Morgen Richmond of Big Government points out a story that received very little coverage this week in the media. It had to do with a report released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and its findings. Apparently, per CMMS, 2008 health care spending (the latest figures available) “slowed” when compared to 2007. In fact that slowed from 6% growth to 4.4% growth in 2008.
That, one would think, especially as health care reform is the hot topic, is newsworthy. But one has to believe that the reason it wasn’t found newsworthy has to do with the details of the report. The reason is that the details don’t support the premise that our health care spending problems lie in the private sector:
Because in a year where the growth rate in overall healthcare spending dropped by an unprecedented amount, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid actually increased dramatically from the prior year.
Medicare by 8.6% in 2008 compared to 7.1% in 2007, and Medicaid by 8.4% compared to 6.1% in 2007. And Federal spending on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) increased by an even greater amount (13.4%).
In other words, the reduced growth rate in healthcare spending for 2008 was entirely due to reduced spending in the private sector. Which upon reflection really comes as no surprise since the private sector by its very nature must respond and adapt to market dynamics. As long as it has the flexibility to do so, unimpeded by government regulation.
Look again at those numbers. Think about the reduction in private health care spending necessary to offset those increases in federal health care spending to bring the overall number down to 4.4%. Private care and/or insurance are not the problem and giving more power to government is not the solution to lowering health care costs.
Another report that has been mostly ignored points to factors which will most likely see private sector spending continue to decline over the coming years. It is most likely being ignored because the solutions put forward are primarily market based solutions.
Given these facts, you are left to ponder the following question articulated by Richmond:
So a federal government which has never in history demonstrated one iota of ability to reign in spending can permanently add another 40+ million people to federal entitlement programs [and] [t]his is the silver bullet necessary to reduce costs?
Nope. No bullets at all, silver or otherwise. The government is shooting blanks, and a system that is ranked number 1 out of 191 in the world for “responsiveness to the needs and choices of the individual patient” (uh, isn’t that what good medicine is all about?) is about to be downgraded dramatically based on a collection of myths, half-truths and outright lies.
Comforting, isn’t it?
It comes from the ever entertaining Ezra Klein, charter member of the juice-box mafia, and apparently not a history major:
I’ll just note that Democrats will definitely lose their supermajority sooner than later. If not, something is going seriously wrong in the system. A competitive, two-party democracy shouldn’t have long periods of single-party dominance. The mid-20th century, which did see Democrats with that sort of majority in the House, was the product of a three-party system in which a party of conservative, racist Southerners entered into a coalition with the Democrats. But that’s over now.
Apparently when Ezra attended history class, they’d come up with a new designation for the “third party” to explain the behavior of the Democratic party at the time – it was in a coalition with “a party of conservative, racist Southerners”.
Hmmm. Gotta tell you, around here we just called them Democrats.
Like Senator Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee, who filibustered the Civil Rights Act and gave us his apparently more famous son, Al “I invented the internet and global warming” Gore, Jr. Quite a legacy, no?
Like Senator William Fullbright of Arkansas who did the same thing Al’s daddy did and was Bill Clinton’s mentor to boot. And of course, Robert Byrd, admitted member of the KKK, was already representing Democrats in West Virginia at the time. Oh, wait – he’s still doing that, isn’t he? Byrd was also a participant in the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, speaking for 14 hours and 13 minutes in an attempt to deny the bill passage. And today he remains a member in good standing of the Democratic party – not that “third party”.
The fact that these and other Southern Democratic luminaries of the time happened to be somewhat more conservative than their northern brethren doesn’t change the fact that they were lifelong, racist Democrats (btw, “conservative” does not equal “racist”. Racist equals racist). They simply made up the more conservative wing of the party and were very welcome there until about 1964 when things began to finally change. Most, such as Sen. James O. Eastland of Mississippi, Rep Howard W. Smith of Virginia, and Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia (a mentor of Jimmy Carter) were and remained life-long Democrats. Others, such as George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and T Coleman Andrews eventually became independents. But that was well after this so-called “third party” coalition you claim, Ezra.
Heh … you do know that the GOP did exist in the South at the time, don’t you? Yup, you guessed it – we called them Republicans. There weren’t many. 1 in the Senate and 10 in the House. And yes, they did the same thing the Democrats from the area did – voted against the bill. But the filibuster? All Democrat. And what’s interesting is to see the final totals on the bill by party. You know the myth – here’s the reality:
The original House version:
* Democratic Party: 152-96 (61%-39%)
* Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)
Cloture in the Senate:
* Democratic Party: 44-23 (66%-34%)
* Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)
The Senate version:
* Democratic Party: 46-21 (69%-31%)
* Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)
The Senate version, voted on by the House:
* Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
* Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)
That’s right – despite the mistakenly popular belief to the contrary, the bill was overwhelmingly supported by the GOP and, as I’m sure you can see, without that overwhelming support, it would never have passed in the Senate and been signed into law. In fact, the Democrats, even with a 67 vote majority, wouldn’t have been able to muster the support to pass it if every Republican had, instead, voted against it. But the record shows 82% GOP support in the Senate and 80% in the House – far greater in percentage than Democrat support.
As famous Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan is credited with saying, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” In this case, the facts don’t support your spin, Mr. Klein. Learn the history of your party and learn to live with it.
Embrace the suck.
That scene is incredibly muddled and getting more muddled every day. In some ways, such as the Democrat retirements, it reminds me of the political atmosphere of 1994. Charlie Cook, who knows Democrats and their electoral chances, pretty much writes the Democratic Senatorial majority off as a dead loss after 2010:
Come November, Senate Democrats’ 60-vote supermajority is toast. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see how Democrats could lose the Senate this year. But they have a 50-50 chance of ending up with fewer than 55 seats in the next Congress.
When the Republican in the race for Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts is competitive, you know the electoral landscape has changed and just about anything is possible.
Of course, in terms of divided government, that’s very good news. The fact that it is Republicans, who for the most part, still don’t seem to have a clue, not so much. Of course that obviously depends on who the Republicans end up running, or winning, those seats. Florida’s race between Crist and Rubio is a good example. Crist is the moderate establishment (business as usual, McCain type Republican) while Rubio is more of the Tea Party conservative.
And it is there that the establishment Republican party seems to be missing the boat – again. After a sweeping victory by Barack Obama and the Democrats, the Republicans quite naturally tried to do a little soul searching and, for whatever reason, came to believe that their problem was they didn’t appeal to enough moderates. Yet in the year that has passed since the Obama administration has been in office and the Congress with prohibitive Democratic majorities has been wreaking its havoc, independents, who establishment Republicans choose to characterize as “moderates”, have been abandoning the Democrats in staggering numbers. And they’re looking for a place to go.
Why are they abandoning the Democrats? Because they bought into a myth a compliant and noncritical media aided and abetted concerning the new administration and now they’re seeing the radical truth. And they don’t like it.
However, what they don’t want is a merely less radical replacement. Democrat lite. What independents are in the middle of doing is rejecting, in toto, the Democratic agenda. Rasmussen and others have been providing these clues for months. In the latest Rasmussen poll:
With Democrats in majority control of both the House and Senate, it’s not surprising to find that 79% of Republicans are not confident that their congressional representatives are actually presenting their best interests, but 74% of voters not affiliated with either party agree. Democratic voters are evenly divided on the question.
74% of voters “not affiliated with either party agree” that their Congressional Rep (obviously that includes some Republicans) is not actually representing their best interests. Now that could be for any number of reasons, but on thing for certain, if 74% aren’t happy with their Rep, I’d guess they’re not happy with what the establishment Republicans are selling either.
Enter the Tea Partiers. First written off as brownshirts, angry whites, red-necks, un-American, ‘teabaggers’ and any other pejorative the left-wing thought it could get away with, the movement has grown into a political force. But make no mistake about it – it’s a populist movement. Regardless it has, to a large degree, managed to tap into this unhappiness with what is going on in Washington and give it some structure.
And what continues to astound me is the establishment Republicans seem to think that they “own” the movement – that when push comes to shove, this group will fall in line and vote for them.
There is going to be a war between the Teapartiers and the establishment Republican party. The Teapartiers don’t necessarily support or even like many of the establishment Republicans. As a result that war is going to be waged in primaries. And much like it was on the left (Lamont/Lieberman) it is a war for the soul of that party. Establishment Republicans really don’t seem to understand that – yet. So we see stories like this one where the establishment party is said to have “soured” on Sarah Palin. Love her or hate her, she represents as well as anyone, the populist nature of the movement that the Republicans don’t seem to yet understand. Add the stupidity of the leadership and the visible infighting within the establishment wing of the party, and you hold little hope that they will wake up in time to smell the roses and figure out the formula for electoral success.
Where’s this all headed? To more polarized politics, if that is possible, with the sides much more differentiated – if the Teapartiers get their way. Republicans are going to be moved in a much more conservative direction, come hell or high water, if they want Tea Party support. And the Tea Party movement is going to attract (has attracted?) enough of the independent voters to make the electoral difference.
Conventional wisdom says the electorally successful win by appealing to their base, picking off enough independents to make the difference and then governing from the center. I don’t think that CW is valid anymore. It appears that the public has finally had the scales removed from their eyes with the present administration. The premise that a centrist government is what America wants has been overcome by events. Those events, products of that centrism, have given us the state of affairs with which we’re now afflicted – a welfare state with huge deficits, a debased currency and a behemoth government that is out-of-control. Listen closely to those who spoke up at the summer town halls. It wasn’t just about Democrats and Republicans, folks – it was about the direction of the country and the realization that both parties had participated in creating the horrendous mess we now enjoy.
All of that to say that CW is ready to be turned on its head and, in fact, people (to include independents) are demanding action to roll back government and reduce spending. That should be right in the Republican’s wheel house. Yet instead of really talking their supposed principles and actions to accomplish them, establishment Republicans still insist that it is more important to ensure they have a “big tent”. That is a complete sell out of their principles. The “tent” is established by those principles. What Republicans have to do is fashion a message that makes that tent attractive and brings people to them. That’s what will make it “big”. Compromising their principles to fill the tent is a sure way to lose – and that’s precisely what they’ve proven over the last few elections.
Politically, 2010 is going to be a very interesting year to watch. For libertarians, the best hope is divided government and a Republican party that rediscovers its primary principles and decides to live up to them. I think we’ll get the divided government. However, my concern is the midterms will see enough Republicans elected, despite themselves and their lack of a principled stand, that the important message about principles will continue to be lost on them – again. That will result in a Senate not much different than we have now, where compromise and collegiality are more important than principle and the people. That means big government, more spending and more deficit. And that means Republicans will remain the minority party and out of the White House in 2012.
The double-talking Obama administration, who lectured us about the need to wean ourselves from our dependency on foreign oil, has, through actions taken by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, made the goal of less dependency less likely.
Salazar, yesterday, announced a new level of bureaucratic requirements sure to slow and provide disincentives to increases in domestic oil and gas exploration. In the first year of the Obama administration’s tenure, Salazar had already slowed such exploration to a walk As the Institute for Energy Research (IER) reports:
* Under the first year of the Obama administration’s 2009 oil and gas leasing program, fewer onshore and offshore acres have been leased than in any previous year on record.
* The Interior Department collected less than one-tenth the revenue from oil and gas lease sales in 2009 than it did in 2008
* For the year 2008, lease sale revenues produced a return for the taxpayer of $942 per acre leased. In 2009, taxpayers received about $254 in return for each acre leased under the Obama administration – indicative of the quality of leasable land made available under Sec. Salazar
* More than 97 percent of the 2.46 billion acres of taxpayer-owned lands in the public domain are presently not leased for oil and gas exploration
In a time of economic hardship where federal revenues are way down and deficit spending runs rampant, it is almost criminal to do what Salazar has done. As the Industrial Energy Consumers of America points out:
“At a time when we should be working to enhance our energy supplies here at home, we believe it would be a mistake to pursue policies that would make it more expensive or difficult to access critical natural-gas resources …”
But that is precisely what Secretary Salazar intends to do. IER president Thomas J. Pyle released the following, which pretty much calls the administration out on their absurd policies concerning domestic exploration for oil and gas. Frankly, I think it is an understatement:
“When it comes to paving the way for the responsible development of homegrown, job-creating energy resources, no administration in history has done more to ensure producers do less.”
The Bureau of Land Management released the following:
Under the reformed oil and gas leasing policy, BLM will provide:
* Comprehensive interdisciplinary reviews that take into account site-specific considerations for individual lease sales. Resource Management Plans will continue to provide programmatic-level guidance, but individual parcels nominated for leasing will undergo increased internal and external coordination, public participation, interdisciplinary review of available information, confirmation of Resource Management Plan conformance as well as site visits to parcels when necessary;
* Greater public involvement in developing Master Leasing and Development Plans for areas where intensive new oil and gas extraction is anticipated so that other important natural resource values can be fully considered prior to making an irreversible commitment to develop an area;
* Leadership in identifying areas where new oil and gas leasing will occur. The bureau will continue to accept industry expressions of interest regarding where to offer leases, but will emphasize leasing in already-developed areas and will plan carefully for leasing and development in new areas.
BLM Director Bob Abbey said the increased opportunity for public participation and a more thorough environmental review process and documentation can help reduce the number of protests filed as well as enhance BLM’s ability to resolve protests prior to lease sales.
Of course, anyone who has been around for more than a day or two has seen this sort of wording before and know how to read between the lines. For instance, note the last sentence. “Increased … public participation” means environmental groups opposing such leases will be given much more access to the process. “A more thorough environmental review process” means leases will essentially be held hostage to a review process which could last years. Finally, the “ability to resolve protests prior to lease sales” means the priority will be to make the protesters happy, not those seeking a lease.
The effect, of course, will be less exploration, less production, fewer jobs and more dependency on foreign oil. Given the economic climate today and the country’s energy needs, that’s inexcusable.
As Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute warns:
About 9.2 million Americans rely on the oil and gas industry for their jobs. By imposing these unnecessary additional hurdles, American jobs will be threatened along with the economic opportunities afforded by oil and gas development.
So, instead of safely and swiftly exploiting domestic resources (and creating jobs and increasing revenue) it appears the plan is to sit on an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas offshore, as much as 35 billion barrels of oil in Alaska and the Chukchi Sea, and a massive 2.2 trillion barrels of energy in oil shale deposits in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado while Salazar plays politics with our energy future.
I’m troubled by the unfortunate killing of 7 members of the CIA in Khost province, Afghanistan. How in the world did a suicide bomber manage to get to that many CIA employees in a remote FOB?
Well it appears it was mostly a matter of bad tradecraft – a breakdown in procedures designed to ensure situations like that don’t develop.
First, this was an asset that the CIA had been using to get next to al Qaeda number two Zawahiri. He’d been to the FOB before and, apparently, was promising some information that enticed a number of CIA members to the FOB. That was a major mistake:
Said Bob Baer, a former CIA case officer, “It is sort of a grim calculation but normally when you meet an asset like this you have one, maybe two people. So I think people are going to point out inside the agency that they shouldn’t have 13 people there.”
“Why the officers would show a source all their faces, that alone was a terrible decision,” said one former senior CIA paramilitary operative who served in Afghanistan and requested anonymity when discussing sensitive and classified matters. “This is a sad, sad event, but it was a complete security breakdown.”
Why they felt it was necessary to flaunt security and tradecraft conventions remains a mystery, but frankly, that bit of stupidity didn’t have to be fatal. This bit of stupidity, however, almost ensured it:
Al-Balawi had been to Chapman previously and because of the information he was promising, CIA officers told Afghan guards to allow him past the first of three checkpoints without searching him. The bomber was actually escorted around the checkpoints, and the officers also told the guards to vacate the area, sources told ABC News.
So this combination of flaunting the rules of their tradecraft and security procedures cost them 7 CIA employees and 3 or 4 others associated with them.
In the line of business these people are engaged, complacency kills. Short cuts kill. There’s a reason for the existence of certain procedures, however time consuming and onerous they may seem. The fact that their tradecraft was so blatantly and obviously disregarded is disturbing. And, as you might imagine, the consequences, while devastating, aren’t unexpected.
When you’re dealing in life and death situations where anything is possible, you cannot assume anything. Your “asset” could be just what this guy was – a double agent. The poor assumptions made to put this guy in front of 13 CIA employees are mind boggling. And they make you wonder, given the situation, how well trained these people were in the tradecraft which should have prevented this from occurring, or at least minimized its effect.
Regardless, what you now have to hope is a new emphasis will be made on the tradecraft that should have prevented this situation from developing. But these deaths and why they occurred do not at all reflect well on the CIA – an organization which is supposed to be our finest and most proficient asset for gathering foreign intelligence.
You know, I’m still not sure he gets it.
Mr. Obama – the idea is to get them before they get on the freakin’ airplane.
As we’ve seen – twice now – passengers are capable of taking down would be bombers. If we’re down to air marshals the system has failed – again!
It remains a mystery, to me at least, why closing Gitmo is such a priority to this president. In fact, it seems like it is the only campaign promise he actually plans on keeping, although to this point he’s been spectacularly unsuccessful.
But seriously, other than location, what does closing Gitmo and moving these “detainees” to a prison in Illinois accomplish? Does Obama and the left actually believe that doing so will kill jihadi propaganda about the prison in Cuba which they claim is used as a recruiting tool?
“Make no mistake,” he said. “We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al-Qaeda.”
Realistically, all the jihadis will do is change the name to the new prison and it will be recruiting propaganda as usual. Do you think they really care where their fellow terrorists are held? Of course not – the propaganda value isn’t in the place, its in the fact that they’re “suffering under the power of the infidel”. Whether that “suffering” takes place in Cuba or Illinois is absolutely irrelevant to them.
And the Obama administration can run the best prison in the world, but the propaganda they seem so worried about will still characterize it as a infidel hell hole and torture chamber. The depth of naivete necessary to believe that closing Gitmo will solve some sort of perception problem throughout the world and hurt jihadi recruiting is rather disturbing when you consider who it is that supposedly believes it. In fact, the only thing I see this closure of Gitmo bringing is the expenditure of more money we don’t have for no apparent gain – not that government isn’t quite good at that anyway.
Today we learn that 20% of those poor goat herders who were innocently swept up in Iraq and Afghanistan have engaged in terrorist activities after their release. And we’ve supposedly kept the really bad one’s. Wasn’t the fact that they were terrorists the reason we stuck them in Gitmo to begin with? So, if we now stick them in Thompson Correctional Center and keep them “indefinitely” without trial if it determined that is necessary (as promised by President Obama) how does TCC become any different in the eyes of jihadi’s (or, for that matter, the rest of the world) than Gitmo?
The short and simple answer is, it doesn’t. All of that is a smoke screen. In fact what the move does accomplish is to transfer the terrorists from military control and custody to civilian control and custody and, by the way, into the US legal system – the real reason, I believe, behind the desire to close the Cuban facility.
You see, you can’t help it – becoming obese I mean. You just don’t understand enough about it all and besides our life styles have changed quite dramatically in such a way that you just can’t help puffing up. And to top it all off, you won’t change your eating habits and you won’t exercise, so what’s a government to do?
Why “stringently regulate” the food industry, per the “experts”, of course.
The point to this depressing analysis, the authors say, is to clarify that modern lifestyles contribute significantly to obesity and that it will be nearly impossible to reverse obesity trends on a grand scale without major societal changes.
“[S]mall changes in lifestyle would have a minor effect on obesity prevention,” they write. But the huge energy imbalance most Americans experience is “far beyond the ability of most individuals to address on a personal level.” Instead, they say, changes in the food supply and social infrastructure and more stringent regulations of the food industry will be needed.
Katan elaborated in an e-mail: “Studies show that even the most motivated, thoughtful, strong-willed people have a hard time losing weight when huge portions of cheap, tasty, convenient food are available at every turn of the road, and when walking and other forms of exercise are superfluous or impossible.”
“Cheap, tasty, convenient food” that’s readily available?!” What is this world coming too? How dare the food industry create food we want!?
But since Martijn B. Katan of the University of Amsterdam, and Dr. David S. Ludwig of Children’s Hospital, Boston have decided there isn’t much we’re able to do about it our selves (poor little helpless proles) and since we’re about to turn our health care over to government anyway, what the hell – let them decide what’s good for us, okay?
And we’ll all get nifty buttons to wear saying “WON” for “Whip Obesity Now!”. Can daily pep talks on a huge screen from our Big Brother in the White House be far behind?
The New York Times carries a story today that is chock full of irony and hypocrisy and frankly, pretty darn funny.
Seems the Cape Wind Project – you know the “green energy project” proposed for the waters off the liberal enclaves of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard – has run into even more resistance. This time it’s “spiritual”.
Indian tribes, who said the 130 proposed wind turbines would thwart their spiritual ritual of greeting the sunrise, which requires unobstructed views across the sound, and disturb ancestral burial grounds.
The tribes — the Mashpee Wampanoag of Cape Cod and the Aquinnah Wampanoag of Martha’s Vineyard — sought the listing last fall, shortly before a final federal decision on the project was expected. The project has been in the works since 2001 and is strongly supported by Gov. Deval Patrick.
Of course, for the Mashpee Wampanoag of Cape Cod, the area that the wind turbines would be is south of them. So it seems rather doubtful that it would thwart their requirement for an “unobstructed view” across the sound – and frankly that sounds pretty fishy to me to begin with. I can just see an ancient dictum handed down through the generations which ends with “… and the view must be unobstructed”, can’t you?
Of course that caveat would probably apply more readily to the Aquinnah Wampanoag of Martha’s Vineyard, where the 24 miles of wind turbines might obstruct their view – if the sun has begun rising in the northeast now. Hey with global warming, I guess anything is possible. But if the Wampanoag look due east, where most of us expect the sun to rise, no problem according the map accompanying the article.
But, of course, now that these folks have been enlisted to raise objections, it’s just not the liberal NIMBY types protesting this. We’re into real, honest to goodness desecration, by gosh. And the fact that the Aquinnah Wampanoag’s land is on the west side of Martha’s Vineyard is just not relevant to any of this. We have Native Americans complaining for heaven sake!
And, they’ve revealed, those are their ancient sacred grounds that the evil corporation wants to build their turbines on (wow, how convenient, no?). Yeah, they’re underwater and have been for hundreds and hundreds of years, but they’re pretty sure that’s where they were before the waters rose (ancient global warming brought on by burning excessive buffalo chips) and the grounds should be left undisturbed.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar set a deadline of March 1 for the tribes and the project’s developer, Energy Management Inc., to reach a compromise.
If they do not — a distinct possibility given the acrimony surrounding the project — Mr. Salazar can decide the project’s future himself after seeking suggestions from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent group. But even if Mr. Salazar lets the project move forward, the park service finding could help the tribes and opponents build a legal case against it.
So let’s review – if you polled the liberal enclaves of Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, you’d most likely find overwhelming support for “green, renewable energy” and a desire to see that sort of energy source developed and deployed post haste. Well, except in their back yard. Because aesthetics are much more important than renewable energy and they’ve paid a lot of money for the views they enjoy. They still want that “green renewable energy”, but they’d prefer it be stuck in places like Texas and off the coast of South Carolina where people have the aesthetics of (sniff) NASCAR fans.
Yup, every time I hear about the liberal commitment to “green renewable energy” I’m drawn back to this controversy. And it recalibrates my thoughts about their real commitment, or, actually, apparent lack thereof. Obviously what is good enough to be plopped in front of your view of the sunrise is not something they’ll tolerate, whether green and renewable or not.