The Telegraph speaks with admirable clarity about Obama and his health care reform.. RTWT, natch.
The televised event, dreamt up by the White House to create the desired "atmospherics" for an attempt to push his health-care bill through Congress by Easter, underlined the reality that Obama is not a leader or even really a politician â€“ he is a professor.
Professor Obama is convinced of his own intellectual superiority. When his pupils fail to realise that he knows what is good for them, he simply repeats himself in the expectation that the simpletons will eventually understand.
As the astute psephologist Michael Barone has pointed out, Obama can be understood in large part by reflecting on where he spent his adult life before arriving at the White House â€“ Los Angeles, New York, Cambridge and Chicago.
For almost three decades, he lived in liberal campus communities where he was insulated from the real world by comfortable consensus and shared assumptions.
Obama is becoming something of a victim of his own oratorical success.
The more he talks, the less people listen. We have heard so much from him that his words carry less and less weight. It is the law of diminishing returns.
And for all the reasonableness of what he had to say and the familiar high-minded calls to rise above politics, everyone knew that Obama had already decided to embark on the ironically-named process of "reconciliation" to force the health-care bill through.
...if he does prevail on Congress to do his bidding, he'll essentially have resorted to using a legislative loophole to force through something that most Americans oppose â€“ and this from the man who vowed to banish cynicism from the conduct of politics.
He can't seem to grasp that voters don't want an expansion of government to cover health care. It's not a failure to understand the professor but a disagreement with the fundamentals of the lesson he's dictating.
Mark Steyn says Greece is quite a bit farther down the road than the United States...but it's the same road.
We hard-hearted small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the Greek protests make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than the socially equitable communitarianism of big government: Once a chapâ€™s enjoying the fruits of government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, and all the rest, he couldnâ€™t give a hoot about the general societal interest; heâ€™s got his, and to hell with everyone else. Peopleâ€™s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense.
If you weren't watching C-SPAN all day Thursday, at least don't miss Paul Ryan's performance. Krauthammer announced; "a star is born"
The new CNN Poll shows just 25% support for Obamacare.
It's time for all Democrats and Obama supporters to go on record for or against passing major systemic health legislation which has the support of just 25% of the American people, using procedural techniques not intended for the purpose.
Here's Michael Gerson in the Washington post, summing it up...
After a year of debate, Democratic leaders -- given every communications advantage and decisive control of every elected branch of government -- have not only lost legislative momentum, they have lost a national argument. Americans have taken every opportunity -- the town hall revolt, increasingly lopsided polling, a series of upset elections culminating in Massachusetts -- to shout their second thoughts. At this point, for Democratic leaders to insist on their current approach is to insist that Americans are not only misinformed but also dimwitted.
And the proposed form of this insistence -- enacting health reform through the quick, dirty shove of the reconciliation process -- would add coercion to arrogance.
So much for the administration's "pivot" to jobs, jobs, jobs...
Daniel Foster starts out his NRO piece with a brief summary of the new, re-hashed Obama health care proposal...
The White House this morning unveiled its health-care "compromise," a bill that at $950 billion is larger than its Senate predecessor and proposes broad new regulatory powers for the government to control health-care premiums.
The Obama plan increases subsidies for the purchase of individual insurance and expands funding for prescription medication in Medicare Part D. It replaces state-specific Medicaid deals such as the "Cornhusker Kickback" with increased Medicaid funding for all fifty states.
To fund these increases, the bill increases the Medicare payroll tax, applies it to unearned income such as capital gains, and expands cuts to Medicare Advantage. It also increases corporate taxes on the pharmaceutical industry by $10 billion and and raises penalties on businesses that don't offer insurance coverage.
As for the "Cadillac Tax," it expands exemption from unionized to all workers through 2018, and raises the threshold on taxable plans from $23,000 to $27,500.
The most significant addition to the plan is new regulations that would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to review and potentially block insurance premium increases.
The CBO says they can't score the new proposal, since they haven't been provided sufficient detail by the White House
More from Grace-Marie Turner at NRO's Critical Condition blog.
The much-awaited health-care reform plan the White House released this morning is little more than an amalgamation of the taxing, spending, mandating, and regulating policies of the bills that passed the House and Senate last year.
Instead of offering a genuinely fresh approach, Mr. Obama split the difference between two bad bills that are hugely unpopular with the American people. He would continue to mandate that both individuals and employers pay for health insurance or face fines and penalties. He would expand Medicaid, the most dysfunctional health program in the country. And he would increase fees on insurers and other health companies â€” fees that will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher premiums.
The big new idea in the presidentâ€™s plan is to federalize regulation of health insurance, creating a Health Insurance Rate Authority to conduct â€œreviews of unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.â€ This reflects the overall strategy to give more and more control over the health sector to Washington.
I stole the post title from this Matthew Continetti entry at the Weekly Standard blog
Obama's new, improved plan is more expensive than the Senate bill, does not address the concerns of pro-life House Democrats over the Senate's abortion language, maintains the tax exemption for the Democrats' union friends, and will effectively turn insurance companies into heavily regulated public utilities. Despite all this, it's highly possible these changes could win at least 50 votes in the Senate -- and with Joe Biden's tie-breaking vote, the bill could become law through the parliamentary measure known as reconciliation.
Seems there are 18 Senate Democrats on the record opposing an attempt to ram this bill through Congress using the reconciliation procedure.
For a better understanding of just what reconciliation is, and what Democrats face in trying to get Obamacare passed this way, check out this piece by Jeff Davis at a TNR blog, and also James Capretta, at NRO. UPDATE 2/23: New York Times Symposium on using reconciliation, featuring Ramesh Ponnuru, Megan McArdle, Norman Ornstein and others.
Michael Steele at Breitbart's Big Government
House Minority Leader John Boehner Press Release
Contentions: The Latest Same Obamacare Bill
What we do know is that under ObamaCareâ€™s latest incarnation, you really donâ€™t get to keep your existing health-care plan. And we know that it seeks to federalize the regulation of the health-insurance industry. [...] And it seems that there are $136B worth of new taxes to be imposed on the people Obama said heâ€™d never tax, namely those families making less than $250,000.
What we donâ€™t know is why anyone who opposed the last version(s) of ObamaCare would accept this one. It is still a mammoth tax-and-spend bill and still seeks to federalize health care. If Nancy Pelosi has 218 votes for this, Iâ€™d be surprised. If Senate Democrats want to walk the plank for a retread of the bill that voters in Massachusetts sent Scott Brown to the Senate to oppose, Iâ€™d be surprised. But I suppose weâ€™ll find out.
Five conservatives share their ideas for health care reform in Sunday's NYT.
UPDATE 2/23: Jeffrey H. Anderson - A Man With a Plan
David Brooks - Into the Mire
WSJ Editors - Obamacare at Ramming Speed
Nearly every member of the 59-player spring roster (Branyan would make 60) is already here, even though position players aren't due to report until Wednesday and the first full-squad workout won't take place until Friday. "I'm excited," Acta said. "For me to show up a week before pitchers and catchers report and to see [Travis] Hafner, [Grady] Sizemore, [Shin-Soo] Choo and [Asdrubal] Cabrera on the field one week before they're supposed to be on the field excites me."
75-78 wins is about the limit of my optimism for the 2010 Indians. The pitching is just too young to expect anything better. But they have assembled a ton of very good young power pitchers, and Acta will put a pretty good hitting team on the field every day. A few of the young arms...Chris Perez, Justin Masterson and Carlos Carrasco will be around this season. Others names like Nick Hagadone, Hector Rondon, Jason Knapp and Alex White are coming.
It'll be fun to watch Brantley, LaPorta, Cabrera and Choo get a year better. You know what you're going to get from Jhonny Peralta, and hopefully by July you'll have Carlos Santana, one of the brightest young prospects in baseball, playing catcher. Sizemore and Hafner would both have to rebound physically and have big years for this team to overcome its shaky starting pitching and contend. The AL Central is mediocre, but probably not mediocre enough for that to happen.
In his Lazy Sunday column, Paul Cousineau takes a look at the shuffling at the top of the Indians' management team and how it affects the plans for 2011 and 2012. Having confidence about the future is a big part of being an Indians fan. A better day is always coming.
Paul links to Tribe Daily, where you'll find this nice Indians Spring Training preview.
I'm not quite the last person on the planet to hear about and follow the Twitter feed ShitMyDadSays, but I'm in the second million. The author is a 20-something who lives with his father, and just tweets things Dad says. It's hilarious...(your mileage may vary) and now it has landed him a contract for a TV show, which will star William Shatner as the dad.
I'm not terribly optimistic, though. Not only will they have to clean up the title for TV, but from the looks of it, everything else dad says too.
The Holder Justice Department's shoddy, grandstanding attempt to criminalize policy disagreements with the previous administration is finally over...
The Justice Department has finally closed a sorry chapter in its history â€” the attempt to criminalize the work of Department lawyers who rendered legal judgment on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in American history. The Office of Professional Responsibility, as the Washington Post report notes, had doggedly pursued John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who as Justice Department lawyers authored memos providing advice and direction on enhanced interrrogation methods including waterboarding. In a Friday information dump (which tells you it does not aid the cause of the administration and those seeking Yooâ€™s and Bybeeâ€™s punishment), we got a glimpse at two drafts of OPRâ€™s report, its final report, and then the recommendation of David Margolis, a career lawyer and Associate Deputy Attorney General.
Margolisâ€™s report is 69 pages long. Margolis essentially shreds the work of OPR, finding no basis for a referral of professional misconduct for either lawyer. It is noteworthy that all throughout, Margolis adopts many of the criticisms of OPRâ€™s work that outgoing Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his deputy Mark Filip rendered before leaving office at the end of the Bush administration.
At times the work of OPR itself seems to have violated the professional standards it was charged with enforcing. Sloppiness abounds. Margolis finds, for example, that OPR applied the wrong legal standard, the â€œpreponderance of evidenceâ€ rather than the more stringent clear and convincing evidenceâ€ standard that state bar proceedings would utilize. (p. 11) Margolis also concludes that OPRâ€™s findings â€do not identify violation of a specific bar rule.â€ ( p. 12) Margolis further notes that OPRâ€™s analysis and legal standard shifted from draft to draft. (pp.13, 15-16)
The bottom line: Margolis finds the work of Yoo and Bybee â€œcontained some significant flaws,â€ but that â€œthe number and significance of them can now be debated.â€ (p. 68) What is clear is that there is no basis â€” and never was â€” for stripping these lawyers of their professional licenses, let alone criminally prosecuting them as many on the Left demanded. What is equally clear is that the work of OPR was shoddy, itself suspect, and ultimately rejected on many of the same grounds that Mukasey, Filip, Yoo, and Bybee raised â€” after years of inquiry and after certainly imposing much emotional and financial burden on Yoo and Bybee.
The estimable Doctor Zero revisits the DDT ban and the horrendous cost in human life that can result when politics corrupts science and good intentions trump real world consequences.
Who is the worst killer in the long, ugly history of war and extermination? Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot? Not even close. A single book called Silent Spring killed far more people than all those fiends put together.
Published in 1962, Silent Spring used manipulated data and wildly exaggerated claims (sound familiar?) to push for a worldwide ban on the pesticide known as DDT â€“ which is, to this day, the most effective weapon against malarial mosquitoes. The Environmental Protection Agency held extensive hearings after the uproar produced by this bookâ€¦ and these hearings concluded that DDT should not be banned. A few months after the hearings ended, EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus over-ruled his own agency and banned DDT anyway, in what he later admitted was a â€œpoliticalâ€ decision. Threats to withhold American foreign aid swiftly spread the ban across the world.
The resulting explosion of mosquito-borne malaria in Africa has claimed over sixty million lives. This was not a gradual process â€“ a surge of infection and death happened almost immediately. The use of DDT reduces the spread of mosquito-borne malaria by fifty to eighty percent, so its discontinuation quickly produced an explosion of crippling and fatal illness. The same environmental movement which has been falsifying data, suppressing dissent, and reading tea leaves to support the global-warming fraud has studiously ignored this blood-drenched â€œhockey stickâ€ for decades.
Read it all, of course, and see related links...
John Podhoretz at Contentions calls it "beyond all possibility of parody"...
The editor, explaining why the reporter was canned...â€œbecause he held on to the notion that there was an objective reality that could be reported objectively, despite the fact that that was not our editorial policy at Atlanta Progressive News.â€
Proudly making editorial policy indistinguishable from news policy...not exactly a novel practice, but something not usually admitted so forthrightly.
When you're right, you're right...so spin it all. It's the virtuous thing to do. The self-regard is breathtaking.
On the lighter side....the hound and the orangutan...
(via Rodger at C&S)
When intelligence operatives present the White House with options to either capture or kill (via Predator drones) key terrorist targets, the administration has increasingly just opted to avoid troublesome prosecution decisions, and instead kill them where they sit.
Of course our military did a fair amount of this under Bush's leadership, and it's a viable way to remove dangerous terrorists with minimal risk to precious soldiers' lives. I've got no real problem with it as a war-fighting strategy. The down side is that terrorists can't provide any intelligence when you're scooping them up in pieces for the DNA confirmation.
My problem is with a commander-in-chief who orders these executions while at the same time preening about having ended "torture", and lamenting how under his predecessor, we "lost our way", because we occasionally captured combatants and poured water on their faces instead of simply incinerating them in their cars or living rooms along with whatever innocents happened to be around. It's not his conduct of the campaign...it's the self-righteous posturing that's unseemly...especially while he's continuing many of the Bush-era anti-terror policies he railed against as a candidate.
Around the web this week...
High unemployment is going to be with us for a while... In The Atlantic, How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America
This Esquire feature on Roger Ebert is guaranteed to have you counting your blessings. Talk about making lemonade.
Recently released aerial photos of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 are stunning, particularly this one (pop-up image) of one of the towers caught in mid-collapse. The photos, taken from an NYPD helicopter, are being released slowly by ABC after the network acquired them via a FOIA request. Why that was necessary after eight years is beyond me. The pilot comments here.
It's the first anniversary of the stimulus package, and there are lots of links at this roundup by Matthew Continetti. House Minority Leader John Boehner's office released their own report on the stimulus (pdf), complete with many examples of the bogus government accounting of the numbers of jobs "created or saved", along with stories of fraud and waste in the spending of the borrowed bucks. (Pssst...next time call it a "jobs bill"). UPDATE : More from Jen Rubin.
In the NYT Sunday Book Review, a short essay on Why Orwell Endures
Read this account of city government ineptitude, apathy, corruption and paralysis...but only till your head explodes...San Francisco...The Worst Run Big City in the U.S.
"School reform is neither a liberal or conservative issue"...Larry Sand writing in City Journal...We're All Right-Wing Bastards Now
The Climategate scandals and the further discrediting of the IPCC have served to make it acceptable for scientists inside the establishment alarmist community to express the kinds of doubts and dissents that used to be suppressed or punished. It's incredible how much the mask has come off in about three months.
For longtime skeptics who have endured years of slander, ridicule and condescension from these folks, heartfelt apologies soon to follow, I'm sure.
UPDATE 2/17: WSJ - The Continuing Climate Meltdown
UPDATE 2/18: Climategate roundup at Ace
It may not be what Obama intended when he talked about fostering "unity", but he has succeeded in making Kristol and Krugman agree...no mean feat. (Guess which one comes off sounding like an excitable teenage girl...OMG)
"President Barack Obama said he doesn't 'begrudge' the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay. [...] 'I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,' Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday.
I guess the fact that the president knows those guys is what differentiates them from the evil, rapacious "fat cats" he has been ripping for a year as the exemplars of corporate greed and callousness to the concerns of Main Street. Small wonder this little bit of walk-back political theater has annoyed people on both the left and the right.
The freshly-unified Europe is barely out of the gate under the EU's Treaty of Lisbon, and they are already paralyzed by internal conflict over such weighty matters as which of their various leaders should be the recipient of the newly traditional bow from the President of the United States. In turn, The One declines to grace them with a visit until they get their ceremonial shit together.
At this point Europe is not even halfway its 100-day political â€œhoneymoonâ€ since the Treaty of Lisbon, which transformed the EU into a state in its own right, came into force. So far the honeymoon has been a nightmare. Since the beginning of the year, the EUâ€™s currency, the euro, is on the brink of collapse; Greece has been placed under EU financial supervision to prevent it from going bankrupt. Now U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that he will not attend next Mayâ€™s EU summit in Madrid. It was to have been Obamaâ€™s first visit to post-Lisbon Europe â€“ the consecration of the new political order.
Washington informed Brussels last week that Obama is not coming because it is not clear who is his European counterpart. Since the Lisbon Treaty came into force on January 1st, Europe has its own President, Herman Van Rompuy. This former Belgian politician chairs the European Council, the assembly of the heads of government of the 27 EU member states. However, there is also JosÃ© Manuel Barroso, a former Portuguese politician, who is the president of the European Commission, which is the EUâ€™s executive body. And there is JosÃ© Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, who is hosting the Madrid meeting and as such co-chairs the summit meeting of the EU heads of government with Mr. Van Rompuy.
Messrs. Van Rompuy, Barroso and Zapatero all want to be the first to shake Mr. Obamaâ€™s hand and receive the deep bow which the American President is in the habit of making to foreign leaders. Because of the embarrassing intra-European squabble about who should have the honor, Obama has declined the invitation until the Europeans have figured out which of them is the most important.
Obamaâ€™s decision has come as an unexpected blow to the European leadership. It has upset them so much that they are considering postponing the summit to the autumn. Meanwhile, they have begun quarreling about who is to blame for the present debacle. The Europeans generally agree that the vainglorious Zapatero is mostly to blame, but others are damaged more. â€œThe Spanish have made a mess of the summit but Van Rompuy and the post-Lisbon EU institutions will carry the can in the long term. The squabbling has damaged the EU in the eyes of the most powerful nation in the world,â€ a senior EU official said.
Haven't they heard? We're not interested in being the most powerful nation in the world anymore.
Avoiding pre-game shows at all costs...here's some stuff I tagged in the last couple days...
George F. Will throws some weight behind Rep. Paul Ryan's proposals; - How to get the country to solvency on entitlements
A very long but entirely readable Weekly Standard cover story by Charlotte Allen: The New Dating Game. Who knew there was a phenomenon called seduction blogs? What was the maitre d's line in Ferris Buehler? ...."I weep for the future"
Margaret Wente in The Globe and Mail - The Great Global Warming Collapse
Examining liberal condescension in the Washington Post ?...Gerard Alexander
Christopher Sabatini in the Americas Quarterly - The 7 Things President Hugo Chavez Has Taught Me
Thoughts and links on the OSU football recruiting class over at The Cleveland Fan.
Haven't gone three weeks without posting in this blog's seven years of existence. No excuses...outside of the Twitter addiction. Prompting this interruption of my sloth were stellar columns this week by two of the ranking wordsmiths of the center-right, Charles Krauthammer and Mark Steyn. Excerpting the first few paragraphs of each, but get it all.
WASHINGTON -- "I am not an ideologue," protested President Obama at a gathering with Republican House members last week. Perhaps, but he does have a tenacious commitment to a set of political convictions.
Compare his 2010 State of the Union to his first address to Congress a year earlier. The consistency is remarkable. In 2009, after passing a $787 billion (now $862 billion) stimulus package, the largest spending bill in galactic history, he unveiled a manifesto for fundamentally restructuring the commanding heights of American society -- health care, education and energy.
A year later, after stunning Democratic setbacks in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, Obama gave a stay-the-course State of the Union address (a) pledging not to walk away from health care reform, (b) seeking to turn college education increasingly into a federal entitlement, and (c) asking again for cap-and-trade energy legislation. Plus, of course, another stimulus package, this time renamed a "jobs bill."
This being a democracy, don't the Democrats see that clinging to this agenda will march them over a cliff? Don't they understand Massachusetts?
Well, they understand it through a prism of two cherished axioms: (1) The people are stupid and (2) Republicans are bad. Result? The dim, led by the malicious, vote incorrectly.(the rest)
At the National Prayer Breakfast, Barack Obama singled out for praise Navy Corpsman Christian Bouchard. Or as the president called him, â€œCorpseman Bouchard.â€ Twice.
Hey, not a big deal. Throughout his life, the commander-in-chief has had little contact with the military, and less interest. And, when you give as many speeches as this guy does, thereâ€™s no time to rehearse or read through: You just gotta fire up the prompter and wing it. But itâ€™s revealing that nobody around him in the so-called smartest administration of all time thought to spell it out phonetically for him when the speech got typed up and loaded into the machine. Which suggests that either his minders donâ€™t know that he doesnâ€™t know that kinda stuff, or they donâ€™t know it either. To put it in Rumsfeldian terms, they donâ€™t know what they donâ€™t know.
Which is embarrassingly true. Hence, the awful flop speeches, from the Copenhagen Olympics to the Berlin Wall anniversary video to the Martha Coakley rally. The palpable whiff given off by the White House inner circle is that theyâ€™re the last people on the planet still besotted by Barack Obama, and that theyâ€™re having such a cool time starring in their own reality-show remake of The West Wing they can only conceive of the public â€” and, indeed, the world â€” as crowd-scene extras in The Barack Obama Show: They expect you to cheer and wave flags when the floor-manager tells you to, but the notion that in return he should be able to persuade you of the merits of his policies seems entirely to have eluded them.(the rest)