Monday, November 30, 2009

The industry of green - Via Don Surber: "Climategate prof raked in $22.6 million in grants" Powerful incentive to find the "right" conclusions, I'd say. (H/T Maggie's Farm).

Extra - Opinion Journal: "Climategate - follow the money"
Debt forever with government-run healthcare

Gallup: "Americans still leaning against healthcare legislation"

Americans currently tilt against Congress' passing healthcare legislation, with 49% saying they would advise their member to vote against a bill (or they lean that way) and 44% saying they would advocate a vote in favor of the bill (or lean toward advising a yes vote).

Despite the considerable efforts of Congress and the president to pass health insurance reform, the public remains reluctant to endorse that goal. Over the past month, Gallup has found more Americans opposed to than in favor of healthcare legislation, though at least one in five say they have not made up their minds. Proportionately more independents (27%) and Democrats (24%) than Republicans (14%) are undecided, which at least improves the odds that legislation could wind up getting majority public backing. But the recent trend has been in the opposite direction, with opposition growing.
John Gordon Steele explains why Americans have soured on healthcare reform:

The public is aware of the situation and in poll after poll puts deficit reduction as its No. 1 priority. So what will the greatest deliberative body in the world - as the U.S. Senate loves to call itself - spend the month of December deliberating about? The greatest expansion of the federal government’s responsibilities since Lyndon Johnson left the White House 40 years ago.
And add to the deficit it will since there's zero chance of Congress cutting Medicare by a half-trillion dollars and cost containment efforts in the original bills are already being thrown overboard:

In merging bills drafted in committee, meanwhile, Reid significantly watered down two of the most important cost-containment provisions: a tax on high-cost health insurance policies that was opposed by labor unions and an independent commission that had been designed to automatically and methodically restrain Medicare spending. Senior White House officials have called those provisions critical, but House leaders are adamantly opposed to both.
By a wide majority, Americans know that the current bills moving through Congress will explode the deficit. Why does Congress pretend otherwise?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Officers gunned down in Washington State - Four officers ambushed and murdered in cold blood. What can you say about a senseless tragedy like this? Police are combing the area for a suspect and they have not ruled out a possible accomplice.

Update - Person of interest: Maurice Clemmons

More - Unbelievable: a lifetime of crime and second chances including a commutation by then-Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. The key should have been thrown away a long time ago.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The write stuff - Opinion Journal: "Five best books: historical fiction"

The first book that came to mind (before seeing the list) was Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" about the Mercury astronauts although Wolfe's style is considered "new journalism" instead of historical fiction. Maybe a more apt choice would be Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. I learned so much about the Glorious Revolution, monetary policy, and the Royal Society (among many other topics) after reading this series. Bring on the Trial of the Pyx!
Something to be thankful for - CNN: "Godfather of spam going to prison"
Who's closest to the actual retail price without going over? - If you believe Obama, then health care reform will be deficit-neutral. But Michael Cannon at Cato estimates that once you strip away all the budget gimmicks, Obamacare will cost $6 trillion. Somebody is closer to the truth.

Friday, November 27, 2009

When we get around to it, maybe

I just found this gem of unintentional humor from the White House blog responding to Krauthammer’s article, insisting that tort reform is on the table when it comes to health care reform:

President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of HHS to move forward with an initiative to give states and health systems the opportunity to apply for medical liability demonstration projects.
Are there enough qualifiers in there? Are any of these demonstration projects in the pipeline or does the HHS need to approve the applications so we can review and formulate a task force to process the information, forthwith? Short answer: there is no tort reform.
Worst legislation ever - Charles Krauthammer (Harvard Medical School 1975) declares the health care legislation working through Congress “irredeemable” and urges “Kill the bills and do health reform right.”
Nancy Pelosi, laugh riot

Who’s writing her material nowadays?
Despite the $787 billion stimulus package passed in February, unemployment climbed to 10.2 percent in October. While critics cite the jobless rate as a sign that the stimulus has failed, Pelosi argues that the federal government is just not trying hard enough.

"We have to shed any weakness that anybody may have about not wanting to be confrontational on this subject for fear that we'd be labeled not sensitive to the deficit," Pelosi said, in a recording posted by Think Progress.

"The American people have an anger about the growth of the deficit because they're not getting anything for it. ... If somebody has the idea that the percentage of GDP of what our national debt is will go up a bit, but they will now -- and their neighbors and their children -- will have jobs, I think they could absorb that, and then we ride it out and bring money in," she said.
On the one hand, the House Democrats are proposing new legislation (that is, deficit spending) to create jobs while pushing through a massive health care bill that will undoubtably destroy jobs by putting expensive new mandates on business. Is Nancy Pelosi insane or is this a bit she’s doing?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

Stream of consciousness on a slow news day

There doesn't seem to be much going on today as everybody winds down for Thanksgiving. The top story on Fox News right now is "Are Vampires real?" I hear there's a vampire movie out, so there may be a tie-in.

My weekend started out great because my normal commute was...a normal commute. I took an alternate route home and missed almost all the holiday traffic. Sweet.

I know that when unemployment is topping 10%, it may not be the ideal time for a lavish state dinner at the White House. But, gosh darn it, I love it when our country plays the host, especially to a (future?) ally like India. They're going to be bigger than China one day; might as well play nice. The President makes less money than most baseball players, so why not let him entertain some friends?

On the other hand, I just heard that Obama will be flying to Copenhagen for some climate conference. Does this guy ever stay in the country for more than a couple days?

Detroit will be playing their annual football game against Green Bay tomorrow. Followed by Oakland-Dallas. Snooze. There's an outside chance the NY Giants-Denver matchup will be decent.

Did I mention that Jimmie Johnson won his fourth (in-a-row) NASCAR championship? Snooze redux.

I'm about three weeks away from finishing my coursework for my master's degree. When I graduated from college in 1991, I never thought I'd be heading back to school. But just like "60 is the new 45" I suppose that a masters is the new bachelors.

I haven't written about the race for Ted Kennedy's old seat in the Senate. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will win the seat and, at this point, it looks like Bay State AG Martha Coakley. She'll be a "yes" vote on the health care bill to bankrupt the nation.

Well, if I don't write anything further tonight, let me close with "Happy Thanksgiving."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kentucky. Fox News. You know what I'm getting' at.

Two months ago, Andrew Sullivan knew there was a lynching in Kentucky and engaged in a little casual stereotyping, possibly while listening to "YMCA"

But the most worrying possibility - that this is Southern populist terrorism, whipped up by the GOP and its Fox and talk radio cohorts - remains real. We'll see.
Situation "seen": we now know that Bill Sparkman committed suicide and staged the scene so his family could collect on life insurance. William Jacobson, of a long memory, has a list of bloggers in "Calling for Sparkman apologies."

Update - Sullivan responds: "Hey, man, I said 'we'll see'!" The Other McCain retorts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

If only we had some warning!

Stuff like this drives me nuts. From the NY Times: "Wave of debt payments facing U.S. government"

The problem, many analysts say, is that record government deficits have arrived just as the long-feared explosion begins in spending on benefits under Medicare and Social Security. The nation’s oldest baby boomers are approaching 65, setting off what experts have warned for years will be a fiscal nightmare for the government.
In what context is the word "feared" used here? In "feared" there's the implication that the mathematical certainty of Medicare's and Social Security's insolvency would not come to pass. In what way was this not foreseen by Washington and bloggers alike? The Social Security and Medicare trustees put out a report every year explaining that benefit levels cannot continue much beyond the next couple decades.

The Left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) play up the certitude of global warming despite the prevailing evidence. But bring up the fiscal vacuity of America's entitlement programs and you're just trying to destroy FDR's legacy. Well, good luck with your Medicare cuts, boys.

Extra – Robert Samuelson tries again with "The assault on the young": "Working Americans -- the young and middle-aged -- already pay a huge part of the health costs of the elderly through Medicare and Medicaid. These will grow with an aging population and surging health spending. Either taxes will rise or other public services will fall."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Some "funny" stuff I found in my latest issue of Wired - The "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks.
You can't fool all the people - David Broder discusses health care reform in "A budget-buster in the making." He notes that less than one-fifth of Americans believe Obama's promise that the plan will not add to the federal deficit. That's change you can't believe in.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Deep in the red - Here's former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eikin with "The coming deficit disaster."
Bah, humbug on taxes - Business Week: "Best e-commerce sites for the holidays." Take a guess how much spending I'll be doing in Massachusetts and the state's new 6.25% sales tax.
Bold new blog. Hooray. Now I can bore u from my phone.
Testing 123. Mobile blog post.

Update - Wow, that's cool. Now I have to figure out formatting.
Like a boring straw, there is no bend - Megan McArdle has a detailed review of the likely funding (and underfunding) scenarios for the health care bill in "Preliminary thoughts on the CBO report." "I think it's pretty clear at this point that no bill from our Congress is going to meaningfully 'bend the cost curve'." Here's some additional commentary from Krauthammer.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Smoke and mirrors on steroids

The Senate's health care reform bill is deficit neutral only if you believe Congress will cut payments to doctors for reimbursements, raise taxes to unprecedented levels, and slash a half-trillion dollars from Medicare. James Capretta details the "$4.9 trillion spending increase"
For starters, the Reid plan assumes that Medicare physician fees will get cut by about 20 percent beginning in 2011 and then remain very restrained indefinitely. Virtually no one in Congress believes that will happen, nor do they want it to.

In the first ten years, CBO says it would total nearly $500 billion, which is bad enough. But in the second decade, the tax increase would balloon to about $1.7 trillion, in large part because of the hidden tax hikes associated with bracket creep. Over 20 years, Senate Democrats are thus planning to raise taxes on the American people by about $2.2 trillion.

Finally, there are the Medicare cuts. Despite all of the talk of “delivery system reform,” the Senate Democratic plan would not transform American medicine to make it more efficient. No, they would simply cut payment rates for providers of services. On paper, the cuts are massive. CBO says they would total nearly $450 billion in Medicare over the first ten years, but then grow to about $1.9 trillion in the next decade. Just like physician fees, virtually no one believes Congress will sustain arbitrary payment rate cuts of this magnitude.
Here's the wrap-up:
On paper, the Reid plan plus the “doc fix” would increase total federal spending by about $4.9 trillion over 20 years. Senate Democrats would resort to bracket creep and other tax hikes to raise $2.2 trillion over the same period. The balance would be made up with spending reductions, mainly in Medicare, that no one believes can be sustained, and in any event do not constitute “health reform.” In other words, it’s a tax-and-spend bill of the highest order. And only the spending is certain to happen.
At the very moment in history when the Baby Boomers are poised to tip entitlement spending into the stratosphere, Obamacare will dwarf those programs and bankrupt this country. Nobody can explain away this math. Oh, yeah, and the whole deal may be unconstitutional to boot.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Government intervention: is there anything it can't fix make worse?

If you liked the stimulus bill that brought us double-digit unemployment, "Cash for Clunkers" that cost $24,000 a vehicle and the AIG bailout, then you'll love Kiribati's plan to save the fish. NPR: "Reef Conservation Strategy Backfires"

Kiribati (pronounced KIR-a-bahs) has a simple economy. People either catch fish, or they pick coconuts from their trees and produce coconut oil. Sheila Walsh, a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University, says most people do a bit of each.

The Kiribati government was concerned about overfishing. So it came up with a plan: It would subsidize the coconut oil industry.

"The thought was that by paying people more to do coconut agriculture, they would do less fishing," says Walsh. "And this would fulfill two goals: One, they would reduce overfishing; and two, people would be better off. They would have higher incomes."

Walsh wanted to know whether this plan was working, and the government invited her to study the issue. So, as part of her graduate work at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, she flew to Kiribati to interview fishermen.

"And it turned out that, actually, the result of paying people more to do coconut agriculture was to increase fishing," she says. In fact, fishing increased by a startling 33 percent. The reef fish population dropped by an estimated 17 percent, putting the whole ecosystem at risk.

"It was a bit of a surprise, and we were wondering: What's going on here?"

The answer was simplicity itself. Walsh's study concludes that people earned more money making coconut oil, which meant they could work less to support themselves. And they spent their new leisure time fishing.

"It hit us like a bumper sticker saying - a bad day fishing is better than a good day working. And that's sort of the story here," Walsh says.
Here's Chief Brody advising Quint on how to spend his coconut profits:

And now, your moment of Zen

A parable for your consideration:

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around the bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

"Come on girl," said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in her arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don’t go near females," he told Tanzan, "Especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"

"I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"
Meditate, and then compare and contrast to the bizarre obsession of Andrew Sullivan for Sarah Palin.

Extra – Megan McArdle: "Palinoia" strikes deep.
Gettin' right to the point

Wasting no time, here's Jeffrey Flier in his opening sentences:
As the dean of Harvard Medical School I am frequently asked to comment on the health-care reform debate. I'd give it a failing grade.
Just like the Massachusetts plan, Dr. Flier writes that the health care bill moving through Congress will "markedly accelerate health-care spending rather than restrain it." I think that's a given at this juncture.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Like I've been saying - Opinion Journal: "Where are the doctors to implement Obamacare? - A University of California chancellor warns that America could soon look like Massachusetts." Aaaahh!
Anybody laughing yet? - General Motors is bankrupt, just posted another loss, but they swear they're going to pay back the American taxpayers. This is a joke right? The Truth About Cars writes: "GM's first post-bankruptcy financial data has arrived, underscoring in red ink the folly of the government 'investment' in the shambling zombie once known as General Motors."
Ken Ober checks out - NY Times: "Ken Ober, "Remote Control" host, is dead." Geez, he was only 52; cause of death "not immediately known."

"Remote Control" was MTV's first foray away from videos and into TV shows. It was a super-cheap game show where Ober would ask trivia questions, sometimes mixed with little skits. A little-known actor named Adam Sandler got his start there as "Stud Boy." My all-time favorite bit starred Denis Leary as "Colin's Bruddah." Leary would come out as co-host Colin Quinn's belligerent brother, ask a question, and inevitably get into a fight with his Irish sibling. Ober would then break up the fight with some stereotype like: "Hey guys, there's a new Pogues album out!"

Also funny: "Dead or Canadian." Oops, sorry Ken (not Canadian.)
Not cutting costs, part 2 - Robert Samuelson looks at health care reform and declares that costs will skyrocket: "Their sweeping overhaul of the health care system - which Congress is halfway towards enacting - would almost certainly make matters worse." He echoes one of my points in that the program could never be deficit-neutral because Congress will not carve $400 billion out of Medicare. Ain't gonna happen.

Extra - From Contentions.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MassCare eats away at the economy in the Bay State

There were two articles in the Boston Globe of special interest for those who want to see how the Massachusetts health care reform will play out when extended nationwide. First, small businesses are getting socked with double-digit increases in insurance rates: "Small businesses bridle at health insurance hikes"

At a time when both the state and the nation are struggling to rein in health care costs, many small businesses in Massachusetts say they’re receiving the largest premium increases in years for their Jan. 1 renewals. Insurers in September said they expect to raise premiums an average of 10 percent next year, but some employers are facing increases that are double or triple that - or even higher.
What does this mean? Surprise surprise, small businesses are not going to hire more workers and/or they're passing the increased cost on to current employees:

According to Blue Cross, the majority of its customers have been redesigning their plans through "buydowns," which use higher deductibles and other features to shift more of the cost to employees.
And here it comes:

"The main driver in insurance premiums is the cost of health care," Maltz said. Another factor, he said, is the state universal health care law, which has compelled insurers to merge newly insured individuals - a high-cost group - into small-business insurance plans.
When Americans are compelled to purchase health insurance to comply with a federal plan, the insurance companies will face the same problem on a national scale. Somebody will have to pay and it's going to be you, in the forms of higher insurance rates, taxes, and borrowing.

If we now flip over to the business section of today's Globe, we find this troubling news: "Downturn isn't over yet for Bay State Latest numbers change predictions for Massachusetts"

As a result, it now appears the state will lag behind the national rebound by three or four months, according to a recent forecast by the New England Economic Partnership, a nonprofit research group.
Cause and effect.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not cutting costs - The Hill: "House health bill will hike costs $289B" That's what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says.

Plus, there's this from the WashPost: "Nonpartisan agency says House bill will reduce senior care." No wonder Nancy Pelosi pushed through that quick Saturday vote.
The amateur-in-chief

Forgetting that he's the President of the United States of America, Obama committed a breach of protocol and bowed deeply to Japan's emperor Akihito. The LA Times asked "How low will he go?" and Powerline queried "Why is this man bowing?" I think the answer can be found in this quote from "The Remains of the Day":
Lewis: "You are, all of you, amateurs. And international affairs should never be run by gentlemen amateurs. Do you have any idea of what sort of place the world is becoming all around you? The days when you could just act out of your noble instincts, are over. Europe has become the arena of realpolitik, the politics of reality. If you like: real politics. What you need is not gentlemen politicians, but real ones. You need professionals to run your affairs, or you're headed for disaster!"
The answer may be more prosaic: Obama's the "change" guy so, whatever might have been the norm for 200+ years, he's going to do the opposite. The exception is creating deficits - there he's going to blow away all previous administrations.

Flashback - Hot Air: "NY Times blasts Clinton for almost bowing."

More - Memeorandum roundup.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Americans aren't buyin' it - Megan McArdle reveals that "the more we talk about health care reform, the less popular it gets."
Everything's bigger in Texas - Including the job market. According to Business Week, Texas is home to four out the the top five cities in America for job creation. The fifth is in Utah.
Wanna get into Princeton? Move out of New Jersey - As you know, this move came too late for me, but colleges across the nation are giving special consideration to out-of-state students because they normally need to pay a higher tuition, which then subsidizes the in-state students.
Freestyle - Just got back from my son's swim meet where he shaved three seconds off his 50m freestyle time, and a first place finish to boot. Nice.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Constitution schmonstitution - Congress plans to mandate that Americans purchase health insurance and jail 'em if they don't. Any basis in law? Well there's that "general welfare" part of the Constitution which implies that the government can force you to eat spinach too.
Holi-day wi-fi - PC World: "Thanks Google, but airport wi-fi should always be free." It should, since it's so critical to business, but airports can't resist sources of revenue.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

I miss my dog. When I picked her up from the kennel, she would cry and slobber all over my car on the ride home. And that was after only a week or so.
Obama chooses not to decide - Fox News "Obama won't take any current war options": "President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday."

I'm sure the boys in Oslo are so proud.

Flashback – Here's Jennifer Rubin, earlier today: "After delaying and equivocating, the president must, soon we are promised yet again, announce the policy, quiet the critics, regain the confidence of our allies and the Afghanistan government, and impress on the enemy that we really do mean business."

Extra – Hot Air: "Obama votes 'present'"

More – AFP reports that the U.S. ambassador in Kabul is essentially overriding the opinion of General McChrystal on Afghanistan.

And this - AoSHQ: "Smartest guy in the room."
Millions for Botox, but not one cent for flu shots - Real Clear Markets: "Health reform's moral hazard"
Best news today - CNN: "Police officer who shot Fort Hood suspect says she's 'doing well'" I had heard Officer Munley had lost a lot of blood after the shootout but now it looks like she's on the mend.
Just makin' stuff up, Boston-style - Remember that stimulus package that was supposed to "create or save" jobs? Not so much. Boston Globe "Stimulus job boost in state exaggerated, review finds": "While Massachusetts recipients of federal stimulus money collectively report 12,374 jobs saved or created, a Globe review shows that number is wildly exaggerated."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The conspiracy to keep you poor and dependent - Government-run health care is an opportunity to make Americans more dependent on the government...and that helps the statist Democrats. At least one guy let the cat out of the bag: "Confessions of an ObamaCare backer."

More - From Q&O.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Twenty years ago - BBC News asks: "Where were you when the Berlin Wall came down?" Golly, since I was just starting my senior year at Rutgers, I was probably at the Ale & Wich with my roommates, sharing a $4 pitcher of Budweiser. If my usual jukebox selections were coming on then "I'll be Doggone" by Marvin Gaye would be playing.

Somewhere, deep in my archives, I have a New York Times wrapped in plastic showing people celebrating freedom. Great times.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Once the foot is in the door, expansion forever

I’m back kinda late from New York, so I'll just borrow this thought from Mark Steyn on the passage of the health care bill:

If "health care" were about health care, the devil would be in the details. But it's not about health or costs or coverage; it's about getting over the river and burning the bridge. It doesn't matter what form of governmentalized health care gets passed as long as it passes. Once it’s in place, it will be "reformed", endlessly, but it will never be undone.
The history of Social Security and Medicare and damn near every government program follows the same pattern: start small and expand later. When Social Security was started in the mid-1930's, the program collected 1% from your income along with 1% from your employer; these contributions went to fund a program to prevent poverty in old age. Now Social Security collects 6.2% of your income (12.4% for the self-employed) to fund a much healthier and wealthier senior population compared to their Depression-era counterparts.

The health care bill that just passed in the House is estimated to cost $1.2 trillion, well above President Obama's insistence that the legislation fall under the $900 billion limit. No matter: it's now blindingly obvious that Obama will sign any legislation at all to get that foot in the door. The price setting, rationed care, doctor shortage, and the exploding deficit? Those are details to work out later, after the big "win."

Extra – Opinion Journal: "The Lords of Entitlement Every medical insurance decision will be subject to rationing by politics."

More - Minuteman: "Health care that's always a scare."

Get ready for the mass conversion - From the KC Star: "Would I have to have insurance? Yes, or pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of your income. Hardship and religious waivers would be available, and some very low-wage earners would be exempt. The requirement would begin in 2013." Whoa...what religion gets a free pass?

I think it's Ned Flanderism:
Maude Flanders: "Neddy doesn't believe in insurance. He considers it a form of gambling."
Hi-dilly ho, government intervention!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Stuff you didn't know - Slate has some background in a Fort Hood FAQ.
$3.8 billion in sales, $5 at a time - Business Week has a great article about the genius of Subway's Five-dollar Footlong, both from a product and a marketing viewpoint. C'mon, admit it, you love that jingle.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fort Hood tragedy - Fox News: "Suspected gunman in custody after deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood." The news conference from Texas was delayed almost three hours before the shocking news, contradicting previous reports, that the shooter was alive and in custody. The female police officer who cut him down is also alive, thank heaven.

Big roundup at Memorandum.

Update - Profile in cowardice: Hasan joined the army right out of high school and the United States paid for college and medical school. But then they ordered him deployed to active duty.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Yeah...we know - Real Clear Markets: "Why middle class tax hikes are coming"
I'm saved!

Take it away, Elvis:

Welcome back, old chap - I was going to write about last night's results but by the time I get home from work it's old news. So let's just welcome Atlantic Crossings to the blogroll, the rejuvenated site that used to be called Expat Yank.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Chris Christie gets the checkmark - New Jersey's largest newspaper, the Star-Ledger, declares a Republican win in the Garden State. Wow, and it wasn't even close: with 81% of the vote in, Christie still holds onto a 5% lead. Everybody thought this was going until morning.
Watching New Jersey - With almost half the vote counted (48% at 9:30pm EST) Christie is up 49-44% over Corzine.

Update - 53% of the vote in, Christie up by 4%. Tight, tight, tight.

More - Here's a good NJ map from the NY Times. With 58% in, it's a 6% lead for Christie. But something's wrong with Sussex County - no way that county went for Corzine.

Told ya so - RCP blog: "A typo? In 2005, Corzine lost [Sussex] 60-35."

Update 2 - They fixed Sussex county. With 64% of the vote in, Christie has a stubborn 6% lead, 50%-44% and he's approaching a 100,000 vote lead.

Another update - 68% of the vote in and Christie still leads by 6%. Corzine's Intrade rating is down to single digits (probability of winning, that is.) Looking at the map, it's unclear where Corzine can pick up more votes.
Beware this guy

It's expensive - Even before the inevitable cost overruns, the health care bill moving through the House has climbed to a $1.2 trillion price tag.

Monday, November 02, 2009

New Jersey prediction

Tomorrow there are some off-year elections and it looks like the Virginia governor's race and NY-23 are in the bag. The only contest left is New Jersey and the fight between incumbent governor Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie. This campaign has been deadlocked for weeks. However, I think Christie will find a new home in Trenton.

First of all, I'm not some partisan optimist since I called the Presidential election for Obama a month before the November vote. But there are a couple of reasons why I can't see Corzine winning. First of all, he's had consistently high disapproval ratings for months. Second, whatever advantage he had as a trader at Goldman Sachs has faded in the financial meltdown. Third, all the enthusiasm now seems to be on Christie's side meaning that - even with the voter identification mismatch - there will be a substantial vote for him in this deep-blue state.

But, perhaps most importantly, Jon Corzine is just a bad governor. New Jersey has held the bottom spot for the worst state in America to do business thanks to sky-high property and business taxes. Unemployment in the Garden State is at 9.7%, if you believe the Corzine spinners. It helps to explain why people are trying to get the heck out of New Jersey (like I did 18 years ago).

So let's apply Occam's razor: Corzine is a poor leader who is unpopular because taxes are high. Christie offers a new direction and all the enthusiasm is on his side; this might explain the desperate last-minute robocalls for independent Daggett, paid for by the Democrats.

Prediction: Chris Christie wins by a slim margin, say 52%-48%.

Update - Dang it, I forgot about Daggett. Let's say 47-45-8%.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Worst bill ever - That's how the Wall Street Journal describes the Pelosicare bill in the House. This is a masterpiece of unminced words: "The healthcare bill that [Pelosi] unwrapped last Thursday, which President Obama hailed as a "critical milestone," may well be the worst piece of post-New Deal legislation ever introduced." The editorial gives a detailed account of a runaway new entitlement in a time of exploding debt that will force European levels of taxation.
Perspective on profits - In today's Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby compares the "immoral" profits of the health insurance companies versus, say, Tupperware: "Hyperbole in the health debate."