“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, September 25, 2009

Max Baucus's Thuggish Behavior

I read Tuesday's lead Wall Street Journal editorial with shock and disgust.

The facts are these. Humana Inc., a health care insurer, sent its members a communication alerting them to Senator Baucus' bill's planned effects on the members' health insurance plans, and urged them to contact their Congressional Representatives to express their feelings on the matter.

As the editorial notes,

"Mr. Baucus took it as a declaration of war. He complained to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal health-care agency, which on Friday duly ordered Humana to cease and desist. CMS claimed the mailer was "misleading and confusing" and told the company it has opened an official probe as to whether the mailer violated laws about how the insurers that manage Advantage plans are allowed to communicate with their customers, as well as other federal statutes."

Is there any difference, anymore, between Congress and your local organized crime family? Both use coercion and extract money from you, without your freely-given consent. Both claim to "protect" you, but end up usually living better than you do, on your tithes.

In this case, Baucus would seem to be acting in violation of the First Amendment. And, one would hope, any Medicare legislation which curtails a provider's ability to communicate freely with their members is itself unconstitutional.

What's obviously troubling is how a US Senator, and the machinery of the federal government, so quickly conspire to gag true speech which they do not like.

As the Journal editorial points out,

"In fact, the Baucus draft legislation slashes $123 billion over the next decade from Medicare Advantage, which Democrats hate despite the fact that almost one-fourth of beneficiaries have chosen it over traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Democrats say that insurers are "overpaid," but the cuts- as Humana correctly noted- mean that seniors may lose this coverage.

Mr. Baucus doesn't want seniors to be educated about these facts, and obviously he's willing to use his enormous power to punish any private company that doesn't affirm his, well, creative version of reality. Nearly half of Humana's yearly revenue comes from Medicare Advantage, and the insurer says that it is complying in full with the CMS investigation. Yesterday, the agency also barred all Advantage insurers from providing similar information to their beneficiaries.

This episode neatly shows how all U.S. health care will operate if Mr. Baucus's bill becomes law."

And there you have it. Government by intimidation and muzzling of any dissent from the private sector. Punishment of free speech by unleashing federal investigators on those so foolish as to oppose a powerful US Senator.

You'd hope you were reading about some banana republic, but you're not. Or, maybe you are now. That appears to be where the United States is headed, or, evidently, has already arrived.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why CO2 is Different Than Other "Pollutants"

I read a surprisingly interesting pair of pieces in Monday's Wall Street Journal section on going green.

The pro-carbon cutting point of view, represented by Robert Stavins, was utterly predictable. Aside from some dubious claims about pollution and economic effects of substituting so-called new energy sources for coal, oil and natural gas, nothing Stavins wrote was of note. As with most cap-and-tax proponents, he airily claimed that not taking action would cost "hundreds of billions of dollars," but declined to provide details.

The one really interesting aspect of the argument was supplied by the other side's representative, Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute.

Hayward pointed out a really key fact that I had never realized prior to reading his piece.

For the past 35 or so years, since the original Clean Air Act, the US, and other countries, have significantly reduced pollution associated with the combustion of fossil fuels.

But combusting fossil fuels generates carbon dioxide as a direct consequence. There's no way to somehow reduce its incidence, as with true pollutants.

Thus, only by reducing total energy consumption can one actually reduce carbon dioxide.

It took a rich US to afford the original effort to reduce air pollution. And, so argues Hayward, will we, again, as a society. But not if we impoverish ourselves by taking on crushing debt to fund totally new, unproven, expensive alternative energy projects, escalating the cost of our energy.

However, that is beside Hayward's main point. And that really is, carbon dioxide is simply unlike real pollutants emitted by combusting fossil fuels. The attempt to legislate or decree carbon dioxide to be a serious pollutant is folly.

In time, for reasons of economics, this will have to be delayed, if not reversed. Most Americans don't wish to live in the past, in terms of energy and standards of living. But if the wrong-headed pursuit of lower carbon dioxide emissions now being discussed is not derailed, that's where most Americans will find themselves headed, courtesy of their government.

That will not end well for the party leading Americans down that path.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The CIA Directors' Letter

Seven former CIA directors sent a letter to Wonderboy last week imploring him to call his AG off of the CIA witch hunt.

Here's the text of the letter, posted on the RealClearPolitics website. The seven signatories are:
Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet, John Deutch, R. James Woolsey, William Webster, and James R. Schlesinger.

Some have made much of the omission of Stan Turner and (former President) George H. Bush. I mentioned this to my friend, B, at lunch on Monday. He noted that Bush wasn't at the Kennedy funeral, and may not be entirely capable of participating in an issue of this depth. Ditto for Turner. I Googled Carter's CIA Director and learned his is 86 years old.

It's very likely that these two simply aren't in shape to join this sort of effort.

Thus, the statement, "every living CIA Director not associated with the current administration" an almost-quote of Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, might be more pragmatically amended to read, "every living CIA Director able to address this issue, and not associated with the current administration."

Krauthammer has taken some heat online for his technically incorrect statement. But, practically speaking, I believe he is correct.

This letter is a stunning event and clear warning to voters of the magnitude of Wonderboy's administration's stripping America of its defenses.

You don't get this type of unanimity among such a large collection of politically-appointed executives spanning over thirty years of CIA service.

We can only hope our First Rookie pays attention and responds positively to this commique. If he doesn't, and Holder proceeds, this is going to become a serious problem for US security. But, on the bright side, another piece of fuel for the movement that will drive Wonderboy from office in three years, and, hopefully, his party from control of the House next year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Irving Kristol's Legacy

I am sure I read a lot of Irving Kristol's pieces in the Wall Street Journal since the late 1970s. However, I confess to not having fully understood his immense network of influential colleagues, until reading James Q. Wilson's editorial/obituary in yesterdays Journal.

Reading some excerpts from Kristol's Journal columns over the years, it's easy to see how he was so far ahead of others in critiquing the roots of LBJ's "Great Society."

Bill Buckley, who also died recently, was perhaps the more public face of the conservative movement. But Kristol seems to have attacked modern liberalism on more philosophically fundamental bases. I sometimes envy his son, Bill, for having had two such eminent, thoughtful writers as parents. Gertrude Himmelfarb, Irving Kristol's wife, authored a wonderful book some years ago, "The New History, and The Old."

I suppose because of Irving Kristols advanced age, and lack of active writing in recent years, and my own more tenuous connection with his earlier work, I can't truthfully say I will miss him.

Rather, I think I'm the beneficiary of both the work of his intellectual and philosophical progeny, and the modern blogging world that allows so many of them to continue his work in ever more approachable and effective ways.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wonderboy Strips America of Her Defenses: The Missile Defense Program Is Killed

It's official. Wonderboy has taken his first explicit step to weaken America's defenses, and those of its allies, while rewarding its enemies.

I don't know who is dumb enough to believe Gates or the First Rookie when they claim this is a better option than Bush's original plan. Further, it begs us to believe that Iran is behind forecasted nuclear development, and won't catch up.

And, how ironic to deliver the news on the anniversary of Germany's invasion of Poland. Does anyone believe Hilary saying that delaying an anti-missile system makes Poland safer?

The disarming of America has begun. Too bad it's a Democratic Congress, or impeachment could also now proceed.