You Know What Happens When You Assume?

July 25th, 2010

The Obama administration has shown an interesting trait recently. I can only describe it as a persecution complex. The Obama administration assumes something will happen and takes unprecedented steps

First up is the administration’s attitude toward the Arizona immigration law. The administration assumed that the law would lead to racial profiling and immediately threatened to take Arizona to court. This despite the fact that the law specifically prohibits racial profiling. Since a lawsuit against Arizona is red meat to the great one’s base, a suit had to be filed. And before the effects of the law could be felt and observed. But in the end, the claim against AZ had nothing to do with racial profiling and everything to do with Washington’s right to select the laws it wishes to enforce – purely for political reasons.

Second up is the recess appointment of Dr. Donald M. Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This position has been vacant for some time and Congress was out for what, two weeks? Of course a recess appointment was not necessary, but with the recess appointment, Obama avoids the spectacle of a hearing for the American people to actually hear from Berwick. Obama didn’t give the Senate a chance to schedule hearings. He simply assumed the Republicans would try to block the nomination.

Close on the heels of Berwick we have the case of Shirley Sherrod. A video of 24-year-old comments made by Ms. Sherrod, without context, aired on a conservative website. Rather than research the comments and determine context, Obama assumed that this story would lead on Glenn Beck. Because of concerns of racism occasioned by the Justice Department’s dropping of a lawsuit against the New Black Panthers, Sherrod was summarily fired. In actuality, Sherrod was defended by Glenn Beck.

I think it was my high school chemistry teacher that I first heard ask the question: You know what happens when you assume? I wonder if the community organizer has ever heard that question? Because he is living proof of the wisdom.

Stuff It

June 7th, 2010

Smack dab in the middle of the Gulf Oil “Spill”, we are a few weeks removed from BP’s attempt at “top kill”, in which they attempted to plug the hole from the top. This did not work and now, today, we hear Obama getting tough, wanting to know whose “ass to kick”. Early in the disaster, we heard Ken Salazar acting manly and talking about stepping on throats. More recently, we hear of people (well, muddle-brained liberals, anyway) wanting to “stuff the pipe” with “tea baggers” or BP executives. And now, most recently, I am made aware of a Facebook page seeking one million people in favor of stuffing the pipe with Sarah Palin.

I’ll tell you what I think. With all the talk about stuffing, ass, pipe, tea baggers, and throats, I think the people all up in arms and spewing this tripe are exhibiting some kind of deep-seated and latent sexual tendency.

On an unrelated note, I will mention that June 2010 has been declared as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month by Barack Obama. I say stuff it!

Blame Amerika

May 20th, 2010

It has been some time since I last shared my thoughts. So many crazy things have happened, it would have been difficult to decide what to share. But today is a banner day. We have gone from having Obama visit foreign countries to blame America from foreign soil to, now, having our invited guests blame America from the halls of Congress. Mexican President Calderon did just that today, sounding more like a liberal mouthpiece and less like the president of an actual country. Calderon certainly gave support to the Great Divider by stating that the new Arizona law effectively leads to racial profiling. Frankly, Calderon can besa mi culo.

This comes on the heels of Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, who responded to questions on the US-China Human Rights Dialog.

QUESTION: Did the recently passed Arizona immigration law come up? And, if so, did they bring it up or did you bring it up?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.

“We brought it up early and often.” Is this apologizing to China for the Arizona law? Your response will indicate whether you live in America, or seek to live in Amerika. Sadly, the current administration has a single map, and all the directions point to Amerika.

Crime and Punishment

January 24th, 2010

This past Saturday, the Washington Post ran an editorial titled “Christmas Day negligence”. It began reasonably enough:

UMAR FAROUK Abdulmutallab was nabbed in Detroit on board Northwest Flight 253 after trying unsuccessfully to ignite explosives sewn into his underwear. The Obama administration had three options: It could charge him in federal court. It could detain him as an enemy belligerent. Or it could hold him for prolonged questioning and later indict him, ensuring that nothing Mr. Abdulmutallab said during questioning was used against him in court.

It is now clear that the administration did not give serious thought to anything but Door No. 1. This was myopic, irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

Whether to charge terrorism suspects or hold and interrogate them is a judgment call.

And then this

We originally supported the administration’s decision in the Abdulmutallab case, assuming that it had been made after due consideration. But the decision to try Mr. Abdulmutallab turns out to have resulted not from a deliberative process but as a knee-jerk default to a crime-and-punishment model.

Well, I have to say that I am surprised at the Post editorial board’s surprise. I mean, this seems like a lot of ass covering to me. What does the editorial board think is meant when critics speak of a pre-9/11 mindset? What does the board make of Obama’s renaming of the War on Terror to ‘Overseas Contingency Operations’? (And what is the implication of “overseas”, anyway? What about the homeland?) What about the decision to try terrorists in federal court, in New York City of all places? What does the board think of the administration’s response – when presented with assertions that waterboarding has led to significant actionable intelligence – that we might have gotten the same intelligence through other means.

Where is the “deliberation” in these policies instituted by the Obama administration? To me, these all smack of a “crime-and-punishment model”. They all seem to be “knee-jerk” policies designed to appease a certain constituency.

Sure, as the Post states, “whether to charge terrorism suspects or hold and interrogate them is a judgment call” in the sense that the President must exercise his prerogative (and you have to hope that he exercises sound judgment). But just because judgment may be applied when arriving at a conclusion does not necessarily mean that good judgment is applied.

Potverdorie!

December 30th, 2009

Well, Amsterdam has decided to beef up airport security due to the actions of the paardenlul known as the Fruit of the Boom bomber.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport began using new body-scanning machines at security checkpoints on Tuesday, the first major airport to use the technology to find metals and explosives hidden under clothing.

Other similar stories indicate that this new policy is just for those traveling to the United States.

Upon hearing this, my initial reaction was verdomme. I mean, do they have to scan everybody that travels to the United States? Jeetje! On the other hand, this will make it more difficult for jihadists to hide bomb making materials behind their klootzak.

Can’t they scan only those that are a little bit suspicious? For example, those who pay for tickets with cash, who check no luggage, who are on terror watch lists, who post on message boards about how lonely they are (maybe a little neuken would be in order for AbdulMutallab) and whose father alerted the CIA and numerous other security agencies of suspected radicalization. Or would that be…profiling? I guess it would.

I’m just fed up. The only thing left to say on this subject, and it hardly needs to be said, is potverdriedubbeltjesa!

Fruit of the Boom

December 28th, 2009

Let me see if I get this straight. The father of Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab – a former government minister who went on to head the First Bank of Nigeria – contacted the U.S. embassy in Nigeria six weeks ago to report his fear that his son had become radicalized. Based on this information, Umar Farouk was placed on a terror watch list but not on a no-fly list. And he was permitted to board a flight even after paying with cash and checking no baggage on the international flight.

Wow. I’m afraid that someone, and perhaps several people, are going to have to be shitcanned over this obvious f-up. The fear is that Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano are going to focus more on how explosives were permitted on board the aircraft (in Umar Farouk’s shorts) and less on why he was permitted on the plane in the first place.

One Year Later

November 2nd, 2009

Nearly one year ago, on November 2nd, 2008, I began Thought Docket this way:

As I write this, just two days before an historic election, it appears that the citizens of the US are about to elect Barack Obama as president.  It seems like a particularly good time to begin Thought Docket.  The president-elect will face unprecedented challenges: two conflicts, Iran, Pakistan, Palestine, a resurgent Russia, climate change, energy independence, healthcare, the economy, to name a few. I won’t be voting for Senator Obama, but if he is elected, it will be my sincere hope that he rises to these challenges.

I must say that I have not been impressed with the performance to date. Too much apologizing (to European bed wetters and Middle Eastern jihadists) and too little influencing of the legislative agenda.

Tomorrow morning, I will be heading to the polls in Virginia to register my choices for, among other offices, Governor, Lt. Governor, and Lt. General.

Virginia and New Jersey have received the lion’s share of press coverage over the past month or so for their off-year governor’s races, but more recently, attention has turned to NY-23. That race, which is a special election made necessary by President Obama’s selection of John McHugh as Secretary of the Army, was turned on its head when Sarah Palin endorsed 3rd party candidate (Conservative Party) Doug Hoffman on October 22nd. The party elders, including Newt Gingrich, had lined up behind the Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava in her race against Democrat Bill Owens. Much has happened in the past 10 days. At first, it was thought that Palin’s endorsement would only split Republican votes, handing Owens an easy victory. Instead, Scozzafava has dropped out of the race and has endorsed Owens (!).

It is difficult to understand how Scozzafava was selected to run as a Republican. Here in Virginia, our Democratic governors are often described as socially moderate and fiscally conservative. The popular Doug Wilder comes to mind. So, is Scozzafava more or less liberal than, say, socially moderate and fiscally conservative Democrats? Much more liberal! Scozzafava is in favor of abortion rights, gay marriage, the stimulus package, and card check! Yikes!

The race in NY-23 is close, according to the polling that I have seen. Should Hoffman win, I have heard two schools of thought regarding the lessons to be drawn. The Republicans might see a Hoffman victory as a blow to the Obama administration (Obama carried NY-23 a year ago). The Democrats might spin a Hoffman victory (and, of course, a Hoffman loss) as a sign of a fractured Republican party. But I have also heard that neither party should take solace in a Hoffman victory. This school of thought suggests that a Hoffman victory is true strike against politics as usual in Washington. Wouldn’t that be refreshing? Thanks Sarah!

The Elusive Reasonable Plan

October 18th, 2009

In today’s Washington Post, there was a local opinion piece by John Hewko titled My Health-Care Story: Over 50 and Out of Luck. In it, Mr. Hewko states that he has “…just experienced first-hand our system’s dysfunctional wrath…”. He goes on to describe his situation which, in a nutshell, is this:

  1. Worked as a political appointee.
  2. Left government and became independent consultant.
  3. Insured through COBRA currently.
  4. Applied for individual coverage (nongroup) with CareFirst Blue-Cross BlueShield, which was the carrier that insured him when he was a federal employee.
  5. Denied coverage because of  borderline hypertension (that is controlled with medication) and mild stiffness in his left shoulder and right hip.

Mr. Hewko, who states at the very beginning that he is a Republican, spends some time chastising William Kristol for denying a health-care crisis. And this

No silver bullet will solve all our health-care problems, but four measures would address one of most glaring weaknesses of our system: mandatory insurance for all; subsidies for those who can’t afford the premiums; a prohibition against denying or rescinding coverage for “pre-existing conditions”; and meaningful tort reform. Yet Congress continues to make the ideological perfect the enemy of the desperately needed good. Democratic ideologues reject tort reform and insist on a public option that many suspect is a Trojan horse to a single-payer system, while their Republican counterparts deny that a crisis exists, decry any reasonable attempt at reform as a government takeover and fail to articulate an acceptable alternative.

I agree with Mr. Hewko’s prescription. In fact, it is virtually identical to what I suggested  here. But I think that Mr. Hewko is incorrect in his assessment of Republican views on reform.  Republicans enter the debate not hellbent on radically altering the system as currently experienced by most Americans. I believe that Republicans would like to focus efforts on the uninsured or underinsured, and I think they would like to address escalating costs. Let’s see the Democrats propose a plan similar to Mr. Hewko’s prescription, and then let’s take stock of Republican support before making the charge that Republicans “decry any reasonable attempt at reform”. In other words, let’s actually see a reasonable attempt.

Instead of reasonable attempts, we get unreasonable attempts. In the most recent proposal – the one that garnered a vote from the all-important Olympia Snowe – there are several fascinating assumptions that allow the CBO to declare that the proposal would reduce the budget deficit by $81 billion over 10 years and “continued reductions in federal budget deficits” in the years beyond.

One assumption is that it will be possible to find $500 billion in Medicare savings, presumably from fraud, waste, and abuse. Another is that tax revenues will increase because companies that provide “Cadillac” plans will, in lieu of paying penalties on those plans, reduce the quality of their plans and pay the difference to employees as taxable compensation. And, of course, many of the provisions of the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal do not kick in until after the next Presidential election. Right.

Reasonable Democratic Plans

Reasonable Democratic Plans

New Climate, My Arse!

October 11th, 2009

Imagine my surprise when, this past Friday, it was announced that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. And $1.4 million. According to the Nobel site,

According to Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize is to go to whoever “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

It appears that, per Nobel’s will, Obama has done exactly nothing. But he has thought good thoughts and his intentions are pure. Obama doesn’t exactly belong in the same company as, say, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Lech Walesa, Mandella and de Klerk. On the other hand, more lately the Prize has not seemed to mean much. After all, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Anan (and the UN itself) and Yasser Arafat were recipients. But those dirtbags at least had a track record. Obama doesn’t have a track record; he has a track wish.

Obama would have done well to reject the prize outright. But I suppose his acceptance speech was good enough.

I am firmly in the camp that believes that the prize is a mixed blessing. Possibly very mixed. The award is nicely juxtaposed with the administration’s equivocation over its Afghanistan strategy. If the administration essentially rejects General McChrystal’s request, it would not be surprising if McChrystal resigned and it seems to me that the administration opens itself up to the easy-to-make charge that there is some sort of quid pro quo. That the administration has been swayed by the action of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. If the American people come to believe that European bed-wetters have somehow affected the foreign policy of the United States, I will predict an even more rapid demise of the Obama revolution.  The Afghanistan question is the subject of current debate, but Iran looms and there, too, I expect that the NNC believes that they have some how inoculated Iran from further harassment from the West. I’m sure Israel is taking notes.

A Simple Rx for Healthcare

August 22nd, 2009

It has been an interesting 4 or 5 weeks, watching the administration’s plans for healthcare reform (or is it health insurance reform?) implode. What makes this most interesting is the fact that everything is stacked in favor of the Obama administration. Large majorities in Congress, and a filibuster proof 60 votes in the Senate. And they still can’t deliver. Just like the Democratic congress could have halted funding for Iraq, but chose not to. I would think that the objective observer would agree that unhappiness with Bush and Republicans last fall had little to do with lack of healthcare reform. After all, the Bush administration worked with Congress to achieve an incremental improvement in the form of prescription coverage for seniors.

As a compassionate conservative, I have been somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the most unfortunate among us. Here’s how I would approach reform:

  1. Start with tort reform. There is no easier or quicker way to reduce the total cost of healthcare than by reducing or eliminating the ridiculous awards being handed out by juries like candy. And there is no easier way to indicate seriousness and a willingness to “spread the pain”. Plus, this will help get Americans off their notion that someone always has to pay if an outcome is poor.
  2. Require all Americans to have health insurance. As with auto insurance, if someone chooses not to have insurance, require that they pay into an “uninsured citizen” fund. Those paying into this fund would receive their basic healthcare services via Medicaid. Those truly unable to afford insurance should receive some type of tax credit or voucher from Uncle Sam.
  3. Eliminate pre-existing conditions (since everyone will be required to have insurance).

That’s it. The focus is on improving coverage, and not on “bending the curve” (aka cost savings). Anyone that has paid any attention at all to the cost of health insurance knows that many of the same concerns being expressed today were made 10, 15, even 20 years ago. Yes, healthcare costs go up more than the average. But something has to go up more than the average, right? This simply reflects supply and demand. And with baby boomers continuing to get older…well you can see where this is going. The Obama administration could consider addressing the cost increase by encouraging (through grants, say) more medical students to specialize in, say, family practice or in geriatrics.

I am amused every time I hear the administration trashing the insurance companies. The administration believes that a public option is needed “to keep the insurance companies honest”. Right. The fact that there are 1300 insurance companies does nothing for competition?

Liberals don’t want universal healthcare because they care so much for people. They want universal healthcare because they care so much for people’s votes. Give people healthcare, get their votes. How could I make such a grotesque statement? Simple. If liberals really were interested in keeping insurance companies honest, and spurring competition, and reducing costs, then why are they so fiercely against giving parents vouchers and a choice when it comes to education of their children? Apparently, there is no compunction in setting up a public option that has no bottom line profitability requirements to compete against the private insurers. But suggest that the private sector be allowed to compete against school systems that are top-heavy with administrators and that’s a no-go. It’s all about the votes.