Feb 122009

Are the rats leaving the sinking ship? Well, one rat, anyway.

Gregg said he pulled out because of “irresolvable” differences over policy issues, including the $789 billion economic stimulus package that has so far drawn support from only a handful of Republican lawmakers.

A clearly annoyed White House said in a terse statement it regretted that Gregg withdrew after he had pursued the job.

Or is it a case of Gregg suddenly deciding that the Senate minority will have a role to play, after all?


Feb 112009

The WSJ editorial page editors are probably not too concerned about being dropped from the list of special reporters who get pre-selected to kiss President Obama’s ring and ask him nice questions at his news conferences, which is probably why they are the ones to comment on the situation:

Presidents are free to conduct press conferences however they like, but the decision to preselect questioners is an odd one, especially for a White House famously pledged to openness. We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors. Mr. Obama can more than handle his own, so our guess is that this is an attempt to discipline reporters who aren’t White House favorites.

Few accounts of Monday night’s event even mentioned the curious fact that the White House had picked its speakers in advance. We hope that omission wasn’t out of fear of being left off the list the next time.

As usual at a time like this, I turn to my Pocket Obama for guidance. I think I found the key to this behavior on page 53:

It’s not healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism or dialogue with people who disagree with them.

“What?” you may ask. What did his press conference have to do with religion?

Exactly the point. Sure, he’s insulating himself from criticism and dialogue with people who disagree with him. But he’s not doing it by wearing religion on his sleeve, so he’s doing it the right way.

Feb 112009

Today I received an e-mail from moonbat.org urging me to sign a petition to President Obama that says, “”President Obama, please pick a progressive champion to head up your health care reform effort. We’re ready to fight for your goal of winning quality, affordable health care for everyone in 2009.”

I’ve been on their mailing list ever since I pledged a couple of million dollars to support their efforts to keep the Clintons in office. Sure, I lied about it, but isn’t lying what the Clintons were all about?

Anyhow, I used their online form to put my name on the petition, along with this comment:

President Obama, I urge you to pay no attention to anyone who calls him/herself progressive but who does not support those hallmarks of the Progressive Movement, the initiative and referendum, and recall elections. I am a person who supports those reforms. As a true progressive I urge you to support a free-market health care system — one in which people are empowered to use their pocketbooks to make their own health care decisions.

After submitting my petition, I was taken to a web page where I was given an opportunity to donate to the cause. I would gladly have pledged another million dollars, but they also wanted a credit card number. I didn’t have Tom Daschle’s credit card number handy, so I passed on that part.

Feb 102009

Don Boudreaux analyzes Keynesian economics:

The ability to write letters on a board in the form of an equation, to give those letters names that seem to correspond to some imaginable economic things, and to assemble quantitative data on those things, is not necessarily good science.

It’s like the joke I learned when I was little — one that I’ve ever since found useful to explain a lot of human behavior, including a lot of the behavior of scientists, for that matter:

1. What are you doing?

2. I’m looking for a quarter I lost.

3. What were you doing when you lost it?

4. Playing in the living room.

5. Then why are you looking here?

6. The light is better here.

Feb 102009

Does this mean Obama put tax cuts in his “stimulus” bill, not because he thinks they will help stimulate the economy, but to try to attract some Republican votes? That would be awfully cynical of him.

“I mean, I suppose what I could have done is start off with no tax cuts,” he said. “Maybe that’s the lesson I learned. But there was consultation; there will continue to be consultation.”


Late edit: BTW, Bill Clinton would never have made a gaffe that could be interpreted this way. At least I don’t remember him ever doing anything like that. He was a masterful (if evil) politician who avoided this kind of trap that Republicans, and now Obama, seem so frequently to set for themselves.

Feb 102009

The Washington Post says “accused of.”

In the prime-time debut last night for a new president and a press corps frequently accused of being too enamored of him, President Obama faced journalistic skepticism from the opening question.

It could have simply said:  “In the prime-time debut last night, President Obama faced journalistic skepticism from a press corps that has been much enamored of him.”  But no, it doesn’t take at face value the many statements by others that the news media have been giddy in their support of him.

Contrast that with this statement from ABC news reporters Jonathan Karl and Z. Byron Wolf (which I mentioned in the last post):

The Senate voted 61-36 today to close debate and move forward with a gargantuan stimulus package meant to kick-start the moribund economy with $838 billion in one-time spending and tax credits.

They could instead have said, “The Senate voted to close debate and move forward with a gargantuan stimulus package that the Obama administration claims is meant to kick-start the moribund economy…”.  That would have been reporting the facts.  But no, they took at face value the claims that this bill is about the economy.

If those claims were true, how would we then explain this description of what’s in the stimulus bill, by Betsy McCaughey at Bloomberg:

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

New Penalties

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties.  “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

Some stimulus.   Here it’s at best about saving instead of the spending that is supposedly needed to kickstart the economy.   (Never mind the question of whether savings can really be achieved by top-down, one-size-fits-all controls from federal bureaucrats.)  If ABC reporters Karl and Wolf had done their homework and had taken items like this into consideration, they would not have accepted at face value the notion that the bill is about economic stimulus.

Feb 092009

Er, no. The supporters may SAY that’s what the bill is meant to do, but that doesn’t mean the purpose is to jump-start the economy. The ABC news reporters would do well to just report the facts, and not accept politicians’ claims at face value.

The Senate voted 61-36 today to close debate and move forward with a gargantuan stimulus package meant to kick-start the moribund economy with $838 billion in one-time spending and tax credits.

Feb 092009

Last week President Obama said to Republicans: “Don’t come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis.”

I wonder if President Obama has been informed that his own ideas are a bit long in the tooth, too. And that there are any number of people out there who have been explaining how his ideas, including the ones in the current “Stimulus” package, helped to create the current crisis in the first place.

He probably wouldn’t agree, but he should at least be open enough to agree that it’s an issue that needs to be debated. Instead, he’s trying to marginalize those who would like to hold this discussion.

It’s a far cry from the Obama who once said

Wisdom is not the monopoly of any one party

Feb 092009

The following is what I posted on a forum at lancasteronline.com, in response to an item still making the rounds about the elimination of Michelle Obama’s $317,000/year job at the University of Chicago Hospitals. A comment about it in the Chicago Daily Observer is here. National Review has apparently questioned how important the job was if there was no need to fill the position when she left. (I say apparently, because I don’t have access to the issue in which this point was allegedly raised.) In response to critics, I said:

Besides, the 317,000 is well under the 500,000 that her husband thinks should be the maximum for senior executives at banks that received federal funds. And I’ll bet if you look at her time logs, you’d see she worked at least 63 percent as hard as a banking executive. And she probably did a lot to save on health care costs, too.

I admit it, those comments were intended as bait. But all I caught was a possibly racist Obama-hater who seemed to think I was one of the Obama faithful.

I’m used to people not noticing my sarcasm. Sometimes I even like it that way.

I wish, though, that people would wonder how Barak Obama can possibly know that $500,000 is the proper maximum compensation level for a senior banking executive. There are any number of people on his side who without batting an eye will tell you why Michelle Obama was probably worth $317,000/year. Some of those people responded in the same forum in which I did. Couldn’t those same people apply their apologetic skills to the salaries of bank executives?

I also wish people would question why it is that we have to pay $317,000 a year so someone can develop programs to encourage people to use local health clinics rather than hospital emergency rooms. If people aren’t motivated to make those choices on their own — if we need “programs” to convince people to do that — something is terribly wrong with our health care system, and that something is only going to get worse if we get the kind of universal health care being promoted by the Obama crowd.

Back to my bait, though. I think we need some kind of contest — to see who can come up with the lamest, most pitiful rationalization to excuse Obama behavior — and have that rationalization picked up and used by Obama’s supporters.

This would not be an easy task, because these people come up with some very lame rationalizations on their own. Those who are old enough got a lot of practice during the Clinton years.

Now you might ask if it isn’t just going to poison our political discourse if we go around saying things we don’t mean. I say no, that well has already been poisoned beyond repair. When you have people who can switch faster than the speed of light from defending certain behaviors to hating Bush for the same things, and then without slowing down switch back to defending them when Obama is elected, there is no point using anything but ridicule on them.