cyclical upsurge.
2) Taxes. Obama says he ran on the Clinton-era tax rates—and so must keep his word. Top rates go to 39.5%, but there is no further talk of a healthcare surcharge, much less a lifting of the FICA caps on income over $106,000. In other words, Obama is a classically liberal tax-raiser, who salivates over a 50% state and federal combined rate— but not one approaching 70% in some states. The public accepts that he is a Democrat of the tax and spend sort, but is assured he is no socialist.
3) Reconciliation. After the obligatory two to three weeks of throat-clearing and liberal trashing of his predecessor, Obama by March goes quiet on Bush. To the extent he mentions him, he praises the prior President for keeping us safe for seven years, but promises to do far better on the budget. He taps into independents’ and moderates’ dissatisfaction with the previous deficits, but wins points for magnanimity by not serially evoking “he did it”. In other words, he is not a “they raised the bar on me” / “he did it, not me” / “his mess, not mine” whiner.
4) No apologies. When abroad, Obama makes few apologies. He promises to listen anew, even suggests that there is a new era in American diplomacy—but eschews all the ‘reset’ button jargon. He never mentions all the past tropes about Native Americans, the atomic bomb, colonialism, racism, insensitivity to Muslims, and all the other ways in which he has apologized for an apparently embarrassing America—convinced that unapologetic Russians, Chinese, Germans, Japanese, and others have far more to atone for than does his own country. Instead, in his first six months we hear of things like Shiloh, Guadalcanal, Midway, Inchon, Chosin, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, and lions like Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman, in addition to his de rigueur citations of slavery, racism, sexism, class strife and all the other sins of America.
5) Go slow. Obama regrets that the financial meltdown of autumn 2008 has slowed his agenda. He will reform but not reinvent health care; he will strive for more autonomous energy sources—wind, solar, bio—but also more domestic natural gas, oil, shale, coal, and nuclear to improve our independence and balance sheet. He will encourage green power, but show hesitation about cap-and-trade, until issues of cost and international compliance are solved.
6) Race. As was the case of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Obama will let his own expertise and competence speak about his race. In other words, he will evolve beyond the constant referencing of his own diversity, non-traditional profile, post-racial heritage, transracial blah, blah, blah. When he speaks to African-American audiences it will be in the same cadence and accentuation that he employs when talking to white audiences or vice versa. He will make plenty of so-called diversity appointments but not the sort who constantly self-reference themselves as “Latinas” or dress down the nation as “cowards” on matters of race. Being part African will be incidental not essential to his public persona as he lets others, not himself, make of it what they wish.
7) The Democratic House. Obama quickly sizes up Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank as, well, crazy and polarizing, and in 1994-Clinton fashion begins to triangulate. Like Truman, he talks of social justice, but always juxtaposed with references to strong national defense, American exceptionalism and the need for fiscal sobriety. Those whom Frank and Pelosi turn off don’t see Obama in quite the same league.
8) Low Profile. Instead of hourly appearing on television and engaged in non-stop travel, Obama is seen only weekly, and his speeches are unique and much anticipated in part due to their very rarity. The first person plural “we” is used instead of “I”—as in the unfortunate “my team”, “as I have ordered,” “let me be perfectly clear”, “it isn’t about me”, etc.
9) Truth. Obama gains a reputation for honesty and consistency. If he says he will shut down Guantanamo, we know that he shuts down Guantanamo. If 95% of Americans are told that they will see no new taxes, they will not. If he promised during the campaign to drill offshore, explore for shale and natural gas, build nuclear, then he will. Obama really will have no earmarks, lobbyists, or ethically-compromised tax cheats in his cabinet. He gets the reputation of a stubborn ethicist, rather than a charismatic Chicagoan Blagoan. When he talks of history, Obama has his facts, and is accurate, and so cites its tragedy of bad and worse choices, rather than make it up as you go, in the therapeutic fashion of ‘if we were not perfect then we were not good.’
10) Allies. Obama is immune to third-world romance and sees nothing but thuggery in the Castros, Chavezes, Ortegas, and Ahmadinejads of the world. He is to the left of Bush, but understands that a Uribe, Maliki, and Netanyahu are closer to American values than the alternatives. As a liberal, he talks of empathy with those who support democracy in Iran, Iraq, and central America, and is an advocate for human rights without ambiguity.
I say all of the above not because it is at all believable, but only because that had he taken such a path he would have continued to mesmerize the country. In contrast, most of us (but not all) realized that the above is completely ridiculous and the real story is the rush to neo-socialism either to beat the impending popular backlash or in hopes of a massive-deficit-driven inflationary upsurge that gives us a year of recovery before the tab of stagflation comes due.
In 1968 a divided country elected Nixon “to bring us together” in the mistaken notion that he was a Reaganesque conservative rather than a vindictive partisan. So too forty years later, mutatis mutandis, the country wanted to go a notch left, and ended up instead with a European socialist nursed in the politics of Chicago—and like Nixon, unless he changes, doomed to implode.
Frankly, I’m beginning to feel a lot like Howard Beale, the character portrayed by Peter Finch in the 1976 release, “Network.” He insisted that people get up right now and go to the window, open it, stick their heads out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
I’ve always heard that misery loves company. If true, misery in America has more company these days than it knows what do with.
I realize that conservatives have felt this way ever since the Democrats nominated the Chicago crony of Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, Rod Blagojevich and the assorted felons at ACORN, to be our president, but why aren’t millions of honest, decent, hard-working Democrats up in arms? I can guarantee that if a Republican president had done half the things that Obama has pulled off in his first half year, most of us on the right would be calling for his head. At the very least, none of us would be kissing his heinie.
Even before grabbing up car companies and banks, he got the ball rolling with a trillion dollar, 1100-page pork-filled stimulus package that had to be passed, he insisted, within a few short hours or America was going to be turned into a pumpkin. Well, without anyone having had time to read anything but the price tag, it was passed into law. Obama then took his own sweet time signing it. In the months since its passage, the unemployment rate has soared, entire states are going belly up and, apparently, nobody seems to know what happened to the money.
Then there’s the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, which started out in life at a thousand pages, and then had a 300-page amendment tacked on to it in the dead of night. It was as if Dr. Frankenstein, after carefully inspecting his nightmarish creation, decided that what the monster really needed was a second head and a hunchback. Again, nobody had time to read the bill, but that didn’t prevent 219 congressmen, including eight Republicans who scurried out from under a rock just long enough to make certain that Christmas, or perhaps I mean Ramadan, would come early for the President.
As I recall, when he was a candidate, Obama assured us that taxes would be decreased for 95% of all Americans. Inasmuch as the Heritage Foundation estimates that the cap and trade bill will wind up costing the average middle class taxpayer nearly $3,000 in additional energy costs, I guess a tax isn’t a tax if you don’t call it one. Of course Obama and Al Gore and their liberal lackeys don’t mention the jobs that people in the oil and coal industries will lose while we’re busily building windmills. Perhaps those folks who were formerly occupied supplying the wherewithal so that America could continue to be a major industrial nation can be hired to stand around and generate energy by blowing at the windmills.
Maybe what Obama meant when he claimed we’d be paying less in taxes was that we’d all be on the dole before the next election rolled around.
During the campaign, when Obama vowed that, if elected, he would create or save four million jobs, I speculated that he meant that if at some point there were four million Americans who were still working, he could say he’d kept his campaign promise. I swear I meant it as a joke.
Inasmuch as Obama seems to be doing all he can to turn America into a left-wing third world nation, it stands to reason that he was far more perturbed by a dictator being booted out by freedom-loving Hondurans than by innocent blood spilled in the streets of Iran.
It’s amazing, if you stop and think about it, that George H.W. Bush lost his bid for re-election because he was goofy enough to say, “Read my lips…no new taxes,” but Obama does his level best to bankrupt America and destroy the middle class, and yet continues to ride nearly as high in the popularity polls as Michael Jackson. Imagine if the man could moon walk.
But, I guess a lot of us who find ourselves going down the financial drain don’t really mind so long as we can watch Prince Obama and his princess holding hands on their $250,000 date night in New York City.
It’s almost enough to make a person pity Bernard Madoff. That poor shmuck got a 150-year prison sentence, and he only screwed Americans out of about 65 billion dollars.
Racism is simply a form of stereotyping. Stereotyping occurs when one says: because of my past experiences with people from your group, as well as things I have heard about people from your group, I am forming a firm opinion about you.
Racism is simply one form of that attitude, in which “people from your group” means “black people.”
Oddly, however, many black people feel perfectly comfortable engaging in a similar form of stereotyping, in which “people from your group” means “police officers” or “white people” — or, best of all, “white police officers.” Apparently, stereotyping those groups is a laudable pursuit.
The Henry Louis Gates arrest is yet another reminder of how quick some black people are to leap to unflattering conclusions about others based on scant evidence. Mickey Kaus reads Gates’s account of his arrest, and makes this observation:
Just reading this passage–Gates’ own words–it seems to me he pops into litigious mode a little quickly. He says he wanted to file a complaint “because of the way he treated me at the front door.” How had he mistreated him at the front door? He asked him ‘Would you step outside onto the porch?’ (where, as Gates notes, the cop would have more rights). When Gates refuses and instead gives the cop an ID, the cop looks at the ID. And at that point Gates has already determined he’s been treated unfairly. He’s already refusing to answer questions and planning to file a complaint. Again, from his own words it looks like he rushes a bit to the conclusion that a white man in a similar situation would have been treated differently. Is that really true?
Is it really true? Gates has no basis to say. All he has is a collection of prejudices about the group to which the officer belonged: white police officers. And based on that collection of prejudices, Gates leapt to a conclusion — this police officer is a racist. The evidence is strong that the conclusion was wrong: the officer teaches classes in avoiding racial profiling and was responding to a legitimate report from a citizen. Gates should have realized that his own actions in forcing entry to the house had aroused legitimate suspicions. But Gates didn’t employ common sense, or make an effort to learn something about the man in front of him. He simply stereotyped him.
And in apologizing for Gates, black firebrands and white liberals patronizingly excuse techniques of stereotyping that they would condemn in a racist.
Form an image of a racist in your mind: someone who watches a TV report about a crime committed by a black person, and says: “I’m not surprised. That’s how black people are: they’re all criminals.” Is this racist attitude justified if the racist says:
I’m sorry I have this bad attitude about black people, but I have seen and heard bad things about black people all my life. I know they commit a lot of crimes, and in fact, I have been robbed by three separate black people in my life.
Now, form an image in your mind of a black person who watches a TV report about police brutality, and says: “I’m not surprised. That’s how those white cops are: they’re all racists.” Is this attitude justified if the black person says:
I’m sorry I have this bad attitude about white cops, but I have seen and heard bad things about white cops all my life. I know they hassle black people, and in fact, I have been mistreated by three separate white cops in my life.
For some reason, people who would never accept the racist’s justification of his racist attitudes, will nod their heads in approval as black people expound on why they believe all white cops are racists based upon their own personal experiences.
Henry Louis Gates stereotyped Sgt. Crowley. He formed an opinion about Sgt. Crowley based on evidence that was far too limited to justify the conclusion. He formed that opinion based on prejudices he had collected over the course of his life about the group to which Sgt. Crowley belonged. That opinion — that Sgt. Crowley was a racist who needed to be educated about racial profiling — turned out to be wrong.
Gates’s mental process was the same mental process that a racist uses to decide that someone like Gates is less than human. It’s an ignorant way of looking at the world, hardly befitting a Harvard professor. Liberals ought not applaud such stereotyping. They should fight it.
It’s a shame that they don’t. And I don’t think they ever will.
Not all is harmonious in Democratland. Politico:
The Congressional Black Caucus is blasting away at Blue Dog Democrats and other fiscal conservatives in their own party for making “spurious” claims about the high cost of the House health reform plan, POLITICO has learned.
Those must be the “spurious” numbers produced by the Congressional Budget Office.
The issue isn’t about race, aides tell me. It’s about the CBC, which represents some of the most progressive members in the House, wanting to have a say in final negotiations — and to prevent party conservatives from dominating.
The 42-member caucus, whose support is crucial for the passage of any plan, is worried that intense talks going on between the Dogs, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and House leaders will undermine efforts to provide quality coverage to the poor and working class.
“I want to make clear that, in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically. I could have calibrated those words differently.”
Saying the police acted “stupidly” does malign. No “calibration” needed — we know what you meant and how you think.
Krauthammer, a psychiatrist as well as columnist, on Obama.
Before Obama got his facts wrong (actually he had no facts and said so) about Henry Louis Gates, he got his facts wrong about Honduras.
For photos showing the massive rally in Honduras against Zelaya (actually, pro rule of law) visit this blog.
What happened to Obamacare? Rhetoric met reality. As both candidate and president, the master rhetorician could conjure a world in which he bestows upon you health-care nirvana: more coverage, less cost.
But you can’t fake it in legislation. Once you commit your fantasies to words and numbers, the Congressional Budget Office comes along and declares that the emperor has no clothes.
President Obama premised the need for reform on the claim that medical costs are destroying the economy. True. But now we learn — surprise! — that universal coverage increases costs. The congressional Democrats’ health-care plans, says the CBO, increase costs in the range of $1 trillion plus.
In response, the president retreated to a demand that any bill he sign be revenue-neutral. But that’s classic misdirection: If the fierce urgency of health-care reform is to radically reduce costs that are producing budget-destroying deficits, revenue neutrality (by definition) leaves us on precisely the same path to insolvency that Obama himself declares unsustainable.
The Democratic proposals in Congress are worse still. Because they do increase costs, revenue neutrality means countervailing tax increases. It’s not just that it is crazily anti-stimulatory to saddle a deeply depressed economy with an income-tax surcharge that falls squarely on small business and the investor class. It’s that health-care reform ends up diverting for its own purposes a source of revenue that might otherwise be used to close the yawning structural budget deficit that is such a threat to the economy and to the dollar.
These blindingly obvious contradictions are why the Democratic health plans are collapsing under their own weight — at the hands of Democrats. It’s Max Baucus, Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who called Obama unhelpful for ruling out taxing employer-provided health insurance as a way to pay for expanded coverage. It’s the Blue Dog Democrats in the House who wince at skyrocketing health-reform costs just weeks after having swallowed hemlock for Obama on a ruinous cap-and-trade carbon tax.
The president is therefore understandably eager to make this a contest between progressive Democrats and reactionary Republicans. He seized on Republican senator Jim DeMint’s comment that stopping Obama on health care would break his presidency to protest, with perfect disingenuousness, that “this isn’t about me. This isn’t about politics.”
It’s all about him. Health care is his signature reform. And he knows that if he produces nothing, he forfeits the mystique that both propelled him to the presidency and has sustained him through a difficult first six months. Which is why Obama’s red lines are constantly shifting. Universal coverage? Maybe not. No middle-class tax hit? Well, perhaps, but only if they don’t “primarily” bear the burden. Because it is about him, Obama is quite prepared to sign anything as long as it is titled “health-care reform.”
by J.C. Phillips
In the age of Obama, the arrest of a prominent Black Harvard Professor on the steps of his own home was sure to ignite a discussion about the state of race relations in America.
Upon his return from an overseas trip Henry Louis Gates and his driver were attempting to open the front door, which was jammed shut. A passer-by noticed the men forcing the door open and phoned the police. By the time Sergeant James Crowley, the responding police officer, arrived Gates was inside his home. Crowley asked Gates to step out of his home and show some identification, which according to Crowley, the professor produced only after accusing the police of hassling him because he is a “Black man living in America” and saying something about Crowley’s mamma. The situation continued to escalate until finally Gates was arrested for creating a public disturbance.
Unfortunately, rather than using this incident as an opportunity to have an honest and substantive conversation about stereotypes and race, racialists of every stripe have high-jacked the discussion in order to continue a one-sided discussion focusing on Black victim-hood. One such racialist is our post-racial President Barack Obama.
During his Wednesday evening press conference the President claimed that Gates was the victim of racial profiling and that the Cambridge Police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates for breaking into his own home. Alas, the president was tall on rhetoric, but short on facts, which was surprising (or perhaps not) given that the conference questions were pre-approved and he knew to expect it. Contrary to the President’s assertion- Gates was not profiled. The police were responding to a report of a possible break-in at Gates’ home. Nor was Gates arrested for breaking into his own home. He was arrested for disorderly conduct.
And lest anyone assume I am deaf to Gates’ complaint- make no mistake, I have walked in his shoes and understand his outrage completely.
At the time I was living in West Orange, New Jersey, a quiet, middle class community west of Newark. I was walking about two or three blocks from my home one morning when I was stopped by a white police officer. He informed me that there had been a report of an attempted break in and that the description was that of a woman and a well dressed Black man. I thought it odd that he stopped me in that I was by myself and wearing a raggedy sweater and a pair of shorts. The officer then asked if I had any identification. I did not. I was walking in my own neighborhood! Further this same officer had answered a call at my home when my home security system had gone off not one week prior. It burned me up that he didn’t recognize me.
Clearly, I was being hassled because I was a Black man living in America. How else to explain my inability to walk through my own neighborhood without being questioned? Other patrol cars soon arrived. I continued to protest, my voice rising. As the situation escalated, one of the other officers threatened to arrest me for disorderly conduct, which of course only increased my outrage. Just when things were going to get really ugly something happened; it could have only been the hand of God slapping me in the head. I shut my mouth. I bit my tongue till it bled. The officers let me go. I poked out my lips and stalked off home, cursing the concrete beneath my feet.
Two weeks later I was driving down the street in my fancy sports car (those were the days) and who should pull up alongside me at the red light? The same officer. He did a double take and commented, “Nice car.”
“Oh, you recognize me now?” I replied.
He smiled and asked if I wanted to talk. We pulled into a parking lot and had a friendly conversation. He understood my anger, he said, but asked me to understand that he was simply doing his job and could never remember every person he encountered on the job in a town of more than 50,000 people.
Fair enough. However, as a Black man I want him to understand that I am/was, (like Gates), conditioned to suspect such interactions with the police as being motivated by latent or overt racism. Would the cop have recognized my white neighbor? Would a neighbor have called the Cambridge police if two white men were forcing the door to a home open? I have no idea. And it is only wise for police departments and the officers that man them to recognize that the history of this country places serious doubt in the minds of most black folks.
That said, every interaction with the police is not tinted with racism and Black folk are just as guilty of stereotyping white cops as is true in the reverse. Moreover, we are often guilty of appeals to being victims of profiling when it is clear the police had legitimate reasons for detaining us or asking us questions. Like Gates I was stopped because there had been a legitimate report made to the police and like Gates I didn’t like it one bit. Like Gates I became irate and loud when legitimately pressed by the police officer to produce identification. Like Gates my outrage was based not in any real transgression by the police, but in a perception – a stereotype — of a white racist Cop working in league with my racist neighbors. (Do we really want our neighbors to ignore suspicious behavior and for police not to follow up on those reports? As much as we may dream it to be so, criminals of every color tend not to be down for the cause. Indeed, Gates’ front door was jammed because it had been damaged during a burglary at his home. But I digress.) Like Gates I protested the perceived injustice. Unlike Gates I had the benefit of God’s huge hand on my mouth before I got into trouble.
The interaction between blue uniforms and black skin is the final hurdle to overcome in our nation’s striving to become truly post-racial. Once we conquer it there will be little to stop us or slow us down. However, in order to succeed we need to have an honest, two sided conversation about race in America. We certainly aren’t ever going to overcome if we view the arrest of Harvard professors engaged in boorish behavior as evidence of racial profiling as opposed to proof of the desperate need for mutual respect and better communication.
Obama says the darnedest things. Last night:
If there’s a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?
But the system right now doesn’t incentivize that. Those are the changes that are going to be needed — that we’re going to need to make inside the system. It will require, I think, patients to — as well as doctors, as well as hospitals, to be more discriminating consumers.
As a customer of Blue Shield HMO, I know firsthand about this. For a while I was taking Lipitor, which is more expensive than other statins. When Blue Shield’s medical review board decided that other statins were just as effective, I was given a choice to pay a premium for Lipitor or switch. I switched.
That’s one example.
Apparently, and this is frightening to contemplate, Obama has never heard of a drug formulary. Those are lists of drugs compiled by insurors, states and other parties, comparing the costs vs. benefits of different drugs. More than lists, they are tools used to control healthcare spending.
My shift from Lipitor was the result of Blue Shield revising its formulary.
Let me be clear about this: our president sure acts like a dope.
You can learn strange things, poring over transcripts of remarks made by U.S. officials traveling abroad (we do this so you don’t have to). And so it was when I pulled up a transcript of remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last weekend in Mumbai, India. These were the remarks in which, to the Obama administration’s growing list of apologies for the United States, Clinton added a U.S. apology to India for the climate of the planet:
“Our point is very simple: That we acknowledge, now with President Obama, that we have made mistakes — the United States — and we along with other developed countries, have contributed most significantly to the problems that we face with climate change.” (The main thing Clinton got for her pains was a demand from India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the West fork over almost $200 billion per year to the developing world to offset costs of cutting emissions).
Come again, Madame Secretary? You don’t have to love carbon to understand that there are tradeoffs in this world. While America’s free enterprise system has been emitting all that now-reviled carbon dioxide, it has also served as the world’s liveliest source of inventions for improving quality of life around the globe. The verdict of real science (as opposed to United Nations “consensus”) is still out on what causes climate change, or whether carbon dioxide has anything much to do with it. But in coping with a global climate that has been changing since before our ancestors crawled out of the primal soup, the best hope of mankind for adapting to the weather is not a global web of UN-driven caps and regulations, but precisely the kind of creativity and flexibility that has been the hallmark of the American system. It’s a terrible idea to constrain that, and it’s dangerously absurd to apologize for it. More on this in my column this week for Forbes.com , “Stop the Apologizing.”
In further remarks, Clinton responded to a press question about her meeting earlier in the day with a number of influential Indian business executives, include the head of Reliance Petroleum, which has served in the past as a major supplier to Iran of gasoline — a product for which Iran does not have enough refining capacity to meet its own domestic demands. Clinton was asked if she had discussed with these Indian executives the possibility of using gas exports as a lever against Iran. (Interest in such leverage has been simmering on Capitol Hill, and in response to this, Reliance recently halted gas exports to Iran. But the Obama administration, rather than talking up this example, or leaning on other suppliers to stop as well, keeps skirting the issue, while trying to extend that hand to Tehran).
Clinton’s answer: A big shrug. She did not discuss it, and this is something “we will look at later.”
That’s one mixed up set of priorities. What America really ought to be sorry about is a foreign policy that apologizes for the weather, while ignoring a last, best hope for peacefully stopping the Iranian march toward nuclear crisis in the Middle East.