Saturday, October 31, 2009

Harry Reid - Slow Learner

The nations #1 Senator, Harry Reid (D-NV), continues to struggle with politics. It’s amazing really.

We all know that one of the prime specifications the president has made for Obamacare is that it must come in with cost estimates under $1 trillion. (I continue to believe that it is an effort to cause us to take our eyes off the ball. We debate the COST of the bill rather than the PREMISE that health care is a God-given Constitutional right, which it clearly is not.)

So, the umpire of the $1 trillion or less requirement is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). They run the numbers and announce their findings. Seems reasonable enough, though only a fool will believe the estimates. Cost overruns are a Federal specialty.

So, along comes Harry Reid with a new version of the bill and he sends it to the CBO for a score without sharing the plan with the GOP senators or the American people. I’m sure Harry doesn’t want the critics tearing it apart at this point. His hope is that the price tag will be such good news that the content of the bill will be secondary.

But to hide this plan from the voters is foolish and political. Harry has tried before to circumvent debate on critical issues. And each time he has lost.

For example, in July of 2007 Harry tried to circumvent discussion on the immigration bill by invoking a procedure called “The Clay Pigeon.” It didn’t work.

Then in October of 2007 Harry invoked “Rule 14” to pass the DREAM Act (college and citizenship for illegal aliens who attend high school here.) Again, the attempt failed.

In both cases, the procedure involves shutting down discussion and rushing the vote.

In April of 2008, Harry trotted out “Rule 14” once again. This time to cut short debate on MEDICAID rules. Once again, his effort failed.

In May of 2008, Harry tried to bury a worker visa bill in the Iraq War Funding bill. This was designed to not only add to the number of H2B visas, but throw in a path to citizenship as well. Again, the Hail Mary Pass was incomplete.

Throughout the Obamacare debate, Reid has threatened to try procedural tricks to avoid a filibuster. Each time, conservatives have complained that health care reform is too expensive and too far-reaching to be rushed through.

And congress has been publicly humiliated for their stunt of hiring a speed reader for the cap-and-trade bill. They all got a good laugh but the voters weren’t amused.

And Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), makes it clear that no one in congress is going to read a 1,000 page bill and find out what it means.

Again, taxpayers were not amused.

I wonder if Harry even contemplates the meaning of one million people in Washington on September 12th, many carrying signs expressing their dissatisfaction with congress; or the anger expressed at town hall meetings around the country.

This “pull a fast one” attitude doesn’t sit well with Americans. And hiding the content of proposed Obamacare legislation is just another example of politics as usual.

When will Harry learn that in this Internet age congress must behave differently?

Hopefully Harry will learn next November when voters send him packing.

P.S. – The Internet improves memory. You can no longer depend on voter amnesia over anything you did a year ago. Your record is out there for everyone to see.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cookies in the Oval Office today!

Congratulations, Mr. President. The slump is over. After two weeks in negative double digits you finally hit MINUS NINE.

Let's bring in cookies and donuts.

Dang! Back to MINUS TEN the very next day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Busy bureaucratic beavers

There's no one busier in Washington these days than the re-buts. These are the bureaucrats assigned to refute the criticisms leveled at the White House.

Remember during the summer when the White House gave out an e-mail address so you could report all criticism? Things were slow for the re-buts back then; they had to solicit business from the general public.

Not so today. All the re-buts have to do is pick up a newspaper to find material.

For example, it was revealed by that the Cash for Clunkers program cost the American Public $24,000 per car! Edmunds ought to know; they have been in the car business for over 40 years!

Their claim is that of the nearly 700,000 cars traded in, only 125,000 of them were stimulated by the Clunkers program. All the rest would have been traded in anyway.

So, we threw away an average of $4,000 per car to people who were already going to buy a new car anyway.

And the re-buts said that isn't true. But the re-buts can't explain why car sales tanked after the program ended. Maybe people just bought new cars a month or two early? Naw.

It's really hard for bureaucrats to argue with the pros who deal with car sales every day for a living.

Speaking of pros, how about WellPoint? WellPoint processes Blue Cross plans in 14 states. They know how much health care costs. They know how expensive it can be with pre-existing conditions. Their actuaries can tell you when you will die. In short, the cost of risk is their business.

So, what are they saying about Obamacare? In the Wall Street Journal the WellPoint study reveals that health insurance in some segments will triple under the Senate plan.

For example, a 40-year-old couple with two children living in Ohio now pays $332 a month. Under the applied rules of Obamacare they will pay $737 a month.

A small business in Franklin County Ohio will pay 86% more under the government plan.

The article says it best with this statement: "Democrats have been selling health care as one huge free lunch in which everyone gets better insurance while paying less. But the policy facts simply don't add up, and Democrats are attacking WellPoint because they don't want anyone to understand what their health-care schemes will mean in practice."

But all that hard data doesn't stop the re-buts. In fact, they don't even need to read the study to attack it. As soon as it was released they scoffed at it.

Like reading the proposed legislation, the 232 pages of the WellPoint study didn't need to be read. They already know what's in it.

Again, from the Wall Street Journal: "This is yet another insurance-industry report that twists the facts to produce a skewed result," averred Linda Douglass, the White House communications director on health care. Said a spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee, "This is akin to the tobacco companies commissioning another study claiming nicotine isn't addictive and cigarettes don't cause cancer." So in its Saul Alinsky fashion, the White House again attacks the messenger so it can avoid rebutting the message.

The third re-but project comes from the AP who takes issue with the White House claim that 30,000 jobs were created or saved in the stimulus plan.

The re-buts tell us that the AP "draws misleading conclusions from a handful of examples," but admits that they knew about some of the errors and did not dispute any of the AP numbers.

Instead, they said, "Wait until Friday when our new report comes out." And they claimed that they only had three days to review the data. Well, it didn't take the AP long, and most of their errors were discovered by looking at the data on-line.

So, there you have it.
*Edmunds, experts in car sales trends...
*WellPoint, experts in health care risk and premium pricing...
*AP, reporters who can read data on line...
...all telling Obama that his reality checks are all wet.

Frankly, your credibility is slipping, Washington.

Held over once again

The circus is still in Washington DC.

It seems like they've been performing forever. And just last week Harry Reid was hawking the senate version of Obamacare with the public option. He didn't get very far. Even Joe Lieberman the schizo didn't like it.
So late yesterday Reid was beating a hasty retreat.

But that didn't stop Nancy Pelosi from introducing TODAY a house version with the public option.

And Obama commented that he liked what Pelosi had put on the table.
"I congratulate the House of Representatives on the introduction of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, another critical milestone in the effort to reform our health care system."

Meanwhile, Obama is still in negative double digits with his approval rating. It's been that way for two weeks running.
The Associated Press of all people has finally published something about the myth of health insurance company profits. (Better late than never.)
On a roll, the AP shot holes in the Obama claim that the stimulus package had created or saved 30,000 jobs already. Their quick audit slashed at least 5,000 of those jobs.
But Obama's Reality Check team picked a fight with the AP over their story before they even had a decent defense.
Meanwhile, the White House is trying to "make nice" with Fox News. That'll be a tall order, given the fact that his chief-of-staff, PR guru, and press secretary all took shots at Fox on the record.
Even the Big Guy himself made some nasty statements about Fox.
So, how do you make nice after that? "We were just kidding."????
Like I say, the best circus around, and it doesn't show any signs of folding up the tent any time soon.

Phishing with Dick Durbin

Everyone knows not to go hunting with Dick Cheney, but I didn't know the dangers of Phishing with Dick Durbin.

Durbin is so hard up for friends that if you take his poll on the public option, you automatically become a member of his "team."

I got an invitation to take his poll that had his mug on the header and his signature at the bottom. It went like this:


Click here to take the poll!

The tide is shifting our way.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of activists like you we've seen a tremendous shift in the health care reform debate. On Monday, Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced the merged Senate health care bill -- a bill that includes a public option..

The question is no longer if we will have some sort of public option in the final health care reform bill, but instead what form it will take.

There are several interpretations of what a public option should look like, and I'd like to share the preferences of the American people with my colleagues in the Senate. But I must do so before the final health care reform bill comes to a vote on the Senate floor in the coming weeks.

Please rank your preferences for what form the public option should take in the final bill at:

I believe that a robust public option must give more Americans more choice on day one. But some of my colleagues would be content with a public plan that only kicked in if insurance companies continued to raise premiums at an unreasonable rate -- the so-called "trigger." Others would prefer a more limited public option, requiring state governments to "opt-in" to participate in the program.

I am "whip counting" the votes in favor of all of these in the Senate, and we're very, very close to reaching the 60 votes we need to pass a robust form of the public option -- one that provides more coverage to more people by requiring states to "opt out" if they don't want to participate. That's exactly how Medicare and Medicaid work, and all 50 states participate in those popular programs.

Ultimately my colleagues need to know what their constituents think a robust "public option" really means -- and what it doesn't.

Read up on the various interpretations of a public option now under consideration, and tell me -- and my colleagues -- where you stand.

Virtually every poll now shows most people support a robust public option to expand health insurance choice and offer coverage to more Americans. And the American people will not settle for a "public option" in name only.

Neither will I.

Let's tell Congress what precisely we want and expect to see in the final health care reform bill that President Obama signs into law.
Thank you for taking my poll.

If you click on it, you get this screen:

Now, I filled it out with zeroes for questions one through four and a ten for question five, meaning I support no public option.
To my surprise I received this response within a few seconds of selecting the "Submit" button:
Thanks for joining the Durbin team, xxxxxxxxxxx
Thursday, October 29, 2009 2:29 AM
From: "Friends of Dick Durbin"
Add sender to Contacts
Dear xxxxxxxxxx,

Thank you for signing up to join the Dick Durbin online community! We look forward to working with you over the weeks and months to help build a better America.

If you use spam filters to protect your inbox, please take a moment right now to add this message's "from" address ( to your email address book, spam software whitelist, or mail system whitelist. This will help ensure that you receive the messages you have requested and that your email software displays HTML and images properly.

Thanks again, and welcome!


The Friends of Dick Durbin team
So, that's the way it works. Durbin is ignoring the real polls and creating his own data by sending this request to people he believes will take his side. Then he makes you one of his "Team" members.
Wasn't there something about Axelrod hijacking e-mail addresses and sending messages from the White House?
Now, I won't do business with companies who use such tactics so why would I want to vote for a creep who uses them in politics.
It explains why politicians excluded themselves for the restrictions on telemarketing calls. It also explains their dismal approval ratings.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things are so bad in Washington...

How bad is it?

Things are so bad in Washington that the White House is courting Roland Burris for his vote on Obamacare.

I am not making this up.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported today that Obama is sending his health czar to meet with Roland Burris and ask for his vote. Why, Obama hasn't spoken to Burris since he accepted the tainted senate seat from Blago and then lied about his contacts with the former governor.

Here's what Lynn Sweet reported today:

Sen. Roland Burris is critical of the compromise health plan Senate leaders crafted to allow states to opt out of a government-sponsored "public option" insurance plan. With Burris' vote potentially crucial, I've learned that the Obama White House will be paying attention to him for the first time today, dispatching the health "czar" to his Senate office.
The health debate -- and the need for Senate Democrats to eventually muster 60 votes to make the legislation filibuster-proof -- means that Burris' can't be taken for granted.

Sweet concludes her piece with this comment:

The cool relationship between the White House and Burris -- and Sen. Dick Durbin -- is a result of the controversy over Burris' accepting the appointment from the tainted, impeached and indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Earlier this year, Durbin suggested that Burris should resign the seat.

They put on such a confident air when they appear on camera (Reid, Durbin, Pelosi, but you know they are worried when they will risk political contamination by speaking with Roland Burris.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Only in my dreams

Below is another one of my fantasies. Warning: It is only a dream.

The venerable 60 Minutes program on CBS has obtained ACORN's permission to air the entire pimp sting video with audio, exactly as it occured in the Philadelphia ACORN office on July 24th.

Morley Safer himself will host the program. The entire hour will be dedicated to the ACORN encounter.

First, they will present an expert in digital recording who will certify that the recording was faithfully done. No incriminating edits. No re-arranging of scenes.

Then they will play all 32 minutes of the recording.

Third, they will play the rebuttal made by the ACORN employee captured in the video.

Ms. Conway will then be questioned by Safer in a effort to clarify her position based on the tape.

Next, we'll hear from the Philly Police Department in a effort to determine the reality of the police report and what it means.

Andy Rooney will then recap some of ACORN's other nefarious dealings, including intimidation of banks and lenders, breaking into foreclosed homes and taking possession by force, embezzlement, income tax violations, and voter registration fraud.

Bertha Lewis will then have a chance to tell America why ACORN is a victim of right wing nut jobs.

And to conclude the program, President Obama will invite the principal parties to have a beer at the White House.

And then I woke up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The best in the world

Let's suppose you've got $1 billion to spend and you've got a great design for widgets. Where will you build your plant?
You've already ruled out third world countries. You've sent out feelers around the US and there are municipalities willing to wheel-and-deal with tax breaks, free sewer lines, even vacant buildings you can buy cheap.

Sounds great, but what about taxes?

Here's what you see:
Gee, if you didn't know any better you'd think America was a socialist country.

But there's hope in the form of the Obama administration. They love business at the White House. The bigger, the better.

And your executives will feel right at home with the ideas Obama has for your income.

Actually, you'd be better off building your plant in Europe and working a sweet tariff deal with Obama. It's the best of both worlds.

Meanwhile, unemployment holds at around 10% and Obamacare promises great things for business owners.

Paying on performance

Finally, a President who understands that pay should be based on results. All those bail-out bonuses being slashed.

Now, I'm sure he'll turn around and start slashing salaries within government agencies.

Here's a start. Our government promised to have 40 million swine flu doses out in the community by now. How well did they perform? Were they close? can't make the virus grow any faster.

How many? Well...we've got 16 million so far.

You're telling me you have only distributed 40% of what you promised?

Well, heads will roll. Or at least pay will be cut. No salesman in the world would survive if he only sold 40% of his goal.

Here's the list, Mr Obama. Go get 'em:
Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Human Services
Office of the Secretary (IOS)
Office of the Deputy Secretary (DS)
Office of the Chief of Staff (COS)
The Executive Secretariat (ES)
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA)
Office of the Secretary's Regional Directors Regional Directors are provided by Region and States within the region.
Office on Disability (OD)
Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (ASAM)
Assistant Secretary for Resources and Technology (ASRT)
Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH)
Assistant Secretary for Legislation (ASL)
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Departmental Appeals Board (DAB)
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Office of Global Health Affairs (OGHA)
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)
Office of the General Counsel (OGC)
Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives (CFBCI)

Now, on to the CDC
Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Ileana Arias, PhD Acting Deputy Director
Stephanie B. Coursey Bailey, MD, MS
Chief, Office of Public Health Practice
Janet Collins, Ph.D
Acting Associate Director for Program in the Office of the Director
Stephen B. Blount, MD, MPH
Director, Coordinating Office of Global Health
Rear Admiral Mitchell L. Cohen, MD, USPHS
Director, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases
Retired Rear Admiral Henry Falk, MD, MPH, USPHS
Director, Coordinating Center for Environmental Health and Injury Prevention
Donna Garland, BS
Director, Office of Enterprise Communication
Anne C. Haddix, PhD
Acting Chief, Office of Strategy and Innovation
Ed Hunter
Director, CDC Washington Office
Denise Koo, MD, MPH
Acting Director, Office of Workforce and Career Development
Bill Nichols, MPA
Interim Deputy Director for Management and Budget
Acting Chief Operating Officer
Tanja Popovic, MD, PhD, F(AAM), AM(AAFS)
Chief Science Officer, Office of the Chief Science Officer
Louis Salinas, BA, MPA
Acting Chief of Staff, Office of the Director
Donald Shriber, JD, MPH
Interim Deputy Director for Policy, Legislation and Communication
Rear Admiral Steven L. Solomon, MD, USPHS
Director, Coordinating Center for Health Information and Services
Daniel Marc Sosin, MD, MPH, FACP
Acting Director, Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response
Kathleen E. Toomey, MD, MPHDirector, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion

Once you get the hang of it, Mr. Obama, you can cut some salaries related to the stimulus projects...and those people who vetted your staff...and....

Gee, you may be on to something. Maybe we won't need more taxes after all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back on the campaign trail

It's only been a month (9/21/09) since Obama was on David Letterman. Last time his numbers were sinking, but they are even worse now.

For a solid week his spread between supporters and critics has been in the double digits.

Here's the Rasmussen take at the moment:
10/22/2009 -13
10/21/2009 -13
10/20/2009 -12
10/19/2009 -10
10/18/2009 -10
10/17/2009 -10
10/16/2009 -11

Even the left-leaning CNN poll says this:
Obama's poll numbers show wear and tear
CNN 10/21/09

Poll: Fewer than half agree with President Obama on issues important to them

From Candy Crowley
CNN Senior Political Correspondent
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As President Obama navigates his way through a series of issues as controversial as they are vital, he's getting a yellow flag from the American people.

For the first time since Obama took office, fewer than half of Americans agree with the president on issues important to them, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Tuesday. A majority, 51 percent, disagree -- a jump of 10 percentage points since April.

Despite the majority disagreement on issues, the poll also found the president's approval rating remains in the healthy mid-50s. And two-thirds of Americans say he has the personal qualities a president should have.

"It's awfully early yet, but this president might be shaping up to be a little like Ronald Reagan, where people actually didn't often agree with Ronald Reagan's ideas, but they loved the guy," said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor.

A popular president who is less popular on the issues -- Obama could use his personal popularity to rally support for his less popular agenda.

I love the spin CNN put on it; "Wear and tear."

But they give us the strategy in a nutshell: Use your personality!

Hence, he's on the talk show circuit to boost his street cred. As long as he doesn't take any swipes at Special Olympics it just might work.

Tonight he's back on Letterman. I guess when you consider how he got elected it makes perfect sense.

As for his agenda, the wonderful analogy of lipstick on a pig comes to mind.

The Official Explanation

You are now on jury duty. You are assigned to sort out the guilt or innocence of ACORN vs O'Keefe and Giles.
According to video and audio shot on location at the ACORN Philly office, the "pimp sting" went rather well. No, the ACORN people didn't advise them on how to cheat the IRS or Immigration. But they didn't recoil in horror when asked to help find housing for a prostitution business.
O'Keefe says they arrived at ACORN at approximately 9:30 am and stayed for 32 minutes. They were invited to a housing seminar and offered the business card of Ms. Conway. The closest thing to being "thrown out" or "shown the door" came in the form of reminders from Conway that she had another meeting and needed to cut the meeting short.
Now, ACORN's official explanation, per the video on Media Matters of Katherine Conway Russell's encounter with O'Keefe. (It is curious that at no time in the video does Conway say anything about Hannah Giles.)
Here's what she said in the video, presented several weeks after the encounter.
"We refused to help him and called police and filed this report."
"I called Ian Phillips from ACORN (Phillips is the legislative director for Pennsylvania ACORN) and asked why he had referred them to me. He said that he didn't and that I shouldn't let them in the office. Ian Phillips told me that they had gotten strange calls from these people and that is when we decided to call the police."
"Keith Crosby from our office called the police because he had the phone number that James O'Keefe had called us on."
Here's a translation of the police report from cop to English:
Time of arrival: 10:44. Time back in the car: 11:05

Time of occurrence: 10:40
Text of police report (edited to add names and complete abbreviations)
“The above complainant (Keith Crosby) called police after the below male (James O’Keefe) had come to the above location to apply for low income housing and was causing a verbal disturbance with employees of ACORN. The below man (James O’Keefe) was not on location and the complainant was advised.”

Some questions:
Why did ACORN delay in calling the police?
What was the nature of the “verbal disturbance”?
Why did Keith Crosby call the police and not Katherine Conway Russell?
Why didn’t ACORN tell the police about the prostitution or human sex trafficking mentioned in the video?
Why doesn’t the police report contain O’Keefe’s phone number?
Did the police make any effort to contact O’Keefe?
Why isn’t Katherine Conway Russell named on the police report?
How could the police have concluded that the complaint was “founded”?
Why did it take a phone call to Ian Phillips to determine there was a "verbal disturbance" and the police needed to be called?

Some things are clear here:
1) Media Matters is more interested in defending the actions of the left than in the truth.
2) ACORN did much more than just show them the door.
3) Contrary to the comments of Katherine Conway, they did discuss prostitution and sex trafficking of minors.
4) There was a gap of between 8 and 38 minutes from the time Giles and O'Keefe left the ACORN office and the time the police were called. A phone consultation with Ian Phillips took place during that gap, at which time they decided to call the police.
5) Despite the success of the pimp stings, major media outlets either refuse to cover the story or simply take ACORN's word for what happened.
6) ACORN's track record ain't lookin' good right now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thrown out of an ACORN office

You know all those secret videos of ACORN employees giving bad advice? Remember how the first one hit, and ACORN said it was an isolated case? Then every couple of days another city was implicated until they had exposed FIVE offices.

ACORN officials, in an effort to save face, have indicated that the sting operation was thwarted at the Philly office. They have the police report to prove it. And the statement by the office manager on national TV that the troublemakers were tossed out after a couple of minutes.

Even Bertha Lewis, the head of ACORN, told the world they were quickly dispatched from the Philly office. And mediamatters agrees with her.

Well, the tale of the tape is rather different. The two were actually in the ACORN office for 32 minutes.

And they openly told the office manager on a couple of occasions that Hannah was a prostitute. And they spun out the tale of the illegal alien girls as well.

The reaction from ACORN of Philly? Well, you'll need this form and we'll sign you up for one of our home-buying seminars. And here's my card if you want to call me with questions.

And as they left, the receptionist was all smiles and confirmed their next appointment.

Somehow, that isn't what I thought it would be like to be thrown out of someplace. Then again, maybe ACORN is different.

The challenge is out there. What are the media outlets going to say now? And when will they say it?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friends of Shep

Shepard Fairey is taking some serious flak over his famous Obama Hope poster. At first he lied about the photo he posterizes, then he told another lie to cover it up, then another lie, then another...just like grade school

I for one honor Mr. Fairey for his work. Without it the world would have been a duller place. See the knock-offs below.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Not "How"...but "Should we"

The Mopper-in-Chief was in San Francisco with Nancy Pelosi yesterday and was baiting his critics with comments like these: "I'm busy. Nancy's busy with her mop cleaning up somebody else's mess. We don't want somebody sitting back saying you're not holding the mop the right way.

"Why don't you grab a mop? Why don't you help clean up?”

Then Obama went on to ape his critics who say,
"You're not mopping fast enough," or “That’s a socialist mop.”

Then he challenges all the naysayers with, "Grab a mop! Let's get to work."

Hidden within his challenge is the real question. It isn’t, “How do we provide health care for everyone in America?” Instead, the real question is, “Should we provide health care for everyone in America?”

A significant minority of Americans feel that government should not be in the health care business. For some it is an ideological question of moving toward socialism.

For others it is a lack of confidence in government’s ability to pull it off.

For still others it is the cost associated with doing so.

And there is ample evidence that Washington is in way over its head here. Just yesterday the AMA launched a TV campaign because Medicare reimbursements are too low. And here in Illinois, the Kids First health care program is having trouble finding doctors to participate because the rates are too low and it take months to get reimbursed.

But few politicians are making the "Should we?" argument. Why? Because it can alienate them from the voters who love entitlements. It can appear to be cold-hearted.

This is a key problem for conservative voters. We want elected officials to speak the truth rather than go along with the crowd. A few GOP proposals deal with sensible reform like tort limits and cross-state plan availability. They even suggest some reforms to provide coverage for the unemployed or poor.

But no one is going up against Obama on philosophical grounds. And that’s a shame.

(PS- The photo is from the SEIU program where candidates spend a day with an SEIU working person. Note that the mop is dry and there's no soap. I thought it was an appropriate photo.)

The unreal world of Washington DC

Maryland senator Barbara Mikulski was at a hearing on the big, bad health insurance companies yesterday and heard horror stories of $5,000 deductibles and declined policy applications for women of child-bearing age.

One woman was told that because her last pregnancy was a C-section the insurance company in question told her they would not write a policy for her unless she had her tubes tied. (Later that company said they would write her policy but it would be expensive.)

And Mikulski commented, "I found it offensive and morally repugnant and I intend to do something about it."

The senator has been in Washington since 1977. Perhaps she should get out more.

When we were first married we bought maternity insurance. And it was very expensive. And there is a reason for it. There is nowhere to go to subsidize the risk; nowhere to spread it.

Everyone who buys a maternity policy intends to collect on it soon. It is not a matter of "if" but "when" the insurance company will pay out. The "peace of mind" comes to the policy holder because if something goes terribly wrong they will be protected.

This is not a good position for an insurance company. They would need to charge the full amount of the average bill as a premium or they would be doing charity work.

What the veteran senator is saying is that insurance companies ought to ignore the risk and give these women cheaper policies. The reason insuring the health of women is more expensive is the success of women's health awareness programs. Frankly, they are tested and treated more than men.

In the real world, you can't pay out more than you take in.

So, Senator Mikulski, who pays the difference in your America? Insurance companies can't just print money like you can. They can't just pass a bill with the board of directors for more funny money like you do when some agency needs more funding.

And what happens in Mikulski's America when they cover risk with no thought for how it will be funded?

I love what Walter Williams said recently about taxation and entitlements: "Absent Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, the only way government can give one American a dollar in the name of this or that good thing is by taking it from some other American by force."

This whole Obamacare mess is a prime example of Washington being out of touch with reality.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Carving up the pie

Congressional districting is a fine-tuned art.

Some are kinda boring like Utah's three districts:

Utah is pretty red and there aren't large racial neighborhoods to be carved up.

Here's the map of the new guy, Jason Chaffetz:

Not many democrats here. Inner city Salt Lake and Ogden are the donkey strongholds in Utah, and Jason's got none of that territory. He's got the more affluent Salt Lake suburbs, Utah County, and the farm country. His biggest ethnic battle is the west side of I-15 in Salt Lake County. On balance, he's got a good chunk of the Utah conservative base.

But Illinois is much different. Here is the 14th district map, drawn by ex-Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert, so he could be assured a win every time.

Guess what? Hastert resigned abruptly to skirt the new lobbyist laws and a democrat won the district. A new democrat. Bill Foster.

Here's the district once held by Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Chief of Staff:

A few twists and turns, but still credible.

Now, here's the map of Luis Gutierrez' 4th district. This is a map custom made for a Hispanic politician:

It looks like a pair of pliers! The beauty of it is that it is 74.5% Hispanic. How weird is that? Cook County is 19.9% Hispanic. Chicago is 28.1%

I'd say Luis has it lucky. It does explain why Gutierrez is leading the parade on amnesty.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Did you hear about this?

Anti-Islam message left in vandalism at five mosques
Police » It could be a hate crime if vandals intended to intimidate or terrorize.
By Lindsay Whitehurst
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 10/12/2009 06:28:19 AM MDT

Vandals threw rocks tied with antagonistic notes at five mosques overnight Saturday in South Jordan and Riverton.

A single rock was thrown at glass doors at each mosque, said South Jordan police Officer B.J. Smith. Police have no suspects.

Typewritten notes attached to each rock with a black elastic hair-tie reading: "'Stop spreading your lies, pagans,'" Smith said.

The notes were printed on a single sheet of white paper, and the rocks were baseball-to-softball size. The double-paned, tempered glass was broken in only one of the mosques. In the others, the rock broke through only the first pane of glass and landed outside the buildings.

They were thrown sometime after 10:30 p.m. The incidents were reported between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Sunday, when worshipers began arriving.

The note may push the investigation into hate-crime territory, depending on whether the vandals intended to "intimidate or terrorize," Smith said.

"It's leaning that way, toward more like a hate crime, but we wouldn't know until we made suspect contact and interviewed them to determine exactly what their intent was," he said.

The police investigation would be conducted in a similar way whether it was a hate crime or not, but if it is found to be a hate crime, a suspect could face enhanced charges, Smith said.

Investigators will likely begin by looking at recent reports of suspicious persons in the area, and asking worshipers and others about people they know who might have had "angry or hurtful feelings toward Islam," Smith said. didn't hear about these incidents? Perhaps it is because I edited the story. Actually, the rocks were thrown at Mormon churches.

Oh, that's different. Though I don't know why.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Snowe job

Item #1: From what I can tell reading the rules of the Senate Finance Committee, Olympia Snowe's vote was not necessary to pass the Baucus bill out of committee. Her "aye" vote was symbolic and political.

Item #2: Here's what Snowe said about her vote: “Is this the bill that I would want? Far from it. But when history calls, history calls, and I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress taking every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time.”

This doesn't sound like a endorsement to me. Nor does it exude confidence in legislation that will have far-reaching effects for every American. This isn't some obscure bill about taxing sardines; they are tinkering with 1/6th of the economy here.

Hidden in her statement is an ego saying, "I want to be part of the Obama legacy, the day when we created healthcare as a right of every American."

If this one turns out like New Deal or Great Society, maybe she won't be so proud to have her name associated with it. Given the flaws and the political wind behind this one, I think a lousy law is more likely than not.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Talk about "You lie!"

Here's a report from Senator Charles Schumer and HCAN, issued in August.

(Note: According to their website "What is Health Care for America Now (HCAN)?Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is a national grassroots campaign of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states representing 30 million people dedicated to winning quality, affordable health care we all can count on in 2009. Our organization and principles are supported by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and more than 190 Members of Congress.")

The report says:“Profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007. In 2007 alone, the chief executive officers at these companies collected combined total compensation of $118.6 million—an average of $11.9 million each. That is 468 times more than the $25,434 an average American worker made that year.”

So, if we skim the data we think that health insurance companies are making a 428% profit. And medical being such a huge sector in the economy, you are talking about billions and billions of dollars.

No wonder Waxman sent off his questionnaire to the insurance companies.

But HCAN laid it on thick by comparing the average salary to that of the insurance company executives. One could turn the tables on HCAN and ask if they are suggesting that everyone in America make the same amount of money, but I for one don't want to know the answer.

But the truth is, that number is misleading. It really doesn't express the true profit margin of the insurance companies. The distortion is made worse by the number of mergers in the insurance industry which causes the dreaded apples-to-oranges comparison. Simply put, it's just bad data presented in a way that deceives.

What you really want to know is the profit margin for health insurance companies, and maybe a little comparative data. We don't need "really big numbers" just for the sake of headlines.

So, here are the real profits, according to Morningstar:
Amgen (biotechnology): Profit margin, 30.6 percent
Gilead Sciences (biotechnology): 37.6 percent
Celgene Corp. (biotechnology): 11.9 percent
Johnson & Johnson (drug manufacturer): 20.8 percent
Pfizer (drug manufacturer): 16.3 percent
GlaxoSmithKline (drug manufacturer): 17.4 percent
Unitedhealth Group (healthcare plans): 4.1 percent
WellPoint (healthcare plans): 4 percent
Aetna (healthcare plans): 3.9 percent

MedcoHealth Solutions (healthcare services): 2.1 percent
Express Scripts (healthcare services): 3.7 percent
Quest Diagnostics (healthcare services): 8.7 percent
Medtronic (medical equipment): 14.9 percent
Baxter International (medical equipment): 17.5 percent
Covidien (medical equipment): 12.3 percent
Exxon (oil): 9 percent
Google: 20.6%
Microsoft: 24.9%
Apple: 15%
Walmart: 3.3%
Home Depot: 5.3%

In fact, as a sector, health insurance companies aren't that great:
"Overall, the profit margin for health insurance companies was a modest 3.4 percent over the past year, according to data provided by Morningstar. That ranks 87th out of 215 industries and slightly above the median of 2.2 percent. By this measure, the most profitable industry over the past year has been beverages, with a 25.9 percent profit margin. Right behind that were healthcare real-estate trusts (firms that are basically the landlords for hospitals and healthcare facilities) and application-software (think Windows). The worst performer was copper, with a profit margin of minus 56.6 percent." (US News)

Here's an interesting chart from The American Catholic:

As you can see, if Obama thinks they can make healthcare available to everyone by outperforming the greedy insurance companies, they've only got less than $100 a year per person to work with. Unless, of course, they start cutting corners somewhere. But isn't that their argument about those big, bad insurance companies who deny people the care they need?

I'm sure they are counting on those insurance executive profits, that $118.6 million. Well, the government now reimburses hospitals about $200 million a year to pay for uncompensated care. The bad news is that illegal aliens alone suck $4.3 BILLION from the emergency rooms in unfunded treatment, so $118 million isn't much.

At the core of it all for me is that the very people screaming about insurance companies (Schumer, Reid, Pelosi, Waxman, Durbin, Obama) are the same people who set the bailout forecast with a "We just wanted to choose a really large number," having no idea what the plan would really cost.

These are the same people who tax a gallon of gas in Illinois at 52 CENTS while complaining about the 18 cents profit the oil company makes.

And, lest we forget, these insurance companies are probably in your portfolio if you hold mutual funds. So...don't they understand economics in Washington, or don't they care?

You won't hear any complaining in Washington about the pharma sector, even though their profits are higher than insurance companies by a factor of four. Why the amnesty? Because pharma agreed to endorse Obamacare.

And they wonder why America doesn't like congress.

(By the way, I used the official White House "Reality Check" logo, but don't look for any of this information there; you won't find it.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

And the winner is...

Obama couldn't score one of these......but he did get one of these...
Now, you have to keep in mind that Obama was selected for the Nobel Peace Prize through voting that took place in early February.

It is only fair to ask what he had accomplished then.
1) He had run a successful campaign and appeared on the front page of newspapers around the world as America's first black president.
2) He had promised to close Gitmo and made all sorts of statements about the rights of terrorists in custody.
3) He had visited Germany as a candidate and was well-received.

So, things were looking good for a globalist president at that point.

In March he would send a holiday greeting to the muslims in Iran.

He would later speak to them at Cairo University and gush about their accomplishments and peace-loving nature.

And again in September he would send a special shout-out to muslims on their holiday.

And his apology tour was a hit, except here in America.

The global elite lap up stuff like this. Still, one must wonder how they feel about his performance now, nine months later. Gitmo is more complicated than he thought, Iraq is still occupied, Afghanistan is building troop strength, Iran has their finger on the button, North Korea is as angry as ever, Israel is mad because he wants to give away their land, the Poles and Czechs lost their defense shield...If the election were held today, I'm not sure he'd be the man of peace for 2009.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Judge needed

Tim Geithner, tax cheat
Executive Branch

Rep. Charlie Rangel, tax cheat

Legislative Branch

In order to maintain the checks and balances, we need a little help from the Supreme Court. Anyone?

Pelosi and the House voted overwhelmingly to go easy on Charlie's tax fraud of $1.3 million. Not to mention another $3 million in fishy earmarks. They want him to stay on as Chairman of Ways and Means. It's a good thing he didn't disrupt an Obama speech or he would have been in real trouble.'ve got a tax cheat writing the tax laws and a tax cheat enforcing the tax laws. Ain't it great?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Halloween comes early

There's your White House Easter egg hunt and your White House turkey pardon we enjoy every year.

But Obama has called together the White House Costume Party, a bit premature for Halloween but that's OK.

No stunt according to the White House. They just happened to find 50 doctors, exactly one from each state (what an amazing coincidence), and invited them to the White House to hear the president.

They were told to wear their lab coats, but some of them didn't.

So Obama found white coats for all of them and they dutifully donned the frocks, sat down, and cheered when the "applause" sign lit up.

And, you won't believe it, but there were reporters there, and cameras.

Seriously, we'll all get vertigo from this spin. You're not selling soap, Mr. Obama. This is the most expensive government take-over yet and your cheap sell is all the more revolting.

And you MDs ought to be ashamed of yourselves to participate in this circus.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Protecting the unborn... taking sides in Illinois.

An appeals court confirmed that a special license plate with the phrase "Choose Life" would imply that the state of Illinois is anti-abortion. And we couldn't have that.

But Illinois did issue this plate in 2002, commemorating a Mormon Temple. Does that plate imply that Mormonism is the official religion of Illinois?

Official logic can be funny, don't you think?

Super duper top secret plan

I admit it, I was wrong. There really IS an Obama health care plan.

Now, don’t run out and look for it because you won’t find it. It’s a secret. Only certain members of congress are privy to it. They enter the White House one at a time and are given a glimpse. And they are sworn to secrecy before they leave.

No one really knows whether it is just bullet-points or the entire text with all the “Therefores and Whereases” already in place. I’m gonna guess it is something in between.

From past Obama comments we think it says:
~Public option
~No health care for illegal aliens
~No abortion coverage
~No death panels
~Must pay for itself

We would not have known about it were it not for this leak to the press:,0,4247371,full.story

This gives us great hope for passage…if they can do some sort of procedural maneuver…keep the wording from the public before the vote…and do it late at night…on a weekend.

Ya’ gotta love this open form of government.

Final Analysis: Olympics 2016

The post-mortem on the Chicago bid for the Olympic games comes from Illinois Senator Roland Burris:
“You know who is to blame for us losing the Olympics? Bush.”

And Jesse Jackson said the same thing:
"The way we [refused to sign] the Kyoto Treaty, we misled the world into Iraq. The world had a very bad taste in its mouth about us. But there was such a turnaround after last November. The world now feels better about America and about Americans. That's why I thought the president's going was the deal-maker."

And from Susana Mendoza of the Illinois State House:
"I travel a lot. ... I thought we had really turned a corner with the election of President Obama. People are so much more welcoming of Americans now. But this isn't the people of those countries. This is the leaders still living with outdated impressions of Americans."

Perhaps these good folks forgot what David Axelrod, Obama’s PR chief, said back in April: “I think what has happened is that anti-Americanism isn’t cool anymore.”

In the White House as they lick their wounds all agree that Obama needs to do more to “reboot” America’s image around the world. He’s sure having trouble with those campaign promises.

In any case, we thank Roland for his insights and look for the second, third, and fourth revision of that statement before we take it to represent what he really meant. That’s how Burris operates, you know.

Chicago lost its bid for the 2016 Olympics in the first round of IOC voting.