Monday, August 31, 2009

Quick Hitters on Health Care

What is up with far left Democrats? Diane Watson (D-ranged), in arguing for Obamacare heaps lavish praise on .... Fidel Castro? I was thinking, you're kidding, right? But here it is courtesy of HotAir:

Meanwhile, there are various reports of violence and arrest threats over health care protests. In general, we see the anti-Obama side behaving and the other side provoking.

At a Tucson Tea Party protest a provocateur shows some sharp elbows.

In New Hampshire, a man is arrested for questioning if union enforcers at a Carol-Shea Porter town hall are from the state.

Having a picture of Obama that is unflattering gets a protester threatened with arrest in Virginia. Apparently protest signs with only words are ok. The money quote: Protester: "This used to be America" Cop: "It ain't no more, ok."

And in another "Define Astroturfing" moment, the left has to bus in their supporters to the union hall to get a pro-Obamacare rally going.

But there is some good news. Liberals are saying they won't vote for a health care bill without the public option. Why is this good? Such "political chicken" might be just what it takes to slay this beast, and best of all the left will have done it for us.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Passing the Torch?

Over at PMSNBC, Chris (Tingles) Matthews made the comment that the Kennedy torch has been passed to Barack Obama; that he is the last Kennedy brother. This is wrong on so many levels, I will let the likes of the Godfather rip into Matthews' continual verbal misfires that are the result of his man-love for Obama. But it is also wrong to believe that Barack Obama's foreign policy is in any way heir to this man's:

JFK did not tour the world, apologizing for America's role in the Cold War. He did not propose to cooperate with socialist dictators while they undermined democracies in our hemisphere. And when nuclear missiles were deployed to Cuba, he acted decisively to counter the threat. In short, he saw America as the unique defender of liberty and democracy in the world, a force for good.

The man pictured below (my father-in-law) had just returned home to his family from a Mediterranean deployment, when the crap hit the fan in October 1962. Uncomplaining, (well, as uncomplaining as sailors ever get), he went back out to sea. He spent days lugging five inch shells and getting a ship ready for WAR, because it didn't matter what your regular job was, everyone knew how deadly serious it all was.

His ship, the Harlan R. Dickson, was among the many vessels enforcing a quarantine against Cuba that prevented the proliferation of nuclear missiles so close to our shores. The strategy was both bold and brilliant and succeeded in convincing the Soviets to remove the missiles. Kennedy had this to say at the time:

To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation and port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.

To this day, my father-in-law is proud of the efforts of his shipmates in turning back a grave threat to our country. Mr. President, I know that the torch has been passed to a new generation of warriors, every bit as patriotic as that Chief Petty Officer. You should know you can count on them in times of direst need and for that reason, you need not be afraid, and you need not apologize to the enemies of liberty and democracy.

Proud of my Country

Some of my readers have commented to me in private that the country is a bunch of mindless sheep being led to the slaughter by Obama's leftist minions. I would like to repeat publicly what I say privately. This is a great country, it always rebounds from its mistakes and goes on to do even greater things. The election of Obama is no different. Initially after the inauguration most of his agenda, while odious, was not permanently harmful. But then came the health care issue (or health finance issue, if you prefer). I posted earlier that this was the one initiative that we should make an all out effort to stop, because of its potential damage. I am proud that so many citizens felt the same way; that common sense over the vast intrusion against our liberty aroused huge portions of the population into action. This fight certainly isn't over, but that it is a fight affirms my faith in our Republic.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Maybe I'm an Idiot Too

In an earlier post, I did some hand wringing over excessive language and the harm done to the cause of liberty by excessive language. Though not by name, I cited Sarah Palin's "death panel" comment as an example. "It certainly draws attention to a set of issues, but it also leaves one open to ad hominem attacks that hurt one's credibility." 'Dawg was probably more discerning than I. In his comments, he said:
"End of life" or "death" panels, just a matter of semantics.

Granted the impact is different. But it's why Palin used "Death Panel". It is what she sees it, and she calls it how she feels. Not incorrect, but pejorative.
Turns out that some liberals agree with 'Dawg on the impact Palin has had. In an article titled "How Sarah Palin Rope-a-Doped All-Too-Many Liberals" Ron Rosenbaum makes the point that while liberals were tripping all over themselves demeaning Palin; in their condescension for her supposed lack of smarts, they failed to notice that she had made an important political point. In fact leftist outrage over her comments, repeated over and over again in the MSM actually helped make her point. As people starting thinking about the meaning behind the comment, they realized the truth of the outcome Palin fears, even if not literally true. From Rosenbaum's article:

They couldn’t believe that Sarah Palin was capable of something as canny as that deadly “death panels” phrase. They couldn’t see that it was a metaphoric shorthand for something real. Instead they thought she was too dumb, that she meant it literally (to have seen the potential for rationed end-of-life care in the bill), and instead indulged in an orgy of disdain for her “crazy,” “ignorant” “lies” and malicious misrepresentation.
Rosenbaum argues that the left should have countered with the fact that insurance companies act as de facto death panels today. But I would still love to have that debate. I can't find the quote, but someone recently said that people will accept all sorts of crap from business to save some money, look at the way airlines treat us, but they won't accept that kind of treatment from government.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Weekend Music Chill

It may be time to get out in front of a discussion the President doesn't want to have. But first, a little music. Same song, three covers, pick your favorite.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Higher Taxes for Californians

How are those higher taxes working out for Californians? Not good, and for more bad news, taxes are going even higher, which will only exacerbate our budget problems. But don't higher taxes balance budgets? Not when people can vote with their feet. In 2004 Californians passed a so called "millionaires tax" that imposed an additional 1% tax on incomes above $1 million per year. From the a 2008 article:

A recent survey from TNS Research, an international business research firm, found the California counties of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego had the first, fourth and sixth highest number of millionaires in the country. However, even as the national population of millionaire households grew by 5.9 percent in 2007, Los Angeles County lost about 7,000 of these households. Orange and San Diego Counties lost millionaire households as well.
Meanwhile the LA Times gives us this headline:

Even higher taxes coming for Californians

While Californians are still feeling the sting of income and sales tax hikes signed into law earlier this year, now comes news that state tax authorities plan to take a little more from their pockets.

For only the second time in 30 years, the tax board is lowering the point where each tax bracket begins, bumping many people into a higher category. At the same time, officials are cutting back some deductions. Everyone will pay more, even people whose bracket or income doesn't change.
There is no doubt that this will worsen our economic situation in California and in turn, further hurt the state budget. Further, what an outrage, after all the extra taxes we have to pay (even a tax on that cash for your clunker) because this state won't reign in spending.

You scholarly types can read 71 pages of regression analysis and other mathy stuff from the Cato institute that leads to a conclusion we already new:

The analysis reveals that higher marginal tax rates had a negative impact on economic growth in the states. The analysis also shows that greater regressivity had a positive impact on economic growth. States that held the rate of growth in revenue below the rate of growth in income achieved higher rates of economic growth.

But this below is a lot more entertaining. It answers the question of what's your average small business owner/millionaire to do?

Condolences to the Family of Ted Kennedy

I add my condolences to the Kennedy family on the loss of their patriarch this week. He was certainly a man of his convictions, from which he did not waiver. It is hard to think of a senator on the Republican side with the same stature. Of course, I disagreed with most of his politics, but I can respect that his convictions grew out of a desire to help the less fortunate. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Even More on Engaging the Left

And then I'll stop discussing it for a while, I promise. In yesterday's post, anonymous commenter Paul had much to say, not all of which really related to my post. I believe he found my blog after I posted on the left of center Bloggasm. Since he is anonymous I can not respond to him privately so here is an open letter.

Dear Paul,

I wonder if your comments on my blog were meant to persuade or inflame. If they were meant to inflame, then all you have done is add energy to the opposition to the various Democrat plans for health care, which doesn't seem in your best interests. If to persuade, then you might consider using more temperate language and speaking in a way with which your audience will identify. For example, when I commented on Simon's blog, I referenced DailyKos to support my points. You might have recognized that my readers are a mix of libertarians and conservatives and couched your language accordingly.

I find it ironic that you criticized John Mackey for commenting anonymously, but you have chosen to comment anonymously on my blog. Also, the picture on the blog is not of John Mackey, but of Simon Owens, of the aforementioned Bloggasm blog.

When comparing the private sector to the public sector, you fail to remember that private sector has accountability of the rule of law as well as market pressure to perform. Government bureaucrats are only accountable to the law, and they have government funded lawyers to defend them when citizens sue them. Further, even though the famous bankruptcies you cite were certainly failures, they had the salutary effect of cleansing the ecosystem of those companies and their leaders. When government fails, the Congress typically concludes that more money is needed. To use the President's own example, FedEx and UPS are making profits while the Postal Service is making a loss, which will be subsidized through taxes. While government doesn't always fail and the private sector doesn't always succeed, that's the way to bet.

You cite military health care as a fine example of government run health care, but as a veteran who is treated through the military system, I can attest that I am experiencing continued deterioration as that system becomes unaffordable, see my post on that subject. Medicare is no great shape either, it has failed to contain costs and Congress' own GAO has issued report after report of how Medicare is rife with fraud. Even though individual payments to doctors may be controlled in Medicare, the fraud rate causes overall spending to increase above the rate of inflation. Given the President's intention for cost containment, this bodes ill.

With regards to pre-conditions, there are free market solutions that have been offered for that, see John Cochrane's excellent article in the WSJ, where he suggests that we provide the right to buy health care in the future, so that individuals will not lose coverage and can be covered for pre-existing conditions when they change jobs.

Finally, as a Tea Party attender, I can attest that Republican operatives and politicians have been strongly discouraged from attending these events. It is a true grass roots movement and to denigrate it, rather than seek to understand it, is to do yourself a disservice. Further, lumping "birthers" in with the Tea Party group is an unfair ad hominem attack. I have denounced the birthers as have most responsible libertarians and conservatives.

Finally, you say that we do not know what we want, but that is not true. I recommend you read my Freedom Coalition Agenda to see exactly what I want. In brief, I want the smallest government possible that meets its constitutional duties.

You claim that I hate but don't debate, but I challenge you to be as temperate as I have been with my comments in left-of-center blogs.

Regards, B-Daddy

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More on Whole Foods and Engaging the Left

Some of you may wonder why I keep tabs on DailyKos and occasional other leftist type blogs. You may be surprised that it is not so much to see what they are up to, as to understand what type of arguments might get them to rethink their positions. Further, my libertarian leanings sometimes offer some common ground on which to launch a discussion.

A recent example was a recent DailyKos diary about Afghanistan that I found hard to understand the point. But a commenter made the point that the cost of war there would "break us." While I think that is hyperbole given Obama's 9 trillion, 10 trillion, heck it's only zeroes, deficits. But I do believe that the Vietnam War helped fuel inflation in the 70s and that the Iraq War has had negative economic consequences. So I commented that:

The stagflation of the 70s can be directly traced to the deficits we piled up fighting the Vietnam war. There is no doubt in my mind that the huge spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to our current economic mess.
This comment receive three positive ratings. But note that I have taken their reflexive anti-war attitude and introduced the concept that deficits hurt the economy. I'm not explicitly exploiting the opening, just prepping the battle space.

I recently received an email from a left of center blogger, Simon Owens, pictured, who thought my readers would be interested in how the left used social media to rally against Whole Foods. Please read his piece for yourself. Simon is a self styled media critic, but I note that he utterly uncritical and provides no counter point to the boycott organizers' perspective. Two quotes:

“[The op-ed] lit a fire under me,” Rosenthal said. “This person was using his company as a sort of Trojan horse for a bunch of discredited, bad ideas that we have said no to over and over again.

They’ve begun posting user-submitted photos from people who are taking pictures of receipts from other grocery stores they’re shopping at and on the blog they’re listing boycott events that are taking place around the country. But they’re doing very little to actually organize these individual events.

I noted in a previous post, I quoted a DailyKos piece as to how some on the left itself realize how fickle they themselves are. If you read Simon's post, you will see that even this initial modest success lacked much energy. To quote KT from the comments:

In any case, the guy's post boils down into this: "We're a bunch of children."
But I still seek to persuade, because it keeps me sane thinking that ultimately not everyone on the left is insane.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Financing the Deficit

At the Scratching Post, KT has some nice graphics showing the mushrooming debt under Obama. Unfortunately, it also shows that the Bush administration, while not nearLY as bad, still did us no favors. Bush inherited a surplus and turned it quickly into deficit.

KT also has some comment on the impact of the manner of financing the national debt, as in short term (think ARM) versus long term (think 30 year fixed). I used to not worry one way or the other, but with the deficits increasing without end, we will either get big increases in inflation, or a severe tightening by the Fed, or both. The end result will be huge increases in short term interest rates.

I have liberated the rest of my commentary on KT's post.

All other things being equal, ARM funding is usually less expensive than long term debt (even in the long term), but it exposes the borrower to more risk. It is a classic trade off between risk and benefit. The federal government theoretically could manage its own risk in this regard as it has the power to keep inflation under control. From one perspective more short term debt is a rational outcome.

However, government is run by politicians not accountants or economists. The actual effect of the ARM financing has been to minimize the impact of the debt on the federal cash flow, thus encouraging larger deficits. As a result, we are doubling down on the risk, because high deficits lead to higher inflation risk, which in turn lead to higher risk that debt servicing will become unsustainable.

I think the bigger question is how long will it take for these monster deficits to work their way through the whole economy and re-ignite inflation. Hopefully in time to influence the 2010 elections, so that voters can feel the true consequences of stimulus and vote accordingly and perhaps put the brakes on these huge deficits. Unfortunately, the Republican party has yet to adequately re-brand itself in image and in fact as a party of smaller government and reform, so they may not reap the benefit of inflation turning the Obama presidency into Carter II.

Real Loss of Liberty

Dean, more so than I, has framed the health care debate as a loss of liberty issue. Unfortunately, while we were debating, women in a far off land without much health care are in danger losing that and all the people losing what freedom they do have all at once. I am speaking of course, of Afghanistan. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, ADM Mike Mullen had this to say:
Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Adm. Mullen said the situation in the country has been getting worse as the Taliban gains strength. "I've said that over the last couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated," he said. "Their tactics just in my recent visits out there and talking with our troops certainly indicate that."
Meanwhile on Iraq:

Adm. Mullen said he also was "extremely concerned" about rising violence in Iraq, which left hundreds dead or wounded last week. "I think everybody was, and the key is whether this is an indicator of future sectarian violence," he said. "Certainly, many of us believe that one way that this can come unwound is through sectarian violence."

So what's the administration's response? As reported on BwD:

This is especially curious in light of the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder has just hired a special prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators, Panetta’s own men, may have violated anti-torture laws.
Let's really crush morale at the CIA when we need them the most.

Meanwhile in the Senate, the Democrats are being predictable:

Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, criticized President Barack Obama’s strategy of sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and called today for a timetable to bring forces home.

A word of warning to the President. These are your wars now, sir. This isn't baseball where the relief pitcher isn't responsible for the runs that are already on the basepaths. Americans, right and left and center, expect you to defend our interests, that includes not letting Iraq and Afghanistan become havens for terrorists.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Impact of Whole Foods Boycott

In a previous post I discussed my belief that the lefty boycott of Whole Foods would fail "because recycled organic self-righteousness has its economic limits." Apparently, some diarists over at DailyKos (the Great Orange to the insiders there) have the same complaint about themselves. Although the Whole Foods boycott is not specifically called out, here is what diarist The Sinastral (no I didn't make that up) has to say about the left in his ironically titled diary "We're Incompetent and Here's How We'll Win"

We’re wishy-washy. We’re opportunists without discipline. With the exception of some outstanding progressive heroes like nyceve, the majority of us are reactionaries. One of the reasons so few people outside the Great Orange take us seriously is that we undermine ourselves with our own inconsistency. It’s a word that I’m going to hit again and again here.

We’ve given our money. We’ve given our time. We’ve organized ourselves surprisingly well for such a populous movement. We have a fundraising arm. We have an annual conference. We have our own polls. We have Kos TV and Congress Matters. We have plenty of leaders in our ranks who work tirelessly on our behalf. It’s not that we’re not passionate. We are everything we need to win...except...we are not consistent. Our threats carry no weight because our opinions will change tomorrow. Our lobbying gains little momentum because our attention is always flitting away to the newest shiny object. Our righteous indignation has limited motivational powers because we never stick to a campaign. Remember The Path to 9/11? Most of us decided that it just wasn’t convenient enough to carry on that boycott, given that Disney is everywhere we look. And forget about the excuses we concoct to shop at Wal-Mart; most of us are of the opinion that boycotting them would be like boycotting the sun. Our resignation bolsters the very power we so despise in them. But, hey. They’re nearby, and they’re the only store around—having driven the competition out of business, of course.

Brought to you by B-Daddy: "Reading DailyKos so you won't have to."

Meanwhile, the impact of the boycott is yet to be felt (scroll down to 8th paragraph in the NYT article). More tellingly, stock picking technical analyst Zachary Scheidt doesn't even mention the boycott when analyzing the current stock price. (he says sell, because the pendulum has swung too far to optimism for WFMI.)

Finally, my search for pictures of the energized activists protesting whole foods yielded this one image.

The Paranoid Style of Opposition

I hesitate to write this column because I believe in the utility of righteous anger. Much that the administration has proposed in its short time in office is worthy of angry opposition. But for reasons that were first explored by historian Richard Hofstadter, being in the opposition tends to bring out the paranoid and the paranoia in those in the minority. (See the wiki article The Paranoid Style in American Politics.) Further, the paranoid bring an energy to the opposition that calmer folks just don't have. For example, when we think of opposition to the Iraq war, we think of Cindy Sheehan, Code Pink and other leftist whackos, forgetting that stalwart conservatives Patrick Buchanan and the late Bob Novak were also opposed to the war. I also want to make clear that this style is neither right nor left, you see Truthers from both sides of the political spectrum.

In the current debate over health care, I have tried not to stray over the line, if there is one, that separates genuine fear from paranoia, and I find it very difficult. "Death Panels" are probably not literally on the docket, and certainly not specifically in the bills being put forward. However, the collective practical effect of the proposed health care policies will be the same; as I have previously discussed. So, is it extremist to make that claim or to use that language? It certainly draws attention to a set of issues, but it also leaves one open to ad hominem attacks that hurt one's credibility. I had hoped to use my blog to set an example for civil discourse, but find myself sometimes using extreme language to make my point, because it is important that people get it!

But I have to say that some folks on our side are crossing the line. Obama as Hitler? I don't think so. Carrying firearms to a town hall meeting with the Prez? Ain't gonna happen (and I'm glad, too). Did we elect the anti-Christ? He's not near smooth enough, without the TOTUS. Is Barack Obama a natural born citizen? You bet. My point is that the egregious nature of his health care proposals should be fuel enough to energize our side without giving in to paranoid impulses. "People will die" as a result of Obamacare is probably a fair statement, saying that there will be "death panels" probably is not.

As to whether the President is a closet socialist? That remains to be seen. Am I being paranoid? I invite, your comment.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weekend Music Chill

Over at BwD, Dean's weekend music choice of Euro-pop ear candy wasn't doing it for me. My entry in this category is Nena singing "99 Luftaballons."

Link here to high quality video.

Embed-able version below:

Lyrics provided just because I like German.

Hast du etwas Zeit fur mich dann singe ich ein Lied fur dich von 99 Luftballons auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Denkst du vielleicht g'rad an mich dann singe ich ein Lied fur dich von 99 Luftballons
Und dass sowas von sowas kommt

99 Luftballons auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont hielt man fur Ufo’s aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn's so wär
Dabei war'n da am Horizont nur 99 Luftballons

99 Dusenflieger, Jeder war ein grosser Krieger
Hielten sich fur Captain Kirk
Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft und fuhlten sich gleich angemacht
Dabei schoss man am Horizont auf 99 Luftballons

99 Kriegsminister, Streichholz und Benzinkanister
Hielten sich fur schlaue Leute
Witterten schon fette Beute
Riefen, “Krieg” und wollten Macht
Mann, wer hatte das gedacht
Dass es einmal soweit kommt wegen 99 Luftballons, wegen 99 Luftballons, 99 Luftballons

99 Jahre Krieg liessen keine Platz fur Sieger
Kriegsminister gibt's nicht mehr und auch keine Dusenflieger
Heute zieh ich meine Runden
Seh' die Welt in Trummern liegen
Hab''nen Luftballon gefunden
Denk' an dich und lass' ihn fliegen

How's That Whole Post Office Comparison Working Out?

In a recent defense of the "public option" the President opined as how it was the Post Office, not FedEx and UPS that always had problems. The President makes our argument perfectly; average consumers are forced to use the post office for first class mail, FedEx and UPS are required to charge minimum fees for regular mail delivery. Further, the "public option" for mail, the U.S. Post Office, continues to lose money and regularly gets government bail outs.

Further, a major goal of the President's approach to health care is cost containment. Here's a graphic from the WSJ on how cost containment is working for the "public option" in mail delivery.

Maybe the President should sue Columbia and Harvard for failing to educate him in economics. Maybe he just didn't pay attention. Maybe he just didn't care.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Quick Hitters

I've been following the health care debate on DailyKos and sometimes wonder what it would take to get through to the left. I saw the readers repeatedly argue that health care is a right. How is that? You have the right to someone else's labor?

Watched Rachel Maddow again, and this time she was supposedly showing how the evil Republicans have no health care plan. She ridiculed, without any meaningful explanation, a clip in which Sen David Vitter (R-LA) said that he supported re-importation of cheaper drugs because it would cause a collapse of Big Pharma's pricing scheme. Maddow fails to realize that the cheap drugs Canadians and other countries purchase are subsidized by the United States. Re-importation would allow us to capture some of those subsidies. This is actually a very reasonable idea. Since when are Democrats against lower prices on drugs for Americans anyway? This actually started out as a Democrat idea. Has MSNBC become so hyper-partisan that they can be baited into attacking anything a Republican says? The Daily Kooks picked up on this as well, but 100 comments down, I noticed that some commenters recovered their sanity and remembered why the Dems had proposed re-importation in the first place.

Lost my drivers license recently. The CA DMV says that I had to send away for a form to get a new one. I got the form a little over a week later. Can I just send it in? No, the DMV web site directed me to make an appointment to get my new license. When I query the web site for the next appointment at either San Diego location, I get this message:
Sorry, no appointment is available at this office. Please choose a different office
This message repeats as I spiral out from San Diego to every DMV office until I get to Coalinga. I am sure state and federal government will health insurance with this same vaunted efficiency of say, the DMV or the Post Office.

Alan Reynolds has an excellent article over at the Wall Street Journal arguing that the stimulus spending is not responsible for the recovery, if any, that is underway. Further, if we actually do spend the stimulus money, it will only worsen the recession based on empirical evidence. Only a tiny fraction has been spent. Historically, other countries, including our own, during the Depression, have been unable to spend their way to economic good times.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Define Astroturfing

Frequent commenter Road 'Dawg sent me an email from David Plouffe, of Organizing for America, an Obama/Democrate front organization. I won't even try to refute all of the lies laid out, I think this just speaks for itself. I have redacted (removed) some material that would cause the email to be uniquely identifiable and color coded those changes. Otherwise, this is the email in its entirety.

From: David Plouffe,
Date: Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 3:22 PM
Subject: Thursday: Strategy meeting with the President
To: [redacted]

Organizing for America
['Dawg] --

President Obama is holding a live strategy meeting on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time for all Organizing for America supporters. I hope you can join us, online or by phone.

The President will update us on the fight to pass real health insurance reform -- what's happening in D.C. and what's happening around the country. He'll lay out our strategy and message going forward and answer questions from supporters like you. And we'll unveil the next actions we'll organize together.

This is a critical time in this President's administration, and in the history of our country. I hope you can join us.

Here are the details:

What: Organizing for America National Health Care Forum

When: Thursday, August 20th, 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time

RSVP and submit a question for the President.

The President wrote to us a few weeks ago to ask us to go the extra mile this month in the fight for health insurance reform. And so far, you've stepped up in a big way: Last week, an astounding 60,000 Organizing for America volunteers stopped by representatives' and senators' local offices. You told your health care stories to staffers and members of Congress -- of losing insurance after getting laid off, of being denied coverage upon finding out about a serious illness. And you thanked those supporting real health insurance reform for all the work they've done so far.

But these local office visits were only part of the story. The D.C. media has been trumpeting coverage of town halls disrupted by angry opposition to reform. But the reality on the ground is very different. Organizing for America supporters are showing up in huge numbers at these meetings all across the country -- outnumbering opponents of reform, often by overwhelming margins.

You've organized 11,906 local events in all 50 states -- from press conferences to community discussions -- since we launched our big campaign for reform in June. And you've made hundreds of thousands of calls to Congress.

Your work so far has been incredible. But the special interests and partisan attack groups who oppose reform will not let up, and they will tell whatever lies they can to spread fear. There's a lot more work for all of us to do. This Thursday's meeting is our chance to huddle as a team, get the latest information and talk about how we're going to achieve this victory. You don't want to miss it.

Click here to RSVP and submit a question for President Obama: <redacted, contains cookie>

Hope you can make it,

David Plouffe

Donate <redacted, no way dude are you getting me to help you get cash>

Paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee -- 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No Wonder Their Ratings Have Tanked

I was watching Sean Hannity cover health care tonight and I thought, "I wonder what the lefties are saying about health care?" It was also prompted by the fact that I have never been a Hannity fan, more so since Colmes left. So, I flipped it over to MSNBC, but to my unbelieving eyes, I watched Rachel Maddow spend 15 minutes of her hour program on John Ensign. Raise your hands if you know who John Ensign is. Not all at once. Ok, you in the back, Tingles, I didn't know you followed my column.

Ensign is the junior senator from Nevada who had an affair with a female staffer and went to Podunk Chamber of Commerce today to say he was really, really sorry. (Link here for political guide on handling these things.) Amazingly this was followed by a lengthy analysis of what Ensign said and the manner in which he took questions. Then they dredged up every quote he had given during the Clinton impeachment hearings. Then they analyzed why Ensign should resign because he had called on Clinton to resign and then they spent more time refuting his response that he shouldn't resign because he hadn't done anything illegal. Yawn. Don't get me wrong, Ensign is a turd, but I have a news flash for MSNBC, it's no longer 1998. But, when you're a professional hater, I guess you just have to keep score.

Do you think they might have more interesting and/or relevant things to talk about? Heck, I would have settled for a little Whole Foods boycott talk.

This kind of programming leads to this.

Live + Same Day Cable News Daily Ratings for August 18, 2009

P2+ Total Day
FNC – 1,394,000 viewers [FNC=Fox News]
CNN – 471,000 viewers
MSNBC –401,000 viewers
CNBC – 173,000 viewers
HLN – 267,000 viewers


9 PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Hannity –2,972,000 viewers (746,000) (1,296,000)
Larry King Live—886,000 viewers (236,000) (349,000)
Rachel Maddow Show—1,063,000 viewers (393,000) (585,000)
Big Brother, Big Business– 175,000 viewers (78,000) (83,000)
Issues- 436,000 viewers (111,000) (183,000)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Using The Carbon Crisis

As Rahm Emmanuel said, never let a good crisis go to waste. There is no reason our side can't advance our goals in response to real or artificial crises, just as the left does. This is why I am adamant about the need to put forward a carbon tax with offsetting income tax reductions.

I also feel compelled to respond to commenter criticisms of my carbon tax proposal because I have failed to communicate effectively. The objections go like this:
1. Man made global warming doesn't exist.
2. Even if America does something, China, India et al will just keep polluting.
3. Destroying America's wealth will do us no good.
4. If a carbon tax is tied to an income tax reduction, it will get a sunset clause.

All reasonable objections, however, I believe that my readers are missing my point. A carbon tax is the ultimate tax on consumption. Many studies have shown that shifting taxes away from income to consumption increase the wealth of nations. From the Library of Economics and Liberty:

The case for a consumption tax is that the tax wedge created by taxing capital income does enormous long-term damage to the economy. Taxing interest, dividends, and capital gains penalizes thrift by taxing away part of the return to saving. The unavoidable result is less saving than society would choose in the absence of any taxes.
Further, there is evidence that long term economic growth is tied to the rate of savings.

Next, even if China and India do nothing, we will still be better off by taxing consumption and reducing income taxes. A carbon tax with offsetting income tax reductions has benefits, even if global warming is a total fantasy, even if there is no air pollution. The last objection is the trickiest and goes to the sausage making nature of legislation. This deserves to be a part of the Freedom Coalition Agenda, because ignoring the issue makes our side look bad. I also reiterate the ancillary benefits of a carbon tax: reduced air pollution and reduced world wide demand for oil and therefore less money for Saudi sheiks, Hugo Chavez and Ahmadenijad.

Monday, August 17, 2009

John Mackey is my Hero - UDPATE

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, has created quite an uproar on the left with an editorial he wrote that was edited and published by the Wall Street Journal. He has been vilified and personally attacked by the left since his call for for free market reforms of health care, but what else would you expect from the left except the politics of personal destruction (see rule 12).

For those of you not familiar with Whole Foods, it operates a chain of natural and organic foods supermarkets. As you might guess the stereotypical shopper is an urban lefty who assuages his or her guilt over participating in industrial society by buying organic. From a DailyKook article:

A lot of progressives, vegetarians, professional and amateur athletes, and others who care so much about the environment and what they eat that they’re still willing to shell out three bucks for an organic orange, even in the midst of the worst recession in sixty years.
As you might imagine, these lefty types think that the power of their indignation will drive Whole Foods to either get Mackey to change his position or the board to fire him as CEO. Fat chance.

Here is a summary of what he said, which is as good a summary of the free market position on health care as I have seen. I am nominating for inclusion in the Freedom Coalition Agenda as our Health Care Plank:

  1. "Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts."
  2. "Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits."
  3. Allow competition across state lines.
  4. "Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover."
  5. "Enact tort reform."
  6. "Make costs transparent."
  7. "Enact medicare reform."
  8. Revise tax law to make it easier to donate to those without insurance.

So now that the left is calling for a boycott, I would love to see its long term effect. My bold prediction is that nothing will come of this, because recycled organic self-righteousness has its economic limits. The lefties and others may stay away for a short while, but will come back because Mr. Mackey provides them the product they want at competitive price.

I think the leftists know this in their hearts. This is why they love government and hate capitalism. They know they can't even themselves resist the allure of better products at lower prices, but it runs counter to their desire to tell everyone else what's good for them (like eating your organic veggies.) So they want government to protect them from their own choices and in the process they hamstring the choices of others.


I couldn't resist checking out one of the calls for a Whole Foods boycott at DailyKooks. I also couldn't resist leaving this comment:

Some people have suggested shopping at Trader Joe's, but don't they carry Israeli products? Wouldn't that contribute to Palestinian oppression? Another alternative is Henry's, but they are always being picketed by the Grocer's union. This makes it really difficult to eat with a clear social conscience. I'd plant a garden in my back yard for fresh vegetables, but my landscaping service would charge me too much extra and I can barely communicate with their employees. I am afraid they'd ruin a vegetable garden. Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Carbon Conservatism Revisited

With the health care debate trending so nicely in our favor, I thought it would be a good time to revisit my unpopular views on global warming. My dilemma is that unlike many conservatives, I believe man-made global warming is a real phenomena and unlike many leftists I don't believe it's a good excuse to ruin the economy with massive socialist schemes. That leaves me in a predicament. In my first foray into this territory I tried to convince fellow libertarians and conservatives that man is really having an effect on the planet. To recap, the planet is in a unique time with respect to the climate. The last three million years have seen ever deepening ice ages, with short interregnums of warming. We are currently in such a period, the Holocene, but that period has lasted significantly longer than the mean time of other such warming periods. Man's civilization developed during the Holocene, which is currently about 12,000 years old, so any changes, either a plunge into a new ice age, or global warming will be highly disruptive to the global economy. In my view the current increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are probably preventing another ice age, which is the geologic "normal" for our epoch, but this increase also threatens to significantly increase global average temperature. The current, since 2001, slight cooling trend we are seeing is probably the result of a sunspot minimum and in my opinion, should be a much deeper trend. The longer term temperature trend is upward, unless the current sunspot minimum, against probability, remains in place.

But the tougher debate is over what is to be done. First, I think that left and right can accept that the historical record shows that civilization developed in a fairly narrow and unique time in geologic history. It is unlikely to remain stable indefinitely, so we are likely to need all of our wealth to be made available to deal with whatever conditions prevail. That means that wealth destroying plans, such as the current "cap and trade" bill have to be non-starters. Further, any steps that we do take, must be clearly effective. We can't afford to disrupt the economy to no benefit. Finally, since the free market has shown itself to be the most efficient producer of goods and services, we need to harness its power toward our stated end of stabilizing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

No one is smarter than the market as a whole and so cannot predict which technology will be most efficacious in replacing energy sources that are currently carbon based. Further, within carbon fuels, some produce more CO2 than others, so a shift from coal to natural gas for instance would reduce carbon emissions per BTU produced. So I propose a carbon tax at the point of consumption, with an offsetting reduction in the income tax so that government does not consume a larger share of GDP, therefore damaging the economy. Such a tax would be phased in gradually to further avoid economic disruption. Finally, the United States should make it a goal that all industrial and emerging economies sign a treaty regarding such a tax, because if only the United States takes this route, we are unlikely to reduce carbon dioxide emissions unilaterally.

A carbon tax has the advantage of simplicity and being technologically neutral. By raising the price of fuel sources in direct proportion to the amount of carbon oxidized, we directly attack the problem we wish to solve. Is wind power better than solar photovoltaic? Who knows? Over time the market will decide. Further, the carbon costs of building solar panels or wind turbines would be factored into the equation by the equitable distribution of this tax. Also, a carbon tax has the added advantage of reducing air pollution caused by other contaminants. The majority of air pollution in the United States today is caused by burning fossil fuels.

The other advantage of this plan, is that it would reduce global demand for fossil fuels. There may be a correlation, but it seems that the world's oil reserves are in the hands of despots and madmen. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Venezuela come to mind. Depriving these governments of oil revenue would go a long way towards advancing the cause of freedom in the world.

I have been a little slow on posting lately, as I waited until the last weekend to finish a paper for a class I am taking. More to follow, and as usual on this subject, I look forward to spirited debate.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekend Music Chill

I was in the submarine force and when we were at sea, we stayed very busy. We spent most of our underway time sleep deprived, I guess on the theory that when the war came, we would be used to it. At the end of our six hour watch there was considerable work to be accomplished, depending on the mission. Often we would have to perform a "reconstruction" of the events that had taken place on the previous watch, to glean lessons learned from the naval exercises we were participating in. To keep the juices flowing, we needed music that jammed but also that we wouldn't get tired of. So I offer up two videos that met that category, for me at least. Also, I love cheesy 80's videos so I present The Smiths with "What Difference Does It Make" and New Order performing "Blue Monday."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Medical Appointment That Missed Me

Many of you know that I my health care is provided by the federal government, specifically military medicine. Yesterday, I had a medical appointment that missed me and believe my experience informs the current debate. Allow me to explain. Last month I ripped a calf muscle in my leg. I was concerned that I might have detached the muscle from the tendon, I tried to get an appointment with my primary care facility. No such luck, the first appointment was twelve days out. But primary care was not going to give me an appointment regardless, saying that I had to go to the emergency room. Now I knew I just needed to see the orthopedic doctors in the cast room. I have been to this hospital enough times with injuries to myself or my kids to know the drill. However, it wasn't until 8 hours later that I emerged with crutches, a wrap around my leg and pain killers. So how did my care differ in any significant way from what the indigent have today? I guess my wait was a little shorter and I probably got better drugs.

Actually, this experience was not as egregious as a similar experience two months earlier with a broken bone in my hand. In that case, I knew what was wrong, I needed an X-Ray so that I could get a cast. However, my primary care facility no longer takes X-rays in a cost cutting move. Previously, I would have gotten the X-Rays and received a same or next day referral to orthopedics, and gotten my cast. Total time - 2 hours, and I'm not clogging up the emergency room. Instead I spent six hours at the emergency room, clogging up the system for what was not really an emergency.

Fast forward to yesterday's events. I was given a follow up appointment at physical therapy to get some training in exercises to bring the calf back into shape, at least that's what I assume. To be honest, I think I knew what exercises I should be doing but wanted to be sure. If I was paying an out of pocket co-pay, would I have made the appointment? I am not sure, but it probably would have tilted me from going. I already had some literature, so the physical therapy was more to make sure I was ready and to get a little training. Unfortunately, 45 minutes after the scheduled appointment time and an hour after my arrival, no one had called my name. When I questioned the front desk, they said they would look into it; but I told them not to bother, I had to get back to work. In fairness, they did call me back at work to re-schedule.

In my opinion, if there was some economic incentive on both parties, this likely would not have happened. They had no direct economic incentive to treat me on time, because they didn't lose money when I walked away. I might not have made the appointment in the first place if I had a significant co-pay.

This is the myth of single-payer. Obama's former personal physician, Dr. David Scheiner, was on Larry King spouting off how single payer would be so much more efficient as a health care system and we should just abolish insurance companies. There are many things wrong with our current system, but the lack of economic incentive that accrues to single payer would devastate health care. At least with insurance, somebody has some skin in the game to push for efficiency. I am already seeing the effects of single payer in the relatively well funded military medical system, but it is struggling to contain costs. How much worse would it be for the whole country, which cannot afford the per person expense of military medicine.

P.S. The President has repeatedly lied about his previous support for a single payer system. If Bush had lied this egregiously the MSM would have been killing him nightly.

In case you're wondering, the picture above is of the actual facility where I my appointment was located. Beautiful facility, but as you can see from the picture, the lights were on, but nobody was home.

Monday, August 10, 2009

That Town Hall I Missed

After a lot of initial anger about some of the more egregious provisions in the various health care bills, I calmed down and realized I had lost the big picture on what was being proposed. To get some information I went to my congresswoman's web site yesterday and asked a question via the email system. Even though my question has not been answered, it put me on a call list. (I provided my phone number, nothing nefarious here.) Tonight, the caller-id identified an incoming call as TELETOWNHALL (202-556-2270). Low and behold it was Susan Davis, fearing evil tea partiers such as myself (I presume), holding a telephone town hall. I started listening, but was interrupted by a bit of a family emergency and my own homework. But before I broke off, I was subjected to a number of truly sad stories about people who have lost their jobs and therefore their medical coverage and were now going to have to go without treatment. Now I think this is a literally pathetic excuse to do the damage proposed, but conservatives shouldn't ignore the tragic human issues involved. (The particular case involved a progressive disease like MS or muscular dystrophy, I can't exactly recall.)

So here is the conservative response to this real human tragedy. First, we should untie the knot between employement and health insurance. My employer doesn't provide my auto insurance or life insurance (although life insurance is offered, I don't take it.) Second, that woman should have been able to keep her health insurance and that would be a welcome reform. Third, if we are concerned about situations like this, then Congress has the power and has always had the power to include payment for health insurance as part of unemployment benefits. The point is, the social safety net already in place is a better place to deal with these unusual, but not rare situations. But it is typical of the left to play on our sympathies to pass legislation that becomes a cure far worse than the disease. Finally, if the woman was truly disabled as Susan Davis alleges, then both Social Security and Medicaid, imperfect perhaps, are available to help this woman. Improve the programs already in place rather than build wholesale new ones.

My larger point is that every ill that is supposedly cured by health care reform probably has a smaller, less-radical, or already-in-place solutions and spending trillions of dollars isn't necessary. I challenge my readers, few as you are, to show me a flaw in the current system that really requires a national health insurance scheme to fix.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Evil Pharmaceutical Companies Developing Vaccines - For.... Profit!

President Obama's chief state goal for his health care proposals are to control costs by eliminating wasteful and unneeded spending on health care. But if you look at the guts of the proposals, the only cost containment measures are to reign in reimbursement rates or to make whole classes of procedures not covered. So in the name of covering everyone, everyone will be get less coverage.

But it is the cost containment piece that seems untenable to me. The headline in this morning's paper was "Big vaccine makers take lead in swine flu fight." The article notes that Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis reported making its first batch of H1N1 vaccine in early June and started clinical trials in July. Which leads me to the question, how is Obama going to stop a foreign company from making a profit on the swine flu vaccine, especially if it is the only company to make the vaccine? The article also notes that some small San Diego biotechs "are pursuing experimental approaches that could prove important if conventional vaccines run low or become ineffective." How long do you think that venture capitalists will fund these start-ups if strict profit caps are put on such companies. For all the talk about rising costs, a big part of the reason that health care is consuming a larger share of spending is that we have chosen this through a somewhat free-market process. We spend less on other things, like food and clothing, because they don't require high tech, and more on something we care about, like surviving swine flu. How is this bad? Unless we are going to nationalize the entire economy like say, North Korea, there will be inevitable upward pressure on health care spending. Trying to stop that will only result in outrageous injustices like denying people access to vaccines or paying doctors so little that they opt out of the government system.

Read this NY Times article on Medicare patients not finding doctors because of low federal reimbursement rates. This will be the fate of everyone locked into government plans if the cost containment proposed passes. For Tea Partiers attending Town Hall meetings, if they don't all get canceled, I have another question to ask:

5. To prevent doctors from opting out of "the public option" like they are doing with Medicare are you going to impose jail time or just fines on physicians who don't play ball?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some Quick Thoughts on Obamacare

For Tea Partiers planning on attending town hall meetings with your local congressperson, here are some unanswerable questions you might want to ask.
1. With some estimates of Medicare fraud at $60 billion a year, why aren't we fixing that fraud before starting a new government run program.
2. How can the government manage the nation's health care when report after report from the Congress' own GAO shows mismanagement of Veteran's health care.
3. Ditto for health care on Indian reservations, also managed by the Feds.
4. Why is it so important to rush through a bill when polling shows that 80% of Americans are happy with their own Health Insurance coverage?

Notice how liberals always impugn the motives of those they disagree with, especially when they are losing the war for public opinion.

KT points out that all you conservatives and libertarian types are racists to oppose Obama's health care plan, according to the People's Economist, Paul Kurgman. WTF? I read it and I still don't believe it. Basically he is saying that we're all idiots who don't realize the fabulous job the government is already doing for us in the health care arena with medicare/medicaid, so the only logical explanation for our opposition is racism.

And what's a great left wing cause without a little thuggery thrown in. Reports of violence against those protesting Obamacare here, here and here. Note how the conservative protesters are always painted as rude or racist, but they are never violent, it is always the left that initiates violence.

Isn't violent suppression of free speech a hallmark of tyranny? And don' we recall a famous Democrat saying "Dissent is Patriotic"?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Bit of Good News on Honduras

The administration appears to be backing off its reflective backing of leftists, such as the one pictured at left, and has stated that it will not impose sanctions on Honduras' interim government. The State Department, while not condoning the so-called coup, harshly criticized Manuel Zelaya's actions that led to his removal from office. This was made known in an awkward fashion by the release of a State Department reply to Senator Dick Lugar, ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

I am glad to see the administration start to think this issue through with more clarity. Zelaya brought this on himself by illegally attempting to change the Honduran constitution to allow himself more years in office. He did so by attempting to use mob rule to force an election that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled illegal. The action of the military prevented a constitutional crisis and potential civil war. While it may be true that they jumped the gun, it was also clear that the Honduran Congress would have impeached Zelaya for his disregard of the constitution.

This matters deeply, because the rule of law is fundamental to the preservation of liberty; the goal to which this blog hopes to make a small contribution. By backing off, the administration has probably effectively precluded Zelaya's return to power before the next Presidential elections in Honduras in November. Then Honduras can emerge from this crisis with a democratically elected leader. While the actions of the Honduran military in removing Zelaya may not have been perfect, it was Zelaya, not the military who was undertaking a wholesale assault on the democratic principles of the Honduran constitution.

I think the administration should be praised for their change of heart, but I think they are too embarassed by their earlier mistake to want to trumpet this change. I also note that Team Obama was much more disciplined during the campaign. This quote from a State Department staffer who literally didn't get the memo:

A State Department spokesman, who was unaware of the letter to Mr. Lugar's office, said "there has been no decision to soften the policy on Honduras." He added that the administration still supports a return of Mr. Zelaya to power, as called for in the mediation plan by Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Calling All Brown Shirts

The White House is asking for your help. Apparently, citizens posting blog entries and YouTube videos of the President supporting single payer and the phasing out of private insurance are all part of a vast right wing conspiracy to spread disinformation and lies about our benevolent leader's plans for health care. What can you do to help? Report the miscreants to Since this was Dean's idea, you should report BwD as well, after all he's ratting me out. (H/T to LiberallyConservative for the awe inspiring portrait of The Leader.)

Below is a sample of the kind of disinformation that is a treasonous threat to the plans of Our Leader.

H/T WeaselZippers

Maybe a little freedom of information act request would be in order later to see who ratted out whom?

Please, Please, Please - Go On Strike

California's largest state employees union, the SIEU (Service Employees International Union Local 1000), voted to authorize job actions, up to and including a strike over the weekend. Are these people nuts? Although their contract is expired, their previous contract terms remain in effect, which includes a no-strike clause. Their claim is that the Governor's furloughs are somehow illegal, so they can strike. There are two problems with this line of reasoning; first, no court has made such a ruling. Second, what are they thinking? They are upset about days off with no pay, so their solution is... take more days off with no pay. Their President, pictured left, should be booted for lacking a sense of irony, if nothing else.

But I say, let them strike. That way, if the governor had a spine, he could cull the ranks of the useless. Then everyone in California could see how little or how much impact these employees have on the smooth functioning of our daily lives. I'm betting that the impact to me will be low, but let events be the proof of the pudding.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Culture of Death - Obamacare May Cover Hemlock and Abortion

It has been widely reported that Obamacare would include abortion coverage, although that provision was removed in the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week. However, don't expect pro-abortion forces to give up without a fight.

Meanwhile Hotair tipped us off to a year old story from Oregon, where there is doctor assisted suicide as well as significant state government funding of health care. From the Fox News report.

Some terminally ill patients in Oregon who turned to their state for health care were denied treatment and offered doctor-assisted suicide instead, a proposal some experts have called a "chilling" corruption of medical ethics.

Since the spread of his prostate cancer, 53-year-old Randy Stroup of Dexter, Ore., has been in a fight for his life. Uninsured and unable to pay for expensive chemotherapy, he applied to Oregon's state-run health plan for help.

Lane Individual Practice Association (LIPA), which administers the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County, responded to Stroup's request with a letter saying the state would not cover Stroup's pricey treatment, but would pay for the cost of physician-assisted suicide.

To say that is chilling hardly gives the full effect. But not to worry, this is actually for the good of the patients, you just don't realize it. Dr. Sattenspiel (I swear I'm not making up that name) had this to say:

In issuing their latest Prioritized List of Health Services, state officials reported a new emphasis on preventive care and cost effectiveness. Dr. John Sattenspiel, LIPA's senior medical director, defended the measures.

"I have had patients who would consider knowing that this is part of that range of comfort care or palliative care services that are still available to them, they would be comforted by that," Sattenspiel said. "It really depends on the individual patient."
Thanks doc, I know I feel comforted already. Note the bottom line about which option is less costly in the video below.