Thursday, December 31, 2009

Now, immigration

With the health care battle still unfinished, the Obama administration has been laying plans to take up an issue that could prove even more divisive — a major overhaul of the nation's immigration system.

Senior White House aides privately have assured Latino activists that the president will back legislation next year to provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Could you imagine a worse thing to do during a period of high unemployment than legalizing millions of undocumented workers?

Obama's first veto

President Obama has rejected his first piece of legislation from Congress, a stopgap spending bill that never had to take effect.

The White House on Wednesday said Obama exercised his right to send back to the Capitol a temporary appropriations bill that lawmakers passed in case a winter storm about two weeks ago would have prevented them from approving a final measure to fund the Pentagon next year. The Dec. 19 blizzard didn't keep them away from the Capitol and they approved the $626 billion defense spending bill before the previous budget expired.

The White House described the move as a technicality that the president took out of an abundance of caution, and that it was his first veto.

In other words, Obama has still not seen one spending bill that he thinks is unwise or excessive.

Welfare for rich people

The Federal Aviation Administration has given $240 million to upgrade airports owned by businesses and that are used exclusively for private airplanes, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The money has aided about 50 privately owned airports — many of them little-used — since the mid-1980s, buying items such as runway upgrades, new fences and airplane hangars.

The funding is unusual because most airports that get federal grants are owned by cities or counties. Supporting businesses that own airports raises questions about whether public funds should go toward assisting private enterprise.

This is welfare for rich people and private enterprise.

How does this "stimulate" the economy?

The wars continue

More than twice as many U.S. troops died in Afghanistan in 2009 than in Iraq, U.S. casualty records show, and Afghanistan is likely to become an even deadlier place for American forces as reinforcements are rushed there to battle insurgents.

Do you notice how American war dead stopped being front page news once Obama was sworn in? And, how all the anti war protests immediately stopped?

New airline security rules

Passengers could face more intense screening at the nation's airports as lawmakers urge the government to adopt tighter regulations in the wake of an alleged plot by a Nigerian man to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner.

This time, they ought to require full scale unlimited body and baggage searches of anyone (1) from a country in which terrorists train and operate or (2) who has visited a country in which terrorists train and operate.

And, let's hope they realize that "random searches" resulting in sweeps of grandmothers from Iowa are a waste of time.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's their excuse for this?

Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda were talking about “a Nigerian” being prepared for a terrorist attack. While the attacker was not named, officials said it would have been evident had it been compared to information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to blow up an American passenger jet on Christmas Day.

The government also had more information about where Mr. Abdulmutallab had been and what some of his plans were before boarding the Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit. Some of the information was partial or incomplete at the time, and it was not obvious that it was connected, one senior administration official said, but in retrospect it now appears clear that had it all been examined together it would have pointed to the pending attack.

Of course, this means that the initial statements from the administration, about an "isolated extremist" involved in an "isolated incident", was either (1) a complete and utter lie or (2) proof of their incompetence.

I didn't say this first . . .

and I can't recall where I read it, but it makes a lot of sense, so I'll paraphrase it . . .

If you're going after the Mafia, you infiltrate store front social clubs in Little Italy.

If you're going after the Irish Republic Army, you infiltrate Irish pubs in south Boston and New York.

If you're going after who ever is leaking information to Israel, you infiltrate Jewish American groups.

If you're going after the Ku Klux Klan, you don't waste your time tracking down African American suspects.

It's not profiling, or bigotry, or prejudice, it's common sense.

Therefore, if we're going after Middle Eastern fundamentalist terrorists, who should we focus on?

Focusing on what's important

They can't stop a known terrorist from buying a one way ticket for cash.

But, the transportation department does focus on what's important - - distracted driving!

You can fly with a bomb in your briefs, as long as you don't text and drive.

Heckuva job!

Information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was passed to "a component of our U.S. intelligence community" weeks ago, but the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day was not added to the "no-fly list" because the data were not widely shared, President Obama said in Hawaii.

"There was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potentially catastrophic breach of security," the president said at a news conference. "We need to learn from this episode and quickly fix the flaws in our system because our security is at stake and lives are at stake."

He called the failures "totally unacceptable."

"There were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together," he said without elaborating.

Obama said early findings from reviews of passenger screening
and the security watch list would be delivered by Thursday.

Obama's first reaction was to dismiss the attack as an "isolated incident" by an "isolated extremist".

Now, we're told it was "a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potentially catastrophic breach of security".

If it involved "human failures", which humans are getting fired?

Otherwise, it's another case of Bush saying "heckuva job" to his staff after Hurricane Katrina.

And pirates, too

A helicopter fired warning shots toward a suspected pirate skiff, where six Somali men sat among assault rifles, grappling hooks and an aluminum ladder. But before it could be boarded by sailors from a nearby warship, the men threw all the gear overboard.

With little evidence to convict them, the would-be pirates were let go, along with their boat and enough fuel to get to Somalia. Nothing was done to prevent the men from rearming and trying again.

The high-seas encounter last week illustrates how the multinational naval force deployed a year ago to try to stem piracy has had limited success. Experts say the attacks won't stop unless pirate havens inside Somalia are eliminated.

But that goal remains elusive. The U.N.-backed Somali government can barely hold a section of the capital, let alone go after onshore pirate havens. Foreign governments are reluctant to deploy ground forces.

Why do we treat terrorists and pirates like motorists pulled over for a traffic stop, with full Miranda rights and due process? It's ridiculous that they can't be convicted if they throw their gear overboard.

Close Guantanamo?

The foiled Christmas Day plot to blow up a jetliner over Detroit has thrown up a major roadblock to President Barack Obama's pledge to close the prison camps at Guantánamo.

Cascading reports that the alleged would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had trained in Yemen, and that the plot was hatched by two former Guantánamo detainees, have even supporters of emptying the prison predicting a new impediment to their effort.

Nearly half of the 198 captives at Guantánamo are citizens of Yemen -- also the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden -- just south of Saudi Arabia.

"Close Guantanamo" was an ad lib line in an Obama speech, that got applause, so became a talking point, which became a policy position, that became a promise, and is now part of an an executive order to close Guantanamo by January, 2010.

Closing Guantanamo was never a well thought out policy position with widespread public support.

Is the health insurance mandate constitutional?

The federal healthcare reform bills pending before Congress all require people to buy health insurance or face a penalty.

Supporters compare it to drivers who must buy car insurance.

Opponents (including candidate Obama, but not president Obama) call it a "living tax", which penalizes people who choose to do nothing, compared with the car-insurance requirement, which is connected with the decision to own a car and drive.

You can expect years of legal challenges to "health insurance reform" on dozens of issues.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Isolated incidents?

Obama and his incompetent homeland security team dismissed the Fort Hood massacre, and are dismissing the Christmas terrorist attempt, as "isolated incidents".


The Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner had his suicide mission personally blessed in Yemen by Anwar al-Awlaki, the same Muslim imam suspected of radicalizing the Fort Hood shooting suspect, a U.S. intelligence source has told The Washington Times.

The intelligence official, who is familiar with the FBI's interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, said the bombing suspect has boasted of his jihad training during interrogation by the FBI and has said it included final exhortations by Mr. al-Awlaki.

Doesn't that sound "connected" rather than "isolated"?

The tax on "Cadillac" health insurance

When the uber liberal columnist for the uber liberal New York Times describes the tax on "Cadillac" health insurance plans as "a middle-class tax time bomb", you know it's no good.

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.

Bob Herbert sounds like a middle aged man who's going to lose his own union negotiated "Cadillac" health plan, just as he reaches the age when he's going to need it!

Does anyone still think that there's nothing to fear from Guantanamo prisoners?

Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.

We released terror suspects "from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia" for an "art therapy rehabilitation program". They were eventually "set free". Now, we find out that they are the ones "behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet".


Some politicians think we're stupid

Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein was a Republican ATM. In four years, he and his law firm gave $650,000 to Republican candidates and the state GOP. They gave nothing to Florida's Democratic Party and just a pittance to state candidates.

On Sept. 9, the state Democratic Party received a $200,000 check from Rothstein's firm, money he had pledged to donate at a fundraiser he hosted at his home for Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

About three weeks after the $200,000 contribution was recorded, Rothstein's firm landed on a list of law firms being considered for potentially lucrative work with the State Board of Administration - with an assist from Sink's chief of staff.

Sink, who along with Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum oversee the board, said there was no connection between the contribution and her deputy's intervention for Rothstein's firm.

"Three weeks after the $200,000 contribution was recorded, Rothstein's firm landed on a list of law firms being considered for potentially lucrative work", but we're supposed to believe "there was no connection between the contribution and her deputy's intervention for Rothstein's firm"?

That's not a lie. That's an unbelievable lie.

Cuba's dictatorship continues, and America says nothing

Cuba on Monday allowed U.S. diplomats their first visit with an American government contractor jailed since early this month for distributing communications equipment to activists, the State Department said. . . .

Development Alternatives Inc., (DAI) a suburban Washington firm that manages an $8.6 million part of the U.S. government's pro-democracy programs for Cuba, has identified the man as a DAI contractor working to help civil-society groups on the island.

But Cuban leader Raúl Castro, in a Dec. 21 speech, said the man was "euphemistically called ... a contractor" and alleged he had been "illegally supplying sophisticated satellite communications equipment" to groups that the U.S. government "aspires to organize against our people."

A U.S. government subcontractor is being held in a Cuban prison for distributing cell phones and lap top computers to pro democracy advocates. Not bombs or weapons or dynamite, but cell phones and lap top computers, things we take for granted. Where is the outrage from the U.S. government?

Monday, December 28, 2009

A simple question about the attempted airline bombing . . .

Weren't we told that electing a president from a third world background and of non Christian descent while moderating our support for Israel would stop anti-American fundamentalist terrorism?

Sorry to interrupt your vacation

From USA Today's presidential gossip / Obama fan column, which gets all the administration's leaks and spin:

Loyal Oval readers already know this: There's no such thing as a presidential vacation.

President Obama did get to the beach Sunday and to a favorite Honolulu restaurant, but he'll be interrupting his family holiday in Hawaii sometime this morning (Remember: Hawaii is five hours behind East Coast time) to meet with reporters. He wants to talk about the attempted Christmas Day takedown of a Detroit-bound airliner that's already caused him to order a review of U.S. anti-terror measures.

We expect the kids at 7-11 and Walgreen's to work over Christmas weekend.

I'm not going to feel sorry that we interrupted the president's vacation (after stops at the beach and his favorite restaurant) so he could address the airline attack that ruined the vacations and sense of security of hundreds of thousands of other Americans.

Rural assistance

More than $2.7 billion of stimulus aid for struggling parts of rural America has gone to the nation's biggest metropolitan areas.

That's nearly a quarter of the $12 billion in rural assistance the government has paid out so far under President Obama's economic stimulus package . . . It went to small, far-flung suburbs in metropolitan areas with more than a million residents, including growing towns around Atlanta and Phoenix.

The spending reignites a longstanding debate over what "rural" really means in an increasingly urban nation.

This is not a question of the meaning of "rural".

Obama is simply funneling aid intended for rural areas to his urban base of support.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Anti government protests in Iran continue.

Baton-wielding riot police clashed with opposition backers in Tehran who yesterday used a Shiite religious festival to stage fresh anti-government demonstrations.

The reformist Jaras website said security forces fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse protesters and also attacked a building housing an Iranian news agency, ISNA, where it said some demonstrators had sought shelter during the unrest.

At least two people were injured as police chased after demonstrators into the building. In a sign that the protests were spreading, another Tehran resident later said supporters of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, chanting "Death to the dictator", clashed with police near a mosque in northern Tehran, where reformist former president Mohammad Khatami had been due to speak.

"They are chasing people and beating them and trying to disperse them, but even ordinary Iranians are stopping their cars and shouting 'Ya Hossein, Mirhossein'," he said. Jaras said police also fired tear gas also during that incident.

And, for some reason, Obama continues to refuse aid or support for the protesters.

Another of Obama's friends

President Evo Morales of Bolivia is another of the leftist anti American leaders that Obama reached out to in friendship and dialogue.

President Evo Morales said Saturday that he plans to make it legal for Bolivia's farmers to grow small parcels of coca plants.

Morales, who also heads a coca growers association, said he wants to permit individual farmers to cultivate coca plots of 40 meters by 40 meters (130 feet by 130feet). Coca leaf is the key ingredient of cocaine.

Where do you think all that cocaine is going to end up?

Just say no?

The George W. Bush administration's emphasis on "abstinence education programs" "was ineffective". Because of the emphasis on abstinence rather than birth control, "the long decline in teen pregnancies was slowing".

Abstinence education was a waste of time, effort and money.

So, it should be no surprise that "the health-care reform legislation pending in the Senate includes $50 million for programs that states could use to try to reduce pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease among adolescents by teaching to them to delay when they start having sex."

Yes, the top secret Senate healthcare bill drafted behind closed doors by Sen. Reid and which no one read or reviewed before the vote includes $50 million for abstinence education.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Worse than I thought

My first reaction to the latest terror plot:

Forgetting or denying that terrorism exists is not an effective strategy for fighting terrorism.

It turns out that the Obama administration wasn't simply "forgetting or denying that terrorism exists". They were intentionally ignoring warnings:

The terror suspect who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane is the son of a Nigerian banker who alerted U.S. authorities to his "extreme religious views" months ago, it was reported Saturday.

The father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a former minister and chairman of First Bank in Nigeria, is shocked that his son was even was allowed to fly to the U.S., family members told the Nigerian newspaper This Day.

The dad was meeting with security officials to discuss his son, identified as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, 23. The younger Mutallab was not on any no-fly list when he flew from Nigeria to Detroit through Amsterdam, Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) told the Daily News.

This is simply inexcusable.

By the way - - you know that the Charlie Sheens and Rosie O'Donnells and Jesse Venturas, who insist "Bush knew in advance about 9/11", won't have a bad word to say about this snafu.

Terrorism still exists

An attempted terrorist attack on a Christmas Day flight began with a pop and a puff of smoke — sending passengers scrambling to subdue a Nigerian man who claimed to be acting on orders from al-Qaeda to blow up the airliner, officials and travelers said.

The commotion began as Northwest Airlines Flight 253, carrying 278 passengers and 11 crewmembers from Amsterdam, prepared to land in Detroit just before noon Friday.

"It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase," said Peter Smith, a passenger from the Netherlands. "First there was a pop, and then (there) was smoke."

Smith said one passenger climbed over other people, went across the aisle and tried to restrain the man, who officials say was trying to ignite an explosive device. The heroic passenger appeared to have been burned.

Forgetting or denying that terrorism exists is not an effective strategy for fighting terrorism.

Guantanamo prison not closing yet

This is what happens when candidates make unrealistic promises:

The prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may not close until 2011 because of anticipated appropriation struggles in Congress, the need to change federal law and construction time to upgrade an Illinois facility to hold detainees.

The Thomson Correctional Center may not be purchased from the state until March and will need up to 10 months of construction . . .

Congress must appropriate the money for the takeover and construction, and lawmakers wary of moving detainees to the United States could balk at approving the funds. In the Senate, there always is a chance of delaying tactics by senators that could hold up the money for months.

President Obama originally said Guantanamo would close next Jan. 22.

Obama promised to close the prison within one year, not because he could do it, or because it was the right thing to do, but to get votes.

The ghost of Christmas future

This is where Obama-type economic policies take you:

Deflation tightened its hold on Japan in November and the unemployment rate rose for the first time in four months, as the world's second-biggest economy struggles to stage a convincing comeback.

The unemployment rate climbed to 5.2%, reversing an improvement to 5.1% in October, the government said Friday. The result marks the first increase since July and matches Kyodo News agency's average market forecast of 5.2%.

Although export growth, particularly to the rest of Asia, is helping boost confidence among Japanese companies, they remain reluctant to spend on factories or workers amid falling prices and the yen's recent strength.

The latest figures add to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's growing list of troubles, coming a day after the Japanese leader publicly apologized for two former aides charged with falsifying campaign finance reports.

Unemployment, deflation and stagnation.

The middle class getting poorer while the rich get richer.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Another silly lawsuit

Soy-enhanced chili mac, turkey patties with soy, soy-studded country gravy, soy-blend hot dogs, soy-spiked sloppy joes, Polish sausages packed with soy, soy chicken patties.

These aren't items from the latest vegetarian diet, but rather dishes served over a week at Danville Correctional Center, according to a recent menu.

They're also the basis of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court this summer by nine plaintiffs who allege that the Illinois Department of Corrections is endangering the health of the inmates -- especially those with allergies, sensitivities and existing gastrointestinal and thyroid problems -- by serving them too much soy.

Tens of thousands of inmates in Illinois prisons are being fed "up to 100 grams" of soy protein a day, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, which is funding the lawsuit.,0,1740841.story

I also have very bad food allergies.

I have discovered a great way to avoid unhealthy prison diets.

I do not kill, rape, rob or deal drugs.

Another Obama record

The Senate voted Thursday to raise the ceiling on the government debt to $12.4 trillion, a massive increase over the current limit and a political problem that President Barack Obama has promised to address next year.

The Senate's rare Christmas Eve vote, 60-39, follows House passage last week and raises the debt ceiling by $290 billion. The vote split mainly down party lines, with Democrats voting to raise the limit and Republicans voting against doing so. There was one defection on each side, by senators whose seats will be on the ballot next year: GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., did not vote.

"I would not support raising the debt ceiling because Congress has not adopted a credible process to restrain spending and eliminate red ink," Bayh said a statement after the vote.

There is really no excuse for such out of control spending.

The consequences will be terrible.

Religious wars

Bombs targeted Iraqi Christians and Shiite Muslims Wednesday, killing at least eight people and wounding four dozen before coinciding religious observances that will take place under heavy guard.

Insurgents have routinely targeted Shiites and Christians in an attempt to undermine the country's security gains and its Shiite-dominated government. Security forces in recent days have been concerned that the Shiite holy observances known as Ashoura and Christmas gatherings would be targeted by large-scale attacks.

Ashoura marks the seventh-century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein.

In the first of Wednesday's attacks, a bomb targeted a historic church in the northern city of Mosul a day before Christmas Eve services, killing two people and wounding five.

"Instead of performing Christmas Mass in this church, we will be busy removing rubble and debris," Hazim Ragheed, a priest at the church, said in a
telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The only wars that are irresolvable are religious wars.

The current Middle East wars are religious wars.

Colleges or visa mills?

Immigration officials have accused a Southern California pastor of helping foreigners fraudulently obtain student visas and handing out phony diplomas at a fake graduation ceremony on a campus where they never attended class.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Wednesday that 65-year old pastor Samuel Chai Cho Oh surrendered to authorities on Tuesday.

Officials say Oh is accused of conspiracy to commit visa fraud for allegedly charging between $600 and $10,000 to help foreigners get visas on the premise they would attend the Christian university he owns in Fullerton.

Authorities say Oh acknowledged that 75 percent of the 300 students at California Union University did not regularly attend class.

No one answered a call to the university Wednesday.

You didn't think every one of those "colleges" and "universities" and "trade schools" that advertise on daytime television was a legitimate educational institution, did you? Listen closely to the television ads. Many are visa mills.

9/11 suspects trial strategy

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four codefendants accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are meeting to plot legal strategy ahead of their transfer to New York and are learning as much as possible about criminal procedure in U.S. federal court, according to sources familiar with the detainees' deliberations.

Although the five men wanted to plead guilty in a military commission earlier this year to hasten their executions, sources now say that the detainees, who are at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, favor participating in a full-scale federal trial to air their grievances and to expose their treatment while previously held by the CIA at secret prisons.

The terror suspects wanted to plead guilty to hasten their executions, but the Obama administration insisted on a trial in New York.

We're going to spend millions of dollars running that trial in New York.

The terror suspect will use that trial in New York as an international forum to spread anti American propaganda.

That makes no sense.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What a coincidence!

Former President Jimmy Carter apologized for any words or deeds that may have upset Jews. Mr. Carter said he was offering an Al Het, a prayer said on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It signifies a plea for forgiveness. “We must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel,” Mr. Carter said in a letter, which was first sent to JTA, a wire service for Jewish newspapers. Mr. Carter outraged many Jews with his 2006 book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” Critics contend he unfairly compared Israeli treatment of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza to the legalized racial oppression that once existed in South Africa. Israeli leaders have also shunned him over his journey to Gaza to meet with members of Hamas.

Jason Carter, an attorney in Atlanta; and who is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter has indicated that he will run for State Senator for District 42 in Georgia. That seat is presently held by David Adelman who has been nominated by President Obama to become the ambassador to Singapore which would leave his seat open, if he is accepted.

The district which Jason Carter is interested in has a sizable Jewish population. The seat is presently held by a man named David Adelman.

You have to wonder what Carter would say if his grandson were running from a significantly Arab-American district in Michigan.

The best Congress money can but

The only undeniable winner in the "health insurance reform" debate is the health insurance industry, which gets a new mandate that everyone buy their product in exchange for limited watered down new regulations.

Do you wonder why?

See the linked chart listing how each senator voted and how much he or she received in campaign contributions from the health industry.

The South continues to increase its power

One of the talking heads' main talking points is that the Republican party (and its leading figures) is doomed to future permanent failure as a regional Southern based political party.

Preliminary census data indicate they may be wrong.

Although a decades-old population shift favoring Sun Belt states slowed this year, the South continues to seize political power once held by the Northeast and Midwest, Census Bureau estimates released Wednesday show.

Eight states, including six in the South and Southwest, would gain seats in the House of Representatives if apportionment were done today rather than after the 2010 Census, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Election Data Services.

Texas would be the biggest winner, adding three seats. In line to add a seat: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Ohio would lose two seats, and Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania would each lose one.

"It's a continuation of the trend we've seen before," said Kimball Brace of Election Data Services.

The Democrats risk more than the 2010 elections by ignoring the South.

Age is not a preexisting condition?

Remember the main (and most popular) promise? No denial of coverage or discrimination based upon preexisting conditions.

The House healthcare bill "would allow private insurers to price premiums up to twice as high for older people".

The Senate healthcare bill "would allow private insurers to price premiums up to three times as high for older people".

People between ages 45 and 65 are the ones who have the greatest need and the hardest time finding affordable coverage. How does this help?

Healthcare: It's not done yet

Compare the differences between the Senate and House bills:

If you consider that each bill passed with purely partisan support by the slimmest of margins, it's hard to see how they are reconciled.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Af/Pak whac-a-mole

A top Pakistani Taliban commander says he has sent thousands of fighters to neighboring Afghanistan to rebuff incoming U.S. troops, a claim that comes as a Pakistani army offensive is believed to have pushed many of his men to flee their main redoubt.

Whac-A-Mole is an arcade redemption game. A typical Whac-A-Mole machine consists of a large, waist-level cabinet with five holes in its top and a large, soft, black mallet. Each hole contains a single plastic mole and the machinery necessary to move it up and down. Once the game starts, the moles will begin to pop up from their holes at random. The object of the game is to force the individual moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head with the mallet, thereby adding to the player's score. The more quickly this is done the higher the final score will be.

Our battle against the Taliban is a repetitious and futile task. No matter where the Taliban is "whacked", it will pop up again some where else.

What about Mexico?

Gunmen shot dead the mother, brother, sister and aunt of an elite Mexican marine
who died after being wounded in last week's shootout that killed a top drug lord and five bodyguards, police said today.

The suspected revenge attack came just before midnight, only hours after the marine, Melquisedec Angulo, was buried. He was part of a special forces team that killed cartel boss Arturo Beltran Leyva.

The gunmen used a sledge hammer to break down the door of the family's home in Quintin Arauz, Tabasco state, and sprayed the living room and bedrooms with automatic weapons.

Forget about Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the Middle East.

We have an incompetent corrupt government unable to control terrorism on our southern mostly open border.

That's the more immediate danger to American security.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pentagon: Force must be option for Iran

Military force would have only limited effect in stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons but must remain an option, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday.

Tehran shows no signs of backing down in the standoff over what the United States and other countries say is its drive for a nuclear bomb, Adm. Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, told his staff in an annual assessment of the nation's risks and priorities.

"My belief remains that political means are the best tools to attain regional security and that military force will have limited results," Mullen wrote. "However, should the president call for military options, we must have them ready."

. . . In the past two or three years the United States had all but ruled out an attack on Iran's known nuclear facilities as too risky, because of the backlash it might unleash.

. . . President Obama has set a rough deadline of the end of this year for Iran to respond to an offer of dialogue and to show that it will allay fears of weapons development. The Obama administration is working with allies to ready a new set of international economic sanctions on Iran for repeatedly defying international demands to halt questionable activities and come clean about the nature and extent of the program.

Obama's Pentagon is preparing "military options" while Obama sets "a rough deadline of the end of this year for Iran to respond to an offer of dialogue and to show that it will allay fears of weapons development."

Assuming Iran is not going to "respond to an offer of dialogue" and "allay fears of weapons development", it looks like the "anti war" primary candidate is planning yet another war in the Middle East.

The reason something is being done about healthcare

As the health care bill moves toward a critical vote in the Senate, the five senators charged with overseeing the floor debate count health interests among their biggest campaign contributors . . .

In all, health care interests have donated more than $2.5 million to [Sen. Max] Baucus' fundraising committees since 2005 . . .

Health care interests also dominate contributions to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, giving more than $1.3 million to the five-term senator between 2005 and this year. . . .

Other lawmakers controlling the health care floor debate:

• Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who has received $210,050 this year from health-related political action committees, his No. 3 source of PAC money. Dodd served temporarily as chairman of the Senate health committee this year.

• Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the new chairman of the Senate health panel, received $66,000 from health care PACs this year, more than any other sector and twice the amount he received from agribusiness, an important industry in his home state.

• Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., has received $27,000 from health care political action committees this year, more than any other industry. Health PACs donated nearly $289,000 in 2008, his last election. He is the top Republican on the Senate health committee.

Liberal and conservative, left and right, Democratic and Republican, they're all on the take.

That's the real reason they're working on healthcare "reform".

Healthcare debate?

Senate clears the way for final debate on health club bill - - The Senate today cleared one more 60-vote hurdle to set the stage for a final vote on the health care bill on Christmas Eve, or earlier.

They're not going to debate the bill.

They can't debate the bill, because no one's read it yet.

In fact, it's not even been printed and distributed yet.

They are simply going to vote on it.

And, then, we're going to spend months and years discovering mistakes, flaws, bribes and kickbacks contained in the bill.

Monday, December 21, 2009

As predicted

Despite legislation's requirement, some Americans say they'll go without insurance . . . If Congress passes a law that requires Americans to buy health insurance, Rebecca Antonelli knows what she'll do: Just say no and pay a penalty instead. "It comes down to an economic decision, and I'd be more inclined to save the money and take a risk of getting sick," says Antonelli, 46, a marketing consultant in Raleigh, N.C., who dropped her policy last year when business slumped. Both the House and Senate bills revamping health care require most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. Yet government mandates don't necessarily ensure compliance: Not all Americans buckle up, or get their children vaccinated. Some health experts worry the proposed penalties are too low and that many younger, healthier people may opt to pay the fee and gamble on their health. That could drive up the costs of covering older and sicker people.

As stated before, if you are young and healthy, it would seem to make sense to go uninsured (and pay a fine much less than the cost of insurance). If you develop some catastrophic illness, you could then obtain health insurance, with government subsidies if needed, because insurance companies would be prohibited from declining coverage or raising rates because of preexisting conditions.

Remember, as soon as you start up a welfare scheme, people figure out how to game the system.

Again - - I thought this was against the law

Dubbing them the "Louisiana purchase" and the "Cornhusker kickback," Republicans on Sunday attacked special deals for individual states included in the health care bill heading for a Senate vote this week.

Aimed at a small group of Democratic senators who were wavering on the underlying 10-year, $871 billion health care bill, the carveouts for Nebraska, Louisiana and other states represent hundreds of millions of dollars. . . .

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled the new health care legislation over the weekend after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations — including with some of the members who won concessions in the bill. . . . a new provision that would provide tens of millions of dollars in funding to Nebraska, home to Sen. Ben Nelson. Nelson was the last Democrat to support the measure and did so after days of intense talks with Reid and the White House over abortion.

As part of the effort to expand insurance coverage, the bill increases Medicaid enrollment by 15 million by 2019. The cost of that expansion will be shared by state and federal governments except in Nebraska, where the federal government will pay for all of the new enrollees. . . .

Another compromise was won by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who had argued that the bill did not go far enough to help uninsured families. Sanders nevertheless took credit for $10 billion in funding for community health centers, which provide low-cost care to people across the country. . . . Vermont and Massachusetts also won increased federal aid, though the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office did not project how much the provisions would cost.

. . . Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., agreed to vote to start debate on the bill after scoring a $300 million bump in Medicaid funding for her state.

Honestly, I thought selling your vote was illegal.

The Senate just voted to raise my taxes and take away my health insurance

Despite fierce Republican opposition and the lingering effects of a major Northeast snowstorm, Senate Democrats cleared a critical vote on a 10-year, $871 billion health care bill early this morning, steering the proposal toward approval on Christmas Eve. . . . Unions have criticized another provision in the Senate bill that would impose a 40% tax on high-priced health plans.

The Senate just voted to impose a 40% tax on "Cadillac" health insurance plans, i.e., traditional or PPO/plus type plans with freer choice and lower deductibles and co-pays.

Never forget, Congress taxes the things it dislikes or wants to discourage - - alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pollution, etc.

By taxing good health insurance plans, they're encouraging employers, unions and individuals who pay for them to switch to less pricey plans, i.e., lower end HMO's.

The Senate wants to discourage the better health insurance plans, because the goal of "health insurance reform" is to take all the money currently spent by anyone and everyone to provide for the currently insured, and use that huge pool of money to buy everyone (including the currently uninsured) a fairly mediocre HMO with big deductibles and high co pays. The total cost is approximately the same. None of us (except the wealthy) will have good health insurance, but we'll all have some health insurance.

Of course, "the government would provide subsidies to help low- and moderate-income families buy a policy."

But, if you're middle class or above, and have decent health insurance from your employer or union or out of pocket, you're going to end up being a net contributor to the pot, you'll end up with worse health insurance, and you won't qualify for any subsidies for costs or deductibles or co-pays.

In other words, if you're like me, the Senate just voted to raise your taxes and take away your current health insurance plan.

I don't understand how that helps increase the overall health of the population. And, I don't understand how that helps Democrats in the next few elections, after people across the country are told by their employers and unions that they can no longer afford their current health insurance plans.

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

Karl Marx,_to_each_according_to_his_need

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The soft bigotry of low expectations on climate change

President Obama grabbed partial victory from the jaws of defeat in Copenhagen today, emerging with a political agreement among rich and poor nations to seek cuts in their emissions of greenhouse gases. . . . "It is still going to require more work and more confidence-building and greater trust ... before I think you are going to see another legally binding treaty signed," Obama said . . . About 25 countries abandoned any hope of reaching a binding agreement early in the day and moved instead to approve a political statement.

Obama and friends are celebrating a "political statement" reached in lieu of a "legally binding treaty".

In fact, this is the second time Obama came back from Scandinavia empty handed (remember the Olympics?)

This is just another example of what George W. Bush's better speechwriters called "the soft bigotry of low expectations".

Isn't this illegal?

The price of Senator Nelson's healthcare vote:

For instance, the federal government would now pay for the entire cost of a Medicaid expansion called for in the legislation for the state of Nebraska — Nelson's home state. In other states, the state government will pay a portion of those costs.

They previously gave Louisiana an extra $300 million to buy one of that state's senators.

Don't we send politicians to jail for taking bribes?

Key provision in the healthcare bill

The tax would begin in July.

But, the benefits begin no earlier than 2013.

We're going to get the taxes this summer, and I predict we never see any benefits.

Tanning salons need better lobbyists

Among the new changes in the just revealed Reid healthcare plan:
An earlier proposal to tax elective cosmetic surgery was removed. In its place, lawmakers imposed a 10% tax on money paid for indoor tanning services. The tax would begin in July.

In addition to doctors, the insurance industry did well, too - - "the legislation no longer repeals the insurance industry's exemption from federal antitrust laws."

The tanning association trade organization (if there is one) needs to hire better lobbyists and start giving campaign donations to Obama.

Full and thorough debate

The Senate is set to approve a "new proposal, unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada" which "includes a number of changes to appease both centrist and liberal members of the Democratic caucus — all of whom will have to vote for the bill to achieve the 60-vote threshold needed for approval."

If the plan was unveiled Friday and Saturday, to be voted on Sunday or Monday, when are we going to have the promised full and thorough debate? The Senate will be voting on a bill that they have no time to read, much less review and discuss.

Healthcare loophole

Congress moved significantly closer toward enacting a landmark health care bill after Senate Democrats secured 60 votes for a new version of the legislation unveiled today, setting the stage for a historic vote on the measure by Christmas. . . .

All Americans would be required to have some form of health insurance and the government would provide subsidies to help low- and moderate-income families buy a policy. Insurance companies would be prohibited from declining coverage or raising rates because of preexisting conditions.

But the new proposal, unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, includes a number of changes to appease both centrist and liberal members of the Democratic caucus — all of whom will have to vote for the bill to achieve the 60-vote threshold needed for approval.

Among the changes:

. . . Individuals who do not have some form of coverage could face higher penalties. By 2016, families without coverage would pay either a $750 fine or 2% of their income up to $2,250 — whichever is greater.

If you are young and healthy, it would seem to make sense to go uninsured (and pay a fine much less than the cost of insurance). If you develop some catastrophic illness, you could then obtain health insurance, with "government . . . subsidies" if needed, because "insurance companies would be prohibited from declining coverage or raising rates because of preexisting conditions".

This is essentially a welfare scheme. Obviously, there will be many freeloaders.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama in Copenhagen

Obama had planned to spend only about nine hours in Copenhagen as the summit wrapped up. But, as an agreement appeared within reach, he extended his stay by more than six hours to attend a series of meetings aimed at brokering a deal.

It makes no sense to fly to Europe for one day in order to demonstrate your commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Ski lift accident in Wisconsin

Investigators were trying to determine Friday how a packed ski lift suddenly ran backward, injuring at least a dozen people . . . the incident occurred around 7 p.m. Thursday at Devil's Head Resort in Merrimac, about 25 miles northwest of Madison. The lift was operating normally when it stopped and reversed direction . . . dozens of skiers jump[ed] off the lift, some falling more than 20 feet, to avoid smashing into a wall at the bottom . . . the lift eventually stopped. Resort employees and rescue workers spent more than two hours getting skiers down . . . At least 12 people were treated for injuries at the scene . . . Some were hurt as chairs hit the ground near the lift's base . . . Others tried to jump off the chairs . . .

For every one person who says, “I voluntarily chose to go night skiing, an inherently dangerous activity”, ten people will say, “Let’s sue!”

The frequent flyer president

This is the president's 10th foreign trip of his 11-month presidency, during which he has visited 21 countries -- most recently Norway, where he picked up the Nobel Peace Prize.

And we thought Bush was an absentee president.

Another snafu in Iraq and Afghanistan

Insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have hacked into live video feeds from Predator drones, a key weapon in a Pentagon spy system that serves as the military's eyes in the sky for surveillance and intelligence collection . . . Obtaining the video feeds can provide insurgents with critical information about what the military may be targeting, including buildings, roads and other facilities. Shiite fighters in Iraq used off-the-shelf software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds . . . The interception, first done there at least a year ago, was possible because the remotely flown planes had unprotected communications links.

We’re going to end up spending hundreds of billions - - even trillions - - of dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the security of our highest tech weapons can be breached with $25.95 “off-the-shelf software programs”?

We need to get out of there.

Intervening in wars over religion

A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives near a mosque inside a police compound in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing 10 people in the latest attack by suspected Taliban militants waging war against the Pakistani government.

The Taliban have stepped up their campaign of violence since the military launched a major offensive in mid-October in the militant stronghold of South Waziristan in Pakistan's lawless tribal area near the Afghan border. Friday's attack was the second in two weeks against a mosque used by Pakistan's security forces.

Most of the 10 people killed in the attack in the Lower Dir region were police leaving the mosque after Friday prayers, said the area's police chief, Feroze Khan.

Wars over territory, political systems or economics can be won.

Wars over religion never end, but smolder for generations.

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are primarily wars between different Islamic sects.

We're wasting our time when we intervene and expect to help one side win.

The most travelled first year president hits the road again

The most widely travelled first year president hit the road again.

The U.N. climate talks were in serious disarray Friday, prompting President Obama to upend his schedule and hold close-door talks with 19 other world leaders to work out a last-minute agreement on fighting global warming.

Which is the most pressing domestic issue being ignored by Obama as he gallivants around the world? healthcare? record unemployment? record deficits? disarray in his party?

Given a choice, Obama would rather run abroad and give a pretty speech than stay home and get to work.

No more "degrading" shackles

Calling the widespread shackling of juveniles in court "repugnant, degrading [and] humiliating," the Florida Supreme Court issued a new rule Thursday that forbids the restraint of juvenile offenders unless a judge finds that the youth is likely to be violent.

. . . The new rules reverse a long-standing practice in many courthouses -- including Broward and Palm Beach counties -- of permitting juvenile defendants to be handcuffed and leg-shackled for all court appearances, regardless of whether they are believed to be dangerous.

In Broward County, Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said, juveniles facing a court appearance are "paraded" through the courthouse in shackles.

. . . "While I agree that juveniles should not be chained to one another in the courtroom or restrained in any other way that would interfere with their ability to have meaningful access to counsel," [said Justice Charles T.] Canady . . .

Many of the juvenile offenders are in trouble because they lack any sense of guilt or morality.

There's nothing wrong with teaching them to feel embarrassment and shame.

Isn't that the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system?

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Via Jonah Goldberg on NRO:


- Two wars
- Gitmo open
- Don't ask. Don't tell.
- Patriot Act
- Stocks 14,000
- Unemployment 4.5%


- Two wars. 60,00 additional troops.
- Gitmo open
- Don't ask. Don't tell.
- Patriot Act extended
- Stocks 10,000
- Unemployment 10%

Someone please explain how Democrats defend themselves against that charge in 2010?

More Medicare fraud

Federal agents arrested 26 suspects in three states Tuesday, including a doctor and nurses, in a major crackdown on Medicare fraud totaling $61 million in separate scams.

Arrests in Miami, Brooklyn and Detroit included a Florida doctor accused of running a $40 million home health care scheme that falsely listed patients as blind diabetics so that he could bill for twice-daily nurse visits.

The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the indicted suspects lined up bogus patients and otherwise billed Medicare for unnecessary medical equipment, physical therapy and HIV infusions.

Indictments were issued for 32 people in all, but the status of the other suspects wasn't immediately known.

I don't understand why people in Washington, D.C. believe that expanding Medicare will decrease waste, fraud and abuse.

Another corrupt ally

Pakistan's president faced fresh calls to step down Thursday after the Supreme Court struck down an amnesty that had protected the increasingly unpopular leader and several of his political allies from corruption charges.

The decision late Wednesday sharpened political tensions in the nuclear-armed nation just as the United States and its other Western allies want it to unite and fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants based along the Afghan border.

While it is generally agreed that President Asif Ali Zardari has immunity from prosecution as president, his opponents now plan to challenge his eligibility to hold the post. Zardari and his aides say any corruption charges against him are politically motivated and that he will not step down.

Why do we continue to bet our security (and the lives of our soldiers) on corrupt foreign leaders doomed to failure?

On the wrong track

"All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?"

Right Direction 33 %
Wrong Track 55 %

Obama's numbers will soon be at Bush-like levels.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The healthcare bill is tanking

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News brings bad news for Democrats when it comes to passing a health care bill. For the first time in our polling, more Americans said they’d rather stick with the status quo on health care than pass the Democrats’ bill. More than four out of ten, 44%, of respondents said it is better to not pass the plan and to keep the current system versus 41% who said it is better to enact the proposed health care overhaul. The divide over the bill has always been close, but as recently as October it was at least in the Democrats’ favor, when 45% said it was better to pass a bill while 39% preferred to status quo. Further, nearly half of respondents, 47%, said they believe the bill is a “bad idea” compared to 32% who said it was a “good idea.” Those who believe it is a bad idea have steadily increased from April 2009 polling, when just 26% said it was a bad idea. It jumped to 42% in July and held steady through October before climbing even higher to 47% now.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

Abraham Lincoln

Iran's new missiles

Iran announced Wednesday it has successfully test fired an upgraded version of its longest-range, solid-fuel missile which it said is faster and harder to shoot down.

State television broke the news in a one-sentence report accompanied by a brief clip of the test.

Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi later spoke on television, describing the Sajjil-2 as a high-speed, surface-to-surface missile that would serve as a "strong deterrent" against any possible foreign attack.

"Given its high speed," he said, "it is impossible to destroy the missile with anti-missile systems because of its radar-evading ability."

The Sajjil-2 is a two-stage missile with a range of about 1,200 miles. That range places Israel, Iran's sworn enemy, well within reach and reaches as far away as southeastern Europe with greater precision than earlier models.

Iran (Israel's "sworn enemy") is developing both nuclear weapons and a "long-range" "radar-evading" delivery system that "places Israel . . . well within reach".

If you were part of the Israeli defense establishment, wouldn't you recommend preemptive action?

No one should be surprised if that eventually happens.

Swine flu vaccine recall

Warning letters went out to thousands of doctors today alerting them that Sanofi
Aventis is recalling 800,000 doses of pediatric swine flu vaccine in prefilled syringes because routine tests disclosed that its potency has diminished, officials say.

Despite the recall, the vaccine is safe and effective; parents need not worry about unusual side effects or having their children re-vaccinated, says Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "There's no need for parents to call pediatricians. We think the doses given are protective and safe," she says.

To all those who get their medical advice from talk show hosts and comedians:

This doesn't mean that the swine flu vaccine is unsafe.

It means that we're doing everything possible to insure that the swine flu vaccine remains safe and effective.

Next: Legalize illegals

Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., on Tuesday filed the first comprehensive immigration reform bill in the current Congress, giving renewed hope to millions of undocumented immigrants in South Florida and around the country.

But the prospects for passage remain as uncertain as ever.

"This is a great thing for everyone,"' said Walter Lara, a 23-year-old former Miami Dade College student from Argentina who almost got deported in July after immigration officers discovered he had no papers. "If this passes, this is the type of change President Obama has been talking about. It will make the United States a more welcoming country."

Provisions in the Gutierrez legislation -- Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 -- are somewhat similar to those in prior bills.

Undocumented immigrants in the United States prior to Dec. 15, 2009, would be encouraged to come forward and register with the government in exchange for a future path to residency and citizenship.

Certain immigrants in deportation proceedings, facing removal or ordered to depart would be able to apply for legalization under Gutierrez's bill. Applicants would pay a $500 fine -- lower than the thousands of dollars sought in prior bills -- and must have clean criminal records. If approved, applicants would receive a six-year visa, which eventually could be replaced by a green card -- the path to possible citizenship.

This may give "renewed hope to millions of undocumented immigrants", but there is no broad based popular support among U.S. citizens for giving illegal immigrants "a future path to residency and citizenship".

It is becoming clearer every day that the Democratic leadership expects to lose effective control of one or both houses of Congress in the 2010 elections, and is therefore trying to ram through their entire agenda before that event.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why is it always America's fault?

On a continent where fewer than one in five married women use modern contraception, an explosion of unplanned pregnancies is threatening to bury Adongo's family and a generation of Africans under a mountain of poverty.

Promoting birth control in Africa faces a host of obstacles - - patriarchal customs, religious taboos, ill-equipped public health systems - - but experts also blame a powerful, more distant force: the U.S. government.

Under President George W. Bush, the United States withdrew from its decades-long role as a global leader in supporting family planning, driven by a conservative ideology that favored abstinence and shied away from providing contraceptive devices in developing countries, even to married women.

Bush's mammoth global anti-AIDS initiative, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, poured billions of dollars into Africa but prohibited groups from spending any of it on family-planning services or counseling programs, whose budgets flatlined.

Africans have too many children, and we're told it's America's fault, because we won't give them condoms that they refuse to use, and because we're successfully fighting AIDS.

Remember when we were criticized for not fighting AIDS in Africa?

Secret healthcare plans

The end game at hand, Senate Democrats appeared ready to jettison a proposed Medicare expansion from historic health care legislation Monday in hopes of assuring Christmas-week passage of the bill to extend coverage to tens of millions. . . .

Liberals sought the Medicare expansion as a last-minute substitute for a full-blown, government-run insurance program that moderates earlier insisted be jettisoned. But it drew strong opposition from Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and quieter concerns from a dozen Democrats — all of whose votes are essential for Democrats to overcome implacable Republican opposition. . . .

Reid did not say flatly that Democrats had decided to drop the proposal for uninsured Americans as young as 55 to purchase coverage under Medicare. But several senators said it appeared inevitable, and liberals sounded resigned to it. "I want to see health care reform," Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said. . .

Disputes over abortion and the importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries also flared as the Senate entered a third week of debate on the legislation.

Be worried when they try to sneak through a last minute draft of an unread, unreviewed, untested secret plan on Christmas Eve.

And, for the record, another week of behind-closed-doors secret negotiations among a subset of one party and its favored lobbyists is not the "third week of debate on the legislation". In fact, there has not been hearings and debate on the issue in the traditional sense.

Domestic terrorists

Terrorists in Georgia:

Two Georgia men were each sentenced to more than 10 years in prison Monday for plotting to aid terrorists by sending homemade videos of Washington landmarks overseas and traveling abroad to try to turn their anti-American rhetoric into action.

Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, was sentenced to 17 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of four terror-related charges in August. He faced a maximum sentence of as many as 60 years behind bars.

Hours later, Sadequee's friend Syed Haris Ahmed was sentenced to 13 years in prison on a charge of conspiring to support terrorist groups. The 25-year-old could have received as many as 15 years in prison after his June conviction.

The men, who are both U.S. citizens, were also sentenced to 30 years in supervised release.

Terrorists in Illinois:

A Chicago man accused of planning a terrorist attack against a Danish newspaper knew in advance about a plot to attack Mumbai and offered congratulations to the killers afterward, federal prosecutors charged Monday.

In papers filed in federal court in Chicago, prosecutors said Tahawwur Hussain Rana learned an attack was about to happen while traveling in Dubai days before the Nov. 26, 2008, attack in India that left 166 people dead.

Rana, a 48-year-old Chicago businessman, is charged with providing material support to terrorists.

Terrorists in Maryland:

Federal prosecutors are considering a trial in New York City for a Guantanamo Bay detainee named Majid Khan, who grew up in the United States before allegedly enlisting in al-Qaida, a person familiar with the discussions said Monday.

Khan is among fewer than 20 detainees at the U.S. detention center in Cuba labeled high-value by the U.S. government, people thought to be senior members of al-Qaida or to have extensive knowledge of the terror network.

The Justice Department is weighing whether to put him on trial in federal court in Brooklyn, a borough of New York, but no decision has been made, according to the person discussing the deliberations on condition of anonymity.

Attorney General Eric Holder already has decided that self-declared 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four accused henchmen will be tried in federal court in lower Manhattan, also New York City.

Sending Khan and possibly other Guantanamo detainees to trial in Brooklyn raises the possibility of one city hosting two major terrorism trials in separate locations, although it is difficult to predict when either would start, given the lengthy pretrial process for each that could easily last more than one year.

Khan was a legal U.S. resident who lived in Baltimore, Maryland, 40 miles north of Washington, before moving to Pakistan.

Terrorists are everywhere, and they're not all being caught, and it's not paranoid to believe that it's only a matter of time before there's another major domestic attack. Unfortunately, combating terrorists is no longer a major concern of the federal government.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's a Medicare "buy in", not a Medicare expansion

Phil Tredway was intrigued when he heard the latest health insurance proposal making the rounds in Congress: letting people buy into Medicare starting at age 55.

"I said, 'Hey, wait a minute, I could get into Medicare. That might be good,'" says Tredway, 61, president of a plastics company in Erie, Pa. "But you don't have any idea what the premiums are going to be."

Indeed, buying into Medicare at 55 — an option that may be added to the Senate's plan to revamp the health care system — might not be such a bargain.

Seeking to break a deadlock between liberals and moderates over a proposed new
government-run insurance plan to compete with private plans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats now want to expand eligibility for Medicare.

Details of the plan remain secret pending analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, which will project its cost to those who might be eligible and the federal government. People ages 55 to 64 who are uninsured or paying high premiums in the individual market likely would be eligible. Most of those with employer-provided coverage would not.

The Senate leadership is selling their "secret" plan as a Medicare expansion, but it's really just a limited, overly expensive buy in for the over 55 uninsured.

If it was a good idea, with popular support, the "details of the plan" would not still "remain secret".

The war on drugs

Members of a drug-trafficking organization in Mexico got access to confidential information about U.S. anti-drug agencies thanks to a veteran immigration agent, according to court filings, and bragged about it while dining at a Weston restaurant.

Richard Padilla Cramer, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent who had been assigned to Guadalajara, Mexico, pleaded guilty last week in Miami federal court to obstruction of justice. Padilla will be sentenced Feb. 18, and faces up to 20 years in prison.

We've been fighting the war on drugs for longer than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with similar results. And, with similar "allies".

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obama's friends in Cuba

At the Summit of the Americas, Obama "extended the hand of friendship" to the Cuban communist regime and its allies.

In response:

A U.S. government contractor confirmed Saturday that Cuba has detained one of its subcontractors' employees but did not comment on a report he went to the island as a tourist and was handing out laptops and communications equipment.

The man arrested "was an employee of a program subcontractor, which was implementing a . . . subcontract to assist Cuban civil society organizations," said Development Alternatives Inc., (DAI) a suburban Washington firm supervising some $40 million in U.S. government aid for pro-democracy programs in Cuba.

Our people in Cuba are subject to arrest for giving out laptops and cell phones to pro democracy dissidents - - not guns, not bombs, not weapons of any sort, but laptops and cell phones.

When will this naively optimistic administration realize that the Castro regime is just no good, and we can't be "friends" with them?

Dangerous chemicals in our water?

A foreign visitor has died and at least two other people have become sick after staying at a downtown Miami luxury hotel, and health officials are blaming an unusual type of pneumonia called Legionnaire's Disease.

Guests at the Epic Hotel have been relocated upon request to nearby hotels to prevent further contact with the Legionella bacteria in the water, according to the Miami-Dade County Health Department.

An investigation this week by county and state officials revealed that the hotel had installed a water filter powerful enough to remove chlorine from its city-supplied water, a move that encouraged bacterial growth.

When will people stop listening to no-nothing shock talkers in the media and realize that the "dangerous chemicals in our water", such as chlorine and flouride, protect us from things much more harmful?

The recession is over?

The top White House economic adviser says "everybody agrees the recession is over" even though many experts predict unemployment could climb higher.

Sorry, but "everybody" does not "agree the recession is over" if "unemployment could climb higher", notwithstanding how "top White House economic advisers" may spin it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lobbying government for a pay raise

The Treasury Department has told four bailed-out companies that they can't pay some top earners more than $500,000 cash per year. But it's told the official who made that decision that the rule shouldn't always apply.

Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration's pay czar, said Friday that lobbying by Treasury and Federal Reserve officials helped persuade him to exempt about 12 executives from the salary cap.

Which is worse - - that we now have a federal "pay czar", that the government is now involved in setting executive salaries, or that you can now lobby the Treasury secretary for a raise?

The trouble with government's take over of industry isn't that it's "socialist". It's that it's ultimately inefficient and corrupt, like all government contracting. It's only a matter of time before the person lobbying for a raise is tempted to pay a kickback. Or, before all the "good" raises go to friends, family and cronies.

High-speed rail

Florida lawmakers invested in commuter rail this week, believing the support would help the state win a slice of federal stimulus money set aside for rail projects. But the competition is stiff.

Eight Midwestern states -- including Illinois, home to President Barack Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood -- are bidding for the same federal rail money. California alone is seeking $4.7 billion for a bullet train from Sacramento to San Diego.

In all, nearly 40 states and Washington, D.C., have sent in applications for rail money totaling nearly $60 billion -- with only $8 billion to go around.

As LaHood put it this week, "applications have poured in from all corners of the country." . . .

And analysts note that proposals in Congress promise billions of dollars more for high-speed rail projects even after the stimulus dollars are awarded, likely in January.

Obama proposed to spend $1 billion a year on a high-speed rail grant program in his 2010 budget. The Senate topped him at $1.2 billion -- and the House approved $4 billion. The chambers are expected to compromise on $2.5 billion.

While we're stuck with the bills for this latest multi billion dollar boondoggle (which most of us will never use, and will therefore always operate at a loss), there's only one group that will ever profit from high-speed rail - - the lobbyists.

The federal interest in a nationwide high-speed rail network has touched off a feeding frenzy among interests vying for the money. A recent study by the Center for Public Integrity found the number of high-speed rail lobbyists had tripled from 2008.

A cautionary tale

A few years ago, voters in Miami-Dade County, Florida were persuaded to vote for an additional half-penny sales tax to pay for improved public transportation.

The result?

When Miami-Dade Transit persuaded county voters to approve a half-penny sales tax in 2002, the goal was to expand routes and improve service for tens of thousands of riders.

Seven years later, the agency continues to reduce routes and services because revenues and subsidies do not cover their costs. New changes go into effect on Sunday.

While no major bus routes are to be abolished, officials plan to reduce service and the frequency of buses on particular routes throughout the system. . . . the changes roll back bus service to levels just above those before voters approved the half-penny tax in 2002.

In exchange for the half-penny sales tax since 2002, voters today receive . . . next to nothing.

More debt

Democrats plan to allow the government's debt to swell by nearly $2 trillion as part of a bill next week to pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The amount pretty much equals the total of a year-end spending spree by lawmakers and is big enough to ensure that Congress doesn't have to vote again on going further into debt until after the 2010 elections.

. . . That eye-popping figure is making Democrats woozy but is what is needed to make sure they don't have to vote again before next year's midterm elections.

. . . Democratic leaders say they will try to raise the ceiling to nearly $14 trillion as part of a $626 billion bill next week to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other military programs in 2010.

First of all, Congress doesn't "pay for" things when it borrows more money to fund its operations. That's called charging things, not paying for things.

Secondly, Congress shouldn't go deeper in debt, and spend money like crazy this year, in order to avoid making hard choices next year during an election cycle. That's cynical, irresponsible and, frankly, a violation of their oath of office.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A result of "celebrating diversity"

We used to try to assimilate immigrants and their children. As a result, immigrants and their children became Americans, and fought in our wars, on our side.

Now, we "celebrate diversity".

A result?

Five young American Muslims detained over alleged terrorist links in Pakistan are most likely to be deported, a local police chief said Friday.

The men have allegedly told investigators they tried to connect with Islamist militant groups in Pakistan and were intending to cross the border into Afghanistan and fight U.S. troops there.

They were reported missing by their families in the Washington D.C. area a week ago after one of them left behind a militaristic farewell video saying Muslims must be defended.

Spending is out of control

A $1.1 trillion spending bill laced with budget increases and more than 5,000 congressional pet projects passed the House on Thursday amid criticism from Republicans and watchdog groups.

The package — which combines six annual spending bills into one — includes $447 billion in operating expenses, with an average increase of 10%, and more than $600 billion for Medicare and Medicaid.

Deficits doubling, double digit increases in spending and record earmarks.

A perfect storm of fiscal irresponsibility.


The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months — and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

Your stimulus dollars at work.


Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya says he will leave the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras by Jan. 27, when his presidential term ends, according to an interview broadcast Friday. Zelaya said in the telephone interview with Globo TV that he wants to leave soon but did not say where he will go. He has been holed up in the embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa for three months under threat of arrest if he sets foot outside the building. Zelaya's comments aired a day after Honduras' coup-installed government said he is free to leave the country, but not as president. The top-ranking Brazilian official at the embassy also told Globo TV that Zelaya must leave by Jan. 27. Francisco Catunda did not say where Zelaya might go, saying only that it would be "another destination." Officials at Brazil's presidency and at the nation's foreign ministry did not immediately return telephone messages left Friday seeking comment.

U.S. diplomats mishandled this situation from the beginning. We should be glad it's over.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How Obama says, "Thank you for the peace prize"

Barack Obama's trip to Oslo to pick up his Nobel peace award is in danger of being overshadowed by a row over the cancellation of a series of events normally attended by the prizewinner.

Norwegians are incensed over what they view as his shabby response to the prize by cutting short his visit.

The White House has cancelled many of the events peace prize laureates traditionally submit to, including a dinner with the Norwegian Nobel committee, a press conference, a television interview, appearances at a children's event promoting peace and a music concert, as well as a visit to an exhibition in his honour at the Nobel peace centre.

He has also turned down a lunch invitation from the King of Norway.

According to a poll published by the daily tabloid VG, 44% of Norwegians believe it was rude of Obama to cancel his scheduled lunch with King Harald, with only 34% saying they believe it was acceptable.

"Of all the things he is cancelling, I think the worst is cancelling the lunch with the king," said Siv Jensen, the leader of the largest party in opposition, the populist Progress party. "This is a central part of our government system. He should respect the monarchy," she told VG.

When you're The Messiah, you can snub a mere king.

You got to have priorities

. . . Reid, who wants to get a healthcare bill finished by Christmas, urged Republicans on the Senate floor to forego a debate on several conference reports this weekend in order to give Senators and staffers the weekend off. "I understand the Republican leader doesn't want us to do health care. I appreciate that. He and I have different positions on that," said Reid. "I see no reason to punish everybody this weekend and I hope the minority will give strong consideration to the proposal that I've made."

That sounds real nice. Reid wants everyone to have the weekend off. But, why?

. . . In addition to shepherding the health care bill through the Senate, Reid is also locked in a tough reelection campaign. And in that regard his desire for a weekend off is not so benevolent to other Senators and staffers. It turns out Reid has a 1,000 plus per plate fundraiser scheduled for Saturday in New Orleans, according to one local paper, which also reports that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, a key swing moderate in the health care debate, will also be in attendance.

What a hypocrite! What a phony! If Reid really believed there was a healthcare crisis requiring immediate action, would he take the weekend off to appear at a campaign fundraiser?

You know you're bad . . .

when you start making George W. Bush look good.

Perhaps the greatest measure of Obama's declining support is that just 50% of voters now say they prefer having him as President to George W. Bush, with 44% saying they'd rather have his predecessor. Given the horrendous approval ratings Bush showed during his final term that's somewhat of a surprise and an indication that voters are increasingly placing the blame on Obama for the country's difficulties instead of giving him space because of the tough situation he inherited. The closeness in the Obama/Bush numbers also has implications for the 2010 elections. Using the Bush card may not be particularly effective for Democrats anymore, which is good news generally for Republicans and especially ones like Rob Portman who are running for office and have close ties to the former President.