Archives for November 2009

Brezhnev a “Statesman”?

While paging through a 1980 edition of The American Heritage Dictionary I noticed that the brutal dictator of the Soviet Union from 1966 to 1982, Leonid Brezhnev, was defined/described as a “Soviet statesman.” How crazy is that?

That same dictionary defined “statesman” as “a political leader regarded as a disinterested promoter of the public good.” (It also defined it as “one who is a leader in national or international affairs,” but that could apply to any run-of-the-mill politician. The former definition is what’s generally accepted as “statesman.”)

As a cruel, repressive, and egomaniacal leader of the vast prison called the Soviet Union, one wonders how the writers of The American Heritage Dictionary reached the conclusion that Brezhnev was a disinterested promoter of the public good. The dictionary committee, as was common in the literary world back then, probably had not a few admirers of Brezhnev and the Communist way of life.

A quick check of the the 2006 edition of The American Heritage Dictionary reveals that, thankfully, the “statesman” label for Brezhnev has been dropped.

Near-Obscene on National TV

In another “what’s-this-society-coming-to?” moments, yesterday the annual Thanksgiving Day parade in Philadelphia, broadcast nationally on ABC, featured a singer named Jason Derulo. As is common for some singers of that genre, during his performance his hand would drift uncomfortably close to his crotch area – sometimes parked right over it. During such instances the cameramen would cut to another angle, presumably in order to try to spare the audience the agony (especially when there are kids watching), but often it was too late.

It’s baffling as to why the parade organizers would allow such a performer to participate in the family-oriented event; surely someone in charge must have known he would carry out such obscenities? If so, then they probably didn’t give a hoot, being so accustomed to and accepting of the coarsening of American society.

They should have not even entertained the idea of inviting Mr. Derulo to perform. Or barring that, prior to the parade they should have thoroughly coached the young performer to keep his hand well away from his crotch.

Click here to send a complaint to WPVI-TV.

Taking From the Poor to Give to the Rich

Wouldn’t you consider it unjust if poor and middle class people had to pay for things that rich people consume?

That’s the kind of unjust world we’re moving toward, if Obamacare passes.

Under Obamacare no only will poor people get “free” healthcare as they do now with Medicaid, but rich and middle class people will start to get “free” healthcare as well – “free” meaning it’s paid for by someone other than the end-user.

Funding for Obamacare in large part will come from a new payroll tax. Such taxes aren’t “progressive” where the more you make, the higher percentage you pay. They’re levied on every worker. Under the House bill it will be up to up to 8 percent of salary (depending on how large an employer’s payroll is) and a flat $750 under the Senate version.

So if you’re low-salaried and healthy enough to not consume too much healthcare, you’re paying the bills of rich people who do consume a lot of healthcare. It’s a money transfer from the poor to the rich, literally.

Of course, thanks to ole’ Lyndon Johnson that already happens under Medicare, for rich people over 65. But if Barack Obama gets his way it would happen to a far greater extent – for rich people under 65.

How’s that for unjust?

The Ultimate Machiavellians

Now it’s revealed that people who we thought have been in a permanently unconscious state actually have been conscious the whole time. Such was the case of Rom Houben of Belgium, who couldn’t move or talk ever since a 1983 car accident. Twenty-three years later neurologist Steven Laureys determined that Houben is perfectly conscious after all. He now can communicate with a special computer.

Cases like his may be widespread. And it begs the question: Was Terry Schiavo conscious the whole time? We’ll never know now, since they already pulled the plug on her.

If it was determined that she was indeed conscious, would that have mattered to those, mostly on the left, who so forcefully advocated her death? They’re a pretty Machiavellian bunch; always willing to sacrifice a life, whether it be Terry Schiavo or unborn babies, if it’s for the greater good of society – or at least if it’s for the greater convenience of folks like Michael Schiavo, or of mothers of aborted babies.

Driving Health Plans Out of Business

If under Obamacare you can keep your existing health insurance plan, as the president repeatedly declares, how can you do so if there’s no more insurance plan to keep?

When President Obama says you can keep your insurance plan, what he means is that you’ll merely be allowed to do so assuming you still have access to it. He doesn’t guarantee that you’ll still have access to it. In fact, Obamacare ensures that there’s a good chance you won’t.

Why? One reason is because employers will have to pay a payroll tax if they don’t offer health insurance. Given the choice between paying thousands of dollars per employee for health insurance, or the less-expensive payroll tax (up to 8 percent of salary under the House bill, and a flat $750 under the Senate version), in this cut-throat business world, many employers will no doubt opt for the less-expensive tax. And the employees can kiss their health insurance plan goodbye.

Another reason is new mandates on insurance companies that will drive many of them out of business. Notable is the requirement to provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions – even to people who wait to buy coverage until after they’re sick or injured.

Why pay into an insurance plan at all if you’ll be eligible for the benefits regardless? People will stop paying in droves, so insurance companies’ revenue will plummet. Meanwhile the companies’ expenses will skyrocket because claims will skyrocket. When expenses consistently exceed revenue, they’ll go out of business. That’s what happened to insurance companies located in states that had a similar mandate, and it’s what will happen to insurance companies nationwide if that mandate succeeds. Insurance companies will cease to exist in droves (which of course is the ultimate objective of many if not most Obamacare supporters).

People will say, “Hey Mr. President, you told me I could keep my insurance plan. But because of you, I don’t have one to keep.”

More Unemployment Benefits = More Unemployment

One of the biggest differences between liberals and conservatives is that the latter have a better understanding of human behavior than the former. Take unemployment benefits. The longer they’re in place, the longer people go without jobs.

Many if not most recipients would rather keep collecting that free money rather than accept a job that pays lower than their previous job, or that has a tough commute, or that they wouldn’t particularly enjoy compared with the laid-back life at home.

Don’t believe it? Then look to none other than Larry Summers, the director of the National Economic Council under President Obama, who co-authored a paper in 1995 titled “Unemployment insurance lengthens unemployment spells.” He’s an anomaly among Democrats – someone who actually does understand that aspect of human behavior.

President Obama’s apparent lack of understanding thereof is getting him into trouble politically. As explained by columnist and economist Alan Reynolds, it’s no coincidence that the lengthening of unemployment benefits to an unprecedented 79 weeks in more than half the states is resulting in a 10.2 unemployment rate.

To be sure, it’s OK to have unemployment benefits for a certain amount of time to help people get back on their feet. But when they go on for too long, human nature dictates that persistent high unemployment is the end result.

Incentivizing Terrorists

In what has got to be one of the most bizarrely absurd rationales given by any presidential administration in the history of the United States, attorney general Eric Holder said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried in a civilian court because he killed civilians.

Deliberately killing civilians – particularly thousands of them – is the most heinous form of warfare one can wage. Those who do so are the lowest of the low, the scummiest scum of the earth. There should be special, hard-hitting tribunals set up just to deal with these kinds of rodents, as there was after WWII to deal with the Nazis who killed civilian Jews.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, columnist William McGurn crystallized the folly of trying KSM in a U.S. civilian court. It sends the perverse message that “if you kill civilians on American soil you will have greater protections than if you attack our military overseas.”

We have institutions, particularly the Geneva Conventions, that aim to incentivize those who wage war to target soldiers and not civilians. McGurn quotes William Burck who says that the Obama administration’s decision “demolishes this principle to give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed even more legal protections than the Geneva Conventions provide a uniformed soldier fighting in a recognized war zone.”

With this single step, McGurn points out, the Obama administration is giving al Qaeda a huge incentive to kill more American civilians on American soil, rather than to attack soldiers overseas.

Evoking Alinsky’s Rule #12

In keeping with his practice picking his target, freezing it, personalizing it, and polarizing it, Andrew Sullivan comically accuses William Kristol of making a “fascist statement” and having “utter contempt for the rule of law”.

Kristol’s alleged transgression? That he thinks Ft. Hood terrorist Nidal Malik Hasan is going to be brought to justice and found guilty, and that, in Kristol’s opinion, he should face the death penalty. Click here to read Sullivan’s post.

Sullivan is under the impression Kristol is advocating denying Hasan a fair trial and sending him directly to death, as they do in fascist societies. No Andrew. Kristol is merely saying that Hasan is so obviously guilty that he will be easily convicted during his fair trial.

Either Sullivan thinks that Kristol actually advocates bypassing the rule of law, in which case Sullivan’s contempt for Kristol is so powerful that it impairs his ability to think clearly, or Sullivan realizes that Kristol is not advocating bypassing the rule of law, but his contempt for Kristol is so powerful that he’s grasping at any straw he can get in order to demonize him.

Pocketing the Members’ Dues

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne had a Nov. 9 column attributing the failure of Taxpayer Bill of Rights measures in Washington state and Maine to opponents’ ability to convince enough voters that many of the things government does are necessary and good – i.e. that they’re getting their tax money’s worth.

Contrast that with an article just a week earlier in the Los Angeles Times by William Voegeli, who eloquently lays out what’s wrong these days with the high-tax model in California. Its tax revenue is no longer buying the quality of government services that the taxpayers deserve. Government services there are generally no better than those of much lower-tax states like Texas.

Why? Because the members’ dues are increasingly being funneled to the staff, and away from member programs. Members = taxpayers, and staff = government workers’ salaries, benefits and pensions.

That’s certainly not necessary, and not good. The only people it’s good for are the staff, not the members.

Ultimate Objective of Obamacare?

With Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security already on track to bankrupt America, you’d think that by now our leaders would have gotten responsible and do something about those reckless spending programs. But in this wacky world, it’s just the opposite. Bush pushes through a new prescription drug entitlement program and a trillion-dollar bank bailout, and now Obama makes Bush look like an amateur when it comes to government spending and new entitlement programs.

The single most effective way to reform our healthcare woes would be to decouple the purchasing of health insurance through one’s employer, and instead buy it individually just as we do with car insurance. Were that the case, there would be a highly competitive marketplace for health insurance with much greater affordability – and far fewer uninsured. (There would be far more business start-ups as well.)

But instead of that deficit-friendly route, our leaders now want a massive new entitlement program. An advocate thereof recently confessed to his true motivations, which are no doubt the true motivations of many if not most of the leaders supporting Obamacare: further redistribution of wealth, and more people dependent on government, who tend to vote for Democrats.

Some people on the hard left no doubt support Obamacare because they deliberately want more fiscal recklessness. You don’t have to listen to C-SPAN call-in shows very long to know that there are Americans out there wishing for the “revolution.” The strategy is to overload the government with impossible demands, bringing on economic crisis, social chaos, and hopefully (in their minds) a socialist utopia. Two Columbia University professors, Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, laid out that strategy in 1966 with an article in The Nation titled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty”. It’s now referred to as the Cloward-Piven strategy.

To be sure, I think the Cloward-Piven strategy is a prime motivator for just a small contingent of society – the ultra-loony left – and certainly doesn’t apply to the bulk of Obamacare supporters. The latter only want redistribution, and not necessarily revolution.