Something to consider.
During the presidential election campaign, candidate Obama said, about re-importing drugs from foreign lands that cost less:
“We’ll tell the pharmaceutical companies ‘thanks, but no, thanks’ for the overpriced drugs—drugs that cost twice as much here as they do in Europe and Canada,”
Democratic senators got a bit closer to passing health care reform last night, but not without first voting down a controversial proposal that would have allowed for the direct importation of prescription drugs, a cause many of them once pushed for.
Supporting the measure might have broken a deal the White House made with drugmakers—they’d support the overhaul efforts if the administration didn’t push them to give up more than $80 billion in revenue—and yesterday Obama pushed Democratic senators not to let small issues get in the way of passing the health care legislation.
So. As progressives will be glad to point out, “Big Pharma” wins. Well, yes and no. Essentially what happened is the status quo was left intact here in exchange for Pharma not dumping billions in opposition to health care. It’s a bribe. And something libertarians and the right need to understand is big business has no qualms or problems whatsoever going into cahoots with big government if they can help write the legislation to protect themselves or hurt their competition. In this case, it was a matter of self protection. And, unsurprisingly, Obama went along with it despite his promise not too. I only point out the fact that he completely flipped on the subject as a matter of record, not that it is particularly surprising or unexpected.
More disturbing is the highlighted sentence. That’s the quarterback calling an audible at the line. Pass anything, we’ll add to it or fix it later, but get something passed into law immediately.
Which brings us to the point of the ‘rhetoric v. reality’ part of this. The rhetoric will say “we’re dropping the Medicare buy-in and the public option”. Reality –and history (see SCHIP)- says that passing something called health care without them only means that they’ll do so to get a law on the books, and then you can count on them attempting again to pass both a further Medicare buy-in and the public option.
Their aim is a single payer system – by any means necessary.
If I were at all amenable to the climate change arguments and felt there was a need to reach an agreement concerning greenhouse gas emissions, I’d still be embarrassed by what is going on in Copenhagen right now. According to the Politico, it appears to be “to be imploding from within and exploding from without on Wednesday.” Protests are turning violent outside and rhetoric is heating up inside (I wonder how much CO2 they’re contributing with their tantrums and tirades?).
But of course, the spin is there are “green shoots” in the talks:
Despite the gloom, U.S. officials told POLITICO they made incremental progress in a variety of areas during marathon sessions Tuesday night and cautioned that all previous climate conferences have experienced similar turbulence. And late Tuesday, negotiators announced a major breakthrough on a deal to preserve wetlands and forests.
Translation: They come to an agreement on how to take your property rights away in the name of “saving the planet”.
Of course that’s not the purpose of the conference, is it (although “progressives” will be happy with just about any collectivist control they can manage out of this, I’m sure)?
On Tuesday, Hedegaard made an emotional appeal for countries to put aside their differences to finalize a deal — after the G-77 bloc of developing nations accused her of trying to ram through an agreement amenable to the U.S. and other big industrialized nations.
But no sooner had Rasmussen assumed the presidency than those tensions burst out in the open again, with China, India, Bolivia, South Africa and Sudan saying they would block attempts by the Danish delegation to produce a draft text favored by most Western countries.
Minutes after taking the gavel, Rasmussen angrily denounced developing countries for seeking to delay consideration of the text, accusing them of focusing on “procedure, procedure, procedure.”
He was immediately rebuked by a representative of China, a member of the G-77 bloc, who said moving forward too quickly was tantamount to “obstructionism” and a bullying attempt by the West.
“I think the matter isn’t ‘procedure, procedure, procedure.’… You can’t just put forth some text from the sky,” the representative said.
Someone should caution the representative from China that using such language isn’t wise – it might remind others that since the “science” is “from the sky” there’s no reason that the language can’t also be from there.
Anyway, as you can tell, Politico’s characterization of “chaos in Copenhagen” isn’t far from the mark. The “developing world” isn’t seeing the type of long term cash pay-off developing as they’d like and the industrialized nations, assuming they learned from Kyoto, aren’t really amenable to hard target emission reductions. And the result is – well the UN displaced to Copenhagen. Sound and fury, but little to show for it. And we still have the circus of world leaders showing up for the final grip and grin to go.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll has some poll numbers which has to have the Obama White House concerned:
Fifty percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of the president’s work overall, down 6 points in the last month; nearly as many, 46 percent, now disapprove. On the economy, 52 percent disapprove, a majority for the first time. On the deficit, his worst score, 56 percent disapprove.
Such numbers aren’t unexpected; Ronald Reagan, in similar economic straits, dropped to 52 percent overall approval at this point in his presidency. But it’s not just the economy: Fifty-three percent also disapprove of Obama’s work on health care, and the public by 51-44 percent now opposes the reform package in Congress – both more than half for the first time in ABC/Post polls.
Despite the attempt to temper the plunge in approval by claiming that Ronald Regan had similar numbers in overall approval, this doesn’t feel like the Ronald Regan era. In fact, it feels more like Regan’s predecessor’s era of governance – leaderless. If Obama shows up on TV in a sweater telling us to turn down the thermostat, you’ll know precisely who I’m talking about.
But consider that in just a month in which he made his Afghanistan speech (which supposedly gave him a small bounce) and accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, he managed to lose 6 points in approval. The approval rating speaks to an overall feeling of satisfaction with his performance. And, as has been asked ad nauseum, he can give a pretty speech, but what has he really done?
Now this is a double edged sword. Frankly I don’t want him to do what he’s said he wants to do so technically I should be approving of his job performance. As long as he stays ineffective and impotent, I “approve”. Which means, some of his disapproval comes from those who want to push the aggressive “progressive” agenda they believe he’s behind and are disapproving of the fact that nothing has been done in almost a year of complete power in Congress and the White House.
The point, of course, is to note that his “disapproval” rating is just as soft as his “approval” rating and could change in a heartbeat. But this is an interesting snap shot that I think says more about his leadership, or lack thereof, than anything.
Economically, the numbers may be a little harder than the overall approval rating. You don’t have to be a PhD to know that economically things aren’t good and despite all the happy talk, really aren’t getting much better. So 52% disapproval isn’t unexpected. But, with the dip in his personal approval rating, it indicates that the public is beginning to hold him responsible for the condition of the economy. The drop in approval and the majority disapproval on the economy signal that Democrats and Obama no longer have George Bush as a convenient fall guy.
Another reason for that is found in the “deficit” number, where 56% disapprove. That number is strictly and obviously a product of Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration. 787 billion “stimulus”. 1+ trillion omnibus spending bill. Raising the debt ceiling by 1.8 trillion. All Democrats, all the time.
His lack of leadership has also had an effect legislatively (although obviously the in-fighting among Democrats hasn’t helped their case either) where a majority oppose Obama’s overall health care effort and the specific health care legislation Democrats are trying desperately to push through Congress as we speak.
This could all change within a few weeks or months. But I just don’t see it happening. Some people know how to lead. Others know how to build coalitions. And others know how to charm their way into positions of power. Essentially Barack Obama is a charmer who recognized a once in a life time opportunity where the stars lined up for someone like him to grab for the brass ring of the presidency without having to have any other qualification than meeting the age requirement in the Constitution. He took it and he won. And that says something about both him and the celebrity worshiping public that elected him, which is a subject for another post.
As someone who has been in leadership positions all my life and has professionally assessed leaders for over 20 years, I can say without equivocation, that Barack Obama is not a leader. At best he’s a coalition builder and he’s been rather poor at that as well. However he’s a man who has always reached for the next rung in the ladder and obviously enjoys the trappings and perks of the offices he holds. But again, looking back on his life, what has he really done? What has he really ever accomplished? What has he led?
To some, I’m sure, these numbers come as a surprise. I’m not sure how. They are, to me, a portrait of the person those of us who kept noting his lack of experience and accomplishment painted before the election. I expect the numbers to go down even more. He’s not a leader and I don’t expect one to emerge while he’s in office. I certainly hope the nation wakes up and recognized that “hope and change” were really “hoax and change” and make the man a one-term president. We can’t afford him, in many ways, for 8 years.
From Lord Monckton, as he takes apart climate alarmists:
The fact is, they’re crooks. That’s what they really are. I call them the traffic light tendency. They call themselves green because they’re too yellow to admit they’re really Reds.
It’s at about 8:25 in the video. But watch the whole thing, even though it’s about half an hour. It’s worth it if you want a no-holds-barred slamming of the climate Cassandras. Charts and graphs included, no extra charge.
Copenhagen has settled into what can only be characterized as an embarrassment for those who had hoped to see a historic treaty limiting greenhouse gases signed.
World leaders — with Gordon Brown arriving tonight in the vanguard — are facing the humiliating prospect of having little of substance to sign on Friday, when they are supposed to be clinching an historic deal.
Yesterday, a bloc of third world nations walked out of the negotiations in a squabble about the lack of legally binding emissions targets for the richer countries. And, of course, the squabble about how much of the wealth to transfer to the developing countries continues to be a contentious subject.
Last night key elements of the proposed deal were unravelling. British officials said they were no longer confident that it would contain specific commitments from individual countries on payments to a global fund to help poor nations to adapt to climate change while the draft text on protecting rainforests has also been weakened.
Even the long-term target of ending net deforestation by 2030 has been placed in square brackets, meaning that the date could be deferred. An international monitoring system to identify illegal logging is now described in the text as optional, where before it was compulsory. Negotiators are also unable to agree on a date for a global peak in greenhouse emissions.
Meanwhile, Al Gore managed to embarrass himself in Copenhagen as well:
Mr Gore, speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, stated the latest research showed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free in five years.
In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”
However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.
“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”
Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.
Or, in common parlance, what Mr. Gore used was a SWAG (a “Scientific” Wild-Assed Guess). In fact, given the CRU scandal, much of AGW “science” is now considered a SWAG.
The good news is Copenhagen is shaping up to be a “disaster.” I put disaster is scare quotes because for those of us who’ve fought this nonsense for so long, “disaster” is a good thing.
Instead of the American public being thrown under the bus, it looks like the wheels are coming off the bus. You have to wonder what will meet Obama when he shows up on the 18th.
Despite all the happy talk from the Fed about its ability to manage the money supply and wring the excess out of the economy at the proper time, avoiding inflation, when and if the economy ever takes off, is going to be a lot tougher than advertised. And we’re beginning to see rumblings that inflation is trying to find it’s footing:
Inflation at the wholesale level surged in November, reflecting price jumps in energy and other products.
The bigger-than-expected increase is certain to get the attention of Federal Reserve policymakers beginning a two-day meeting on interest rates.
The Fed has been able to keep interest rates at record-lows to bolster the shaky recovery, but if inflation pressures begin to mount, the central bank could be forced to start raising rates sooner than expected to cool the economy and keep prices in check.
That’s the trade-off: raise interest rates to hold off inflation. The tricky part is knowing how much to raise them to do that without killing the recovery. And, with the massive amounts of cash pumped into the system, I’m not sure that’s possible. Which means it is probable, at some point, that the Fed is simply going to have to make a choice – inflation or high recovery killing interest rates. My guess is they’ll choose the latter (while the politicians holler foul and try to spend more money). That’s why many don’t see economic recovery in the cards any time soon despite the “green shoots” so many politicians continue to spot among the economic ruin of the present economy.
I‘m sure this will come as a surprise to someone out there – like our State Department and perhaps the CIA:
Confidential intelligence documents obtained by The Times show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb.
The notes, from Iran’s most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.
Yup, four years after the world bought off on the claim by Iran that it hadn’t been doing anything in the nuclear weapons area. “It’s for peaceful purposes”? In the future schools of foreign policy will use this particular situation as a case study in how a small state manipulates the most powerful nations of the world at will.
“Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application,” said David Albright, a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, which has analysed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Iranian programme. “This is a very strong indicator of weapons work.”
A “strong indicator?!” It is weapons work, Mr. Albright! Why are these people so loathe to say that?
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said yesterday: “We do not comment on intelligence, but our concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme are clear. Obviously this document, if authentic, raises serious questions about Iran’s intentions.”
No. It doesn’t. It answers questions about Iran’s intentions! For goodness sake, the dance continues, doesn’t it?
You remember the NIA that was produced in 2007?
A 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate concluded that weapons work was suspended in 2003 and officials said with “moderate confidence” that it had not resumed by mid-2007. Britain, Germany and France, however, believe that weapons work had already resumed by then.
And it appears they were correct. So now what?
The fallout could be explosive, especially in Washington, where it is likely to invite questions about President Obama’s groundbreaking outreach to Iran. The papers provide the first evidence which suggests that Iran has pursued weapons studies after 2003 and may actively be doing so today — if the four-year plan continued as envisaged.
It shouldn’t just invite questions about Obama’s Iran agenda – the whole world continues to be played for a sucker by Iran. But it is ironic that this president who has made nuclear non-proliferation a priority of his administration is all but allowing Iran to develop them.
Is this a casus belli as one expert claims? Or will we see more diplomatic ring-around-the-rosy with tough talk and the usual non-action?
Given the history, I think that about covers it, don’t you? I wonder what the over/under in months is before Iran is welcomed into the nuclear weapons club?
You know, sometimes I think Joe Lieberman does this sort of stuff just to remind his Democratic Senate colleagues about the fact that they deserted him during his last run for office in favor of Ned Lamont.
In a surprise setback for Democratic leaders, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, said on Sunday that he would vote against the health care legislation in its current form.
Of course it would be nice to know what that “current form” is, but Harry Reid and the Democrats are keeping that a secret. However, details have leaked out, and, additionally, Lieberman pretty well laid out his objections:
“You’ve got to take out the Medicare buy-in,” Mr. Lieberman said. “You’ve got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit.”
Class Act refers to a federal insurance program for long-term care, known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act.
Mr. Lieberman said he would have “a hard time” voting for a bill with the Medicare buy-in.
Of course, the removal of those three items guts the Reid compromise and it also would move the Senate version of reform further and further away from the House bill, making the ability to reconcile the two, assuming the Senate passes something, much harder.
Lieberman isn’t the only Democrat not happy with the plan. Sen Ben Nelson, an abortion foe, has reservations about the abortion provisions and is not at all a fan of the Medicare buy-in either:
Mr. Nelson said he wanted to know the cost of the Medicare buy-in. “I am concerned that it’s the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option,” he said.
Of course he’s absolutely correct – such a buy-in would indeed be the forerunner of a single payer system. And a single-payer system is the worst thing that could happen to this country when it comes to health care. It certainly won’t “improve it” or drive down cost (as Medicare’s unfunded trillions in future liabilities shows).
This leaves Reid with few choices, thankfully. Of course Lieberman offers his own bit of advice:
“We’ve got to stop adding to the bill. We’ve got to start subtracting some controversial things. I think the only way to get this done before Christmas is to bring in some Republicans who are open-minded on this, like Olympia Snowe.”
Senator Snowe, of Maine, has tried to find common ground with Democrats, but has rejected Mr. Reid’s proposal to let uninsured people 55 to 64 years old purchase coverage under Medicare.
Assuming Senate Democrats could put something together that would satisfy Snowe (whatever that would take would most likely also satisfy Lieberman), she would be the 60th vote (unless they were also able to satisfy Nelson, in which case she’d be 61) and make it “bi-partisan”.
Funny how Snowe is touted as “open-minded” by Lieberman when it comes to supporting and enabling a huge government takeover of a large chunk of the private sector economy. That’s a reminder to those on the right to look at Lieberman as some sort of hero that at heart he really is a liberal with a love for big government. He just wants to use this opportunity to get his version of “big government” in place, not someone else’s.
That said, I really hope he can stall this (or, hope of hopes, kill it completely) until well into the new year. The closer it gets to the 2010 election with some polls showing upwards of 60% of Americans against this legislation, the less likely we are to see it passed.
In a previous post, I talked about Dr. Judith Curry from Georgia Tech. She believes that there is a case for human caused global warming. But, as I noted, she doesn’t think there’s a case for shoddy science and believes that CRU emails show serious problems are likely with the data produced there.
Roger Pielke, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, could in no sense be described as a climate change sceptic, let alone a ‘denier’.
‘Human-caused climate change is real, and I’m a strong advocate for action,’ he said. ‘But I’m also a strong advocate for integrity in science.’
Pielke’s verdict on the scandal is damning.
‘These emails open up the possibility that big scientific questions we’ve regarded as settled may need another look.
‘They reveal that some of these scientists saw themselves not as neutral investigators but as warriors engaged in battle with the so-called sceptics.
‘They have lost a lot of credibility and as far as their being leading spokespeople on this issue of huge public importance, there is no going back.’
Or to those trying to wave away the scandal and pretend this isn’t “any big deal” it is you who are in denial now. As you can tell, ethical scientists disagree completely.
The quote is from a must-read article in the UK’s Daily Mail in which we’re shown why, via some blowups of the CRU’s data, one way inconvenient data was omitted (literally – it wasn’t graphed because it showed a marked cooling trend rather than a warming trend – so they left it out).
Also found in the article was this little nugget:
Critics such as McIntyre had been ‘after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone’.
Yesterday Davies said that, contrary to some reports, none of this data has in fact been deleted. But in the wake of the scandal, its reliability too is up for grabs.
Really? So where is it and why hasn’t it been produced by now?
Russian secret service agents admitted yesterday that the hacked ‘Warmergate’ emails were uploaded on a Siberian internet server, but strenuously denied a clandestine state-sponsored operation to wreck the Copenhagen summit.
Read the whole article – there is some excellent info in there and some more detailed analysis of the CRU emails.