Saturday, October 31, 2009

The 2% solution - From the AP: "After all the fuss, public health plan covers few." It turns out that the CBO has determined that the House health care plan will attract only 2% of Americans. If the government-run plan is designed to be a low-cost counterweight to the private insurance companies, it will inevitably draw high risk patients who cannot get regular insurance. Without a pool of younger, healthier Americans joining the program, costs will spiral out of control especially since coverage cannot be denied. And who will benefit? Those evil for-profit insurance companies who will be happy to shed their problem patients.

Hey, it's Halloween, not April Fools Day

NY Times: "Democrats push for plan to cut deficit" Clearly this brilliant plan involves passing one trillion-dollar expenditure after another. Have they seen this graph?

Ford is punished for staying solvent

Well, moral hazard has raised its ugly head again. The UAW workers at Ford Motor have rejected contract changes to cut labor costs.
Ford sought the deal to bring its labor costs in line with Detroit rivals Chrysler Group and General Motors, both of which won concessions from the union as they headed into bankruptcy protection earlier this year.
Tough luck, guys. Next time get your fat government bailout.

Related - From The Truth About Cars, we'll find that Cash for Clunkers was a big success, General Motors is on the pathway to solvency, and both those statements are untrue.
NY-23 shocker - Four days before the special election, Scozzafava drops out.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Clinton tells it like it is - I have to say it: I was pleased to see Hillary Clinton tell Pakistan that we'd like some help rooting out Al Qaeda. "That's a nice multi-billion dollar foreign aid package you got there - shame if anything happened to it."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Pelosicare bill

Here's a roundup from the AP. And here's all you need to know:

It costs a trillion dollars.
It's paid for by taxes that won't be collected and cuts to Medicare that will never happen.

Extra – From Critical Condition: "The insanity of the House bill"

The bill unveiled today by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should put to rest for good the thought that this year’s legislative process will produce anything other than a total fiscal and health policy disaster.

To sum it up, the House bill is nothing but a massive, uncontrolled federal entitlement expansion - at a time when the central, looming threat to the nation’s long-term prosperity is the unaffordable health-care entitlements already on the federal books. To create the impression of fiscal responsibility, the bill is jury-rigged with budget gimmicks, implausible eligibility rules, and arbitrary, government-dictated price controls - that have been tried repeatedly without success - to make it look like it costs “only” $900 billion over a decade.

Yee-ouch! Let's debate!

More - Legal Insurrection: "The message of this bill not add employees." That's OK, there are plenty of jobs out there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not the Delorean! - Business Week: "Fifty ugliest cars of the past 50 years."
Schwarzenegger's note - According to this professor on NPR, it's really unlikely that the letter placement came together by coincidence.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just say "neigh"

Some have called the public option in health care reform a "Trojan horse" while others have called it a "stalking horse" but the meaning is the same: sneak up on the enemy in a non-threatening manner and then spring the trap.

Over at National Journal, former HHS secretary Mike Leavitt explains what will happen once the government gets into the health insurance biz:

A government-run plan is dangerous for three reasons: One, it would be cheaper for employers to stop offering private insurance and funnel their employees into the government-run plan. Employers, not employees, would get to make that choice. Two, the government-run plan would use the coercive force of government to dictate the prices that could be charged by others - by doctors, nurses, and hospitals - in a way that private entities cannot. Three, the government-run plan would be subsidized by American taxpayers, while private plans are not.

Let no one be deceived into thinking that Congress would not subsidize the government-run plan. Once in place, Congress would favor it with all kinds of innovative provisions designed to “help” participants “make the right choice.”
Also, the "opt-out" ploy is a big scam:

Financial subsidies for a public plan, whether direct or indirect, would be financed by taxpayers - by taxpayers in all fifty states. States would not be allowed to opt out of having their residents pay these federal taxes. They would only be allowed to opt out of receiving their share of the federal subsidies.
Harry Reid appears intent on at least bring the public option up for a vote but, if the "doc fix" vote is any indication, there are quite a few moderate Democrats unwilling to plunge into this wide, expensive world of government-run health care.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Three books

I'm a sucker for these kinds of lists but Megan links to a post asking what three books you would recommend to somebody who disagreed with you. We agreed on #1:

"Parliament of Whores" - P.J. O'Rourke
"America Alone" - Mark Steyn
"Heaven on Earth: The rise and fall of socialism" - Joshua Muravchik

Yeah, that'll do for now, although I'll probably think of a couple honorable mentions by tomorrow.
Krugman comes to praise Massachusetts health care

And once you get past his dismissal of inconvenient polls, you'll find this admission:

And the Massachusetts plan hasn’t yet done anything significant to contain costs.
Say what now? I thought the whole point of health care reform was that "the cost of doing nothing is too great." Here's what Obama's teleprompter read this past September:

Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else.
And here's Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on "This Week" yesterday:

"The devil we know is much worse than what we are proposing to do," she said. You can't be a serious deficit hawk," and not pass a bill, she added.
Everything's going to work out fine because President Obama has sworn he will not sign a bill unless it is deficit-neutral. And – you'll see – Congress will buckle down and start making some serious cuts to the budget to pare the deficit.

Or not.

Extra - Via RCP, here's Robert Samuelson: "The public plan delusion."

More - Critical Condition: "The $400 billion in Medicare and Medicaid “savings” will not happen, and Reid and other leaders are still scrambling to find a mix of $500 billion in new taxes that can win enough votes to pass. No one has put together that magic formula." In other words, the funding for the baseline plan isn't in place, even before costs go all Massachusetts on us.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Strike that, reverse it - Robert Samuelson on Newsweek blog: "Now, in the first comprehensive evaluation by a government agency of one of the major congressional health-reform bills, analysts find that it does bend the cost curve - in the wrong direction." As in three-quarters of a trillion dollars over the next decade.
Sales tax sends Mass. shoppers to New Hampshire and the Internet

Today I saw an ad on TV urging consumers in Western Massachusetts to avoid the Internet and shop locally to support the local community. Well, that would have been a noble thought except the sales tax in the Bay State recently jumped up to 6.25% to pay for Beacon Hill's runaway corruption and spending.

The upshot? People are spending more in gas money to trek to New Hampshire than they would ever save in sales tax. Let's say it's out of principle.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama plays to a half-empty room - That's the scene at a fundraiser for Massachusetts' terrible governor Deval Patrick. The lower-priced $500-a-plate dinner room was "two-thirds full." Of course, it's tough to swing that price for rubber chicken when taxes are so high. Right, Deval? Buh-bye.

Friday, October 23, 2009

iLawsuit - What's going on with Scandinavia lately? First the Norwegians give the Nobel Prize to Obama and now the Finns at Nokia are suing Apple for patent infringement. Soon we'll see something rotten in Denmark (yuk yuk).
Roll over Beethoven

Here's Taylor Swift, because she's cute:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

That sounds like Fox News talk to me - Ruth Marcus of the WashPost thinks the Obama White House is "childish," "petty," and "Nixonesque" in its war with Fox News. You've made the list, Ruth.

Extra - Smash 'em up, the Chicago way.
Spending is forever - This is an unsettling analysis: the tax credits and direct aid from the super-successful $800 billion stimulus bill are unlikely to go away completely, so we're actually looking at another $3 trillion in spending over the next ten years. Which we don't have.
SAMCRO forever - On Tuesday, the FX network's "Sons of Anarchy" beat Jay Leno's show in the ratings. What was NBC thinking? As charming as Leno may be, nobody can watch one guy for five hours a week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Born ultimatum - Last night, Frontline (PBS) had a report about the financial meltdown and how one lone woman named Brooksley Born raised the alarm back in the nineties about unregulated over-the-counter derivatives. But the stock market was flying high so everybody, most notably Alan Greenspan, dismissed her. Well, she was right.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fire up the Voight-Kampff machine - Is our President a replicant? From Vimeo: "Barack Obama's amazingly consistent smile." (H/T Scrivener)
Whichever way the wind blows

Slate speculates on "Why the Washington Post is hyping the public option." They cite three reasons for the above-the-fold story about a small uptick in support for government-run healthcare: to remind Congress of majority support, reporters are "momentum junkies" and to suggest there's been a backlash against the insurance companies.

If you read the wording of the poll, the "public option" question asks if respondents would support a plan to compete with private insurers. Well, Americans love competition, so hey - why not? It's really the most superficial kind of question for a policy loaded with unintended (and expensive) consequences. Would the public option still have this level of support if it leads to health-care rationing like in the Massachusetts model? I'd imagine not.

More eyebrow-raising in the poll is question #16: "Do you think health care reform would increase the federal budget deficit, decrease it, or have no effect?" A solid 68% of Americans think that Obama is full of it when he insists healthcare reform will be "deficit neutral." And the ten percent who think the deficit will go down are clearly delusional.

Monday, October 19, 2009

That was longer than I expected* - I recently signed up for Netflix and tonight we saw "The Dark Knight." But I think it was longer than "Ben Hur." Ah, there wasn't much news today anyway.

* "That's what she said!" - Michael Scott

Friday, October 16, 2009

Forget what we said, let's spend more money

John Dickerson makes a good point in this Slate article "The politics don't add up - Why health care reform will cost more than Congress say it will."

For the first time since 1975, the Social Security Administration has decreed that there will be no cost of living adjustment (COLA) for seniors. Nevermind, replies the Obama administration, let's send the oldsters $250 anyway and put the $13 billion cost on the credit card. But if we can't even abide by the rules of established law, what's the likelihood that Congress will trigger automatic cuts in Medicare and health care spending when those programs get too expensive?

Vanishingly small is the correct answer. Not gonna happen.
Winter? Already? - There was an ad on TV for a local hardware store which advised: "It's never too early to start winterizing." Apparently so: it snowed here in Western Massachusetts this morning. I still have to drain the lawnmower. Much to do tomorrow.
Daamn - Charles drops the Krauthammer on Obama's foreign policy, such as it is.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Narnia, Shangri-La, Atlantis, Congress

All lands of fantasy where anything can happen:

It is beyond fantastic to promise that future Congresses, for 10 straight years, will allow planned cuts in reimbursements to hospitals, other providers, and Medicare Advantage (thereby reducing the benefits of 25% of seniors in Medicare). The 1997 Balanced Budget Act pursued this strategy and successive Congresses steadily unwound its provisions. The very fact that this Congress is pursuing an expensive new entitlement belies the notion that members would be willing to cut existing ones.

Most astounding of all is what this Congress is willing to do to struggling middle-class families. The bill would impose nearly $400 billion in new taxes and fees. Nearly 90% of that burden will be shouldered by those making $200,000 or less.
To get the health care numbers to come in "deficit-neutral" Max Baucus just made stuff up. He may as well factored in "gold coins raining down from heaven" since this is a more likely scenario than Congress slashing a half-trillion dollars from Medicare.

More - From Betsy.
The VAT tax cometh

Here's Harvard economist Greg Mankiw on the value-added tax:

Which brings us to Europe. Many European countries have both a VAT and a large government. But here is the hard question: which is cause and which is effect? Did the VAT cause government to become large, as VAT-opponents fear? Or did Europeans adopt large governments and then, needing to finance it, look for a relatively efficient way to raise a lot of revenue? I am inclined toward the latter hypothesis, but I will be the first to admit that it is entirely clear which way causation runs here.
By "here" Mankiw means the U.S.A. where a "feed the beast" mentality has locked us into entitlement spending that cannot be cut yet we can't afford.

Extra - Hot Air: "Bait and switch"

Just added - On Opinion Journal: "The dangers of a value-added tax."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Defying the laws of reason

For obvious reasons, I dig this post from John Steele Gordon on Contentions:

This is why I like engineers more than I like politicians. Engineers live in the real world. What they design has to actually function as advertised. So they don’t promise an airplane that is extremely fast, extremely fuel efficient, extremely quiet, and extremely safe. Those goals, each desirable individually, are mutually incompatible given the laws of physics. Politicians live in the political world and need only make sure that the bridges they build and the aircraft they design don’t crash in ruins before the next election. So they blithely ignore the laws of economics and human nature in designing programs. The political press corps equally pretends these laws don’t exist.
Precisely. All through this debate on the mother of all entitlements, nobody has acknowledged the elephant in the room that we're already locked into a mountain of debt due to exploding spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. So the Senate Finance Committee makes up stories to pretend the money is there but it's already been spent ten-times-to-Sunday.

What's going to happen when the money runs dry and China won't lend us any more? Well, the government big enough to give you anything is big enough to take it away:

Meanwhile, Massachusetts is offering a preview of where all this will end up. The state passed a prototype for ObamaCare in 2006 on the same cost-control theory as Senate Finance, only to see spending explode. So now Beacon Hill is contemplating far more drastic spending-control measures, such as a plan to "require residents to give up their nearly unlimited freedom to go to any hospital and specialist they want," as the Boston Globe reported on Sunday. Paul Levy, the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told the Globe that "You can't reap these savings without limiting patients' choices in some way."
A lot of pundits believe that some kind of health care reform will pass this year. I'm terrified that we're about to take that final leap from which there is no return, complete with trillion dollar deficits beyond the horizon. I always tell my kids that credit card companies love to urge you to spend money on yourself, to splurge for those "priceless" moments, but eventually you have to pay that money back. Every time we auction off another trillion in Treasury bonds, we're mortgaging away a little chunk of our freedom because the creditor nations will hold sway over federal policy.

This is the corner we're painting ourselves into, the end of the American century.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Swedish piano stairs

I think the words in Swedish are: "We got people to use the stairs instead of the escalator." (H/T: Theo)
Rationing, ahoy! - Your "right" to health care meets reality. Boston Globe: "State plan may place limits on patients' hospital options."
Nobel-prize winning sissy - I don't dislike Al Gore. He seems like a decent guy who is earnest about his cause. But what bugs me about Gore is that he behaves as if his environmental manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount. There shall be no questions or debate for Al Gore.

Stand and deliver. If all the climate change deniers out there are crazy, it should be easy to dispel their arguments. The problem for Gore, however, is that there are some inconvenient facts out there indicating the debate is not over.

Extra - The ice isn't melting.
It's called leadership - After raising the sales tax and driving business to the Internet or New Hampshire, the geniuses on Beacon Hill have a new idea to raise revenue: "Powerball coming to Bay State next year."

Yeah, baby, and next up is a casino here in Western Massachusetts. Since there are no jobs you may ask: who will support a Massachusetts casino? Why the Powerball winners - duh!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

U-Haul wants you to drive a truck to Detroit. Please. - Interesting report about the different rates that U-Haul charges depending on whether you're heading to, or away from, a business-friendly state.

Heading from Rhode Island (the worst state for business) to Virginia (the best) is going to cost you. Goin' to Providence? Take our truck, please!
Zip line fever - It's unlikely I'll be able to stay up tonight since I spent a chunk of the day on the ropelines at Catamount Adventure Park. They transformed a ski resort into a high-wire park full of rope bridges and zip lines. Lots of fun, but I used some underutilized muscles today. At least I didn't dislocate my shoulder (again).
Hey, I just said that! - GMTA and such from the WashPost: "If anything animates Mr. Obama's critics in this country, it is the impression that he is the focus of a global cult of personality."

Update (10/11) - Hey, I said that, too! John Bolton in the NY Post: "O's albatross."

Friday, October 09, 2009

Comment of the day

I liked this one from the Washington Post Voices section:
What an outrage! My unborn granddaughter should have won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for curing cancer in 2056.
I'm sure she has good intentions and great promise, and that's enough.
Let's spend ourselves out of debt - Opinion Journal: "Step right up: a new entitlement that cuts the deficit!"
Let a thousand SNL skits bloom

When I heard the 6am news on NPR during my morning commute, my jaw hit the floor. But by the time I got to work, I decided the Nobel Peace Prize would be an albatross around Barack Obama's neck for the remainder of his term.

The award was an affirmation of all those criticisms that Obama is an empty suit who is levitated by a fawning press and an international cult of personality. Thanks to five Norwegians, for the remainder of his term he'll be dogged by two characterizations: he's the guy who won the prize without actually doing anything and he's the Peace Prize winner who's Commander in Chief during wartime.

The skits write themselves. A young Obama shows up for the spelling bee and is immediately deemed the winner. Or we could see a "Celebrity Jeopardy" episode where Alex Trebek just says "close enough" to every response. Your intentions are good enough for us, Mr. President!

And what's going to happen when Obama sends 20,000 troops to Afghanistan? Can anybody take him seriously when he says military action is "on the table" when it comes to a nuclear Iran? The Peace Prize puts every military decision under a microscope that does not help Obama as Commander-in-Chief. Nine months into his Presidency, the Prize at this juncture is a net-minus.

Extra - The mockery begins: nominate Obama for the Heisman trophy.

More - At least one Brit fails to see the humor, er...humour, in the matter: "Absurd decision on Obama makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize."

And this - More from the Minuteman.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

If I had some ham, I could have a ham sandwich, if I had some bread

The current thinking on the "deficit neutral" health care bill is: if we raise taxes and cut spending elsewhere, we can have national health care, but we won't cut spending elsewhere. That leaves taxes.

Senator Charles Grassley explains:

"The huge, untold story of this CBO report is that for the 85 percent of the people that have health insurance, their premiums will still go up because there will be a new tax on insurance policies," says Grassley. "People may say, 'What’s wrong with taxing insurance companies?' but remember, corporations don't pay taxes, people pay taxes. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation says that these premiums will be passed on."

"Even though the CBO says the bill will cost $829 billion, a lot of its savings come from Medicare, which I don’t think is right," says Grassley. "We could also end up spending all of this money only to see taxes increase, and premiums increase, and still have 25 million people uninsured."
Here's more from Critical Condition:

Those numbers are phony for any number of reasons, but notice that the "deficit reduction" is the net result of $518 billion in increased spending from expanded insurance coverage, $404 billion in reduced spending from "other provisions affecting direct spending," and $196 billion in increased revenues. The $404 billion "does not include effects on spending subject to future appropriations." So: Will Congress actually cut Medicare reimbursements (by over 20 percent), unlike previous years? More fundamentally: The increase in revenues ($196 billion) is over twice the net reduction in the deficit. So put aside all the other problems with the numbers: None of this net "deficit reduction" results from spending efficiencies. It is all tax increases and more.
There is no chance that Congress will cut Medicare spending by $400 billion – none. I won't even qualify it with a "virtually" to give the indication there's a possibility. It won't happen. So that leaves government health care spending propped up by new taxes funneled through insurance companies the same way tobacco companies passed on new levies to smokers. Except now the "sin tax" is living.

More - Megan explains why we should fear the Massachusetts model.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

My snap review of the CBO's score of the Baucus plan - Increased spending that is certain paid for with spending cuts that are illusory and tax hikes that will never pass or raise as much money as claimed. More here.

Extra - Legal Insurrection: "There is no spoon Baucus bill."

More - Megan McArdle: "So most of the major components of the program are scheduled to either cost more, or raise less revenue . . . but overall, it's generating a bigger surplus. It's the healthcare economist's version of "We're losing money on every unit, but we'll make it up in volume!"
Paul Shaffer can't read music - That was the astonishing conclusion to this interview I heard on NPR's Morning Edition. David Letterman's bandleader has a new autobiography coming out and he revealed his rise from piano player at a topless bar in Canada to late-night troubadour. What was hilarious about the interview was that Shaffer threw it out, almost as an afterthought. The guy learned to play by ear and he's managed to make to the top.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Let us now pause to praise great engineers

The Nobel Prize in Physics was handed out in Stockholm and the winners were three "masters of light" who advanced technology to bring us high-speed internet and digital cameras. Since I'm a fiber optics engineer, I obviously have a spot in my heart for new Nobelist Charles Kao who some consider the "father of optical fiber":

Since the 1930s, researchers had been using short optical fibers-solid, slender bits of glass that trap light inside, allowing it to be transmitted.
But the available fibers didn't work over long distances, Nordgren said. "After 20 meters [66 feet], most of the light was gone."
In research published in 1966, Kao discovered that, even though the glass being used for the fiber-optic cables seemed clear, it actually carried many impurities, which were disrupting the light transmission.
Kao's discoveries pushed companies to devise new ways of making ultrapure glass—eventually leading to today's fiber-optic cables, which can carry signals hundreds of miles with very little light loss.
"More than a billion kilometers of fibers around the world that connect us all, almost instantly," the Nobel Committee's Nordgren said.
"And this is due to the work by Kao, that inspired and started the evolution of optical communication that we have today."
Kao's discovery about glass defects led to new technologies to create pure glass from scratch instead of melting it from raw materials like the glass in your window. The result was super-clear glass that could transmit light over long distances without losing the light signal. To put this in perspective, the glass was so clear it was like seeing the bottom of the ocean. The result: a vast network of communication links carrying massive amounts of data on beams of light.

In 1988, the first optical-fiber cable was laid under the Atlantic Ocean, capable of carrying tens of thousands of times more information than the metal cables it replaced. Today, more than 600 million miles of optical fiber have been laid, enough to circle the globe 25,000 times. High-efficiency optical amplifiers placed at strategic intervals renew the signals so they can travel such long distances.

Fiber-optic communication "is essential for high-speed Internet and forms the optical backbone of 21st century commerce," said H. Frederick Dylla, director of the American Institute of Physics. "The CCD sensor has revolutionized technical, professional and consumer photography in the last few decades. Taken together, these inventions may have had a greater impact on humanity than any others in the last half-century."
Congratulations, gentlemen, and thank you!

Monday, October 05, 2009

E85 in Canada - TTAC has a story about our neighbors to the North pushing 85% ethanol flex-fuel cars. There are only four E85 stations in all of Canada, the fuel is more expensive than regular gasoline, and returns worse fuel efficiency. Citing a memo from the natural resources minister, one activist noted that "promoting E85 has no environmental benefits." The Truth about Cars sardonically sums up: "When your subsidies won't work without their own subsidies, you know you're in trouble."

Related - Opinion Journal says Cash for Clunkers was "one of Washington's all-time dumb ideas."
Too much for Louisiana - You know you've made the big leagues in corruption when even Louisiana can't sit by anymore: "Louisiana attorney general: Rathke embezzled $5 million from ACORN."

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Speaking in public

Although I'm an engineer by education, over the past couple years or so it seems my career has turned into one of a professional presenter. I'm a PowerPoint impresario and I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself. The keys to every presentation are essentially the same: know your audience, stick to one central theme, convey information (or entertainment), and prepare for questions and discussion. I have one essay taped up over my desk: Jay Lehr's criticism of boring speakers titled "Let there be stoning!" (PDF)
They are not sophisticated, erudite scientists speaking above our intellectual capacity; they are arrogant, thoughtless individuals who insult our very presence by their lack of concern for our desire to benefit from a meeting which we chose to attend.
To that point, let's face it: both Michelle and Barack Obama gave awful speeches to the IOC. Ann Althouse has a long post about both presentations which were at turns illogical, mawkish, self-centered and manipulative. Michelle Obama's argument for Chicago appeared to center around the fact that her father had multiple sclerosis but really loved sports. Oh, and he was from Chicago, so there's the connection.

Then she introduced her spouse in a weighty tone cleaved by dramatic pauses:

My husband
The President of the United States
Barack Obama

Look FLOTUS, everybody knows who your husband is. You don't need to stretch it out as if the IOC committee will swoon at his mere introduction.

President Obama's speech was terrible for the simple fact that he didn't seem interested in making Chicago's case for the Olympics. Instead, with enormous self-love he tried to draw some zig-zag line from the U.S. Presidential election through Chicago and - hey - give us the Olympics. People wearing the same sports jersey at a sporting event become fast friends? Why I've never heard about this phenomenon occurring anywhere outside Chicago! Certainly not in the soccer stadiums around Rio or Madrid. In the end, it was a meandering pastiche that failed in its fundamental goal of persuading the IOC to vote for Obama's hometown.

So, in sum, Obama was arrogant, thoughtless, and insulted the people he was there to convince with his half-assed presentation. He did more harm than good and diminished the prestige of his office; the criticism he's receiving from all sides is well-deserved.

Extra - Bizarre Q&A responses, too.

More - Legal Insurrection on O's presentation: "It is a speech that could have been delivered at almost any corporate diversity training session, but as a reason to award the Olympics to Chicago and not Rio, it was delusional." Yup.
The moral compass - There's a really interesting book review in the Wall Street Journal on "Souls in Transition" by the aptly named Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith. The upshot appears to be that kids with a strong religious foundation have a better sense of morality and critical thinking; meanwhile, all those godless kids put their belief in "karma."
No freakin' way - UK Telegraph: "Mahmoud Ahmaadinejad revealed to have Jewish past."

Friday, October 02, 2009


The Boston Globe had an editorial this morning panning Obama's trip to Copenhagen:
Obama gained support during the presidential campaign by staying cool amid an economic meltdown, while John McCain marched into Washington in an attempt to show a spirit of action. Instead, McCain showed his futility. Americans don’t like to see their leaders appearing rash or weak. If the Olympic committee rejects the president, Obama becomes just another failed salesman. It’s a mistake for him to sink so much into a cause that may not even need his help. He should have stayed home.
We know that now.

Extra - Contentions: "The limits of egomania."

Update - Two separate planes for Barack & Michelle + security detail = 18 votes
The Massachusetts miracle? Not so much

I've posted a dozen posts on the Massachusetts health care reform. Here's one other things to remember from the Christian Science Monitor: the costs of the program are artificially propped up with federal funds
Despite raising state taxes, the Massachusetts plan is kept afloat only by hundreds of millions of dollars of financial waivers and assistance from the federal government – i.e., by the taxpayers of the other 49 states. If the Massachusetts plan were adopted at the national level, it's unlikely that China or Russia would bail out the United States.
This and much more from Dr. Paul Hsieh.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

My government spent a trillion dollars on stimulus and all I got was this lousy T-shirt

From the "no kidding, Sherlock" WashPost: "New Economic Reports Show We're Still Hurting"

The fragile economic recovery has relied heavily on government stimulus spending, but new data show that as the money runs out, a sustained rebound may be elusive.

The dramatic decline in sales reported Thursday by the Big Three automakers suggested the extent to which the stimulus act has propped up the economy. The government's wildly popular "Cash for Clunkers" program drove consumer spending to its highest level in eight years in August. But after it ended, so did the growth in auto sales.

General Motors' sales plunged 36 percent in September compared with August. Ford plummeted 37 percent. Chrysler dove 33 percent.

Cash for Clunkers "was a one-time boost of sales followed by a crater," said Ben Herzon, an economist at Macroeconomic Advisers. The firm forecast that the program was likely to have no effect as a stimulant for national economic output.
And in case you missed it: "Stimulus spending doesn't work." Stand by for unemployment numbers tomorrow; Joe Biden will be out later to explain all the jobs "saved."