Archive for December, 2009

Rasmussen Reports [Only Part of the Unfolding Obama Story]

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Polling on the president, Democrats, congressional Democratic leaders, and this health-care plan all seems to show that Democrats are in bad, awful, terrible shape. What I like most about this Rasmussen Reports article is how pathetically the pollster strains to find “one bright spot in the numbers” for President Obama:

One bright spot in the numbers for the President is that 51% of voters still say former President George W. Bush is more to blame for the nation’s economic woes. Just 41% point the finger of blame at the current President.

Really. Bright spot? What if I told this fella — and I shouldn’t have to; he studies trends for a living and should know — that 75% of those polled in July of last year blamed Bush? And what if I told him that by July of this year that number had come down to 56%? Far from a bright spot, it appears to be cause for great concern to Obama: President Bush is gaining on him in favor and improving his image as people look back on his presidency in their rear-view, even if today the snapshot of a trend shows a bare majority still blaming ol’ Dubya.

Oh, and one more thing: yes, “just” 41% blame Obama, the Rasmussen analyst (or reporter, or intern) says. But in July, only 29% did. So it’s not just that Bush is losing the blame; it’s that Obama, and not someone else — not Congress, not the Fed, not Leader Reid, not Speaker Pelosi — happens also to be earning it quite effectively.


Dana Milbank: Senators don’t need to “understand” the health-care bill before voting for it

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

From Dana Milbank’s piece in yesterday’s Washington Post:

[Senator Coburn] went to the Senate floor just before noon Wednesday and asked Democrats to agree to an amendment to the health-care bill that “would certify that every member of the Senate has read the bill and understands it before they vote on the bill.”

Understands it? Would there be a quiz? Would the exam be scored by the Congressional Budget Office? When Democrats understandably rejected this idea, Coburn responded with a parliamentary maneuver that stopped all action on the floor until the Senate clerk could read aloud every word of a 767-page amendment offered by Sanders.

Hold on a minute; let’s just soak that in for a second. Milbank thinks it’s more ridiculous for Coburn to expect senators to understand the bill than to expect that they read it in its entirety. Democrats, Milbank says, “understandably” thought it a silly notion, so they “rejected this idea.” So, what — it’s laughable, now, this silly expectation that legislators understand what they’re voting on before they cast their votes? What is a legislator’s job, if not primarily — I’d say solely — to understand the legislation they vote into law?

Yet this responsibility to know what one is voting for — how it will improve or worsen the system, what kind of impact it will have on Americans, what cost it will be to their government — is not a responsibility at all; at least, not to Milbank and Senate Democrats, anyway.

Nope, on all matters, but particularly right now on health care, senators ought to just take Reid at his word that the bill does what he says it will do: which is to say, add 30-plus million people to the system without increasing costs, without sacrificing coverage — what should glare as a simple arithmetical impossibility to those with even remedial math skills and a grasp of basic logic.

But this isn’t wholly inconsistent with Milbank’s approach to journalism, so it should have come as no surprise to me; he himself doesn’t seem to understand policy, so if he, the Distinguished Commentator from the Post, doesn’t need to understand something before pontificating on it, then hey, why should a U.S. Senator?

Categories: Dana Milbank, Health Care

Obama calls saving money “sexy”; Adults nationwide say they now understand this complex financial concept

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

A friend told a group of us in an email that the president called insulation and saving money sexy and cool. I figured he was just riffin’, that it was just more good-natured humor stemming from some of Obama’s truly presidential moments (like when he taught people this fall how to sneeze properly). I was about to tell him his joke wasn’t all that funny, but then, for some reason, I figured I’d Google it just to be sure.

Yup. Sure enough. The man said it.

I guess I’d expect that kind of salesmanship if the most powerful man in the world, the President of the United States of America, were talking to 2nd-graders about saying no to drugs. But no. He’s telling adults that saving money is sexy — as part of a broader economic and environmental argument. Truly astounding. The MTV generation is finally at the helm, looks like.

I wonder who in the audience thought to himself, “You know, saving money didn’t make that much sense to me until I heard it said like that. You know how that is? How sometimes you just have to hear something in the right way at the right time? That Obama. Sexy. Saving money. Yes, indeedy! Now I get it!”

Categories: Uncategorized

Awakening China, the sleeping giant — over carbon?

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m no foreign-policy expert, but something tells me forcing China to agree to intrusive, IAEA-like, overbearing inspections of their carbon controls — which necessarily requires treating China like an enemy, or at least an antagonist, worthy of skepticism/cynicism — isn’t a good idea. And all over a greenhouse gas that might be harmful in the long, long, long run? Forget about their human-rights abuses; forget about the oppressive ideology that guides its government: what we’re worried about is a nebulous, uncertain, possible threat from their smokestacks!

If we’re going to back China into a corner over something, all I’m saying is, greenhouse gases probably ain’t it.

A totalitarianism the likes of which we’ve never seen …

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

is on its way.

People who dismiss talk of worldwide population control as fringe or otherwise extreme and impossible aren’t paying attention.

I’m not quite sure people appreciate what kind of limits on personal freedom we’re going to see within our lifetime, nor do they quite understand on what scale. I’m not sure we’ll be able to go anywhere in the world to escape it, unless it’s to a third-world country where there will exist not de facto but de jure limits on freedoms we’ve come to enjoy (i.e., freedom from dirty, sickly water and freedom from disease and “freedom from” nonexistent or shoddy infrastructure). I’m wracking my brain for that fabled, cliche “last bastion of freedom” we read about in dystopian novels, but I’m coming up short and it scares the hell out of me.

Personal freedom, rugged individualism, the pursuit of happiness — these have become antiquated, extinct. All has been subsumed by the state.

Categories: Uncategorized

Super-uber-mega, filibuster-proof majority of Americans oppose Senate health plan

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

We heard a lot during the last campaign about returning the government to the people, about governing on behalf of the majority, and not the rich few. You still hear Democrats say the American people want health-care reform. And they are exactly right, but only in a very general sense: Americans do, in fact, support health-care reform, and perhaps even some sort of public insurance, some larger role for the federal government.

But they oppose this plan. They oppose this way of fixing American health care. And not just a plurality or a slim majority, but a super-uber-mega, filibuster-proof, vast majority.

So why is the Republican position — that we should stop, scrap this bill, and start over — so bad? Does 61% of America – in addition to congressional Republicans – also remind Senator Harry Reid of those who opposed slavery? How arrogant he must be to have such confidence in a plan that is less of a plan than it is a hodgepodge of concessions tossed on some oak conference table! That’s what we’re talking about here! This isn’t the product of decades of academic research; this isn’t even the product of a single day of academic research – by professors of health policy, or experienced policy-wonk PhDs – into how to devise a complex system so it will most efficiently care for 305 million people. This is patchwork, makeshift jerry-rigging. And he wonders how people could possibly oppose it? Actually, he doesn’t; he knows why: because they’re racists. How dare racists question Harry’s health-policy credentials. “Don’t they know I’ve done this all my life? I write health-care policy for hundreds of millions of people all the time!”


It seems to me that, politically, Democrats stand to make huge gains, enormous strides, in public support by saying, simply and humbly, “Look, we have no doubt that the majority of Americans believe this system is whack, but we promised to protect the majority, not dismiss it; we promised to govern for them, not despite them. So we’re going back to the drawing board because we’re confident that there are things we can work with the Republicans on fixing to lower costs, increase access, and improve the quality of health care in America.”

But that won’t happen. Democrats have so convinced themselves of their paternal role that they are quite literally (an over-used word, but I picked it carefully) acting like parents do with wayward children. We all heard it when we were kids: “You’re upset now, you’re mad at me now, but I was your age once and I’ve lived a long time since and I know what’s best for you. You might not see it now, but you’ll thank me later for this. Trust me.”

The difference is, trusting one’s parents is typically the only option. If you’re grounded, you’re grounded; if they won’t give you the keys to the car, you’re not going anywhere.

But us? Well, we’ll all be heading to our local voting precinct in about a year, and from the looks of it, it really ain’t gonna be pretty for our paternalistic politicians across the Potomac.

Categories: Uncategorized

Obama – probably unwittingly – distinguishes between conservatives and liberals with a single line

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

President Obama, in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech today said, “We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes” (emphasis mine).

“In our lifetimes,” he said. It would have never occurred to a conservative to qualify an otherwise true statement with such an absurd, naive clause.

There’s a possibility that he meant this in a religious sense, that he was referring to the afterlife; in other words, that violent conflict is as fundamental to mortality as it is antithetical to the hereafter, and only then will we experience unmitigated, unqualified peace. My hunch, though, is that this was a political statement, that the academics he’s surrounded by tell him they can eradicate peace, I dunno, 126.5 years from now, but that — according to their calculations — humans don’t really live that long. (“So, let’s just say ‘in our lifetimes’ to be safe. Whadaya say, [speechwriter] John [Favreau]?” “Great idea; we don’t want to commit ourselves to anything.”)

A conservative would never have qualified that statement — except perhaps with the word ever.

Peace is unattainable in this world, period, as long as humans rule it — and if they weren’t its rulers, well, I don’t imagine that would be a very peaceful world, either, because if it’s (a) because we don’t exist, then dogs and lions are still real jerks to each other, too, so there’s no lasting peace there, either; and if (b) it’s because we’ve been conquered by some alien race … oh, for crying out loud, you get my point.

Categories: Uncategorized