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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thanks for the Old and New Years

This will be my last post of the year, barring some high-profile conservative taking ill and being rushed to the hospital in which Barack Obama was not born just before he was born in that other hospital in the state where Rush Limbaugh is resting comfortably and Sarah Palin was caught defacing a hat, just before Nancy Pelosi arrived for vacation after scheming with Harry Reid on how to destroy our health care system, including the two hospitals in question.

Which pretty much sums up this crazy year.

This was my first full year of blogging. The history of this blog is here (and I again thank all the people mentioned in that post), and the future is here.

I'm not sure how one measures blogging success. My traffic is way up, thanks again to the kindness of strangers who link, and the return and repeat visitors who steadily have moved up the "slow" days to what used to be a great day.

I passed one million visits on September 29 after 11 1/2 months at it, and I'll pass my next 500k tonight or tomorrow, just three months later. This will be my highest traffic month ever, except for that month we'd rather forget, which proves nothing other than what my wife said: "You're probably the only one blogging this month."

I'm not really sure what Technorati ranks, but I'm glad to be ranked (as of today) no. 39 for U.S. Politics and no. 49 for World Politics. Recognition of how much I inspire or annoy people, such that they see fit to link.

I slipped a few notches on John Hawkins' Best Conservative Blog list, but I've made a challenge, and John assures me it is under review in the booth. I'll find out the results in three months.

I should move up a notch or two on the TaxProf's list of most trafficked law professor blogs, but it will be all but impossible to crack the top 5. Instapundit, Volokh Conspiracy, Hugh Hewitt, Althouse and the TaxProf himself are nos. 1-5, respectively. Isn't it interesting that the Top 3 law professor blogs are outright conservatives, Althouse is deemed conservative by liberals although she's probably more independent, and TaxProf, well you be the judge. I think this says a lot about the importance of the internet to the expression of conservative, or at least non-liberal, thought.

While the numbers and statistics are a measure, they are not the only or best measure. The hate mail is way down, the fan mail is way up. It makes opening the inbox easier.

Most important, I've made a tremendous number of e-quaintances. People from across the country have reached out to me in frustration and anger at the direction the country is heading, and I've done my best to keep hitting the keyboard to share my thoughts on the subject.

I still have tremendous faith in the ability of the country to outlast our enemies, foreign and domestic. But only if we don't give up.

To the nutroots, thanks for the material. (Most of) you are not as bad as "some say."

To the wingnuts, ignore the nutroots and keep plugging away.

To my wife, thanks for 25 great years, three wonderful children who are almost done with college at which point we can start living again, and for putting up with this new habit.

To my readers, thanks for your visits and (mostly) kind words. You have no idea how much it means to me.

Be safe, so I can see you next year. Happy New Year.

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Throw A Snowball At Washington

As you get ready to go out tonight, to settle down at home for the evening, or whatever you are doing to ring in the New Year, remember that the next 30 days may decide the fate of this country's health care system and financial viability.

As the out-of-touch Democratic leadership in Washington gets set to pass the abominable health care bill, cap-and-trade, further expansions of government spending, and to run up deficits unimaginable just a year ago, there is something you can do to stop this madness. And you don't have to wait until November.

Although many say he is a long shot, Scott Brown can win the January 19 special election in Massachusetts if enough people help. People are angry at what is happening in Washington, and people in Massachusetts are no exception.

If Brown wins, Harry Reid will be denied his filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and the brakes will be put on runaway government.

You can donate here, and also join the January 11 "moneybomb."

Throw a snowball at Washington. It will feel good.

Update: Others feel the same way, for their own "karmic justice" reasons - Happy New Year from Senator Hottie McAwesome.

Related Posts:
Martha Coakley's Secret Bank Account
Scott Brown Winning The Online Battle
Martha Coakley Passes Out Some Walking Around Money

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Worst Tweet of The Year

I'm generally staying away from "Best" and "Worst" posts, despite the gravitational pull on this date, but this one really, really needs to be remembered:

(h/t Donald Douglas for the screen shot)

Update: Throw A Snowball At Washington

Related Posts:
About That "Firecracker"
Not So Scary Terror?
Terrorist Attacks Plane, Think Progress Attacks Pete Hoekstra

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They Shouted "You Die!"

This is my obligatory post regarding left-wing reaction to Rush Limbaugh being rushed to the hospital late last night in Hawaii (U.S. mainland time), and initial reports that he was in serious condition.

By the time we woke this morning, the word was that Rush had chest pain and now was resting comfortably.

But in the overnight, the "death panel"-denying, Alan Grayson-worshipping, federal-government-handout-seeking, Keith Olbermann-loving, gimme-my-free-lunch crowd managed to get in some good shouts of "You Die!"

Since I'm late to this, here are some informative links:

I can't get real excited about this reaction. Tell me something I didn't already know.

When Rush returns, his first show will be off the charts.

Something to look forward to in the New Year.

Update: Let's Shout "You Live!"

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Martha Coakley's Secret Bank Account

Following up on my post about how Martha Coakley just handed out $1.5 million in grants to community organizations conveniently just a month before the special election, here is another fact showing that Martha Coakley is just more of the same for the Senate.

Coakley set up a secret campaign account for her state campaign organization which she used to lay the groundwork for a U.S. Senate campaign even though campaign rules prohibited the use of state campaign funds for federal races. Coakley used the account for polling and other organizational functions, including campaign signs and paraphenalia, which she then "sold" to her federal campaign committee.

Here's the story, originally in the Boston Globe (the link has gone dead) but reprinted in September by Ben Smith at Politico:

BOSTON—Attorney General Martha Coakley's fast start in the campaign to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was aided by several secret maneuvers and a year's worth of activity charged to her state campaign committee.

The maneuvers have allowed the Democrat to cope with a prohibition against using state campaign donations for a federal race, and to get ahead against a field that could include several Massachusetts congressmen -- some of whom already have millions of dollars in their federal accounts.

They have also let Coakley try to manage the delicate task of preparing a campaign to succeed Kennedy while not appearing disrespectful or overeager.

In February, Coakley told The Associated Press she had created an undisclosed federal bank account to pay a share of a $25,000 state poll she conducted to gauge her political viability. The federal account, whose existence did not have to be revealed until she became an official candidate, covered poll questions last November that could have pertained to a Senate campaign.

This week, in response to follow-up questions sparked by another AP review of her campaign spending reports, the attorney general also revealed an asset sale agreement between her state and federal campaign committees.

The agreement allowed Coakley to use her state campaign funds to buy a fundraising database, redesign her Web site, secure 37 variations of "marthacoakley.com" and get $6,000 worth of yard signs, posters, buttons, lanyards and T-shirts emblazoned with her campaign logo.

On Sept. 3, the day Coakley became the first candidate for Kennedy's seat, the state committee sold the items to her new federal committee for $35,725.

The signs and stickers were evident around the hotel ballroom where she made her announcement speech, and some of the 100 4-foot by 8-foot signs she bought ringed a two-block area around a Labor Day breakfast Coakley addressed.

Whether or not Coakley's actions were unlawful is not the point. As with passing out $1.5 million in community grants in the middle of a special election, Coakley seems not to care very much about the appearance of impropriety.

Coakley manuevered through the campaign laws to violate the spirit of the laws; and she is the Attorney General!

More of the same.

Update: Martha Coakley's Secret Bank Account - Part 2

Related Posts:
Scott Brown Winning The Online Battle
Martha Coakley Passes Out Some Walking Around Money
GOP Abandons Scott Brown, But We're Not

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May Want to Rethink This

Keith Burgess-Jackson has posted his 10 resolutions for 2010.

No. 1 is "Solve the problem of evil."

No. 10 is "Marry K. W."

Words of bloggerly advice: Change the order. Or at least don't post it. Do what Andrew Sullivan did, and make it all go away.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scott Brown Winning The Online Battle

There is Scott Brown the Senate candidate in Massachusetts, and there is Scott Brown, the musician in New Zealand. They each have Twitter accounts, but the Scott Brown from Down Under laid claim to @ScottBrown first, and the Senate candidate had to resort to @ScottBrownMA.

As the Boston Globe reports, in the past few days, as @ScottBrownMA has gained momentum through bloggers and twitterers and other social media, @ScottBrown has been inundated with people seeking @ScottBrownMA.

Here is one of the tweets by @ScottBrown about the flood of contacts:

Despite, or maybe because of, Martha Coakley's high profile as Massachusetts Attorney General, there doesn't seem to be any grassroots enthusiasm for her campaign. Coakley has a sense of entitlement, but Brown is experiencing a groundswell of support.

Coakley's Twitter account (@MarthaCoakley) has 1915 followers compared to 2322 for @ScottBrownMA.

Brown's Facebook page has 8689 fans versus 6255 at Coakley's Facebook page. The BrownBrigade online network has 2517 members; I could find nothing similar for Coakley.

Clearly, despite lower name recognition, less money, and without the powerful union and entrenched political interests behind him, Scott Brown is gaining momentum the new-fashioned way. Will there be enough time to translate this momentum into votes?

Spread the word, by voice, e-mail, Tweet, Facebook, whatever.

There is a chance to stop the abominable health care bill on January 19, by electing Scott Brown.

Update: Prof. Reynolds asks how Brown is doing on donations. You can donate here, or wait for the January "moneybomb" (why wait?)

And, Martha Coakley's Secret Bank Account

Related Posts:
Martha Coakley Passes Out Some Walking Around Money
GOP Abandons Scott Brown, But We're Not
Complaint Against SEIU In Mass. Senate Race
Watch Massachusetts Senate Race

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This Health Care Turkey Should Be Done

I do not underestimate the ability of the Democratic majority in Congress, under intense pressure from the White House, to pass some form of health care bill. What will pass, if it does, will be very, very close to the Senate bill passed on Christmas eve.

In a rational world, this health care turkey would be done, and we'd be sticking a fork in it. Here are some of the events of the past couple of days, in no particular order, which reflect a rational assessment of the bill:
  • Bob Herbert, Obama supporter, tore the bill apart as "a middle-class tax time bomb" misleadingly marketed as something it is not.
  • The Governors of the two largest Democratic states, California and New York, ripped the bill as imposing crushing burdens on state budgets.
  • 58% of voters oppose the bill, in the latest Rasmussen poll, a number which actually rose to 60% after the interviewees were given more information about specific health care issues; 78% are convinced that the bill will cost more than projected.
  • 67% of voters think the country is heading in the wrong direction, a number which jumps to 75% among unaffiliated voters.
  • Everyone knows that conservatives hate the mandates in bill, but the Left does too, with mounting calls for the Left and Right to join together to kill the mandate.

This bill should have been dead a long time ago. All that remains is a rotting corpse of health care reforms which do much harm and little good.

Let's hope we can kill this disaster waiting to happen before it happens.

Update: Scott Brown Winning The Online Battle

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Hoekstra Deserves an Apology

Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) commented soon after the attempted bombing of an airplane over Detroit that the Obama administration needed to do a better job at connecting the dots regarding terror threats from Yemen:
“People have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration.”
Think Progress immediately went into attack mode. Not against al-Qaeda or the officials who failed to prevent this near-disaster, but against Hoekstra for "politicizing" the issue. And the left-wing blogosphere responded to the Think Progress whistle, attacking Hoekstra and dismissing the incident as a "joke' and nothing to "fear."

With each passing day, as more information about the threats from Yemen comes out, the wisdom of Hoekstra's statement becomes more clear.

Here is what Maureen Dowd, no fan of Republicans herself, says today about the failure to connect the dots:
If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?
Dowd left off the list of disconnected dots that the CIA had received warnings about a Nigerian bomber meeting with al-Qaeda in Yemen, but failed to ... connect the dots to this bomber who was Nigerian. Even Obama himself has been forced to acknowledge that there was a systemic breakdown and failure to piece the information together -- just as Hoekstra had said.

Only because people like Hoekstra, the press, and now even columnists like Dowd, have pushed forward for the truth is the truth coming out.

The threat to national security arises not only from officials who fail to connect the dots, but from the people who do not want the dots connected if it will be damaging to this administration.

Pete Hoekstra deserves an apology from the people who politicized his statement. Somehow, I doubt we'll be seeing that soon.

Update: Despite knowing all that we now do about the failures of this administration to connect the dots (by its own admission), we're still getting commentary like this:
When you are dealing with the current GOP, you simply have to think of the most shamelessly cynical thing they could do or say, and realize that they will in fact do just that. They are completely unhindered by reality and show no allegiance to facts or recent history. They will say or do anything, they know they will not be held accountable by the media or their own party, and that the Democrats don’t have the balls to hit them head on. And when folks like Grayson do, our beltway betters get the vapors.

And it looks like Hoekstra is not waiting for an apology:

And I wonder what Nino must be thinking: Scalia Was Right About Releasing Gitmo Detainees

Related Posts:
About That "Firecracker"
Not So Scary Terror?
Terrorist Attacks Plane, Think Progress Attacks Pete Hoekstra

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Martha Coakley Passes Out Some Walking Around Money

Martha Coakley, Democratic candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, will fit right into the Senate culture in Washington, D.C., as witnessed by her recent award of $1.5 million to community groups in Massachusetts:
Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office has awarded nearly $1.5 million in grants aimed at promoting health and wellness in some of Massachusetts’ most at-risk communities by creating jobs for low-income teens that promote increased physical activity. Through the office’s Project YES Initiative, the grants were awarded to active youth programs for the purpose of battling both high teen unemployment rates and the physical inactivity that is a major factor in rising youth obesity and other chronic illnesses.
The timing was great, coming just weeks before the special election. But the funds do not need to be spent by these organizations for two more years. In order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, Coakley should have waited until after the January 19 special election to announce the awards.

It's a hurry up and wait situation, where Coakley gets good public relations (courtesy of her labor union supporters) and lets the community know she knows how to spread the wealth, but the money actually will not be spent for months or years.

No wonder SEIU invested so heavily in getting Coakley the Democratic nomination through television and radio ads, and possibly broke campaign laws in recruiting state workers to "volunteer" for Coakley.

If the people of Massachusetts want more of the same in the Senate, they can get it by voting for Martha Coakley.

Related Posts:
GOP Abandons Scott Brown, But We're Not
Complaint Against SEIU In Mass. Senate Race
Watch Massachusetts Senate Race

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This Health Care Fiction Will Not Die

There is a fiction about health insurance which simply will not die. It's the fiction which inspired Alan Grayson to proclaim that Republicans want patients to die, and which surfaces in almost every pro-Obamacare talking point.

The fiction is that 45,000 people (or thereabouts) die each year "from lack of insurance." This number emanates from a study released by researchers affiliated with Harvard Medical School. As I documented in my prior post, Grayson Death Number is Fiction, this number is based on assumptions and mathematical modeling bearing no relationship to reality.

Moreover, the study has no means of comparison to anything likely to happen with health care restructuring. The study assumes unlimited health care services given to everyone, and then models how the current health care system doesn't meet up with that standard. But no one, not even the "one nation, one plan" types, assumes that there are unlimited health care resources.

The 45,000 number is like the CBO estimates. The model makes assumptions which must be considered as true, and the calculation follows even if the assumptions are unrealistic. That is the beauty of mathematical modeling; the calculation is not the problem, the model is. But when it comes to health care politics, the only part of the analysis which gets attention is the calculation, not the underlying assumptions, just as the only portion of the CBO analysis which gets attention is the "score."

The 45,000 number resurfaces today in a post at Firedoglake arguing that we are irrational to worry about terrorism because so few people die from terrorism relative to the 45,000 who die from lack of health insurance. As is typical, the post links only to a description of the study, not to the actual study (which I link to and examine in my prior post).

Putting aside the illogic of the argument about terrorism-related deaths (the terror is the problem, not just the deaths), the health care fiction once again makes its way into the public debate. It's the fiction which just keeps giving.

When will this fiction finally die?

Want a real number, base not on modeling but on an actual study of patients? Try this: 10,000 Unnecessary Cancer Deaths (in Britain). That is our future. It's real, not fiction. And it's something that no one wants to talk about.

Related Posts:
Nothing Wrong With Nationalized Health Care, Move Along
Dems Stuck With Blog Hero Grayson
Are Our Liberties Worth Only $200-$500?

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Scalia Was Right About Releasing Gitmo Detainees

Reports indicate that two of the planners of the attempted airplane bombing over Detroit were released Gitmo detainees, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi and Said Ali Shari. Each of these detainees went through a military hearing system and were released in 2007.

At that time, the U.S. detention system was under attack throughout the U.S. court system, and there was intense pressure on the Bush administration to release detainees who were not considered a threat.

The pressure culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Boumediene case, in June 2008, in which the Court, by a one vote margin, held that Gitmo detainees had a right to petition U.S. Courts for a writ of habeas corpus.

Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito, wrote a blistering dissent (beginning at page 110 of the opinion), which appears prophetic in light of the near-miss Christmas day bombing (emphasis mine):

Today, for the first time in our Nation’s history, the Court confers a constitutional right to habeas corpus on alien enemies detained abroad by our military forces in the course of an ongoing war....

I shall devote most of what will be a lengthy opinion to the legal errors contained in the opinion of the Court. Contrary to my usual practice, however, I think it appropriate to begin with a description of the disastrous consequences of what the Court has done today....

The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed. That consequence would be tolerable if necessary to preserve a time-honored legal principle vital to our constitutional
Republic. But it is this Court’s blatant abandonment of such a principle that produces the decision today....

These, mind you, were detainees whom the military had concluded were not enemy combatants. Their return to the kill illustrates the incredible difficulty of assessing who is and who is not an enemy combatant in a foreign theater of operations where the environment does not lend itself to rigorous evidence collection. Astoundingly, the Court today raises the bar, requiring military officials to appear before civilian courts and defend their decisions under procedural and evidentiary rules that go beyond what Congress has specified....

Today the Court warps our Constitution in a way that goes beyond the narrow issue of the reach of the Suspension Clause, invoking judicially brainstormed separation-of- powers principles to establish a manipulable “functional” test for the extraterritorial reach of habeas corpus (and, no doubt, for the extraterritorial reach of other constitutional protections as well). It blatantly misdescribes important precedents, most conspicuously Justice Jackson’s opinion for the Court in Johnson v. Eisentrager.

It breaks a chain of precedent as old as the common law that prohibits judicial inquiry into detentions of aliens abroad absent statutory authorization. And, most tragically, it sets our military commanders the impossible task of proving to a civilian court, under whatever standards this Court devises in the future, that evidence supports the confinement of each and every enemy prisoner.

The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today. I dissent....
Needless to say, Scalia was raked over the coals by the pundits because of this dissent. James Joyner had a good round-up of blogospheric reaction at the time.

Think Progress criticized Scalia's "extreme rhetoric." Matthew Yglesias, writing at The Atlantic, snarked:

I bet all those dirty hippies who said that John Roberts would be another Scalia feel sorry now completely vindicated. Just remember, when John McCain gets to replace John Paul Stevens with another member of the Roberts/Scalia/Alito/Thomas school then all your individual rights are belong to the U.S. government.
John Cole dismissed Scalia's concerns as nothing more that the wails of the "Malkin wing" of the GOP:

CNN is reporting that SCOTUS has ruled that the detainees in Gitmo have constitutional rights and can challenge their detention in civilian court. That sound you hear is six years of Republican bullshit being flushed down the drain, followed by the inevitable wailing from the Malkin wing of the GOP:

Dana Lithwick quipped:

Judging by the tone of Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent, however, you'd think that Justice Anthony Kennedy and his colleagues in the majority not only released Hamdan and his buddies from their imprisonment at Guantanamo, but also armed them with a rocket launcher and paid their collective train fare to Philadelphia.
While the two specific detainees implicated in the attempted Detroit bombing were released just prior to the Boumediene decision, the political pressure to release detainees already was being applied. And that pressure to release detainees deemed dangerous but perhaps not convictable in a U.S. court, remains in place even more so after Boumediene.

While the Obama administration has signalled a willingness to consider detaining dangerous detainees indefinitely, it has come under severe criticism for such policy. The ultimate decision will be made by a U.S. court through the new constitutional rights given to enemy combatants, using standards of review which are unclear to this day.

Oddly enough, in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the prospect of indefinite detention after acquittal has been used as a justification for bringing KSM to a civilian trial in New York City. Those who insisted that the U.S. Court system was best able to judge guilt or innocence, want to have their constitutional cake and eat it too.

Scalia was right, and is being vindicated not only by each act of terror of released Gitmo detainees, but by the assertion that even after civilian trial, some detainees remain too dangerous to release. We may have to release them, as the after-effect of Boumedienne.

And more Americans will be killed as a result, as Scalia predicted.

Related Posts:
Schumer Right Before He Was Wrong
KSM Trial is Another Vote of Present
Which City Would You Sacrifice?

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GOP Abandons Scott Brown, But We're Not

As reported by Jules Crittenden, the national GOP has all but abandoned Scott Brown in his bid for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in the January 19 special election.

Brown's opponent, Martha Coakley, is a down-the-line liberal who is vulnerable because she will be a puppet for the Democratic leadership. If Massachusetts voters want more of the same, they can get it with Coakley. If they want change they really can believe in, Scott Brown is the answer.

But the national GOP couldn't seem to care less. The amount of funding provided to Brown has been minimal. Coakley, on the other hand, is getting solid Democratic fundraising backing.

In addition to me, other bloggers, including SISU and Jumping in Pools, and Twitterers, such as NorsU, have been sounding the alarm that Brown needs some help. He is a solid fiscal conservative, and electing him may be all it takes to stop Obamacare since the final votes in the Senate likely will take place after January 19.

Brown is going to have to do it on his own, with the help of social media advocates. Whether Brown wins or loses, not to make the effort with such a good candidate in an open seat shows the shortsighted mindset in the national GOP.

A "moneybomb" in support of Brown is scheduled for January 11. You also can donate at Brown's website, and can join the internet Brown Brigade, and follow Brown on Twitter.

Update: Ed Morrissey at HotAir is onto the issue - Where is the national GOP in the Massachusetts special election?

But, for a different view, Rumors of lack of GOP support for Scott Brown’s Candidacy Greatly Exaggerated.

Related Posts:
Complaint Against SEIU In Mass. Senate Race
Watch Massachusetts Senate Race

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Should Have Just Said "You Lie!"

Bob Herbert, in the NY Times, finally is waking up to the fact that the Senate health bill passed on Christmas Eve is all smoke and mirrors.

Herbert, who backed Jimmy Carter in excoriating opponents of Obamacare as racists, now admits that the supporters of the Senate bill are not being truthful about the effects of the tax on so-called "Cadillac" health care plans:

There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate’s version of President Obama’s effort to reform health care.

The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.
Among other things, Herbert picks apart promises by Senate Democrats and Obama that the tax will not result in diminished care, will raise tax revenue, and will result in higher wages for employees.

Reviewing all these false promises, Herbert states:

The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich, and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it.

Those who believe this is a good idea should at least have the courage to be straight about it with the American people.
Herbert should have just said, "You lie!"

Update: You can stop Obamacare - GOP Abandons Scott Brown, But We're Not

Related Posts:
The "Section 246 Proves Joe Wilson Is A Liar" Lie
Shocking Lack of Respect
Our Leaders Versus the Un-Americans

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Monday, December 28, 2009

If Sarah Palin Had Done This

TMZ fell for a hoax regarding a supposed photo of JFK on a boat with lots of naked women.

Before the hoax was revealed, Andrew Sullivan authored a post on the subject, which has been pulled completely. Here is what remains on Sullivan's blog:

The link to the original post by Sullivan, titled "Sy Hersh was right," has gone dead. But the dead live on in Google cache, and it is obvious why Sullivan pulled the post.
From the supposed TMZ "proof" Sullivan drew all sorts of wacky sociological conclusions about a bygone era when "feminism was still at bay and powerful rich men could fill their yachts with a variety of sexual objects."

Here is the original Sullivan post:
His book, "The Dark Side Of Camelot", was one of his best: scenes of simply staggering sexual shenanigans, rampant abuse of power, close connections with the mafia, nepotism up the whazoo. And now we have some photographic evidence - courtesy of TMZ.com - of the Kennedy lifestyle, when feminism was still at bay and powerful rich men could fill their yachts with a variety of sexual objects. Take a look at this scene from the mid-1950s. And Tiger: you were born too late.

Now if Sarah Palin had done something like this, can you imagine Sullivan's howls of cover-up? This would be number whatever on the list of Palin's odd lies. This cover-up would be used to claim that Trig was fair game again, because only someone hiding something would hide something.

What is that saying about glass houses?

Update: You can stop Obamacare - GOP Abandons Scott Brown, But We're Not

Related Posts:
TMZ Experts Say Obamacare Will Reduce The Deficit and Expand Care
Palin's Turning Point
Psst...Don't Tell Andrew Sullivan Our Secret
Friday Night Prisoner Exchange?

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TMZ Experts Say Obamacare Will Reduce The Deficit and Expand Care

TMZ has a flock-full of egg on its face today, as its monster break-through of the year -- the infamous JFK Photo that could have changed the world -- turned out to be a hoax.

The photo (right), purportedly from the 1950s showing JFK on a boat full of neked wimin, actually was a Playboy photo-shoot from the 1960s.

Exactly how the photo, if real, would have changed the world is unclear. There was no TMZ or internet or independent media in the late '50s and early '60s. The mainstream media covered up all JFK's affairs anyway, so it probably would have buried this photo, just like the mainstream media in 2008 ... let's not go there, this isn't about him.

What is really intriguing, however, is that TMZ had numerous experts examine the photo to verify its authenticity:
TMZ had multiple experts examine the photo -- all say there is no evidence the picture was Photoshopped. The original print -- which is creased -- was scanned and examined for evidence of inconsistent lighting, photo composition and other forms of manipulation. The experts all concluded the photo appears authentic.

Professor Jeff Sedlik, a forensic photo expert, says the print appears to be authentic. Sedlik says the photo is printed on paper consistent with what was used in the 1950s. The emulsion on the surface of the print has numerous cracks -- the result of aging and handling....

Forensic analyst Sedlik superimposed an image of Kennedy taken at the Democratic National Convention in August 1956, just days before Kennedy went on the Mediterranean cruise. Sedlik says the features from the two pics almost precisely sync up. TMZ has also had two Kennedy biographers examine the photo -- they also believe JFK is in the picture.
Ah, the experts, seriously verifying the preposterous.

These TMZ experts, it is reported by my exclusive sources, also have verified that Obamacare will lower the deficit, expand coverage, allow people to keep their current insurance, and not increase taxes on anyone making under $250,000 per year.

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Some Things Will Change, Most Will Not

In a prior post in late October, I sought the input of readers into whether and how I should change the appearance and format of this blog.

The overwhelming response, in comments and e-mails, was that it doesn't appear to be broken in a major way, so no need to do a massive overhaul. Similar to the way the majority of Americans feel about our health care system, except that unlike the self-aggrandizing narcissists and masters of the universe in Washington, D.C., I'm actually listening.

So there are not going to be any major changes. But if you have noticed, I've taken some of the suggestions, primarily removing much of the clutter from the left sidebar. I also played around with a lighter background, but reverted back to the original as none of the alternatives seemed to go as well with the title header colors.

I've invested in a small way in some technology (a pda with mobile internet service) so as to put through comments more quickly, and at some point in time, to be able to post when not at a desktop.

I don't plan on changing the moderation feature on comments, since there are too many trolls looking to poison conservative websites, and I don't want to spend the time "banning" people as other blogs are forced to do.

I am looking into some add-ons to make comments easier, providing that moderation still is available. If anyone has any suggestions or experiences, let me know.

I'm also sticking with Blogger for now. While a three-column design (really only available from Wordpress, Typepad and others) would allow for more information on the screen, overwhelmingly the consensus was to stick to the basic two column structure. While there would be other advantages to different software, I'll stick to what I know until there is some compelling reason to change.

Some people mentioned that "fixed width" columns would make it easier to view on a wide screen monitor. Now if someone could only explain to me what exactly that is and how to do that, I'd certainly consider it.

I've started accepting some advertising, if you've noticed. Hopefully you have not noticed, because I don't want advertising to overwhelm the content. But I would like to recoup some of the new expenses, and additional expenses as I try to make the blog more mobile. So if you find the advertisers of interest, by all means click on the link and do your purchasing through them.

I may -- repeat "may" -- start accepting some guest posts. You'll find out more about that in the near future.

But this will remain a solo blog for now, an anachronism in an era when group blogs and bloggers at large corporate websites are the trend.

I'm one of only a handful of solo non-corporate bloggers in Technorati's Top 50 U.S. Politics blogs (No. 40 today, tomorrow who knows), but it's not easy to be heard over the noise. And it's a lot more work to be the only person posting.

But, after all, as the disclaimer says at the bottom of the sidebar, "These Are Only MY Opinions."

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Obama Already Has Started Joe Lieberman's Yemen War

Yet more utter nonsense spread in the left-wing blogosphere, this time about how Joe Lieberman wants the U.S. to "invade" Yemen.

In fact, Lieberman said that we needed to act "preemptively" against al-Qaeda in Yemen to avoid Yemen becoming the next war, and said nothing advocating an invasion of Yemen. The usual twist of words: Joe Lieberman saying we should take steps to avoid invading Yemen gets portrayed as a statement by Joe Lieberman saying we should invade Yemen.

News flash, we are acting pre-emptively in Yemen, on orders of Barack Obama:

In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen.
And we are doing it in cooperation with the government of Yemen, to avoid a situation as happened in Afghanistan leading up to 9/11.

Fortunately, when it comes to Yemen, Obama has more sense than his supporters, although the administration does need to do a better job connecting the dots from Yemen to terror activities such as the attempted Detroit airplane bombing. A good first step would be getting rid of Janet "The System Worked" Napolitano.

Since the U.S. currently is acting "preemptively" in Yemen, this must mean that Joe Lieberman has taken over the U.S. government, and is using Barack Obama as his puppet to wage unnecessary wars. Maybe that was part of the secret deal to get Independent Joe to vote for Obamacare.

The bigger question is: Why are we even worried about al-Qaeda in Yemen, since al-Qaeda is a "joke" and nothing to "fear"?

Unless, of course, you or a loved one is on the plane; or you support the right of Americans to live free from fear of attack; or you understand the collateral economic devastation from an airplane explosion; or you recall that successful attacks beget more attacks.

Somehow, if al-Qaeda were attacking "netroots" bloggers conferences, I doubt the threat would be viewed by these pundits as a joke and something not to fear.

Reason #3107 why we need to tune out the left-wing blogosphere on matters of national security.

Final thought: I'm taking Obama's side on an issue. Happy New Year.

Update: From the NY Times:

Sewn into the underwear of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a powerful plastic explosive, the authorities say.

Had Mr. Abdulmutallab, sitting in seat 19A of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Friday from Amsterdam to Detroit, been able to set off the explosive, it might have blown a hole in the side of the airplane and caused it to crash, experts believe.

Some "joke"; nothing to "fear" here, move along.

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Statement on Napolitano

"You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie Janet Reno Napolitano"

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Will Obama Remain Silent About Iran Protests Again?

During the June 2009 protests that rocked Iran over election fraud, the Obama administration was silent for days, then came out and embraced improved relations with the regime in the hope of improving the chances for a negotiated end to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

The "grand bargain" approach advocated by the foreign policy establishment sought to give the Iranian regime security guarantees and regional hegemony in exchange for Iran giving up its nuclear weapons program. While the Obama administration was willing to engage in negotiations without precondition, in fact perpetual mullah rule was a precondition.

The negotiations went nowhere. The Iranians have used the past 6 months to accelerate their nuclear program, stir up trouble in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, make alliances with Hugo Chavez, and continue to arm Hamas and Hezbollah as forward bases in anticipation of a confrontation over the nuclear program.

One again, protests are spreading in Iran, and news is getting out through the blogosphere and internet.

Will Obama break his silence on vacation to take the side of the Iranian people?

If the excuse last time was that we should do nothing to disrupt nuclear negotiations, what is the excuse this time, now that negotiations have failed?

Update: Fausta Wertz, who notes how quickly Obama spoke out when Honduras ousted Zelaya, wants to bet me it will take three days for a comment. Should I take the bet?

Meanwhile, newby blogger Brain Itch wonders what Dubya would have done.

Update 3:00 p.m. -- About 20 minutes ago the White House issued a statement as reported by AFP:

The White House on Sunday strongly condemned "violent and unjust suppression" of civilians in Iran, following a fierce government crackdown on opposition protests.

The strongly-worded statement contrasted with careful initial responses by the White House following post-election protests in Iran in June and came as the nuclear showdown between Tehran and world powers reached a critical point.

"We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights," White House spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.

"Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States.

The full statement is not yet on the White House website. I'll link when it is. Based on this report, it looks like we will not make the same mistake as in June. (I should have taken Fausta up on the bet; this is why I don't gamble.)

What remains to be seen is whether the regime change advocated by the popular uprising in Iran will be embraced by the U.S., or will we revert back to the "grand bargain" approach.


Will Obama interrupt his vacation to make a personal statement in support of the Iranian people, or will he rely on a press statement?

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About That "Firecracker"

There has been a deliberate attempt to downplay the seriousness of the attempted bombing of an airplane over Detroit. The attempted detonation of an explosive in the airplane has been described by leading bloggers as "unserious" and evidence that al-Qaeda is "a joke."

Below is the video the FBI played at the sentencing of Shoe Bomber Richard Reid, using the same explosive material as in the attempted Detroit bombing.

While we do not yet know the precise amount of material in the attempted Detroit bombing, the amount hidden in Richard Reid's shoe was enough to blow a hole in the fuselage, likely destroying the aircraft in mid-air.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Update: Apparently there was enough bomb material to bring down the Detroit airplane, and only a failed detonator saved the airplane. (h/t Dan Riehl)

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How Do They Think This Stuff Up? Part 2

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Night Card Game (Sheldon Whitehouse)

This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) took to the floor of the Senate earlier this week and delivered a speech which would have made Alan Grayson and Keith Olbermann blush. Following in Harry Reid's footsteps, Whitehouse used the race card to attack those who disagree with him politically.

Whitehouse compared opponents of the Democratic health care bill to those who hung black from trees in the South and the Nazis who ran through the streets on Kristilnacht:

History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrels have rolled through taunting crowds. Broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from Southern trees. Even this great institution of government that we share has cowered before a tail-gunner having secret lists. Those malignant movements rightly earned what Lord Acton called "the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict upon wrong."
For his coup de grâce, Whitehouse showed his race card, insisting that those opposing the health care bill were racists who could not stand that Barack Obama existed:

And why? Why all this discord and discourtesy, all this unprecedented destructive action? They are desperate to break this president. They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist.
For this despicable speech, Whitehouse gets the Saturday Night Card Game award tonight.

Update: h/t to a commenter for these words from Kevin Dowd (not Maureen) in the NY Times, with his year-end reflection:
To Sheldon Whitehouse: You, senator, are an idiot.
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Not So Scary Terror?

So says Matthew Yglesias, in a post titled Not So Scary “Terror” (emphasis mine):

Obviously, people shouldn’t be lighting anything on fire inside airplanes. That said, all the big Christmas airline incident really shows to me is how little punch our dread terrorist adversaries really pack. Once again, this seems like a pretty unserious plot. And even if you did manage to blow up an airplane in mid-air, that would be both a very serious crime and a great tragedy, but hardly a first-order national security threat....

Ultimately, it does no favors to anyone to blow this sort of thing out of proportion. The United States could not, of course, be “devastated” by anything resembling this scheme. We ought to be clear on that fact. We want to send the message around the world that this sort of vile attempt to slaughter innocent people is not, at the end of the day, anything resembling a serious challenge to American power. It’s attempted murder, it’s wrong, we should try to stop it, but it’s really not much more than that.

This mindset of treating terrorism as a mere criminal act is settling in quickly in the Holder legal administration.

Contrary the criminal justice mindset, any attempt to blow up airplanes is a threat to national security in the same way as the 9/11 attacks. The effect, had this attack been successful, not only would have been a large loss of life, but enormous economic disruption and terror spread throughout the U.S.

It is not hard to imagine an emergency grounding of all air traffic as on 9/11, and days or weeks before travel resumed a normal pattern. The psychological effect, which is the point of terror, would have cast a pall over the country.

Not so scary terror? Only because it didn't work.

Not a serious plot? It turns out that incendiary device was made of the same highly explosive material used by "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid, there are increasingly clear links to Yemen, and the U.S. was on notice for two years that this specific individual was a risk.

The Think Progress crowd may not like it politically, but we do need to do a better job at connecting the dots, as Congressman Pete Hoekstra has said.

And we can speak this truth even though Obama is in office, much as George W. Bush was criticized for not connecting the dots leading up to 9/11. We must not allow groups like Think Progress, which seeks to protect Obama's image, to deter us from speaking up out of fear of being ridiculed, as is happening to Pete Hoekstra.

Relying on terrorists to misfire is not a national security policy. It didn't work in the 1990s, and it will not work now.

Update: Thanks to Donald Douglas for this screen shot of a tweet by Spencer Ackerman on the same "not so scary" theme:

Here is the thrust of Ackerman's blog post on this subject, complete with a music video titled "Cherry Bomb," making light of the incident:
Abdulmutallab gets an explosive device from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen; takes a couple of layovers to get on the plane; boards with his device; ignites it; it fizzles; passengers and crew subdue him. And we’re supposed to be scared of this?
Ackerman dismisses the attempt as "a desperate bid for relevance" by an al-Qaeda under pressure. Well, blowing people up is what al-Qaeda does, so by that definition, 9/11 also was "a desperate bid for relevance."

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"Why Do They Still Hate Us? We Elected Obama; What More Do They Want?"

Tweet of the Day, from John Rambo:

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Terrorist Attacks Plane, Think Progress Attacks Pete Hoekstra

An Islamic terrorist, with apparent ties to al-Qaeda in Yemen, just attempted to blow up a plane as it was landing in Detroit. Al-Qaeda activities in Yemen are a real problem, as witnessed by the U.S. missile attack on Yemen just days ago against an al-Qaeda operative linked to the Fort Hood shooting.

In a totally predictable, by now, reaction, Think Progress, which blows the whistle to which left-wing blogs react, immediately launched an attack on the first Republican to speak up about the incident, in this case, Congressman Pete Hoestra:

Hoekstra Quickly Politicizes Attempted Terrorist Attack, Suggests Obama’s Clueless On National Security
Here is the fuller context of the Hoeksta comment, with the words edited out of the Think Progress post placed in bold by me:

The ranking Republican on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee says today's suspected terrorist incident at Detroit Metro Airport could provide further evidence of a Yemen-based branch of al-Qaida intent on an attack on American soil and believes the Obama administration needs to take more aggressive action to combat the threat.

“It’s not surprising,” U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a Holland Republican, said of the alleged terrorist attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit.

A Nigerian who authorities said had told them he was ordered by al-Qaida to detonate an explosive was in custody. Reports linked the explosives to Yemen. “People have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration,” said Hoekstra.

Steve Benen, citing the Think Progress post, was even more blunt: PETE HOEKSTRA, SHAMELESS BUFFOON.... Alan Colmes also picked up on the Think Progress post to quip: "Pretty anxious to score political points, aren’t we?"

The fear that conservatives would point out the obvious about this terrorist attack seemed to be a common first reaction:
"[The attack] means Greater Wingnuttia is going to get the very special happy Christmas they most desire, because what they like best of all is to wet their pants in an ecstasy of hysterical screeching .... "
John Cole of Balloon-Juice immediately lined up his preemptive attack:

I’m not going to speculate about what happened because the reports are all over the place, and I do not want to minimize the seriousness of it, but I will state that I think we all know the kind of media freak-out we are about to have over this event.
How was it an attempt to "politicize" terrorism for Hoeksta to point out the obvious? Al-Qaeda activities in Yemen are a problem, and this incident may prove that those activities have the ability to reach our shores as in the Fort Hood shooting.

To sum up, let me see if I have this right. Think Progress and its progeny attempt to score political points by claiming that Pete Hoekstra was attempting to score political points, and Hoekstra is the buffoon?

Must we all remain silent about every terrorist incident and attack for fear of being accused of attempting to "politicize" the issue.

Perhaps if more people had spoken up during the Clinton years against the policy of creating walls between intelligence services and law enforcement, and treating terrorism as a mere law enforcement problem, we could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.

Uh oh, did I just attempt to score political points? And if I did, does that make me wrong?

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The Difference Between Time and The Times

Time Magazine Person of the Year: Ben Bernanke.

The Times of London's Person of the Year: Neda Soltan.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Obama Green Plan: Substitute Dependence On Chinese Metals For Dependence On Saudi Oil

From where do the ingredients of "green" technology come? Apparently, mostly from some environmentally toxic mines in China:
Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast.

Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.

Western capitals have suddenly grown worried over China’s near monopoly, which gives it a potential stranglehold on technologies of the future.
So the green revolution which is the centerpiece of Obama's economic plan essentially relies on substituting our dependence on Saudi oil with a dependence on Chinese metals.

This should work really well. Because our dependence on Chinese money to fund government programs we cannot afford is not enough.

Campaign theme 2020: "We must lower our dependence on Chinese dysprosium and terbium!"

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