Passing It On: "The Way We Get By"

Every day and night since May of 2003, a group of people in Bangor, Maine, have been on call for an uncommon, self-appointed duty at the city's international airport: to greet every flight carrying troops returning from, or departing for, Iraq and Afghanistan. All of the greeters featured in "The Way We Get By" (PBS Wednesday, 9-10:30 p.m. ET, but check local listings) are elderly and battling illness. The soldiers we see them cheering look uniformly fit and bursting with youthful health. As the film progresses, the interaction between the young (who face a possible death) and the old (who are staring at a more-certain one) sheds new light on the meaning of service. Along the way it also stuns us with unforgettable portraits of Americans of all ages in the fullness of life.

Bangor International Airport has been the first (or last) landfall in the U.S. for more than 900,000 troops (and dozens of dogs) from Iraq and Afghanistan. Sometimes there are six or more flights a day, each duly recorded on an airport wall chart by the greeters. As the war-zone returnees file off the planes here—everyone we see is clad in light-colored camouflage fatigues—the first person they hear inside the terminal often is 87-year old veteran Bill Knight, standing ready to shake every passing hand. Sometimes he cries out "Welcome home, heroes." Alert viewers will see even battle-hardened soldiers choking up.

On some faces there is joy. But for many, it takes more than landfall to break a grim spell; it takes the sight of these American civilians waiting in the terminal to say thanks. "You feel dull until you walk down the ramp and see these people," one apparently battle-hardened soldier explains in a wobbly voice. Then "you get tears in your eyes."

Some of the most affecting moments here involve contemporary soldiers stopping to hug and honor the greeters, whom they see as the generation of GIs who went before. "We're standing on their shoulders," one returnee says, and "what they've done in years gone by. We're just now starting to appreciate [that service] because we had to go through it ourselves."

Read more at Uncommon Calls to Duty.


Election 2009 Thoughts

1. A huge congratulation to the Republicans of Virginia for their huge wins.
2. Congratulations as well to Governor Elect Christie of New Jersey.
3. State elections are about state issues. The current issue in Virginia is the economy. McDonnell had a more positive message than Deeds. I think this was a significant factor in his win. Had Obama's administration economic policies been better, Obama and Deeds would have done better. Personality only go so far in politics, especially once you have to govern.
4. The NY-23 election was also about local issues. The take home lesson for conservatives and the GOP is that both have to work together to win. A third party candidate is not viable from the outside. But threats of a third party run may be preempted by cooperation between the GOP and conservatives. Had Hoffman won in NY-23, there would have been a greater impetus to field third party candidates elsewhere in NY in 2010 (given the established nature of the Conservative Party in NY) and maybe elsewhere nationally as well.
5. I think #4 is also significant regarding the Arctic Fox Palin. She would be more effective to shape the direction of the GOP better than building a third party movement.


Republicans, Conservatives and Independents

Since the November loss, not just for the presidency but also regarding seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives, there has been an ongoing debate on how to rebuild the party. The two predominant ideas are either to make the party more appealing to Independents or to return to core principles of conservatives. This competing idea is playing out in the NY23 race where the GOP nominated a moderate candidate Dede Scozzafava (as they called her) with the belief she will be more appealing to independents. In response, conservatives and conservative commentators have come out roaring against a candidate they consider either a RINO at best, or a far left at worse, in favor of a non GOP candidate from the Conservative party of NY, Doug Hoffman.

Conservatives Call On Scozzafava To Withdraw
Conservatives roar; Republicans tremble

I believe the GOP bosses are making several huge mistakes. Firstly, all successful organizations need people to do the work and believe in the work. Without the base, the party is certain to fail.

Rasmussen: 73 percent say GOP leaders have lost touch with Republican base

Secondly, there is also a divergence of the party's goal and the base's goal politically. The party wants to win election. Thus it makes perfect sense for the party to focus on candidates they believe are electable with appeals to the middle. But the base is more concerned with how the party will govern once elected. By having candidates that are far removed from the base's ideology, once elected they don't necessarily vote with the party. See Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe as examples.

Thirdly, the choice between electability and adherence to party ideology is a false choice because you could have both. Independent voters are frequently not wedded to a particular ideology. They do not have their own party or party platform. They thus choose from what is offered by the current parties come election time. Thus when the choice is between idea X and idea similar to X, the tendency will be to go with idea X itself rather than X-lite. But when the choice is between X and Y, where both are clearly different, Y becomes distinguished and appealing in its own right.

Obviously if an idea is clearly bad, it will not be chosen. I do not believe this is the case with the ideas of Conservatism. I believe the ideas of Conservatism continue to be sound and appealing to most of Americans, not just conservatives. As is, conservative outnumber liberals and twice as many Americans are becoming more conservative than more liberal.

While some politicians focus on winning elections,
On the NY23 Race, We Have A Practical Choice To Make

other remembers why why politicians are elected for office to begin with.
The votes of every member of Congress affect every American, so it's important for all of us to pay attention to this important Congressional campaign in upstate New York. I am very pleased to announce my support for Doug Hoffman in his fight to be the next Representative from New York's 23rd Congressional district. It's my honor to endorse Doug and to do what I can to help him win, including having my political action committee, SarahPAC, donate to his campaign the maximum contribution allowed by law.

* * *

Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of "blurring the lines" between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket.


2010 Election: the States

Recently at the Horse Race Blog Jay Cost posted this
Above all, the RNC needs to focus on its fundraising infrastructure. It must be ready for the Obama money tsunami that will be crashing ashore in the fall of 2012. If you thought the President raised a lot of money last cycle, you haven't seen anything yet! Also, the party needs to figure out why the Democrats have managed not only to catch up to, but actually exceed, the Republicans in fundraising - this after the banning of soft money, which had historically helped the Democrats. That's a puzzler that should have Republicans - above all Michael Steele - thinking about innovation. This should be happening to the exclusion of guest hosting radio shows, Mr. Chairman!

I emboldened the money quote. As I thought about it, I was at first skeptical to attribute Obama’s victory to money spent. After all, wasn’t it a nation tired after 8 years of W and ready and take a chance with a promise “Hope and Change?” And now that “Hope and Change” is revealing itself as empty rhetoric and dangerous far left ideology, I do not believe any sum of campaign money be spent to reverse the distrust the nation has acquired by then. So how can a money advantage possibly make a difference? Through vote fraud.

No, money may not buy enough vote to win election, but money can be spent through organizations such as ACORN. ACORN through shady voter registration efforts and with sufficient funding may have won Al Franken his Minnesota Senate seat. Steps must be taken to prevent voter fraud and I don’t think community vigilance will suffice. The law must be clarified to prevent illegal voter registration and a legal strategy must be planned for as contingency for illegal vote counts. I believe controlling the state legislature will be essential for the fair legislative over sight of the electoral process. In most states judges are appointed, usually by the Governor. Thus efforts to elect favorable governors are necessary. In a few states judges are elected and attention must be made to there judicial races as well.

Previously I discussed to importance of the 2010 state election in order to be in position to redraw the Congressional district maps as the result of the 2010 Census. It now appears to me that state elections are even more crucial than I previously thought. We all must pay close attention to and expand our efforts to win out states.


Insurance Deductable

I took my car into the shop yesterday for some body work after a minor collision. Because all i had to do was to pay the co-pay, i didn't really shop around for the best deal. I suspect the same mentality applies to most people when it comes health insurance and co-pays. Thus as long as everyone charges a similar amount, they can all over charge without concerns, and the consumer doesn't really care.
A better system might have been instead of a flat co-pay, use a percentage based co-pay, with plans for 5%, 10%, 20% etc co-pays. Thus there would be an incentive for the consumer to price shop. For health care, cost must be itemized and be more transparent. And to assist consumers in choosing the right provider, a rating system for the provider must be available. Any such ratings must consider how sick his/her patient is before care, and how sick they are after care.

What is a Tax?

What is a tax? Apparently Obama does not know.


Sarah Palin in Hong Kong

Once again Palin pre-empts Obama's speech, this time on the international stage. Sarah was invited to speak in Hong Kong at the CLSA Asia Pacific Markets Conference. Exerpts below are from the WSJ:
On Conservatism:

You can call me a common-sense conservative. My approach to the issues facing my country and the world, issues that we’ll discuss today, are rooted in this common-sense conservatism… Common sense conservatism deals with the reality of the world as it is. Complicated and beautiful, tragic and hopeful, we believe in the rights and the responsibilities and the inherent dignity of the individual.

We don’t believe that human nature is perfectible; we’re suspicious of government efforts to fix problems because often what it’s trying to fix is human nature, and that is impossible. It is what it is. But that doesn’t mean that we’re resigned to, well, any negative destiny. Not at all. I believe in striving for the ideal, but in realistic confines of human nature…

On Liberalism:

The opposite of a common-sense conservative is a liberalism that holds that there is no human problem that government can’t fix if only the right people are put in charge. Unfortunately, history and common sense are not on its side. We don’t trust utopian promises; we deal with human nature as it is.

On what caused the financial crisis:

While we might be in the wilderness, conservatives need to defend the free market system and explain what really caused last year’s collapse. According to one version of the story, America’s economic woes were caused by a lack of government intervention and regulation and therefore the only way to fix the problem, because, of course, every problem can be fixed by a politician, is for more bureaucracy to impose itself further, deeper, forcing itself deeper into the private sector.

I think that’s simply wrong. We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place. The mortgage crisis that led to the collapse of the financial market, it was rooted in a good-natured, but wrongheaded, desire to increase home ownership among those who couldn’t yet afford to own a home. In so many cases, politicians on the right and the left, they wanted to take credit for an increase in home ownership among those with lower incomes. But the rules of the marketplace are not adaptable to the mere whims of politicians.

Lack of government wasn’t the problem. Government policies were the problem. The marketplace didn’t fail. It became exactly as common sense would expect it to. The government ordered the loosening of lending standards. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. The government forced lending institutions to give loans to people who, as I say, couldn’t afford them. Speculators spotted new investment vehicles, jumped on board and rating agencies underestimated risks.

On greenhouse gas legislation:

It seems like some are looking to ever more ways that will actually destroy economic opportunities today. Take for example, Washington’s cap-and-trade scheme. I call it the “cap-and-tax” scheme. Right now we have the highest unemployment rate in 25 years, and it’s still rising. And yet some in D.C. are pushing a cap-and-tax bill that could cripple our energy industry or energy market and dramatically increase the rates of the unemployed, and that’s not just in the energy sector.

American jobs in every industry will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under this cap-and-tax plan. The cost of farming will certainly increase. That’s going to drive up the cost of groceries and drive down farm incomes. The cost of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also rise. We are all going to feel the effects. The Americans hardest hit will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet today, much less with this new tax every month…

I am not indifferent to environmental concerns. Far from it. As governor, I created a sub-cabinet to study the impacts of climate change in my state. And I was the first governor to do so. It took us in a new direction…

I’m a supporter of nuclear power and renewables. We can develop these resources without destroying our economy. And we can help the environment and our economy through energy independence.

On health care:

I seem to have acquired notoriety in national debate. And all because of two words: death panels. And it is a serious term. It was intended to sound a warning about the rationing that is sure to follow if big government tries to simultaneously increase health care coverage while also claiming to decrease costs. Government has just got to be honest with the people about this….

As I said, it’s just common sense to realize that government’s attempts to solve large problems like the health-care challenges that we have, more often create new ones, and a top down one size fits all plan will not improve the workings of a nationwide health-care system that accounts for some one-fifth of our economy.

Common sense also tells us that passing a trillion dollar new retirement program, that’s not the way to reduce health-care spending. Real health-care reform is market oriented, patient centered and result driven. It would give all individuals the same tax benefit, that an ideal plan that I would have in mind, same tax benefits as those who get coverage through their employers. And give Medicare recipients vouchers so that they can buy their own coverage. And reform tort laws and change regulations to allow people to buy insurance across state lines. Rather than another top down government plan, we should give Americans themselves control over their own health care with market friendly responsible ideas.

On relations with China:

We engage with a hope that Beijing becomes a responsible stakeholder, but we must take steps in the event that it goes in a different direction. See, we all hope to see a China that is stable and peaceful and prosperous. Optimism that yes, it will be.

Asia is at its best when it is not dominated by a single power. In seeking Asia’s continued peace and prosperity, we should seek, as we did in Europe, an Asia whole and free. Free from domination by any one power…

On China’s relations with Taiwan, and other controversial issues:

We simply cannot turn a blind eye to Chinese policies and actions that could undermine international peace and security. Here, China has some one thousand missiles aimed at Taiwan and no serious observer though believes that it poses a serious threat to Beijing. Those same Chinese forces make our friends in Japan and Australia kind of nervous.

China provides support for some of the most questionable regimes, from Sudan to Burma to Zimbabwe. China’s military buildup, it raises concern from Delhi to Tokyo because it’s taking place in the absence of really any discernable threat to it. China, along with Russia, has repeatedly undermined efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Iran for its defiance of the international community in pursuing its nuclear program. And the Chinese food and safety, uh food and product safety record, of course it’s raised alarms from East Asia and Europe to the U.S. and domestic instance of unrest. From the protest of Uighurs and Tibetans to Chinese workers throughout the country rightfully makes a lot of people nervous.

On human rights and democracy in China:

The more politically open and just China is, the more Chinese citizens of every ethnic group will be able to settle disputes in court rather than on the streets. The more open it is, the less we’ll be concerned about its military buildup and its intentions. The more transparent China is, the more likely it is that they will find a true and lasting friendship based on shared values as well as interests. And I’m not talking about a U.S.-led democracy crusade. [We’re] not going to impose our values on other countries. We don’t seek to do that. But the ideas of freedom and liberty and respect for human rights, it’s not just a U.S. idea. They’re very much more than that. They’re enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other international covenants and treaties.

On China-U.S. economic relations:

Our economic interdependence drives our relationship with China. I see a future of more trade with China and more American high tech goods in China. But in order for that to happen, we need China to improve its rule of law, and protect our intellectual property. We need to avoid protectionism and China’s flirtation with state assisted national champions. On our part we should be more open to Chinese investment where our national security interests are not threatened. In the end though, our economic relationship will truly thrive when Chinese citizens and foreign corporations can hold the Chinese government accountable when their actions are unjust.

Read more at Texas for Palin.

All the above just makes common sense. Contrast the above with the apologetic nonsense the Obamassiah had to say to the UN yesterday.

In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold. The traditional division between nations of the south and north makes no sense in an interconnected world. Nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long gone Cold War.


Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside. Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect. Each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its people, and - in the past - America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy. But that does not weaken our commitment, it only reinforces it. There are basic principles that are universal; there are certain truths which are self evident - and the United States of America will never waiver in our efforts to stand up for the right of people everywhere to determine their own destiny.


ACORN is Despicable

Previous I posted about ACORN and Fraud. The revelation documented by Hannah Giles, James O'Keefe, and Andrew Breitbart at Big Government deserves big applause. Both the House and the Senate now have taken steps to stop funding ACORN. I am sure they will find a way (both the Democrats in bed with ACORN and ACORN themselves) will find a way to continue their activities. The key though is that their taint is now in the public domain.

What is exemplary about this episode isn't just about breaking open how despicable and corrupt ACORN is, but also how corrupt and lazy the main stream medias are. In the process it also underscores how new media, as well as concerned citizens can make a difference that shame and make irrelevant the legacy media. Again, kudos to the folks at Big Government! Happy hunting.


Read the Bill

Yesterday on the way home National Public Radio had a piece on protesters expecting congressmen to read a bill before they vote on it. It was clear that pushing bills through votes before the bill is read is the norm in Congress. I suspect that most congressmen simply trust the bill's content, constructed by congressional committee, to be firstly what it purport to be and secondly to be legally sound. Given this implied or practical trust, that it would be reasonable for most of Congress to vote on a bill they have not read. NPR's slant was that this has been going on all along and thus should be acceptable. It is not. Just because a process has continued to occur, and perhaps even accepted as standard practice, does not make it either sound or acceptable. Truly faulty reasoning.

If they think that such trust is sufficient, then the bill should be voted on by all citizens in the US. But that is currently not possible. Until then, I expect my congressman to at least give a damn, show some professional curiosity to know and understand what is in a bill when they vote for it. If they cannot understand it, they either should not be a congressman or the bill is too complicated to pass. Passing a tortuous complicated bill into law results in either enlargement of a faceless bureaucracy that implement such laws, and or loop holes that would devalue the intent of the law. Either is unacceptable.



Remember 911.

Fight terrorism.


Obama & the Managerial High Ground

In a previous post I looked at what appears to be Obama attempt to stay above the political realm by staking out the moral high ground.
Most of Obama's words thus far suggest that he is staking a claim for the Moral High Ground. He has released the torture memos because he believes he is better than the Bush administration in this regard. He is releasing the pictures of "torture" prisoners for the very same reasons. When he was oversea he apologized for past US actions, because he nominally believe the US could have done better, and that under him we will. There are two things to consider here.

First is that if he thinks this will make the US safer or better he is wrong. Those who work toward our destruction do so not because of some reasoning, but some hatred. That we could have been better angers them. That we believe we could be better also angers them. There mere fact that we are different from what they want to be angers them, regardless of how good we are. Staking claim to the Moral High Ground may make things worse for us. It certainly not keeps us safer. Those that seek to compete against us will not treat us better, or help us further our goals. They compete against us because they think they can beat us. Given any opportunity to do so they will certainly try regardless of who has the Moral High Ground.

Second is that if he thinks he can claim the Moral High Ground he is also wrong. This sort of thinking seems rampant to those without practical experience in life, living by concepts they believe the world should operate by rather than the principles the world lives by. This is akin to a rich couple believing their wealth keeps their estate well maintained, rather than understanding that it is still the housekeepers and gardeners' labors over dirt. Or a hospital CEO proclaiming how many lives his hospital saves, without acknowledging it is the doctors and nurses work in soilage and pus. Or a general believing he won the battle rather than the soldiers killing and maiming. The difference between Obama's Moral High Ground and reality is the difference between Ideals and Practice.

At best, his stake for the Moral High Ground only shows his naïveté. What it clearly reveals is his hubris, not his humanity. And through it all, he has also demonstrated willingness to use politics to further himself.

I return to this topic after reviewing two recent events pertaining to the current Obama administration.

The first is his attempt to push through a health care reform package that he did not craft, that he doesn't know much about, and doesn't really care too much regarding the details other than it gets done and gets done quickly. Some commentators have suggested that he is trying to avoid the mistakes of Clinton's own attempt to reform health care, which was to too involved in its creation. To me it seems Obama have decided to allow others to craft the reform, and he would just be the catalyst to make it happen. This naturally allow him to take credit for its passage, should it pass, as well as distance himself from it, should it fail (and it should).

The second is his "allowance" of the Justice Department to investigate the CIA interrogation of captured terrorist (note it really just one terrorist that this is all about, the guy who helped planned the 911 attack Khalid Sheikh Mohammed). To me he is putting both attorney general Eric Holder out on the limb as the one person actually politically responsible for the investigation (though certainly another person as lead investigator actually will do the factual work) as well as as Leon Panetta as the current head of the CIA. This way he will appease the far left who have clamored for an investigation. The political fall out during the investigation will now be between the CIA and the Justice department with him as the overlord observer. Should the investigation finds something, Panetta will certainly be the fall guy within his own CIA for allowing the investigation. Should the investigation finds nothing, Holder will be left holding an empty bag and suffer the rantings of the unhinged left. Either way Obama is shirking actual responsibility for the investigation, or the even more responsible decision not to investigate at all.

Everything points to Obama being a very poor leader. He may be inspiring to his supporter but he doesn't take ownerships of his decisions, letting others fall away while he takes credit for their success or distance himself for their failure. A true leader lead by leading, not by being.


"Spreading the Wealth" for Health Care

Over at Bookworm room, she reports a conversation with he Kaiser Permanente Doctor.
The doctor had a very interesting take on the current uninsured. I said that a lot of people are opposed to the proposed plan because they recognize that those numbers being bandied about regarding uninsured are false. That is, the 45 million (or whatever) uninsured aren’t uninsured simply because of poverty. The vast majority are either illegal aliens (and you can see his views about those above) or voluntary uninsured. As to the latter, my friend thinks they’re the real problem. He understands that these people are voluntary uninsured because they are young and healthy. They’re gambling that they won’t need insurance. Or they might be marginally insured, in that they buy a $10 policy with a $10,000 deductible, just in case something really bad happens. They are not putting money into the system.

What this doctor likes about mandatory universal health care is that it forces the voluntary uninsured into the system. He thinks it grossly unfair that they are not paying into the system, while people who need insurance are paying. If there were more money in the system, the person with a preexisting condition would not be required to pay as much for his insurance. In other words, he thinks that the insurance system should be a cross between an uninsured motorist requirement and social security. He freely admits that this is a government mandated spread the wealth approach, and one of which he approves.

Because he has a philosophical approach that requires everyone to be in the health care market, whether they want to be or not, he is unperturbed by CBO numbers projecting vast increases in the cost of health care under the new plan. He thinks the CBO people, being accountants and not doctors, have no idea what they’re talking about. What he envisions is a brave new world in which the government simply provides more insured people who will use medical services. He finds it inconceivable that universal health care (which is a system by which all people are insured, but medical care providers continue to be privately owned) can shade into a single payer, government-owned system.

He does not believe that having the government as an insurance provider will change the system and drive out private insurance. Nor does he believe that, even if all private insurance is gone, with the government being the only bill-payer, that this will do anything other than purify the private medical system of the current social injustices that plague it. He also refused to believe that, in other countries that have socialized medicine, there are treatments that are denied to people, not because the treatments don’t work, but because the people are deemed (by government mandate) to be too old or too ill to be worthy of treatment. As for government lists of treatment, he says we have them already, because every care provider is in thrall to Medicare and related government programs. He did not see a difference between the fact that Medicare sets prices, but does not yet set age or health boundaries for providing treatments.

He is very disturbed by the opposition to the health care plan, which he sees as the product of Republican cabals who are shipping agitators into local town hall meetings. The absence of any concrete evidence of such busing (such as buses) does not change his mind.

I explained that people are also concerned that they’re being sold a bill of goods that is not as promised. The rush to pass a bill (three weeks “deliberation” to change a sixth of the economy) didn’t bother him at all. “That’s how things go.” When I raised specific concerns about the existing bill (the inability to stick with your insurance if you change jobs, the incentive for employers to dump insurance and drive people into the government system, the government decision boards re treatments, the enhanced access the government will have to our finances) he just didn’t care. He thought those were petty concerns and was sure I was wrong. He also discounted the hidden taxes in the bill. “Obama promised that he’d veto any taxes.”

The doctor also dismissed the fact that many of the bill’s proponents — including the president himself — are on record as supporting single-payer care (which is different from the universal care this doctor supports). He denies that Obama lied at the New Hampshire townhall when he when he said ““I have not said that I am a supporter of a single-payer system,” despite several past instances of his having said precisely that. “There’s no lie there,” said my doctor friend. “Obama did not say that he ‘never’ supported single payer care. He’s talking in the present tense. He doesn’t support it now.” I said that, if that’s what the great communicator meant, that’s what he should have said, including explaining why he’s changed his mind. “Nah,” said the doctor. It was clear.

The conversation ended there.

My response, with some additional comment not posted there in italic, is as follows.

1. Unnecessary tests rarely profits the doctor ordering it, whether it be lab tests or procedures. When a doctor sends a patient to get endoscopy, the gastroenterologist profits (if not on salary) from the procedure, not the referring physician. Yes the referring doctor could have just given you a trial treatment, as well as the gastroenterologist. Kaiser though also would not profited from the endoscopy it this was an in-network service. Kaiser predominantly profit from the subscription/insurance fee of its members by taking more in than they spend, by taking money from people who use less of kaiser services and spending some (but not all) of it on those who need and use more.

2. Health systems thus profit by taking money from those who subscribe for health services but do not use as much of it as they put in. If we look at our national health care system overall, the problem may seem that the uninsured are not putting money into the system and thus your doctor’s impression may seem correct but it is not. The uninsured do put money into the system already through taxes they pay to the local, state, and federal system. Those who choose to go uninsured likely believe that they would not need to be insured because they don’t expect to use health care should have that choice respected. In large part these are young people who really don’t need to. To think we should force them, or those who cannot afford insurance, to buy insurance or buy into the health care finance system seems coercive to me.

3. I have no problem with the doctor being agreeable to the government spreading the wealth in this regard for health care. If you think it is a form of taxation for the general well being of the nation, like that of national defense for instance, or border control, or disasters relief a health care tax might even seem reasonable. What is not reasonable is to think that as a democracy that rose party out of refusal to pay unfair taxes, that the doctor would take exceptions to people, whether it be a majority or a minority voice of protest. Isn't that the essence of the Tea Parties and the townhall protests currently underway regarding what the current government proposes. And should the majority decides against this tax should it be forced on them anyway?

4. For a learned person, the doctor still made several gross error in analysis and judgment. The first being a sampling error based on anecdotal experience. Just because the Kaiser system works does not mean a government managed system would. Yes clearly a “public” option will drive private plans out of business because the government plan will get income from everyone through taxation, even the already insured will pay them, thus the government’s “public” option plan will always have a higher ratio of pay-ins to pay-outs than any private plan could match. And since the government has the right to set health care standards for all, private health system cannot hope to compete. In addition, the government has never been known for being efficient financially or in service provided whether it be Amtrak, the post office, or Veterans Health Administration. What partly work now, or even what works well now, can work even less later. Not all reforms make things better.

5. The second error the doctor made is likely based on hubris of being an educated physician thinking he knows better for the patient than the patient himself. Though the current drive for health care reform is really about reforming to control costs rather than improve care access (though some will certainly benefit from improved access), when it comes to the ultimate and primary recipient of health care, it is about quality of care. The current anxiety and consternation among the majority of Americans center around the care they are currently getting as contrasted to the care they may or may not get with the reform. The doctor likely believe he can deliver the same (high?) level of care to his patients and are thus is dismissive of patients general concern over health care reform. He may not realize some patients may not think so highly of his delivery, and he certainly underestimate how someone smarter (or perhaps even less smart than he but has a better political pedigree) than he, another physician installed as a health care czar, may feel inclined to believe he is wasteful and starts to dictate how he could do better, placing him in a position to have to change his standards of practice to conform to someone else’s standards. When one is smart, there is a tendency to believe that one is right and that this right is self evident to anyone else with half a brain.

6. The third error the doctor made is allowing his own convictions and bias blind him to information challenging the veracity of his own beliefs.

I have frequently noted that when a doctor speaks out for or against in the current health care debate, they are given special status and what they say seems to gain greater significance. But shouldn't the truth and the justice of any argument be equally valid and valued regardless of the speaker? It is all really rather amusing.


The Cost of Health Care

As part of the justification to "reform" the health care system in the US is predicated on the argument that the cost of health care in the US is too high. How do they know? It is because our the amount of money we spend on health care is higher than that of other industrialized nations without a better outcome? In these analysis, one such better outcome is typically measured as survival of some sort or another. I think survival measures are misleading for several reasons. Take infant survival for instance. Yes, as reported to the World Health Organization the US has higher infant mortality rates than most Western nations. Why is this? Partly because of how we calculate the mortality figure; what constitute a death is obvious but what constitute a birth is not always so obvious. The WHO specifies a birth as a "viable birth" but in some nations, if a live infant is born without meeting their ability to keep alive, it isn't considered a "viable birth".
Using mortality as a measure of health care outcome also doesn't show the whole picture. In the US we spend a significant amount of resources on palliation to improve quality of life without improving the over all survival. Medicare spends about 25-30% of its budget each year on the last year's of life. We typically do all we can to save a life and spends the resources to do so. But it isn't just in the last year of life. In Germany for instance, post operative analgesia are typically aspirins and ibuprofen, analgesics we can get over the counter here in the US. Here in the US, nearly all post operative analgesics are narcotic based, with pills for outpatient care and patient controlled intravenous injection of narcotics for inpatient recovery. These things cost money without extending longevity.
But for somethings longevity is better in the US. Take cancer survival for instance. But longevity also varies across the globe that has nothing to do with health care delivery. The US has a significantly higher population of obese patient and a higher incidence of heart disease, likely due to our diet.

The second motive to reform health care is to reign in health care inflation. I remember the same arguments a decade ago for Health Maintenance Organization (HMOs). For a few years, health care inflation was reigned in but afterward, it resume at previous rates of increase. The chart below is interesting in that this isn't just in the US but the health care inflation is on a similar projection in the UK as well as France.

What this graph signifies again is that there a cultural component the health care cost and health care inflation that is not being discussed. Western nations have rapidly rising health care cost, Japan does not. That there is cultural variation on what we spend money on should come as no surprise. For instance, most homes in the US has air conditioning and thus we have less consequences of heat waves. In France this isn't so.
All in all, we get what we pay for. In the US we spend more on palliative measures and this in actuality is a mark of our wealth. Health care isn't about survival in the US, health care is also about quality of life. This is a choice our society has decided on. Yes like any choice we can change our mind but we need to be cognizant what the debate should entails. I suspect some advocate for health care reforms knows this but also realize that a supposed cost saving argument is easier made than a cultural changing argument.


Capitalism and Creating Jobs

This was published in the WSJ by Bill Burbage on Thursday 20090730. I thought it made alot of sense and rather insightful. Perhaps it was obvious but sometimes the obvious needs to be restated.
No entrepreneur has ever had an objective of “creating jobs.” Everybody, employers and individuals alike, constantly seeks to eliminate jobs. As Adam Smith put it in “The Wealth of Nations,” all of the tools and machines that we use are designed to “facilitate and abridge labour,” i.e., to reduce jobs. People go into business to make a profit. If any jobs are created in the process, they are created because there is no way to avoid it. Employees are expensive.

To create more jobs, the sovereign must remove as many obstacles as he can between the entrepreneur and his ability to make a profit. No other stimulus is necessary. As Smith says: “The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security is so powerful a principle that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.”

In his wildest nightmare Smith could not have imagined the “impertinent obstruction” of a 15.3% payroll tax—not on profits but on total revenues. Mandates by the federal government have made the hiring of an employee more akin to adopting him and his family.

To those who think that a recovery is automatic based on historical or cyclical experience, consider that Cuba has not recovered in 50 years. It will not recover in another 50 years unless it restores an environment that is not hostile to entrepreneurial activity; neither will the U.S. Instead of eliminating the obstacles that already exist, we are preparing to pile on even more with the carbon tax and health-care reform.


"The HC Monstrosity-All 1,018 Pages"

Fleckman reads all 1018 pages of the current healthcare bill and gives us highlights. I have selected a few of note. The rest available here. My comments in italics.

PG 950- 980 BIG GOVT core pub health infrastruc. incl workforce capacity, lab systems; health info sys, etc
What happens when the core lab and info system goes down?

Pg 932 The Govt will estab Preventative & Wellness Trust fund- intial cost of $30,800,000,000-Billion.

PG 913-914 Govt starts a HC affirmative action program thru guise of diversity scholarships.

PG 898 The Govt will establish a Public Health Workforce Corps. 2 ensure supply of public health prof.

PG 876-892 The govt takes over the education of our Med students and Drs.

PG 865 to 876 The NHS Corps is a program where Drs. perform mandatory HC for 2yrs for part loan repayment.

Pg 865 The Govt will MANDATE the establishment of a National Health Service Corps.

Pg 859 Govt will establish a Public Health Fund at a cost of $88,800,000,000. Yes thats Billion.

PG 844-845 OMG! This Home Visitation Prog. includes Govt coming in2 ur house & telling u how 2 parent!!!

Pg 838-840 Govt will design & implem. Home Visitation Prog 4 families w young kids & families expect kids.

PG 835 11-13 fees imposed by Govt for Trust Fund shall be treated as if they were taxes.

PG 829-833 Govt will impose a fee on ALL private health ins. plans incl. self insured to pay for Trust Fund!

PG 801 Sec 1751 The Govt will decide which Health care conditions will be paid. Say RATION!

Pg 789-797 Govt will set, mandate drug prices, controlling which drugs brought 2 mrkt. Bye innovation

Pg 769 3-5 Nurse Home Visit Svcs – “increasing birth intervals btwn pregnancies.” Govt ABORTIONS any1?

Pg 735 lines 16-25 For law enforce. purposes the Secretary-HHS will give Atty General access to ALL data.

Pg 719-720 Sec 1637 ANY Doctor who orders durable med equip or home med svcs MUST b enrolled in Medicare.

PG 711 Lines 8-14 The Secretary has broad powers to deny HC providers/suppliers admittance into HC Exchng.

Pg 676-686 Govt will regulate hospitals in EVERY aspect of residency programs, incl. teaching hospitals.

PG 660-671 Doctors in Residency – Govt will tell U where ur residency will b, thus where u’ll live.

Pg 632 Lines 14-25 The Govt may implement any “Quality measure” of HC Services as they see fit.

PG 621 Lines 20-25 Govt will define what Quality means in HC. Since when does Govt know about quality?

Pg 503 Lines 13-19 Govt will build registries and data networks from YOUR electronic med records.

PG 438 Sec 1236 – The Govt will develop a patient decision making aid program that u & Dr. WILL use.

PG 432 Lines 18-21 The Govt will publish “quality measures” 4 individual’s end of life in Federal Register.

PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Govt will decide what level of treatment u will have at end of life.

Pg 429 Lines 13-25 – The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order. Logan’s Run anyone?

PG 429 Lines 10-12 “adv. care consultation” may incl an ORDER 4 end of life plans. AN ORDER from GOV

PG 427 Lines 15-24 Govt mandates program 4 orders 4 end of life. The Govt has a say in how ur life ends.

PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Govt provides apprvd list of end of life resources, guiding u in death.

PG 404 Lines 12-16 Govt exempts itself again from – Chap 35 of title 44, USC incl. privacy of Americans.

Pg 354 Sec 1177 – Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs ppl! WTF. My sis has down syndrome!!

Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Govt has authority 2 disqual Medicare Adv Plans, HMOs, etc. Forcing peeps in2 Govt plan.

Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand.

Pg 317 L 13-20 OMG!! PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Drs. what/how much they can own.

Pg 304 L 17-19 Govt does NOT have 2 protect ur priv, share w any1, & is not resp http://www.twitlonger.com/show/c5bcfdae5fa79a650bbdab6be70918ac (expand)

Pg 304 L 17-19 BIG ONE HERE: Expedited Data Collection – Chapter 35 o… Read More: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/c5bcfdae5fa79a650bbdab6be70918ac

Pg 303 L 12-25 Post Acute Care Svcs Data – Govt will collect data including Pers. info as they see fit.

Pg 287 Line 14-25 PROOF that Govt will ration HC by mandating waiting periods for readmission.

PG 276 Line 3-20 Oxgen Equip & Supply Cos -Govt MANDATES u will provide suppl NO MATTER where indiv. is.

PG 272 SEC. 1145. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS – Cancer patients – welcome to rationing!

Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill – Doctors, doesnt matter what specialty u have, you’ll all be paid the same.

Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill Govt will reduce physician svcs 4 Medicaid. Seniors, low income, poor affected.

Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access 2 ALL Americans finan/pers recs.

Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesnt have acceptable HC accrdng 2 Govt will be taxed 2.5% of inc.

Pg 151 Lines 1-3 HC Bill Aggregate Rules-tax on employers payroll not on pub opt. incl payroll of other biz.

pg 150 Lines 9-13 Biz w payroll btw 251k & 400k who doesnt prov. pub. opt pays 2-6% tax on all payroll.

Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Emplyr w payroll 400k & above who does not prov. pub opt. pays 8% tax on all payroll.

Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into pub opt plan. NO CHOICE.

Pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill – Doctors/ #AMA – The Govt will tell YOU what u can make.

Pg 126 lines 10-15 HC Bill – The Govt can make up prices for anything at anytime for any reason.

Pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No “judicial review” against Govt Monop.

Pg 110 Lines 7-12 HC Bill Employment taxes on ALL employers NOT offering Govt HC. No choice.

Pg 109 Sec 207 – Health Trust Fund. The Govt will raise taxes on EVERYONE 2 fund HC as they see fit.

Pg 84 Sec 203 HC bill – Govt mandates ALL benefit pkgs 4 priv. HC plans in the Exchange.

Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Govt is creating an HC Exchange 2 bring priv HC plans under Govt control.

Pg 62 HC bill – Protection of Data, Govt shows they will have database of ur pers & financial info.

Pg 61 HC Bill lines 22-24 Congress has no clue what Elec. Med Records will cost. Asks for estimate.

Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Govt will have direct access 2 ur banks accts 4 elect. funds transfer!

Pg 58HC Bill – Govt will have real-time access 2 individs finances & a National ID Healthcard will b issued!

Pg 42 of HC Bill – The Health Choices Commissioner will choose UR HC Benefits 4 you. U have no choice!

Pg 37 Sec 132 of HC Bill – The Govt will be reviewing grievances about themselves and will decide on appeals for rejected claims.
You can only sue the government if they let you.

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill – THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benes u get.

PG 24 Sec 116 of HC bill Govt effectively sets prices for ALL private health plans. WTF!!!!

Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the Govt will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!!

HT: Right Wing Sparkle


Republican Party & Conservatives Ideology

According to wikipedia, conservatism in the US is described thus:
is a major American political ideology. In contemporary American politics, it is often associated with the Republican Party. Core conservative principles include a trust in God and country, and many U.S. conservatives support a fiscal policy rooted in small government, laissez faire capitalism, and supply-side economics. In foreign policy, American conservatives usually advocate some moderate aspects of "American exceptionalism", a belief that the U.S. is unique among nations and that its standing and actions do and should guide the course of world history.

The above description links two things that are currently incompatible in practice, the Republican Party as a vehicle to elect Conservative politicians with Conservativism consisting of "a fiscal policy rooted in small government, laissez faire capitalism, and supply-side economics. The reality is that any conservatives entering politics may believe sincerely in small government but how can one reasonably expect anyone to work to make one's job less essential? How to be in government in order to make government smaller? Isn't this what is expected of a Conservative Republicans?

Democratic politicians believe in big government. They enter politics with the goal of enlarging the role of government. The longer they stay in government, the larger role they play in government, the more successful they are at achieving their political ideology. This will not be true for Conservative Republicans. The longer Republicans stay in politics, the less conservative they become in terms of small government. Once they lose the Conservative political ideal of small government, they really are no longer Conservatives. They may remain social conservatives or religious conservatives, but even social conservatives prefer the government not to dictate social conducts and even religious conservatives prefer government apart from their church. Thus a Republican politician that is not a Conservative will at best become ineffective as a Conservative, or will betray the Conservative cause.

This is playing itself out in US politics. The Republican Party, as directed by long time DC insiders, long term Republican politicians, is growing away from from Conservative voters political ideation. Witness the low turn out for McCain before Palin and the current Tea Parties. I believe most Republican politicians may earnestly believe they are doing the best they can, and that having been in government longer, they may even know better than the Conservatives that voted them into office. Some I believe already know they have strayed far from Conservatism and just don't care. Some of these latter, like Arlen Spectre, renounce their Republican status and run as a Democrat. Some of these latter continue to masquerade as Republicans and help direct and run the Republican Party. Because of their self-serving dishonesty, these are the most despicable of politicians, Republican or Democrats. Regardless, the longer a Republican stay in the same political office, the less Conservative they become.

As is, the only way I can see to minimize the natural political corruption of Republican politicians is term limits. Republican politicians or the Party should adopt and declare voluntary and self imposed term limits. Waiting for a law to impose term limits is very unlikely to happen. Term limits hurts the Democrats and is counter to their political goals and ideation. Term limits allows Republicans to adhere to their political goals and ideation. I actually believe that when a politician declares he will limit his political career, to achieve a declared goal in a set time, or step away and let another try, will help his electoral chances.


Obama's Press Conference on Healthcare Reform

1. The usual strawman "to do nothing with the current status quo unacceptable."

2. The usual fear mongering "something has to be done now."

3. The usual hope sales "we can do better and will do better."

It is also evident that Obama is selling the goal of "affordable healthcare for everyone" but offers no plan as to how to make it all happen.

All rhetoric, no substance.


Holding the Hands with Those Falling Into Night

JOINT BASE BALAD — The emergency-room trauma call and the medical staff's immediate action upon his arrival is only a memory to her now; sitting quietly at the bedside of her brother-in-arms, she carefully takes his hand, thanking him for his service and promising she will not leave his side.
He is a critically injured combat casualty, and she is Army Sgt. Jennifer Watson of the Casualty Liaison Team here.

Although a somber scene, it is not an uncommon one for the Peru, Ind., native, who in addition to her primary duties throughout the last 14 months, has taken it upon herself to ensure no U.S. casualty passes away alone. Holding each of their hands, she sits with them until the end, no matter the day or the hour.

"It's unfortunate that their families can't be here," said Watson, who is deployed here from Fort Campbell, Ky. "So I took it upon myself to step up and be that family while they are here. No one asked me to do it; I just did what I felt was right in my heart. I want them to know they are heroes.

"I feel just because they are passing away does not mean they cannot hear and feel someone around them," she continued. "I talk to them, thanking them for what they have done, telling them they are a hero, they will never be forgotten, and I explain my job to them to help them be at ease knowing the family will be told the truth."

HT: Bookworm Room

The First Shot: Cap & Trade

It has begun.

There is no shortage of threats to our economy. America's unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to continue climbing. Worries are widespread that even when the economy finally rebounds, the recovery won't bring jobs. Our nation's debt is unsustainable, and the federal government's reach into the private sector is unprecedented.

Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:

I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.

American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America's economy.

Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.

In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.

The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.

The Americans hit hardest will be those already struggling to make ends meet. As the president eloquently puts it, their electricity bills will "necessarily skyrocket." So much for not raising taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Even Warren Buffett, an ardent Obama supporter, admitted that under the cap-and-tax scheme, "poor people are going to pay a lot more for electricity."

Not hesitating to naming names!

Related: The Economy Is Even Worse Than You Think
The average length of unemployment is higher than it's been since government began tracking the data in 1948.


Sarah Palin: 2010 and 2012.

On July 3rd 2009 Sarah Palin declared her political independence from out current politics as usual mess. She did so by resigning from being governor of Alaska rather than waiting till her term expires in 2010. Her surprise resignation has led to speculation of an impending scandal or a mark of erratic lack of endurance for public life. Many, believes her resignation regardless of her reasons signifies the end of her political career. I am not among them.

On first response I too thought this was a bad political move on her part. That she would have been better off finishing out her term in 2010 and subsequently run in 2012, assuming she retains an interest in politics. This is indeed the conventional wisdom. But you just don’t go against conventional wisdom to be contrarian. What could possibly be so urgent that she could not wait until 2010?

Lets look first at what she had to gain by finishing her term. She would have established a track record of executive leadership experience. She then would have had a year plus to then pre-campaign in the lower 48 states. All along she could have continued to increase her fund of knowledge in areas she is weak in (foreign relation and economics) as well as strengthen and refine her political stance regarding energy independence, small government, and strong national defense. She would have remained one of the leading contender going into the Republican primaries.

I stopped at this point trying to figure out what would be so great for Sarah Palin to do the politics as usual pathway to nomination. The primaries are creaky process that completely ignore must win states, in many places open to democrats and independents to manipulate the nomination process, and encourages candidates to yield to the front runner. And for Republicans in particular it is a process that somehow manages to nominate the next in line, like Dole and McCain. This implies that the Republican Poobahs have a lot to say in the nomination. The Democrat nomination process in 08 was certainly suspect for manipulation to nominate Obama over Hillary.

Even if Sarah decides to go through this nomination process, she would be challenging the Republican Washington DC Inside the Beltway types. Without broad base political support, she runs the risk of being marginalized and perhaps even passed over. Being stuck in Alaska until the end of 2010 will certainly limit her ability to campaign for other politicians. And politicians owe no debts until they get elected. There are no significant races in 2011. She needs to be able to campaign in the lower 48 starting Spring of 2010 in order to build political debts for 2012.

She may be also contemplating campaigning for local officials running for state offices. I expect her to have significant appeals to local communities and candidates. Why would she do this? Because a few states will be expected to gain congressional seats based on the 2010 census, and it will be the state legislatures that will draw congressional district maps for the 2012 elections. Even states that are expected to lose seats could be impacted by her campaigning for local officials to minimize loss of conservative congressional seats.

Note that Palin has stated she will campaign for conservatives, not just republicans. This is exceedingly smart for three reasons. Firstly, there has been a growing disparity between the national Republican party and the conservative voters. This is likely a result of Republican Poobahs living too long inside the DC beltway. Secondly, if she does win the Republican nomination, she will need the support of conservative Democrats in the general election. Thirdly, if she can help conservative democrats raise money, they might become less beholden to the Democrat National Committee.

And she can help campaign against Obama’s awful economic policies as a way to initiate relationships with fiscal conservative Democrats and Republicans. None of her options to build a lower 48 political base and influence can be achieved as a Governor of Alaska.


Sarah Palin's Resignation

Two thoughts on John’s post at Powerline on Sarah Palin to comment on.

Is Sarah Palin an arch-conservative? No. She has social conservative beliefs on military, religion, gays, and abortion, thus she has taken a stance and of a character that does appeal to arch-conservatives. That she does not seek to impose these beliefs during governance should make her appealing to independents. As a politicians who believes in small government, fiscal responsibility, and good governance as you pointed out, she should be appealing to all voters. I do not believe this has changed at all since August of 2008. Yes, her selection as McCain’s Vice-President running mate opened doors for her and you can argue she is being an opportunist. But given the opportunity to make a positive impact and real change for our nation, she should explore her potential to do so. In fact, I believe it would be irresponsible for anyone, not just her, do hide out and not make a difference.

Is Sarah Palin a target of political attacks? Certainly. Not just in the media but also by frivolous ethic charges. All the ethics charges evaluated thus far has been dismissed. Has the cost been significant? Not really though half a million dollars is a lot. Has the ethics charges been crippling to her governance? Probably and this is hurtful to Alaska’s use of tax payer not just in terms of money but in terms of man power and resources. Has the ethic charges been crippling to her ability to be a politician? Certainly. To resign because of it and retreat from public life would add fuel to the fire and embolden other attacks on other politicians, right or left. To resign because of it and enlarge her public life would completely defeat the political motivations behind the attacks. After all, aren’t the ethic charges intended to anchor her down in Anchorage (i know Juneau is the capital), shut her down and silence her voice? If so, then whenever she appears in the lower 48 at any and all sorts of political and economic events it will be a complete victory over those who seek to corner and limit her political influence.

Is her resignation politically risky? Yes. But to maintain the status quo is defeat. To be paralyzed politically, cost your states resources on frivolity, and encouraged continued devious political attacks, just so she can claim a full term as Governor when campaigning in 2012 is irresponsible.


I Support the Current and Constitutional Government of Honduras

Despite what the MSM may be reporting, and our pittiful ZerObama president is saying, there was no coup in Honduras.

From Honduras:
I write this report to try to explain the situation from my point of view, and try to clear the scenario for as many international eyes and ears as possible.

Mr. Zelaya was elected president of Honduras through popular election on November 2005, for the 2006-2009 period. He was elected on a narrow margin, mostly due to the ruling party's candidate desire to push for the death penalty in our country, which is not allowed in our law. We are a peaceful and tame people, and do not like such drastic penalties.

Mr. Zelaya was elected because he opposed death penalty, and he promised to continue his party's work on improving the situation on our country's education, health and social situation, while promoting democracy and swearing to protect our Constitution. He also promoted a so called "Citizen's power", which was supposed to be a channel for the people to express their thoughts to the government.

In the first 2 years of his term, he seemed to be trying to fulfill his promises, but then we see him starting to engage in relations with Venezuela's leftist president Hugo Chavez, which per se is not a bad thing, but he starts to support his ideologies.

This is where Mr. Zelaya stabbed the Honduran people in the back. He makes an unpredicted turn to the left, which the majority of the population is against, but nevertheless, he goes on with the integration of Honduras to the ALBA, Hugo Chavez's initiative, which has caused nothing but civil unrest on countries that have joined. This mostly motivated by promises of easy money by Chavez.

Zelaya starts also to take a populist stance, first approving a huge increase in government workers' wage, then approving a general increase to the minimum wage to levels where small and medium business were not able to cope with. He uses his "Citizen's power" initiative to promise the poor areas of Honduras a thousand and one benefits with the integration to the ALBA. This all seems good, but in the background, he is asphyxiating our country's air-thin budget with these initiatives, and forgoing such responsibilities such as the fight of crime, drug trafficking, diseases, the World's economical crisis, and many other social matters.This is Zelaya first crime.

With this strategy, Zelaya "purchased" the support of some in-country blocks, such as peasant and indigenous organizations.This all would have been good, until you see Zelaya's true intentions.

His purpose was of gathering support for his new project: to dispose of the current Constitution, over which he was sworn in, and create a new one, similar to ones crafted by Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, with which he would be allowed to be re-elected. This is Zelaya's second crime.

In trying to create a legal and "democratic" facade for his project, Zelaya used one of the statutes of his "Citizen's power" initiative, which is the "Law of Citizens' participation", in which the people can put request to the government to conduct surveys about the peoples opinion. The problem is that no one to be asked about their will to change the constitution. This was fabricated by Zelaya, by threatening public employees to fire them, if they do not bring in a quota of "voluntarily" signed requested for this inquiry. So public employees, trying to safeguard their jobs, started forcing people to sign this if they wanted to be treated at hospitals, sold needed medicines, and even have a phone line repaired. This is Zelaya's third crime.

After gathering a certain number of "requests", he started moving for the installation of a popular inquiry, in which he would ask if the people wanted a new constitution, and which was going to take place today. The issue here is that this "popular inquiry" was not sanctioned by any independent and legal body, such as the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and, furthermore, was declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Justice, on the grounds that our Constitution forbids anyone on changing the basic, or petrous, articles of it, which state the form of government and the impossibility of re-election. This was his fourth and last crime, against the Republic of Honduras.

This day's event, where just a consequence of Zelaya moving on with this illegal inquiry. After his stubbornness to continue with it, his arrest was ordered by the Supreme Court of Justice, arrest which was conducted by the brave men in the military.

HT Right Wing Sparkle.

more from Powerline Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


Sarah Palin

It is well known by now that Sarah Palin is resigning as governor at the end of the month. Why she is resigning is any one's speculation at this point. We won't know for sure until after she is no longer governor. I would say an August.

Exerps from Palin's resignation speech:
Life is too short to compromise time and resources... it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: "Sit down and shut up", but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and “go with the flow”.

Nah, only dead fish "go with the flow".

No. Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time... to BUILD UP.

And there is such a need to BUILD up and FIGHT for our state and our country. I choose to FIGHT for it! And I'll work hard for others who still believe in free enterprise and smaller government; strong national security for our country and support for our troops; energy independence; and for those who will protect freedom and equality and LIFE... I'll work for and campaign for those PROUD to be American, and those who are INSPIRED by our ideals and won't deride them.

I WILL support others who seek to serve, in or out of office, for the RIGHT reasons, and I don't care what party they're in or no party at all. Inside Alaska – or Outside Alaska.

But I won’t do it from the Governor’s desk.


In fact, this decision comes after much consideration, and finally polling the most important people in my life - my children (where the count was unanimous... well, in response to asking: "Want me to make a positive difference and fight for ALL our children's future from OUTSIDE the Governor's office?" It was four "yes's" and one "hell yeah!" The "hell yeah" sealed it - and someday I'll talk about the details of that... I think much of it had to do with the kids seeing their baby brother Trig mocked by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently.) Um, by the way, sure wish folks could ever, ever understand that we ALL could learn so much from someone like Trig - I know he needs me, but I need him even more... what a child can offer to set priorities RIGHT – that time is precious... the world needs more "Trigs", not fewer.

My decision was also fortified during this most recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl, to visit our wounded soldiers overseas, those who sacrifice themselves in war for OUR freedom and security… we can ALL learn from our selfless Troops… they’re bold, they don’t give up, they take a stand and know that LIFE is short so they choose to NOT waste time. They choose to be productive and to serve something greater than SELF... and to build up their families, their states, our country. These Troops and their important missions – those are truly the worthy causes in this world and should be the public priority with time and resources and NOT this local / superficial wasteful political bloodsport.

May we ALL learn from them!

*((Gotta put First Things First))*

First things first: as Governor, I love my job and I love Alaska. It hurts to make this choice but I am doing what’s best for Alaska. I’ve explained why… though I think of the saying on my parents’ refrigerator that says “Don’t explain: your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.”

But I have given my reasons… no more “politics as usual” and I am taking my fight for what’s right – for Alaska – in a new direction.

My speculations in no particular order.
1. She will remain in politics, though possibly not as a candidate.
2. She cannot rail against the "politics as usual" of Washington DC as along as she is a Republican Governor.
3. The Republican party is in a big mess right now, and a part of the problem is the huge disconnect between the Republican party insiders and political leaders and the conservative voters of America.
4. To continue in politics she will need to control her message better. She cannot do so as an elected official.
5. she would not resign without having something better already lined up.
6. Her strength is Energy, her weakness are business and foreign affair.

Palin could be lining up to create a third political force for conservatives. Perhaps not a third political party but a force apart from the Republican party. Even with a two party system in Congress a third way / independent president will certainly change how DC politics work. This may appear like what Perot attempted, but there are two main difference. She has substantial charisma, Perot did not. Perot has the financial resources, she does not ... or does she?

Who would back her?
someone who has media connection ... perhaps even ownership
someone who is in the energy industry ... and well funded
someone who is international and yet with an American perspective
in all likelihood, not a single someone but a group of someones.


Healthcare Admin Cost: Government vs Private

Last week I was at a dinner of healthcare provider and naturally the discussion turned to Obamacare. One physician stated that Medicare administrative cost was only 3% compared to substantially higher numbers for private insurance plans. This figure shocked me because it seems unbelievably low. And as it turns out, it should not be believed. As it turns out, this percentage is based on administrative cost as a percentage of medical payment.

However, there are other ways to crunch these numbers, and one such way is how much medicare spends to administer the cost of managing each person's healthcare payment. Robert Book at the Heritage Foundation have done just that.


Obamacare: the "Public Option"

What is the "public option" under Obamacare? What is being proposed is that all citizens are required to be a part of a healthcare plan. To cover those that cannot afford private plans, the government would provide for a government rant "public option."

What is the problem then with the "public option?" It will drive the private plans out of business. Private plans collects money only for the members it serves. The "public option" collects money from all tax payers and covers only those without a private plan. There is no way that any private plan can come even close to the intake:outlay ratio of the "public option" plan. Thus initially the "public option" plan will be substantially cheaper as well. Those who pays for healthcare plan, whether it be individual or business, will gradually gravitate to the "public option" plan to reduce cost. (And cost has been and will continue to be the main problem of healthcare in the US).

What is wrong with the US government's "public option" plan being the primary provider of healthcare in the US? Because the government is inept and incompetent and inefficient when it comes to providing any service. Talk to any patients who has experience both the Veterans Administration care (Government care for veterans) and the private sector and they will tell you which is better. Talk to any healthcare provider regarding ease of providing care to their patients between Veterans Administration care and the private sector. They will all tell you that the private sector does it better. The private sector does it better because they are competing among themselves and competition always stimulate quality. I do not mean to suggests that Veterans Administration care is inadequate, I only suggests the private sector does it better.

Thus the end result is that the "public option" will result in the government being the primary and dominant healthcare provider, near universal healthcare. The result will also be healthcare that is delivered inefficiently and poorly. As such, either the quality of care will fall, and or the cost of care will increase. When the cost of care increase, the likely response will be to reduce the care provided, i.e. rationing. Then healthcare will certainly be worse than what we have today. At least today, if you are unhappy with the care, you have alternatives and options.


Iranian Protest 09

Peaceful revolutions are the exceptions, more commonly peaceful attempts at revolutions are crushed brutally. Against a totalitarian regime willing the hold on to power despite its people, willing to act with violence against its own people, these protests will come to no good, leaving only blood, deaths, and persectutions. Just like with Tiananmen square in 89. My heart goes out to freeom loving Iranians.


Obama & the Moral High Ground

Most of Obama's words thus far suggest that he is staking a claim for the Moral High Ground. He has released the torture memos because he believes he is better than the Bush administration in this regard. He is releasing the pictures of "torture" prisoners for the very same reasons. When he was oversea he apologized for past US actions, because he nominally believe the US could have done better, and that under him we will. There are two things to consider here.

First is that if he thinks this will make the US safer or better he is wrong. Those who work toward our destruction do so not because of some reasoning, but some hatred. That we could have been better angers them. That we believe we could be better also angers them. There mere fact that we are different from what they want to be angers them, regardless of how good we are. Staking claim to the Moral High Ground may make things worse for us. It certainly not keeps us safer. Those that seek to compete against us will not treat us better, or help us further our goals. They compete against us because they think they can beat us. Given any opportunity to do so they will certainly try regardless of who has the Moral High Ground.

Second is that if he thinks he can claim the Moral High Ground he is also wrong. This sort of thinking seems rampant to those without practical experience in life, living by concepts they believe the world should operate by rather than the principles the world lives by. This is akin to a rich couple believing their wealth keeps their estate well maintained, rather than understanding that it is still the housekeepers and gardeners' labors over dirt. Or a hospital CEO proclaiming how many lives his hospital saves, without acknowledging it is the doctors and nurses work in soilage and pus. Or a general believing he won the battle rather than the soldiers killing and maiming. The difference between Obama's Moral High Ground and reality is the difference between Ideals and Practice.

At best, his stake for the Moral High Ground only shows his naïveté. What it clearly reveals is his hubris, not his humanity. And through it all, he has also demonstrated willingness to use politics to further himself.


Favorite Modern Artists

the TimesOnline is running a poll of favorite modern artists. My top 3 votes are as follows:




HT: Powerline

Tax Day Cometh

I did my taxes yesterday. Two days from now will be tax day, and many will turn out that day for a Tea Party protest. Here is a great summary of what taxes should be like from Bookworm Room:
Principles of Sound Tax Policy

¨ Simplicity. Administrative costs are a loss to society, and complicated taxation undermines voluntary compliance by creating incentives to shelter and disguise income.

¨ Transparency. Tax legislation should be based on sound legislative procedures and careful analysis. A good tax system requires informed taxpayers who understand how tax assessment, collection, and compliance works. There should be open hearings and revenue estimates should be fully explained and replicable.

¨ Neutrality. The fewer economic decisions that are made for tax reasons, the better. The primary purpose of taxes is to raise needed revenue, not to micromanage the economy. The tax system should not favor certain industries, activities, or products.

¨ Stability. When tax laws are in constant flux, long-range financial planning is difficult. Lawmakers should avoid enacting temporary tax laws, including tax holidays and amnesties.

¨ No Retroactivity. As a corollary to the principle of stability, taxpayers should rely with confidence on the law as it exists when contracts are signed and transactions made.

¨ Broad Bases and Low Rate. As a corollary to the principle of neutrality, lawmakers should avoid enacting targeted deductions, credits and exclusions. If such tax preferences are few, substantial revenue can be raised with low tax rates. Broad-based taxes can also produce relatively stable tax revenues from year to year.

By Any Other Name

Great article by Joe Queenan at the WSJ today. Here is the start:
The Obama administration has come under intense criticism for replacing the term "war on terror" with the emaciated euphemism "overseas contingency operations," and for referring to individual acts of terror as "man-caused disasters."

This semi-official attempt to disassociate the administration from the fierce rhetoric favored by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney has enraged Americans on both the right and left. Many feel that such vaporous bureaucratese is a self-emasculating action that plunges us into an Orwellian world where words have no emotional connection with the horrors they purport to describe.

Yet, if the intention of the Obama administration is to tone down the confrontational rhetoric being used by our enemies, the effort is already reaping results. This week, in a pronounced shift from its usual theatrical style, the Taliban announced that it will no longer refer to its favorite method of murder as "beheadings," but will henceforth employ the expression "cephalic attrition." "Flayings" -- a barbarously exotic style of execution that has been popular in this part of the world since before the time of Alexander -- will now be described as "unsolicited epidermal reconfigurations." In a similar vein, lopping off captives' arms will now be referred to as "appendage furloughing," while public floggings of teenaged girls will from here on out be spoken of as "metajudicial interfacing."

A Taliban spokesman reached in Pakistan said that the new phrasing was being implemented as a way of eliminating the negative associations triggered by more graphic terminology. "The term 'beheading' has a quasi-medieval undertone that we're trying to get away from," he explained. "The term 'cephalic attrition' brings the Taliban into the 21st century. It's not that we disapprove of beheadings; it's just that the word no longer meshes with the zeitgeist of the era. This is the same reason we have replaced the term 'jihad' with 'booka-bonga-bippo,' which has a more zesty, urban, youthful, 'now' feel. When you're recruiting teenagers to your movement, you don't want them to feel that going on jihad won't leave any time for youthful hijinks."

Central Asia is not the only place where the coarse terminology of the past is being phased out. In Darfur, the words "ethnic cleansing" are no longer in use, either by rebels nor by the government itself. Instead, the practice of targeting a particular tribe or sect or ethnic group for extinction is being called "unconditional demographic redeployment." In much the same spirit, the archaic term "genocide" -- so broad and vague as to be meaningless -- has now been supplanted by "maximum-intensity racial profiling."