Friday, October 30, 2009
Everything about the health-care exercise is looking very old hat, starting with the old guys working on it. Max Baucus, Patrick Leahy, Pete Stark—all were elected to Congress in the 1970s, and live on as the immortals in Washington's Forever Land. But it's more than the fact that Congress looks old. The health-care bill is big, complex, incomprehensible and coercive—all the things people hate nowadays.
If we were really living in the world of leading-edge politics that many people thought they were getting with Barack Obama, he would have proposed an iPhone for health care—a flexible system for which all sorts of users could create or choose health-care apps that suited their needs. Over time, with trial and error, a better system would emerge.
No chance of that. Our outdated political software can't recognize trial and error. What ObamaCare is doing with health care—the "public option"—may be fine with the activist left, but I suspect it's starting to strike many younger Americans as at odds with their lives, as not somewhere they want to go. Wait until EPA's ghost busters start enforcing cap-and-trade.
People thought something small, agile and smart was coming to government, but so far it's turning out to be just big-box politics.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The map below classifies the 100 largest metro areas into 5 categories (quintiles), based on their average rank across a series of four indicators: employment change from peak; unemployment rate change from one year ago; gross metropolitan product change from peak; and housing price index change from one year ago.
The weighting of the Financial sector in the S&P 500 has made a huge move since the March lows. After being the biggest sector of the market for six years in a row, the weight of the Financials dropped all the way down to 8.9% (6th place) on March 9th, 2009. After the recent rally we've had, the Finanial sector has nearly doubled its weight to 15%, and it now ranks 2nd behind the Technology sector (18.8%). Technology, Financials, Industrials, Consumer Discretionary, and Materials are sectors that have gained market share during the bull market, while the other five sectors have lost share. The Financial sector has gained the most, while Health Care has lost the most (16.1% to 12.5%).
Do counter-terrorism measures targeting bombers who dress as women offend the rights of transexuals? This is one of the pressing questions addressed in a new United Nations report on "Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism."
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
While it’s not news that Congressional health insurance plans are posh, CBS News recently uncovered the details of plans – right as the details of the Baucus health care bill are being hashed out.
Members of Congress can choose from five different plans, and have access to both the VIP Bethesda Naval Hospital and a reserved spot Ward 72 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, an elite division usually reserved for military members. Their everyday medical concerns can be taken care of at a doctors office located inside of Congress.
Their premiums are the same as those of insurance plans with half the benefits, and the plans last a lifetime; not until Medicare kicks in do ex-Members or loose their Congressional health benefits. Congress has repeatedly voted down any provision that would switch their insurance plans to the lower-grade public option if Obamacare goes through.
Today: Vice President Biden: "Well, it's a depression — it's a depression for millions of Americans, through no fault of their own," he said. (ABC News 10/19)
September: Vice President Biden: “In my wildest dreams, I never thought the stimulus would work this well,” (The Wall Street Journal 9/24)
So, the stimulus is working, it's working better than Biden ever expected, and yet we're in a depression?
Increasing Income Inequality: Lessons from the NFL
Monday, October 19, 2009
But the White House communications director is so un-divisive that she can be invited along to recommend Chairman Mao as a role model for America’s young.
President Obama's acting chief White House communications advisor, Anita Dunn has been much in the headlines of late, owing to her comments during a CNN interview last week branding Fox News as an arm of the Republican Party.
Interestingly, Dunn delivered a commencement address in June in which she named Mao Tse Sung, the genocidal founder of Communist China, as one of her "two favorite philosophers," with the other, she chirpily noted, being Mother Teresa.
Mao and Mother Teresa are, Dunn explained, "the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is to say you are going to make choices, you are going to challenge, you are going to say why not." She then quoted an alleged Mao statement about winning the Chinese civil war his way: "You fight your war and I will fight mine."
She could as easily have encouraged the newly minted college graduates to take inspiration from Frank Sinatra's memorable pop hit, "My Way." At least Sinatra was not a genocidal killer of millions, as was Mao, which is what make Dunn's choice of heroes so utterly perplexing.
Rather than the truth about the choices Mao made, it appears that all Dunn knows about Mao are the Potemkin Village myths sown by his apologists among the U.S. and European intellectual elitists in the 1950s and 1960s. This mythical Mao was wise, kindly, and selfless, a veritable Chinese Jesus.
But it is impossible to accept that vision of Mao after reading the full account of the Chinese dictator's political career in British historian Paul Johnson's "Modern Times," the definitive, stark account of the rise, rule and ruin of totalitarianism throughout the 20th Century.
Here are just a couple of passages from Johnson that reveal the murderous truth about Dunn's hero. First, Johnson describes Mao's actions in the weeks immediately after winning the civil war: "Mao's first act was to extend his 'land reform,' already begun in the North, to the entire country, It was aimed at 'local bullies and evil gentry' and he urged peasants to kill 'not one or two but a goodly number of each.' At least two million people perished, half of them the tyrannical owners of less than 30 acres."
Mao thus, Johnson observed, "launched the largest nation on earth into a frenzy of violent activism which was to rival the social engineering of Hitler and Stalin."
That systematic genocide was among Mao's routine policies is seen in the continuous tragedy that was "land reform." During the years between 1951 and 1953, for example, Mao conducted these campaigns with what Johnson describes as "great savagery." Millions died after being convicted as "counter-revolutionaries," an all-purpose criminal classification used to make short work of anybody who came under suspicion.
"All major towns held mass rallies at which social "enemies" were publicly denounced and sentenced," Johnson wrote. "Over a few months, nearly 30,000 such meetings were held in Peking alone, attended by three million people. The papers published long lists of names every day of executed 'counter-revolutionaries.' In October 1951, it was stated that 800,000 cases had been dealt with in the first six months of the year."
Estimates of the total number of people killed in these land reform campaigns of extermination ranged as high as 15 million, though Johnson cautions that "a figure of one to three milion is more likely."
In any case, these two passages make clear that Anita Dunn's hero was a man who thought nothing of decreeing the deaths of millions of people for no reason other than suspicion that they might not accept his ghastly totalitarian vision for China. To fully grasp what Mao did, just imagine here in America today millions of non-political middle-class Americans suspected of being Tea Party sympathizers being rounded up, tried, sentenced and executed merely on suspicion of their being opposed to "change we can believe in."
You can view the referenced portion of Dunn's commencement speech here, courtesy of Michelle Malkin, who also provides a host of additional facts about Dunn's career as a flak for such notables as Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi. The White House has claimed Dunn was joking in her reference to Mao. Judge for yourself.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
All the freedoms I've discussed can very quickly be distilled into a single essence, an American essence: American individuals are free from control by and fear of their own government, and the American nation is free from control by other nations.
Barack Obama is anti-American because he wants to change this American essence. His domestic policy is directed at increasing government control in every area, which decreases individual liberty. Here's an incomplete bullet-point list of his anti-liberty goals on the home front:
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
For example, the analysis shows that the cost of the average family policy is approximately $12,300 today and will rise to:
- $15,500 in 2013 under current law and to $17,200 if these provisions are implemented.
- $18,400 in 2016 under current law and to $21,300 if these provisions are implemented.
- $21,900 in 2019 under current law and to $25,900 if these provisions are implemented.
In fact, between 2010 and 2019 the cumulative increases in the cost of a typical family policy under this reform proposal will be approximately $20,700 more than it would be under the current system.
For many in the Washington establishment, alas, the falling dollar is considered a virtue. They believe it will help U.S. exports and therefore reduce the trade deficit and bring back manufacturing jobs. But as David Malpass argued on these pages yesterday, capital flows dwarf trade flows as a source of wealth creation. The only way to build wealth and create more high-paying jobs over time is through the productivity gains that come from greater investment and innovation. As the dollar falls and capital flees the U.S. for other countries, those global competitors reap its benefits and become more productive and relatively more prosperous.
The more immediate danger—in the coming months—would be if the fall of the dollar becomes a rout. This could cause a spike in commodity prices, such as oil, that are traded in dollars and jeopardize the nascent economic recovery. But even if there is no dollar panic, the volatility of currency markets is distorting investment decisions and creating more economic uncertainty. It could also lead to a round of competitive devaluations, as other nations try to placate their own domestic export constituencies.
Washington may not care to notice, but the sell-off in the dollar is a daily global vote on U.S. economic policy. It is not a vote of confidence.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The Nobel prize is like the post-modern version of the Emperor's new clothes: To a fool, His Majesty appears entirely naked. To a wise man, His Majesty is also naked but the wise man is sophisticated enough to admire the potential His Majesty has to be fabulously dressed at some point in the future.
So President Barack Obama said he was surprised that he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize – making him the only person on earth who was surprised that he won the 2009 Nobel Peace prize.
I’d like to say that I’m really happy for him…. but isn’t that what this is all about? Being happy for “him?” Wasn’t that what the Olympics were about? Rooting for “him?”
Wasn’t that what the last presidential election was about? Electing “him?”
It’s never about us. Or the U.S.
Because if it was, no Nobel committee would have ever given him that prize. The fact is, you only win that prize if a particular transaction is made -that is, a weakening of America in exchange for worldly acceptance by madmen, maniacs and mass murderers.
But that’s not all.
The prize is not meant to award achievement, but to insult folks the committee finds distasteful – meaning those who refuse to share their assumptions about a deeply flawed – oh let’s face it, evil – America.
Meaning, you and me. And like I always say, when it happens three times, it’s officially a trend. The 2002 prize to Jimmy Carter was meant to humiliate President Bush for the Iraq War build-up. They even admitted that. Then in 2007, they handed the political prop to Al Gore – a message meant to slap Bush for winning the 2000 election, and also America for not embracing global warming ideology.
And that’s what this prize is all about now. It’s not just another slap at Bush (well, it is), but a prop to help beat back the simmering dissent Obama’s progressive agenda has caused, here.
The Nobel committee wants him to succeed, for they’re smitten with this “citizen of the world,” a man who puts the globe before his country.
Forget human rights activism: this is how you win an award, people.
It won’t help us, but It’ll look great on his mantle. Next to the Grammy.
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Friday, October 9, 2009
Tax the Rich? How's That Working?
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Who Gets the Green Medal? Not the Obamas Â» The Foundry
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Roger L. Simon Â» Tibet: Now Obama loses the Richard Gere vote
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More from the WSJ:
The basic fallacy of cash for clunkers is that you can somehow create wealth by destroying existing assets that are still productive, in this case cars that still work. Under the program, auto dealers were required to destroy the car engines of trade-ins with a sodium silicate solution, then smash them and send them to the junk yard. As the journalist Henry Hazlitt wrote in his classic, "Economics in One Lesson," you can't raise living standards by breaking windows so some people can get jobs repairing them.
In the category of all-time dumb ideas, cash for clunkers rivals the New Deal brainstorm to slaughter pigs to raise pork prices. The people who really belong in the junk yard are the wizards in Washington who peddled this economic malarkey.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
“Some of my best memories are sitting on my dad’s lap, cheering on Olga and Nadia, Carl Lewis, and others for their brilliance and perfection.”
Mrs. Obama was 20 years old when Lewis first competed in the Olympics in 1984.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
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Post Hoc Criticism of Obamaâ€™s Copenhagen Trip Justified
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One other thing. Obama has spent the entirety of his administration apologizing for the United States, for how much carbon we emit, for our foreign policy, for our alleged racism, etc. Then, he goes abroad and tells the International Olympic Committee that his hometown of Chicago deserves the Olympics more than an emerging nation like Brazil, which has never hosted an Olympics. Hypocrisy? You decide.
A PR Nightmare for the Obamas - Victor Davis Hanson - The Corner on National Review Online
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10. Dead people can't vote at IOC meetings
9. Obama distracted by 25 min meeting with Gen. McChrystal
8. Who cares if Obama couldn't talk the IOC into Chicago? He'll be able to talk Iran out of nukes.
7. The impediment is Israel still building settlements.
6. Obviously no president would have been able to acomplish it.
5. We've been quite clear and said all along that we didn't want the Olympics.
4. This isn't about the number of Olympics "lost", it's about the number of Olympics "saved" or "created".
3. Clearly not enough wise Latina judges on the committee
2. Because the IOC is racist.
1. It's George Bush's fault.
The latest Fox News/Opinion Dymanic poll is chock-full of bad news for the president. But on foreign policy, the results are nothing short of stunning. On who they trust more to decide the next steps in Afghanistan. 66 percent say military commanders, while only 20 percent say the president. Even Democrats have more faith in the military commanders (by a 45 to 37 percent margin). On Iran, 69 percent say Obama has not been tough enough, including 55 percent of Democrats. Sixty-one percent favor a U.S. military action, if needed, to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Fifty-one percent think Obama apologizes for American too much.
Less than a year into his presidency, this is a remarkable and widespread loss of confidence in the president’s handling of national security. This should actually come as no surprise. Neither his rhetoric or his decision-making to date has projected strength. He spent months arguing that we should close Guantanamo and dump the terrorists into the U.S. or into other countries. The voters disagreed. He dithers on Afghanistan, and the voters no longer see him as the best person to set our course. He sends video valentines to the mullahs, delighting in the notion that we can talk them out of their nukes, and waits for Russia and China to climb onto the Obama bandwagon (or Israel to do the dirty work for us). And Americans overwhelmingly see his performance as weak.
In short, Obama has already achieved what it took Jimmy Carter an entire term to attain: the conviction of a large majority of the American people that he is not protecting our interests or performing adequately as commander in chief. He can either stiffen his resolve to confront America’s foes or continue his decline. World events are unlikely to help him–they will only highlight his shoddy performance as our adversaries, seeing exactly what Americans do, begin to test and challenge the U.S. at every turn.
Joe Biden had a single correct insight during the campaign about foreign policy: Obama’s mettle would be tested, and “it’s not going to be apparent that’s we’re right.” For once Biden has proved to be the master of understatement.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
You Mislead! by Michael F. Cannon and Ramesh Ponnuru on
National Review Online
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Some sophisticrats are really desperate to appear cool by coming to the defense of a very talented artist: HuffPo writers are going all out to defend Roman Polanski.
That doesn’t surprise me. Appearing cool is of tremendous importance to the cultural elite. What surprises me is that all these sophisticrats know that the very talented man in question raped a 13-year old girl.
Strangely, Republican Congressman Mark Foley didn’t attract such sympathies on the HuffPo’s servers when he was caught IM’ing suggestive messages to a Congressional page. But unlike Foley, Polanski is not a Republican. He’s simply wanted in L.A. on a child rape charge conviction.