Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

But Is It Good News?

Could we stop talking about Health Care? How about dictionary definitions, even that would be more exciting.

A new Rasmussen poll shows support for health care reform, at least as it is currently envisioned, falling to 41% while disapproval of the plan (whatever that means) now standing at 56%. Even if you don' believe the absolute numbers, the trend is clear, the support for the Democrat plan is declining. Apparently, Obama's Sunday talk show blitz has been effective.

My worry is that the Dems will see the falling poll numbers and go for the nuclear option (reconciliation process) to get something passed before it becomes impossible. Some other things to consider. If the Democrats do use the reconciliation process, unlikely as that seems, will it wreck the party's chances in 2010. I think so, because it would prove the Tea Party goers to be correct, that Washington never listens.

More interesting is what happens to the Republicans if they prevail. I think this is a real danger for them, because even thought the majority is happy with their own health care plans today, the loss of a job or employer caprice could cause them to lose coverage. This is why portability and expanded competition need to be part of a Republican plan. If the Republicans just walk away from this debate with a victory, but no plan of their own, I think it bodes ill for the long term debate on this issue and also for their chances in 2010.

As If We Didn't Know

Joe Wilson is now completely vindicated. After his "you lie" outburst on the House floor, Max Baucus (D-MT) added language to his health care bill that would require citizenship verification for those seeking to use government run insurance exchanges. (BTW, While not condoning Wilson's behavior, I view it as akin to the way a basketball coach will take a technical for the team to make a point. Also, I'm not sure if I could contain myself either. As a matter of fact I didn't. Mrs. Daddy had to leave the room as I kept yelling "lies and bull****" through most of Obama's health care speech. But I digress.)

I offer the following supporting evidence from the Washington Times article headlined Liberals Seek Health Care Access for Illegals:

The National Council of La Raza launched its own "flood their voice mail" campaign last week to put pressure on Mr. Baucus to expand coverage in his proposal to include all legal immigrants and to drop verification language in the legislation that would prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining coverage.
Note that La Raza said nary a peep when Obama was claiming that his bill did not give access to illegals; but as soon as a verification proposal was in the Democrat bill, the usual suspects are protesting.

I rest my case.

Also, have you ever noticed how transparent Obama's agenda is becoming to more Americans. There is no doubt in my mind that he wanted to cover illegals, but wanted to do it by stealth. Dick Morris first pointed this out when Obama kept using the 43 million uninsured number, which included the approximately 12 million here in this country illegally. I'd like to thank Morris and Glen Beck for their work in exposing the not very will hidden agendas of this administration.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Faith, Reason and Regensberg

Over at Weaselzippers you can find multiple links to stories from the Muslim world of cruelty to Christians for perceived slights and to the killing of apostates from the Muslim faith. I usually don't bring this up, not out of any political correctness, but out of the belief that my readers are already aware, and it is such an everyday occurrence. I would challenge us to think about the nature of the faith that permits or condones such excess. Defenders of Islam may say that such acts are not the product of "true Islam" whatever that would be, but I don't see widespread denunciation, so I assume there is theological justification for this. Pope Benedict asked the same question, more eloquently in Regensburg lecture in September 2006, not long after his election.

In my church, the saying I hear most often is "God is Good." With the response being "All the time." In Islam, I believe the most frequent phrase is "Allahu Akbar" meaning "God is Great." The difference in emphasis is important. The Christian sees God first and foremost as good, all powerful, but defined by goodness and reason. The start of the Gospel of John states that in the beginning the λόγος, (logos) was with God. Logos can mean either the Word or reason in the Greek. Ours is a religion of both faith and reason. We see the coming of the Messiah at a time when both a knowledge of the Jewish faith and the idea of Greek inquiry were both known throughout the Roman empire. As the Pope states:

A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature.
Our is a good God, who has chosen to be bound by the promises he puts in His Word, and we can therefor use reason to deduce his nature and character, even if not fully.

However, in Islam, we see reverence for the all powerful nature of Allah. The Pope states:

But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.
I once read that this meant that in Muslim teaching Allah could even require idolatry of us. This has profound implications for a dialog with Islam, because a dialog requires that we be able to agree to points of reason (dialog comes from διά and λόγος, there's that word again words and reason).

Additionally, the belief that Allah's will is involved in everything that happens, that rationality and causality are mere figments, leads to outcomes that are themselves not reasonable. Stephen Richter, in Taki's Magazine stated this in June 2007,

This moral fatalism helps to explain why many American Muslims—even some of those who seemed genuinely horrified by what had occurred—were unable or unwilling to condemn the September 11 attacks directly. If Allah approved the actions of the hijackers by causing the towers to fall, then to condemn the September 11 attacks is essentially an act of impiety. It is one of the many ironies of Islam that the Muslim insistence on the radical freedom of the will can lead to a moral fatalism which those who wish to wage jihad against the United States can use in order to silence dissent among their fellow Muslims.

Just as Christians believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God, Muslims see themselves as a reflection of Allah. And as we wish to conform our will to God’s Will, they attempt to conform their wills to Allah. But here, the similarities end. If Allah’s will, unlike God’s, is not bound up with rationality, then the discerning of that will takes a very different shape. In attempting to understand God’s Will, Christians can turn to the world around us, to natural law, to history, to tradition. We see the rationality—the consistent reasonableness—of God’s Will in the world that He created. But in Islam, the appearance of order is only that—an appearance. To the extent that the created world seems rational, it is only because Allah wishes it to appear so. His will could change at any moment, however—and the new order, or lack thereof, that he would create would be just as “right” as this one.

Hope you had a great weekend, I will return to political blogging tomorrow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gore Motors

Because Cash for Clunker Didn't Waste Enough of Your Tax Dollars

A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.
Just let that sink in for a moment and consider all that is hypocritical and just plain wrong. H/T to the WSJ for highlighting this travesty, even if buried in the corporate news section of the print edition.

1. The car will be built in Finland. What hypocrisy considering the hue and cry to include "Buy American" in the porkulus.

2. It will subsidize development of an $89,000 vehicle, so some rich lefty can gorge him or herself on recycled self-righteousness. While the left complains of how corporations are raping America.

3. Backed by former Vice President Al Gore. Do you think this would have gotten off the ground without the blessing of the Goracle? What does Al Gore get from Fisker Automotive? How much is he paid? What expertise does he bring? Well, we know the answer to that. (Of course we also saw this with the selection of the GM CEO.)

And the business model? Automotive analyst, Aaron Bragman at IHS Global Insight had this to say (only in the print edition, curiously):

It's a bit controversial to give half a billion to what is basically a start-up company that's never produced a car. Who is going to buy an unknown brand in a questionable dealer network?
But here's the money quote, literally as it turns out:

Fisker's top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a partner. Employees of KPCB have donated more than $2.2 million to political campaigns, mostly for Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign contributions.
Sweeeeeet! For those who don't like to do math in public, that is a sweet 21,100% return on investment, more or less. Beat that with good stock picking, suckers. Although she might be able to beat that in cattle futures.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Defeating Cap and Trade

Richard Lugar, one of the Republican senators being courted to pass the cap and trade, carbon emissions bill said that such a bill would likely not pass this year due to the ongoing Health Care debate. I tend to agree. I see this as both opportunity and danger. The opportunity is that the Tea Party movement can help build highly deserved disgust towards legislation that hands out exemptions like Halloween candy to the politically favored. The danger is that Green groups will get organized more quickly than our side and blunt the message about the horrible jobs impact of this bill.

I would like libertarians and conservatives to seriously re-think the merits of a carbon tax, when coupled with reductions in the income tax. With regards to global warming, it allows us to avoid a debate over whether global warming is
  1. Actually happening.
  2. Actually man made.
  3. Actually bad.
We can concede on these issues or just say it doesn't matter because even if all three were true, Cap and Trade would STILL BE BAD POLICY.

Second, by proposing to reduce income taxes to offset carbon taxes, it puts the Democrats in a tough spot. (I have also argued the benefits of a consumption tax vs income taxes.) We can make this argument, if global warming is the giant threat you say it is, why wouldn't you reduce income taxes as the price of saving the planet? Are you hypocritical? The countercharge that we are holding the planet hostage to tax cuts, is that we believe that national wealth needs to be preserved to combat the potential crisis.

Finally, Republicans need a serious plan to deal with the negative side affects of burning carbon, I think that just saying no to cap and trade will be insufficient. A carbon tax, because it is simple and predictable will have the lowest impact on the economy and be the least susceptible to log rolling.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quick Hitters

As you probably know I am doing a little extra blogging over at BwD as Dean makes a Road Trip to Colorado. The confluence of three bloggers on one conservative blog who are also all employees of the feds got me thinking.

What is up with Democrats unwillingness to debate? Humana, an insurance company, sent its customers a TRUE MAILING, that Max Baucus' Senate Health Care bill will cut payments to seniors on the Medicare Advantage program. Then:
ABC's World News Tonight covers the controversy over Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) asking Medicare to investigate Humana for sending letters to its customers about potential Medicare Advantage cuts...

Mitch McConnell is a personal hero of mine. Anyone whose name is attached to a Supreme Court case challenging the Federal Elections Commission has got to be doing something right, see McConnell vs FEC.

Over at the WSJ, liberal columnist Thomas Frank asks essentially the same question, this time about the Health Care debate. Here is what that liberal has to say after opining that much of our recent economic troubles accrue to Bush era laissez-faire dogma. (I disagree, but who cares.)

I have concerns about the rhetoric being used as well, and about the louts and the bullies who use it. But it seems clear that Mrs. Pelosi's aim is to avoid debate when she ought to be wading into the thick of it. Her team has the arguments; it has the facts; it has gale-force historical winds at its back: Why not give back as good as you get? Why not simply beat the other side instead of complaining tearfully that they play too rough?
Frank never answers his own rhetorical questions, maybe because he can't, so he ends with this:
Conservatives, on the other hand, have been crusading nonstop since the days of Barry Goldwater. Every economic issue is a grand moral issue for them—this particular one, even in its lukewarm Senate Finance Committee version, is "a stunning assault on liberty," according to Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.)—and until liberals are prepared to contest those terms, they will have to live with a little incivility.
Darn tootin' every economic issue is a grand moral issue. Somebody needs to read the Road to Serfdom. I say this to Thomas Frank and all the other lefties, I am part of the Freedom Coalition and I'm not giving up on the idea of freedom.

Speaking of freedom, that's a word Sarah Palin is using frequently. I like her apt description of the Tea Party movement in her recent Hong Kong speech.

The “Tea Party Movement” is aptly named to remind people of the American Revolution – of colonial patriots who shook off the yoke of a distant government and declared their freedom from indifferent – elitist – rulers who limited their progress and showed them no respect. Today, Main Street Americans see Washington in similar terms.
Well said. Sarah Palin may turn out to be more effective out of office than in. Kind of a counterweight to the Goracle. I would love to see that debate.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Commander in Chief and Afghanistan

I will be the first to admit to some prejudices about the political nature of war and the need for both a thoughtful strategy and civilian control of the military. I often quote Clausewitz' rhetorical remark about war being politics carried out by other means. However, the President, as Commander in Chief, is playing a dangerous game in Afghanistan. To set the stage let me quote what the President said in March (only six months ago):

So let me be clear: al Qaeda and its allies – the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks – are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the U.S. homeland from its safe-haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.

The President was correct. Meanwhile, the situation on the ground has worsened, but not yet deteriorated, contrary to what the NYT is reporting. General McChrystal is asking for more troops to prevent Afghanistan reaching a tipping point, where the war can not be won without huge expenditure of blood and treasure. Sound familiar? Indeed, it was allowing the situation in Iraq get to a dangerous tipping point, starting with a failure to control the looting after the initial defeat of the Hussein regime that caused that effort to drag on and cost

But the President and his defenders are now whining that he needs time to re-think the strategy. But I ask, what has changed strategically since March, for crying out loud? The only difference is that we underestimated the troop level needed to carry the fight to the enemy. How in the world does that change the geopolitical nature of the threat that Obama so clearly spelled out in March? The fact that the elections appear tainted changes nothing in the assessment. (I mention this because it is the only semi-plausible argument in an entire NY Times article on the President's decision making process. Note the prominence given to Joe Biden's strategic thinking as well.)

The President is supposed to LEAD! By dithering and hand wringing, poll watching and whining that he needs more time, he demoralizes the troops in the field and strengthens the position of the Taliban. Our Islamofascist enemies read the news just as much as we do. They are probably using Obama's lack of decision to rally their troops, telling them that an extra push now could achieve victory. That might be correct.

History is full of examples where insurgencies won by outlasting a larger more well equipped forces, starting with our own American Revolution. In some cases, perhaps, it is not in the long term best interests of the more powerful nation to stay in the fight. Some argue that Vietnam is one such example. I do not necessarily agree, but if Democrats and Republicans alike take the President at his word about the consequences of failure in Afghanistan, then he should have sent more troops yesterday.

Did you guys hear the one about Obama concentrating on al Qaeda instead of the Taliban?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Shack and Job

I keep hearing from friends and family that some people believe that "The Shack" by William P. Young, is somehow heretical. While it's message certainly is challenging, I am hard pressed to see the heresy. It is not my purpose to argue this point with those who disagree, but I would like to point out that "The Shack" is a story, not the Bible itself, so it's failure to be a full exposition of the faith is understandable, because this book is intended to emphasize God's love for us.

In this way the book reminds me of Job. Job is the least favorite book of the Bible for many people, and it's message is hard, but I think it is illustrative of God's love. Like "The Shack," Job is a book about tragedy and it's effect on one man. Job is written on three levels. One is the earthly plane in which Job lives, suffers and is redeemed. The next level is the heavenly realm where we see Satan challenging God's judgement of Job. In this realm, we see Satan (literally, The Accuser) telling God that Job is only righteous because it benefits Job himself. This sets the stage for the tragedy that unfolds.

(An aside, after the tragedies that befall Job, his friends come to comfort him. But they can't help but let slip that they think he must have angered God because of his miserable condition. Job justifies himself and asks to stand before God. He actually calls God his accuser in verse 31:35, but it is Satan who is actually responsible for Job's misery. Later God says to Job's friends that they have not spoken of God what is right, even though his friend's thought they were speaking on God's behalf by rebuking Job. A cautionary tale in itself, when we might judge others in our hearts or aloud.)

The third, and not so obvious plane, is the one in which the thinking of God himself is revealed. For me that is the most interesting level. I realize that I can only catch a glimpse of His thinking, but I should have faith. When Job finally encounters God, after asking for judgment, God never directly answers Job's central charge that God has been unfair. Instead God points to the enormous beauty and power of his creation, his amazing generosity, "making rain fall in a desert where no man lives" and asks Job, who is he to queston the Almighty. At first glimpse, this is very unsatisfactory to us, because we tend to think of God as merely an all powerful human. But he is not, he is Lord of All, and beyond our full comprehension. He asks that we believe in his goodness. (The first sin was not that Eve took the fruit, but that she doubted God's goodness and listened to the serpent.)

But God does something else and you have to read the whole of the book to get it.
At the start of the story Job is a religious man, performing all of the required sacrifices and who serves God out of fear. But God uses all that transpires to change Job. After a personal encounter with the living God, Job takes on more of the character of God himself. He is magnificently generous, he gives a share of his inheritance to his daughters, for instance. This was unheard of in that culture, since daughters would become part of another family and they would not take care of the patriarch in his old age.

"The Shack" is like Job in this way. A man is transformed both by tragedy and an encounter with God into a new man; his fear is lifted and he can love those around him more fully as he draws closer to the nature and character of God.

I am indebted to John Ortberg who wrote God is Closer Than You Think for reshaping my thinking on Job.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekend Music Chill

I am always amazed at how musicians and actors subscribe to the most leftist of doctrines, are buddies with the likes of Hugo Chavez, but still manage to grow fat off the capitalist system they so despise. Of special interest is the use of music in commercials, the ultimate sell out according to some adolescents. Personally, I just like to see good music in good commercials. The latest to catch Mrs. Daddy's fancy is the Lincoln car commercial here. I like the Major Tom rendition myself. To honor the commercial success of both the original band Blue Oyster Cult and the band doing the cover, here are two versions of "Burnin' for You."

Who's Telling the Truth?

In a comment on a previous post on the President's Health Care speech to Congress, a less conservative friend said that the claims and counter-claims were confusing. I agree. However, I found this great video (H/T Weaselzippers) with a fabulous debate on some key facts in the legislation. I'll let the viewer decide who is lying.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hypocrisy, Jealousy, Snobbery - The Usual

"Let's say you're preparing dinner and you realize with dismay that you don't have any certified organic Tuscan kale. What to do?" asks Dana Millbank in today's Washington Post. Shut down three different streets in DC and cause the emission of several tons of carbon. Enjoy a little taste of hypocrisy here. I guess the Obama's gave up shopping for arugula at Whole Foods and joined that boycott.

On to some jealousy. Tingles, for whom I once had some respect as a reasonably non-partisan reporter, whines about "right wing crap on the best seller list" in this video:

Why did MSNBC decide that overt partisanship was the road to higher ratings? They used to have a somewhat balanced attack on Matthew's shows, even Pat Buchanan was shown some respect when he was on Hardball. Now they just look like whiny little sycophants.

And now for some hypocrisy. Cass Sunstein, Obama's regulatory czar, has a very expansive view of who should interpret legal ambiguities. Hint, it's not the courts. Yes, the President of the United States should be The One, according to Sunstein.
"There is no reason to believe that in the face of statutory ambiguity, the meaning of federal law should be settled by the inclinations and predispositions of federal judges. The outcome should instead depend on the commitments and beliefs of the President and those who operate under him," argued Sunstein.

I recall leftist apoplexy over Chimpy McBush-Hitler and Darth Cheney's allegedly similar beliefs. In a classic what would () do, moment Obama has been issuing signing statements that indicate his view of the constitutionality of various bills he has signed. In 2007, these were proof positive of the prior administration's desire for dictatorship, and it got big play in the MSM. Today, it's all hunky-dory.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm Ashamed...

...that the utter tool pictured at left is a fellow alum of the boat school. Calling people racist with ZERO evidence is low and loathsome. It is slander. In a perfect world, the former President would be forced to pay punitive damages to Joe Wilson. This is an illegitimate attempt to squelch the very legitimate opposition to Obama's policies. Calling one's opponents racist will only backfire as most Americans will see it as crying wolf. They also don't think they themselves are racists, nor are their friends and neighbors. We would be fighting just as hard against Hillarycare, so this is clearly not about race.

So Mr. Carter, please apologize. Stop the slander. Uphold the dignity we expect of former Presidents.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Most Important Story You Won't See on TV

Yesterday, Judge Jed Rakoff, pictured, rejected the proposed settlement of $33 million by the Bank of America with the SEC over allegations that Bank of America had lied to shareholders regarding bonuses for Merrill Lynch managers. BofA acquired Merrill Lynch last January, just after over $3 billion in bonuses were paid to Merrill management. The SEC alleges that BofA's proxy letter to shareholders was materially misleading.

Judge Rakoff states:

"Oscar Wilde once famously said that a cynicis someone 'who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.' The proposed Consent Judgment in this case suggests a rather cynical relationship between the parties... And all this is done at the expense, not only of the shareholders, but also of the truth."

The reason this is so important is that it affirms the rule of law and accountability in our financial markets. I don't know if the BofA executives committed a crime or not; but look at the perverse incentives in the system. For a mere $33 million, not even your own dough, but that of your shareholders, you, the CEO of BofA get to waive prosecution, WITHOUT ADMITTING PERSONAL GUILT. Considering that your own future bonus might be at stake, better to get this thing over, if you're the CEO. On the SEC side, you've got plenty of egg on your face already, from Bernie Madoff, to a number of bonus related issues. The fine allows the SEC to maintain that they are on the job.

But it is all crap. The SEC says that the execs relied on the lawyers for advice, so we didn't prosecute. OK, so why not prosecute the lawyers? WHO IS ACCOUNTABLE? There is also a back story that no one wants exposed here. The chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, has claimed that neither he nor then Treasury Secretary Paulson pressured Bank of America to buy Merrill Lynch. I think he's lying. I want to see a trial. I want to see the truth come out.

Transparency and the rule of law are necessary for capitalism to work. Much of last year's melt down can be traced to a lack of both. I find myself applauding Judge Rakoff, along with Dennis Kucinich of all people. However, I suspect Kucinich is just upset over the bonuses, my interest is in the rule of law. We'll see if the SEC has the guts to prosecute. There case might be weak. If it is, that will tell us something too.

Why is this the most important story not on TV? It's neither glamorous nor gruesome, but goes to the heart of what makes capitalism work. Our future economic growth depends as much on ethical behavior as it does on defeating big government spending.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Evidence That We Are Winning...

...against the al-Qaeda brand of Islamofascism, at least.

I have so jumped the shark... Hey, is this mic live?

First, we have Osama bin Laden's annual diatribe timed to be released around 9-11. Some things to note; bin Laden is starting to seem like those 60's radicals "always reliving the day" (think Al Sharpton) because he hasn't really done much since. Also notable, Osama makes no threats of impending attacks, unlike past years. I believe this is because his threats are no longer viewed as credible. He spends considerable time justifying the 9-11 attacks, an odd choice of emphasis, unless, he is no longer relevant and wishes to remind the world of his one great triumph. (Yes I am aware of the Madrid and London attacks, but they were an order of magnitude smaller.) There are no new images of bin Laden either, evidence of technical or security difficulties.

Next, from the WSJ:

A U.S. official said forces from the Joint Special Operations Command were involved in the attack on Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who is suspected of building the truck bomb that killed 15 people at a Kenyan hotel in 2002, as well as involvement in a simultaneous, botched missile launch at an Israeli airliner.
The operation was far too sophisticated for the Somalis to have carried out, but no official confirmation that it was a U.S. effort. The part I liked best? After the attack, the helicopter circles back to retrieve the body for positive identification.

Finally, closer to home, in Queens:

New York City police and the FBI raided homes in the borough of Queens early on Monday as part of an investigation into suspected terrorism, focusing on one man who has been under surveillance, officials said.
Glad to see law enforcement on the job taking things seriously, even if no one else seems to be. The raid occurred after a known al Qaedas were seen visiting the two apartments, one of which was occupied by five Afghan men. Although there appears to have been no imminent danger, that's the way I like it. Find them before they can even start to carry out their evil plans.

I have criticized the Bush administration for some of the extra-legal methods it chose to use in prosecuting the fight against Islamofascism, but I never doubted the professionalism of those on the front lines of law enforcement and the military, just trying to get the job done.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Getting My Passport

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On Friday, I had another opportunity to experience first hand what things look like when government tires to run things like a business. We are planning a family trip to Australia next June, and want to get our passports early. So clearly, to make sure we aren't delayed, getting our paper work in order now is required. It seems outrageous that we have to plan so far in advance, but who would argue that we are not prudent to do so. I had an appointment for 10:30 a.m., but when we arrived there is no separate line for people with appointments, so I can't really say how that should have worked. Fortunately there was only one person ahead of us in line.

We had taken our passport pictures, carefully following directions as to dimensions and carefully stapled them to our application. However, we were told that because they were paper pictures they could not be used. No where is the type of paper to be used explained on the State Department web site. The postal worker explained that because the word "photograph" was used, I should have known to use photographic paper. I will let the reader be the judge. So as not to delay our application processing; we acquiesced to having our pictures taken on site at $15 a pop. How they decided on that price is unknown.

We had very carefully filled out our forms and were ready to sign. However, my 17 year old son was told, to "spell out his full name in cursive" rather than sign the form, despite the form's instructions that those over 16 sign a particular line. We also had to submit original birth certificates, which we are assured will be returned to us in six to eight weeks. Hopefully, we won't need them before then.

Finally it came time to pay up. Now in principle, I don't complain about paying for government services for which I am the direct beneficiary. It's the way I had to pay that amazed me. Credit card payment was only available to pay for the pictures and "processing fee" of $25. The passports had to be paid for by check, and one check for each application. I ended up making four payments. What business operates that way?

And I am not really angry, mind you, I just point this out, because even when Government tries to be business like, operating a fee for service operation, it just can't be. The pressures are different, the incentives are different, so it ends up operating differently.

The lesson for health care is that the public option will probably be a huge flop, if it is not subsidized, because the government won't be able to compete as a service provider. But that very fact will cause the bureaucracy running the public option to lose money. Then the President and the Democratic Congress will say, "We need more time to establish the public option." They will start feeding the future Health Choices Administration cash, the same way they do for AMTRAK and the Post Office. Logic and experience tell us that the President is not telling the truth when he says that the public option won't be subsidized. Only when the government has a monopoly, like my example with my passports, does their business model work.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The "War on Terror" 8 Years On

It has been 8 years since America was attacked by al-Qaeda. So how goes the war on terror? I never liked the term, but not necessarily for the reasons put forward by the Obama administration. When the government starts a war on some nebulous enemy, it is always interminable and we never seem to win. Think "war on drugs" or "war on poverty." Let me be clear, to borrow a phrase, I want America to win, because our enemies embody the very antithesis what our masthead states. They seek to impose tyranny and injustice around the world.

The war on terror is actually a war against a particular brand of Islamic extremism. Because it is characterized by paranoia, unreasonging hatred of Jews and a disdain for democracy, combined with a faux religiosity, I see no better term than Islamofascism. The main fronts in this war are Iraq and Afghanistan, but the war is world wide, because al Qaeda and its ilk operate through out the world.

In Afghanistan, it is a hard slog. I am not so expert as to say whether we are winning or losing. Afghanistan has never had a strong central government, but it has had periods of peace where the tribal leaders held the country together under a loose monarchy. I say this because some Democrats are calling for us to quit Afghanistan, including chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin. Many parallels to Vietnam certainly exist, but Afghanistan is no Vietnam. The problem of course is the haven it provided and still provides to al Qaeda. My real concern would be the dropping support for the war would lead to withdrawal of troops. I think Afghanistan can be won, but we must help the central government put together tribal alliances that will hold and thus isolate the Taliban. Carl von Clausewitz once famously wrote "War is the continuation of politics by other means." The question was rhetorical, and he did not fully believe it, but made the point that war and political ends are inextricably linked. In Afghanistan, both are necessary for victory, and the same can be said of Iraq.

In Iraq, the Americans, after creating pre-conditions for stability, have seemingly quit the battlefield. This probably serves the interests of the Iraqi central government for the moment. However, it remains to be seen if the uptick in violence, including the August 19 truck bombing, that seemed partly the work of traitors, is related to the reduced presence of U.S. troops. Continued violence will prevent the building of a civic society in Iraq that is needed to make it a model for that part of the world. Obama seems intent on withdrawing from Iraq, but again, we have not been able to get politics and war fighting to operate together effectively. I fear that the good work of the surge will be undone by Iraqi politics, allowing extremism to continue wreak havoc.

Obama seems not very concerned about all of this, preferring to concentrate on his health care debacle. He seems to be voting "present" as commander-in-chief, not articulating a clear strategy to deal with deteriorating situations. He better start paying attention, Americans seldom elect Presidents primarily because of foreign policy, but foreign affairs can undo the Presidency.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quote of the Week

James Madison, credited with being the "Father of the Constitution" was surely a man of wisdom concerning the law and human nature. He had this to say.

It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
Did you think he foresaw something like this health care bill? No, he did understand the methods of tyranny, which the nation had just defeated to achieve it's independence.

H/T The Other McCain.

Other Bloggers Who Call Out Obama's Lies on Health Care

Glad to see I'm not alone in being steamed over blatant lying by the President in last night's speech. Some interesting links:

Confederate Yankee has a stream of tweets
that concludes the President is lying. Best quote: "A laundry list of unsupportable wishes is not a plan. What a waste of time."

Director Blue had a live blog, with the comment, "the lies are coming so fast and furious..."

Freedom Eden calls out lies on keeping insurance, on pretending to be a moderate, and Obama's desire for single payer.

Gateway Pundit calls him out on "my door is open", he hasn't met with the GOP since April.

And the very deep team at CATO performed continuous debunking during the whole speech. Obama kept feeding them material the whole speech.

After all the lies, the man has the chutzpah to say this during his speech:

If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out.
Mr. President, how about calling yourself out.

P.S. Lot's of comments on Mrs. Sourpuss. What does she have to be upset about?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pompous and Arrogant Liar (Additional Material)

Maybe if I repeat the same lies with seeming conviction, they'll believe me.

I listened then watched the President address a joint session of Congress. I was horrified at his speech because he keeps re-iterating the same lies and distortions. To set the record straight, here are a few of the whoppers.

Health care will not increase the deficit.

The CBO has already weighed in on this. Without increasing taxes, which he did not offer tonight, there is no way to increase coverage without increasing costs.

"...nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have."

By building incentives to get employers to drop coverage (the proposed fine is less than companies pay now) Obama is initiating a change that will result in employees losing their current coverage. How is that different to the employee who will lose his company's coverage.

"There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."

Nothing will prevent illegals from obtaining coverage, so some will; guaranteed.

"My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition."

Obama has been seen on video supporting single payer.

"...in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company. Without competition, the price of insurance goes up and the quality goes down."

This is because insurance companies can not sell across state lines. If Obama wanted to seriously address this problem, the Congres could, constitutionally, under the interstate commerce clause, allow interstate competition. Further, the federal government will not be a competitor in the traditional sense, they will never act like a traditional business because their objectives are not the same. The Post Office has a goal of universal delivery that conflicts with their acting like a business, for example. You can debate the goodness of that, but mission constraints always prevent government from being fully businesslike. (I actually agree that this state imposed lack of competition hurts America.)

By the way, he successfully finessed his position on the public option, seeming to strongly support it, while saying it should be negotiable. Pretty clever ploy, but I think if the Republicans just hang tough on that issue, they can kill the whole thing. Then they can blame the Dems for refusing to negotiate on the point and point to this speech to show that it was negotiable.

(Additional Material)

I thought of some more after having another beer.

"That is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan.
The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies subsidies that do everything to pad their profits and nothing to improve your care."

If there is waste and fraud, eliminate it. Why does it have to wait for passage of this bill? Answer: you can't easily eliminate waste and fraud in government programs. Seniors know this, they don't mind the fraud because the system is geared to get payments to their doctors fairly easily; but it makes the system susceptible to fraud. To go after fraud, the administration must pay for enforcement or slow payments pending reviews. Neither is going to be popular. Further, if medicare money is going to be saved, and medicare will be unchanged, how is that related to this health care bill? Clearly the President isn't telling the whole story.

"I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress."

Then why have your aids used pejoratives to dismiss the legitimate protests of ordinary people at town halls? Why have you dismissed debate, with words like "the time for bickering is over?" Why do you treat those who disagree with disdain?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Old Time Lefty Religion?

Did I mention we're going to put evil insurance companies out of business?

The media seems to think that Obama's Labor Day speech presaged a move to the left on Health Care in Wednesday's speech to the Congress. I tend to agree. Meanwhile, Drudge is linking to an ABC report that Nancy and Harry think they have the votes to pass "something." Supposedly, they are urging the President to set a deadline. I presume this is so the votes won't leak out. But I think if the President lurches left to secure the base, those votes leak away anyway. The basic dynamic has not changed. The left, especially in the House, wants the public option. In the Senate, the public option seems the biggest obstacle to passing some sort of legislation.

In a move I am sure will win no friends for the President, Max Baucus is proposing fines of $3800 per family for a failure to buy health insurance. How outrageous and unconstitutional! To be fined just because you are alive and don't want a product? If this fine passes and isn't overturned, I might lose faith in our checks and balances. The AP article says it would be like a fine for not having auto insurance. Big difference; I have the option to not drive. I don't have the option of not breathing. Oh that's right, if I'm old enough, they'll make that decision for me as well.

IRS Agents:
Enforcing Health Care Choice.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Update - They're Going With Incompetence

In yesterday's post, I asked whether Van Jones was implying the administration was cowardly or incompetent in selecting him for the Green Jobs Czar position. Over at Politico, Ben Smith floats a trial balloon on behalf of the administration that they are going with incompetence, with mitigation.

A White House official told me yesterday that Van Jones “was not as thoroughly vetted as other administration officials,” and specified to the Times that Jones "did not go through the traditional vetting process for administration officials who must be confirmed by the Senate."
To his credit, Smith demolishes this line of reasoning with the rest of the article. If this line of reasoning flies under the radar, expect the administration to stick with it. If they take too much heat from their lefty base, expect them to tack and blame right wing media for making a conversation impossible, or some such claptrap.

Breaking - Obama Will Push for Public Option

Listening to Obama's Labor Day speech to the friendly crowd at the AFL-CIO picnic in Cincinatti, Mrs. Daddy distinctly heard him say that the public option would be in "a basket of options." My earlier opinion that backing away from the public option was just a trial balloon is confirmed. Reuters confirms.

You can't trust any pronouncements from this administration, they will always seek the path of least resistance. I also don't think this speech is the last word on public option either. If significant resistance builds in the Senate and they can't get a bill passed, it will "again" be dropped.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


All around retard and hypocritical fat-ass, Michael Moore says "Capitalism is evil and must be replaced." With what? Fascism or Communism and their millions dead? All out socialism (no, Sweden doesn't count because they allow private property) like Hugo Chavez is going for? Hunter-gatherer, where your life expectancy is under 20 years? Feudalism? Get real. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, Capitalism is the worst form of economics except for all those others that have been tried.

Next up, sub-headline in today's fish wrap:

Organic farms face particular risk from bug-borne disease
Really, is it that whole no pesticides thing? If you don't spray for bugs you run a greater risk of bug borne disease? Dang. Clearly it's time to call "Obvious Man." I appreciate that people don't like pesticides because they fear the unknown effects, but shouldn't we at least consider the known effects of not using pesticides.

On to Van Jones, who probably didn't amount to a hill of beans, but who recently resigned. The LA Times headline:

Van Jones decries 'lies and distortions,'quits as Obama's environmental advisor

Really? Think hard about the position this puts your former boss, the President. If it is all lies, then his failure to defend you indicates a lack of moral courage of the worst sort. Are you saying that our President is a coward? And if these were not lies? Then your presence in the administration indicates total incompetence with it's vetting process. So which is it, cowardice or incompetence? I'm not holding my breath for a response.

BTW, Hotair previously documented how none of the MSM outlets like the NYT, NBC, ABC, WaPo had printed a SINGLE WORD about the whole Van Jones controversy before his resignation. So when the NYT published the article, citing the controversy surrounding this man, how were their readers to know? This is full on journalistic malpractice. If you can't cover the controversy, don't cover the resignation.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weekend Music Chill

Last week we played some lefty folk music and ran a poll. By the low turn out, we draw the conclusion that this was not highly popular with our readers. Since talking to the left seems to be a theme lately, I offer up another famously socialist band for this weekend's music. However, I notice that the best music is seldom overtly political; right or left. This tune by The Clash seems to be no exception, but I wonder what you think. Comments by British ex-patriots are especially welcome.

The Compassion Argument

A liberal friend of mine had this to say on his Facebook page:
No one should die, or lived diminished lives because they can't afford health care. No one should be a victim of the insurance companies. No one should go broke because they get sick. No one should be unable to change jobs because of a "pre......-existing condition". If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.
Let me be clear, my friend is a decent human being, a great artist, a good husband and all around good guy to hang out with. But I disagree with his premises.

I struggle with answering an argument from someone who is compassionate, because I think of myself as compassionate as well. But sometimes the truly compassionate answer is not obvious, so here is my answer.

First, we will never be able to afford all of the health care that would prolong everyone's lives; instead of bankrupting an individual, we would bankrupt the country, because some treatments are more expensive than we can afford for all who would demand them. I like thought experiments, so try this. Suppose some biologists conceived of a way to deliver a cure for cancer through a very expensive process. Perhaps involving cloning bits of an individuals DNA onto a virus that would deliver a death blow to just the cancerous cells. To develop their cure they seek out venture capitalists to fund their work. In the pre-Obamacare world they get the funding because they will be able to patent their invention and reap tens of billions in rewards for billions invested, if all goes well. That last statement is important, because it is in fact more likely that their efforts will fail. In the post-Obamacare world these same venture capitalists realize that under the strict price control structure that has been put into place, that even if all goes well, they will not be able to reap the tens of billions in profit from their discovery, they will only be able to break even or show some small profit. In this brave new world the invention goes begging and is never bears fruit. However, the cost of health care has been contained, because there is no demand for the new invention. Which situation is indeed the more compassionate one, reduced costs and no innovation or continuous new inventions with inequality of treatment?

Now with respect to the evils of the current system, unable to get coverage, and unable to change jobs, there are free market proposals that are not being considered by the President nor the Democrats in Congress. Here is what John H. Cochrane had to say in a WSJ Article titled "What to Do About Pre-Existing Conditions":

First, if you get sick and then lose your job or get divorced, you lose your health insurance. With a pre-existing condition, new insurance will be ruinously expensive, if you can get it at all. This, the central defect of American health insurance, explains why most Americans are happy with their current coverage yet also support reform.

Second, health care costs too much. Yes, we get better treatment, but the cost-cutting revolution that has swept through manufacturing, retail, telecommunications and airlines has not touched health care.

The problems are real, but the proposed remedy—even more government intervention—is counterproductive. A market-based, deregulation-focused reform is possible, and it will work.

And further:

A truly effective insurance policy would combine coverage for this year's expenses with the right to buy insurance in the future at a set price. Today, employer-based group coverage provides the former but, crucially, not the latter. A "guaranteed renewable" individual insurance contract is the simplest way to deliver both.
So my friend, I oppose Obamacare, not because I lack compassion, but because I do in fact want to see better conditions for others. But none of the plans being considered by the Congress actually make our situation any better. In fact, we will lose the benefits we already have in a mistaken effort to "level the playing field."

Let there be no doubt, as we have seen in Oregon and Massachusetts, treatment will be denied by the government. That this is somehow better than the current system, where at least charity or private funding are an option eludes me.

To see the full range of my opinion on this issue click the tag Obamacare.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chattin' with Road Dawg 'bout Immigration

'Dawg dropped by unexpectedly this evening, for cervezas y tacos. Mostly family chat, but we had a little discussion about the illegal immigrants as well. 'Dawg has nothing against folk coming to work here, but they need to check in at the front gate. We further agreed that they need to be fingerprinted and positively identified before being sent on their way to work. They should pay their share of taxes so they aren't a burden on the rest of us when they hit the emergency room after slicing a finger when the slicer was intended for linoleum. None of this gets them citizenship either, so they have no right of permanent residence.

However, as believers in free markets, we both think that as many workers should be allowed in the country as can find work. Further, there should be no minimum wage for them, because whatever they can get paid is still better than where they came from. I can't emphasize enough that this is a free market issue. Conservatives need to think about that when we start chatting up how to deal with immigration.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


What? Did you think I was going to heal the sick? What gave you that impression?

Photo above from official whitehouse.gov website. For reals.

H/T Weaselzippers.

Random Thoughts

You know the administration has thrown in the towel when they trot out Joe Biden to defend policy.
Mr. Biden said that the stimulus law was not a “single silver bullet” but rather “silver buckshot.”

However the same article had this to say:
The administration’s website indicates that by its own accounting of the $787 billion program, roughly 19 percent of the money has begun coursing through the economy.
Now that the stimulus worked, couldn't we make it stop and get back the other 81%? Isn't that always the way? You can never kill a government program.

In my previous discussion of global warming, I have said that it appears that man's actions may be preventing another ice age. You'd think that preventing another ice age would be good, so here's the reliably left of center WaPo Headline:

Human Activity Blamed in Reversal of Cooling in Arctic

It reminds me of the old joke. God held a conference call with editors of major newspapers to announce the end of the world. The WaPo headline the next day:
"World to End; Women, Minorities Hardest Hit." These guys can't help themselves.

Here's a sure fire way to sell health care, get the word out that the plan will give vast new powers to the IRS. The government agency that brings a smile to your face, admit it. As an added bonus now your tax returns will be available to health care bureaucrats. Think the VA's handling of social security numbers was inept? Wait until everyone's tax returns are floating around the Orwellian named Health Choices Administration. As if. The potential for total government control of every aspect of our lives boggles the mind as we examine the cumulative effects of all of these Democrat provisions in various bills.

IRS Agents:
Enforcing Health Care Choice.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"We Didn't Want to See Him Die in Prison" - UPDATE

The spineless scum, pictured at left are David Miliband and Gordon Brown, the UK's FM and PM, respectively. They are under fire for allegedly influencing Scottish authorities to release the PanAm Flight 103 bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed. In a recent article, Miliband stated:
"We did not want him to die in prison, no, we weren't seeking his death in prison,"
I have a news flash for you fine gents. Killers of innocents die in prison. It's what they deserve, it's the least you can do for the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing.

This is almost more disgusting than allegations that it was an oil deal, which I could at least understand. This killer deserves compassion? In fact, he was given compassion, in that he was not hung from the neck until dead. After that, all bets are off.


Dean has linked to an article by Thomas Sowell that is far more eloquent than I can be in my current angry stench over this appalling injustice. The money quote is from Adam Smith:
“Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No Public Option?

On the one hand, I'm for single payer, on the other hand Rahm's still counting votes.

If I were a sharper comedian, I would caricature the President's indecisiveness. He can never seem to make up his mind on anything, except for his opinion that America needs to apologize. We want to look forward, but Holder will prosecute the CIA. My first act as President will be to close Guantanamo, except if I can't figure out what to do with those terrorists. I will break with the failed policies of the past on (Afghanistan, rendition, ....) except when I won't. Today, a Drudge headline trumpets:

Disappointingly, when I actually read the story, it appears to be another trial balloon, yet again, as I suspected. Maybe that 99 Red Balloons video was some kind of premonition. Meanwhile, Politico's Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei go on to say this:

On health care, Obama’s willingness to forgo the public option is sure to anger his party’s liberal base. But some administration officials welcome a showdown with liberal lawmakers if they argue they would rather have no health care law than an incremental one. The confrontation would allow Obama to show he is willing to stare down his own party to get things done.
Over at DailyKos, they are taking the same view, that this is a trial balloon but it will anger the base. But they say that Obama needs his base. At this juncture, I don't see how passing a skunk, even without the public option will gain the President street cred with middle-of-the-roaders. I also just don't think there are the votes to pass the public option in the Senate. I think Rahm Emmanuel knows this, hence the repeated trial balloons on the issue. If the White House actually comes out strongly against the public option, look for a backlash from lefty House members. I hope that such a clash will kill any bill. Why? Am I just an obstructionist who has nothing positive to say? No, I am just saying the Dems have larded up this monstrosity with every socialist-experiment-gone-wrong-in-the-whole-world and not a single free market reform. This only guarantees that ANY version of the Democrat bill will make everyone's health care worse.