Very interesting take. Democrat Senators in red and split states might as well vote yes on the Pelosi-Obama agenda, against their constituents, because otherwise they will be destroyed by their own parties and activists. That doesn't bode well for defeating the bill. Voting against health care in the Dem party would be like one of us leaving our country. They could switch parties but I don't any of them are in a position or interest to do that.
I would not want to be in the situation of these moderates, R or D, trying to figure out what to do politically without having any backbone or principles of their own.
Crafty, The Pinto piece is the best I have read describing how this all went wrong. Liberals think it was the greedy capitalists packaging and disguising bad loans in portfolios that caused the problems, but \packaging mortgages of different sizes and shapes would not have caused any new problem IF the underlying loans had been based on creditworthiness, with real valuations and down payments, with default rates at or under the historic levels of between 1 and 2%.
Unfortunately there is a segment of America not ready for home ownership and forcing them in before they are ready doesn't work. There is a segment of our country without a consistent work history, that does not have good credit or a history of paying all their bills, much less on time. They tend to live in America's inner cities and they are disproportionately non-white. If you lend based on creditworthiness or opposed the bill of 1992 or the expansions upon expansions of forced and incentivized bad lending policies, you were labeled racist.
Programs made in the name of affordability are what made the product unaffordable - just like we are doing with health care and college tuition.
If we wanted real affordability, we would: 1) use market discipline to control the price, not skew it with artificial rules and subsidies, and: 2) Affordability, meaning cost as a fraction of income, comes mostly from the denominator - INCOME, which is based on education, effort and getting people to participate positively in our economic system. Most government intervention and spending programs do the opposite.
Handing people freebies that require negative behavior to qualify, and artificial flooding of markets with taxpayer money has exactly the opposite affect; it increases dependency and pushes costs up further and further from reach.
CCP, I agree. This is a political stroke and a governing error that will likely blow up (figuratively) in their political face.
Some problems with criminalization of terror: a) Suicide martyrs want to die anyway, love the attention, and are already incarcerated. b) Goal of anti-terrorism is preemption / prevention; 'punishment' does nothing. c) Discovery blows the cover of people and methods. d) Defense will put USA, our anti-terrorism efforts and justice system on trial, while getting evidence thrown out.
Will the next Mohamed Atta or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed need to be caught exactly in the act, require probable cause to be bothered, be read his rights and consult an attorney, etc. before the US can take preventive, security actions??
I am grateful for the military police who shot the Ft. Hood killer.
Guide Dog on Veterans Day already thanked all who served and I belatedly second that, to those I don't even know, to my own father and to my grandfathers before him. I am grateful.
I wish I could single out and thank everyone who served, but here's one great American. I ran across this reading about the Fort Hood victims. This could be under rest in peace, but I just want to say I am grateful for amazing courage and service: ------ Sgt. Amy Krueger
Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wis., joined the Army after the 2001 terrorist attacks and had vowed to take on Usama bin Laden, her mother, Jeri Krueger said.
Amy Krueger arrived at Fort Hood on Tuesday and was scheduled to be sent to Afghanistan in December, the mother told the Herald Times Reporter of Manitowoc.
Jeri Krueger recalled telling her daughter that she could not take on bin Laden by herself.
"Watch me," her daughter replied.
Kiel High School Principal Dario Talerico told The Associated Press that Krueger graduated from the school in 1998 and had spoken at least once to local elementary school students about her career.
"I just remember that Amy was a very good kid, who like most kids in a small town are just looking for what their next step in life was going to be and she chose the military," Talerico said. "Once she got into the military, she really connected with that kind of lifestyle and was really proud to serve her country."
In the interest of true justice, Hasan should be prosecuted under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as Laci and Conner’s law, named for the pregnant woman and unborn baby who were murdered in California by Scott Peterson, the baby’s father.
It would seem that the law applies in this case for three reasons: the act of violence was committed on federal property…the shooting was allegedly done by a member of the military…and the violence could be classified as an act of terrorism.
…The Obama Administration has a moral obligation to press for prosecution of Hasan under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. If such a legal path is ignored, it will demonstrate to the world that the President is caving into a pro-abortion lobby who will not recognize the legal rights of any child in the womb—even a child whose mother desperately longs to give birth.
My father had a favorite saying which he applied to criminal and terroristic acts: “Who weeps for the victim?” Let’s hope that, in this case, the President weeps for the victim who never had a chance to see a mother’s loving face. --------- Here's the law: The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) is a United States law which recognizes a "child in utero" as a legal victim, if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."
The law is codified in two sections of the United States Code: Title 18, Chapter 1 (Crimes), §1841 (18 USC 1841) and Title 10, Chapter 22 (Uniform Code of Military Justice) §919a (Article 119a).
The law applies only to certain offenses over which the United States government has jurisdiction, including certain crimes committed on Federal properties, against certain Federal officials and employees, and by members of the military. In addition, it covers certain crimes that are defined by statute as federal offenses wherever they occur, no matter who commits them, such as certain crimes of terrorism.
$13 trillion of American wealth has been destroyed since San Francisco liberal congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was chosen by America to be Speaker, Minneapolis congressman Keith Ellison put his hand on the Koran to serve with her, all the committee chairmanships turned over to the likes of Barney Frank and Charlie Rangel, and young Obama moved from the minority to the majority to the White House in a successful takeover of the other branches of government.
$13 Trillion destroyed and now the U6 measure of unemployment approaches 17% and rising.
That's the good news; think where we would be without trillions in phony Keynesian stimuli and the resulting millions of jobs created or saved.
So ... from all we have learned ... what is our political - economic policy going forward?
a) Let the 'Bush' tax cuts expire for a massive tax increase on 'the rich', the only ones capable of hiring anyone.
b) Pass a 2000 page multi-trillion dollar government expansion and control program to handcuff all Americans but especially to place more burdens and mandates on businesses, in particular those who hire and employ people.
c) Remove the cap on 'FICA' income making the tax rate on 'wealthy' go way over 50%, before state, local, double taxation, and other new taxes such as energy, and reducing social security from a supplemental insurance program to just another failed general welfare program.
d) Add $3000 per family for a new energy tax - from all that extra money you have lying around - and really go after companies that still actually do anything or produce anything in America.
e) Raise the Death Tax from zero to 55%, leaving basically no reason whatsoever for anyone who knows how to build wealth and employ anyone to continue to do so.
f) Raise capital gains tax rates, just as our largest economic competitor is lowering tax rates.
g) Increase Government Spending at dollar and percentage levels never heard of before.
h) Instead of a 'Fair Tax' to replace the income tax, the talk now is for a federal VAT/sales tax ON TOP OF raised levels of income taxation. Why? because they already know that the tax rate increases on the rich are just punitive and dramatic in nature and don't actually bring in more revenue, like rate decreases did. So first you must punish the rich - who most easily can rearrange their affairs, then you still have to raise revenues.
i) Inflate the currency. Continue to flood the market with dollars at unprecedented levels while the economy stagnates or contracts. That is inflation, by definition. Price increases and wealth destruction follow. We already know that but continue to do it.
j) Generational theft. For all talk and action about tax increases, no one even pretends they will be enough to close the gap on unfunded liabilities. Unlike our predecessors leaving things better than ever before, the result of the above economic destruction policies, uncontrolled spending, high rates of taxation and regulation/strangulation, debt, devalued dollars and unfunded liabilities, is to leave the bills behind for our children and our children's chilren.
"China roughly 1 billion people is installing coal plants and doubling their capacity. USA about 400 million people is installing solar plants and doubling their capacity at the same rate. Look at the proportionality- the energy needs of the 400 million will be met by the solar capacity way before the same will happen with 1 billion. Therefore there is no way that the "industrial wealthy west" will ever be able to balance off the developing countries."
The conclusion is true and exemptions make no sense, we will never 'balance off' their CO2 increases no matter our effort. I didn't follow you on the part before that regarding solar. I assume you are being illustrative, but we now get roughly 0% (with rounding) of our total energy from solar. After we double that, solar production will grow to roughly 0% of total energy requirements.
If manufacturing is made to be even more prohibitive in the west, it will continue to shift to where the restrictions don't exist.
We can dabble in solar at 15 times the cost of current electricity, we can dabble with wind at 5 times the cost of unsubsidized electricity and we can pursue other hobbyist sources. But we still will need the energy to drive the economy unless we just accept economic failure as is the policy of the current leftist machine.
Ethanol steals farm land from our food supply. Natural gas at the electric plant level is a complete waste because it can be piped to location eliminating the transmission loss. Both still involve carbon release. Also gas taken for electricity drives up the cost to heat homes and makes it less available for a transportation substitute.
New carbon-free power in any real quantity will come from nuclear, and there is about a 10 year delay to get a new plant producing. Or it will come from some other method not yet invented, but it is more likely to get invented after we quit subsidizing known failures and crippling our economy. (MHO)
Between the China bulls and bears, I think the truth is somewhere in between. There has been amazing growth but within that growth are numbers that wouldn't survive serious audit as well as a foundation built partly on a house of cards like bank loan portfolios etc.
Speaking of supply side, they actually lowered their corporate income tax rate in Jan. 2008 right while we were transitioning into Marxism.
It is actually good for the US economy to have the rest of the world strong economically. In the case of China, my wish is for them to collapse to the point of breaking the regime, and then survive and grow as a free and strong economy that would challenge us to get our own economic house in order. (Is that too much to ask?)
My initial reaction as I read the report was similar to Crafty's but not as harsh. I couldn't think of reply lines other than sarcasm... Stimulus was poorly targeted, didn't solve the problem - no kidding...
Though it looks like a deck chair debate on a Titanic going under, I think it IS VERY important for serious studies like this one to look at the results of this nonsense and get the failed results out there for the electorate to see.
If the trillions were not targeted at the problem areas in the country, and they were not randomly dropped from an airplane - actually be a better Keynesian attempt than this one - then the funds were disbursed based on other cynical means, political influence of the members in power and even worse, the cronyism of the unelected staffers serving the public from their extremist organizations, spreading our not-earned-yet money on the family and friends plan.
Just like Glen Beck's program to study the Czars and a trillion times more important is for investigators to follow the money trail of these people that would trivialize the term drunken sailors.
Most closed auto dealerships had Republican ownership. I don't know what that means or why you rebuild an industry a federal mandate to close sales and service locations, but that is a heads-up that EVERYTHING they do and every dollar they printed, borrowed and wasted needs to be scrutinized.
The corruption and cronyism might be the sword that brings this group down, but as Crafty states, the way forward is not Keynesian economic flooding and tampering, it needs to be a comprehensive system of responsible, pro-growth measures - so far not even on the table for discussion.
Thank you Crafty for marking Reagan in particular for his leadership that led to the collapse of the wall. Much as Barack and Hillary think it is all about them and others think that everyone worked toward that goal, really most didn't. IIRC, Reagan stood up to a Democratic congress over defense spending, he stood up to massive protests in Europe for the deployment of Pershing II missiles, he stood up to the objections of both Gorbachev and his own advisers regarding SDI at Reykjavik. And he stood up to his own speechwriters and diplomacy team regarding the command to tear down the wall. -------- The quote: "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
-------- Keep in mind that the wall was in Berlin, East Germany and Mr. Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet Union. Reagan didn't even bother to call on East Germany to tear down the wall. He was calling it out for what it what it was - a puppet repressive machine controlled from a distance and he was calling out his counterpart to back up his talk about openness and reform, glasnost and perestroika, with action and deed.
Amazing and appalling that these public officials were in such a hurry to take these homes and that now, a decade later, the project will not be built.
Your home is your castle. You are constitutionally protected against unreasonable search. But condemnation, taking of the title and bulldozing can be done simply in the name of economic favoritism according to Anthony Kennedy siding with all the 'liberals' on the court.
(According to a radio spoof) we really need to focus our government programs for renewable energy on areas with the best potential for large scale returns: sun, wind, perpetual motion and personal methane reclamation systems.
"Hate speech! Hate speech! Oh wait, that's Hasan and 3 of the 9/11 hijackers former imam speaking. "
13 shot and killed and dozens more shot and injured does NOT constitute a 'hate crime' under the current regime and theri new, updated thought law. Un-f*cking believable. Think how much worse this would have been in their little minds if the victims were shot because they were black or gay, instead because they are patriotic Americans serving their country. It's not hate and it's not terror, because one regime can control and legislate our language. He will not be going to Guantanamo. Instead his free health care will be followed with free legal, endless appeals and no execution(?). Wouldn't be surprised if a book deal and some talk shows are in the making.
"shaken to see that the house passed the Pelosi bill. What are the prospects looking like in the Senate?"
We are at the fork in the road and the precipice of the cliff. There are large forces pushing in at least two directions. Dems have their own 60 possible plus an unknown number of RINOs. If they pass anything, it goes to conference.
Whether there are any conservative Dems with a backbone remains to be seen, maybe Lieberman. The opposing force is that we know more than 50 senators that do not represent far left states. The polls vary greatly and they have their own polls to tell them how to survive this.
The abortion amendment was the opposite of a poison pill. They left out increased abortion funding certain to go back in, just like they failed to address health care for illegals - sure to be provided, and they removed a few ojjections of the swing votes. Same type of thing will happen in the senate. The controversial aspects will be watered down just to get the vote and get the program started.
The opposition strategists need to find the wedge that kills the deal. I'd like to see an amendment to keep the federal government from seeing any private medical records, making government management of the system impossible, and an amendment to preclude the IRS from taking part in any enforcement mechanism.
Better than 'improving' the bill would be load it up with ALL of what the far left wants, attach a full honest price tag and then vote it up or down. (That isn't what's going to happen.)
The worst part of having our freedoms hinge on a stand taken by L. Graham or Lieberman is that after they hold out for their demands, their demands will be met and we are headed off the cliff.
Very interesting article, however I do not buy your conclusion. As much as giving away precious metals didn't make sense, hoarding and keeping them from an already over-priced market does not maximize the return either IMHO.
I have looked at the quality of our economic competitors and believe the only thing stopping unimaginable prosperity in America this century is the enemy within.
At 10.2% unemployment as we still go full speed backwards into destruction I must say that I am sick and tired of this President and Congress blaming problems on predecessors.
The 'Age of Obama' began nationally with his speech to the Democratic Convention in 2004, after which he said privately to Harry Reid: "Harry, I have a gift". I judge politicians by their policies, but if captivating crowds regardless of message is a gift, Adolf had it too.
Policies have consequences.
The power in Washington shifted in this week of 2006 when young Obama along with Hillary and Schumer and Barney Frank and Barbara Boxerand Pelosi and Reid were elevated to the majority.
After that time, Bush's lone effort and achievement was the surge in Iraq. All other control of our government had shifted to congress awaiting a new liberal for the White House.
The unemployment rate when power shifted was 4.6%! while the record economic expansion finally petered out after 50 consecutive months of job growth.
(This growth was in spite of big government RINOs still holding back real private sector potential.)
Obama's team in congress has their fingerprints all over this collapse and Obama's team in campaign and transition was fully consulted and fully on board with ALL emergency measures taken between the collapse of Sept.2008 and his inauguration.
I suppose he is not really lying if he doesn't even know that it is his policies and stated agenda (screw wealth, screw the rich and dismantle free enterprise) that are causing economic under-performance and failure.
It is okay to be Muslim - or Jewish or Hamish or Atheist. It is NOT okay to be pulling for the other team. Tolerance for free speech is one thing but IMO we don't give power or paychecks to people who express that Americans deserved attack. Facts of this will sort out over time but it doesn't help the clarity in the armed forces that the Commander in Chief worshipped with a Reverend who expressed similar views and politicked with a group that called our general "Betray Us".
Denny, that was all very helpful. Besides the bay bridge issues, I was thinking of New Orleans and Katrina, and we had a bridge collapse here with design failure, I-35 Mpls that I drove over twice the day it fell. For 'safety' our highway dept had an automatic spraying system of corrosive salts onto under-designed gusset plates. (Soon they will also run health care.) So it is very fair to say public infrastructure problems are not unique to Chavez, but also fair to note that in all his power and wealth confiscation he did not successfully address the most obvious, crucial, 380 year old problem during his time.
I live where water is plentiful, but heat required to live here year round is threatened by a government that simultaneously thwarts nuclear energy while declaring all other real sources a pollutant.
"Obama's accountants are beginning to look like a long line of mathematicians getting out of a clown car. . ."
When they cleverly invented that turn of phrase, created or saved, we were put on notice that there would be no real accounting for the results of the trillions and that they already knew there may be no net job creation whatsoever in the private sector.
If the purpose of the public investment is to jump-start the PRIVATE economy, the only job creation that count are new, real jobs in the private sector that stand on their own AFTER the stimulus is done.
At this point it will take hope, change and a conservative takeover of the government to get that number back up to ZERO.
BBG: "Wouldn't it be amusing if our current, misguided energy policy left us on top of huge reserves we could charge high prices for down the line?"
Very possible. Ironic is the fact that the forbidden cheap energy around us is one of the forces preventing the move to the next solution (that will save the planet). Artificial regulations force prices up but people can still see the low hanging fruit. Why would people freely pay 15X for solar when clean coal is abundant, for example.
When the easy to access oil gets used up and the easy to access natural gas starts getting depleted, then market innovations of necessity will happen - if you believe in all that freedom and capitalism nonsense that made us the wealthiest civilization in history.
"If the people of a state vote to leave the Union then so be it."
(Skipping past slavery, I think GM makes good points there, and just looking at the question for today or tomorrow.)
I don't know exactly what I think about the right to secede but what a great question it opens. I remember that slam against Alaska politicians. Anyone conservative in Alaska wasn't more than 1 person removed from someone who had contemplated secession. Except for national defense, could Alaskans stand on their own? They could adopt the same constitution - and then UPHOLD it. Maybe they would even be rich enough to purchase adequate defense. Texans have a movement. I see both as mainly talk, and a reminder to federal powers in Washington that there are limits to how far people will be pushed. Except for occasional wacko groups, we don't really see serious separatist militias forming.
Today we stomp on the constitution and founding principles, still I believe we can swing the pendulum back in the other direction with articulation, persuasion and voting. With every day and every new entitlement and dependent American created, that becomes less and less possible. What if we can't ever return to limited government and founding principles?. Do we have to live in their tyranny forever or can free people 'opt out'? ---- A microcosm of it in a local issue, we have the same problem with our county. Minnesota is an average sized state with 87 counties, but one county is nearly one half the state population and economy. Our county in those terms is larger than 8 states. Remove the City of Minneapolis from our county and it is still bigger than several states. It is run from the central city where the richer outer suburbs pay for the problems of the otherwise bankrupt inner city - everything from free everything for illegals to a new baseball stadiums for the business class. Under this rule, they don't need state votes for controversial issues. For illustration, my property taxes are 20 times higher here than for my house in Colorado, equal setting and condition, same square footage. In order to opt out, the payers would need the support of the people assessing and receiving the money which can never happen. I have brought this up to county commissioners even in the most conservative areas and only been laughed at. Why can't our city or region secede from our county? Besides the problem of the feds taking all powers not theirs, I have no right to local government.
Amazing photos, Denny. I wondered what part of this is natural disaster - drought - and what part is failed public leadership. My thought is that poor countries often lack safe drinking water, but Venezuela is/was oil rich in a time of record oil prices. If they did not build sufficient water infrastructure with their confiscated wealth, whether it should have been more reservoirs, rain capturing, purification, pipelines or desalination, then it was human failure.
FYI for Chavez, swimming pools do not actually destroy water, nor do showers or toilets.
Al Gore has a company with waterless urinals. Chavez could look into that. Maybe their mutual friend Obama could hook them up.
Obama in this situation would blame it on Bush, but Chavez with his endless term-stretching has no predecessor to blame anymore.
BBG, Interesting piece. In the abortion debate, everything was about total privacy between woman and her doctor. Same folks now have no qualm about opening everything else to do with your health care decisions up to the bureaucrats, policy makers and even the IRS. Third party pay means third party decision making - mandated. This crowd isn't curious if their bill is constitutional; remaking the court and the meaning of that 'outdated' document is next on their agenda.
CCP, Thanks always for insights from the inside. I agree that pretending to quantify frivolous lawsuits or unnecessary tests in the aggregate isn't going to give you good numbers - just like measuring jobs created or saved. Is a one in a hundred or one in a million test worth it and at what cost? All you really can do is judge it intuitively and anecdotally, compare it with other risks we take on like putting the car on the road in difficult conditions, or martial arts, sports, etc. and keep the decision with the person who has to live with it, both cost and consequence. I don't want or need anyone from DMV there when I consider difficult choices with my doctor.
Seems to me that without malpractice lawsuits, you can still have doctors by the short hairs with licensing. If their practices are not up to snuff, if their errors are excessive, if their procedures are sloppy, etc. the state can investigate and pull their license. That I assume is a multimillion dollar penalty and then some. I know of a situation right now that involves state licensing but not an MD - one bogus complaint in a half century of practice and everything is under review.
If there is a shortage of doctors, it is a managed or contrived shortage. Seem to me that medical schools do everything they can to keep people who want to be doctors out. In most cases, thank goodness, but I'm sure plenty of capable and competent applicants get turned away. The Hillary-Obama-socialist view is that more doctors mean more pay and cost, so we need to get by with fewer. In a market based world, more supply to keep up with demand is what keeps the cost per visit or procedure down and affordable. If drought causes food prices to go up, and oil shortage or refinery outages shoots gas prices go up, why would an adequate supply of available doctors and specialists cause a higher cost to the patient (if there was any semblance of a market in place)?
This could have gone in the water thread but looked to me like it exposes more weaknesses of the ruler and his governing competence. I thought that under fascism-socialism you give up your freedoms but the trains run on time. Solution is easy - ration service, blame the rich. Sounds familiar. Speaking of rich, I wonder if the Presidential 'Palace' has its water service rationed...
Residents Face Cuts in Water Service for as Much as 48 Hours per Week
Residents of the Venezuelan capital face cuts in water service for as much as 48 hours per week, after the government imposed rationing to stem a 25 percent shortfall in the city's supply, officials said Monday.
Officials said cuts in water service were to be staggered throughout Caracas through the duration of the current dry season, which is not expected to end until May 2010.
Weather forecasters blame the "El Nino" weather phenomenon, saying the periodic weather system has markedly reduced rainfall and created drought conditions.
Others blame the shortage on poor government management of the country's water resources, while President Hugo Chavez faulted the excesses of capitalism.
"What will the rich fill their swimming pools with?" the country's leftist leader asked recently.
"With the water that is denied inhabitants in the poor neighborhoods," he said, blaming the lack of sufficient water on "capitalism -- a lack of feeling, a lack of humanity."
The government recently created a ministry of electricity to help conserve the use of power, which also is in short supply.
Officials also urged the public to employ better conservation practices, like shorter showers and the use of less water when brushing teeth.
We are incessantly being told that the cost of medical care is "too high"-- either absolutely or as a growing percentage of our incomes. But nothing that is being proposed by the government is likely to lower those costs, and much that is being proposed is almost certain to increase the costs.
There is a fundamental difference between reducing costs and simply shifting costs around, like a pea in a shell game at a carnival. Costs are not reduced simply because you pay less at a doctor's office and more in taxes-- or more in insurance premiums, or more in higher prices for other goods and services that you buy, because the government has put the costs on businesses that pass those costs on to you.
Costs are not reduced simply because you don't pay them. It would undoubtedly be cheaper for me to do without the medications that keep me alive and more vigorous in my old age than people of a similar age were in generations past.
Letting old people die would undoubtedly be cheaper than keeping them alive-- but that does not mean that the costs have gone down. It just means that we refuse to pay the costs. Instead, we pay the consequences. There is no free lunch.
Providing free lunches to people who go to hospital emergency rooms is one of the reasons for the current high costs of medical care for others. Politicians mandating what insurance companies must cover is another free lunch that leads to higher premiums for medical insurance-- and fewer people who can afford it.
Despite all the demonizing of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies or doctors for what they charge, the fundamental costs of goods and services are the costs of producing them.
If highly paid chief executives of insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies agreed to work free of charge, it would make very little difference in the cost of insurance or medications. If doctors' incomes were cut in half, that would not lower the cost of producing doctors through years of expensive training in medical schools and hospitals, nor the overhead costs of running doctors' offices.
What it would do is reduce the number of very able people who are willing to take on the high costs of a medical education when the return on that investment is greatly reduced and the aggravations of dealing with government bureaucrats are added to the burdens of the work.
Britain has had a government-run medical system for more than half a century and it has to import doctors, including some from Third World countries where the medical training may not be the best. In short, reducing doctors' income is not reducing the cost of medical care, it is refusing to pay those costs. Like other ways of refusing to pay costs, it has consequences.
Any one of us can reduce medical costs by refusing to pay them. In our own lives, we recognize the consequences. But when someone with a gift for rhetoric tells us that the government can reduce the costs without consequences, we are ready to believe in such political miracles.
There are some ways in which the real costs of medical care can be reduced but the people who are leading the charge for a government takeover of medical care are not the least bit interested in actually reducing those costs, as distinguished from shifting the costs around or just refusing to pay them.
The high costs of "defensive medicine"-- expensive tests, medications and procedures required to protect doctors and hospitals from ruinous lawsuits, rather than to help the patients-- could be reduced by not letting lawyers get away with filing frivolous lawsuits.
If a court of law determines that the claims made in such lawsuits are bogus, then those who filed those claims could be forced to reimburse those who have been sued for all their expenses, including their attorneys' fees and the lost time of people who have other things to do. But politicians who get huge campaign contributions from lawyers are not about to pass laws to do this.
Why should they, when it is so much easier just to start a political stampede with fiery rhetoric and glittering promises?
Just a note to remember as you read the 2000 pages, the poor in America already have free health care, totally free. Without any thanks, YOU are already paying for it.
This bill is about the CONTROL of the rest of the health care system - toward COERCION and away from personal responsibility and market choices.
If you have a doubt, please word search the coercive proclamation "Shall" and you will find it 3,424 times! The framers used the word shall to organize the government, there shall be 2 senators from each state etc. and for what the government 'shall not' do, such as congress 'shall not' pass any law infringing on free speech or right to bear arms, or so it says. This bill states what 'shall' be more than 3000 times more than does the U.S. Constitution.
From my count, God only needed the word 'Shall' 8 times in the Ten Commandments to guide our behavior as humans.
Maybe that answers the obvious question about this political machine, who do they think they are?
I already posted that I thought she was the wrong choice for McCain's VP running mate mostly because it mooted the main weakness of Obama, his lack of experience and readiness for President and Commander in Chief. She showed areas of weakness while being blindsided by the national media but also held her own both in terms of campaign excitement and in debating Washington-insider Joe Biden.
Palin is an intuitive conservative, one who knows big government isn't the answer for everything without having read every VDH column or Heritage study. That said, in the first post of this thread I posted a C-SPAN link to the Alaska gubernatorial debate in which she was articulate, poised, principled and extremely knowledgeable on all the state issues that came up.
To move forward, as others have said, she will need to get fully up to speed on all national issues and make another first impression if that's possible with moderates and independents in the country. Conservatives and liberals have already made up their minds about her, unchangeably.
Besides coming out with a book to tell her side of the campaign story and whatever else, she is taking stands on issues and on candidates for the direction for the party, like it or not. Congressional District NY-23 is the hot spot of the moment. She came out early for the cause of conservatism and against the party. That stand is looking better all the time.
This piece contrasts her with Newt. At the alienating those here who are fans of Newt (including me), his very successful contract with America was very poll-based, his experience is congressional not executive and his reforms were not lasting. His support of Cap and trade (some other version), like Mitt Romney's past support for govt health care, works to blur the lines and weaken the arguments of the day IMO. - Doug ------- http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/sarah_palin_and_newt_gingrich.html
Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich: The Visionary and the Hack By Claude Sandroff Two weeks after Sarah Palin's unique exit from public office, Newt Gingrich offered up some unsolicited counsel for the former governor in an interview with POLITICO. Apparently, Newt was certain that Palin's reputation needed serious burnishing, and he was all too ready to provide it by offering substantial details on the range and style of speeches that would be most appropriate for Palin to deliver to various audiences in order to sustain a public revival. Exactly why he felt she needed his help remains a bit of a mystery, except that Gingrich, like Karl Rove, seems absolutely certain that the world is always on edge awaiting his next tactical stroke of genius.
Now that an intense internecine battle is raging over how Republicans should react to Doug Hoffman's Conservative Party bid for New York's 23rd , one thing is certain: it is Newt whose reputation is in shambles, and it is he who should seek political advice from Palin as to how he might regain his lost stature. And this will remain true whether Mr. Hoffman wins or loses.
By unconditionally supporting the Republican machine candidate Dede Scozzafava -- one of the most liberal candidates ever offered by the party in any race -- Newt has forfeited any remnant of respect he might have retained as the standard-bearer of the conservative congressional revolution of 1994.
Scozzafava supports the same extreme political positions (card-check, Obama stimulus) as any adolescent left-wing blogger. She maintains deep alliances with the most radical and odious groups (Acorn, Working Family Party) associated with the Democratic Party. By standing with her, Newt Gingrich has earned that dreaded label he once affixed to Nancy Pelosi. Newt has become a partisan and trivial politician. He has become a common hack.
In contrast, Sarah Palin just compiles conservative esteem. When she railed against the compromised Republican machine in its support of Scozzafava, it felt like a stiff, clean, purifying breeze. In her October 24th Facebook Note announcing her support for Hoffman, Palin argued with deep philosophical references to conservative ideals. Her support and conviction were not products of a focus group. The note moved many a radio talk show host who read it aloud, from Mark Levin to Tammy Bruce. It was the reasoned stance of a visionary.
Palin evoked Ronald Reagan, mentioned the importance of establishing sharp contrasts with opponents, and stressed the primacy of principle over party. Palin continues to be the antithesis of the trivial politician. She has that unique ability to convey the highest sense of personal honor without ever projecting any of the usual political pomposity. Perhaps the highest compliment we can pay Palin is that she is always interesting and always surprising.
This is the reason so many political junkies from the right and left have undisclosed part-time jobs as Palin observers. You can never get enough of authenticity. Near the end of her farewell speech, Palin promised that by removing the confining yoke of office she'd be able "to work even harder for you. For what is right. And for truth."
What she meant by those almost biblical cadences wasn't clear then, but now it is coming into focus. And what is most stunning is that she is attaining her goals not by speaking in front of audiences, but through her writing. We all know how mesmerizing she is on the stump. But none of us had any idea that she was a gifted prose stylist: succinct, witty, and memorable.
But she has chosen Facebook, not YouTube, as her preferred mode of communication, at least for now. And over and over again, she has proven highly effective and influential, whether discussing health care, energy, China policy, defense, or congressional elections.
It's an effectiveness gained through focus, a focus that we can only hope other politicians begin to emulate. Free markets, individual liberty, small government, strong national defense, and low taxes are the constant themes she invokes. Along with those values, she makes constant mention of the two political giants of the 20th century who embodied them, championed them, and communicated them tirelessly: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
While pundit after pundit argues that we should throw Reagan over the side in pursuit of Obama-lite, Palin is bringing us back to the principled, universal roots that Reagan shared with the Founders. While many columnists anguish over immoderate candidates, Palin warns against "blurring the lines" and writes a Facebook birthday tribute to Margaret Thatcher.
A recent Gallup poll shows that in America, conservatives outnumber liberals by two to one. We know from history that conservatives can win landslide elections. But conservatives need to be confident to be resurgent. None of us knows what Sarah Palin has in mind for 2012 and beyond. But if she is the force that helped us regain the confidence of our convictions, then she will have given us a gift beyond repayment.
I would like to see a moderate Democrat, maybe even someone who hasn't posted anything political on the board yet, start a discussion thread regarding 'the way forward for moderate Democrats'. I am not a moderate Dem so it won't be me, but there must be people out there who are Democrats in a more conventional sense, that resent the takeover of their party from the extreme left but are not inclined to join conservatives or Republicans. Just a thought.
Republican is a brand name that is supposed to be larger than its conservative base to include moderates that share some of the philosophy (and oppose Democrats). There is always a struggle between factions in the party of whether to choose candidates with core conservative principles or to choose more centrist, compromising candidates for electability by appealing to moderates, independents and conservative Democrats. In spite of media hype and conventional wisdom to the contrary, the centrists generally dominate, at least once they are elected, because they know the more conservative base has nowhere else to turn while moderates can cross over any time they choose.
Another strategy would be for the candidate to have clear principles, limited government etc, and set a contrast with the opponent, then try to persuade voters in the middle why this philosophy is a better course. There is always a risk that the opponent will move to the middle, but in this environment, with Pelosi-Obama and the Czars, that doesn't look like the case.
Individual Democrat incumbents and candidates for congress and senate make their own cases for independence and moderation especially in conservative districts and red states but their defining vote is really the first one when they decide on the leadership and who will control the committees.
Strange that with all the negative polling of the Pelosi congress, the generic ballot of the two parties is pretty even. Real Clear Politics average of polls gives Dems about a 5 point edge consistently, but they are averaging polls that count anyone who answers the phone with other polls that attempt to measure likely or registered voters and get very different results.
Adding confusion to it all is that no one really knows what the tarnished brand name Republican means today. In 2006 and 2008 it probably meant something akin to how well do you like the scorned President George W. Bush who was unable to communicate and all over the map with his stands on different issues from taxes, spending, deficits, entitlements, immigration, war, security, etc. and a congress that increased spending faster than anyone imagined possible.
What it most interesting today is that the 'conservative' brand name has never been better. Take a look at this Gallup poll:
There was only a slight surge in liberalism during the elections of the Pelosi congress and the Obama adminstration and a great surge in conservatism now. Latest numbers have Conservatives at 40%, Moderates at 36% and Liberals at 20%.
Rasmussen has likely voters choosing more trust in Republicans over Democrats on ALL of the top ten issues in the country (story follows).
Trust on Issues Voters Trust Republicans More On 10 Top Issues
For the first time in recent years, voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 key electoral issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports. The GOP holds double-digit advantages on five of them.
Republicans have nearly doubled their lead over Democrats on economic issues to 49% to 35%, after leading by eight points in September.
The GOP also holds a 54% to 31% advantage on national security issues and a 50% to 31% lead on the handling of the war in Iraq.
But voters are less sure which party they trust more to handle government ethics and corruption, an issue that passed the economy in voter importance last month. Thirty-three percent (33%) trust Republicans more while 29% have more confidence in Democrats. Another 38% are undecided. Last month, the parties were virtually tied on the issue.
(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.
A recent Rasmussen Reports video report finds that voters are more disappointed lately with Obama’s performance in dealing with corruption in Washington.
Among unaffiliated voters who see ethics as the most important issue, 26% trust the GOP more while 23% trust Democrats more. Most (51%) are not sure which party they trust.
On the highly contentious issue of health care, voters now give the edge to Republicans 46% to 40%. The parties tied on the issue last month, after Republicans took the lead on it for the first time in August.
Separate polling released today shows 49% of voters nationwide say that passing no health care reform bill this year would be better than passing the plan currently working its way through Congress. Most voters (54%) oppose the health care reform plan proposed by the president and congressional Democrats, but 42% are in favor of it.
On taxes, Republicans are now ahead of Democrats 50% to 35%, nearly doubling their September lead on the issue. Prior to July, the percentage of voters who trusted the GOP more on taxes never reached 50%. It has done so three times since then.
Thirty-eight percent (38%) of voters say cutting the federal budget deficit in half in the next four years should be the Obama administration's top priority, while 23% say health care reform is most important.
Republicans are down to a seven-point lead on immigration after enjoying a 13-point advantage last month. Recent polling shows that 56% think the policies of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally.
Voters trust Republicans more on Social Security by a 45% to 37% margin, after the GOP trailed Democrats by two points on the issue in the last survey.
The president is proposing a one-time $250 payment to seniors who for the first time in years won't be getting a cost of living increase in their Social Security checks because inflation's down. While half of voters support this idea, they are more skeptical when told how much it will cost.
Republicans lead on the issue of education 43% to 38%. Last month Democrats had a five-point lead.
Voters also trust Republicans more on the handling of abortion 47% to 35%.
The GOP advantage over Democrats increased from two points to five in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot. Forty-two percent (42%) would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 37% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.
But 73% of GOP voters nationwide think Republicans in Congress have lost touch with their voting base.
Snowmaking in Duluth, and I wonder if you have to melt down your Lexus to get the golf cart credit (you don't). My personal favorite has got to be no. 3. $219k to study the sex lives of female college freshmen. I know people who would do that thankless work for nothing - for the good of the country.
Where in the C (Constitution) is the federal authority to build baseball training parks in 2 cities, to neuter in Wichita, to make snow in Duluth, to see if the girls are getting any? Seriously, this stuff isn't funny.
Mapping Rabbit Feces, Studying Facebook, And Building MLB Spring Training Facilities Are All Financed By The American Taxpayer
1. $300,000 FOR MAPPING RADIOACTIVE RABBIT FECES: “A Week Mapping Radioactive Rabbit Feces With Detectors Mounted On A Helicopter Flying 50 Feet Over The Desert Scrub. … $300,000 In Federal Stimulus Money.” “A government contractor at Hanford, in south-central Washington State, just spent a week mapping radioactive rabbit feces with detectors mounted on a helicopter flying 50 feet over the desert scrub. … the helicopter flights, which covered 13.7 square miles and were paid for with $300,000 in federal stimulus money, took place in an area that had never been used by the bomb makers. … Marylia Kelley, the executive director of a California group called Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, said the rabbit cleanup was ‘kind of funny, in a sick way.’” (“Even Rabbit Droppings Count In Nuclear Cleanup,” The New York Times, 10/14/09)
2. $4,200-$5,500 TAX CREDIT FOR PURCHASING GOLF CARTS: “President Obama’s Stimulus Plan… Is Now Paying Americans To Buy That Great Necessity Of Modern Life, The Golf Cart.” “Thanks to the federal tax credit to buy high-mileage cars that was part of President Obama's stimulus plan, Uncle Sam is now paying Americans to buy that great necessity of modern life, the golf cart. The federal credit provides from $4,200 to $5,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, and when it is combined with similar incentive plans in many states the tax credits can pay for nearly the entire cost of a golf cart.” (“Cash For Clubbers,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/17/09)
3. $219,000 TO STUDY THE SEX LIVES OF FEMALE COLLEGE FRESHMEN: “Five Hundred Syracuse University Freshmen Will Divulge The Details Of Their Sex Lives … $219,000 In Stimulus Funds For The Study.” “Five hundred Syracuse University freshmen will divulge the details of their sex lives as part of a women's health study called ‘The Women's Health Project,’ being conducted by Michael Carey, SU professor of psychology and medicine. Carey has found himself the target of nationwide criticism from conservatives since he received $219,000 in stimulus funds for the study, which looks at the sex patterns of college women.” (“SU Sex Study Raises Concern,” The [Syracuse] Daily Orange, 9/8/09)
4. $1 MILLION TO RENOVATE “THE SUNSET STRIP”: “Sunset Boulevard, Also Known As ‘The Sunset Strip’ And One Of The Most Famous Streets In The World, Will Be Getting A $7 Million Facelift After More Than 75 Years Of Use, With A Free Million Dollar Nose Job Coming From Uncle Sam. The City of West Hollywood Council received one million dollars in federal funds from the Federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), (otherwise known as the $700 billion federal stimulus package), for the long-planned Sunset Strip Beautification Project, which is scheduled to break ground soon. The guaranteed funding will allow the City to increase the already nearly $7 million budgeted for this project by an additional $1,105,000, meaning enhancements to a project that already included the resurfacing of the roadway, sidewalk and improved landscaping.” (“Feds Stimulus Sunset Strip Beautification Project,” WeHoNews, 9/28/09)
5. $2.3 MILLION FOR BUG RESEARCH IN CONNECTICUT: “$2.3 Million” “Federal Economic Stimulus Cash” For “Rearing Large Numbers Of Arthropods” Such As “Nasty Invasive Insects Like The Asian Longhorned Beetle, The Nun Moth, And The Infamous ‘Predator Of The Hemlock,’ The Woolly Adelgid.” “‘Rearing large numbers of arthropods’ probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about using Connecticut's $3 billion in federal economic stimulus cash. But the U.S. Forest Service is using part of the $2.3 million it's spending here to fix up a quarantine research facility in Ansonia. (The arthropods, by the way, are nasty invasive insects like the Asian longhorned beetle, the nun moth, and the infamous ‘predator of the hemlock,’ the woolly adelgid.)” (“Money For Nothing,” New Haven Advocate, 9/1/09)
6. $6 MILLION FOR A SNOWMAKING FACILITY IN THE 15th SNOWIEST CITY IN THE COUNTRY: “The Other Third Of The Stimulus, Government Infrastructure Spending, Has Been The Most Controversial From The Start. Some Proposals Have Been Criticized As Wasteful, Such As A $6 Million Snowmaking Facility In Duluth, Minn.” (“The Challenge In Counting Stimulus Returns,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/09) (Top 101 Cities With The Highest Average Snowfall In A Year (Population 50,000+))
7. $500,000 TO STUDY “SOCIAL NETWORKS LIKE FACEBOOK”: “A $498,000, Three-Year Grant” To Study “Social Networks Like Facebook.” “Millions of Internet users have been enjoying the fun -- and free -- services provided by advertiser-supported online social networks like Facebook. But Landon Cox, a Duke University assistant professor of computer science, worries about the possible down side -- privacy problems. … To delve deeper into these issues and begin the search for alternatives, Cox recently won a $498,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding is part of the federal stimulus package called the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).” (“Seeking Privacy In The Clouds: Research Aims At Isolating Social Network Information From ‘Control Of A Central Entity,’” Science Daily, 10/15/09)
8. $380,000 TO SPAY AND NEUTER PETS IN WICHITA, KANSAS: “The City Recently Launched A $55,000 Project To Spay And Neuter Pets Owned By Low-Income Residents. Unwanted Pets Ultimately Cost $240 Apiece To Collect, Board And Euthanize, the city estimates, so the program covering 800 animals should save taxpayers money in the long run. The stimulative effect? That is harder to gauge. With the $380,000 overall Wichita has received from its share of the stimulus, the city estimates that it is directly funding 32 jobs so far. The bigger job producers, such as construction and transit projects, are due to start in the coming months.” (“The Challenge In Counting Stimulus Returns,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/09)
9. $3.4 MILLION FOR A TURTLE TUNNEL IN FLORIDA: “The Other Third Of The Stimulus, Government Infrastructure Spending, Has Been The Most Controversial From The Start. Some Proposals Have Been Criticized As Wasteful, Such As … A $3.4 Million ‘Ecopassage’ To Help Turtles Cross A Highway In Tallahassee, Fla.” (“The Challenge In Counting Stimulus Returns,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/09)
10. $30 MILLION FOR A SPRING TRAINING BASEBALL COMPLEX FOR THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS AND COLORADO ROCKIES: “A Big Chunk Of The Money That Will Pay For A New Spring-Training Baseball Complex On Tribal Land In The East Valley Will Be Delivered Via A Financing Program That's Part Of The Federal Economic-Stimulus Plan. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community says it may borrow as much as $30 million of the estimated cost of the $100 million complex near Scottsdale that will become the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies.” (“Stimulus To Help Tribe Build Baseball Complex,” The Arizona Republic, 9/17/09)
BBG, Nice piece! I would sell that one to their conservative competitors if they don't want it - Wash Times, DC Examiner, Townhall or even Real Clear Politics.
I don't think you would have liked having their editors cut through your work. I wrote a counterpoint published by the Mpls paper alongside their endorsement of a young Bill Clinton in 1992. They cut out one paragraph probably because they didn't understand the significance of it but it destroyed the meaning and originality of the entire piece from my point of view. I had a couple of other run-ins with them and then started writing - no changes without permission - on my work. They never published anything I wrote again.
"you can force insurance companies to "cover" preexisting conditions, but the resulting product is not insurance. You cannot insure against something that has already happened. It is merely a bill-paying mechanism." ---- Do They Need the Public Option? October 30, 2009 John Hinderacker, Powerlineblog.com
Much discussion of the House Democrats' health care bill has focused on its inclusion of the "public option," which most observers see as a Trojan Horse intended to serve, ultimately, as the vehicle for socialized medicine as private insurers are driven from the market--a process that President Obama has said may take ten to twenty years.
What strikes me as I read the House bill, however, is how closely it approximates socialized medicine even without the public option. The bill is classic national socialist legislation, in that it takes ostensibly private entities, the health insurance companies, and perverts them into instruments of the state, run top-down and barred from competing among themselves.
Under the House bill private health insurance companies will still exist, but to what end? They will be legally prohibited from competing in any meaningful sense. They will be required to issue substantially the same coverages at substantially the same rates, changes in which must be justified to the government. They will be prohibited from underwriting insurance risks in any rational way: they must pay all bills resulting from preexisting conditions, and they will be prohibited from charging lower-risk customers lower rates.
As I wrote here, you can force insurance companies to "cover" preexisting conditions, but the resulting product is not insurance. You cannot insure against something that has already happened. It is merely a bill-paying mechanism. Likewise, the House bill prohibits insurance companies from charging premiums on any rational basis. Section 213, titled "Insurance Rating Rules," provides:
The premium rate charged for a qualified health benefits plan that is health insurance coverage may not vary except as follows:
(1) LIMITED AGE VARIATION PERMITTED.--By age (within such age categories as the Commissioner shall specify) so long as the ratio of the highest such premium to the lowest such premium does not exceed the ratio of 2 to 1.
So young people--who, remember, will now be forced to buy health insurance--will subsidize older people.
(2) BY AREA.--By premium rating area (as permitted by State insurance regulators or, in the case of Exchange-participating health benefits plans, as specified by the Commissioner in consultation with such regulators).
(3) BY FAMILY ENROLLMENT.--By family enrollment (such as variations within categories and compositions of families) so long as the ratio of the premium for family enrollment (or enrollments) to the premium for individual enrollment is uniform, as specified under State law and consistent with rules of the Commissioner.
That's it. A lower premium for non-smokers or the non-obese? Forget about it. It's illegal.
Under the House bill, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that health insurance companies are no longer in the insurance business. They can't rate and underwrite risks, which is the essence of insurance. That's illegal. They can't decide to whom they will issue policies; that's illegal, too. They can't offer novel or innovative coverages; their coverages are dictated by law. To a limited extent they can make decisions on paying claims, but under the watchful eye of government regulators. Meaningful competition among insurance companies will be, in effect, illegal. (In that context, it is a sick joke that the Pelosi bill also subjects health insurance companies to the antitrust laws, from which they had been exempted in consideration of their regulation by state, not federal, authorities.)
In the world that the House bill would create, the money we will pay to insurance companies won't really be insurance premiums. Insurance premiums are contractual payments which the parties voluntarily agree upon and which are based on a mutual assessment of risk. Rather, the checks we write to insurance companies will be taxes--legally compelled, at rates set by the federal government that are designed to punish some and subsidize others.
Isn't this socialized medicine in all but name? The only difference, perhaps, is that when things start to go badly, as they inevitably will--spiraling costs, long waits for treatment--Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues will have someone to blame: the insurance companies. Maybe old-fashioned socialized medicine would be better. Then, at least, the government would have to take responsibility for its folly.
First, I second the question: If the science is settled, why are there still multiple climate models? Lol. --------- BBG, Freki, all, The last post along with the recent debate reminds there are 2 more legs warming stool in order for fossil fuel use to destroy the planet.
Paraphrasing the first 2 false premises from the global waring debate:
Premise 1) The earth is warming, significant, consistent and accelerating warmth. (false)
Premise 2) The cause is human, primarily CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use, at least 51% causation. (false)
Even if those were true (they aren't), the next 2 must also be true to require government action to avoid our demise:
Premise 3) Net positive feedback, not net-negative feedback. (false) In other words, does the warming lead to more warming in an uncontrolled, accelerating spiral, or is there a net correction mechanism? In fact, the history of the earth and its cycles demonstrates that negative feedback mechanisms prevail. For example, increased CO2 levels cause faster and greater plant growth which in turn consumes more and more CO2 from the atmosphere, aka earth's cycles.
Premise 4) The period of time that humans will power with fossil fuels will be endless until planetary failure in a free economy (false) requiring a giant, coercive government to stop it (false). A better estimate would be that our dependency on fossil fuels is already near it's peak and would actually be shifting faster to cheaper, carbon free sources if not for the plethora of big government mechanisms preventing the buildout of carbon-free nuclear. Even if the transition to new technologies takes 50 years, it is a blip in time in the context of the history of the planet and its ecosystems.
The ACORN thread was supposed to be a place for a few side note comments about an obscure organization that operates in the inner cities of America that recruits 'welfare rights' support quietly without really telling people that they oppose all of the founding principles of our country. Now they have entrenched power all the way up to the Oval Office and the funding committees in congress.
A liberal 'friend' of mine was sarcastically making fun of conservatives by saying that some little "acorn" is now the greatest threat this country has ever faced. I waited my turn and replied that except for the sarcasm, I agree whole-heartedly; we face a threat from within that is greater than any foreign enemy we have ever faced. ---------- http://www.powerlineblog.com/
ACORN Mounts a Comeback October 28, 2009 Posted by John at 6:37 PM
Just a few weeks ago, the criminal enterprise called ACORN was on the run. Both House and Senate voted to de-fund the organization, but in different ways that were, in effect, more symbolic than real. The Democrats, having laid low for a while, are now moving to restore ACORN to a more powerful position than ever.
Byron York explains last week's maneuvering in the House Financial Services Committee. Republicans led by Michele Bachmann matched wits with Maxine Waters and the Democrats. That sounds like a mismatch, but the Dems prevailed by aiming higher than the Republicans had anticipated.
What is at stake is the administration's proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The House bill creates an Oversight Board that will advise the administrator of the agency. The Oversight Board consists of high-ranking officials like the chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. Only, under Waters's amendment, the Oversight Board would also include five members selected for their "expert[ise] in financial services, community development, fair lending and civil rights, and consumer financial products or services." Read, ACORN and assorted partners in crime.
How Dems outmaneuvered GOP on ACORN By: Byron York Chief Political Correspondent October 27, 2009
Last Thursday was a confusing day at the House Financial Services Committee. The committee was preparing to vote on legislation to create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency when a fight erupted over ACORN, the community organizing group that was defunded by Congress after videos surfaced showing ACORN workers involved in a variety of corrupt practices.
Although the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency -- designed to deal with issues like mortgages and credit-card fees -- has nothing to do with community organizing, Democrats offered an amendment that could allow ACORN and groups like it to participate in the new agency. Republicans offered an amendment of their own, designed to stop the Democratic one. An argument ensued. It was complicated, with lots of different proposals and a good bit of misunderstanding. But when the dust settled, Democrats had outmaneuvered Republicans, and the new bill they approved could allow organizations like ACORN to play a role in the highest levels of the new consumer protection agency.
The bill creates two boards. One, the Oversight Board, will be the key panel giving advice to the director of the new agency. The bill says the Oversight Board will have seven members and specifies who those members will be: the chairman of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve; the head of the agency responsible for chartering and regulating national banks; the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; the chairman of the National Credit Union Administration; the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission; the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the chairman of the liaison committee of representatives of state agencies to the Financial Institutions Examination Council.
That's the Oversight Board. The bill would also create a second board, the Advisory Board, which would offer general advice to the director of the new agency. The bill does not specify how many members the Advisory Board will have, nor who they will be. It just says they should be "experts in financial services, community development, fair lending and civil rights, and consumer financial products or services."
The Oversight Board, made up of some of the most powerful people in the U.S. government, is clearly the more powerful of the two boards. Since the makeup of the Oversight Board is specified in the bill, Republicans did not expect Democrats to try to open up that board to include openings for ACORN and similar groups. Instead, Republicans expected Democrats to offer an amendment which would make it possible for representatives from ACORN and other groups to serve on the Advisory Board. With that in mind, Republicans prepared an amendment of their own banning ACORN from the Advisory Board. (The central part of the amendment did not go after ACORN by name, but barred individuals from organizations that have been indicted for federal or state election law violations from serving on the board.)
It turns out Republicans were mistaken. On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters introduced an amendment that would add five members, not to the Advisory Board, but to the Oversight Board, with all five chosen from among "experts in the fields of consumer protection, fair lending and civil rights, representatives of depository institutions that primarily serve underserved communities, or representatives of communities that have been significantly impacted by higher-priced mortgage loans." That description could easily fit ACORN, or any number of other pro-Democratic groups. In any event, these new members would serve alongside the top officials from the Fed, FDIC, HUD, and the rest of the Oversight Board. Waters did not waste her time with the lower-level Advisory Board; she went straight for the top, the Oversight Board.
But Republicans had prepared an amendment which covered just the Advisory Board. "We can only anticipate what she's going to offer," says Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who introduced the Republican amendment, referring to Waters. "We anticipated the Advisory Board."
"Did Rep. Waters aim higher than you thought she would?" Bachmann was asked. "She certainly did," Bachmann answered.
If Waters surprised Bachmann, it also appears that Bachmann surprised Waters. The California Democrat appeared to expect Bachmann to attack the proposal to add community activists to the Oversight Board, and Waters seemed confused that Bachmann's amendment addressed the Advisory Board instead. Waters was prepared to fight, and then discovered the other side had missed the real target. "I do not know what we are doing here," Waters said at one point. "She [Bachmann] is amending the wrong board."
But committee chairman Rep. Barney Frank knew what was going on. Seeing that Bachmann's amendment did not cover the more important Oversight Board, Frank made sure Waters' amendment remained untouched. "We are simply trying to make sure that [Bachmann's] amendment does not inadvertently undo the amendment the gentlewoman from California previously offered," Frank said, before quickly ordering a vote on the amendments. The committee approved both Bachmann's and Waters'. The result was that the Oversight Board will be expanded with members of community organizations, including ACORN. Democrats did not seem to mind that ACORN was banned from the less-important Advisory Board.
In the end, the committee approved the bill, with amendments, by a vote of 39 to 29. And that was it for the day. But the issue is not yet settled.
Bachmann knows that Democrats managed to open up the Oversight Board to ACORN and other groups without even being forced to publicly defend the decision. Now, she hopes they will be forced to vote up or down on a proposal to bar ACORN from the Oversight Board. "What we're going to try to do is offer an amendment when the bill goes to the floor," says Bachmann. "That's the goal -- to keep people who are from ACORN from serving on the Oversight Board."
So there will be another test. Will Democrats vote to negate Waters' amendment, to keep ACORN and other organizations from playing key roles in the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency? Or will they take a stand for ACORN when it comes to the final debate on the bill? The answer could determine whether ACORN finds an important place in a large and powerful new government agency.
Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent
My apologies to the board, but I can't find a nicer way of saying this, but what a bunch of brain-dead, Marxist dumb-f*cks we have in power and unfortunately that reaches most of the way across to both parties.
What went wrong with housing in the first place? A bubble in values grew and grew far beyond the intrinsic value of the properties and far beyond the ability of buyers to continue to afford them. How could or why would something sell above its 'value'?? One word: Market Tampering (okay, two words).
Besides government skewing of values in the form of deductibility of interest that constitutes mostly a luxury item, besides the allowance of deductibility of property taxes, which takes away from the electorate pressure to LOWER the property taxes, we invent all these other non-market concoctions to skew the values. Or we are just brain dead to the idea of UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. Worst was the CRA P rogram that pressured banks to make non-creditworthy loans. Next came the disguising and packaging of bad loans by federally insured institutions without oversight. Then put on top of that FREE MONEY in the form of the first time homebuyer federal credit to further encourage people to buys homes they can't afford and to END the practice of SAVING and putting some of their OWN hard-earned money on the line before the bank puts up the rest.
So what do we do after the crash? More and more and more of the same.
The Paul Volcker observation is telling. Like Colin Powell, a very impressive endorsement during the campaign. He was showcased for credibility just when he was needed. Now he is ignored. ------
But Biden!?! This thread can't cover Obama's choices without looking into this one. It was disguised as a conventional, balancing reach for the ticket to the center of the party and to the senior, establishment player. But after learning of Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, Van Jones, Anita Dunn, the NAMBLA guy and on and on, I am forced to think that Joe Biden was strategically a head-fake. We were to think that Obama would move to the center no matter how incompetent a pick he would have to settle with. Instead we got clever and strategic Marxists and ruthless Chicago thugs. Like a good magician, we were looking at Biden while Obama was hiring czars away from Stalin and Mao. (JMHO)
Pres. George W. Bush had Katrina. It really had very little to do with him, but he had been weakened enough before it happened to be vulnerable for the blame - in all the confusion.
Bush senior had the breaking of his 'no new taxes' pledge moment. His opponents pressured and pressured and pressured him to raise taxes. He did, and they turned on him and ripped his credibility away forever. They actually wanted far more new taxes but this was his very famous promise he was discarding. For Carter it was telling the American people our best days were behind us. Reagan was well into his second term but I think Iran-Contra took quite a toll on the end of his Presidency.
Cheney shot the attorney and never made it back to center stage. Of course it had more to do with the Iraq war going badly.
Dukakis - it was the driving the tank photo. Gary Hart - it was called 'monkey business'. Hillary didn't really have the moment - there was just a general feeling that people wanted anyone but Hillary. For Edwards, he fizzled politically before his own bombshell hit. Some have that specific moment, some don't.
Back to Obama. Does anyone else sense the weakening of his mystique, the armor falling, that the perfect campaign in a perfect storm has not turned into perfect leadership or perfect governance? That people are starting to see that and he is becoming more and more vulnerable to being defined and boxed in by his next big screw up? And it may not even have to be a big one. ------------------- The latest curve ball coming by is the "Opt Out" clause. Liberals want 'the public option' in the bill, moderates want it out, conservatives - well, don't really matter. So they take the public option out to get it through committee, lose some support and put it back in, lose some other key votes and take it back out, and then suddenly they think of something almost too clever to be true: Put it in and give states the ability to "opt out".
What could be better? Harry Reid can tell Nevada there is no public option but tell his leftmost colleagues there still is. Nancy Pelosi can tell the San Francisco electorate their sex change operations are covered. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad from North Dakota can tell their ranchers no mandate. Opt Out might even muddy the constitutional question because the individual mandate would then come from the state - well sort of.
It all seems a little too slick. Do we also get to opt out of paying for it? Or just opt out of receiving our share of each new trillion spent? The federal tax rate would then be lower in Nebraska than Massachusetts? If so, what else is negotiable? What else involves federal taxing and spending not authorized by the constitution can states opt out of and not pay for? I could learn to like this approach. Slick and clever but not fully thought out by the coercive government people. Maybe this is one of President Obama's deep thoughts (even if it came from congressional staffers) that could backfire on him quite badly. If this played out to its logical conclusion, wouldn't the two systems and red and blue state program mixes look a lot like the split we had in the country coming into the civil war? Just curious.
Freki, all, We should add this wonderful list of truths (from Freki) to 'the way forward' thread as well.
The 10 Cannots
1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. 2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong 3. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. 4. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. 5. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. 6. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. 7. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. 8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. 9. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. 10 You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.
A thought sparked by the B.O. & friends thread: It is not enough to point out when these people, President Obama and his inner circle, are Marxists, support terror against our country, believe our country deserved attacks of 9/11, were never proud of our country, think Americans are cowards, respected and admired Chairman Mao, want to disarm America, want to curtail free speech, stop out investment incentives, nationalize industries, subsidize the press, bankrupt our energy sources, etc etc etc. Unfortunately, you/we must always also take the time on each point to say or write the part we think goes without saying --- why that is a bad idea!
Comments to the recent posts in the thread. Regarding the IMF, very clever not using the terms debtor, creditor! Wouldn't want to get a stigma. Just like food stamps re-named 'Snap' for better brand appeal. My understanding is that IMF is mostly non-US control where the World Bank is more U.S. dominated. I assume US is the main funder of both. My opinion: funding from the US should be decided by the US on a case by case basis with recorded up or down votes by the people's elected representatives, not diverted to these multinational institutions including the UN.
Interesting take on the US ceding control of the internet - to countries and intl organizations more prone to global regulation and taxation. No one else seemed to pick up a negative take on our country giving up another valuable asset. I'm sure they will still want disproportionate US funding.
Also should note in this thread that references elsewhere to the controversial IPCC study regarding alleged global warming always seem to leave out the first name of the group of agreeing scientists, it is not just a random group of single minded scientists; it is the the UN - IPCC.
The question: "At what point is someone beyond the social pale for all areas because of the views held in some areas?"
Discuss that, but my view is that CCP should decide what goes into CCP posts until HE crosses the line - and he hasn't! Same goes for the right of anyone here to criticize any quote or person quoted.
Alleged or implied of Buchanan was: "diminished the Holocaust and made somewhat supportive statements of Hitler and made antisemitic and anti Israel statements."
I think I was the only one to actually back that up with this link to the anti-defamation league: "search the anti-defamation league website for 'Buchanan' at website http://www.adl.org/search/query.asp". There are a bunch of over the top quotes there especially from his books. In and amongst the real objections are many quotes that are not so objectionable but just different than their own viewpoint, for example Buchanan opposes gay marriage which makes it harder to sort out the context where he made bonehead remarks like not knowing the CO levels of diesel engines.
Interestingly we just had Rush Limbaugh have his liberty taken due to quotes originating from a blog, picked up by the St. Louis Dispatch and CNN. Pretty good sources. Happened to be patently false. Same goes for context on the rest of what he says. The NY Times quotes him without noting that he points out absurdity by using absurdity; it is one of his techniques, so the quotes are real while the meaning and the context is lost. No one who listens regularly thinks he is racist or wants America to fail but every liberal who gets his words from elsewhere thinks exactly that. So he was denied a right within our economic system - to buy into a business of his choosing.
Crafty, recall also that Jude Wanniski was not exactly a friend of Israel. He was a defender of Saddam - one who paid people to kill Israelis, a denier of gassing the Kurds, but brilliant on economics. Off the board??
Back to the question, no one Muslim and certainly not Ahmadinejad could be posted if we ever took the wider and longer view. Nothing from Obama on this board it follows because he is on a quest to sit down with the guy, etc.
Of course I should have stopped there, but it was Rachel who wrote the most offensive view I've read here, and in return I'm sure vice versa. She basically said tough luck to the consequence of her abortion view which is current law, (like the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany) that nearly cost my daughter her life, defending the complete right of the mother to kill her unborn for any reason, in this case during a bipolar mood swing with the motive of spite, and that all men, the father in particular and the other relatives should have no say whatsoever in the process or in setting the law. Please correct me if wrong; I have no intention of overstating that point.
The silence of others here on abortion is deafening but the analogies to Hitlerisms never end - a primitive life form of lower value, not worth preserving. Where have I heard that before? 'Diminished the tragedy and made somewhat supportive statements of [those who choose to kill] and made anti-fetal statements' - 'not much different than a sperm and so what if it is alive with unique DNA', etc.
Yet I find her views on other subjects and other posts here extremely valuable and worthwhile. For example, I find this contribution yesterday brilliant, and not something I would run into elsewhere during my typical day: "According to the Midrash, the Third Commandment, "You shall not take G-d's name in vain," and the Eighth Commandment, "You shall not steal," are one and the same. Indeed, the Torah (in Leviticus 5:20) refers to financial fraud as "a betrayal of G-d." "Because," explains the great Talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva, "in defrauding his fellow, he is defrauding the Third Party to their dealings."
I wouldn't want my previous disagreement to prevent me from learning this kind of insight. - Doug ---- And since this is the fire hydrant, will someone tell me why we call God "G-d"? I think he knows we're talkin' about him.
Until this, I hadn't read anything critical about China's new PR campaign and the American Obamagasm over it that China will soon lead the world in green-everything if we don't get our coercive-big-government act together right now...
The Carbon Con Game Peter Huber, 10.15.09, 10:20 PM EDT Forbes Magazine dated November 02, 2009
China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas on the planet. We burn more carbon per person, but China has more people, and both its population and economy are growing much faster than ours. For many members of Congress, a vote for strict carbon limits will be politically suicidal if constituents continue to believe--correctly--that the vote will propel a massive shift of jobs, wealth and emissions from Peoria to Beijing. So in the coming months watch out for brazenly false claims that China is blazing the green trail, and getting richer by doing so, and that to compete we must outgreen them. China is of course delighted to jigger numbers to help frame the story.
"China attaches great importance to tackling climate change," China's climate commissar recently declared. The Middle Kingdom therefore promises to lower its energy consumption per unit of GDP. Translation: "We promise to get richer." Energy consumption per unit of GDP always falls as a country gets richer. The poorest countries in Africa spend 100% of their GDP on food, the most primitive form of energy. Bill Gates, on the other hand, has the lowest energy consumption per unit of household GDP on the planet. Carbon emissions per unit of GDP follow the same trajectory. China's are about twice as high as ours, Africa's three times as high. The global climate, however, doesn't care a fig about hyphenated emissions, whether per capita, per dollar or per unit of sly political prevarication.
"China also sets an objective of increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the primary energy mix to 10% by 2010, and to 15% by 2020." Translation: "We'll keep on burning the stuff that poor people burn until we get rich." Biomass accounts for 10% of the global energy supply but less than 4% in the developed world and closer to 2% in the U.S. The poor always burn more carbohydrates, fewer hydrocarbons. Calling something "renewable" doesn't mean that it saves carbon. Agriculture, forestry and deforestation already cost the planet more than twice as much in carbon equivalents as transportation--over 30% of all emissions. Since nobody can track how many twigs, cowpats and rice husks a billion peasants burn--or alternatively, leave to fungi to convert into methane, a powerful greenhouse gas--China's carbon accountants can make its renewable numbers come out anywhere they like.
China is proud to report that it has been shutting down "small thermal power-generation units." Translation: "We're replacing diesel generators with big coal-fired power plants." Big, central power plants burn much cheaper fuel much more efficiently, and therefore generate much cheaper power, and therefore boost energy consumption, emissions and GDP even faster.
China touts its new wind, hydroelectric and nuclear capacity. Translation: "China's energy policy is--and will remain--solidly anchored in coal." The word "capacity" next to "wind" misleads by a factor of five or so, because much of the time the wind doesn't blow. China's nuclear plants and its gargantuan hydroelectric dams will indeed make a real dent in the carbon intensity of its energy supply. But mushrooming coal consumption will utterly swamp the savings for as long as anyone can possibly foresee.
China says it "has increased its carbon sinks by promoting reforestation." Translation: "Your sinks don't count." North America has been reforesting since 1920, and continues to do so. So fast, in fact, that we're currently sucking about two-thirds of our carbon emissions back into our forests and soil. Europe and Japan hate all such talk, at least when it's America that's talking, because we have lots of land to reforest and they don't. U.S. greens do their best not to talk about it too, because--well, it gets in the way of other agendas.
China says because it's poor and we're rich, we must slash our emissions--absolute emissions, not the per-GDP kind--by 25% to 40% in the next decade, and also pay China and other developing countries in both cash and technology transfers to help them curb theirs. Translation: "You're responsible for our sorry past."
Agricultural footprints shrink, forests recover and birth rates decline as people get richer. Our 19th-century birth rates were as high as China's and India's were through most of the 20th. Their huge, impoverished populations reflect economic and political choices that stifled economic growth in their countries during the century when we got rich, stabilized our populations, reforested our land and dispatched would-be global tyrants to the dustbin of history. China, not America, is responsible for the economic and demographic legacies of Puyi, Yuan, Sun, Chiang and Mao.
Peter Huber is a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute and coauthor of The Bottomless Well
"Where in the Constitution is the authority to mandate that Americans buy health insurance?"
I passed that excellent question to my liberal senators, Amy Klobuchar and the Honorable Al Franken as well as Congressman Keith Ellison and one friendly Republican. Will keep the board informed of any interesting answers.
Maybe the federal authority to mandate health insurance is hidden in between the federal power to forbid states from limiting the right to kill your young and the search exemption for pleasure crafts.
A constitutional convention is a bad idea in a climate where the existing provisions are already ignored and when the opponents of limited government are clearly in power.
Instead it seems to me that each time federal authorities step on the constitution we should push for an up or down vote on repealing that constitutional protection, and see where they stand. For example, McCain-Feingold should have been coupled with a demand for congress to vote yea or nay on repeal of the 1st amendment. Couple Coast Guard funding with a demand for a vote to repeal the 4th amendment, and health reform with a demand for a vote for or against repealing the 10th. If 2/3 of the House and 2/3rds of the Senate vote repeal, off it goes to the states. I'm assuming that most people like constitutional limits on power, but like Pelosi - they just forget we have them.
Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place by others who came before. You deploy a military force that was planned and funded by your predecessors. You inherit relationships with partners and obligations to allies that were first undertaken years and even generations earlier. With the authority you hold for a little while, you have great freedom of action. And whatever course you follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave no doubts about the credibility of your country's word.
So among my other concerns about the drift of events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a breach of good faith.
It is certainly not a model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone calls. It took a long time and lot of political courage in those countries to arrange for our interceptor system in Poland and the radar system in the Czech Republic. Our Polish and Czech friends are entitled to wonder how strategic plans and promises years in the making could be dissolved, just like that - with apparently little, if any, consultation. Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion.
You hardly have to go back to 1939 to understand why these countries desire - and thought they had - a close and trusting relationship with the United States. Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia, under the orders of a man who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Anybody who has spent much time in that part of the world knows what Vladimir Putin is up to. And those who try placating him, by conceding ground and accommodating his wishes, will get nothing in return but more trouble.
What did the Obama Administration get from Russia for its abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic, and for its famous "Reset" button? Another deeply flawed election and continued Russian opposition to sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
In the short of it, President Obama's cancellation of America's agreements with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making two NATO allies walk the plank won't be felt only in Europe. Our friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America will abandon them as well.
Big events turn on the credibility of the United States - doing what we said we would do, and always defending our fundamental security interests. In that category belong the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to counter the nuclear ambitions of the current regime in Iran.
Candidate Obama declared last year that he would be willing to sit down with Iran's leader without preconditions. As President, he has committed America to an Iran strategy that seems to treat engagement as an objective rather than a tactic. Time and time again, he has outstretched his hand to the Islamic Republic's authoritarian leaders, and all the while Iran has continued to provide lethal support to extremists and terrorists who are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic continues to provide support to extremists in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, the regime continues to spin centrifuges and test missiles. And these are just the activities we know about.
I have long been skeptical of engagement with the current regime in Tehran, but even Iran experts who previously advocated for engagement have changed their tune since the rigged elections this past June and the brutal suppression of Iran's democratic protestors. The administration clearly missed an opportunity to stand with Iran's democrats, whose popular protests represent the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic since its founding in 1979. Instead, the President has been largely silent about the violent crackdown on Iran's protestors, and has moved blindly forward to engage Iran's authoritarian regime. Unless the Islamic Republic fears real consequences from the United States and the international community, it is hard to see how diplomacy will work.
Next door in Iraq, it is vitally important that President Obama, in his rush to withdraw troops, not undermine the progress we've made in recent years. Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with President Obama, who began his press availability with an extended comment about Afghanistan. When he finally got around to talking about Iraq, he told the media that he reiterated to Maliki his intention to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq. Former President Bush's bold decision to change strategy in Iraq and surge U.S. forces there set the stage for success in that country. Iraq has the potential to be a strong, democratic ally in the war on terrorism, and an example of economic and democratic reform in the heart of the Middle East. The Obama Administration has an obligation to protect this young democracy and build on the strategic success we have achieved in Iraq.
We should all be concerned as well with the direction of policy on Afghanistan. For quite a while, the cause of our military in that country went pretty much unquestioned, even on the left. The effort was routinely praised by way of contrast to Iraq, which many wrote off as a failure until the surge proved them wrong. Now suddenly - and despite our success in Iraq - we're hearing a drumbeat of defeatism over Afghanistan. These criticisms carry the same air of hopelessness, they offer the same short-sighted arguments for walking away, and they should be summarily rejected for the same reasons of national security.
Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission.
President Obama has said he understands the stakes for America. When he announced his new strategy he couched the need to succeed in the starkest possible terms, saying, quote, "If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged - that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can." End quote.
Five months later, in August of this year, speaking at the VFW, the President made a promise to America's armed forces. "I will give you a clear mission," he said, "defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That's my commitment to you."
It's time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger.
Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.
Recently, President Obama's advisors have decided that it's easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President's chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn't asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.
In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama's team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision - a good one, I think - and sent a commander into the field to implement it.
Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It's time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.
It's worth recalling that we were engaged in Afghanistan in the 1980's, supporting the Mujahadeen against the Soviets. That was a successful policy, but then we pretty much put Afghanistan out of our minds. While no one was watching, what followed was a civil war, the takeover by the Taliban, and the rise of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. All of that set in motion the events of 9/11. When we deployed forces eight years ago this month, it was to make sure Afghanistan would never again be a training ground for the killing of Americans. Saving untold thousands of lives is still the business at hand in this fight. And the success of our mission in Afghanistan is not only essential, it is entirely achievable with enough troops and enough political courage.
Then there's the matter of how to handle the terrorists we capture in this ongoing war. Some of them know things that, if shared, can save a good many innocent lives. When we faced that problem in the days and years after 9/11, we made some basic decisions. We understood that organized terrorism is not just a law-enforcement issue, but a strategic threat to the United States.
At every turn, we understood as well that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. We had a lot of blind spots - and that's an awful thing, especially in wartime. With many thousands of lives potentially in the balance, we didn't think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.
The intelligence professionals who got the answers we needed from terrorists had limited time, limited options, and careful legal guidance. They got the baddest actors we picked up to reveal things they really didn't want to share. In the case of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, by the time it was over he was not was not only talking, he was practically conducting a seminar, complete with chalkboards and charts. It turned out he had a professorial side, and our guys didn't mind at all if classes ran long. At some point, the mastermind of 9/11 became an expansive briefer on the operations and plans of al-Qaeda. It happened in the course of enhanced interrogations. All the evidence, and common sense as well, tells us why he started to talk.
The debate over intelligence gathering in the seven years after 9/11 involves much more than historical accuracy. What we're really debating are the means and resolve to protect this country over the next few years, and long after that. Terrorists and their state sponsors must be held accountable, and America must remain on the offensive against them. We got it right after 9/11. And our government needs to keep getting it right, year after year, president after president, until the danger is finally overcome.
Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after 9/11 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America ... and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.
Eight years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive - and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed. So you would think that our successors would be going to the intelligence community saying, "How did you did you do it? What were the keys to preventing another attack over that period of time?"
Instead, they've chosen a different path entirely - giving in to the angry left, slandering people who did a hard job well, and demagoguing an issue more serious than any other they'll face in these four years. No one knows just where that path will lead, but I can promise you this: There will always be plenty of us willing to stand up for the policies and the people that have kept this country safe.
On the political left, it will still be asserted that tough interrogations did no good, because this is an article of faith for them, and actual evidence is unwelcome and disregarded. President Obama himself has ruled these methods out, and when he last addressed the subject he filled the air with vague and useless platitudes. His preferred device is to suggest that we could have gotten the same information by other means. We're invited to think so. But this ignores the hard, inconvenient truth that we did try other means and techniques to elicit information from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and other al-Qaeda operatives, only turning to enhanced techniques when we failed to produce the actionable intelligence we knew they were withholding. In fact, our intelligence professionals, in urgent circumstances with the highest of stakes, obtained specific information, prevented specific attacks, and saved American lives.
In short, to call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program's legal underpinnings and safeguards. Such accusations are a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country's name and in our country's cause. What's more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of half-measures, is unwise in the extreme. In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.
For all that we've lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings - and least of all can that be said of our armed forces and intelligence personnel. They have done right, they have made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.
Last January 20th, our successors in office were given the highest honors that the voters of this country can give any two citizens. Along with that, George W. Bush and I handed the new president and vice president both a record of success in the war on terror, and the policies to continue that record and ultimately prevail. We had been the decision makers, but those seven years, four months, and nine days without another 9/11 or worse, were a combined achievement: a credit to all who serve in the defense of America, including some of the finest people I've ever met.
What the present administration does with those policies is their call to make, and will become a measure of their own record. But I will tell you straight that I am not encouraged when intelligence officers who acted in the service of this country find themselves hounded with a zeal that should be reserved for America's enemies. And it certainly is not a good sign when the Justice Department is set on a political mission to discredit, disbar, or otherwise persecute the very people who helped protect our nation in the years after 9/11.
There are policy differences, and then there are affronts that have to be answered every time without equivocation, and this is one of them. We cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and turning the guns on our own guys.
We cannot hope to win a war by talking down our country and those who do its hardest work - the men and women of our military and intelligence services. They are, after all, the true keepers of the flame.