Friday, August 21, 2009

"Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"

The ObamaCare debacle is in danger of becoming a full-fledged train wreck. Charlie Cook, a moderate Democrat described by some to be one of the best political handicappers in the business, has a shrill note of warning for Obama & Co. (as reported by Politico):
Reviewing recent polling and the 2010 election landscape, Cook can envision a scenario in which Democratic House losses could exceed 20 seats.

"These data confirm anecdotal evidence, and our own view, that the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and Congressional Democrats. Today, The Cook Political Report’s Congressional election model, based on individual races, is pointing toward a net Democratic loss of between six and 12 seats, but our sense, factoring in macro-political dynamics is that this is far too low," he wrote.
That's a big deal. 20 seats wouldn't be enough to take control of the House from the Dems, but it would make it almost impossible for them to shove Liberal legislation through like they have this year. The Blue Dogs would have much greater influence, which would probably mean that legislation coming from the Left would tend to be less Leftist. That would be a very good thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mindless nonsense, and the people who follow it

One of the biggest drums the Left is beating these days concerning health care reform is that the entrenched interests -- Big Pharma, insurance companies, doctors, and hospitals -- all oppose it, with only the saintly government left to work on behalf of the people. It seems to just be assumed by nearly all Liberals that this is the case.

Not surprisingly, it's completely wrong.

Case in point: I was debating this very issue with a Liberal friend of a friend earlier today. He insisted that the above-stated interests obviously and inveterately oppose reform. He even sent me this Washington Post article on the issue as unanswerable proof of his argument. Not only that, but he playfully lambasted me for getting my (obviously biased) facts from Fox News (a curse word among Liberals, but it's the only remotely honest news network left these days).

The funny thing was, the article he sent me supported absolutely none of his arguments. In fact, it explicitly supported mine. I stood in awe of his obliviousness, and could only respond with the very words of the article he linked to. Here was my response:
"Of the $52 million spent so far [on ads regarding health care reform], [Campaign Media Analysis Group] calculates that the largest share -- $23 million -- has come from groups advertising broadly in favor of overhauling the health-care system".

"The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America organization has joined the nonprofit group Families USA to spend about $4 million airing an updated version of the iconic 'Harry and Louise' ads, but this time the couple is calling for passage of reform. The drug industry group has more advertising planned for this month."

"America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group representing insurance companies, is running ... [an] ad ... 'supporting bipartisan reforms that Congress can build on.' ... Karen Ignagni, AHIP's president and chief executive, said ... AHIP will remain focused on spreading the message -- via the existing ad campaign and other efforts -- that the group supports reform."

Yep, sure sounds like they oppose reform to me.
I mean, think about it. How blindly sold-out to a position must you be to use an article that offers clear evidence disproving your argument, and not be joking? (I suppose this guy could be joking. I hadn't thought of that -- though, from our conversations it seems very unlikely. That would at least make him a reasonable human being, instead of a Liberal dittohead automaton.)

The fact is that just about all of the relevant special interests have bought into the general framework of the health care reform bills in Congress:
  • Insurance companies (whom Obama double-crossed by vilifying them after promising to play nice) get a mandate that everyone must buy their product. (Sure, they have to cover everyone, but so what? It would be like the government requiring GM to cap their car prices at $15,000, but then ordering everyone to buy a GM car. The company would make out like gangbusters.)
  • Big Pharma ensure that drug prices aren't cut.
  • Hospitals and the AMA (and other professional associations) ensure that the current care provision and payment dynamics will pretty much stay the same.
  • The ABA ensures that massive malpractices suits won't be limited.
All this to say that the rhetoric about special interests orchestrating opposition to ObamaCare is -- for anyone who cares to actually look into this issue -- spectacularly, obviously wrong.

As an aside, the above conclusion also puts the lie to the Left's condemnations of "Astroturf" opposition. The opposition to ObamaCare is Of the People and By the People, because all the entrenched interests on on the side of ObamaCare. There's no one left on the Right to install the Astroturf: they're all to busy tending the grass or laying down sod.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gone too Favre this time.

So Brett Favre's officially a Viking. Most of the football talking head universe is rejoicing. Minnesota fans seem to be generally hopeful.

I'm disgusted. Brett Favre? Gag me with a spoon.

The man is the biggest freaking prima donna behind center today. He's well past his prime. Talking heads who worship the ground he walks on have in their minds the Brett Favre of 8-9 years ago: the 30 year-old Brett Favre who was one of the 5 best QBs of all time. Unfortunately, this Brett Favre is the 39 year-old version, and he's a washed up journeyman living off of his past glory. He's almost like the Kevin Costner of the NFL.

I suppose that comparison is a bit unfair to Favre, a 3-time MVP and the all-time leader in touchdowns and passing yards (and interceptions). Costner made a few good films (The Untouchables, Field of Dreams, and [if you have trouble distinguishing a chick flick from a sports film] Bull Durham), one excellent film (Dances With Wolves) ... and that's it. He followed that up with a series of clunkers, but somehow his name was always bandied about with the Pacinos and DeNiros during the 90s.

Similarly, Favre put up 7 decent or good years ('92, '94, '98, '01, '03-'04 '07), 3 excellent years ('95-'97), and 8 sub-par or crappy years ('93, '99-'00, '02, '05-'06, '08). He was personally responsible for killing his team's chances at least twice in the postseason (his 6-pick game against St. Louis in '01 and his inexcusably lame duck overtime interception against NY in '08), he lost at least a dozen games over the past 8 years or so by gambling on throws, and he single-handedly killed the NY Jets' '09 season (part of the reason they only kept him for 1 year). As time has gone on, his gambling has gotten worse -- along with his skills. His ego, however, has never been bigger.

Members of the Jets have gone on record saying that Favre's oversized ego and prima donna habits sabotaged last year's team. Members of the Packers have described Favre's anti-team habits (like requiring his own private dressing room) and the negative effect they had on the team over the years. We've seen how his increasingly shoddy play lost games for Green Bay and the Jets.

Despite all this, Favre is still largely lionized by the sports media. John Madden had a massive man-crush on him (which he partially transferred to Tom Brady towards the end of his career). Most color commentators and sports casters do too. Favre can do no wrong for them.

Witness ESPN's Keven Seifert, who praises the Viking's signing of a washed-up Favre by saying that the model Minnesota was pursuing -- a hellacious defense, a superior running game, and a game-managing QB -- doesn't win championships. Someone should tell the 2000 Ravens, the 2002 Bucs, the 2006 Steelers, and the 2008 Giants about that -- I don't think any of them got that memo. (This is the kind of nonsense that Favre-worship leads otherwise-intelligent-and-competent reporters to engage in.)

Unfortunately -- despite the hero-worship of the Kevin Seiferts of the world, Favre will do a lot of wrong for the Vikings. Minnesota needa a competent QB who knows his limitations and will work within the system to succeed. Favre fulfills the first condition, but manifestly fails the last two. The one thing we know about Favre is that he doesn't -- that he can't -- work within any system that doesn't allow him to gamble. We saw that in Green Bay under Mike McCarthy and Mike Sherman. We saw that in New York last year. We will see that in Minnesota this year. Count on it.

My new favorite quote

Taken from this article on "death panels" that would be inevitable under ObamaCare:
Free people can treat each other justly, but they can't make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end. --Andrew Klavan

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Europe: our past and our future

Mark Steyn discusses a new book by Chris Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West. Their words, while pertaining to Europe, speak to our situation in the US.
[D]ecades of multiculti squeamishness have stripped us even of a language with which to discuss the subject. What benefit is it to France or French taxpayers to fund Islamic welfare imams? To pose the question is to miss the point. If you believe in mass immigration, you do so because it’s a talisman of your own moral virtue. [Emphasis mine -- PHG] If the economic argument for immigration is reductive even when it’s not plain deluded, the psychological one is not to be disdained. On the one hand, mass immigration is the price posterity levies on old-school imperialists: “They are here because we were there,” as they say in the Netherlands. But, if like Sweden you never had an imperialist bone in your body, they’re still here: “They are poor because we are rich.” And, if you’re a small urbanized nation like the Netherlands, the “challenge” of immigration is just the usual frictions that occur when people from the countryside—in this case, the Moroccan countryside—move to the cities.

So it’s the consequence of your urban planning, or your colonialism, or your wealth, or just plain you. We’ll blame anything rather than confront the central truth—that when an old, relatively unicultural society admits in a short space of time a large, young, fecund population from somewhere else, you are setting in motion a process of transformation. Caldwell asks the obvious question—“Can you have the same Europe with different people?” and gives the obvious answer: no. “Europe is not welcoming its newest residents but making way for them.”

"If you believe in mass immigration, you do so because it's a talisman of your own moral virtue."

Hauntingly true words, those.

They remind me of a discussion I had with two friends a while back about this issue. Both of them are dyed-in-the-wool Liberals and, as is often the case with such folks, pretty strong America haters. We were talking about the issue of immigration, and I was making the case that the US has no obligation to let anyone in at all. They disagreed, citing America's long history of growth through immigration. I asked them, point blank, if they thought America has the right to control its own borders -- like literally every other country in the world does. Neither of them hesitated in telling me "No."

America as a nation is unique in world history. It's a country unified in part by a set of principles and ideals, not just on a culture. But it has a culture, and before the '60s Americans expected all visitors to acclimate themselves to that culture. That stopped being the case in 1964, however, and since then the massive waves of immigration have lacked the raison d'etre of previous waves. Instead of people coming to America to become Americans, as in the past, we have people coming to America to be Mexicans or Dominicans or Haitians. America the country is disintegrating. To people like my friends, however -- who view massive immigration as an end in itself that requires no justification -- this state of affairs is positive.

In Europe, we see the results of such thinking that are much further along than they are here. We are being warned. Will we heed the warning?

How the tune changes

During the '08 election, the Obama press corps -- er, the press -- lauded Obama for his rational, post-partisan style and waxed rhapsodic about the change he would bring to Washington.

Less than a year later, how the tune has changed.

Newsweek, part of the Obama administration's unofficial Dept. of Propaganda, has joined other Democratic voices urging the Dear Leader to act more like George Bush -- that is, to eschew bipartisanship and shove legislation down Americans' throats. Obama shouldn't care about bipartisanship, says Newsweek, because bipartisanship doesn't exist.

Not surprisingly, Newsweek blames Republicans for this state of affairs. Bipartisanship isn't really possible today, says the article, because "moderate" Republicans don't exist anymore. The GOP lurched to the far right while the Democrats basically stayed in the mainstream.
Since the early 1970s, Democrats have drifted only slightly leftward. But thanks to realignment and redistricting—the practice of slicing the electoral map into ever more politically homogeneous districts—a 2003 Republican House member with a voting record at the median of his party was about 73 percent more conservative than his Nixon-era counterpart.
Part of the reason the Dems "have drifted only slightly leftward" since the 1970s, as Newsweek claims, is that they were so far left to begin with. If they'd gone much further they would have all become card-carrying Communists (instead of just settling for being unofficial honorary members). And the Propaganda Dept. engages in some dishonest sleight-of-hand, making redistricting seem like a mainly conservative phenomenon. Gerrymandered House districts have indeed become one of the biggest problems in Congressional reform, but the phenomenon has benefited incumbent Dems at least as much as GOP incumbents. Good luck getting the Propaganda Dept. to cop to that, though.

And it gets even better, because there's a second tune-change in this article. 10 years ago, Democratic news rags like Newsweek praised Bill Clinton for reversing the Dems' hard-Left lurch under party leaders like McGovern and Dukakis, making them viable again, and bringing them into the mainstream -- the mainstream being where Republicans mostly resided (as evidenced by their success in presidential elections and the stunning Gingrich Revolution). These are the same Republicans that Newsweek implied were increasingly outside of the mainstream during that time period.

You've got to love patent dishonesty.

Glen Beck is right: there's no real difference between mainstream news outlets and liberal blogs, especially under this administration.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Should John Paul II be canonized?

I have to say, this is the first article I've read that answered that question in the negative. And quite strongly so.

Calling John Paul II's papacy "a glorious failure", Eric Giunta says
Though Catholics and others are loathe to admit it of an otherwise beloved Pope, John Paul II oversaw a church which deteriorated in both its inner and outer life. His callous indifference toward the victims of priestly sexual abuse in refusing to meet personally with a single one of them, and his stubborn refusal to compel the resignation from office of any of the bishops who aided, abetted, and covered-up the abuse, are testamentary to his utter failure: not as a Catholic or a theologian, but as a Pope. ...

After John Paul II, the Catholic Church is virtually indistinguishable from the Anglican Communion. Everyone has their seat at the table, liberal and conservative, high church and low. The "official" teaching of the Church may lean toward religious conservatism, but this is just one option out of many which a loyal Catholic may avail himself of and remain in good standing with his Church.

I'm not a very old Catholic -- I joined the Church in 2004 -- but Giunta's points hit home for me. I have a huge amount of admiration for John Paul II, in terms of his personal story and his promulgation of the Theology of the Body. But some terrible things happened -- or continued -- on his watch, and the way he handled many of them was far from good. Can the Church canonize him in light of such a performance? That's a very good question.

I love Jonah Goldberg

I don't always agree with the man, but when he's on, he's on:
Imagine you’re in charge of bringing pie to a company picnic. You’re planning to provide dessert for 100 people. Then, your boss says you need to hand out pie to 150. Fine, you say, I’ll make more pies. But — oh no! — you can’t, because you’ve also been told costs must go down. Okay, then you can cut slices of the existing pies smaller so everyone can have a piece. Wait! You can’t do that either, because you’re not allowed to ration (i.e., give less to more).

According to Obama, the health-care pie will be sliced into more pieces, of equal or greater size than available now, for less money — all because government is so much better than the private sector at managing large projects.

Such contradictions run through the talking points for Obamacare. ...

[E]very nationalized health-care system to one degree or another rations care based on the quality of life and number of “life years” a procedure will yield. That’s perfectly reasonable. If you put me in charge of everyone’s health care, I would do that, too. That’s a really good argument for not giving me — or anyone else — that power.
Preach it, Brother J.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The reason for the outrage

People get outraged when they think that you're trying to change things that are important to them without getting their input or thinking that doing so is in any way important. Such has been the case with the public's increasing anger and outrage over ObamaCare.
However uncivil some of the town-hall interruptions have been, the palpable irritation on the part of so many disgruntled citizens is not only an expression of political opposition to a particular policy but a bubbling over of resentment at the feeling of general powerlessness. At every turn, the Obama administration has attempted to fast-track an immensely complex piece of legislation, ensuring that a transparent national debate is impossible and that even our legislators remain ignorant of the details of any proposal. ... Obama has tried to create the illusion that debate is dangerous, given the exigency of the current crisis, and unnecessary, given the solid public consensus. ...

The conspicuous contradiction embedded within Obama’s political program is between his populist embrace of consent and his technocratic dismissal of it: The former presumes the prudence of common sense; the latter rejects it as radically untutored.
And the latter, in any regulatory state, always wins. It's one of the reasons why the Jeffersonian maxim that the government that governs best is the one that governs least is -- in a world full of fallen, sinful human beings -- so true.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama and the White Americans: Greatest Hits

Lawrence Auster does a great job of gathering the quotes that seem to describe our Dear Leader's opinions about those of us covered in a whiter shade of pale.
The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure.... The earth shook under my feet, ready to crack open at any moment. I stopped, trying to steady myself, and knew for the first time that I was utterly alone.
--Obama's reaction when he learned that the man who had accosted his grandmother and of whom she was frightened was a black, Dreams from My Father, 1995 (quoted by Steve Sailer)

... a typical white person. ...
--Obama, speaking about his grandmother, March 2008

... they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
--Obama, speaking about Pennsylvania voters, San Franciso fundraiser, April 2008

Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.
--Obama, about arrest of Henry L. Gates for disorderly conduct, press conference, July 2009

But I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking.
--Obama, speech, McLean, Virginia August 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stasi, version 2.009

Funny how an election can lead to a shift in morals.

If George Bush's head of communications had asked citizens to turn in people they thought unsympathetic to Medicare prescription drug reform or Social Security reform, the Left would have gone ballistic. And rightly so. (Of course, if folks in the Bush administration had actually asked anyone for permission before spying on them, that would have been an improvement.)

When the head of Obama's New Media department asks citizens to spy on each other related to health care reform, though, it's not a problem.

Hmmm ... Interesting.

Mark Steyn puts it better than I could.
DISSENT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF PATRIOTI- . . . No, wait, that bumper sticker expired January 20. Under the stimulus bill, there’s a new $1.3 trillion bills-for-bumpers program whereby, if you peel off old slogans now recognized as environmentally harmful (“QUESTION AUTHORITY”), you can trade them in for a new “CELEBRATE CONFORMITY” sticker, complete with a holographic image of President Obama that never takes his eyes off you. ...

So, on Monday, the official White House website drew attention to the alarming amount of “disinformation about health insurance reform.” “These rumors often travel just below the surface,” warned Macon Phillips, Chief Commissar of the Hopenstasi . . . whoops, I mean White House Director of New Media, “via chain e-mails or through casual conversation.” ...

“Since we can
t keep track of all of them here at the White House, were asking for your help,” continued Commissar Phillips. “If you get an email or see something on the web about health-insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to” ...

Reporting dissent is the highest form of patriotism! Is your neighbor suspiciously “well-dressed”? Is he mouthing off about cancer-survival rates under socialized-medical systems while wearing a cravat? Give us his name, and we’ll give you his spats!
And from the Left ... nothing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Glen Beck rules.

He called Obama out for being racist. The media has excoriated him. He has refused to back down.


My take on Obama's "the Cambridge police acted stupidly" statement is that Obama didn't carelessly blunder. He just let his self-control slip. He let the curtain covering his real personality slip aside for a moment. He sat still for 20 years listening to Fred Phelps' -- er, Jeremiah Wright's -- hate-filled sermons about how white people are bad and black people are good. This was because, at some deep level, he agrees with Rev. Wright's take on the world. In other words, he agrees with racist, anti-white propaganda.

The man is too slick, too charismatic to actually blunder like this. Especially in the middle of such a crucial news conference. His comments completely overshadowed his other statements on health care. I'm sure he regrets having made those comments, but I have to believe that he realizes that it wasn't a result of him being stupid. It was a result of him being honest.

He made a similar mistake during the campaign when he talked about rural whites who cling to their guns and religion because they're bitter. That wasn't him mispeaking -- that was him speaking accurately about his real beliefs. His self-control slipped and he got off-message, as it were.

He was honest.

Well, fortunately for me, so is Glen Beck.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Listen, I don't have problem with the White House playing political hardball with health care reform. I don't. I strongly disagree with their positions, but they're doing the rough and tumble politics thing and that's what you have to do to get your way sometimes.

Can we please, then, jettison all the talk about Obama bringing any kind of change to DC? He's a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal from the Chicago school of corrupt, backroom political brawling. That's what he is. Please, Liberals and dupes -- er, Obamacons -- just admit this and let's move along.


What Would France Do?

That's what a lot of folks in the pro-national health care crowd are asking. France, they claim, has squared the health care circle and found ways to cover everyone adequately without exploding costs.

Not so fast.

France claims it long ago achieved much of what today's U.S. health-care overhaul is seeking: It covers everyone, and provides what supporters say is high-quality care. But soaring costs are pushing the system into crisis. ...

In recent months, France imposed American-style "co-pays" on patients to try to throttle back prescription-drug costs and forced state hospitals to crack down on expenses. ...

And service cuts ... are prompting complaints from patients, doctors and nurses that care is being rationed. That concern echos worries among some Americans that the U.S. changes could lead to rationing.

The French system's fragile solvency shows how tough it is to provide universal coverage while controlling costs, the professed twin goals of President Barack Obama's proposed overhaul.

How does France's system work?
French taxpayers fund a state health insurer, Assurance Maladie, proportionally to their income, and patients get treatment even if they can't pay for it.
Sounds simple enough.
France spends 11% of national output on health services, compared with 17% in the U.S., and routinely outranks the U.S. in infant mortality and some other health measures.
Even better. What's not to like?
The problem is that Assurance Maladie has been in the red since 1989. This year the annual shortfall is expected to reach €9.4 billion ($13.5 billion), and €15 billion in 2010, or roughly 10% of its budget.
Oh. I see.

So France's national health care system is leading to either a tyranny of the bureaucracy -- where Ayn Rand's "aristocracy of pull", not people's willingness to pay or a doctor's recommendation, determines who gets care -- or national bankruptcy.

Why are we supposed to be so hot to adopt national health care, again?