Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dave Barry's year in review: 2009

As usual Dave Barry captures the key events of the past year with his hilarious insights.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Turning Tricks, Cashing In on Fear By Alexander Cockburn

One of the common objections I’ve run into when expressing my skepticism of Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is that this skepticism is limited to right-wingers. While this might be true in general terms there are exceptions on both side of the political fence. Here is an example from the left: Alexander Cockburn in CountePunch. I recommend reading his essay on the Copenhagen Conference. He addresses the usual canard I hear hurled at AGW deniers: that they’re shills for the oil industry, that their position is driven by money.

But the CRU emails graphically undermine the claim of the Warmers – always absurd to those who have studied the debate in any detail – that they commanded the moral high ground. It has been a standard ploy of the Warmers to revile the skeptics as intellectual whores of the energy industry, swaddled in munificent grants and with large personal stakes in discrediting AGW. Actually, the precise opposite is true. Billions in funding and research grants sluice into the big climate modeling enterprises. There’s now a vast archipelago of research departments and “institutes of climate change” across academia, with a huge vested interest in defending the AGW model. It’s where the money is. Skepticism, particularly for a young climatologist or atmospheric physicist, can be a career breaker.

Penny Wong jeered, Hugo Chavez cheered - By Lenore Taylor, The Australian

With another hat tip to Robert Bidinotto, this article nicely captures the true agenda of the Copenhagen conference: not to save the world from allegedly human-caused global warming but to save humanity from capitalism, to save us from the cold independence of individualism by throwing us into the “warm” melting pot of collectivism/tribalism. At the end Taylor reports on the audience’s response to Hugo Chavez.

Then President Chavez brought the house down.

When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.

When he said there was a “silent and terrible ghost in the room” and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - “our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.” He won a standing ovation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Health-Care Backlash by Peter Wehner

This article by Peter Wehner (a hat tip to Robert Bidinotto for finding this) has some interesting observations on the nature of Obama, his administration and its policies.

The collateral damage to Obama from this bill is enormous. More than any candidate in our lifetime, Obama won based on the aesthetics of politics. It wasn’t because of his record; he barely had one. And it wasn’t because of his command of policy; few people knew what his top three policy priorities were. It was based instead on the sense that he was something novel, the embodiment of a “new politics” – mature, high-minded and gracious, intellectually serious. That was the core of his speeches and his candidacy. In less than a year, that core has been devoured, most of all by this health-care process.

Mr. Obama has shown himself to be a deeply partisan and polarizing figure. (“I have never been asked to engage in a single serious negotiation on any issue, nor has any other Republican,” Senator McCain reported over the weekend.) The lack of transparency in this process has been unprecedented and bordering on criminal. The president has been deeply misleading in selling this plan. Lobbyists, a bane of Obama during the campaign, are having a field day.

President Obama may succeed in passing a terribly unpopular piece of legislation – but in the process, he has shattered his carefully cultivated image. It now consists of a thousand shards.

Mr. Obama has revived the worst impressions of the Democratic party – profligate and undisciplined, arrogant, lovers of big government, increasers of taxes. The issues and narrative for American politics in the foreseeable future has been set — limited government versus exploding government, capitalism versus European style socialism, responsible and measured policies versus reckless and radical ones.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Totalities of Copenhagen: Global warming and the psychology of true belief by Bret Stephens

This opinion piece by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal touches on what he calls the “totalitarian impulse” of those who feel humans cause global warming. While I wouldn’t argue that everyone who falls into this camp suffer from this impulse I do believe it is evident among the intellectual leaders of this movement. I have extracted some key wording from Stephens’ article. I encourage you to check out the original essay.

Last week, I suggested that funding flows had much to do with climate alarmism. But deeper things are at work as well.

One of those things, I suspect, is what I would call the totalitarian impulse. This is not to say that global warming true believers are closet Stalinists. But their intellectual methods are instructively similar. Consider:

Revolutionary fervor:There's a distinct tendency among climate alarmists toward uncompromising radicalism, a hatred of "bourgeois" values, a disgust with democratic practices. So President Obama wants to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83% from current levels by 2050, levels not seen since the 1870s—in effect, the Industrial Revolution in reverse. …

Utopianism: In the world as it is, climate alarmists see humanity hurtling toward certain doom. In the world as it might be, humanity has seen the light and changed its patterns of behavior, becoming the green equivalent of the Soviet "new man."

• Anti-humanism: … The U.N. Population Fund complains in a recent report that "no human is genuinely 'carbon neutral'"—its latest argument against children. John Holdren, President Obama's science adviser, cut his teeth in the policy world as an overpopulation obsessive worried about global cooling. But whether warming or cooling, the problem for the climate alarmists, as for other totalitarians, always seems to boil down to the human race itself.

• Intolerance: Why did the scientists at the heart of Climategate go to such lengths to hide or massage the data if truth needs no defense? Why launch campaigns of obstruction and vilification against gadfly Canadian researchers Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick if they were such intellectual laughingstocks? It is the unvarying habit of the totalitarian mind to treat any manner of disagreement as prima facie evidence of bad faith and treason.

Monocausalism: … [G]lobal warming has become the fill-in-the-blank explanation for whatever happens to be the problem.

• Indifference to evidence: Climate alarmists have become brilliantly adept at changing their terms to suit their convenience. So it's "global warming" when there's a heat wave, but it's "climate change" when there's a cold snap. …

• Grandiosity: In "SuperFreakonomics," Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner give favorable treatment to an idea to cool the earth by pumping sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, something that could be done cheaply and quickly. Maybe it would work, or maybe it wouldn't. But one suspects that the main reason the chapter was the subject of hysterical criticism is that it didn't propose to deal with global warming by re-engineering the world economy. The penchant for monumentalism is yet another constant feature of the totalitarian mind.

Today, of course, the very idea of totalitarianism is considered passé. Yet the course of the 20th century was defined by totalitarian regimes, and it would be dangerous to assume that the habits of mind that sustained them have vanished into the mists. In Copenhagen, they are once again at play—and that, comrades, is no accident.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NOW we must make our goal-line stand against ObamaCare! By Robert Bidinotto


After months of manipulations and horse-trading, the Senate version of ObamaCare is the monstrosity that Congress has now come down to debating. Any compromise the Senate reaches with the even-worse House version, in conference committees, will only move the bill farther to the left, by strengthening the "public option" and reintroducing taxpayer-funded abortions.

If there is one article you need to read about ObamaCare, and to circulate to your friends and family, this is it:

In this article, Robert Tracinski presents a concise, hard-hitting summary of the essential horrors in the Senate ObamaCare bill. He cites three provisions we must focus on, and they are: (1) "guaranteed issue" and "community rating," (2) the "individual mandate," and (3) the government-run "insurance exchange." These three legs of the ObamaCare stool will absolutely bankrupt private insurers, eventually driving everyone into socialized medicine run by the government:

* "Guaranteed issue" and "community rating" will compel insurers to cover already-sick and high-risk individuals, which will force them to raise insurance premiums sky-high for all the rest of us. To avoid paying those soaring premiums, millions won't bother to buy insurance until they're already sick—which will reduce the number of people actually paying for insurance, while simultaneously causing the number of freeloaders to skyrocket.

* "The individual mandate" will impose a tax on the uninsured that is far less than the premiums they'd otherwise pay. This means that millions will choose to remain uninsured, while being forced to subsidize others with their penalty tax—that is, until they get sick, at which time they'll buy a policy, and then milk the system themselves.

* "The insurance exchange" will put an insurance dictator—with the Orwellian title of "Health Choices Commissioner"—in charge of the content of every new insurance policy issued. The exchanges will outlaw policies that offer low-cost, high-deductible catastrophic coverage, instead forcing everyone to buy high-cost comprehensive plans.

In sum, the bill will eliminate health-insurance choices and competition, raise premiums astronomically, and encourage people to demand medical benefits that they haven't remotely paid for. This is a recipe for complete ruin. It will crush our medical care system under a burden of millions of patients who aren't paying their way. It will destroy the private insurance industry, push its former customers into a government-regimented "single payer" system—which will be so deep in red ink that the government will then slash payments to doctors and hospitals, while rationing medical services.

ObamaCare is a wrecking ball poised to crush our medical system. You need to raise your voice against this threat NOW. Here is what you need to do:

1. Please print out Tracinski’s article, or copy it (with the URL link), and mail or email it to people far and wide.

2. Contact your two senators here: Demand that they vote against this monstrosity, citing the main points made in the article.

3. Finally, also send calls and letters to the following key "swing" senators, making the preceding points:

Sen. Blanche Lincoln
Sen. Evan Bayh
Sen. Mary Landrieu
Sen. Joseph Lieberman
Sen. Ben Nelson

Sen. George Voinovich
Sen. Olympia Snowe
Sen. Susan Collins

We cannot afford a single GOP defector from the opposition. However, if we can peel off even ONE Democrat (most likely candidates would be Lieberman or Lincoln), then Senate majority leader Harry Reid won't have enough votes to avoid a Republican filibuster. So, we must stiffen the spines of the Republicans, and try to reach wavering Dems.

Even if this vote can be delayed into 2010, its chances of passage are much lower.


Thanks for your help. And feel free to forward this message to others.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Cold Heart of ObamaCare

This article points to some provisions in the pending health care bill (I mistyped it as "bull". I shoud have kept it that way!) The Cold Heart of ObamaCare

A few key quotes.

To call the dangers of this legislation "death panels" obscures the real-life consequences to Americans, not only the elderly, of a federal government-run health care bureaucracy. In the Senate bill, for instance, Medicare doctors whose treatments each year of certain, mostly elderly, patients costs more than a set government figure will be punished by losing part of their own incomes.

Not only Medicare doctors will be monitored for their cost effectiveness. In the House bill, as the libertarian Cato Institute's health care specialist Michael Tanner explains, "111 government agencies, boards, commissions and other bureaucracies - all overseen by a new health care czar," the commissioner of Health Care Choices, will keep watch on what the president has called excessive, wasteful health care expenditures.

Is there anything you want to say to your representatives in the House or Senate before the final vote is taken? If you don't act urgently now, you may become part of another collective statistic - American annual death rates.

I'm scared, and I do mean to scare you.

We do not elect the president and Congress to decide how short our lives will be. That decision is way above their pay grades.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fraudulent hockey sticks and hidden data by JoNova

Here is a clear, easy-to-understand explanation how the hockey stick temperature curve - a core piece in the case advocated by those who claim humans cause global warming - is unsupported by the facts.

The climate-change travesty by George F. Will

George F. Will weighs in on the Climategate scandal. Below I’ve provided some key text from his article.

A CRU e-mail says: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment" -- this "moment" is in its second decade -- "and it is a travesty that we can't."

The travesty is the intellectual arrogance of the authors of climate-change models partially based on the problematic practice of reconstructing long-term prior climate changes. On such models we are supposed to wager trillions of dollars -- and substantially diminished freedom.

Some climate scientists compound their delusions of intellectual adequacy with messiah complexes. They seem to suppose themselves a small clerisy entrusted with the most urgent truth ever discovered. On it, and hence on them, the planet's fate depends. So some of them consider it virtuous to embroider facts, exaggerate certitudes, suppress inconvenient data, and manipulate the peer-review process to suppress scholarly dissent and, above all, to declare that the debate is over.

Consider the sociology of science, the push and pull of interests, incentives, appetites and passions. Governments' attempts to manipulate Earth's temperature now comprise one of the world's largest industries. Tens of billions of dollars are being dispensed, as by the U.S. Energy Department, which has suddenly become, in effect, a huge venture capital operation, speculating in green technologies. Political, commercial, academic and journalistic prestige and advancement can be contingent on not disrupting the (postulated) consensus that is propelling the gigantic and fabulously lucrative industry of combating global warming.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Climategate: Caught Green-Handed! By Christopher Monckton

Christopher Monckton of Brenchley provides a detailed analysis of how the folks at the Climate Research Unit manipulated and suppressed the climate data to make it appear the Earth has been warming. He shows lines of code from the program they used that adds in a “fudge factor” (that’s the term used in the code!) to correct for the pesky decline in world temperatures.

Monckton ends with an ironically appropriate quote from President Eisenhower’s farewell address.

Public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite ... The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

As I mentioned in an earlier post Stephen Hicks identifies the philosophical premises behind this ugly marriage between science and government.

The lesson is not only about politics. The core lesson is about the corruption of philosophy (especially epistemology), which has enabled an entire generation of journalists, activists, and politicians to be intellectually disarmed by a group of frauds — or to become enablers in disarming those who would challenge the frauds. A postmodern philosophical culture indeed.

And, at the risk of being too presumptuous let me quote from a post I wrote two years ago.

So why do Gore and his followers persist in advocating that we are to blame? I think the following quote from the former Canadian Environment Minister Christine Stewart sheds light on their motive.

“No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits…. Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.” Source: Calgary Herald, 14 December 1998.

It all comes down to a new way to make us (the U.S. in particular and the West in general) feel guilty for our material success in order to soften us for their solutions of taxing emissions, changing our life style and bringing us down to the level of countries that don’t suffer from these “problems,” thanks to their policies of punitive taxation, heavy regulation and government control (or strangling) of their economies.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Scientific fraud and politics - Stephen Hicks Post

Stephen Hicks has a good post on "Climategate" that gets to the philosophical core.

The lesson is not only about politics. The core lesson is about the corruption of philosophy (especially epistemology), which has enabled an entire generation of journalists, activists, and politicians to be intellectually disarmed by a group of frauds — or to become enablers in disarming those who would challenge the frauds. A postmodern philosophical culture indeed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Charles Krauthammer : Kill the Bills. Do Health Reform Right -

Here is a good, brief analysis of the pending health care bill.

Charles Krauthammer : Kill the Bills. Do Health Reform Right -

Global Warming Fraud and the Future of Science

This article -- Global Warming Fraud and the Future of Science -- in the American Thinker nicely summarizes Climategate. Here is a key quote from it.

[S]cience had become entwined and infected with ideology to a point where its very nature was transformed. It was no longer science in the classic mold, boldly asking basic questions without fear or favor. It had become an ideological tool, carrying out only such research as met with the approval of political elites.

The great climate change science scandal - Times Online

For a good overview of the recent scandal dubbed "Climategate" check out the Times On Line.

The great climate change science scandal - Times Online

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Climate Engine

For a different explanation of climate change than the current gospel according to Al Gore and his supporters check out this long post describing the complex mechanisms of the earth’s atmosphere.

Below is a summary pulled from this post.

The warming mode:

1. There is a shift of the atmosphere from the poles towards mid and low latitudes under electromagnetic forcing of ionized air.

2. Weakening of the polar vortexes curtails the flow of ionized nitrogen into the upper stratosphere allowing the survival of oxygen ions and increased ozone formation.

3. Intermixing of ozone into the upper troposphere raises temperature in the ice cloud zone. Ice crystals evaporate.

4. More solar radiation reaches the surface which warms.

5. In the southern hemisphere 200hpa temperature rises much more than in the northern hemisphere exhibiting strong equinoctial maxima.

6. Peak anomalies in stratospheric temperature occur in September-October rather than March.

7. A southern spring deficit in ice cloud density promotes warming across all southern latitudes which promotes the El Nino pattern of sea surface temperature at the equator.

The Cooling Mode

1. Surface atmospheric pressure increases at the poles as the electromagnetic force in the ionosphere/thermosphere relaxes. This happens at solar minimum as the quantum of ionizing radiation falls to its lowest levels. It also tends to happen at solar maximum as the suns magnetic polarity reverses and magnetic fields emanating from the sun tend to be self cancelling. The manifestation in the Pacific Ocean is La Nina cooling.

2. Strengthening of the polar vortexes introduces ionized nitrogen into the stratosphere reducing the population of oxygen ions and ozone.

3. A loss of ozone in the ice cloud zone reduces temperature enhancing the formation of reflective ice crystals.

4. Less solar radiation reaches the surface which cools.

5. A generally low ozone level in the stratosphere results in high amplitude change in stratospheric temperature during the ENSO cycle. This is expressed in high amplitude variation in 20hpa temperature at the equator. At the surface the swing from El Nino warming to La Nina cooling is more violent and extreme.

6. Change is more extreme in the southern hemisphere where the polar vortex is generally cooler especially at the highest altitudes. In the cool mode stratospheric temperature exhibits a March maximum probably in line with enhancement of orbital rather than geomagnetic influences on stratospheric temperature. The earth is closest to the sun in January.

7. A cooler stratosphere and upper troposphere in southern spring promotes ice cloud formation reducing the flux of solar radiation to the surface establishing a La Nina dominant regime in the Pacific Ocean.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Obama to End Recession in December -- by Holding "Jobs Summit" by Robert Bidinotto

On another website I visit, somebody was complaining about news that Barack Obama was planning to hold a "jobs summit" in December to solve, once and for all, the dire problem of soaring unemployment. How could another meeting at the White House possibly end our recession? this Doubting Thomas demanded to know.

His angry outburst struck me as the woefully short-sighted rant of a Tea Party Nazi. It certainly demonstrated a fundamentally feeble grasp of the nuances and subtleties of modern economic theory, which are clearly understood by our president.

Of course Mr. Obama's "Jobs Summit" will create jobs! Let me count the ways:

First, think of all the boosted employment we will witness in the "Useless Summit" industry: conference organizers, badge-makers, PowerPoint experts, flower-arrangers, coffee-pourers, table-cloth folders -- I mean, the list just goes on and on.

But that's merely AT the conference. What about all the preparations for travel TO the conference?

Think of how many attendee business suits will go to dry cleaners. Think of the airline tickets purchased. The cab rides. The airports. Ponder the army of accountants who will have to go over all the expense reports from this crucial event. Consider all the wear and tear on the transportation vehicles involved -- jets, cabs, limos -- putting them just that much closer to being replaced by new purchases, which in turn will stimulate the auto and airline industries. Consider the White House electric bill alone, and what it will mean for the local power company. Think, too, of all the fuel that will be used up coming and going to the Summit, stimulating the oil and gasoline industries.

And regarding that fuel: Reflect for a moment, if you will, on all the CO2 that attendee jets and limos will emit en route to the Summit. This ginormous release of carbon into our atmosphere would not have occurred, except for the Summit. Yes, Barack Obama would be the first to acknowledge that it creates an environmental crisis; but, as Rahm Emmanuel would say, there is always opportunity to be found in a good crisis.

For example, the CO2 emissions no doubt will be carefully monitored by atmospheric scientists and climate-modelers, leading to scores of "jobs created or saved" in this vital field. Consider also the longer-term ramifications. Emergency remediation efforts for the increased CO2 emitted by the conferees will stimulate entire new cottage industries of new jobs. A "Keynesian multiplier effect" will occur: Each dollar spent by atmospheric scientists and conference attendees on issuing dire reports and forecasts will, in turn, generate $3.26 spending in the printer-paper industry, $1.82 in the lumber industry, $4.37 for Kinko's, $1.85 for the ink industry, $5.50 for overnight deliveries by Federal Express, $7,223.44 in overtime for postal workers -- plus 378,498 downstream jobs created or saved in federal and international regulatory bureaucracies.

These calculations, of course, do not even begin to include the boost to peripheral service industries, such as Washington-area restaurants, hotels, bars, tourist traps, and hookers.

In short, this single event alone could generate enough economic activity to pull us out of the recession! Why, it would be treasonously irresponsible if Barack Obama did NOT hold this summit!

So, enough of the criticism, already. We should be gladdened and relieved that, at last, we have a firm and steady hand on the tiller of our economy. And I, for one, just can't wait for the next stimulative product of his ever-fertile brain.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day for ObamaCare

The first part of this post comes from an e-mail by Robert Bidinotto. It is followed by an e-mail I've sent to my representatives. It uses Robert's words with some of my own added to the end.

Dear Friends,

If you haven’t yet contacted your congressman (or even if you have) to oppose ObamaCare, TODAY is perhaps the last day that wavering representatives will be making up their minds.

By all reports, the House vote this weekend will be very close. Just one or two congressmen could tip the balance for or against this horrible piece of legislation. We need to show immediate, overwhelming opposition to this monstrosity.

PLEASE do what millions of other patriotic Americans have done. Call or email your congressman or congresswoman NOW.

To obtain his or her contact information, click on the link below, or copy it into your web browser:

And if you run a website or blog, please post that contact information and urge your readers to weigh in.

Thanks so much for your consideration.


I shamelessly borrowed the wording Robert used in writing his representatives to contact mine in Massachusetts. I added a final paragraph of my own. The text is provided below.


It’s now clear: Both the House's and Senate's pending health-insurance bills betray the promises and contradict the claims of their architects.

“ObamaCare,” in either version, will not provide “universal, affordable insurance,” increase “choice and competition,” or remain “deficit-neutral.” Instead, it will create a gargantuan, unaffordable, trillion-dollar entitlement monstrosity. It will explode our soaring deficits and impose huge new tax burdens on our struggling economy -- and on millions of people like me.

It also will create perverse incentives: Subsidies will inflate demand for medical services, while taxes and regulations will discourage doctors, hospitals, and inventors from providing them. That inevitably will lead to shortages, waiting lists, and rationing.

It will deprive us of choices and competition: “Mandates” will force employers to offer costly policies and force individuals (like me) to buy them. Meanwhile, private insurers will drown in seas of red ink.

The repeatedly stated goal of ObamaCare’s proponents, including the President and many congressmen, is to push us all gradually into “single-payer,” government-run health care. These bills are meant to do exactly that. They will bankrupt private insurers, wipe out our existing policies, and undermine the quality and affordability of health care.

This legislative initiative is destructive in principle: The entire coercive, bureaucratic approach is dead wrong. These bills therefore cannot be amended, fixed, or salvaged; they must be scrapped entirely.

Yes, we need health-insurance reform; but true reform must be based on the principles of free-market competition:

• allowing individuals to purchase insurance from competing companies across state lines, with the same tax-deductibility employers enjoy;

• letting individuals buy low-cost, catastrophic coverage by freeing insurers from legal requirements to offer only high-priced, comprehensive policies;

• enacting tort reforms to eliminate the costly practice of “defensive medicine.”

These steps would expand coverage to millions, while reducing costs to employers, policy-holders, and taxpayers.

I know my opinion won’t necessarily change your position. I hope that it’s clear that there also is a moral premise behind my opposition to this effort to foist an unwelcome change on the vast majority of us voters who want the freedom to chose on such an important, literally life changing issue. I’d rather create some kind of welfare program that buys insurance for those who can’t afford it than making wholesale changes in our semi-free market system that will reduce the quality and quantity of health care for everyone.


Henry Scuoteguazza

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Truth About Health-Insurance Industry Profits by Robert Bidinotto

In a rare, refreshing example of real journalism in the mainstream media,Associated Press actually fact-checked Democrat claims that insurance companies are making obscene profits, while they let sick people die. According to this narrative, we need a "public option" in health-care reform to compete with these rapacious companies, to drive down their outrageously high premiums, and to "keep them honest."

But, what are the facts? A.P. checked and discovered its all a pack of lies:

Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That's anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.

Profits barely exceeded 2 percent of revenues in the latest annual measure. This partly explains why the credit ratings of some of the largest insurers were downgraded to negative from stable heading into this year, as investors were warned of a stagnant if not shrinking market for private plans.

Insurers are an expedient target for leaders who want a government-run plan in the marketplace. Such a public option would force private insurers to trim profits and restrain premiums to compete, the argument goes. This would "keep insurance companies honest," says President Barack Obama. . . .

But in pillorying insurers over profits, the critics are on shaky ground. A look at some claims, and the numbers:


_"I'm very pleased that (Democratic leaders) will be talking, too, about the immoral profits being made by the insurance industry and how those profits have increased in the Bush years." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who also welcomed the attention being drawn to insurers'"obscene profits."

_"Keeping the status quo may be what the insurance industry wants their premiums have more than doubled in the last decade and their profits have skyrocketed." Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, member of the Democratic leadership.

_"Health insurance companies are willing to let the bodies pile up as long as their profits are safe." A ad.


Health insurers posted a 2.2 percent profit margin last year, placing them 35th on the Fortune 500 list of top industries. As is typical, other health sectors did much better - drugs and medical products and services were both in the top 10.

The railroads brought in a 12.6 percent profit margin. Leading the list: network and other communications equipment, at 20.4 percent.

HealthSpring, the best performer in the health insurance industry, posted 5.4 percent. That's a less profitable margin than was achieved by the makers of Tupperware, Clorox bleach and Molson and Coors beers.

The star among the health insurance companies did, however, nose out Jack in the Box restaurants, which only achieved a 4 percent margin.

UnitedHealth Group, reporting third quarter results last week, saw fortunes improve. It managed a 5 percent profit margin on an 8 percent growth in revenue.

In short, private health-insurers are already squeezed to marginal profitability. Knowing this, what do you suppose is the motive of Democrats -- whose leadership, from the White House down, is dominated by advocates of "single-payer" government-run health insurance -- in wanting to further squeeze private insurers? When they say they want "Medicare for all Americans," what do you suppose they wish to happen to private insurers?


This debate is not about controlling health-care costs. It is about controlling your health care -- period. Share the facts with your congressman and senators, and let them know that their political futures depend on their strangling the ObamaCare monster in its crib.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Nobel quest for mediocrity from The American Thinker

The Nobel quest for mediocrity

Shared via

Key quotes:

It is no secret that influences and finances from outside the United States helped create the Obama presidency; one example being George Soros. It is also no secret that President Obama intends to reshape the United States into the image of Europe. However, Europe has been economically stagnant for decades. Only by the weakening of the United States' economic system can Europe's socialistic and economic stagnation be reduced. The strengthening of Europe's socialistic and economic system can only take place by the weakening of the American system.

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee is an extension of the Norwegian Parliament, which is a foreign government. Last week the politically-controlled Nobel Peace Prize Committee awarded President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize not for his mediocre achievements, but as President Obama acknowledged, for his "call to action". It was an award for decisions yet to be made, otherwise known as a bribe. The more President Obama is "called to action" by outside influences, the strengthening of the European Union will continue at the cost of the United States.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Megan McArdle's Controlling Healthcare Costs The American Way: Not Doing It

Megan McArdle posts an
excellent analysis why we should not believe the mantra we're hearing that the proposed health care bill will save money or at worst be revenue neutral. As she points out,

we've got a single payer system, called Medicare. It negotiates huge cost discounts with providers. It has low administrative costs. It has a gigantic apparatus to evaluate reimbursements for various treatments. It has . . . a faster rate of per-capita cost growth than the rest of the health care system, according toa CBO report issued by one Peter Orszag.

After showing how health care rate of increase in costs in Massachusetts have accelerated she asks a good question:

so I'll turn it around on reformers: why do you think that we can control costs, given that we couldn't at the state level? Massachusetts is a very liberal state, a very rich state, and it started out with a relatively low proportion of its citizenry uninsured. Proponents of reform often say it has to be done at a national level because states can't borrow money in downturns, but this doesn't explain why the spending side is headed through the roof.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Baucus Bill: Nationalized Stealthcare by Robert Bidinotto

In the wake of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) "scoring" of the so-called Baucus plan -- the Senate Finance Committee version of ObamaCare -- the mainstream media and the Democrats are gleefully trumpeting it as a financially responsible and "deficit neutral" approach to nationalized health insurance. But what is the truth?

For those of you who want to read the CBO report, rather than rely on MSM "spin" about it, here is the actual letter sent to Congress by the CBO chief.

Several preliminary observations:

1. Please note page 12 – the assumptions underlying the "projected savings" in the plan. The CBO notes that Congress or administrators, under various political pressures, "frequently" change the reimbursement rules in later years so that the "projected savings" never materialize. Think this bill will be any different? Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy?

2. Please keep the bigger picture in mind: This is a whopping new entitlement program, projecting massive government spending increases. The "deficit neutrality" claimed by the CBO for the Baucus version, which will spend nearly a trillion dollars, comes only by increasing taxes and insurance premiums, while slashing payments for medical services. You can certainly cover any deficit by raising taxes or by cutting government services -- and that's exactly what the Baucus bill proposes. It plans $200+ billion in tax increases on "high-premium insurance policies" (see p. 2), plus additional billions in revenue from various penalties to be imposed on individuals and businesses (p. 5), plus a whopping $404 billion in cuts to current Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to medical-care providers (p. 6). This latter will pressure doctors, hospitals, medical-device manufacturers, etc., to reduce treatments, or even to leave the business.

3. Simultaneously, the plan will subsidize coverage and care for millions of lower-income people, plus millions of the previously uninsured (p. 10). This will dramatically increase demand for health-care services, while the slashed reimbursements to medical providers will discourage their participation, thus cutting the supply of health-care services. Follow the logic: Soaring demand against shrinking supply will necessitate medical-care shortages -- and shortages will lead to governmental rationing of medicine and medical treatments. We will thus follow the dark path of other socialized-medicine nations all over the world.

4. The legislation will establish government-funded nonprofit co-ops to compete with private insurers (p. 4). Ask yourself how for-profit companies can possibly compete with government-assisted nonprofit co-ops -- especially when the government will be writing the rules for the former, such as those listed in the next point.

5. Insurers would be mandated to accept all comers, could not deny people with pre-existing conditions, and could not vary premiums on the basis of people's health (p. 4). This means obliterating the entire actuarial basis of insurance as such, which adjusts premiums according to risk; risk considerations are now banished, by law. In short, insurance is replaced by anentitlement to health-care coverage.

6. All individuals will be required by law to buy insurance, whether they want it or not, or have to pay a hefty fine to the IRS if they don't (p.1).

The Baucus plan will be "deficit neutral" only if it goes through Congress without further amendments that will jack up its costs (please!), or if future Congresses and bureaucrats don't fudge with the reimbursement rates (ha!) -- and, in any case, only by virtue of massive new taxes, which will be passed along to all of us in the form of higher charges and premiums.

Like all the other competing congressional bills, this is not an insurance plan at all; it's an enormous new government health-care entitlement program. Though the Baucus version doesn't include an explicit "public option," it won't require one in order to undermine our private-insurance, private-health-care industry. The provisions of the Baucus plan will effectively socialize medical care in the United States, transforming insurance companies into public utilities and conscripting all Americans into the role of involuntary customers of the insurance utilities -- under penalty of fines or jail.

Who are the victims of this plan?

Doctors and other medical-care providers will find their incomes slashed in two ways: first, by huge cuts in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, and second (if House funding provisions are included) by massive tax increases on "the wealthy" (which means: doctors). This will discourage them from participating in the plan, or even staying in business. Meanwhile, businesses will be subject to a host of new regulations and potential penalties and costs under the various "mandates" in the plan.

Who else will suffer under the Baucus bill?

If you are young and healthy, your health-insurance premiums will skyrocket to subsidize those older and less healthy.

If you have freely chosen not to buy health insurance in the past, you'll be forced to do so now, spending a lot of money on something you didn't want and may not need.

If you are old and sick, your range of treatments will be slashed as government cuts reimbursements to health-care specialists like cardiologists and oncologists.

Finally, remember: The Baucus bill now will have to be merged with another even-more-leftist bill from another Senate committee -- then subjected to special-interest amendments on the Senate floor –then further reconciled, in a closed-door House-Senate conference committee, with the even more ultra-left House version of the legislation. All this before a final vote and passage. In short, horrible as it is now, it will only get worse as it moves through Congress.

In sum, the Baucus plan is not any sort of "moderate" alternative to the more overt socialism in the House bills. It's merely socialized medicine by stealth -- a plan that will, in time, destroy the tattered remnants of private medical care in America.

Do you want to stop this monstrosity and save your freedom? Then it's time to get off your rear end and join an organized Angry Mob. Time to send out letters of protest to newspapers and to your representatives. Time to shut down congressional email and phone lines with irate messages



Don't make excuses. Our nation's Founders endured far greater perils and inconveniences to stand against a far less intrusive threat to liberty. Can our commitment be any less?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

ObamaCare: Big Business vs. Capitalism by Robert Bidinotto

When many people rail against "capitalism," they are attacking the economic status quo in America today, which they mistakenly believe is "capitalism."

But capitalism is actually a free market system, where government is not involved in business, or vice-versa -- where companies must compete openly and freely, without the government playing favorites or helping some industries at the expense of others.

By that definition, what we have today is emphatically not capitalism. It is "corporatism," the soft label for the economic system pioneered in Mussolini's Italy. No, it is not socialism, where government formally owns all significant businesses. Rather, it is fascism, an economic system in which nominal "ownership" of business is left in private hands, but real control of all aspects of business is held in government hands.

That is the system we are headed for in America, manifested clearly in the current effort to pass ObamaCare.

Consider this article from the Sept. 25, 2009 Wall Street Journal, which shows exactly what I mean. It demonstrates how many businesses, especially larger corporations, are lining up behind ObamaCare, because it will give them access to millions of new customers, while shielding them from the rigors of a competitive marketplace. The idea of a government-dominated health-care system doesn't bother them in the least -- as long as the government is using the force of law to benefit them.

Specifically, many major insurance companies and the big pharmaceutical manufacturers are enthusiastically backing ObamaCare. Why? Because the "individual mandate" will force tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured to become their paying customers. They are salivating at the prospect of the federal government conscripting customers for them. The billions of dollars this will bring them in an ongoing windfall will, they believe, more than offset the downsides of their loss of independence -- of becoming, in essence, high-paid civil servants, working in companies that have become transformed into the medical equivalent of public utilities.

For the same reason, you do not see anyone -- least of all the insurance lobby -- signing on to GOP proposals to open up nationwide competition among insurers in various states. Right now, many state laws allow insurance companies within the states to be protected from outside competitors, limiting the number of insurers that consumers can choose among within a given state. This allows those insurers to operate as an oligopoly, keeping their insurance prices artificially high -- almost as if they were operating behind walls of protective tariffs.

What excuses do big businesses offer for this transparently anti-capitalist behavior? The time-tested "morality" of self-sacrifice, for one thing. Observe at the end of the linked article the quotation from a lobbyist for "Big Pharma": "If health-care reform is going to be successful, it will require a shared sacrifice. . ." Advocates of coercion always rhapsodize about the glories of "sacrifice" -- but only when they are on the receiving end of the sacrifices of others.

This past week, I received a mailing from my "Blue Dog" Democrat congressman, extolling his efforts to expand, under ObamaCare, the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, which passed five years ago under the Bush administration. The mailing is meant to seduce seniors, the group most opposed to ObamaCare; it promises "to improve Medicare without making seniors pay more." Well, if seniors don't pay the increased costs, who will? The taxpayers, of course.

The propaganda piece carries this attribution: "Paid for by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reactionary Liberalism and the Peanut Narcissist - Ralph Alter, American Thinker

Reactionary Liberalism and the Peanut Narcissist

Shared via AddThis

The refusal to accept objective criticism is just one of many traits shared by Carter and Obama. Both Democrats share an unfounded faith in one’s own moral superiority based on intellectual vanity and narcissism as well.

My own theory about this centers on the affect of postmodernism which I believe underlies the narcissism Alter identifies. Below is information from Stephen Hicks of Rockford College, from his book titled Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. He has a web page dedicated to postmodernism which includes a PDF of his book’s first chapter.

Postmodernism rejects the Enlightenment project in the most fundamental way possible—by attacking its essential philosophical themes. Postmodernism rejects the reason and the individualism that the entire Enlightenment world depends upon. And so it ends up attacking all of the consequences of the Enlightenment philosophy, from capitalism and liberal forms of government to science and technology.

Postmodernism’s essentials are the opposite of modernism’s. Instead of natural reality—anti-realism. Instead of experience and reason—linguistic social subjectivism. Instead of individual identity and autonomy—various race, sex, and class group-isms. Instead of human interests as fundamentally harmonious and tending toward mutually-beneficial interaction—conflict and oppression. Instead of valuing individualism in values, markets, and politics—calls for communalism, solidarity, and egalitarian restraints. Instead of prizing the achievements of science and technology—suspicion tending toward outright hostility.

Combining Alter’s observation of the narcissism of Obama and Carter with Hicks’ discussion of the postmodern rejection of objectivity leaves us with a possible explanation. With ties to objective facts, to the external work, severed, postmoderns are free to turn inward and promote their feelings, their narcissism, as superior to facts.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

ObamaCare's Moral Inversion by Robert Bidinotto

A special thanks to Robert Bidinotto who gave permission to share his post to Robert's Facebook friends. An excellent analysis, as always.


Underlying the many practical and technical arguments about ObamaCare areclashing moral principles -- a fact made unusually clear in this Newsweek essay. The author, T.R. Reid, was speaking with a Canadian who was gloating over his country's nationalized health system, and this exchange ensued:

I agreed that Canada does an admirable job of providing free and prompt care to anybody with an acute medical condition. But for nonemergency cases, the system often provides nothing but a long wait. Last summer I tried to get an appointment with an orthopedist in Canada to treat my aching right shoulder; the waiting time, just for an initial consultation, was 10 months. How could you be proud of that?

"You're right," Davies said frankly. "We keep people waiting, to limit costs. But you have to understand something basic about Canadians.Canadians don't mind waiting for elective care all that much, so long as the rich Canadian and the poor Canadian have to wait about the same amount of time" (emphasis added).

This, then, is the ugly essence of socialized medicine: It is the envy-eaten morality of egalitarianism.

Egalitarianism does not advocate that we earn benefits (or liabilities) according to our individual actions. Unlike capitalism, it does not say, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his productivity." Instead, it advocates, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." "Need" trumps any other moral consideration -- including simple justice -- and entitles one to goods and services he has not produced, but which were produced by others.

Worse: It doesn't even aim to benefit the needy; rather, it aims to humiliate the better-off. As long as nobody is permitted to exceed anyone else in economic status or outcomes, socialists are quite willing to put up with anything, even including horrific medical treatment.

That is the ethic of socialism in a nutshell: It is envy, elevated to the dignity of a political system.

The author of the Newsweek article, clearly a socialist sympathizer himself, then goes on to point out that, in one form or degree, all nations on the planet accept this ugly premise -- except the United States. Rooted instead in the moral premises of individualism and individual rights, America is truly "exceptional," because it ties the rewards of life to one's individual efforts. This is the antithesis of the "entitlement" mentality, by which one is "entitled" to goods and services by "right," simply as the result of having been born.

The claim that "health care is a right" is a moral inversion, and in practice, it can lead only to economic disaster.

First of all, let's define our terms. "Health care" means: goods and services produced by doctors, nurses, hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers, medicine R&D companies, pharmacies, nursing homes, etc. To declare that one has "a right to health care" means: One has a moral-political entitlement to all these goods and services regardless of whether one pays for them. Translated, this can only mean: One has a "right" to enslave the producers of such goods and services. The latter, you see, have a boundless duty to provide all these things to the "rightful" claimants, regardless of compensation -- or at compensation terms set unilaterally by the claimants (or by the government, acting in their name), without any corresponding right of the providers to say "No!" The "right to health care," in other words, denies the rights of all those who are supposed to fulfill it.

Moreover, why can't the same argument be made about all other necessities? Humans all need food, clothing, housing, transportation, exercise, education, artistic stimulation, loving relationships, a social life, jobs, etc., etc. Do we therefore have a "right" to be provided all of these things, regardless of our "ability (or willingness) to pay"? Does this mean that we also have a moral claim on the energy, talents, time, and productivity of, respectively: farmers, grocers, construction firms (and their workers), home-finance offices and banks, auto manufacturers and dealers, teachers, owners of gyms and sports facilities, musicians, painters, sculptors, dancers, museums, concert halls, dating services, private clubs, and employers?

Where does the "right to necessities" end? And, as modern life becomes more complicated, what is not a "necessity"?

This brings us to the other term in the claim: "a right." In the American Enlightenment tradition, a "right" is a moral entitlement to freedom of action -- not to goods and services. A right is a moral entitlement to act on one's own behalf, without interference, to obtain life's necessities -- a freedom limited only by the similar freedom of every other person. It is a moral entitlement to pursuehappiness, and to gain, keep, and enjoy the fruits of one's labors; it is not a moral entitlement to happiness itself, or to the fruits of the labors of anyone else.

But the latter is what the advocates of the "right to health care" really mean. They aim to sever any relationship between work and reward. Ultimately, they are claiming an entitlement to a guaranteed existence -- to a life without want, privation, or injury of any kind, regardless of one's own actions or inactions. In their socialist system, no matter how productive or lazy, how rich or poor, one is "entitled" by "right" to "equal" benefits -- or privations. As an individual, you are no longer allowed to independently earn your way to buying, say, prompt or exceptional medical treatment; instead, you must endure your injury or ailment indefinitely, "so long as the rich Canadian and the poor Canadian have to wait about the same amount of time." And you'll get no better treatment than anyone else.

Of course, this moral inversion can't work in practice, and it never has. Once you destroy any link between effort and reward, fewer and fewer are willing to exert exceptional productive efforts. Why should they bother, if they gain no special benefits and rewards? Indeed, why should they bother if they are even taxed more heavily for their extraordinary abilities and output? Why not simply do what everyone else does: cut back on one's efforts and line up for unearned benefits produced by others?

But before you can "equalize distribution," you first must produce something to distribute. When discouraged producers stop producing as much, what happens to the general availability of goods and services in society? That's the practical fallacy in socialism: It encourages unlimited demand, while discouraging supply.

The reason there are long waits for medical care in Canada and other socialized states is that there are shortages of medical-care providers. Sick and tired of endless, unrewarded claims upon their productive energies and incomes, they have decided to stop being so shamefully exploited and financially cannibalized.

"The right to health care" is morality stood on its head. It proclaims a moral entitlement to live as a parasite and to make unending claims upon the medical system's productive hosts. But there is nothing in such a system for the hosts. Ultimately -- and ironically -- there is nothing in it for the parasites, either. As fewer and fewer medical-care providers are willing to produce and offers goods and services that patients require, the only equality will be equality in misery.

The alleged virtue of equality is cold comfort when nobody can find a doctor when he needs one -- or when there is no longer a single non-socialistic medical system anywhere on earth, where desperate socialists in foreign nations can go for the treatments that their egalitarian systems no longer provide them.

That is the grim, immoral future that ObamaCare will bring us in America, too -- if we allow it.