Saturday, August 29, 2009


My major concern with all that Obama and the Democrats have been trying to do to jump start the economy is that they are not solving the real problem. Money spent on bridges or "cash for clunkers" only has a short-term impact. Somehow businesses that create wealth and pay people good salaries have to be jump-started. In the past much of this occurred through the innovations developed in research universities and research labs of private companies. But no one seems to care to invest in the future by funding research that may create the next industry that will grow wealth. Since the Industrial Revolution innovations have kept America moving forward and raising out standard of living.

I don't know if anyone with influence in Washington is listening, but the September 7th issue of Business Week had one of the best critiques of what has gone wrong in America (and what needs to be fixed) with its leadership in research and innovation.

Points made in "How Science Can Create Millions of New Jobs:"
  • America needs good jobs, soon. We need 6.7 million just to replace losses from the current recession, then another 10 million to spark demand over the next decade.
  • Bell Labs had 30,000 employees as recently as 2001; today (owned by Alcatel-Lucent) it has 1,000.
  • We have been outsourcing jobs for decades, but we have always bounced back with a new industry—a blockbuster industry.
  • Of the roughly 130 million jobs in the U.S., only 20% (26 million) pay more than $60,000 a year. The other 80% pay an average of $33,000. That ratio is not a good foundation for a strong middle class and a prosperous society. Rather than a demand engine, it's a decay curve.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Some state governments are now taxing people on the $4,500 they received for their clunker!


Ted Kennedy was a pretty sordid guy in my opinion as this article written many years ago reinforces.

The Huffington Post: "Who knows, maybe she'd (Mary Jo Kopechne) feel it was worth it." What a question to be asking.

And he tried to undermine Reagan by cutting a deal with Andropov.

Monday, August 24, 2009


An interesting, but lengthy, analysis by Steven Malanga on the declining work ethic among the younger generation. He traces it back to the 60's counter-culture revolution.

What would Tocqueville or Weber think of America today? In place of thrift, they would find a nation of debtors, staggering beneath loans obtained under false pretenses. In place of a steady, patient accumulation of wealth, they would find bankers and financiers with such a short-term perspective that they never pause to consider the consequences or risks of selling securities they don't understand. In place of a country where all a man asks of government is "not to be disturbed in his toil," as Tocqueville put it, they would find a nation of rent-seekers demanding government subsidies to purchase homes, start new ventures or bail out old ones.

They would find what Tocqueville described as the "fatal circle" of materialism – the cycle of acquisition and gratification that drives people back to ever more frenetic acquisition and that ultimately undermines prosperous democracies.

And they would understand why. After flourishing for three centuries in America, the Protestant ethic began to disintegrate, with key elements slowly disappearing from modern American society, vanishing from schools, business, popular culture, and leaving us with an economic system unmoored from the restraints of civic virtue.

Late in life, Adam Smith noted that government institutions can never tame and regulate a society whose citizens are not schooled in a common set of virtues. "What institution of government could tend so much to promote the happiness of mankind as the general prevalence of wisdom and virtue?" he wrote. "All government is but an imperfect remedy for the deficiency of these."


Doug Casey wrote a conservative critique of the Bush presidency. It will be interesting to see how Bush is treated by history--liberals ridicule him and conservatives feel he is a traitor to their values.

Casey's criticisms:

  • No Child Left Behind. Forget about abolishing the Department of Education. Bush made the federal government a much more intrusive and costly part of local schools.
  • Project Safe Neighborhoods. A draconian law that further guts the 2nd Amendment, like 20,000 other unconstitutional gun laws before it.
  • Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. This the largest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ and will cost the already bankrupt Medicare system trillions more.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Possibly the most expensive and restrictive change to the securities laws since the ’30s. A major reason why companies will either stay private or go public outside the US.
  • Katrina. A total disaster of bureaucratic mismanagement, featuring martial law.
  • Ownership Society. The immediate root of the current financial crisis lies in Bush’s encouragement of easy credit to everybody and inflating the housing market.
  • Nationalizations and Bailouts. In response to the crisis he created, he nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and passed by far the largest bailouts in US history (until OBAMA!).
  • Free-Speech Zones. Originally a device for keeping war protesters away when Bush appeared on camera, they’re now used to herd.
  • The Patriot Act. This 132-page bill, presented for passage only 45 days after 9/11 (how is it possible to write something of that size and complexity in only 45 days?) basically allows the government to do whatever it wishes with its subjects. Warrantless searches. All kinds of communications monitoring. Greatly expanded asset forfeiture provisions.
  • The War on Terror. The scope of the War on Drugs (which Bush also expanded) is exceeded only by the war on nobody in particular but on a tactic. It’s become a cause of mass hysteria and an excuse for the government doing anything.
  • Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush started two completely pointless, counterproductive, and immensely expensive wars, neither of which has any prospect of ending anytime soon.
  • Dept. of Homeland Security. This is the largest and most dangerous of all agencies, now with its own gigantic campus in Washington, DC. It will never go away and centralizes the functions of a police state.
  • Guantanamo. Hundreds of individuals, most of them (like the Uighurs recently in the news) guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, are incarcerated for years. A precedent is set for anyone who is accused of being an “enemy combatant” to be completely deprived of any rights at all.
  • Abu Ghraib and Torture. After imprisoning scores of thousands of foreign nationals, Bush made it a US policy to use torture to extract information, based on a suspicion or nothing but a guard’s whim. This is certainly one of the most damaging things to the reputation of the US ever. It says to the world, “We stand for nothing.”
  • The No-Fly List. His administration has placed the names of over a million people on this list, and it’s still growing at about 20,000 a month. I promise it will be used for other purposes in the future…
  • The TSA. Somehow the Bush cabal found 50,000 middle-aged people who were willing to go through their fellow citizens’ dirty laundry and take themselves quite seriously. God forbid you’re not polite to them…
  • Farm Subsidies. Farm subsidies are the antithesis of the free market. Rather than trying to abolish or cut them back, Bush signed a record $190 billion farm bill.
  • Legislative Free Ride. And he vetoed less of what Congress did than any other president in history.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


It is hard to have a lot of faith in the mainstream media when you read things like this. Why not just report what is happening and let people make their own decisions.


My only concern with the charge of the government instituting "death panels" as it deals with end-of-life care is that this is already happening. Doctors make those decisions in some cases (for better or worse). And as Froma Harrop points out, insurance companies do it more often than we think. If an insurance company denies treatment is this any different from a government bureaucracy doing it? Both are horrendous bureaucracies to work through if you have an appeal to make.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Warren Buffett is a bit concerned about the growing US debt.

“We don’t want our country to evolve into the banana-republic economy described by Keynes,” he says.


An interesting column of the role of evangelical/conservative Christian women as a political force.

In all the commentary about the now former governor of Alaska, some of it comic, much of it trivial, a basic fact has been overlooked: Sarah Palin has come to represent a vital and vibrant constituency in the Republican Party -- religious women -- and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The religious right came to be personified by male preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, but it was built by religiously motivated women who led the fights against sex education and the Equal Rights Amendment.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Ross Douthat had some excellent insights in his recent column on the health care controversy. Read the entire column if you can.
  • It's the skepticism of the over-65 Americans that's dragging support for reform southward.
  • Medicare is on the "chopping block"--this means the benefits the over-65 crowd has enjoyed will be cut to enact Obamacare.
  • The Democrats are promising less, not more to a significant part of the population.
  • Republicans need to stress that Obama wants to take away their health care.
  • Republicans are beginning to support entitlements---a radical change! The Democrats are "sticking it to seniors with cuts to Medicare," Mitch McConnell declared. They want to "cannibalize" the program to pay for reform, John Cornyn complained. It's a "raid," Sam Brownback warned, that could result in the elderly losing "necessary care."
  • Obviously, the Democratic plans wouldn't euthanize your grandmother. But they might limit the procedures that her Medicare will pay for. And conservative lawmakers are using this inconvenient truth to paint the Democrats as enemies of Grandma.
  • Palin's "death panel" rhetoric has been criticized, yet Democrats have used similar rhetoric in the past to label Republicans as those who want to end social security, medicare, etc. Now this debate gives Republicans a chance for "pay back."
So as I see it Republicans can destroy the Democrat voting bloc of older citizens by stressing "death panels" and the fact the Obamacare is taking away programs that have helped older citizens for decades. But this means the Republican Party becomes the party of entitlements!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Liberal ex-Democrat Senator and Majority leader, Tom Daschle, double-dips: he lobbys for the insurance agency and praises the"public option."

This is how Washington really works: Even a top liberal advocate for taking a strong stand against the insurance industry takes money behind the scenes from the insurance industry.

On Sunday, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who was once a nominee to be President Obama's Secretary of Health And Human Services, appeared on NBC's Meet The Press, playing the role of the liberal standard bearer, opposite Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn. Daschle spoke out against insurers, praised the so-called "public option," and at one point framed the debate over health reform to host David Gregory this way: Well, David, I guess the, the basic question is, are we building this new system for the American people or for the insurance companies? I mean, that's really the key question. How will they be better served?

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I can't say I thought of this one. Palin has been roundly criticized by the left and the Democrats (including Obama) for her "death panel" reference to the Obama health care proposal plan. She obviously upped the rhetoric, because that term is not used. Having read that part of the bill, as I posted previously, the wording calls for a "shall" to end-of-life required counselling.

But the headline, "Palin Wins. If she's dim and Obama is brilliant, how did he lose the argument to her?" Well, Obama and the Democrats did lose if the Senate is going to change the language in the bill that applies to this section. The Democrats have been denying something that they are now going to have to change. Again, having read the language, I think it could have been phrased much better. But without Palin's rhetoric, would the language of the bill have been changed? And in changing the wording, it is admission that this bill has at least one problem (and probably more). Is what she did any different from the anti-Bush rhetoric and imaging of the past by his opponents?

I think this debate and the townhalls are good, because they get at least some people thinking. It is no different than other debates of the past. Some crazy things might be said that are incorrect, but over the breadth of the discussion, people are getting information and will make a far more intelligent decision than just sitting back and accepting legislation annointed by Congress and the mainstream media.

By the way, if the mainstream media had ignored Palin's wording and did not try to make her look ignorant, would anything have come of the quote?


The media and the Democrats have been blaming the Republican Party and insurance companies for the negative reaction to the Obamacare plan. First, I don't think the Republican Party is capable of planning and then planting all of these angry people at townhall meetings. Second, you do not hear many protests from insurance groups or the medical lobby (as you did when Hillary was trying to push her plan through in the early 1990s), because they have been "bought" or "wooed" by various provisions in the plan.

There are the typical right-wing opponents (like pro-lifers), but the vast majority are angry, aging Democrats or Independents who voted for Obama. You see this especially in Florida and Arizona. The Democrats have a problem few people realize. I believe Barone has shown this in a recent column: Of the 21 top leadership members and chairmen, five come from districts carried by John McCain, but the average vote in the other 16 districts was 71 percent to 27 percent for Obama. If Obama and the Democrats lose the party moderates, it will become a minority party (still a significant party with a heavy leftist orientation).

The Democrats have a problem with their own constituency, but no one in the mainstream media seems to see this. Obama and Democrats could be ignoring this intra-party problem to their own detriment. Even if they ram this proposal through, what is going to happen a few years from now when these angry people face an insensitive health bureaucracy (aka the post office)? Today's anger could become tomorrow's rage.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The Huffington Post has published a secret memo which shows the White House and Democrats have cut a deal with the big pharmaceutical companies to get them to support the health bill. Change you can count on.

The memo, which according to a knowledgeable health care lobbyist was prepared by a person directly involved in the negotiations, lists exactly what the White House gave up, and what it got in return.

It says the White House agreed to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government's leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada -- and also agreed not to pursue Medicare rebates or shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D, which would cost Big Pharma billions in reduced reimbursements.

In exchange, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) agreed to cut $80 billion in projected costs to taxpayers and senior citizens over ten years. Or, as the memo says: "Commitment of up to $80 billion, but not more than $80 billion."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


From the Heritage Foundation.


I have wondered how much of this misrepresentation goes on? Groups can plant people to make it appear that their opponents are racist, violent, etc. Does all of the hate-mail really come from people that hate a particular person?


Hillary had an unusual breakdown moment in a question and answer session on her recent African trip. It may have been due more to tiredness than anything else. Certainly her husband upstaged her and the State Department in the freeing of the two journalists from North Korea. But still, one would hope she could manifest more control and poise.

But I also wondered if some of her reaction was a result of cross-cultural insensitivity. She needs to realize her audience may struggle with English and may even have different ways of expressing themselves which does not mean they are trying to be disrespectful. A number of years ago I was so impressed with the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Commission. He was going to address a multi-national group of students in Vienna, including Africans. The conversations I overheard before the meeting were filled with anti-American rhetoric--the students were out to challenge this Bush representative of American imperialism. But, he handled their questions so considerately that after the session I saw students flocking to talk to him--there attitude had entirely changed.

Hillary needs to act like a diplomat.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Yahoo! News:

He also disputed the notion that adding a government-run insurance plan into a menu of options from which people could pick would drive private insurers out of business, in effect making the system single-payer by default.

As long as they have a good product and the government plan has to sustain itself through premiums and other non-tax revenue, private insurers should be able to compete with the government plan, Obama said.

"They do it all the time," he said. "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. ... It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I saw a Palin quote on several news website headlines, but did not read the stories. But the words were very emotional: "Obama's Health Bill Is Going to Kill My Baby." Anne Althouse has put the quote into the context of her statement and it appears that Palin is raising a legitimate issue. The end-of-life issue and the health care bill need to be debated, but a number of commentators or news sites don't want to debate it so they just stereotype Palin.


I have tried to compare the Obama/Congress health care plan with some of the criticisms. I do like the title of the Republican alternative: "The Empowering Patients First Act." I am not familiar with the Liberty Counsel, but it has a list of problems with the current bill in a pdf file (I have also received a number of critical emails with similar listings of the bill's failures). The AARP supports the bill and on its web site states that right-wing hysteria is behind these lists of problems. It is almost impossible for the average person to go through each part of the bill and deal with the criticisms in an intelligent manner. The bill is too long and the criticisms are lengthy.

I just had time to look at one criticism of the bill and that is the issue of whether end-of-life counselling is required on pages 424 and 425 of the Democrat bill. Critics say it is required, but the AARP and others say it is not. Critics say the elderly will be required to have this counseling every 5 years--the current bill says shall. I am not a lawyer or a grammarian, but to me shall has the idea of a duty so does this become a mandate? One legal writer states that shall has the same sense as must. Also when parts of the bill use the phrase "may include the order," I think this is troubling--when does "may" become a "will?" Congress needs a good grammarian to proof its bills.

Volokh also made some comments on August 7th about the problems in the bill.

Friday, August 07, 2009


I can't believe the Senate Ethics Committee dropped its investigation of Senators Dodd and Conrad for ethics violations. The case against Dodd seemed pretty strong to me.


Comments from the editorial in the August 1, 2009 Economist.
  • And an impression is being formed in Washington of a presidency that is far too ready to hand over the direction of domestic policy to Congress; that is drifting either deliberately or lethargically leftwards; and that is more comfortable with lofty visions than details.
  • On the campaign trail Mr. Obama showed an impressive ability to change gears. He needs to do so again this summer.
  • He has been curiously ill-served by a press short of useful criticism, with liberal America prepared only to debate what sort of water he walks on best, while conservative radio hosts argue over when exactly he became a communist.
  • A policy of ramming bills through Congress on a party-line basis might suit Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats' leftish leader in the House. But, from Mr. Obama's point of view, it is bad policy in two different ways. It is shifting the presidency to the left, annoying centrist voters who worry about the swelling government debt.
  • What should Mr. Obama do? He must come down from his cloud and start leading.
  • A real "post-partisan" president would be trying bully through this compromise [advocates McCain's position on ending tax deduction for health insurance], not talking dreamily about wanting health care for all at no cost to anybody but the rich.