Sunday, January 31, 2010

So much for transparency - LA Times: "Democrats quietly working to resuscitate healthcare overhaul." If you read the article, you'll find that the subtext is that they don't intend to make significant adjustments to the legislation as it stands. Instead Pelosi and Reid are going to do some old-fashioned arm-twisting and horse-trading behind closed doors while hoping to "shift public perception of the bill," i.e. get those stupid Americans to come around.

Extra - Red State: "Sen. Snowe flat out rejects reconciliation." Considering that key Democrats have rejected this parliamentary trick and Republicans have warned they'll bog it down with amendments, there's virtually no chance health care will pass in this manner.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Speaking of Detroit - Remember when Obama criticized those U.S. companies "shipping jobs overseas?" A big offender is taxpayer bailout recipient General Motors, which as been sending manufacturing jobs to Mexico and China.
Dis-union - Not surprisingly, tensions are running high in Detroit and this meeting of UAW workers shows that tension boiling over. Warning: a lot of shouting and uncivil language.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tipping point - What happens to America when more than 50% of the nation's income goes to the government? We're getting close.
Hey big spenders - Via the Corner, here's a fact check for the President: "Over 12 years of Republican rule [in Congress], there was an average annual budget deficit of about $104 billion. Compare that with an average annual deficit since 2008 of $1.074 trillion - or about $90 billion per month."Bold
Good news - Business Week: "U.S. economy growth jumps 5.7%." Now let's see some jobs.
Like the muffler said: "I'm exhausted." - Wow, what a long week. I got home and slept for an hour. Thank heaven the weekend's here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The awesomeness of O

You should thank your lucky stars for the Big Guy: he's trying real hard.

Now, Florida, that's why Joe and I asked for the chance to serve as your President and Vice President. (Applause.) Look, we didn't seek this office to push our problems off or take the easy road through the next election. We ran to solve problems -- problems that had been nagging at America for decades. We want to solve them for the next generation.

We ran to get the tough stuff done. (Applause.) So as I mentioned last night, I make no apology for trying to fix stuff that's hard, because -- (applause) -- I'll be honest with you -- I'll be honest with you, Joe and I are both pretty smart politicians, we've been at this a while. (Laughter.) The easiest way to keep your poll numbers high is to say nothing and to do nothing that offends anybody. (Applause.) That's true. No, no, no, you just wave, smile and -- (laughter.) That's how you do it.
That's not the big O's style: he's breathed new life into his #1 priority with his stirring speech and bold leadership. Hey, it ain't easy, but he's just the guy to do it.

Extra - VDH with the straw men: "The 'I didn't ask for' trope: Obama acts as if he bravely endures persecution on our behalf, rejects the easy path, and presses ahead on the difficult path."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SOTU snap analysis - I can't give this justice so here's some thoughts that come to mind: the President's rebuke of the Supreme Court, sitting ten feet away, was jarring. Agree or disagree with the legal argument, this seemed to cross a line of decorum. Second, blaming Bush is Obama's ultimate coping mechanism, which allows him to dismiss the ocean of red ink that Obama alone has created. Finally, the tone was hectoring, combative nonsense where Democrats shouldn't run scared from health care and Republicans can't just be a party of "no."

And why not? In a democracy, why shouldn't Representatives - you know - represent the views of their constituents? Health care is unpopular across the board but Obama wants everybody to bend to his will, although (despite all evidence) not for him. Heavens no!

If health care reform is an issue whose time has come, Obama should be able to easily make the case for reform in the full glare of the C-Span cameras. Didn't he say that it was a fight he wanted to have? Instead, every move is shrouded in secrecy and buried into a 2,000+ page bill, read by nobody, and propped up with backdoor deals.
Seems to me you don't want to talk about it

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Game over, man – No need to puzzle out Slate's reader contest on how Congress might pass health care reform through parliamentary tricks. Blanche Lincoln's announcement that she won't support reconciliation should be enough to frighten off any red-state Democrats. There's no way that House Democrats are going to pass the Senate bill on a pinky-swear that everything will be worked out later.

Update - The white flag is up.
We're slashing everything! Well, there are exceptions

I got a kick out of President Obama's big announcement that he was going to freeze the federal budget to save money over the next decade.

Well, except for Medicare and Social Security. And interest on the national debt. And military spending. And certain social programs. In fact, just a tiny sliver of stuff.

Wait...where have I heard this before?

Navin: For one dollar I'll guess you weight, your height, or your sex.
The most exciting thing on the midway. Imagine the thrill of getting your weight guessed by a professional. You can blow up your cheeks, you can stick out your chest, but you're not going to fool the guesser. How about you sir? Step right up!

Carnival Rube: Hey honey, let's see how good this guy is. What'd I win?

Navin: Uh, anything in this general area right in here. Anything below the stereo and on this side of the bicentennial glasses. Anything between the ashtrays and the thimble. Anything in this three inches right in here in this area. That includes the Chiclets, but not the erasers.
Chiclets for everyone!

Extra - Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight calls the spending freeze "a mistake on par with John McCain's 'suspending my campaign' gaffe."

More - Open Left (!) writes "It's official: Obama is an idiot."

And there's this - As Obama plans to save $25 billion a year: "CBO projects 2010 budget deficit at $1.35 trillion."
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) opposes reconciliation to force HCR thru Congress. The back burner awaits...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Put it on the back burner - Never to return. Megan McArdle: "Why I still think health care won't pass." Megan touches upon something I mused about last week: a lot of Democrats secretly welcomed Scott Brown's election because it gave them a rationale to avoid a vote on an unpopular piece of legislation.
Pre-SOTU gimmicks - Word is coming down the wires that Obama is going to address the exploding federal budget deficit by applying a spending freeze on certain government programs. Any potential savings (which were minuscule the last time this was tried) will be easily overwhelmed by entitlement spending and interest on the national debt.
The MSM and its discontents - Running with my post from the other day, here's the WashPost's media guy Howard Kurtz: "If Martha Coakley's defeat in Massachusetts was a political earthquake, most journalists were slow to hear the tremors."

More - From Pundit & Pundette.
The Messiah complex

What is wrong with this guy?
President Barack Obama said that he "would rather be a really good one-term president" than have two mediocre terms. In an interview to air Monday, the president stated his preference as negotiations have stalled over the health care reform package he championed.
This "sacrifice for the greater good" act is wearing thin, especially since the man's arrogance is well-known. His unbounded obsession with getting health care reform passed has spawned a 2,000 page piece of legislation that must be propped up every month with a new special interest outrage: the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the union exemption on "Cadillac" plans, etc. But even though the public is against both the process and the product, he's going to keep plowing ahead, even if it means he must give up all he's gained.

Because that's the kind of guy Obama is.

Extra - From Peter Wehner: "Obama's wax wings."

More - Mark Steyn: "According to Barack Obama, the problem is he overestimated you dumb rubes' ability to appreciate what he's been doing for you." (H/T Maggie's Farm)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tuesday in Oregon - Keep an eye on two special statewide ballot measures there to raise taxes on the "rich" and businesses, thereby affirming De Tocqueville's maxim that "A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it." Or, as I like to put it: robbing Peter to pay Paul will always have the enthusiastic support of Paul.
The ubiquitous Ellie Light - Via Patterico, one energetic letter writer walks everywhere on Astroturf.
Western Massachusetts update - Never Yet Melted: "Weeping into their cappuccinos in Amherst." (H/T Maggies Farm).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Whatever, Ezra Klein - Yes, this is a continuing series. Here's his latest gem: "A lot of the onus for health care's sudden derailing has been placed on the House, which is bafflingly opposed to passing the Senate bill."

Yeah, I'm also surprised that the Democrats haven't marched into political oblivion. What's taking them so long?

Extra - RCP Blog: "Shorter Paul Krugman: 'shut your pie holes and get marching over the health care cliff.'"
In case you were wondering - MSNBC: "Frustration with D.C. fueled GOP in Massachusetts."
The perils of a liberal media

For those of us with a more conservative political viewpoint, the presence of a liberal media, aka the "mainstream media," is axiomatic. How else to explain this bit of denial in the New York Times today?

There are many theories about the import of Scott Brown’s upset victory in the race for Edward Kennedy’s former Senate seat. To our minds, it is not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama's presidency, nor does it amount to a national referendum on health care reform - even though it has upended the effort to pass a reform bill, which Mr. Obama made the centerpiece of his first year.
Wow, somebody's living in a bubble. Not "remotely!" But as much as the Right may gripe about the political preference of the media, this is a dual-edged sword for the Left. Because when you hear nothing but enthusiastic cheerleading from the press, you tend to believe that the people are behind you.

That's why the national Democratic Party discovered - too late - that Martha Coakley was going to lose. It's Massachusetts! In a race for Ted Kennedy's seat! Defeat is unthinkable! The next day, the papers will full of adjectives like "stunning" and "unexpected." This is how the entire mainstream media got scooped by a couple of college kids on the ACORN scandal and the National Enquirer is putting itself up for a Pulitzer for (correctly) breaking the story on John Edwards' mistress. The MSM put the blinders on, willingly and repeatedly, to their own shame.

Even now, as Americans turn away from health care reform, the Ahabs are coming out to insist that we can still get that White Whale. The public be damned! They're just going to love it once it's crammed down their throats through legislative legerdemain. I think most of the national media still thinks there's a chance to pass health care reform, and therefore they hope it. But it's done at least for 2010, and no amount of wishing is going to change that fact. The media would serve themselves, and their liberal comrades, if they reported it.

Extra - Here's Jennifer Rubin on Contentions with "Gray Lady to Obama: Double Down!": "Obama has a choice: listen to the Times editorial board or listen to the voters. Republicans are keeping their fingers crossed that he chooses the former." Like I said.

Related - Jonah Goldberg: "Feeling the heat, Obama pours Kool-Aid." And here's Charles Krauthammer: "The Meaning of Brown."

And this - From Matt Hoy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Keep your eyes on the guy in the red jacket

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Background here.

So close

My official prediction: 52%-46% for Brown
Actual count: 52%-47% for Brown.

Advantage: Viking Pundit!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brown speaks - And the audience chants "Gas up the truck" and "41!" Brown's best line: "This is the people's seat!"

More from the crowd: "Seat him now!"

Transcript (except for ad libs) here.
Map of Massachusetts - Via the Boston Globe, see how the Bay State voted here. My hometown squeaked by a 51%-48% win for Scott Brown. Nearby Amherst and Northampton? Not so much.
Emphasis mine - Here's the AP headline, just out: "In epic upset, GOP's Brown wins Mass. Senate race."



Sounds like somebody needs to update the Wikipedia "upset" page.
Big night - Over 1000 unique visits for Viking Pundit tonight! I guess it helps when you're the only blogger of consequence in Western Massachusetts. Thanks for the links, everyone.
Health care mess - Stuart Varney is declaring "health care reform is dead." Good.

Update - Politico: "The fallout: Democrats rethinking health care bill." Ah, self-preservation rears its head.

More - The Obamacare exodus. Suck it, Ezra Klein.
At 9:22pm EST - The Associated Press has called the race for Brown. Hooray! Count is holding at 53%-46% for Brown.

Fox News just reported that Martha Coakley conceded.
Frank Luntz's focus group - An overwhelming majority thinks Congress should slow down on health care.
Sixty-five percent - Still 53%-46%. I'm a little upset that my prediction was off by one.

Update (67%) - NECN says 52%-47%. So close to my pundirific guess!
Live bloggin' - Legal Insurrection has a continuous feed going. This whole thing will NOT go past 10pm EST.
Sixty percent counted - Brown 53% - Coakley 46%. CNN headline: "Republican holding steady lead."
About a third counted - Brown 53% - Coakley 47%, according to Fox News. What, no votes at all for the independents? Poor Joe Kennedy.

Update - 39% counted, Brown 52% - Coakley 47%
Asked and answered - Marc Ambinder asks: "Will the House pass the Senate bill?" Then answers: "Good luck with that!" Don't kid yourself: a LOT of people in Massachusetts are voting for Scott Brown because they loathe Obamacare.

More - From Hot Air.
Today's phrase: hoisted by their own petard

Are you enjoying the delicious irony of a Republican elected in Massachusetts to replace Ted Kennedy's seat and cast the deciding vote to kill health care reform?

Well it didn't have to be this way but back in 2004 the Democrats on Beacon Hill changed the law stipulating that the governor would name a replacement for a vacancy in the Senate. At the time, Democrats were worried that John Kerry would win the Presidential race, allowing then-governor Mitt Romney to name a replacement. But if the Dems had just let the law stand, current governor Deval Patrick would have named the replacement for Ted Kennedy and we could have avoided this whole special election.

That's just delicious, that is.
Official MA prediction

The polls are still open so this counts:

Brown - 52%
Coakley - 46%
Others - 2%
Coakley signs spotted near polls=zero. Brown about six
Just getting 2 the polls. HEAVY turnout. Cars backed up to street.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hurry, before the people speak again! - NY Times: "Democrats may seek to push health bill through House." In a nutshell, the House would have to swallow whole the Senate's version of the bill, with the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the abortion language. Bart Stupak (D-MI) said the idea "went over like a lead balloon."


More - Megan McArdle: "[A Brown win] would send a chill down the spine of every Democrat who is not sitting in an ultra-safe, ultra-liberal seat."
The pre-post-mortem - Here's John Steele Gordon with "A perfect political storm."

Martha Coakley's crimes against her own campaign begin with the week-long vacation as she relaxed and dreamed of long lunches in the Senate cafeteria. She became a caricature of the entitled Massachusetts Democrat, waiting to fill "Kennedy's seat." Even yesterday, she and Obama couldn't resist taking swipes at Scott Brown's truck which only underscored the chasm between a regular guy and celebrities who travel in limos.
So she didn't have the common touch. But what about the issues? Here Brown wins again:
The health care issue is front and center as the reason Brown has gained traction. While the plan enjoys more support in Massachusetts than it does nationwide, those with strong opinions on the subject are more likely to oppose the bill than support it. Perhaps the single most shocking thing about the Massachusetts race is the fact that a Republican is running against the president’s health care effort and winning in the Kennedys' home state.

Brown’s position on health care has been supplemented by his positions on national security issues, including the Christmas Day terrorist bomber. Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly want the man who tried to blow up a U.S. airliner tried in a military setting as a terrorist.
This has been the singlemost tone-deaf campaign I've ever seen both on a personal and political level, but it didn't have to be this way if the Democratic candidate had listened to the voters instead of measuring the drapes.
Obama's magic touch

FiveThirtyEight: "538 Model posits Brown as 3:1 favorite"

Coakley's odds are substantially worse than they appeared to be 24 hours ago, when there were fewer credible polls to evaluate and there appeared to be some chance that her numbers were bottoming out and perhaps reversing.
What happened 24 hours ago?


Oh, right.
Join the party! - Real Clear Politics: "Are Democrats breaking for Brown?" Just a little.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Scott Brown visits Western Massachusetts

This morning, Senate candidate Scott Brown came to Holyoke to fire up the troops in the Brown campaign's Western Massachusetts headquarters. I grabbed my new Flip camera and headed off to get a handshake and some pictures.

Scott arrived in his green truck and made his way to meet the people:


Here he is working the crowd which extends down to the far American flag. I would estimate the crowd at around a hundred people, up at 8:45am in the morning.


Here's one homemade sign. Other good once were "I'm not being paid to hold this sign," "Red Sox Fans for Brown," and a Celtics jersey with "Brown 41" on the back.


And here's a brief video of Brown leaving campaign headquarters after addressing the volunteers. At the end you can hear someone yell "Vote on Tuesday!"

video

I headed into headquarters afterwards and asked if I could get a bumper sticker. A pleasant lady responded "we're out of everything." Back out on the street, a gentleman was casually chatting with some Brown supporters and I overheard him talking about the health reform bill working through Congress. He was clearly upset with the employer mandates and flatly said he would have to lay off some workers if it passed, presumably to get under the threshold for a small-business exemption. (Totally true).

There were a number of news crews present so I'll have to see if I'm on TV tonight. If you're reading this Western Massachusetts, I’m the tall, geeky guy wearing a green flannel shirt and a red jacket.

Scott Brown will be at a People's Rally this afternoon at 3:30pm in Worcester, MA. Get out and vote on Tuesday!

One final note: I saw exactly one Martha Coakley sign on my drive to-and-from Holyoke, including a detour through Northampton. By contrast, I saw at least 15 Brown signs, probably closer to 20. I even saw two Alan Khazei signs.

Well this is an interesting development - Weekly Standard: "Kirk can't vote after Tuesday - GOP lawyers say Paul Kirk will no longer be a senator after election day." The Secretary of State in Massachusetts would need to make a ruling here, I believe, but the question hinges on the law's wording of "qualification" vs. "certification."

More - From Strata-Sphere and here's a Memeorandum roundup.
Latest poll: Brown +2 - According to Steve Kornacki. This is pre-"Schilling loves the Yankees."

Yeah, two points is about where the InTrade market is trading this morning. The enthusiasm gap is so yawning that, at this point, if the polls are tied going into Tuesday then Brown is going to win this thing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stated as a fact - The notoriously Right-leaning New York Times has this nugget: "Mr. Brown has also portrayed Ms. Coakley - and by inference, her party - as acting as if she were entitled to the Kennedy seat, a perception Ms. Coakley reinforced by at first running an extremely lackadaisical campaign."
The votes already cast - Via Real Clear Politics: "A trend worth noting as well: 9% of voters say they'd already cast a ballot through absentee voting. Brown leads Coakley among this group 58%-42%." There's that enthusiasm theme again.
The people's seat - Politico: "Enthusiasm gap in Mass. Senate race."

Here's one report, via Red Mass Group (in the comments):
Alright, I just got back from making calls for Scott Brown. I made hundreds of calls and had only one, ONE, person tell me they would not vote for Brown.
To be fair, I did get voicemails and etc... but I talked to a lot of people tonight and most were excited to hear from me. Can you imagine that? EXCITED to hear from a tele-marketer!? Many said not only are they voting for SB but so is most of their family and just about everyone they know.
I was expecting to take my lumps on the phone but it was actually a really energizing experience.
Scott Brown is coming around Western Mass tomorrow and I'm thinking about skipping church to make an eyewitness report. But that's not good...it's a dilemma.
Legally false - Former attorney general Martha Coakley has invited two potential lawsuits for her campaign flyers, one from UPS and the other from the Brown campaign for this disgusting mailer. The law is hard, and stuff.

More - On the criminal complaint filed by the Brown campaign from Red Mass Group.
Waving the bloody sock - Via Politico, Martha went on another radio show and talked about Yankee fan Curt Schilling. Wait...what? Then Coakley said something like "It was cool when the Baltimore Ravens knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs. I had a C-note on that game!"

It's called the "common touch," people. See how it's helped John Kerry?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cramming health care through - Tom Bevan excoriates the "Bubble Boys" who advocate passing health care reform double-quick before a (theoretical) Senator Scott Brown could be sworn in. "Murky merits" indeed.
Poll position - Now Martha Coakley is trailing in a poll taken by Martha Coakley's campaign. Taking a page from the Left's reaction to other unfortunate polls, Martha Coakley has assailed Martha Coakley's pollster as a "six-year old with a crayon putting his thumb on the scale."
The campaign = the candidate

Eventually you come to the point in a political campaign where the effectiveness of management, communication of a coherent message, and execution to meet goals become a proxy for the candidate him/herself. In other words, if a candidate runs a terrible campaign (e.g. Creigh Deeds) the voters question the competency of the candidate to be senator/governor/president. Legal Insurrection lists the many missteps of Martha Coakley:

Martha Coakley's slap-shots fired at Fenway Park fans and devout Catholics, her vacation in the middle of a special election, her refusal to debate one-on-one, her D.C. lobbyist fundraiser, and her denial that she witnessed the subsequent assault on a reporter, all have people bewildered as to how Coakley could be so "tone deaf."
Today, the heels of the "Massachusettes" incident, the Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight has released a Scott Brown attack ad with the World Trade Center in the background.

Meanwhile a DSCC spokesman is saying the image shouldn't have appeared in the ad and that it is being pulled.
And you want to be my latex salesman senator?



Extra - Boston Globe: "Campaigns are an opportunity for candidates to hear from the public they want to represent, but Coakley doesn’t seem to believe this is necessary." Voters are icky.

More - Jules Crittenden: "Bromentum?"
Can't possibly be true - Brown up by 15% in CrossTarget poll?!? Breaking hard.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vote for Scott Brown, stat!

Ronald Reagan (in the emergency room): "Please tell me you're all Republicans."

Martha Coakley (in the emergency room): "Please tell me you're not Catholics."

Exclamation point!

Late update - You can't stop the Big Mo. The first major poll shows Brown in the lead: "Brown up 4 in Suffolk University poll."
Another day, another new health care sell-out

Here's where we stand today on the health care reform legislation:

If you're from Nebraska: the other 49 states pay for your Medicaid bills
If you're in a labor union: you get a special exemption from an excise tax on high-cost health plans
If your in a labor union in Nebraska: foot massages from Joe Biden.

Extra - Nebraska senator Ben Nelson chased from a pizza joint by angry Cornhuskers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A class act - And funny too: "Conan O'Brien says he won't host the 'Tonight Show' after Leno." I have to say that I don't have the warmest feeling for Jay Leno right now: he had the 'Tonight Show' for 17 years and now he's going to come back to 11:30 and displace Conan? Geez, give somebody else a chance in the spotlight, Jay.

Extra - Team Conan attacks!
Too cold in the Sunshine state - Now Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park is closed due to chilly temperatures. Yesterday, I texted an old friend from work who moved down to Miami, asking how he was enjoying the New England weather. His response? Well, let's just say he didn't like it. No sir.
Can she grab defeat from the jaws of victory? I think she can! - Over at Legal Insurrection, Bill Jacobson writes on the MA special election: "The Democratic primary may have produced the single worst candidate for a hotly contested statewide election in this environment."

Two weeks ago, I never thought that Coakley could blow her lead in deep-blue Massachusetts (one "e.") But she started measuring the drapes, then ducked a head-to-head debate, then started going negative on a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, then dunned a bunch of lobbyists for cash. No wonder the special interests are pouring money into the race.

From my vantage point here in Western Mass, all the enthusiasm is on Brown's side. Meanwhile, even the union guys holding up Coakley signs are voting for Brown (H/T Hot Air):

This is grate stuffe

Mass Live: "New Martha Coakley ad attacking Scott Brown misspells 'Massachusetts'"

Here's my favorite comment.

She should have run for Senator of Ohio, it's an easier State to spell.
Ann Althouse gets runner-up:

…as the female candidate goes on the attack in her effort to become the next… Senatorette!
Moving foward!

Update - Just caught the infamous Coakley ad on TV and there it was: "Massachusettes!" Ha!
Bending the cost curve, UP. Again.

From Opinion Journal: "$222 billion, ho hum"

Among the astonishing things about the ObamaCare debate-or lack thereof-is that Washington is inundated with warnings about the destructiveness of this plan, and it doesn't matter. The agency that runs Medicare rung the latest alarm bell on Friday, and good luck finding any media mention.

Richard Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports that under his analysis national health spending will rise under the bills by $222 billion over the next 10 years. In other words, ObamaCare really does "bend the cost curve"---up.
My theory is that America is tired of hearing about this legislation and has already internalized the bad news coming:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 17% believe passage of the legislation will achieve the stated goal of reducing health care costs. Fifty-seven percent (57%) think it will lead to higher costs.

Fifty-two percent (52%) also believe passage of the legislation will lead to a decline in the quality of care.
It's a national Stockholm syndrome. Please let it end.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Grab your scissors - CNBC reports that Chris Dodd says: "Health care reform is hanging by a thread." I don't disagree that runaway health care costs are a problem and that some reforms are necessary, but this bill is a nightmare. What's wrong with an incremental approach starting with reforms that can garner broad, bipartisan support? Instead the Democrats are acting like a scared kid who climbed to the top of the diving platform and now they have to jump.
Chit-chat update

Sounds like the union leaders had a "frank" discussion with Obama about the health care bill: "Irate labor leaders press Obama on proposed health care 'Cadillac' tax."

Labor leaders irate over a proposed tax on high-value health insurance plans met with President Barack Obama on Monday to express their frustration over his support for the levy. Some labor officials have warned Democrats of political fallout for backing the tax.
The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, said there was a frank discussion at the nearly two-hour White House meeting with about a dozen heads of the country's biggest labor unions. Earlier in the day Trumka delivered a broadside to Obama and Senate Democrats who are planning to pay for overhauling the nation's health care system with a tax on insurance plans that union leaders fear could hit their workers.
Trumka warned that Democrats risk catastrophic election defeats similar to 1994 if they fail to come up with a health bill labor likes.
I never thought I'd be on the same side of an issue with the AFL-CIO, the side agreeing that this is a tax on middle-class workers. The White House is only saying there was an "exchange of views." Hmmm.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

There may be a position opening up at the Globe for a proofreader - Did anybody see the Money & Careers section of the Boston Globe today? The headline: "MOVING FOWARD."

You heard me.
Searchlight bound

Politico – "Harry Reid: 'I'm not going anywhere.'"

Oh, I have a feeling you'll be heading back to Nevada soon.

More - From Sweetness & Light: "Nevadans oppose Reid on healthcare"
Open up - Jeff Jacoby: "The old delusion of protectionism."
I don't like this poll quite as much – Today's Boston Globe: "Senate poll: Coakley up 15 points." I guess we're going to need a blizzard in Boston.
Chit-chat

George Will: "What's alarming is whether it indicates a belief on the part of the President which is that there is no problem that will not melt before the sunshine of his charm."


This is gonna be good.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

No freakin' WAY! - I've been away most of the day for my son's swim meet (he shaved 10 seconds off his personal best, BTW) and I come home to this from Public Policy Polling: "Toss up in Massachusetts." Key quote: "Buoyed by a huge advantage by independents and relative disinterest from Democratic voters in the state, Republican Scott Brown leads Martha Coakley 48%-47%."

If you read the breakdown, it appears that opposition to health care reform is driving a lot of voters to the polls for Brown and against Coakley who has stated she supports the legislation. Strangely, though, she says nothing about this key issue on TV ads here in the Bay State. Her pollsters must be seeing the same numbers that Ben Nelson and Harry Reid are seeing.



And this - Boston Herald: "Scott Brown swearing-in would be stalled to pass health-care reform." I don't believe it. As I've noted below, I think a lot of Democrats would breathe a sigh of relief to have Brown elected to stop the Democrats' suicide mission of passing a very unpopular health care bill.
Tinkerbell is freezing in Orlando - I'm sure I've mentioned this before but I'm a huge Disney fanatic. So imagine my surprise when I saw this notice over at AllEars.net: "Due to the cold weather in Florida, Blizzard Beach water park will be closed January 8, 2010." That's right: a water park with a ski resort theme is being closed due to frigid temperatures. Irony!


Update (1/9) - Blizzard Beach closed again today...too damned cold.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate - Politico raises an excellent question: "Can Dems pass health care if Brown wins?" Short answer: yes, but it would be very difficult. First they could pass it before he's sworn in which, as I understand it, will be soon after the special election on January 19th. This is not going to happen because half the Senate is still on winter holiday. The second option would be for the House to pass the Senate bill without any modification. I find this only slightly more likely since Democrat Representatives are feeling tremendous political heat from all sides, especially from the unions who want the "Cadillac" tax stripped.

On some level, wouldn't the Democrats in Congress breathe a huge sigh of relief if Scott Brown managed to win this special election? They can say they tried but, gosh darn it, the Republicans blocked us! They'd be off the hook with their liberal constituents for failing to get health care reform while assuaging centrist voters who never wanted it in the first place.

It's a win-win! C'mon, Democrats, show your support for Scott Brown!
By far the most important news today - WSJ: "White House: 'Lost' fans won't be marooned." In other words, the State of the Union address will not push off the season premiere of "Lost" on February 2nd.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

You gotta believe - William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection is a tireless advocate for Republican Scott Brown against presumed frontrunner Martha Coakley in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. I think it's a looong shot since independent voters, who overwhelmingly favor Brown, are unlikely to drag themselves to the polls. Still, there's much more enthusiasm on Brown's side and anything could happen in an election with low turnout (blizzard in Boston, anyone?) Also, I can't help but believe that Brown may be helped by the presence of a "Kennedy" on the ballot (the Libertarian candidate). Maybe some confused voters will vote for him, pulling votes away from the breathing Democrat Coakley. Hey, it could happen.
You can do it, it's electric! - This one wins headline of the day: "Chevy Volt may cost less than expected $40,000 price." Yeah, that's how capitalism works, General Motors, when you're not propped up with tax dollars. Over at the Atlantic, Daniel Indiviglio calculates that you'd have to drive a lot (thousands of miles a month) to make the Volt cost-effective. Sounds like a winner.
You screwed up, America. You trusted him.

I think this post title from AoSHQ says it all: "Remember When Obama Said He Wouldn't Raise Taxes On Those Making Less Than $250K? Let Me Be Perfectly Clear, He Lied"

The topic at hand is Obama's support for a 40% tax on "Cadillac" health care plans, a large majority of which are held by union members, who will most assuredly see the cost passed on to them. And, via Politico, here's "Ex-Obama supporter slams president for flip-flop on Cadillac tax." Golly, if only a group of Representatives who need to face the voters every two years would listen to their constituents. What a world that would be!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Last word - From Victor Davis Hanson on "Obama's broken health-care promise": "I don't think I can recall in recent political history a serial public vow that was so flagrantly and cynically renounced."

Which raises a good question: why is President Prolix suddenly so quiet on the transparency (or lack thereof) in the legislative process? If there's a rational explanation why a closed conference is good for democracy, I'd like to hear it.
Mayo says "no" – Jeff Jacoby: "Medicare and the Mayo Clinic"

Hurry, hurry, hurry, before I go insane

Everything you wanted to know about President Obama's current viewpoint on health care reform can be found in this Politico roundup. He doesn't care if it covers Americans, or is deficit-neutral, or wrecks the economy, or marches the sick over a cliff. He just wants it done before the State of the Union address so he can laud this "historic" and "landmark" legislation that we mere mortals are not allowed to see crafted, lest our eyes scar over!

President Obama met with House Speaker Pelosi, House Majority Leader Hoyer, Senate Majority Leader Reid and Sen. Durbin last night and told them that he wants a final bill that includes a tax on Cadillac insurance plans and an independent Medicare commission.
Unless it will delay the negotiations, then under the bus it goes.

And he forcefully communicated his desire to pass reform in time for his State of the Union address, according to a Democratic insider familiar with the conversation.
Quel surprise.

Obama also responded to Pelosi’s strong, repeated pitches for the public option by making it clear that, while he supports the proposal, he doesn’t think it is doable.
Can't waste a moment.

Reid, who along with Durbin participated by phone, time and again steered the rather substantive policy discussions back to one central question – will it get 60 votes?
Because otherwise, we might have to push off the mad dash to screw up one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

It's now blindingly obvious that Obama will sign anything with the words "health care" on it. It's called "leadership" in case you didn't know. Suck on that, FDR!

Extra - Candidate Obama pledges that health care debate will be on C-Span and "streaming on the web."

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Now turn off those cameras! - Nancy Pelosi on health care legislation: "There has never been a more open process for any legislation." Oh, man.

Extra - Real Clear Politics: "Obama's C-SPAN problem."

Monday, January 04, 2010

Nothing but net game-winner at the buzzer

I heard about this on NPR today:

Well, that was fun - Internet breakdown again, but I think I fixed the DSL permanently this time. If not, it's time for Plan B.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Massachusetts special election - Later this month, there's an election to fill Ted Kennedy's vacant Senate seat. It would seem beyond the limits of hope that a Republican could claim the seat of the "Lion of the Senate" in the bluest state in the country. But, as Bill Jacobson notes, special elections are all about enthusiasm and, so far, state senator Scott Brown is generating buzz while Democrat Martha Coakley is laying low and refusing to debate Brown one-on-one. Here in Western Massachusetts (and I assume elsewhere in the Bay State), Brown is running this clever commercial in which he morphs from a tax-cutting JFK, closing with the slogan "Less taxes = more jobs." Sounds like a plan, Jack!

More - Roundup at Memeorandum.
The Grim Reaper as taxman

Jeff Jacoby lays out the argument against the estate tax in "Let's keep the death tax dead":

To class warriors, of course, abolition of the estate tax is a disgrace. The American Prospect's Tim Fernholz wonders why foes of the estate tax are so keen on "lining the pockets of the already-wealthy," and bristles at the thought of not taxing "folks who inherit huge fortunes" when their parents die. "It makes little sense," declaims USA Today in a recent editorial, "to shower tax breaks on a tiny sliver of the nation's wealthiest citizens."
Here's my argument against the death tax: the money that everybody earns is taxed once as income tax. If we put it into the bank to save, the interest earned is taxed. If we invest that money, it's taxed with a capital gains tax. And if we spend it, there's a sales tax. (If we stuff it under the mattress, the value is eaten away by inflation, too.) From the moment the money is earned, it is taxed in a hundred different ways: can't we leave it alone in death?

Besides, the "rich" aren't going to pay that tax, unless they've hired particularly inept financial planners:

But the nation's wealthiest citizens aren't the ones the estate tax hurts. The Rockefeller, Buffett, and Kennedy fortunes are secure, shielded from the IRS by flocks of tax lawyers and accountants. As Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution and Boston College economist Alicia Munnell have sardonically observed, estate taxes "are penalties on those who neglect to plan ahead or who retain unskilled estate planners." Populist rhetoric notwithstanding, they add, American estate taxes "have failed to achieve their intended purposes. They raise little revenue. They impose large excess burdens. They are unfair."
Then there's the immorality of punishing hard work, thriftiness, and savings:

The estate tax is pernicious because it punishes precisely the kind of behavior society should want to reward - work, prudence, savings - and it rewards behavior that should be discouraged - profligacy, overconsumption, and leisure. The easiest way to avoid all death taxes, after all, is to spend your money before you go. Work hard, reinvest your earnings, and leave your life's savings to your loved ones, on the other hand, and the IRS becomes one of your heirs. As economist Arthur Laffer memorably put it in an essay last year, "Spend It in Vegas, or Die Paying Taxes." That is hardly the message we should want our tax laws to convey.
For every spoiled debutante like Paris Hilton waiting to collect on her inheritance, there are a hundred doctors or businessmen who worked or risked all they had to earn their fortunes. Bill Gates, for example, dropped out of Harvard to start a little company called Microsoft. His company then provided livelihoods to thousands of employees and he retired to run a foundation that hands out $1.5 billion a year to causes ranging from HIV research to education reform. But when Bill Gates dies, the federal government will take just a little bit more. Spreading the wealth around, you know.
U.S. closes embassy in popular crossword puzzle answer - Both the United States and Great Britain have closed embassies in Sanaa, Yemen, "in the face of Al Qaeda threats." On Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol called that a "sign of weakness." We can presume that the White House's response to this threat will be swift and decisive.

Extra - More from Gateway Pundit.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cornhusker kickback craziness continues - Politico is reporting that Senator Ben Nelson has been contacting the state attorney generals, asking them to hold off on legal action against Nebraska's special Medicaid exemption in the current health care legislation. The pitch? The possibly unconstitutional deal is a "placeholder" and that Medicaid exemption will be extended to the other states.

The Nebraska exemption is/was estimated to cost $100 million over 10 years so, if the Medicaid deal is extended to all 50 states...well, you do the math. Tom Maguire echoes my thoughts on this special deal that's special for everyone: there is no fiscal reality to this health care legislation. It's all smoke and mirrors to fool the CBO and pass something, anything.
That inconvenient Constitution again - From Opinion Journal, the subtitle says it all: "Why the health-care bills are unconstitutional - If the government can mandate the purchase of insurance, it can do anything." Oh, you're gonna eat that spinach, mister.
Never odd or even - Hey, today is 01/02/2010! Boston Globe: "What's so special about today? It's a palindrome."

Friday, January 01, 2010

This is just the beginning

The Mayo Clinic, praised by President Obama as a national model for efficient health care, will stop accepting Medicare patients as of tomorrow at one of its primary-care clinics in Arizona, saying the U.S. government pays too little.
Keep in mind that this action was taken before the 21% drop in Medicare reimbursement rates that are required in the current health care reform legislation to make it deficit neutral.

Extra - Villainous Company notes the government's penchant for cost control and asks: "What could possibly go wrong?" In my opinion, if doctors feel they're not getting paid enough to cover expenses, they could always pull out a tonsil or two.