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

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, February 26, 2010

Yesterday's Health Care Summit

Despite my planned avoidance of yesterday's vaunted health care "summit," about which I wrote here, I actually ended up watching a fair amount of it. And participating in the live blog on Newt Gingrich's health care-related website.

Mind you, I didn't listen to or watch the entire proceedings. I mean, it's really unbearable and torturous to have to listen to Wonderboy and his Congressional minions lie through their teeth- as they did.

But I watched them enough to form the following impressions.

First, as confirmed by various sources, the Democrats did not give Republicans equal time. Congressional members of each party had about 119 minutes, or nearly 2 hours. But Wonderboy abrogated to himself another 2 hours, making it 2:1 for Democrats:Republicans.

Tactically, whenever Republicans were scoring heavily with telling remarks about Democratic chicanery, lies, or trickery, either Wonderboy, Biden or Harry Reid would cut them off. In one case, as the Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel noted, when Paul Ryan, House Republican from Wisconsin, landed several direct blows to Wonderboy's plan, the president called an aide over to "confer," thus taking the camera off of Ryan.

Which brings me to my next impression. As several other pundits also have noted, Wonderboy managed to reinforce his slide from looking Presidential. Seated at the table, albeit the head of one side, with everyone else, he appeared to be trying to act as moderator. He would arrogantly state whether he thought someone had merely restated 'campaign talking points,' meaning a GOP speaker, or whether 'good points' had been made- by a Democrat, of course.

I should mention that, until it froze my browser and necessitated a reboot of my computer, the live blog on Gingrich's site was scrolling at a frenetic pace. The thousands who took part were something like 100:1 of the opinion that Wonderboy and his henchmen were putting on a show, without any actual intention of listening. They weren't fooled for a moment by his antics and arrogance.

In fact, many times bloggers chimed in about how arrogant, self-impressed and narcissistic the president was behaving. Next to that, a common theme was to vote every incumbent out of office and just start over in Congress with totally fresh faces. There was a lot of anger, mostly at Democrats.

They also nearly uniformly noticed something which I also observed, i.e., Democrats led with sob stories to make emotional demands for their bloated bill, while Republicans largely stuck to their own ideas, critiques of the bill, and demands for Democrats to swear off 'reconciliation' and start over together.

All in all, I think Wonderboy and his party made a serious mistake by holding the meeting. The Democrats merely confirmed their intransigence, refusal to listen to voters, and dedication to, as one pundit put it, "rule, rather than govern." Which was shown clearly in Wonderboy's self-anointed wrap-up, wherein he threatened that if the Republicans don't vote for this abomination, he will give his blessing to reconciliation in the Senate.

However, it's far from clear, to various pundits, that Reid can even get 51 votes. And, if he does, Frisco Nan can't, by Paul Ryan's counting, get anywhere close to a one-vote margin to pass anything. He said on CNBC that morning that the GOP believes the Democrats are as many as 20 votes short in the House.

Still, the GOP gave a much, much better and more coherent performance than I feared. Lamar Alexander, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Tom Coburn, John McCain and John Kyle all scored direct hits on Wonderboy and his flawed plans.

They forced the president to grimace at being criticized, corrected, shown his data were erroneous, and generally made him uncomfortable by being forced to listen to honest, forthright criticisms. He obviously didn't like it.

Oh, well. That's what a president gets when he chooses to leave the Oval Office and get down in the dirt with Congress to discuss legislative details in public.

Ronald Reagan would never have behaved so unwisely. He'd have had GOP legislators meet with Democrats privately, then perhaps join them. But he'd never lower himself to look like a high school debating team moderator.

My final comment is about my first impression of the seven hour gripe fest. As I watched Lamar Alexander make the GOP's opening remarks, I was struck by his focus on 'how bills are written and passed.' Alexander was a successful Tennessee elected official, governed the state, then ran for Senate. He's very experienced in governing. The wide gulf between him and the baby we have in the Oval Office was never more pronounced than when Alexander mused aloud how bi-partisan legislation had been written in past Congressional sessions.

It became clear that Wonderboy simply has no idea what he's doing. He's a novice who actually believes it's all about campaigning, speaking, and orating. But since he's never accomplished anything of note in his life, other than winning a Senate and a presidential campaign, he wouldn't have a clue as to how to govern the United States.

It surely showed yesterday, didn't it?

The Real Importance of Milton Friedman's Negative Income Tax

Many years ago, as a freshman in college, I read about Milton Friedman's 'negative income tax' idea in Paul Samuelson's fundamental Economics text.

At the time, I thought it was simply another way to transfer benefits to the poor.

With time and my own maturity, I have come to more fully realize how transformationally different Friedman's notion was from all the transfer payment plans enacted by the US Congress.

Specifically, true to his libertarian views, Friedman envisioned providing benefits to poorer Americans as simply providing them the means to live their lives, not a series of administered programs with extensive, confusing rules on how to meet various needs in their lives.

For example, how different would US health care for the poor and elderly be, were we to have enacted a Friedmanian negative income tax solution, than it currently is for Medicare and Medicaid?

Instead of two grossly expensive, administered, complex programs prone to waste and fraud, we would simply have provided low-income tax return filers below a specified minimum AGI with vouchers to buy needed health insurance. Period.

That's it. After that, those people simply enter the health care system like anyone else. If they had some special condition that mitigated their finding an affordable policy, a government-provided policy could be issued. And, again, with no extra people, overhead or rules, those citizens would have health insurance and access to health care.

Why didn't Congress do this, instead of enacting a look-alike to our failed, unaffordable Social Security System?

Friedman's genius on this matter was to see a nation in which the poor were given the means to access affordable necessities, such as food and medical care, without dictating how they were to do it.

It was all about personal liberty and freedom, even while being aided by fellow citizens through the tax code.

Instead, we now have a myriad of transfer payment programs which frustrate and confound those they ostensibly were to assist. While driving government costs higher by creating whole armies of administrators to preside over the operation of needless programs.

Friedman will be missed in more ways than just on topics of conventional economics.

On the subject of assisting the poor, and doing it simply, efficiently and with maximum liberty, through the tax code, he was unsurpassed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Today's Washington Health Care Farce

Don't be fooled by all the hype and hoopla surrounding today's planned 6-hour meeting of selected Congressional members of both parties and Wonderboy.

Various members are all saying they are hopeful something will emerge- perhaps a compromise.

However, as I wrote in this post of Evan Bayh's stupid 'Senate lunch for 100' idea, this is something that was always available all of last year. That's what the various House and Senate Committees and sub-committees are supposed to do. All this summit illustrates is the failure of Democrats in Congress to do their work, which means building bi-partisan consensus, if that's what they really want.

Harry Reid and Frisco Nan could, at any time, have invited select Republicans to meet with them behind closed doors to hash out a true compromise. Or, they could have done it, as Wonderboy promised so many times in his campaign, "on CNN."

Today's meeting is just kabuki theatre and a show trial combined. It's Wonderboy and his henchmen attempting to paint Republicans as intransigent, obstructive and negative.

Truth is, it's the Democrats who are at war with themselves. Republicans have nothing to do with it.

My major hope for today is that the GOP legislators took some time to discuss and role play the dynamics of today's meeting. Perhaps even retained a skilled consultant in this sort of thing.

Essentially, the Republicans have to be prepared with planned responses to a few key occurrences at the meeting.

For example, as Newt Gingrich explained on Sean Hannity's program last night, if the Republicans are not given equal time to talk during the meeting, they should immediately leave, and convene a press conference to explain the unfair procedures under which they were to operate.

There are other exigencies for which the GOP legislators should have planned responses.

It's almost impossible that anything will actually emerge from this faux-summit that helps the issue. Wonderboy and his left-leaning Congressional leaders, Reid and Frisco Nan, are all Progressives bent on getting their way. Period.

This summit isn't about compromise, because Democrats could have had Republicans working with them on that all last year. But they chose to ram their own ideas through, instead.

They don't read polls. They don't care that Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of the Democratic health care proposals.

How can any sane person deal with tone-deaf, clueless dictators like this?

The Republicans simply have to argue for equal time, suggest the entire effort be commenced from scratch, with clear identification of objectives for any health care proposals, and promote their own very powerful, sensible and effective solutions.

Any significant deviation from an ability to do this should be met with the departure from the trap-that-is-this-faux-summit by the GOP invitees.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Evan Bayh's Whiny Media Tour

I wrote last week of Evan Bayh's exit from the Senate. In the ensuing week, Bayh has commenced a media tour to demonstrate what an ill-informed cry baby he actually is.

I've seen clips from his appearance on the popular women's morning program, The View. Tough crowd there, Evan.

Actually, it was. After decrying partisan bickering and name-calling, one of the hostesses tossed out a barbed comment directed at Sarah Palin, and Bayh, without batting an eye, chimed in and dissed the VP candidate.

True colors, indeed, eh, Evan?

But if you really want to read Bayh at his whiny Democratic best, here are some choice passages from his recent New York Times editorial. I, of course, don't read the People's Daily, but a friend emailed me the piece.

"When I was a boy, members of Congress from both parties, along with their families, would routinely visit our home for dinner or the holidays. This type of social interaction hardly ever happens today and we are the poorer for it. It is much harder to demonize someone when you know his family or have visited his home.

It shouldn't take a constitutional crisis or an attack on the nation to create honest dialogue in the Senate. Let’s start with a simple proposal: why not have a monthly lunch of all 100 senators? Every week, the parties already meet for a caucus lunch. Democrats gather in one room, Republicans in another, and no bipartisan interaction takes place. With a monthly lunch of all senators, we could pick a topic and have each side make a brief presentation followed by questions and answers. Listening to one another, absent the posturing and public talking points, could only promote greater understanding, which is necessary to real progress.

The recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, allowing corporations and unions to spend freely on ads explicitly supporting or opposing political candidates, will worsen matters. The threat of unlimited amounts of negative advertising from special interest groups will only make members more beholden to their natural constituencies and more afraid of violating party orthodoxies.

What’s more, the number of votes needed to overcome a filibuster should be reduced to 55 from 60. During my father’s era, filibusters were commonly used to block civil rights legislation and, in 1975, the requisite number of votes was reduced to 60 from 67. The challenges facing the country today are so substantial that further delay imperils the Republic and warrants another reduction in the supermajority requirement.

Of course, the genesis of a good portion of the gridlock in Congress does not reside in Congress itself. Ultimate reform will require each of us, as voters and Americans, to take a long look in the mirror, because in many ways, our representatives in Washington reflect the people who have sent them there.

The most ideologically devoted elements in both parties must accept that not every compromise is a sign of betrayal or an indication of moral lassitude. When too many of our citizens take an all-or-nothing approach, we should not be surprised when nothing is the result.

What is required from members of Congress and the public alike is a new spirit of devotion to the national welfare beyond party or self-interest. In a time of national peril, with our problems compounding, we must remember that more unites us as Americans than divides us.

Meeting America’s profound challenges and reforming Congress will not be easy. Old habits die hard. Special interests are entrenched. Still, my optimism as I serve out the remainder of my final term in the Senate is undiminished. With the right reforms, members of Congress can once again embody our best selves and our highest aspirations."

Bayh is right to observe that you are less likely to demonize those with whose family you have perhaps shared a meal or visited at their home.

Why does that mean you and I should now foot the bill for a posh monthly lunch for 100 Senators?

So typical of a Democrat, is it not, to force socialization and believe it is an effective substitute for individual choice of with whom you affiliate?

If all 100 of these blowhards are in the same room, again, isn't that the same as convening the Senate? Oh, wait, it's supposed to be private. So what Bayh alleges is that the problem is with the people in the Senate. They are incapable of being secure and honest enough to say what they mean in public.

Hhhmm......but Evan seems to blame us, the voters. That's why they have to go into hiding to talk honestly. So we don't hear about it.

Is that Evan Bayh's idea of representative democracy? Transparency?

Then Bayh takes another swipe at free speech and the Supreme Court, telling us how bad it is that institutions won't be able to articulate their views on political candidates and topics.

Wow. Evan doesn't want us to hear what the 100 Senators would say in secret. He doesn't want us to hear what legitimate entities which embody much of our nation's wealth would say about politicians and political topics.

Does Bayh even think we are smart enough to vote in elections?

Then comes Bayh's true Progressive streak. He wants the votes for cloture to be reduced from 60 to 55. By the way, I didn't know that it was reduced from 67 to 60 for civil rights legislation. That tells you something, doesn't it?

Progressives have been chipping away at requiring large majorities of Congress, meaning those representing large swathes of the voting public, for decades. They want to ram through whatever social legislation occurs to them on a whim, without the annoying need to convince most of America.

It never occurs to these Progressives that gridlock occurs because it should. The same day Bayh's piece appeared in the People's Daily, Rivlin and Casey wrote a counterpoint in the Wall Street Journal. They noted that gridlock is a design feature that the Framers put into the Constitution in order to avoid emotional rushes to legislate bad ideas. Ideas not truly embraced by a vast majority of Americans.

To see things from a different perspective, consider the Civil War. As far back as 1820, Congress was writing comprise legislation to admit states so as not to prematurely solve the slavery question. If Bayh and his ilk had their way, maybe the Civil War would have taken place in the 1820s? With perhaps a different result.

Instead, forty years of attempts to craft non-military resolution led some southern states to secede, upon Lincoln's election.

My point is, that issue was alive and in play for at least 40 years.

What's the rush now? Why are Evan Bayh and colleagues in such a rush to further erode the Senate's brake on American society consensus-building? And, isn't it ironic that Democrats want to lessen the votes needed for cloture when they have a large majority in the Senate?

What's with that? Can't they literally get their own house, or chamber, in order?

Evidently not. So let's just change the process. Because we can trust 59 Democratic demagogues, can't we? They may not be able to convince each other, or themselves, that their own party's health care and other society-changing legislation is appropriate.

So let's just change the rules by which such legislation is passed.

Evan Bayh seems, on further analysis, to be little more than a whiny Progressive Senator from the left. Crying because the public doesn't want ill-considered change.

When a member of Congress can no longer distinguish between working for productive change that US society wants, and passing unwanted, hastily- and ill-considered change, it's time for him or her to leave office.

Sounds like a lot of other members need to join Evan Bayh in retirement, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sarah Palin For President?

Dorothy Rabinowitz, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, wrote an excellent piece in last Thursday's edition of the paper commenting on Sarah Palin's presidential aspirations.

Rabinowitz chose to focus on Palin's playing the victim role, and how that sets her apart from Reagan's legacy. A legacy she seems to believe she follows, and in which she believes she partakes.

I found other reasons to question Palin's fitness for the office, while discussing the topic with a friend recently.

With the visceral memory of presidents back to Johnson, several things bother me about Sarah Palin.

First is that she was governor of a relatively small state, in terms of population. The state has less than a million residents.

After voting for a man who was possibly our worst president ever, Jimmy Carter, and watching him become impotent within months of his inauguration, I don't trust small-state governors to be capable of handing our federal government. And certainly not one who failed to complete even one term.

Second, coming from a state so physically distant from areas of high US population, and having few people itself, I question whether Palin has an effective, sizable network of capable, credible advisers.

It's all well and good for her husband, the "First Dude" of Alaska, to be a primary confidant for the state's governor. But I really don't want to know that Sarah Palin would be largely reliant on her husband's advice to govern our nation.

Again, as with Carter, who also possessed an ineffective group of advisers, I am concerned that a group of professional hangers-on from the GOP would fill the void. Even the Journal editorial noted that she has hired some Washington policy guns to brief her and help her fill this important gap in her experience.

That's very troubling. You can well imagine the picture of an inexperienced, under-educated president relying on the advisers who happened to grab her attention first. Hardly like Reagan, who possessed good basic foreign and domestic instincts.

I believe Palin would provide an opportunity for has-been GOP graybeards, and worse, to try to manipulate her.

Many of Palin's core values are laudable and desirable in a president. But, at least at this time, Sarah Palin is simply too unfinished and politically immature to be a credible candidate for president of the US.

Your Tax Dollars At "Work?"

An anonymous reader left a comment yesterday on this post. The text of the reader's comment was showcased in this post.

But there's more to it than that. It appears that the reader left a trail showing a misuse of your tax dollars.

Here's why.

Thanks to Sitemeter, I have the commenting reader's ISP information. Usually I'd keep some of it private, but not this time. See for yourself.

Domain Namesenate.gov ? (U.S. Government)
IP Address 156.33.59.# (U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms)
ISP U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms
Continent : North America
Country :
United States (Facts)
State : Virginia
City : Vienna
Lat/Long : 38.912, -77.2716
Language English (U.S.)en-us
Operating System Microsoft WinNT
Browser Internet Explorer 8.0Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.0; Trident/4.0; SLCC1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; InfoPath.2; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; .NET CLR 3.0.30729; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Javascript version 1.3
Monitor Resolution:1613 x 1008
Color Depth : 32 bits
Time of Visit Feb 22 2010 2:30:59 pm
Last Page View Feb 22 2010 2:48:48 pm
Visit Length 17 minutes 49 seconds
Page Views 6
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page http://conservativei...ys-death-panels.html
Out Click Post a Commenthttps://www.blogger....=7746442432328731504
Time Zone UTC-5:00
Visitor's Time Feb 22 2010 2:30:59 pm
Visit Number4,417

It appears someone in the Senate Sergeant At Arms office was using this government ISP to read my blog and leave politically-motivated comments. And the location wasn't the Capitol, or a Senate office building. It is Vienna, Virginia. Perhaps that's where the ISP is located, but that's sort of hard to believe.

In any case, the reader had a bias. And it's hard for me to understand why we are paying taxes for some moron in the that organization to read blogs like mine and comment on them.

Of course, if the Senate employee wasn't on duty when surfing, then why is s/he using government resources and leaving politically-motivated comments from a government account?

Somehow, it seems fitting someone so stupid would be working for the federal government.

Hopefully, supplying the detailed ISP, time and other information may help someone identify the culprit and have him fired. Maybe I'll scare up a phone number down at the Capitol to alert the Sergeant At Arms for the Senate of this situation.

So much for efficiency in government. Now you know your tax dollars are paying for some government union employee to surf the web on your dime.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Clueless Reader

Here's a comment a reader left on today's earlier post,

"Despite from a required conversation between doctor and patient on end of life senarios, the death panels were a complete political distraction, and you fell for it! Besides, even if the mythical death panels existed, with whatever nightmarish standards for care you can think of, the man has curable cancer... fix em up and put him back on the slopes.

But i apologize for looking at this logically, please return to partisan regurgitation. "

I guess s/he wasn't too bright. Because the death panels were- and remain- very real in Wonderboy's vision of 'reformed' health care. S/he misses the point.

In the First Rookie's brave new world, oldsters like Frank would be left to die. Too expensive for the years remaining.

No, the comment isn't logical. You didn't understand the original post. Yes, the blog is conservative. But not, if you've actually read more than one post, partisan. At all.

Test Case for Wonderboy's Death Panels: NJ Senator Frank "Nearly Dead" Lautenberg

Our First Rookie's failed health care plan contained a component calling for "death panels." That is, commissions which would rule on whether prescribed medical care was 'worth it' for people, considering the age, ability to continue to contribute to society. etc.

Now there is a high profile opportunity to try that approach, as described in an article found here in the Newark, NJ Star-Ledger.

It seems the perennially-nearly-dead, back-from-the-grave Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg has stomach cancer. The article stated,

"Lautenberg took ill Monday while at home in Cliffside Park. He fell down and phoned his doctor and an ambulance. The senator directed the ambulance to transport him to Manhattan for treatment at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he has been hospitalized ever since. Lautenberg never lost consciousness, his aides said."

I'd say it's debatable if Frank has actually been conscious for years.

He's 86, and had retired from the Senate some years ago. Then his replacement, Bob "The Torch" Torricelli, was nearing a federal indictment for misappropriating campaign funds. So he dropped out of the the primary. Trouble was, that left the Democrats with no candidate, potentially opening the way for Republican Forrester. To stop this, the NJ Supreme Court overruled state law, to allow Lautenberg on the ballot.

So much for the rule of law in New Jersey.

Lautenberg, who has looked like death warmed over for more than a decade, went on to win the geriatric vote, defeating Forrester.

Now the old boy has stomach cancer. At 86, any real death panel would tell Frank to go home and buy a case of Maalox.

Why don't we try a dry run of Wonderboy's idea and see how Frank makes out? You know, remove names of patients, assign them ID numbers, and submit Frank's case, along with a dozen others, to a mock death panel.

Let's be sure to include some of the First Rookie's prominent anti-human ethicians on the panel.

I'm....hehe....dying to see how they'd rule on Lautenberg's appeal for chemotherapy.

The Star-Ledger piece also noted,

"The Democrat still plans to finish out his current term – his fifth in the Senate – and seek re-election in 2014."

Incredible, isn't it? The guy took a head injury skiing a few years ago, and should be in a rest home.

Really, where are those death panels when you need them?