Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

The House Health Care Vote

It’s over. And it has been over long enough so my gag reflex doesn’t automatically kick in when I think about it.  Democrats managed a close “victory” (I don’t consider it a victory for the American people at all, thus the scare quotes) which included one misguided Republican (what a surprise).

Before I talk about it further, there’s an “Irony Alert” in full swing for the irony-impaired leftists who took great joy in touting NY-23 as a Republican civil-war and party purge. They’re are now doing the same sort of thing concerning the 39 Democrats who voted “no” on Pelosi’s monstrosity (and those that voted for the Stupak amendment).

Back to the bill: I make no bones about it – it is a bureaucratic, bank-breaking monstrosity that still will leave millions uninsured and put those who don’t want to play Pelosi’s game in jail – literally.

Additionally, it will cost much more than the Pelosi smoke-and-mirror act is claiming. Sen. Judd Gregg says it will be about 3 trillion over 10 years. I’ve seen reports from other organizations saying 2 to 2.5 trillion. Donald Marron lays out his argument with a handy dandy chart for 1.3 trillion. Once caveat to his analysis – his chart shows the “doc fix” at “$0” dollars. That’s because they plan to pass the $250 billion dollar doctor buy off in a separate bill so it’s not included in the 894 billion faux cost they’re trying to sell. That brings his 1.3 up to 1.6 trillion. The point, of course, is no one is buying the Pelosi figure.

Bottom line – it won’t be anywhere near the supposed deficit reducing 894 billion they claim. And when the front-loaded 500 billion in new taxes begin to hit (well before the program takes effect) there’s going to be a whole lot of political hell to pay especially if it kills the recovery.

That said, the Senate still has to pass its version for this to go anywhere, and with a vote that close in the House, the preliminary betting is against passage in the Senate. And besides, Harry Reid couldn’t organize a one-man parade.

But I think Doug Mataconis, borrowing a line from Star Wars, summed up last night’s vote on the bill and then applause that followed the best – “So this is how freedom dies – to thunderous applause.”

~McQ

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East Germany’s Gone – Boo Hoo

You have to read this one to believe it.  Bruni de la Motte, a child of the GDR, tells us how hard life has been for her since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The irony is that while she tries to convince of all that was good and wonderful about her former homeland, she never mentions the fact that if she’d have written a whine like this while a citizen of the GDR we’d most likely not even know she ever existed.  Nothing like romanticizing a terror state.

Anyway:

On 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down I realised German unification would soon follow, which it did a year later. This meant the end of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the country in which I was born, grew up, gave birth to my two children, gained my doctorate and enjoyed a fulfilling job as a lecturer in English literature at Potsdam University. Of course, unification brought with it the freedom to travel the world and, for some, more material wealth, but it also brought social breakdown, widespread unemployment, blacklisting, a crass materialism and an “elbow society” as well as a demonisation of the country I lived in and helped shape. Despite the advantages, for many it was more a disaster than a celebratory event.

The demonization of the country? It had demonized itself for decades. It had to build a freaking wall to keep people in. Not only in Berlin but around the entire country. But of course the political elite suffered far fewer depredations than did the rank and file citizenry. They could complain about the West’s “crass materialism” because, for the most part, they could get most of what they wanted. For the rest of the citizenry, not so much. However, there was no “blacklisting” in the GDR – she’s right about that. Instead, people just disappeared. And I’m sure she was very pleased with the order brought by the Stasi and the fact that spying and reporting on your neighbor was a national pass time.

Ah the good old days.

She rambles on for a number of paragraphs ending with this:

Since the demise of the GDR, many have come to recognise and regret that the genuine “social achievements” they enjoyed were dismantled: social and gender equality, full employment and lack of existential fears, as well as subsidised rents, public transport, culture and sports facilities. Unfortunately, the collapse of the GDR and “state socialism” came shortly before the collapse of the “free market” system in the west.

Of course there was no social equality – Ms. de la Motte belonged to a powerful elite. Gender equality still exists but you’re graded on your merit, something she appears not to appreciate at all. And full employment was a farce to say the very least. If they lacked “existential fears” then they must have been members of the Stasi because the rest of the country had an abiding existential fear of the state secret police. And of course, not understanding that the “free market” hasn’t “collapsed”, one can’t expect her to understand that her “subsidized rents” etc, are precisely what led to the collapse of “state socialism”.

Yes, the late and unlamented (except for the elite who benefited from its existence) GDR is dead.

Cry me a river.

~McQ

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Say Anything Radio Tonight

For anyone who might be interested, Rob Port of Say Anything Blog has graciously invited me to co-host his radio show tonight. It will be airing from 7-9 PM Central time, and can be heard on Ustream and can be seen right here (allegedly):

Tonight’s topics will include the Pelosi health care bill, the elections this week, the Fort Hood tragedy, and my post on Corporatism v. Capitalism. If you desire, you can call into the show toll free at 888-598-8464. Hope to hear from some of you all.

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Separation Of Church And State – Except When It Suits Us Otherwise

Tell me how else I should interpret this?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops delivered a critical endorsement to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday by signing off on late-night agreement to grant a vote on an amendment barring insurance companies that participate in the exchange from covering abortions

For other than political reasons, why even involve the USCCB? I mean I’m sure they were more than happy to comply given abortion is anathema to them, but God help them if they try putting a nativity scene on the US Capital grounds. It’s not that I blame them for taking the opportunity to influence legislation to conform with their religious belief. My question is why isn’t the secular “keep the church out of politics or we’ll have a theocracy” left screaming its bloody head off?

It’s because they’re a bunch of unprincipled hypocrites whose only real desire is the accumulation of power by any means. By Christmas, they’ll be back to their old “ban that stuff” selves (and more than likely hinting, if not outright saying, that every Catholic priest is a pedophile), just watch.  But for right now, it’s just peachy keen to have those Catholic bishops weighing in on secular legislation.  Yessiree Bob.

~McQ

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How Can Anyone Be This Clueless?

I‘m not sure, but Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs manages it very well:

“I will continue to say what I’ve said before. You hear in this debate, you hear analogies, you hear references to, you see pictures about and depictions of individuals that are truly stunning, and you hear it all the time. People — imagine five years ago somebody comparing health care reform to 9/11. Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler.

Hopefully we can get back to a discussion about the issues that are important in this country that we can do so without being personally disagreeable and set up comparisons to things that were so insidious in our history that anybody in any profession or walk of life would be well advised to compare nothing to those atrocities.”

I’ll again point you to the pictorial compendium at Zomblog which covers protest signs from the past 8 years (yes Mr. Gibbs that includes 5 years ago) in which “somebody walked around with images of Hitler”. I have no idea where Gibbs was then, but he is truly representative of the “history began January 20, 2009” crowd. Thin skinned and clueless will make for a tough 4 years.

Mary Kathrine Ham has more here to include a reminder of a recent invoking of the Holocaust by Democratic Representative Alan Grayson when talking about the GOP’s health care plan.

~McQ

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Ft Hood: I Think This Is About Right

Steven Taylor says it:

It strikes me at this stage that trying to generalize from this event about a particular class of persons is no different than taking the Oklahoma City Bombing and assuming that because a right-wing white male was the perpetrator that there ought to be some blanket assumptions that could automatically be made. Or, perhaps a better analogy, those who have tried to blame things like abortion clinic bombings or anti-gay violence on conservative Christianity. In the absence of an actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence, the responsibility for an event like this falls squarely on the shoulders of the person who engaged in the violence, and blaming others (based on religion, ethnicity or anything else) is blatantly unfair.

And yet, people are making wild assertions about the event, as if we really can know much of anything less than 24 hours after the event.

I’m not saying that there isn’t an “actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence” (I don’t know), but until and unless that can be proven, it seems to me that the same broad brush we all condemn when, as Taylor points out, people try to make the same sort of unfounded assumptions about “right-wing” groups, etc is being used by some in this case.

Sometimes a nut is just a nut. And I think we all agree this guy is an absolute scumbag.  But, in reality, given what happened today in Orlando and what we know about Hasan, you could argue that we have seen two disgruntled employees who happened to be mentally unstable try to settle their scores with lethal violence. Unfortunately we have a long and rich history of such events.  We call it “going postal” from all the incidents of disgruntled postal employees shooting up their places of work.

Bottom line? Let’s not make more of this than it is until we have more proof. And no that’s not being politically correct – it is being factually correct.  If he’s a radical Islamist jihadi directed by an al Qaeda master (or some like scenario), then I’ll be the first to point that out and condemn it.

But at the moment, he seems more like a nutjob who went over the edge and acted out violently. Until I learn more about him and what caused him to do what he did, I’ll continue with that tentative conclusion. Because that’s the only conclusion supported by the evidence right now.

That said, my heart and prayers are with the victims of his rampage. And a special word of thanks to Sgt. Kimberly Munley who heroically stepped into harm’s way and an insane situation and ended it with a few well places shots. She was wounded in both legs and her hand. I wish her a speedy and complete recovery so she can be up and about to testify when they try this scumbag and send him to his just reward.

HT: Below The Beltway

~McQ

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About That AMA Endorsement

Yesterday President Obama took time out of what one would presume was a busy day to tout the fact that the AMA and the AARP had endorsed the latest House version of health care reform.

But it appears that some of the rank and file are none too happy with the endorsement. In fact many are quite upset that the endorsement was made prior to their meeting in Houston this weekend. There are moves afoot to introduce resolutions at the meeting to rescind the endorsement.

Former AMA president Stormy Johnson is preparing a resolution to rescind the endorsement, sources said. And the surgeons are introducing a resolution that would call on the AMA to actively oppose any legislation that includes a public option or a temporary doc fix or that doesn’t include medical malpractice reform.

A number of state associations are also upset with the AMA’s endorsement.

And, of course, not mentioned by President Obama were two doctor’s associations who came out opposing the legislation:

In fact, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons announced their opposition to the House bill today.

“Sadly, in the ongoing health care reform debate, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We could not support H.R. 3200, the ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,’ which was introduced in the House last July and unfortunately, we must now oppose this new House bill too. It contains no significant changes or improvements when it comes to the issues we believe are vital for true health care reform in this country,” said AANS president Troy Tippett.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the AMA’s meeting, but it appears, given the turmoil this endorsement has stirred, that the significance of the AMA’s endorsement should be taken with a grain of salt.

[HT: Abigail R.]

~McQ

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White House v. FOX News 2.0

Apparently, instead of backing off of its ill-advised attack on FOX News (there was word of a truce), the White House seems to have decided to kick it up a notch – by using intimidation tactics:

At least one Democratic political strategist has gotten a blunt warning from the White House to never appear on Fox News Channel, an outlet that presidential aides have depicted as not so much a news-gathering operation as a political opponent bent on damaging the Obama administration.

Political consultants are a staple of cable television talk shows, analyzing current events based on their own experiences working on campaigns or in government.

One Democratic strategist said that shortly after an appearance on Fox he got a phone call from a White House official telling him not to be a guest on the show again. The call had an intimidating tone, he said.

The message was, “We better not see you on again,” said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to run afoul of the White House. An implicit suggestion, he said, was that “clients might stop using you if you continue.”

In urging Democratic consultants to spurn Fox, White House officials might be trying to isolate the network and make it appear more partisan.

I’m not sure how anyone can be surprised by such tactics. No one is surprised when a jackal acts like a jackal are they? Then why should anyone be surprised when an Alinsky trained Chicago politician acts like an Alinsky trained Chicago politician?

The White House, quite naturally, denies that any of this is happening.  But one Democrat is confirming it:

But Patrick Caddell, a Fox News contributor and a former pollster for Democratic President Jimmy Carter, said he has spoken to Democratic consultants who have been told by the White House to avoid appearances on Fox. He declined to give their names.

Caddell said he had not gotten that message himself from the White House. “They know better than to tell me anything like that,” he said.

Caddell added: “I have heard that they’ve done that to others in not too subtle ways. I find it appalling. When the White House gets in the business of suppressing dissent and comment, particularly from its own party, it hurts itself.”

Suppressing dissent and comment? Say it ain’t so!

This “hope and change” is good stuff – let freedom ring!

~McQ

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Some Good News Among All The Bad

It looks like the looming Copenhagen Climate Summit is shaping up to be a bust:

British officials preparing for next month’s UN summit in Copenhagen said the best that could be hoped for was that national leaders would make “political agreements” on emission cuts and payments to help poor countries to adapt to climate change. These agreements would be non-binding, however, and could later be revised or rescinded by national parliaments.

[…]

The admission that no treaty will be signed at Copenhagen marks the failure of the process agreed at a UN meeting in Bali in December 2007, when industrialised countries agreed to deliver a binding climate-change agreement within two years. The delay has angered developing countries, which say they are already suffering from man-made climate change.

No surprise that “developing countries” are angry about this – their opportunity to loot the richer countries has again been delayed. They’re angry because the payday is guaranteed since the “developed” nations have foolishly, in the past, agreed they’re the cause of the problem and should pay the “developing” countries for that.

Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Commission’s negotiator on climate change, said in Barcelona that the absence of commitment from the United States on emission cuts was a key factor contributing to the delay, although other countries were also to blame. He said that without a treaty the EU would agree to cut its 1990 emissions by only 20 per cent by 2020, whereas with a treaty it would agree to a 30 per cent cut.

And they can’t even blame Bush for this one. My question is, if Europe is so hot to trot on this idea, why they don’t take the lead for once and ratchet down their emissions to 30% unilaterally?

I’ll tell you why – because they know what effect it will have on their economy and won’t do anything without being assured everyone is sharing in the suffering.

The one good thing that may come out of this is the economy of Copenhagen may see a nice little economic up-tick as representatives from 190 countries fly in and hit all the posh hotels for a week or so. I wonder what the carbon footprint of that event will be?

~McQ

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Unemployment Hits 10.2% – “Stimulus” Not Stimulating

As President Barack Obama said on Feb. 9 when touting the “stimulus”: “The biggest measure of success is whether we stop contracting and shedding jobs, and we start growing again.”

Well, guess what?  Despite all the happy talk about the end of the recession, unemployment hit 10.2% today.  And, as Dale and others have said constantly, if we were computing it like we did in the ’70s, it would be at 17+%.

So taking the President at his own word, something it seems this administration would prefer everyone not do, it would appears the “stimulus” is still chasing success.

That’s because despite his protestations to the contrary, the the “stimulus” was one, giant earmark.  And it is not having the desired effect despite the bogus “jobs created and saved” numbers.

In fact, the reality of the situation is not at all good as the BLS noted in their press release today:

The number of unemployed persons increased by 558,000 to 15.7 million. The unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage point to 10.2 percent, the highest rate since April 1983. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 8.2 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 5.3 percentage points.

And as for those “shovel ready projects” the “stimulus” was supposed to target?

The unemployment rate for the construction field keeps mocking those “shovel-ready” promises: Another 62,000 jobs in construction lost last month, with the average at 67,000 jobs lost per month for the last six months.

The solution? Watch for it – a second “stimulus”, something Paul Krugman has been whining about for months. Any guess what it would look like if it happened? Well the fact that this “stimulus” was used to track radioactive rabbit feces and subsidize golf cart purchases should give you a hint.

By the way, where is “Sheriff Joe” with his policing of the “stimulus” money and calling out those who are wasting it? Overwhelmed by the job, I guess.

Finally there is the economy killing legislation – health care which is front loaded with taxes and cap-and-trade which will raise the cost and price of everything – which the Democrats are determined to pass.  Yup – they’ve got a real handle on this, don’t they?

~McQ

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