Economy Archive

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2014 Musings….

2014-2015-calendar-hero

Some random thoughts on the year that has passed…

  • Personally, an excellent year, on all fronts.
  • For the country…not so great.  At the very least, it was troubling to watch a country attack its men on the thin blue line, instead of working with the police force to make reforms to better us all.  It was disturbing to watch many supposedly intelligent people on the left fall into the trap of believing emotions before facts.  And most troubling, it is worrisome that our leaders, especially the President of the United States, appears not to have any type of learning curve, as he proposes to make his old mistakes all over again.
  • 2014 was a horrible, no good, terrible year for liberalism, and as a corollary, President Obama and Democrats.  More and more of their views of the world, as is, was discredited.
  • On foreign policy, ISIS proved Obama’s view of the Middle East was incorrect from the beginning; and he appears to be ready to repeat the same mistake in Afghanistan.
  • On the economy, we continue in our relatively stagnant path.  You know things are bad when Democrats are celebrating sub-3% GDP growth; things are better, but that is a poor barometer when millions remain out of work and out of the workforce all together.
  • On many basic issues (police use of force stories, Keystone pipeline, voter ID/intimidation, minimum wage) liberals continue to hide from basic facts and reality, to the detriment of all.
  • The biggest success story for Democrats was Obamacare; and even that comes with caveats.  The easy part of the program, delivering relatively free Medicaid benefits to millions of poor, is largely over.  On the other hand, they are largely failing on making the exchanges more affordable for the middle class.  Premiums are not increasing (a trend that has been going on now since 2004, before Obamacare was even a dream) but that doesn’t mean the pricing pressures have gone away.  In fact, there is some evidence it is getting worse.
  • Republicans had a very decent year.  They had no major detrimental scandals, for the most part.  They carried out their plan for the midterm election, and brought it successfully to fruition, even though they were outspent in many cases.  The increased majority in the House, and the retaking of the Senate, was a major coup, and all honest assessments will admit they did pretty much as well as they possibly could have.
  • I didn’t bother to do a movie review this year…because I saw so few movies.  I will say that I loved Guardians of the Galaxy and the Winter Soldier.  The X-Men movie, as well as the Hunger Games sequel were solid.  Other than that, not many movies impressed me much this year.
  • On the TV front, we continue to see the golden age of geekdom.  Whether it is the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Agents of Shield, Arrow, The Flash…you are living in the golden age of science fiction and fantasy. Enjoy it.
  • For 2015, I doubt politically we will achieve much.  I think the GOP is going to propose (and likely pass) a fair amount of decent legislation; Obama will simply obstruct. I think Obamacare will muddle along, with many of the same problems, and a host of new ones (especially the IRS rules that are impending).  On foreign affairs, things will get worse with ISIS, because Obama isn’t serious about confronting them; Iran will come a year closer to the bomb; and our other enemies will largely ignore the US.
  • Economically, I do believe we are improving.  But that improvement will continue to be asymmetrically targeted to the 1%.  The rich and upper middle class are continue to do quite well, as stocks and real estate surge and rebound.  The rest of the country, sadly, will continue to lag.  Obama’s policies will continue to widen the wealth gap, as it has done since the beginning of his presidency.
  • On the sports front, looking very much forward to watching how Jim Harbaugh leads the Michigan Wolverine football team.
  • 2014 was a mundane year for movies; the same cannot be said for 2015.  Avengers: Age of Ultron, the final Hunger Games, Fantastic Four, Jurassic World, James Bond’s SPECTRE, Terminator: Genisys, Ant-man, Minions, Mission: Impossible V, Ex-Machina, Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Disney’s Tomorrowland…a fantastic list, all culminating in the king of them all, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  My kid is giggling in glee for a movie that won’t come out for a year; that should tell you all you need to know.
  • 2015 looks to be a banner year on many fronts.  I wish all of you the best of luck in the coming year.
2

Persons Of The Year: The Tea Party Movement

It was the spring of 2009 when the Tea Party movement made its first impact.  Just weeks after Barack Obama took office, the public was already stirring.  After Congress passed a huge stimulus, and had promised to pass a budget with the largest deficit in U.S. history, the grassroots movement of the right and of disaffected independents started to take shape.  All through 2009, they fought the huge Democrat majorities from passing Obamacare, and were able to successfully kill off the public option.

In January, spurred by the support of the Tea Party, Republicans were able to elect Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts…supposedly to be the 41st vote against Obamacare.  However, that would not be enough.  In February, Democrats were able to successfully pass their $1.5 trillion health care program through reconciliation, and against the opinion of the majority of Americans.

That was the final catalyst for the Tea Party to truly gain strength and momentum.   After almost a year of trying to convince the governing party that their health care policy was too extreme for the bulk of the nation, Democrats simply ignored them, and went against the wishes of a significant majority of the population.

Conventional wisdom from the left at the time was that the Tea Party would fade into oblivion.   However, they did not disappear.  Far from it.  Instead, they refocused their sights to the 2010 elections.  If they didn’t have the power to reform the entire country in a single move, then they would start with reform of their party.  Although not always successful, clearly the results were satisfactory.  2010 gave Republicans their largest gains since 1994, and significantly moved both Houses of Congress to the right.

When picking a person of the year (or in this cases persons of the year) one has to look at their large scale impact on society.  Within the United States, no movement or group has had the impact that the Tea Party has had over the past 20 months.  One could argue that they have done the impossible…and have successfully moved Barack Obama to the middle (well, maybe not the middle, but let us say, less far left).  They have given the Republican party focus that it had completely been lacking since the 2008 elections; some would argue that focus had been missing for much of the past decade.

If the Tea Partiers are able to keep Republican’s feet to the fire, and force them to make difficult decisions on spending, the deficit, and maintaining a small but efficient government, their power and influence will be greater than anyone else for the year 2010.

2

2010 Predictions…A Look Back

So you can see my predictions of the year 2010 here, if you wish.  My 2010 predictions weren’t too bad…but in hindsight, I have to say that I have outdone myself.  Regular typeface is my original prediction, and bold is my current commentary…

  • President Barack Obama will sign a health care reform bill…but not until well after the State of the Union, and only with a lot of difficulty.  Democrats will fight another civil war on the public option, taxes, abortion, and illegal immigrants.  CORRECT!
  • Democrats will try for a third stimulus, in which Obama will try to focus on tax cuts, but progressives in the House will push him to spend more on government programs.  CORRECT!  ASSUMING YOU ARE COUNTING THE CURRENT TAX BATTLE.
  • Obama’s Budget Director forecasts a 4.0% growth rate next year…the rate of growth will be much less, closer to 2.5% for the year.  SO FAR, ACCURATE.
  • We will see narrowing of job losses in the beginning of the year, but some of it will be smoke and mirrors as the government hires 700,000 temporary workers to carry out the 2010 census.  By the end of 2010, the overall rate of unemployment will still be in the double digits.  CLOSE.  WE ARE SLIGHTLY UNDER 10%.
  • The stock market will have a mediocre year, rising 7-8% to around Dow 11,300 by the end of next year.  Businesses, however, will again be profitable.  Hiring will start in earnest in the end of 2010.  NOT BAD…THE DOW IS UP ABOUT 8% FOR THE YEAR.
  • The Federal Reserve, in a bid to halt inflationary pressures, will increase Fed rates by middle of the year.  The dollar will actually gain value…and gold will stabilize or drop in price.  However, oil prices will rise to around $100/barrel.  WRONG.  THE FED IS STILL TRYING TO FLUSH MONEY INTO THE SYSTEM.  OIL IS AROUND $80.
  • Legislatively, Democrats will have greater and greater difficulty in passing anything.  Cap-and-trade, immigration reform, and card check will all die an ignoble death.  TRUE.
  • Obama’s attempts at budget deficit control will go to naught, as Democrats fight among themselves over which they should do:  tax increases or budget cuts.  Ultimately, nothing will be done, and the deficit for 2010 will be around $1.5 trillion…or about the same as 2009.  In other words, matching the largest national yearly deficit in world history.  CORRECT!
  • Almost nothing will get done by Congress, as Democrats (not Republicans) will virtually bring the legislature to a standstill.  FALSE.  REPUBLICANS STOPPED MOST EVERYTHING, TO THEIR CREDIT.
  • By summer, Tea Party protests will be ravaging the nation, as the protesters fight for control of the Republican Party.  Conservatives will be pitted against moderates, and in most races, the conservative will triumph; for example, Rubio probably will oust Crist in Florida.  Democrats will giggle in glee, remembering the outcome of NY-23.  But who has the last laugh?  ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY CORRECT!
  • Obama’s poll numbers will stabilize in the spring, as unemployment numbers artificially are leveled off.  However, as the year progresses, and unemployment stays in double digits, Obama’s popularity will drop below 40%.  As time goes on, Obama will be blamed more and more for the economy, and his laying the blame with the prior administration will sound more and more like whining.  FALSE.  ALTHOUGH MUCH IS TRUE, OBAMA’S POPULARITY HAS LEVELED IN THE MID-FORTIES.
  • Republicans will gain 8 Senate seats.  I will be more specific in my 2010 election prediction article, but briefly I predict Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New York to flip (I know, I am an optimist).  I predict Republicans will pick up 40 seats in the House, just short of the majority, but will try to entice additional Blue Dogs to switch parties.  It will be that close.  2010 will be a historic landslide, ala the Second Republican Revolution.  NOT BAD!  REPUBLICANS GAINED 6, NOT 8, SENATE SEATS.   AS FOR CONGRESS, I WAS CLEARLY PESSIMISTIC, AS THE GOP PICKED UP 63 SEATS…BUT CORRECT ABOUT THE LANDSLIDE!

As for my ever pathetic sports predictions:

  • Alabama will defeat Texas for the BCS Championship.  CORRECT!
  • The San Diego Chargers will finally break through and win the Super Bowl.  NOT QUITE.
  • Kansas Jayhawks will win the NCAA Basketball championship.  NOPE.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins will repeat as NHL Champions; the L.A. Lakers will repeat as NBA championships in a classic series over the Boston Celtics.  LAKERS CORRECT, PITTSBURGH NOT SO MUCH.
  • The United States will finish 3rd in the medal count at the Olympics.  WAY TOO PESSIMISTIC!
  • The Red Sox will outduel the Yankees, and win the World Series.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.
  • O.K., my ‘homer’ picks were horrendous last year.  Here we go:  The Pistons will miss the playoffs, and get the 8th pick in the Lottery.  The Red Wings will lose in the 2nd round of the NHL playoffs.  The Tigers will miss the postseason once again, this time by 5 games.  The Lions…who cares; I am a Redskins fan!  The Skins will get Mike Shanahan as coach, dump Jason Campbell as QB, and will draft Sam Bradford with their first round pick, which will guarantee that he will be a major flop in the NFL.  And my beloved Michigan Wolverines will get back to a bowl…but only an average one.  FRANKLY, NOT BAD, NO?

Oh, and of course, the obligatory JibJab piece:

4

Looking Toward 2010…

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The Republicans are out in the wilderness, maybe more so than any time since 1964. At that time, Democrats dominated Congress, and Lyndon Johnson had destroyed conservative icon Barry Goldwater.  But, in four short years, Republicans slowly staged a comeback.  The same can be said of 1992, when Bill Clinton defeated George Bush with majorities in both houses of Congress. by 1994, Republicans had taken Congress for the first time in 40 years.

Off year elections are always a boon to the out party.  Only once in the last 50 years has the party that held the White House gained seats in the off year election, that being in 2002. Unless the Republicans are totally inept (a possibility, I admit), they should be able to gain seats in the next go around.

It is always hard to predict how the opposition is going to do in off-year elections. But this year…this year has been insane.  The Democrats are trying to set-up a huge defeat next year, and every day that goes by, it seems to get worse for them and better for us.  You almost have to thank Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi for their neverending efforts to help conservatives. Between  Barack Obama’s fumbling of one issue to another, whether it be bailouts, the stimulus, the economy, cap-and-trade, immigration, and now healthcare, has made a Republican comeback more and more likely.

The polls this summer have trended toward Republicans, largely because of the health care debate.  Nothing since the Iraq War has unified conservatives in a common goal.  And with Democrats taking heat on reducing funding for Medicare, seniors are giving additional ammunition to Republicans.

Additionally, 2010 is looking to be a bad year for a party in power.  Obama’s White House had predicted a 3.5% GDP growth rate for 2010 when the Stimulus was passed…now, they are predicting half of that.  They assumed they would get job growth by the end of this year, and that unemployment would peak at 8%.  It is now predicted that unemployment will increase through much of 2010, and peak over 10%.  2.5 million people that Obama initially predicted to be employed next year will in fact be on the unemployment rolls.

The first harbinger of bad omens for the Democrats is the upcoming 2009 New Jersey and Virginia governorship races.  These races are always pointed to as predicting future trends.  Whether you take 1981, 1993, or 1995, they  pointed to the opposition picking up big wins in the off-year election cycle.  In one sign of the reconfigured landscape, Republican candidates lead in the polls in this fall’s closely watched gubernatorial elections. In New Jersey, where first-term Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine trails his challenger by double digits, a far-reaching corruption investigation has led to the resignation of one member of Corzine’s Cabinet and insider speculation about whether Corzine should be replaced on the ticket in November by a more viable Democratic nominee.  A new SurveyUSA poll of the Virginia gubernatorial race finds Republican Bob McDonnell leading by 15 points over his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds.  that is the largest lead yet in that race.  If the races finish anywhere clost to that…it will be a dismal election night for Democrats.

The first question is, can the Republicans retake the House of Representatives?  The answer is simply no….well, that is an overstatement…more like very unlikely.

Stuart Rothenberg has an excellent piece on this. Yes, the Republicans can pick up seats, but…

Yes, Republicans have plenty of opportunities in good districts following their loss of 53 House seats over the past two cycles. And yes, there are signs that the Republican hemorrhage has stopped and even possibly that the party’s fortunes have begun to reverse course.

But there are no signs of a dramatic rebound for the party, and the chance of Republicans winning control of either chamber in the 2010 midterm elections is zero. Not “close to zero.” Not “slight” or “small.” Zero.

I actually think passage of Obamacare makes picking up 40 or more seats more likely than less.  Democrats have severely underestimated the risk that health care reform could confront them with.  Already, at least 3o Blue Dog Democrat seats will be vulnerable…and if there is a flood, they could all be washed away. A House power change could happen…but you would need all the stars aligned.

The Senate, however, holds some more interesting possibilities.

California: Let us admit it…this is a longshot if there ever were one.  But Carly Fiorina (who is smart, but is just as likely to put her foot in her mouth…she has ‘Joe Biden’ disease) is considering running against Barabara Boxer.  I wish her luck.  Boxer is running only four points ahead currently.

Connecticut:  Chris Dodd will be a major target, especially after his involvement with the AIG mess.  He will have a serious challenge after numerous issues such as his links to Countrywide.  He is also having trouble raising money within his state; a bad sign for a longterm Senator.  Currently, he is running 9 points behind Republican Rob Simmons.

Colorado:  Democrat Michael Bennet, appointed to replace former Sen. Ken Salazar when he became Interior secretary, has little name recognition.  Pete Coors, who almost beat Salazar in 2004, or popular former Gov. Bill Owens would have a serious shot of taking over this seat.  Loretta Sanchez is another possibility as a conservative Latino.

Delaware: Mike Castle appears to defeat Joe Biden’s son by double digits in current polls.

Florida: Charlie Crist right now handily defeats all Democratic opponents.

Illinois – With glorious Roland Burris out the door, Democrats are slightly worried about what should be a guaranteed Senate hold for them.  The Attorney General refused to run for the seat, which leaves the field wide open.  Republican Congressman Mike Kirk has considered running, but hurt himself by supporting the recent Cap-and-trade bill.

Kansas: Reps. Jerry Moran (R-KS-1) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS-4) remain virtually dead even with Moran holding a slight 40-38% advantage.

Missouri: What looked like a vulnerable seat for Republican Kit Bond looks safer and safer.

New York: Kirsten Gillibrand is now beloved among Democrats.  But who could the Republicans run that would really challenge?  George Pataki?  He runs even to slightly better than Gillibrand.

Ohio:  A Republican seat they must hold.  Rob Portman is a strong candidate, going against somewhat lesser known Democrat names.  The current Secretary of State, Jessica Bruner, is likely to be the Democrats choice.  Democrats still hold an edge here.

Pennsylvania:  This was going to be hard for the Republicans to hold when Specter was there.  Now that he has defected, this will be an extremely difficult seat to take over, unless there is a rush of Republicanism in the country.  Pat Toomey, however, appears to be running strong so far.

Nevada: Who would have thought Harry Reid would be fighting for his political life?  But a recent poll shows him even to slightly behind Republican challengers.

Other possibilities, but less likely, are Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.,  Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and of course Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.  All are on shaky ground, but are most likely to hold their seats.  Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will be a tough challenger in New York, and unlikely to lose in the Democratic state, unless someone extremely popular i.e. Pataki were to run, which is questionable.  Illinois, another steadfast Democratic state, of course has Roland Burris; but Democrats would have to be insane not to find someone to replace him, and are likely to hold the seat.  Burris so far has raised $500 dollars for his re-election…not five hundred thousand, mind you, five hundred dollars.  And of course, unless Democrats play p0litics, the Massachusetts seat of Ted Kennedy could be up for a special election in 5 months.  No clear frontrunner on either side of the aisle has yet appeared.

Governorships will also be a major battleground in 2010.  These are harder to predict, largely because local issues often predominate, though it is highly likely that in most states the economy will still be the primary issue of concern.  Democrats will have difficulty in holding many governorships, especially considering they are even at risk in highly Democratic states.

Florida: Rep. McCollum has a small lead.

Iowa - Dem. Gov. Chet Culver is polling in the low 40s…not a good side in this bellweather state.

Massachusetts – Massachusetts Republicans are excited about their latest prospect for the gubernatorial race. Charles D. Baker, a health care CEO, has declared for the race.  The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll had baker trailing Governor Deval Patrick by five points, but holding the governor to 41% of the vote.

New York – David Paterson’s approval numbers have plummeted in New York, and if someone popular (i.e. Rudy Giuliani) were to run, they could pose a significant challenge to the new governor.  Andrew Cuomo is the likely Democrat nominee if Paterson pulls out.

Ohio: Ted Strickland was very popoular, but unemployment numbers have hurt him.  He is still running slightly ahead of Republican John Kasich.

South Carolina: With Mark Sanford out the door, Democrats thought they might have a chance, but it appears that Republicans may quickly close the door.  Frontrunner right now is another Indian-American, Niki Haley.

And although it will be very hard for anyone to challenge Dianne Feinstein if she decides to run for Governor in California, Meg Whitman of Ebay fame would be a serious and powerful challenger in the very liberal state.  And this doesn’t even start to discuss more conservative states like Kansas, who recently lost their Governor to the Obama cabinet.  Sam Brownback is highly likely to take that seat from Sibelius.

In general, incumbents will likely have a hard time in 2010, especially if the economy doesn’t have a vigorous return to prosperity.  Everyone is now predicting that although the economy may rebound later this year, unemployment likely won’t rebound until the middle of 2010.  The timing of the employment rebound will be a critical component to the election cycle.  That bodes well for Republicans, if and only if they are in a position to take advantage of it.

Ultimately, it is doubtful if Republicans can retake the House or the Senate.  Actually, if it happens I would predict both houses would fall, because it would hint at a tsunami the likes of 1994.  Governorships are more likely to fall to Republicans next time around.  In any case, prospects for Democrats holding large majorities after 2010 for Barack Obama to push his policy initatives through seem less likely as we move closer to November 2010.

5

Medicare: The Preamble to the Public Option

c/o Michael Ramirez, IBD

c/o Michael Ramirez, IBD

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/15/AR2009061501545.html

The Health Care debate has been heating up in the last few days.  This week, the CBO estimated that Democrats plan to cover health care will cost, at the low end, $1.6 Trillion…or more than 50% more than Obama has stated.  Another CBO report said that if they implement the Public option, and slowly roll it in, that 15 million of the 45 million people now without insurance could be covered; at a cost of $1 trillion. $1 trillion for a 1/3 solution?  Not much of a bargain for a public option that is supposed to ‘reduce costs’.  And the public is starting to notice.

So when Democrats talk about the ‘Public option’ on medical care, what are they talking about?

Let us simplify it:  they are talking about making Medicare universally available.  They want a similar program to cover people from birth to death.

Here is the problem:  Medicare has no answers to the major problems with our health care system either.

That’s the message of a report yesterday by a commission that advises Congress on the federal medical program for older Americans.  To eliminate wasteful spending, policymakers must transform economic incentives for doctors, hospitals and other providers of medical services — though it isn’t clear how, according to the report.

To illustrate what it might take to save Medicare, the commission describes how primary-care doctors, specialists and hospitals could be reorganized into “accountable care organizations” (commonly referred to as ‘bundling payments’) whose members would receive bonuses if the organizations met quality and cost targets. To ratchet up the incentives, health-care providers that fail to meet cost and quality targets could be penalized, the report says.  Even then, any projected savings would be highly uncertain, the report says. What is certain is that Medicare cannot maintain its current trajectory, it adds:

“If current spending and utilization trends continue, the Medicare program is fiscally unsustainable. . . . Part of the problem is that Medicare’s fee-for-service payment systems reward more care — and more complex care — without regard to the quality or value of that care.”

Yes.  This is the system that Barack Obama wants to bring to your front door.  Some Democrats, including Tom Daschle, are asking Obama to move past the public option for a number of reasons.  Daschle has joined a bipartisan commission called the Bipartisan Policy Center with George Mitchell, Bob Dole, and Howard Baker calling for a much more conservative health care plan…one that is surprising closer to my own health care plan.

Even worse, Mr. Obama is not telling the truth on this issue.  Many groups (such as the American Medical Association and Insurers of America) are against this, because they believe that this will push private insurers out.  Mr. Obama accused people like me of lying about this.  Is he calling liberal Democrat Russ Feingold a liar? Because Feingold has clearly stated that the public option will lead to a single payer system.  I am sorry, but it is not me that is failing to tell the truth.  I ask one simple question:

How many totally independent health care plans are there for people over age of 65?

The answer is none.  Yes, there are some HMOs and others that work with the government Medicare system, and provide care.  But totally independent?  There are none. Why?  Because Medicare has such a price advantage and monopoly, that there is no competition to be had.  Second, the monopoly is like any other monopoly…smaller players have great trouble competing.  Furthermore, once you give a ‘free’ option, who would choose to pay for it?

People will argue that if Medicare is cheaper, why not continue with it?  Simple:  it is not significantly cheaper.  For one, many of the costs in Medicare are hidden costs; the government shows them in other accounting methods, and not clearly within the Medicare system.  Second, health insurers pay corporate taxes, while Medicare dollars don’t.  And since the Medicare fund is going to run out in less than a decade, those tax dollars are essential to the long term funding of Medicare.  Additionally, in some senses private insurance already subsidizes public insurance.  The public systems (Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Affairs Administration) don’t pay enough to meet costs…so those costs are shifted to patients with private insurance.  Ed Morrissey at AIP has an excellent, more detailed explanation of this.

Second, how does Medicare keep costs low?  Easy:  they ration.  They ration care to patients, and ration payments to doctors.  It is estimated that doctors and hospitals only get around 30% of what they bill.  Let me ask you:  if you went to work , and your boss paid you 1/3 of what he said he would pay you, how would you feel?

Oh, and if you don’t think this is an authoritarian?  Listen to this:

Getting doctors to join accountable care organizations may require pressure, MedPAC Executive Director Mark E. Miller told reporters: “If you want people to voluntarily organize, you may want to make sure that the current system isn’t as pleasant a place to be.”

Understand the repercussions.  Doctors already are stretched to the breaking point, even though they make good incomes.  What will they do if you restrict their incomes even further?  They will provide less service.  They have no incentive to provide after hours services, weekend services, etc.  Right now, they do those things because it is financially beneficial for them to do it.  You think hospitals can or will maintain the same level of services they do now, if they get even less funding?  Of course not.  Government officials would like to think physicians would remain static in their actions:  that is a true lie.

So in short, we come down to the simple reality, no matter what name calling Mr. Obama is involved in:  the only way the Mr. Obama’s plan reduces costs is by rationing, one way or another.  That is a fact, Mr. President.

2

Obama’s Regulatory Reform: Who Is John Galt?

atlasjohngalt

Those that have seen my Current Books page know I have been reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  It is long, sometime boring tome regarding the ever increasing power of government, and how federal power can destroy capitalism.

It is scary how similar to reality it is.

Now, I am not saying that Barack Obama is the autocratic monster of Rand’s book.  But, the power he is trying to garner for the Federal Government?  For the first time in my life, I am really getting scared.  And I am not one of those ‘black helicopter’ or ‘new world order’ people.  In fact, I don’t think I have believed in any conspiracy theory in my life.

But I know that I love my country, and fear my government.  And I never felt that fear before.

The governmentpower to take over of banks, financial institutions, and car companies was bad enough.  At least you could see some short term benefit to these things.  Only problem?  Obama’s policy are almost certainly ensuring that these interventions will NOT be short term at all.

The administration’s proposal would give the government the power to take over and wind down a large financial company, a power that government officials lacked last year when the financial crisis was intensifying. It would also give the central bank more powers over the payments and settlements systems in U.S. financial markets to prevent a breakdown that officials fear could destabilize the economy.

But who would control that, and who would provide oversight?  The answer is, virtually no one.

Most of these powers would be entrusted to the Federal Reserve, who by design is required to speak to Congress but ultimately has total independence.  Therefor, the power to destroy large corporations and billions of dollars of value in a country lie in an unelected council with no checks and balances.  One new detail is that any large, interconnected company that the government wants to take over and break up could be pushed into government seizure by the Treasury Department, if certain conditions are met; those conditions, of course, defined by that same government. Once taken over, the companies would typically be run by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but the proposal gives the government discretion to change the way this might work. The Treasury has said these powers were necessary, but the details of how they would work were unveiled for the first time in this proposal.

Sound like Ayn Rand’s world yet?

Here is my problem with all this.  First, there is a system to unwind corporations that have failed:  it is called bankruptcy.  Can anyone name me a corporation that went into bankruptcy that brought down a nation’s financial system?  Anyone?  It is a straw man.  Look, I am not saying that it would cause huge ripple effects, or that the government should not get involved at all.  But giving the government (an absolute power, as far as I can tell) to destroy and take over corporations based on their will is unconstitutional and unamerican.

Let us go back to last fall.  What effect would these regulations have had then?  Well, very likely the government would have stepped in and taken over Citibank, Bank of America, AIG (which they practically did anyway), Wells Fargo, and others.  Let me ask you:  which one of those companies caused the destruction of the U.S. economy?

In fact, all of those banks are on their way to solvency, or are already solvent right now.  So you are telling me, that after the once in a lifetime credit crisis of last fall, that the government needs even more power to handle a crisis that may not again occur in our lifetimes?  And additionally, despite how messsy and wasteful the bailouts and TARP were, didn’t it help us move past the immediate credit crisis?

I believe that we do need better regulations.  Better does not mean more. People without any intellectual drive just add regulation upon regulation.  In actuality, some of the regulations we had need to be thrown out, because they actually made things worsee.  More regulations by itself won’t solve the problem.  However, conservatives must understand that at the same time, the regulatory system is broken beyond repair, and needs to be built from the ground up.  Too many  interest groups have their paws on the regulatory system, which basically make it useless.

The pushback is starting, and starting from the most surprising of places:  Russia.  Vladamir Putin, autocrat extraordinaire, has warned Obama that he will fight any international regulatory system that covers corporations in his country.  Another shock?  Revolt from Blue Dog Conservative/Moderate Democrats. They are starting to feel the heat from their constituents, who are largely conservative and small government in belief.  These Democrats will have an increasingly tough time winning in these districts if they have to support such widening of federal powers.

I am deeply concerned about the federal power growing under this plan.  The power to tax is the power to destroy; but the power to destroy directly?  That is scary.  Oversight and limitations will be critical in this bill.  It must be highly limited, only to corporations about to declare bankruptcy.  If a corporation is profitable at all, the government should not be able to touch them, no matter what their opinion.  It should give the government the ability of oversight of large hedge funds, but should not stymie the investment dynamism of venture capitalists.  And most important, the government powers must have checks and balances.

Without those protections of individual rights, we should all be fearful of this bill.  I know Ayn Rand would.

13

Health Care: How to Control Costs

I am going to try to focus on particular issues within the health care debate, largely because many platitudes are used, but no one gets to the heart of the matter.

Today, President Barack Obama went to talk to the American Medical Association, and talked about how to reduce costs.  And to promote it, he used scare tactics:

“If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM — paying more, getting less and going broke,” Obama told the AMA’s 158th annual meeting.

He is at least open to some of the more conservative proposals, but his allies in Congress are a different story all together.  Additionally, the President said he may consider tort reform, but without any caps.  That defeats the purpose, frankly, and doctors are unlikely to support that.

How far the President will go to push against the liberal left is still to be seen.  Obama however did make a complete misstatement:  that the public option won’t hasten the downfall of private medical insurance in this country.  That is a fact, no matter how much Obama denies it.  Obama can call me a liar to the day I die…but he is still wrong.  Heck, his own HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius said virtually the exact thing in 2007…maybe he should call her a liar as well:

Ultimately, cost, of course, is the biggest problem.  So much so that Democrats are somehow trying to avoid using the CBO numbers…which would be unprecedented.  But the CBO is saying that Obama’s plan as-is would cost $1 trillion…and still not cover 30 million people.  If you wanted to cover everyone, the cost shoots up to $4 trillon.  Yikes.  Additionally, they are using statistics that are outdated, or are totally wrong, thus making the argument even harder.  This is making it very difficult for Democrats to find the votes they need to pass the bill, even in the liberal Congress.

Therefore, cost is the main issue.  You solve this, everything else falls into place.  But let us face some realities right up front.

1. Costs, overall, will increase.

I went into depth on this in my health care review, which can be read here.  But basically, you are going to universally cover health care; so about 40 million uninsured, plus the additional 50 million underinsured. That is 90 million people who are largely not getting full health care coverage today.

Then, you will provide them with full health benefits, preventative care, etc.  Those things are costly, regardless of their longterm benefits.  Thus, upfront there will be an immense increase in health care spending, all things being equal.

2.  The myth of Medicare’s ‘efficiency’

This is a complete fairy tale.  From the Wall Street Journal:  Medicare was created in 1965, U.S. health spending has risen about 2.7% faster than the economy and on current trend would hit 20% of GDP within a decade. Every public or private attempt to arrest this climb has failed: wage and price controls in the 1970s, the insurance industry’s “voluntary effort” in the ’80s, managed care in the ’90s.  Here is how the Wall Street Journal editorializes it, and they are absolutely right:

Medicare is an ocean of money surrounded by people who want some. It is not only an entitlement to beneficiaries, but a de facto revenue entitlement to hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, durable medical equipment suppliers and the rest. Even a tweak to the Medicare fee schedule is the small-scale equivalent of closing a military base or trimming farm subsidies. The system will never be as rational as Mr. Orszag desires unless it is severed from politics.

And one other thing…let us remember that medicare itself does not pay taxes…like private insurers.

3. Information Technology is NOT NECESSARILY going to save money.

This is a farce.  As someone with IT background, IT will cost the American Health Care system billions.  Will it make the lives of doctors easier, and hopefully reduced mistakes?  Sure. I am all for IT for those reasons.  But there is proof that IT advances will increase cost, not decrease them; no proof, other than Obama’s word, has shown otherwise.

4. And above all, you want to control costs, you must ration care.

This is the pink elephant in the room.  Every other socialized health care system openly rations.  Obama is a smart man; he knows he has to, but is not willing to be honest with Americans about it.

This is the real reason our costs are skyrocketing.  We are the greatest innovators in medicine, by far.  About 90% of the medical patents in the world come from here.  Why?  Because we are a Petri dish of innovation.  We try technologies long before they are proven as cost beneficial.  Technology moves at such a fast rate, it would be impossible to test all the devices before implementing them; it would stop medical innovation to a stand still.

And most of the Medicare savings Democrats talk about?  They come directly from rationing of care.

Obama is now facing more pressure to reduce costs, but he is doing it in all the wrong ways.  First, he proposes to slow the rate of increase of hospital reimbursements, which will threaten the already shaky hospital system.  He plans to reduce Medicare payments; for doctors, medicare already pays less than 30% of costs…how many doctors do you think will start to opt out of the system?  Eventually, they will have to, because the reimbursements will be less than their own costs.

In addition, the president is proposing to reduce subsidies for hospitals that care for the uninsured as the number of uninsured falls. That would generate $106 billion over a decade, the White House said. Payments would be slowed beginning in 2013. By 2019, payments would be 25% of what hospitals had received in 2013, updated for inflation.  That may be reasonable, if a full system is implemented.

Obama is keeping his major cost savings hidden…likely because he has no really proposition for the hard decisions necessary to really reduce costs.  Moving dollars from one category to another is not cost savings; it is playing a shell game.  His weekly address on June 12 is an example of how nonspecific he is trying to be:

The New York Times had a fairly good editorial about the failure of doctors to reduce costs as well.  They are right in many ways, but they miss some vital points.   First, most doctors do not benefit from over treating patients; this is a small minority of doctors that have interests in their own testing agencies, commonly called self-referral.  For example, if a orthopedic surgeon owns his own MRI center, he is more likely to sent patients for an MRI; there are multiple studies that show this.  However, a family practioner who has no interest in the MRI center is more likely to order tests that are needed.  Obama and the Democrats are avoiding this issue, because of powerful medical lobbies.  Second and maybe more important, the most common reason for doctors to order too many studies is a simple one:  lawsuits.  Tort reform would potentially help in alleviating that.

All right.  So that is where we are.  So how do we move forward?

1. Make insurance personal, and not employer based.

It is frankly illogical and stupid to have your employer be responsible for your health care.  Few things are more personal than your health care choices; do you really want your boss making those decisions?  Additionally, health care should be readily portable.  You should have to think twice about switching jobs because of health care.

There are two reasons why people are still demanding employers pay for health care.  One, historical; it has always been that way.  Second, inertia; people don’t want to take responsibility themselves.  Neither argument carries much weight.

Instead of giving employers a tax benefit for giving out insurance, we should make employers choose; either give that money in salary to employees, or continue to cover their employees.  Most will choose the former, because handling health care is a headache.  So ultimately, it becomes a personal responsibility.

That is a good thing.  Why?  Right now, patients have no idea how much health care costs.  Heck, most doctors don’t know what health care costs.   It is essential to get patients to realize that these things are costly, and certainly not free.  People make choices daily about everything else cost wise; why not health care?  Sure, we need guarantees for disasters and such, but short of that, a system framed on personal choice is much, much more likely to limit costs than one governed by the feds.

2. Give patients more choice AND more repsonsibility.

I am all for more freedom and choice.  That is ultimately what America is about.  Thus, the more rights we give to the individual, the more likely we will have success.  But rights in this society does not come without personal responsibility.

What do I mean by that?  What I mean is that costly procedures that have questionable benefit should not be regularly covered by insurance.  The prime example is life sustaining tools in the final months of life.  We need to change societal expectations about life and death.  Spending approximately $700 billion a year on the final three months of dying patient’s lives is just not smart.  We need to cover hospice care, palliative medicine, etc.  Now, if a family wants to keep grandpa on life support, that is fine…but that should come out of their own pocket.

Examples such as these can be found through out health care.  Why?  Because people don’t ‘pay’ for services in health care.  Thus, they feel entitled to everything.  By making patients make rational choices, we can reduce the waste of hundreds of billions of dollars quite easily.

3. Tort reform.

Obama at the AMA speech came out against caps for malpractice lawsuits, which in my humble opinion signficantly reduces his credibility on the issue of cost reduction.

This is contentious, and clearly as a physician I am not impartial.  But it is more than  just lawsuits.  There is a vicious cycle in medicine of practicing ‘defensive medicine’.  This is basically doctors order often unnecessary tests only because they feel legal retribution if they don’t.  This has to stop.  This has created a terrible culture of misspending in medicine in America.  We need a complete culture change, where we order tests that are unnecessary, and don’t blame doctors or the system when things still go awry.  Medicine is not a perfect science, even if our legal system wants it to be that way.  There should still be legal recourse for negligence, real mistakes, etc.  But this needs to be limited.

4. Decrease bureauocracy and red tape.

I don’t think there is any industry that has as much paperwork as medicine.  It is out of control.  From documentation, to billing, to legal issues, medicine is mired in paperwork.  It is estimated that private care physicians (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics) spend at least one quarter of their time on paperwork, and spend at least 1/3 of their overhead on those costs.  And it doesn’t stop there.  The federal government and state governments have overlapping regulations that make things even more complicated for physicians, hospitals, and insurers.  This whole system needs to be cleaned up.  We could reduced paper work by half, and increase physician productivity by one eighth in one single step.  The cost savings could be enormous.

Frankly, the Obamacare and Democratic plan fails in all four of these steps. They are looking at costs savings from a very high level; how can we save dollars on Medicare and Medicaid, shift it to Obamacare; how can we increase taxes, etc.  Medicine ultimaately is about individuals, and if you want real cost savings across the board, you need to clean up the mess and minutia that is limiting the actual process of health care, instead of staring at accounting tables and tax receipts.

Please see the complete Neoavatara Health Care Plan Here.

0

Has Obama Made An Israeli Strike On Iran More Likely?

Who is Obama going to negotiate with?

Who is Obama going to negotiate with?

Obama’s Cairo speech was hailed as a triumph.  The media fawned over him, so much so as they gave him credit for moderates winning the elections in Lebanon, and were ready to give him credit for the reformer’s victory in Iran.

Well, that didn’t work out so well.

At the same time, Obama has been putting ever more pressure on Israel to accept the roadmap to peace.

Benjamin Netanyahu has slowly come around, and he is now ready to accept a two state solution; whether he really ever believed the contrary, to me, is questionable.  Bibi stated in a speech on Sunday that he would accept a ‘demilitarized Palestinian state”.  The area under Palestinian control would have no army, would not control its airspace, and would not be allowed to bring in arms, Netanyahu said.  For the Palestinians, one of the most personally militarized regions in the world, this is unlikely to open too much dialogue.  But atleast Netayahu has accepted the reality of a Palestinian state.

However, again arised the law of unintended consequences.  Netanyahu had to play a careful game, balancing the right in his own country versus pressure from the international community.  That, in turn, made him give a speech that may have temporarily satisfied Obama, but satisfied almost no one else.  The Isreali political right is coalescing against a two-state solution.  And Arab States were not happy either.  Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak stated that Israel’s call for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in a nonstarter.  If that is a nonstarter, where exactly does the roadmap plan go?

The problem is, events have a way of overshadowing planning.

With Ahmadinejad’s ‘victory’ in the presidential election in Iran, the stakes got even higher.  Obama’s main argument to the Israelis has been that their opening of peace accords with the Palestinians would allow the U.S. greater latitude in discussing peace with Iran and other Arab states.  However, now that seems unlikely.

Additionally, Obama stated his belief in face-to-face negotiations with enemies.  Is Obama now willing to sit across the table from Ahmadinejad to get a nuclear deal?  Is he ready to legitimize a person who likely won a rigged electoin in a country of 66 million, many of whom voted against this man?

Obama has put himself into a very tough position, and mainly has himself to blame.  His arrogance made him believe that he could push Israel into a solution.  But the problem is, he forgot that agreements can only be made when there are two willing partners.  The Palestininas themselves are divided, and seem nowhere near any type of unification.  And Iran re-elected a leader who has declared Israel a ‘rotting corpse’ who he wants destroyed.

Does Obama really think pressuring our ally Israel at this time will achieve anything?  Obama has actually made it more difficult for Netanayahu to make an agreement, because settlers and ultra-conservative Israelis are now becoming even more defiant in the face of American pressure.  And now, more than half of Israelis support attacking Iran if there is no other way to stop them…and that was before the election mess in Iran.

Israel had hoped that Ahmadinejad would be pushed from the scene…but it appears he is enforcing a stranglehold on power.  Obama has basically abandoned Israel in hopes to placate Palestinians and Arabs. That leaves Israel alone to defend their own sovereignty and right to exist.  Let us not miss a simple fact…most Israelis have no faith in Barach Obama to defend them.  Obama is pushing Israel into a corner.  And Israel is many things, but they are not toothless.  In the end, Obama may be hastening what he is trying to avoid…an all out Isrealie assault on the Islamic state of Iran.

2

Iranian Election

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June 15, 2009

Ayatollah Khameni today came out for the Grand Council to investigate irregularities in the election process.  This of course is a ploy, considering that many of the paper ballots have been destroyed, and that the Ayatollah’s own people would not grant Mousavi’s request to guard the ballots over the weekend.

Mousavi arrived to a huge rally in Tehran, which reporter said numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

UPDATE: Protests continued through out the day all over Iran, especially in Tehran.  Moussavi has made a couple of moves. He requested the votes be sequestered so a recount could proceed, and was denied by the government.  He sent a letter to the Grand Council requesting a repeat of the election.  He has also requested the right to hold a large protest on Monday; this will likely be denied.  However, in a very clever move, he has said that if he is not permitted to hold his protest, he will proceed the Ayatollah Khameni’s mausoleum in Tehran.  By Iranian law, any person can seek refuge in the mausoleum without threat of arrest or persecution…so he can have the equivalent of a protest, under the protection of Islamic Law.

June 14, 2009

Protests continue through out Iran, especially in Tehran.  Reports are scattered, and ironically Twitter has become the sole source of news, with the blocking of internet and cell phones.  Some people have satellite access, but even twitter access appeared to have been cutoff through the night, though it now seems to be active.

Jim Sciutto of ABC News is reporting at least 100 reform leaders have been arrested overnight, and there is still doubt if Mousavi himself will be or has been arrested.  Some have said he is under house arrest.  Amid all of that, Ahmadinejad had a victory march today. In the speech, he basically insulted the Mousavi forces, and would not promise to keep Moussavi safe.

Some are suggesting that there is now a movement to remove Khameini from power.  That is highly unlikely, since he has the support of the highly trained Republican Guard.

Sources are hard to come by for this crisis…the best I have seen is Twitter:  follow @Change_for_Iran, @jimsciuttoABC, @alirezasha,  @TehranBureau, and @StopAhmadi

June 13, 2009,  9 PM

The ridiculousness of what Iranian’s call an election is growing.  Here are the sequence of events as we can best tell:

  • Near closing time of the polls, mobile text messaging was turned off nationwide
  • Security forces poured out into the streets in large numbers
  • The Ministry of Interior (election headquarters) was surrounded by concrete barriers and armed men
  • National television began broadcasting pre-recorded messages calling for everyone to unite behind the winner
  • The Mousavi campaign was informed officially that they had won the election, which perhaps served to temporarily lull  them into complacency
  • But then the Ministry of Interior announced a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad
  • Unlike previous elections, there was no breakdown of the vote by province, which would have provided a way of judging its credibility
  • The voting patterns announced by the government were identical in all parts of the country, an impossibility (also see the comments of Juan Cole at the title link)
  • Less than 24 hours later, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei publicly announced his congratulations to the winner, apparently confirming that the process was complete and irrevocable, contrary to constitutional requirements
  • Shortly thereafter, all mobile phones, Facebook, and other social networks were blocked, as well as major foreign news sources.

First of all, some facts  show what a sham this election was.  Mousavi supposedly lost his hometown. Does anyone believe that?  Or that the hird candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, received less than 1 percent of the total vote, even though polls showed him in the mid teens in popularity.

Turnout appears to have reached 82 percent, an all-time high. But when asked if the turnout figures should be considered suspect, given the “not credible” counts for Mousavi and Karoubi, the official said the turnout clearly was questionable.

Before the final results were announced Moussavi addressed the people of Iran in a sharply worded letter. “I recommend to the authorities that before it is late to stop this process immediately, and to return to the path of the rule of law and the holding of the public trust through the votes of the people,” he said.

It was also reported Saturday that former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani resigned from all of his official positions in protest against the results of the election, which Mousavi denounced as rigged.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, called the voters’ turnout a show of Iran’s “pride” and “honor.”  He also warned citizens not to protest the vote, with some ill-foreboding.  Thosuands of protesters have poured into the streets of Tehran, but with the government blocking most lines of communication, so far the protests do not appear to be concerted.  However,thousands of people have moved into the streets, despite lack of cell phones or internet access.  Roaming battles with security forces also have been reported.  Twitter ironically has become the communication of the day…

Does this remind anyone of Tiananmen?

I guess the difference is, in 1989 George H.W. Bush spoke out in favor of the protesters…Barack Obama’s White House has so far been silent.

http://www.iran101.blogspot.com/ has a good site showing videos and pictures.

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June 13, 2009

Barack Obama has been getting a lot of credit from the mainstream media for the fervor and excitement for reformer Hossein Mousavi’s campaign in Iran.  Over the last few days, we have heard commentators on CNN, MSNBC, and CBS among other state that Obama deserves much of the credit for the victory if Mousavi wins, because of his ‘ground-shattering’ speech in Cairo.

Earlier in the day, State media declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of Iran’s election but challenger Mirhossein Mousavi alleged irregularities and claimed victory for himself.  With 70% of the votes in, Ahmadinejad appears to be headed for an easy victory…shocking all western media outlets.

What now?  Ultimately the Mullahs are in charge of Iran.  I have said this from the beginning…democracy only goes so far in Iran.  Yes, the Mullahs don’t micromanage life there, but the major decisions (military, nuclear weapons, dialogue with the West) is ultimately made by them.  The smaller day-today decisions will be left to the President, such as taxes, economic aid, etc.

So now that Ahmadinejad appears to be re-elected, is Obama to blame?  Media pundits, from Chris Matthews, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Wolf Blitzer and others asked if Obama deserves the credit if Ahmadinjead loses.  Well, if you deserve the credit, then you deserve the blame, don’t you?  We will see if the media is willing to show some credibility, but I doubt it.  But this shows the ludicrous nature of the liberal media.  Give Obama credit where not credit was due in the first place, and then ignore the utter failure on the other side.  I don’t blame Obama; but I would certainly not have given him any credit if Mousavi has won either.

Frankly, if someone as insane as Ahmadinejad wins in a landslide after acting like a buffoon, with a bad economy, there is no chance of change by diplomatic means in Iran for a long, long time.  There was a huge turnout this year.  People had been depending on the large turnout to help the reformist…instead, it appears that it helped the hardliner.  This will embolden Ahmadinejad and the Iranian nuclear program.  That will make things much tougher for Obama, and Isreal is much more apt to attack with someone like Ahmadinejad in power.

Now, the reality is that the vote likely was rigged…but what surprise is that?  People who have argued that Iranians enjoy democracy have long been delusional.  Whether true or false, Ahmadinejad is going to be the Iranian President for the foreseeable future.

The world just got a little scarier tonight.

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19

McCarthyism, Obama-Style

The hatred and attempted suppression of free expression is reaching levels that I have never seen in my lifetime.

The left, who is now in charge of the White House, Congress, and has always been running the mainstream media, has tried to take tragedy after tragedy, and politicize it.  It started with the Kansas abortion doctor Dr. Tiller’s murder.  It culminated yesterday with the murder of a guard, Stephen Johns, at the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. by an insane, antisemitic neo-Nazi.  Johns is clearly a hero, and his murder should be considered as such.

And somehow, the political right is to blame for these things.

First of all, let us be clear:  those murders were by wacko, lone wolf characters.  If you want an entire political belief system to be responsible for the insane actions of lone individuals, you are living in a dream world.  Second, some how the attack and murder of army recruiters in Arkansas did not achieve that kind of attention, because the media didn’t make that linkage to the extreme left that calls our soldiers ‘baby-killers’.  But you want to use the same logic, the linkage can be made.

Then we have the lead hypocrite, President Barack Obama.  After the murder at the Holocaust museum, Mr. Obama called for more vigilance against prejudice.

“This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms,” Obama said Wednesday.  “No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world.”

Really?  Are you kidding?

This happened on the same day that Mr. Obama’s long time friend and preacher, Jeremiah Wright, came out and said that he could not voice his opinions to his friend the President, because ‘Jews’ are preventing him from talking to him.

Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me …. He’s got to do what politicians do. And the Jewish vote, the AIPAC vote that’s controlling him, that will not let him send representation to the Darfur Review Conference, that’s talking this craziness on Israel because they’re Zionists, they will not let him talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is. Ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza—the ethnic cleansing of the Zionists is a sin and a crime against humanity.

Um, Mr. President…where is your vigilance against this prejudice?  I guess it is the same place it was in the 20 years you spent in Mr. Wright’s church…conveniently hidden.

The media has been absolutely abhorrent on these issues, led by the pseudo-network MSNBC.  I really believe that MSNBC is left of the Huffington Post...at least Huffington is honest about its position, but MSNBC still pretends to be somewhat objective.  Who are they kidding?

There is as much hate in the mainstream media as there is anywhere else. For the past 8 years, the media was perfectly happy calling for evil things to happen to the Bush Administration. People even wished for several of their deaths.  But that is not hateful, not at all.  Even now, we see the left attacking family members of conservatives (ala Palin’s daughters).  Do you think that a sex joke would have been acceptable against Chelsea Clinton in the nineties?  How about a joke about the Obama kids?  This is frankly disgusting. Public figures are fair game…families should always be off limits.  But the left is fine with that, as long as it is a right wing politican’s family that is being attacked.

What scares me most about all this is not that they are saying these things…let them say whatever they want.  What scares me is their attempts to limit my free speech.  Their hate is acceptable…ours is not.  Frankly, I think speech has become too extreme on both sides.  There will always be extreme wackos like the prolifer murderer and the antisemtic killer.  The fact that the neonazi hated Republicans and conservatives (including reports that the neocon magazine The Weeekly Standard was on his hit lists)is not even the point; the comparison should never have gotten that far.   Not to mention, some are reporting that he may be a registered Democrat; but I digress.  But as leaders, and people who are responsible and want what is best for our country, we should do better.  When supposed mainstream people like Paul Krugman blame Fox News for incidents like this, when they were in fact targets, it speaks to lack of intellectualism…these people are pure hacks, and should be ignored.

What is now acceptable on mainstream challenges is abhorrent.  And frankly, I will throw the President and his cohorts into the mix.  Mr. Obama can talk about talking down prejudice…yet he is failing on that same call for vigilance.

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