October 31, 2009

Saturday Learning Series - What The Doctor Ordered

History. Those who do not learn from it are condemned to repeat it. Those who do learn from it stand on the shoulders of giants, and stand to gain from it.

James Burke, a professor and scientific historian paints a brilliant historical picture in a way that is wholly absorbing. Even those not interested in history will find something engrossing in this, his television series.

For more of these and other important learnings, search Nonsensible Shoes for the term "Saturday Learning Series".

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October 30, 2009

Friday Musical Interlude - Halloween Edition, 2009

Seeing as tomorrow is Halloween, below are three scary Halloween-esque musical pieces;

Toccata & Fugue by J.S. Bach

Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield

And the not so scary Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London.

October 29, 2009

Reading the Races: Virginia and New Jersey

It's been three days since I've had a chance to blog and I'm itching to get back to it.  Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to work on it over the past week or so, I've got about 15 half-baked ideas to work on, and I'm still pressed for time.  But while I have a couple of minutes, I'd like to just throw in a bit about the elections in Virginia and New Jersey this coming Tuesday.

While it looks like Virginia is a lock for a Republican governor with McDonnell opening as much as a 13 point lead on his Democratic opponent, New Jersey seems to be a bit scarier for the GOP. Rasmussen has a paragraph on it here. Chris Christie is clinging to a lead of only a few points over the incumbent Jon Corzine.  That's down from a much larger cushion earlier this summer.  In fact in the latest Quinnipiac poll puts Corzine ahead. Meanwhile some of that anti-Corzine energy is being drained away by the third party candidate.

It would be a shame to see a Corzine victory in New Jersey.  I'm hoping that enough of those opposed to Corzine and leaning towards Daggett will put aside their personal preference and get behind Christie.  Here's why.  A Corzine victory will provide President Obama and the Democrats in Congress and the Senate something to hang their hats on.  They can argue that while they lost Virginia, they still held New Jersey and therefore the split does not portend an anti-Democrat trend in the nation.  They can argue that their mandate has not been lost and that New Jersey was never in play.  On the other hand a GOP sweep of the only two states in play sends a message to Democrats.

Maybe not the President or Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi, but it sends a message to blue dog Democrats and Democrats in red states to smarten up on health care, on cap and trade, on government oversight and a host of other issues.  Two big GOP wins, will make many Democrats listen.  And it might be just enough momentum to stop this Obamacare thing from going forward in any meaningful way.  Town halls and Tea Parties have made politicians take note (even if they pretend to ignore it). A Christie win in New Jersey however, provides the exclamation point on the sentence that people are not happy with the direction of the goverment right now.  I've got my fingers crossed for a strong conservative statement on election day. That means among other things a GOP win in New Jersey.

October 25, 2009

Obama recycles - his speeches.

There's been instances in the past of Barack Obama lifting speeches or turns of phrases from others.  Of course there was this issue with the Deval Patrick speech.

And Mahatma Ghandi is credited with the phrase 'we must be the change', used almost unchanged by Barack Obama in 'we are the change...' 

Not to mention the his choice of VP, Joe Biden, was caught plagarizing Neil Kinnock in a speech during the 1988 Presidential campaign, as well as Hubert Humphrey and Robert Kennedy. Oh, and a university law paper.

Idea theft is not new to this administration.  Clearly the President is an imitator and not an innovator.  Saul Alinsky would be proud. He even outsourced his Cap and Trade and health care agendas to the Congress and Senate.  And his team?  An awful lot of Clinton retreads are there to be counted.  Originality?  New?  Change?  Not so much.  Once again a free pass from the MSM.

So it should come as no surprise that the President is starting to borrow ideas for speeches from...his own speeches.

Via Breitbart (Oct 23rd, 2010)- Obama, lashing out at nay-sayers on climate change had this to say;
US President Barack Obama on Friday hit out at naysayers he blamed for peddling "cynical" claims that global warming is a myth to derail a landmark climate change bill in Congress.

Obama warned that the closer the Senate came to passing legislation which has already cleared the House of Representatives, the more opponents would resort to underhand tactics.

"The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized," Obama warned in a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"But I think it's important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we'll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we're engaged in.

"There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy," Obama said, a day after the release of a poll showing fewer Americans see solid evidence of global warming.

"There are going to be those who... make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary."
(emphasis added)

On health care, on Sept 12, 2009, Bloomberg carried the following report;
“I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it,” Obama told 13,000 people gathered to rally around his health-care proposals at Minneapolis’s Target Center. “If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out.”

Obama this week entered what he and his advisers hope will be the final phase in their efforts to overhaul the U.S. health- care system. The president is stepping up his drive amid stiff opposition from Republicans and hesitation from some Democrats over the cost of his plan, estimated at $900 billion over a decade.

“This is when the special interests and the insurance companies and the folks who want to kill reform fight back with everything they’ve got,” Obama said. “This is when they spread all kinds of rumors to scare and intimidate the American people.”
 (Emphasis added.) Seems just a little familiar.  In both speeches the President talks about a dishonest opposition (because he's post-partisan).  In both speeches he loads up on the fierce urgency of now (or as someone else put it - "Now is the time"), because opposition has reached a fever pitch of, assumably, desperation.

The White House is a strange microcosm of mis-direction from their problems (Fox News is the problem, don't pay attention to the details of our agenda), and retreading ideas.

EXIT QUESTION: Is Rahm Emmanuel in the White House to torpedo Obama so Hillary can run in 2012?  Honestly.  An administration this inept HAS to be trying to be bad. Since Emmanuel is a Clintonista, just maybe he's behind the dumb moves as much as he is the misdirection.

October 24, 2009

Saturday Learning Series - Credit Where It's Due

The following set of videos from the fascinating professor James Burke of England, is part of a series entitled The Day The Universe Changed. This episode is entitled Credit Where It's Due. The series looks at how society has ended up where it is now as a result of some seemingly completely unrelated and startling event of the past.

You might think history is dry and dull. If James Burke were your professor, you wouldn't think so. His series are truly excellent.

NOTE: The Saturday Learning Series on Nonsensible Shoes has changed it's time slot to noon, in order to try to reach a wider audience. For more learning series search Nonsensible Shoes for the term "Saturday Learning Series". If you haven't followed the series, at a minimum, at least look at the rest of The Day The Universe Changed, as there's a connectivity between the episodes.

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October 23, 2009

Friday Musical Interlude - October 23, 2009

Time for another Friday musical interlude:

Sniff'n the Tears from 1978. Drivers Seat

October 22, 2009

Some long needed GOP ideas

There is so much more now that needs redress for conservatives, unfortunately, that the GOP should have no problem coming up with a new contract with America. There's some low hanging fruit, to put it in business parlance, that not only are easy wins, but long overdue changes that would really help re-orient the country on a path to prosperity and re-visit America's greatest days.

Because of the nature of the United States - the freedom, the opportunity among other characteristics, America can truly claim a unique mantle in the ideal that the greatest days for the country are yet to come. Can Russia say the same? Great Britain or France? There are other countries like India and China that clearly have greater days ahead. But their greatest days ever? Not likely. Not without the freedoms enjoyed by Americans. They can aspire to continuous improvement but things will always be dampened by their systems, be they social, political or both.

Because American improving greatness, a trait dependent on a system that is built to foster continual improvement, always lies in the future, the occasional hiccup of backtracking might never become permanent. That however is dependent on a populace that is eternally vigilant against an erosion of those champion qualities that keep that future improvement possible.

That's where the GOP comes in. There are a lot of things that have been plowed into reality by liberals and more recently progressives (a.k.a. socialists) that have the potential to decimate that America. The Republicans are not without blame in that regard but they are definitely in a position to both solve the problem and solve their own electoral problems in the bargain. It's a win-win-lose situation for America, the GOP and the liberals respectively.

Here's a few ideas that if presented with some minimal explanation, and anecdotal references presented with true conviction could win the hearts and minds across the nation. It is by no means an exhaustive list.

-Elimination of riders on legislation. Each bill must be presented as a standalone. No arts subsidies should be tacked onto a military spending bill. And vice versa. Piggy backing legislative items amounts to nothing more than subterfuge. It's deceitful and it's wrong.

-All legislation should be in a form that is readable by the non-lawyer public. There should be no 1502 page legislative proposals. Legislation should have a true limit on its length and on its scope and should have a minimum amount of time that the public can have their say before it gets voted on. It's not an original idea, but so far those who have promised it have not delivered on their promises.

-All legislation currently in existence should be subject to review and to a removal (not a reversal). There are many legislative rules that are outdated and meaningless and/or have had their application twisted so as to be unrecognizable by its creator(s). Rules in certain categories should have any barriers to removal, removed or reduced. Let's make it easier to redress past legislative mistakes.

-Tort reform. It's always good to pare back the legal implications of any reasonable action. The trick with tort reform is to be able to make the case to the public as to why it is so important.

-Elimination and consolidation and simplification of redundant programs. Unlike tort reform, this is a pretty easy sell, except in the dependent class. Everyone else knows there is phenomenal waste. And even that dependent class could buy in if they knew that programs that are to be run more efficiently benefit them in the end.

-Removal of district gerrymandering. Every 10 years there is a new census and based on that electoral college votes and state Congressional allotments are determined. Soon afterwards how to determine which district lines drawn on a map best suit each party and the fighting begins. Districts that result are illogical geographic mishmashes designed to serve incumbency. The districting must be incumbency neutral and driven by some sort of geographic logic not subject to agenda-driven human interference.

-Court appointment rules so that Presidential appointees are not subject to unreasonable delays or irrelevant 'advise and consent' judiciary committee questioning and more importantly litmus tests.
More ideas to come in part 2. Soon.

Would You Vote For Newt In 2012? Why?

Newt Gingrich, erstwhile Republican Congressional leader, and modern day GOP apparatchik has been roundly criticized of late in the blogosphere (here's a prime example) for his support of Dierdre Scozzafava, candidate for Congress in New York's 23rd Congressional District, in the special election in 2009.  And rightly so. Scozzafava is no different than a liberal Democrat on far too many issues to justify pushing her nomination in a primary race.  Scozzafava has accepted endorsements in the past from the Working Families Party  (which has ties to ACORN), and she was endorsed, unsolicited by liberal activist Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (the Daily Kos guy). That's a nice ship for Newt to board.

Especially when there are solid conservative candidates in the running (Doug Hoffman for one).  A Democrat has not represented the district in any form since 1871. Most recently outgoing Republican McHugh won the district with over 60 percent of the vote.  It seems pretty solidly conservative to most observers. In the most recent election however, President Obama carried the district over McCain by a margin of 52%-47%.  Could Newt be playing defence in New York?  Does he really think there has been a shift in the country towards more liberal policy?

There was a time when Newt was a solid conservative, but on far too many issues and in far too many circumstances, he's started to behave like the inside-the-beltway-bubble thinkers he once was able to gain Republican control of the Congress (for the first time in decades) by decrying.  What happened to Newt?  Has been inside politics for too long? This is not another Newt pile-on post however. Yes, he deserves his criticism by sticking to his guns on this issue and caving on others like the global warming HOAX.

But here's the real question.

The GOP was overrun in 2006-2008.  In a military battle an overrun army/brigade/platoon that has been scattered is of no real military consequence.  In order to be an effective unit, the scattered forces must regroup (rally) in order to become an effective fighting force.  In political terms, a house divided cannot stand, and a rally-equivalent is not just necessary, but imperative. Conservatives cannot hope to split their allegiances and be an effective counter-force to liberal dogma. In that sense Newt makes an important point.

Too often those who espouse a third party, and there are plenty, do so without considering the unintended consequences of their actions.  And the unintended consequences of a divided force opposing rampant liberlism, are dire. It means, as Newt rightly points out, a permanent (representative) minority status.  That's far more damaging than some RINOs in the party.  It's like taking your foot off the brake entirely rather than not pushing it hard enough to stop in time.  At least some braking in the latter case is happening and it buys time.

On the other hand, a GOP party infiltrated by liberals means two liberal parties and no conservative viewpoint.  So what's a conservative to do?  Rather than walk away from the party like a scorned spouse seeking a divorce, more needs to be done within the confines of the party itself.  Aren't conservatives supposed to be known for their loyalty to their ideals?  Isn't loyalty to the GOP like loyalty to a friend.  If your friend does something really stupid, you don't walk away from the friendship, you try to set them straight.  Aren't conservatives all about hard work being required for results (you get out of it what you put into it)?  Doesn't it sound a bit like sour grapes and a bit like being the selfish, easy-route solution that we think liberals live to just walk away from it all? To me, that's the way it appears.  Instead of running, conservatives should be fighting to right the GOP.

In the case of Scozzafava, there should be a rally around Hoffman in order to defeat Scozzafava and her liberal endorsements (and Newt Gingrich's).  It shouldn't be too hard, as apparently her cash stockpile is not too impressive. 

Where efforts should be made is in the primaries and at every turn that touches on GOP involvement. If you put effort into the GOP, over time you will see results.  The effort that went into the Tea Parties and the resulting notice (despite many trying to suppress it) in the media and in Congress was worth it.  But that type of effort was just a start.  Or it should be.  What conservatives face is a political enemy that WILL NOT rest and will not relent.  That type of effort must be met in kind. Anything short and you get what you pay (in sweat) for.

Amount of effort in = Amount of result out result out.

In order to make the big gains, the right has to settle for small gains to start.  Defeating Scozzafava is a good start, but the real step is to send a big notice to Democrats in Congress and the White House that they have over-estimated their mandate, because many who signed on were, clueless, and many who were opposed are now more stridently so.  Seeing a big Congressional swing is the slap-in-the-face Democrats need to back a few steps away from the radicalism they are currently pushing.

Until Rupert Murdoch or some other conservative takes ownership of NBC, and we have not just Fox versus every other television network, the playing field will always be tilted in favor of liberals.  It means we have to work harder, and accept small gains as gains rather than take an all-or-nothing view.

Would you vote for Newt in 2012 if he were the GOP nominee for President? I'd like to think that despite reservations, most sensible conservatives would begrudgingly do so.  As much as John McCain was a really lousy GOP choice, he would not have been Obama-bad. Newt, as centrist as he has become, would not be McCain-bad.  Hopefully conservatives realize that, should Newt become the nominee.  The trick is, given Newt Gingrich's slide to some untenable positions from a conservative standpoint, to not let him get that 2012 nomination in the first place.  That's the real fight.  At least that's my two cents.

October 21, 2009

Democrat Governor Inadvertently Accurate on Stimulus

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) was on Fox News this morning talking about the possibility of another stimulus and whether or not he supports it.

He stated that he didn't think it was time just yet for another stimulus but if there were to be one, it should focus on infrastructure projects instead of social programs. But that's not where he is right. Governor Rendell was speaking directly to his constituents in a state where unemployment is 'only' 8.6%. That's below the national average, but Pennsylvania is a state that could be impacted by the President's apparent hatred for coal. The rate could get worse. The Governor does have to factor in his own political survival, and the facts on the ground in his home state of Pennsylvania cannot be ignored when he speaks to a national audience.

But on that point, Governor Rendell is at least half right. A spending stimulus in the past has focused on shovel-in-the-ground projects. Roads. Dams. Bridges. At least they provide a tangible societal benefit down the road. Whether they have a stimulating effect on the economy is another thing. Social programs do not put people back to work.

Where Governor Rendell is right, albeit unintentionally, is - get ready for this - in his defense of the previous stimulus effort by Democrats.


Let me explain that.

Governor Rendell claimed that the term stimulus has gotten a bad name/reputation of late. He's right. But his intended point is not. He was implying, being on Fox and trying to play to (and convert) the audience, that a stimulus isn't as bad as conservative media portrays it. Never mind that it has failed on every measurement including the President's own 8% unemployment cap.

But it HAS gotten a bad reputation and it's as a result of the Democrats' choice method of trying to stimulate the economy. A stimulus effort in and of itself is not a bad thing, but the devil is in the details.

When the economy is in trouble, the government has many levers it can pull: stimulus spending, tax cuts, interest rate reductions, and managing the money supply (wisely) are some of those options. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the government trying to reduce the impact of a recession. The question is "how". Prudent, incremental, unobtrusive steps that recognize the government's role as one to facilitate of business, not demonize it, would have been applauded by most.

But the Democrats have chosen some very wasteful if not destructive options as their stimulus package. It should have been named a spending package because they've sullied the term stimulus for a generation to come. Governor Rendell was right. A stimulus isn’t what it used to be. It has become synonymous with deceit, waste, and pork. Nice going Democrats.

By the way, the first round of stimulus was dubbed porkulus although I tried hard to call it stinkulus.  I say the next one down the pipe we call "stinkulus" rather than "prokulus 2". It sounds better, and less derivative.  It has nothing to do with ego, I swear...

EXIT Question: Does the fact that Rendell and other Democrats are willing to appear on Fox News, unlike the President, give away their hand on the 2010 elections? Will they take a good cop / bad cop approach that allows local incumbents to distance themselves from the President and come of looking good locally? Given the President's approval slide, particularly among independents, I bet that's the play they are going to run in many states.

Fox News should ask every elected official that comes on whether or not they support the President's position on Fox. What a way to out them. It doesn't matter if they answer truthfully or not - No means the President is wrong: Yes means they are self-serving hypocrites; anything in between will come off as disingenuous. If it results in an all out Democrat boycott, then the Democrats will come across as more partisan than Fox, not the other way around.

October 20, 2009

Everyone Loves A Patsy

Everyone loves a patsy.  Or at least they say they do and act like they do.  According to a new Nation Brand Index survey.  America is loved by all once again.  Isn't that just peachy?

But you just know that behind the  patsy's back, there's a lot of derision. And there's a lot of phoniness in the supposed love.  It pays to be friendly to the class nerd who can't get any friends, because he's likely the guy (or girl) who can do your homework for you.  Why not be friendly, if you can get something out of it?  It's not like you need to really respect the nerd.

NOTE:  Short posts this week - busy at my day job.

October 18, 2009

Health Care's Hidden Costs - Part 1

Last week the Washington Post reported on the Congressional Budget Office's estimates of the two competing house versions of the health care plan.
Congressional budget analysts have given House leaders cost estimates for two competing versions of their plan to overhaul the health-care system, concluding that one comes within striking distance of the $900 billion limit set by President Obama and the other falls below it.

House leaders have been working to lower the cost of the $1.2 trillion health-care package they offered in July. The report from the Congressional Budget Office, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, puts the cost of one plan at $859 billion over the next decade and the other at $905 billion.

The cheaper version would rely heavily on a more dramatic expansion of Medicaid, the government health plan for the poor that is funded partly by the states -- meaning already-strapped governors would have to pick up more of the cost of reform.

Compared with the original package, the two new proposals would offer less generous subsidies for people who need help buying insurance and do not have access to affordable employer coverage. Additional savings would come from reducing employer tax credits.
There are a number of important, yet seemingly unconsidered impacts of health care reform that should be added to the debate mix.

1.  The cost of population growth.
2.  The impact on rural versus urban citizens from a cost perspective.
3.  The impact on equality of access based on changes to Medicaid in one plan.
4.  The CBO has not yet addressed overall budget impacts of the plans.
Firstly, let's look at the issue of cost per person.  According to some optimisitic calculations from Open Left;
At a ten-year cost of $829 billion, the Baucus bill is estimated to provide 29 million more legal American residents with health insurance, for a total cost of about $2,860 per new person covered. By contrast, the House bills apparently each cover at least 33 million more legal American residents with health insurance ("more than 95%"), at a cost of $859 billion or $905 billion. That is a cost of $2,600 to $2,740 per new person covered, less than the Baucus plan.
  (emphasis added)

Since we're being optimistic (I don't for one second believe the forecast costs will remain at the levels they are projected to be), let's use the $2,600 cost per new covered person. 33 million uncovered people (all citizens OF COURSE...) represent 10.78% of the population of the country.

Recently I did an analysis on how ridiculous the Cap and Trade targets are mathematically, based on population expansion predicted for the United States.  The targets are unreachable It's just as bad with respect to health care.  Let's assume that the percentage of the population that would require the coverage costs associated with the health care bill (ostensibly the costs to provide the new coverage), stays the same over time.  Further, let's take the cost per person as static.

 With population growth this is what those costs will look like under the $859 billion plan ;

2020 - population will be 335 million - that's 36 million requiring coverage or a growth of 9.4% in costs.  With no other impacts than population  growth, that means the following decade the costs will rise to $940 billion.

2030 - population will be 363 million -  that's 39 million requiring coverage or a growth of 18.6% in costs. With no other impacts than population growth, that means the following decade the costs will rise to $1 trillion.

2050 - population will be $419 million - that's 45 million requiring coverage or a growth rate of 36.9% in costs. With no other impacts than population growth, that means the following decade the costs will rise to nearly $1.2 trillion.

That seems like a slow growth of cost compared to a 50% population increase over the same time.  But what it points out is that not considering future expansion of the program, future inflation or any other cost factors, just because there are going to be more people, the costs will rise 37%.

That's not encouraging as a standalone factor - it's going to get more expensive.  We all knew that.  That 37% increase is a baseline.  Any other changes will have a multiplier effect of 1.37 on costs by 2050.

There's more fiscal analysis to come as well as a look at the other factors mentioned above.  Stay tuned.

October 17, 2009

Nonsensible Shoes Anniversary Coming Up.

October 31st, 2009: Halloween will mark the end of my first year of blogging. My first real post went up on November 6th, and I set the blog up months earlier, but November 1st was when I seriously started looking at blogging as a creative outlet for my political views. I wrote a few drafts of things and by the time they were published, it was a November 6th.  In my mind though, the anniversary of my blog therefore has always been November 1st.

A couple of months ago, in the midst of a readership doldrum, I took a look at what I had accomplished and realized that I hadn't set any specific goals when I started out, so I set myself a goal - 20,000 visitors in my first year.  It was a bit of a stretch at that point: having had some great success early this year, the readership had pulled back considerably over the summer.  Since then readership has picked up and so has my day job in terms of amount of time.  Blogging has become that much more difficult to find time for.

But in true rugged individualism style, I rolled up my sleeves and continued to plug away.  The counter on my site has me almost within 640 visitors with 14 days left to go.  I just might make my goal.  If you know anyone who might be interested in conservative political commentary, combined (hopefully) with some intelligent thought, let them know.  I'd love to make my goal, and I would appreciate your help.

That said, coming up short of my goal, will not put a stop to my blogging career.  I plucked the number out of the air and it may be a smart goal or a stupid one, I still don't know enough about blogging to know if that's a good first year result.  I do know that it's not a financially rewarding result, but that's okay.  That wasn't part of my reason for writing (although clearly I need to get better at monetizing this thing some day, because I'd much rather be writing full time).  I'm writing to spread conservative thought in America.  The country needs it.

What's next for Nonsensible Shoes?  I need to establish some goals for Year 2.  Beyond that, I want to keep writing in more and more meaningful ways that hopefully will contribute to the American political dialogue.  Maybe a site layout re-design at some point. Maybe a new unique domain.I've been meaning to ask Kevin Jackson at the Black Sphere how that's been working out for him. The blog is still up, but he's added another registered site. Of course he has a book and at least one Fox News appearance that I know about.  So it's really not apples to apples. But his success has been inspiring. As has that of other bloggers like Gateway Pundit and Robert Stacy McCain.

Saturday Learning Series - Infinitely Reasonable

The Saturday Learning Series here on Nonsensible Shoes continues with more of James Burke's wonderful series on The Day The Universe Changed, with a look at what is Infinitely Reasonable. Another wonderful trip through history and how modern society evolved to where we are now. The connections are remarkable and will astound you.

Unfortunately, it seems some parts of the episodes have been edited out in this version of the series. But it includes enough to whet your appetite for history and for James Burke. I hope it does, anyway.

Remember, knowledge is power.

NOTE: Next week, the Saturday Learning Series on Nonsensible Shoes will begin to be published at noon instead of 8 a.m.

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Part 5:

October 16, 2009

Friday Musical Interlude - October 16, 2009

Heart - Barracuda.

It's not all guitar hero, just the intro. Great riffs in this song.

October 15, 2009

The Nuclear Option in Health Care Reform?

Are you kidding me?  I swear it's so hard to not go nuclear personally noticing the hypocrisy.  Remember when the GOP wanted to use the nuclear option to force votes on Bush's court justice nominees?  They were decried as anti-democratic (small 'd').  From a story by PBS in 2005:
KWAME HOLMAN: It came as no surprise when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist released a statement this afternoon saying he would seek confirmation next week of two of President Bush's nominees for seats on Federal courts of appeals: Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. Frist foreshadowed the announcement earlier this week at the capitol.
SEN. BILL FRIST: So, it's time for us to move to the issue of judges.

KWAME HOLMAN: Owen, Brown, William Myers and William Pryor, four of the president's most controversial judicial choices, all have had their nominations cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee in recent weeks.

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE: Are there any senators wishing to vote or to change their vote?

KWAME HOLMAN: That happened during the president's first term as well. But each time, Democrats, using the filibuster, were able to block the four nominees from getting a confirmation vote. President Bush re-nominated the four again this year, but Democratic Leader Harry Reid has vowed the results will be no different.

SEN. HARRY REID: On the judges that have been brought forward previously, we're going to treat them just the same as we have in the past.

KWAME HOLMAN: Democrats again cite what they call rigid ideological positions of the candidates on issues such as gay rights, abortion and affirmative action. This time, however, Republicans are prepared to force up or down votes on the nominees, the so- called nuclear option.

It refers to their plan to strip Democrats of their ability to filibuster the nominees. The 55-strong Republican majority could change Senate rules to allow judicial confirmations by a simple majority vote. John Cornyn of Texas:

SEN. JOHN CORNYN: Fundamentally, what we have is a partisan minority blocking a bipartisan majority from being able to act on the Senate floor. And this is something that we think needs to come to an end.

KWAME HOLMAN: Democrats have been outraged by the suggestion and have said they will respond by using procedural delays to slow Senate business virtually to a crawl. New York's Chuck Schumer:

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: We're right on the edge of one of the most important moments in the history of the republic.

PROTESTER SPOKESPERSON: This is what activism should be.

KWAME HOLMAN: That sentiment also was heard outside the Capitol all week long. There, members of Congress and interest groups joined forces to raise the volume of their arguments.

GROUP: Up or down. Up or down.

KWAME HOLMAN: But there's no guarantee Republicans can exercise the nuclear option. Nearly half a dozen members of the party have signaled they may not support the move. That could put Bill Frist's vote count below the 51 necessary to pull it off. Nebraska's Chuck Hagel:

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL: The president's nominees deserve votes, but at the same time, I think it's important that we maintain the minority rights tools that assure that the Senate is a little different body, and the filibuster is one of those tools that we use.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Right?

What's Up With Pakistan?

I'm not sure how many people are aware of this but there's been a recent spate of bombings in Pakistan.  Okay, maybe you were aware of that.  But were you aware of the fact that the majority of those terrorist bombings (yes Virginia Obama, there really is terrorism in the world) have targeted police or police training facilities?
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the Lahore attacks, according to one television news report. Two of the three targets -- a Federal Investigation Agency and two police training centers -- had been struck by insurgents before, authorities said.
 Now why would that be?  It would seem that if you are invested in terrorism you are also invested in chaos.  It makes being a terrorist easier if there are fewer police trying to root you out.  The goals of the Taliban and terorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not short term goals.  They are thinking attrition and continued chaos.  They believe they can win by outlasting American resolve to win.  Judging by the mood in the capitol, they may be right.

Home Foreclosures Higher Than At A Recovery Level

September home foreclosures while down from August were still dramatically higher than the same month last year. And it's not like August was a low bar - July and August were the two highest foreclosure months ON RECORD.  The reality is that while unemployment is a lagging economic indicator, in the consumer arena, foreclosures lags unemployment - lose your job then lose your house. The same cannot be said to be true on the business side; foreclosures can happen prior to bankruptcy and can be part of the ultimate cause of death.

Why the high foreclosure rate? The Community Reinvestment Act. Blame Carter, Clinton, Dodd and a slew of other Democrats for imposing, expanding and propping up this boondoggle as part of an exercise in social engineering. Home ownership for all is as utopian as a no-money world. As a result of pushing this goal they created an unsustainable housing bubble, which inevitably burst. A recession that involves an inordinate number of underqualified home owners, many now out of work, and the threat of inflation ominously set to drive interest rates up thereby exacerbating the problem.

What does it mean for the economy?  Well it certainly doesn't help things.  And the government cannot do everything despite the White House belief that it can.  They cannot hold the flood gates forever;

Last week, the Obama administration hailed a milestone in its mortgage relief effort, reporting that 500,000 homeowners have received help since the program was launched in March. But new defaults are still exceeding the number of borrowers getting help.

Mortgage companies have slowed down the pace of foreclosures as they evaluate whether borrowers qualify for the administration's program. Analysts, however, forecast that many of those homeowners won't qualify, and foresee a new wave of foreclosed properties hitting the market next year. That's likely to further depress home prices.
 I'm still betting on a W-shaped recovery, with a long U shape in the right hand side dip of the W.  There's too many fundamental problems to assume that Wall Street will lead the way out of the recession. Hopefully I'm wrong, unfortunately I'm not optimistic.

Rush Thrown Under The Team Bus

The NFL has not had a record of being kind to Rush Limbaugh. While experimenting with the role of, pardon the wording, color commentary persona, rush made some comments about what he felt was the reason behind the media's kid gloves coverage of quarterback Donovan McNabb. He alleged it was because they wanted a black quarterback to succeed. He was not long for the job after that.

The left gleefully went after him for race baiting or being racist, despite the facts. If you look at the thrust of his comments, they were not about race but about the disingenuous nature of the media on the issue. He, and others, have drawn the same conclusion in the case Barack Obama and his candidacy in 2008 and his Presidency now. Those who have done so are being tarred as racists. Those who oppose the President on any basis have by many on the left had racism assigned as their only possible motivation. Its been used in an Alinsky-like manner to discredit credible concerns - probably because its easier than arguing the real merits of the issue. So liberals are just following a play book or they are lazy.

But with Rush it gets worse. Yesterday he was dropped from a bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams football team. It appears the bid was destined to fail if he remained part of it. Why? Because of who Rush Limbaugh is - an effective and powerful voice for conservatism. Rush was having quotes attributed him that he did not say.

Rush is not a racist. He is a rugged individualist. He believes, as do I and many others, that any person deserves equal opportunity to succeed, but no one deserves to have forced upon them the burden of enforced equality of outcome. For that reason the unequal treatment of someone because of race (either denial of freedom or opportunity or favoritism of freedom or opportunity) is anathema to fairness. Quotas are unfair. Appointing judges who have racial sensitivities is unfair - isn't justice supposed to be blind?

Because of his views, Rush has been societally excluded from pursuing his own dream of being involved with football. It seems that because of his views (some real and some imagined of him) he has had that equality of opportunity removed. This is not the America conservatives have strove to achieve. I doubt it is an America most liberals if they are honest with themselves and not consumed with hatred for all things Rush would want either. Only those who truly espouse political correctness could argue any other point of view. But those people would have to value political correctness above the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. That just seems completely un-American.

At first I took issue with Rush's statement that this was about liberals out to destroy America. I thought it unfair, but really it was just about Rush. Be it accidentally or not though, this does go to a deeper issue and once again Rush is right. This is another one of the thousand cuts that will lead to the death of America.

If I were Rush I would seriously consider at the very least discontinuing talking about the NFL on his show. Whether or not the pressure to remove him came from the players, the left or wherever, ultimately the owners and the league definitely want to shy away from controversy. It's just not their style. They are a status quo group. Some would classify that as conservative, not me.

In any case - they did him no favors by not coming out and saying he has as much right to team ownership as any other non-criminal citizen who has the money to consider investing in a team. They didn't help Rush so they must not want his business. So why should he promote theirs?

Knowing what I do of Rush, which is no more than anyone who listens to his radio show, he will not be so petty. It is not his nature and furthermore, football is a passion for him. He cannot simply turn that off. He enjoys talking football and will continue to do so I suspect. At least he still has that freedom left.

October 14, 2009

May You Live In Interesting Times? Yawn.

Is it just me?  There's a health care debate raging simmering.  There's two fronts in the War on Terror currently underway - Iraq and Afghanistan.  There's some Cap and Trade foolishness still going on while the chill is literally in the air all over the place.  There's talk of yet another Stinkulus package to come from the Democrats.  There's an economy that's supposedly recovering but facing a very real threat of stagflation in the coming year. 

There's earnings per share results driving a Wall Street recovery that seems to be focused on the bottom line despite the fact that when there's nearly a 10% unemployment rate.  That means the biggest single company cost - typically labor - has been substantially reduced across the board, probably driving those earning in large part, and therefore creating a potentially unsustainable profit margin.  After all, lower employment means lower demand, and there's no room to cut more expense in a lot of cases if sales don't pick up.

There's still activism on the part of certain Supreme Court  Justices Justice.  There's still an interminable national debt and runaway deficit spending.  There's a burden of an ever-encroaching Big Brother state.  There are RINOs aplenty.  there's Mainstream Media subterfuge and blatant bias still misinforming the uninformed as they cheerlead President Obama.

What else?  Oh yes, there are New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races that potentially could signify a swing back to conservatism or at least away from the radical progressivism socialism that's dominated the political landscape for the last year.  Almost as if there were a thaw in the winter (summer really) of America's discontent.  It portends what could happen in 2010 and they are important indicators that need to be driven to conservative success.

We could not live in a much more precarious or interesting time.  Yawn.

On a personal level, I've been blogging for almost a year. By now I should be honing my skills and be really engaged about the next couple of months because they are likely to be just as interesting if not more so.  But you know what?  I'm not.  Not that I intend to give up blogging or think that the socialist threat to America has diminished at all.  It hasn't, it's gotten worse.

But there may be a broader lesson to learn from my own recent ennui (boredom).  A while back I blogged that the smart thing for the President and the Democrats to do on health care was to scale back operations and move things at a slow crawl rather than the insane, reckless breakneck pace of the Obama administration.  It would move things back to the slow creep towards socialism and lull the sleeping giant of the silent majority back to sleep.  I offered the advice thinking that it wouldn't be what the Democrats decided to do.  And while they haven't exactly taken their foot off the pedal, they've seemingly throttled back a little.  And what impact has it had?

On a personal level, I've never been as engaged in American politics as the last year, except perhaps when Reagan was President.  I was just as eager to know what was going on back then as now.  But now, I'm taking time out of most every day to write about what is transpiring.  It's as much venting as anything else.  But here's the thing - you can only rant for so long before you start to run out of energy.  After being so angry or worried for so long, you start to burn out. It's inevitable.

And perhaps that's what the Democrats are counting on - the anger to run it's course.  Sure there are still articles about all these issues.  Sure people are still angry. Sure, 2010 will see Republican gains and Democratic losses.  But meanwhile, things can slow to a crawl and by the time these bills get ready for final passage it could be December or January.  You aren't going to see protests in freezing cold post-global-warming months.  The conservative energy will have dissipated to the point that any protests will be sporadic at best, and the weather will help ensure that.  Further, it will help minimize media coverage too.

It's really quite sinister.  It's as if they view the protesters as spoiled teenagers.  We've had our rant and now they (the parents) are going to do what they planned anyway.  They've been waiting for the anger and frustration to die out of it's own accord.  And if you look at the polling data from Rasmussen and Gallup today, there even sems to be a stall in the trending of Obama's falling support. Gallup does still seem to be in catch-up mode though.

Another way of looking at the flagging resistance is the 5 stages of grief, co-opted to 5 stages of resistance;

-denial; they aren't really socialists, that right wing nut jobs saying that.

-anger; Tea Party protests, 9/12 protests

-bargaining; okay, how do we keep a lid on the amount of impact this has?

-depression; actually this one kind of runs through the entire set of stages for conservatives. Obama's agenda is inherently depressing

-acceptance; I'm not sure anyone on the right will get there.  Not this year, not in 5 years.  But the when the horse is out of the barn, closing the door does nothing. In 15 years the new health care plan would be ingrained in too many people.  By that time America will be pretty unrecognizable compared to today.  It will be Europe.  It will have choked out what's made it great.

Pep talk

Yep, that's pretty depressing.  No conservative wants to see that.  As a conservative, it's my responsiblity to keep plugging away despite my current lack of excitement, knowing it will return again fairly soon.  It always does.  But in the broader picture it's everyone's responsiblity to not ease up on the pressure just because it seems like there's a lull in the 'action'.  Keep on top of your elected representatives.  Keep attending Town Halls and keep looking for Tea Parties to attend.  Everybody has their part to do - your country depends on it. If you are unhappy with representatives of either party, or both, complaining to yourself or friends accomplishes nothing.  You have to do something visible, in the sense that you need to make a statement others will notice; all the way up to the White House.  It's easier to do that by collaborating with others.  It's more visible and less taxing individually.  So use the tactics of the socialists against them.  Organize.  Protest.  Make yourself heard.  The protests don't need to be forgotten.  They need to be turned into a snowball that rolls down hill, gathering strength and speed.  If nobody lets up, that's exactly what will happen.

Remember it took a non-stop drumbeat from the left to turn much of the country against George Bush's War on Terror.

Meanwhile we can all hope that Murdoch buys NBC and fires Matthews and Olbermann.  Hopefully that helps keep your eyes on the prize.  For myself at least, I think I've managed to strengthen my resolve.

October 13, 2009

PMTV: Khamenei Said to be in Coma

Of course as with all things Iran, it's not verifiable, but it appears the power behind the throne - Ayatollah Khamenei is in a coma.

Pajama's Media TV has the story: Khamenei Said to be in Coma

Alright, that's a little unexpected (for me at least). The first question that came to my mind was how did he get there? Is it part of a relatively bloodless coup? In light of all that's going on in Iran, with th secret nuclear facilities, the talks with the West, the recent uprising against a corrupt election, the missile tests - it just seems like strange timing.

The PMTV article speculates about the possible fallout from this development, but my question about whether this is the first link in the chain or the second or third, to me, still seems valid.

Is Ahmedinejad behind this? Or perhaps the Revolutionary Guard? Or some of the protesters? Or is it just failing health?

In any case the fallout could be bewildering. Of course it could all take place behind the scenes too. But with talks involving the United States pending, there could be significant international implications. Kahmenei was the real power in Iran, not Ahmedinejad. At least that is until now.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right.

The post title, "Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right" is a line from the song "Stuck in the Middle With You" from the band Stealers Wheel. Ironically, the phrase along with the title, might be exactly where the President perceives himself to be right now.

Pity poor President Obama - attacked by the right for being far too progressive (read socialist, read repressive) by the right, attacked by the fringe left for being too moderate, abandoned by the moderates who helped propel him to power, surrounded on all fronts by a clearly racist country, and attacked from within perhaps by an Orwellian (read Clintonian coup). Not to mention that he is beset on all sides by an unwilling group within Congress and a clearly incompetent leadership there and in the Senate.


This guy was catapulted to power with a strong majority in Congress and a thoroughly questionable filibuster-proof majority in the Senate that boasts such "stars" as Al Franken. On top of which he's got a few willing Republican accomplices in the likes of Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. He's got an apologetic press covering his backside. He's got a stranglehold on the mainstream media (yet he's fixated on Fox, the one outlet that dares question him).

He's got billionaires like Soros backing him financially in exchange for kickbacks in Brazil. He's got pit bulls working for him like Rahm Emmanuel. (It's starting to sound like a Bob Dylan song). He won a Nobel Prize for doing nothing. How Seinfeld is that?  He's spent trillions he doesn't even ow and despite all the fuss, no one can actually stop him (for now).

So I've got one piece of advice for you Mr. President. You won. Stop whining. You'd think this guy was really suffering from all the things in the first paragraph.  He HAS TO pick a fight with Fox because his administration's survival depends on it.  Yet this really is a case of someone who's got it all whining about the one thing he doesn't have.  We call that spoiled.

That one thing he doesn't have is universal love.  I guess he really expects it. We call that thin-skinned.  Thin-skinned is not a trait desired in a President (see G.W. Bush - for all his neo-liberal flaws, for all his flaws period, you cannot argue that the man was thin-skinned). Thin-skinned is really bad news in that job.  Coupled with under-experienced, we call that unqualified.

Of course he's always got Joe Biden to lean on.


EXIT POINT: There may be some who argue that we can't afford to have the President stop whining and act like he won, the way he did in the weeks that followed his inauguration. I agree.  But giving him that advice doesn't matter.  Firstly, who am I to offer advice that he'd even consider taking?  Secondly, who is he to actually listen to his critics?

October 11, 2009

My son in flight school

While this blog is supposed to be dedicated to political discussion, I just had to add this personal note.

My eldest son, now 17, is enrolled in ground school. He's had a couple of flight lessons before but today was his first official instructional flight where his hours get logged for his pilot's license.

He did an amanzing job in windy conditions. Because he's flow before, he was allowed to do the takeoff and the landing.

Needless to say, I'm quite proud.

October 10, 2009

Saturday Learning Series - A Matter of Fact

Nonsensible Shoes' Saturday Learning Series (search this site for more instances of the term) continues with the remarkable James Burke series entitled The Day The Universe Changed.

The works by James Burke are an important learning for anyone interested in why the world is the way it is, and how we got here. It's not dry history, it's fascinating and deserves a long look.

The episode "A Matter of Fact" traces another path through history to show how we ended up.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

October 9, 2009

Tactical Thoughts on Obama's Nobel Prize

Ignore it, it's a distraction, just like the IOC vote down of Chicago.

That's it really - ignore the side show distractions because frankly, who cares if 5 Norwegians think President Obama is a conduit for peace? The real world implicantions are pretty close to zero.

So, just ignore it and stay focused on the health care bill, because that's something that actually matters. Obama's Nobel Prize will not raise your taxes. It will not require your business to track your carbon footprint.

Ignore it.

Mobile Post: Obama Gets The Peace Prize? Really?

I heard this morning on the radio that President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize today. I don't even want to read an article or see a news report before commenting.

Yesterday I was saying there would be a symbolic IOC apology to Obama for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Games face slap he got. I didn't think it would come from the Nobel Institute.


Why not just give him the Nobel Prize for Physics while you are at it? He deserves them both just about as much.

Or maybe there's now a Nobel Appeasement Prize and I just heard it wrong. That makes more sense. You know - that whole apology tour and the blame America first, avoid questions later thing makes that seem feasible.

Seriously though - what has he done to deserve this? Nothing. He's been in power for less than a year, although it seems much longer. On the radio they mentioned that while the Peace Prize is often awarded in the lifetime achievement vein, this award was based on the promise of peace that President Obama brings to the table.

Again: Really? Nothing tangible? Hope gets you a peace prize now? Mother Theresa probably could care less, but if she ever had cause to roll over in her grave, this would be it.

How about we award the Nobel Prize for Chemistry the same way? I've taken high school chemistry. There's hope that I could discover an enzyme that cures cancer. Faint hope, but hope nevertheless. Or the Nobel Prize for literature? I've got a great idea for a book. Just send me the million dollar check right now and I will get right on it.

Friday Musical Interlude - October 9, 2009

Professor Longhair - Tipitina

You have to know the past to guess the future. 'Fess influenced so many people.

Here he is explaining it/ playing around.

October 8, 2009

Health Care and Positive Cash Flow

For all you doubters out there that the sudden miraculous CBO assessment of the Max Baucus version of the health care bill will actually MAKE money for the government, below is a list of government programs that have actually made money over time:


and who can forget


See, and you were worried.

Olympian Sized Platitudes

Vindication? Expect some Olympian sized platitudes for Obama from the IOC.

Let's face it - President Obama's speeches to the International Olympic Committee were a complete flop. Rio was always the prohibitive favorite. The speeches by Obama et al. were not likely going to change the decision of the IOC. But the stinging slap in the face was the fact that Chicago was the first city eliminated from contention. If that was as a result of the Obamas' shared sense of self-importance (George Will noted that they averaged about 1 "I" or "me" per sentence in their collective speeches. How many mentions of Chicago?) or it had nothing to do with it is unclear.

What remains clear is that the speeches were failures. But don't be surprised if you see the Obama's vindicated by the IOC. They slapped The President pretty hard and it was for one of the two reasons mentioned above. (1) They perceive him as weak and they don't care about the impact of their decision. In fact given the first round dismissal, they likely deliberately sent a message. You are too self absorbed - this is supposed to be about us. Or (2) they were still mad about what they perceive as an arrogant American past and President Obama was the convenient outlet for their venting.

The former case is more likely the truth. Certainly there was no level of respect in the action either way. But the IOC will, in a sense apologize. Like a guilty abusive spouse who realizes they've been bad, they will offer some platitudes to Obama.
I would expect some of the "highlights" of the speech to show up in some Olympic video montage promoting the common good of man. Perhaps Obama's lines along the same topic. Don't expect it next week, but as the 2012 Olympics draw near, expect to see it.

It assuages the IOC guilt, it promotes their brotherhood of man brand image and the timing, couldn't hurt Obama's re-election bid later that same year. See, they'll imply, we really are sorry.

I wonder if Obama will buy that line. Based on his track record, I'm thinking yes.

October 7, 2009

And if there's no GOP implosion...

Regarding my previous post, the GOP may not be on the verge of destroying itself.  Let's hope it's still a force for good.  If that's the case, then abandoning the party is a bad idea.  It's like giving up on one of your children because they have a head cold.  It's premature to say the very least.

But that doesn't mean you can't take steps to improve the situation.  John McCain for example has lost touch with what it means to be a conservative, if he ever really understood at all.

You can do something about it.  In the primaries.  Take a look at the alternatives.  In this case it's Jim Deakin.

Take a look - maybe it's worth a second look after that.  And that's just one example.  There's lots of diamonds out there to be found.

GOP Implosion

Some Republicans are now thinking of supporting a government program.

The conservative website RedState is reporting that the GOP Senators are about to cave to Democrats on health care.  Damn if that don't make no sense!  [Yes, sic me.] The GOP was slow off the mark in embracing the Tea Party movement and the summer time town hall antipathy towards health care reform.  How do you miss an entire groundswell?  Is it even possible?  Sure, for the Democrats to view it through their own warped prism is one thing, but for the GOP to totally miss the mark on a conservative movement is beyond confounding. They are supposed to get this!

There's absolutely no reason for the GOP to cave on this.  Why would they - simply for the sake of bi-partisanship?  It's political suicide.  They don't gain a single Democrat vote by joining the Obama chorus.  They probably lose more independent voters than they gain and they would absolutely bleed conservative voters in a way that deserves a bleeding analogy too gore-filled to contemplate.

It makes ZERO sense.  Unless...

1) the GOP are as clueless and Democrat-lite as they purport not to be. OR
2) McCain has been successful in the behind the scenes effort to mold the party in his own 'centrist' image.  OR
3) RedState has the story wrong. OR
4) The word 'some' means Olympia Snowe.

The only likable option from the above choices is (3), although option (4) is conceivable and barely tolerable.

I've firmly held that the only way to defeat the march towards socialism is to support the GOP - for now at least.  Yes, they aren't pure but the alternative is far worse.  But if there are more than 2 GOP Senators who break ranks on a government option for health care, then I'm forced to concede that the party is in  shambles.  It would no longer be a force for conservative values.  And if that's the case, why the hell do they even exist?

The GOP has to get it's head right and get in the game - there's only 13 months to the mid-term elections.  By being slow off the mark - by trying to be too measured in their response to the 9/12 and earlier Tea Parties they squandered good will waiting to be showered upon them.  That's inertia.  Ironically, following the grassroots movement would have been a sign of leadership.  Unlike the rhetoric of the Obama change manifesto (radical change but the same old Washington), this would have been change Americans could believe in.  A truly responsive leadership team, willing to change things and react to the will of the people.  Obama's change is top down, though it was promised as a bottom up change to believe in.  The GOP has really not promised anything. Right now that's what they need to stick to - deliver nothing.  It's perversely a model that will work right now because it's a model that's needed.  That is, as opposed to 4 more Yea votes on a government option in health care.

I hope Red State has got this wrong.  But just in case you really should light up those Senators' phone lines.

CARPE DIEM: How Do We Keep Gov't. Honest? Medicare Denies More Inusrance Claims Than the Private Sector

If you think government has your back on health care reform, I think you should take a look at this.

CARPE DIEM: How Do We Keep Gov't. Honest? Medicare Denies More Inusrance Claims Than the Private Sector

The word of the day is "scapegoats"

Aside from the ever-present George W. Bush, Team Obama has a growing legion of scapegoats that it is using in it's own political defense.  Today alone there were two articles that Hot Air linked using the word of the day or a surrogate in their headlines or tag line with respect to the Obama White House.

George Bush will forever be to the left, the ghost of scapegoats past.  He was responsible for America-haters, presumably up to and including the terrorists of 9/11 and thereafter.  But just because he was a past scapegoat, he can still continued to be blamed for things, right?  Not even mentioned in the current round of scapegoating of President Bush is the failed Chicago Olympic bid.  In fairness, I've heard Jesse Jackson and Roland Burris have blamed President Bush, but not the White House (not that I'm aware of, in  any case). 

But certainly the White House and the President in particular set the tone with the whole apology tour, the "sins of the past" mentality, and the we're better than that attitude.  It's easy for liberals to fall into the everything-is-Bush's-fault mentality.  I'm sure the White House couldn't be more pleased by that, except that the Bush bashing mantra is wearing thin.  We're 3/4 of a year into Obama's Presidency.  With each passing day using former President Bush as a scapegoat strains credibility just a little bit more.  Soon even liberals won't buy it.

The solution for the White House is to move on to the ghosts of scapegoat present and scapegoat future.  The obvious ghost of scapegoat present is General McCrystal. The Hot Air link is entitled Four Star Scapegoat, here's the oringinal WSJ story:
Democrats have found someone worth fighting in Afghanistan. His name is Stan McChrystal.

The other night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went after the commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, "with all due respect," for supposedly disrespecting the chain of command. Around the Congressional Democratic Caucus, we're told Members refer to General McChrystal as "General MacArthur," after the commander in Korea sacked by Harry Truman.

White House aides have fanned these flames with recent leaks to the media that "officials are challenging" his assessment asking for more troops. In the last two days, the White House National Security Adviser and the Secretary of Defense have both suggested that the general should keep his mouth shut. President Obama called him in Friday for a talking-to on the tarmac at Copenhagen airport.

Though a decorated Army four-star officer, the General's introduction to Beltway warfare is proving to be brutal. To be fair, Gen. McChrystal couldn't know that his Commander in Chief would go wobbly so soon on his commitment to him as well as to his own Afghan strategy when he was tapped for the job in AprilWe're told by people who know him that Gen. McChrystal "feels terrible" and "had no intention whatsoever of trying to lobby and influence" the Administration. His sense of bewilderment makes perfect sense anywhere but in the political battlefield of Washington. He was, after all, following orders.
Trying to deflect blame for the waffling is as much a mis-direction play as it is scapegoating.  Nevertheless, the "don't blame me" attitude is the undercurrent of the whole thing.  Attitude may be a misnomer too.  It may be a tactical ploy to sway voters into believing that the troubles the nation faces now, and over the next three years are through no fault of the President.  He's just the one tasked with saving the world, which will of course take time.  There's so many people who fouled up, and there's so much for this President to fix.  The cards are really stacked against him - you have to give him more time.  After all, despite the mess and the rising unemployment, he's saved 40 million jobs don't-you-know.

That ploy requires a fresh supply of sacraficial scapegoats, and there are more coming.  The other scapegoat story is more the ghost of scapegoat future.  This time, either to be perceived as post-partisan, or knowing that there is no Republican that can be blamed (or perhaps both), the scapegoat is from inside the administration.  How novel.  It's the type of trick that makes those who pay scant attention to politics and/or who might be wavering on the President to fall hook line and sinker for the myth. 

In the case of our ghost of scapegoat future, Politico discusses Obama's blame game on the failure to close the Gitmo detention center.  The scapegoat - one of their own.

Greg Craig, the top in-house lawyer for President Barack Obama, is getting the blame for botching the strategy to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison by January — so much so that he’s expected to leave the White House in short order.

But sources familiar with the process believe Craig is being set-up as the fall guy and say the blame for missing the deadline extends well beyond him.

Instead, it was a widespread breakdown on the political, legislative, policy and planning fronts that contributed to what is shaping up as one of Obama’s most high-profile setbacks, these people say.

The White House misread the congressional mood – as it found out abruptly in May, when the Senate voted 90-6 against funds for closing the base after Republicans stoked fears about bringing prisoners to the U.S. The House also went on record last week opposing bringing Gitmo detainees here.

The White House misread the public mood – as roughly half of Americans surveyed say they disagree with Obama’s approach. A strong element of NIMBY-ism permeates those results, as Americans say they don’t want the prisoners in their backyards.

But most of all Obama’s aides mistook that political consensus from the campaign trail for a deep commitment in Washington to do whatever it takes to close the prison.
If people believe that the President isn't at fault and that everything is just circumstantial, they may give him the benefit of the doubt - and the benefit of another vote.  That may be a cynical view of the political ambition involved, but what is the alternative?  The President really believes that there is someone else to blame for every problem?  Is that the type of person you want as your leader?  Have we gone from "The buck stops here" to "It wasn't me." or "The buck stops over there somewhere." or "It's above my pay grade."?  Apparently so.  And they will keep using that scapegoat tool until people stop falling for it.  They're counting on that taking some time.
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