Thursday, 13 August 2009

MARY ROBINSON'S PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM

Ken Berwitz

mary robinson is a former President of Ireland.  She is also an  Israel-hating slimebucket who, as Secretary-General of the UN Human Rights Commission (what a joke to call it that!)  ran the infamous "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa in 2001.

The conference's name was wonderful.  But the reality is that it was nothing other than a nonstop bashing and condemnation of Israel and Jews in general.  The United States and Israel walked out on it.  The European Union stayed, but refused to give its sanction to much of the vile Jew-bashing, thus causing most of the vilest language to eventually be removed. (though that same language was no problem for the NGO meetings, which took place at the same time).

No other country was singled out.  The taliban was not condemned.  al qaeda was not condemned.  The genocide in Sudan and Rwanda was not condemned.  But the Jewish state was.

This is the pig sty that mary robinson presided over and allowed to run this way.

And she was no better after the Durban conference either.  This is from Michael Rubin, writing for National Review, May 20, 2002 (just 7 months afterwards):

Mary Robinson's post-Durban record is little better. On April 15, Robinson's commission voted on a decision that condoned suicide bombings as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood (six European Union members voted in favor including, not surprisingly, France and Belgium). The vote came after Robinson initiated a drive to become a fact finder to investigate the now-famous massacre in Jenin (also known as "the massacre that never happened"). Curiously, in the months preceding Israel's incursion into the U.N. refugee camp in Jenin, suicide bombers launched from the camp wearing explosives likely bought with European money killed more than 100 Israeli civilians. However, for Robinson, a massacre is the deaths of seven Palestinian civilians in a war zone (47 Palestinian militants and 23 Israel soldiers also died). The deaths of more than 100 Jewish civilians by suicide bombers is worthy of little more than deafening silence interrupted by an occasional pithy statement of moral equivalence. The world still waits for Robinson to use her bully pulpit to call for an investigation of the terrorist murder of Jews (but then again, such an inquiry might lead uncomfortably close to UNRWA and European Union officials ).

Of course it's farcical to believe that Robinson will ever be brought before the International Criminal Tribunal, or that she even should be. With her double standards, amazing ability to look the other way, and her record at the Human Rights Commission, Robinson has done more than any other international official to demonstrate that international courts, commissions, and agencies are more about politics than ethics, human rights, or morality, and therefore should never (be given) the legitimacy of U.S. endorsement.

So who did Barack Obama give a Presidential Medal of Freedom to last night?  mary robinson, that's who.

And here is what he said upon giving it to her:

For Mary Robinson, the fight to end discrimination and suffering is an urgent moral imperative. She has been a trail-blazing crusader for women's rights in Ireland and a forceful advocate for equality and human rights around the world. Whether courageously visiting conflict-stricken regions, or working to inject concern for human rights into business and economic development, Mary Robinson continues this important work today, urging citizens and nations to make common cause for justice.

In a poll last month, 6% of Israelis indicated they thought Barack Obama was pro-Israel. 

I'm surprised it was that high.


A POLL ON THE TOWN HALL MEETINGS

Ken Berwitz

With the caveat that I do not believe in political polling data, I nonetheless present the following Pew Research findings which just came out, because a) you may have more regard for political polling than I do and b) in any event this is the only poll on town hall meetings that I've seen so, to my knowledge, it's all we've got:

Nearly eight-in-ten say they heard a lot (49%) or a little (29%) about the at-times angry community meetings. By a 58% to 43% margin, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say they heard a lot about the protests over health care at town hall meetings.

Of those who had heard at least a little about the meetings, 61% say they think the way people have been protesting is appropriate; 34% say they see the protests as inappropriate.

Not surprisingly, there is a large partisan divide: 80% of Republicans see the protests as appropriate, compared with 40% of Democrats and 64% of independents. A majority of Democrats (56%) say the way people have been protesting is inappropriate, compared with 15% of Republicans and 30% of independents.

If these data are accurate they clearly show why health care is taking Barack Obama and Democrats down.

It is no surprise that most Republicans feel the protests are appropriate.  But if I were a Democrat, that 64% for independents would have me quaking.  Even among Democrats, 40% say the protests are appropriate.

So what do you suppose voters think when Democrats call the protesters every vile name in the book?  How do they come out looking and sounding?

I wonder how fast Democrats will change their strategy now that these data have been released.  I'll bet a lot of them will suddenly stop calling protesters those names. 

I'll bet you will not be hearing a lot of the "extremists", "thugs", "a mob", "brown shirts", "swastika -carrying", "terrorists" and "racist" rhetoric that Democrats have pumped out over the past week. 

I'll bet you suddenly will hear a softer, more conciliatory tone from Democrats, stating that there are changes coming to the legislation which will make it more palatable/acceptable to the people who are voicing their heartfelt concerns.

Simply stated, it is incomprehensible to me that the Democratic Party can be tone-deaf enough not to change their tactics immediately.  (But, then again, I've been wrong before.  We'll see).

Please note that I am talking about Democratic politicians only.  By contrast, I would expect that their merry water-carriers at MSNBC will be just as strident and offensively negative towards the protesters as they have been all along.


DUELLING EMAILS

Ken Berwitz

In my house we get emails from both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee.

Here are the lastes ones from each group.  Take a look and decide what to make of them:

============================================================

FROM THE DNC:

 

multitrack FROM THE DNC:

 

Dear ________,

We have all heard a lot of debate about how to define what is happening at town-hall meetings across the country. What I see is an organized effort to hijack health care reform and hurt President Obama, and it's not letting up.


Watch the video, then take a stand.


If they're this riled up about health care reform, we can only imagine how unrestrained they'll be for the 2010 election. We have to be organized, well-funded and ready to fight back. It's the only way we'll be able to stand up to the naysayers.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has $14,000 left to meet its Friday fundraising goal. Help us make sure this newfound conservative passion doesn't cut into our Senate majority.  Even a gift of $5 can make a difference.

Click here to make a donation of $5 or more. Help us help Democrats make lasting change!

They're not interested in a real debate. They're simply looking to derail health care, demonize Democrats and destroy our president. It's our job to do something about it.

Sincerely,

J.B. Poersch

===========================================================

FROM THE RNC:

 

Dear ________,

 

President Obama told the American people in his weekend address he wanted to "start dispelling the outlandish rumors" about the Democrats' risky health care experiment.

I couldn't agree more with the President.

There is no place for outlandish rumor or outrageous rhetoric in the debate for the affordable and accessible health care reform we all want.

Below are some facts that will help you counter the dishonest rhetoric Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and liberal special interest groups are disseminating in their attempt to silence dissent:

         Rhetoric: President Obama Promises Americans Can Keep Their Current Health Care Coverage. "You know, the interesting thing is we've actually been very clear on what we want. I've said I want to make sure if you have health care you are going to keep it..." (PBS's "The Newshour With Jim Lehrer," 7/20/09)

o        FACT: Analysis Shows Over 88 Million People To Lose Current Insurance Under Government Health Care Takeover. "Under current law, there will be about 158.1 million people who are covered under an employer plan as workers, dependents or early retirees in 2011. If the act were fully implemented in that year, about 88.1 million workers would shift from private employer insurance to the public plan." (John Shelis, Vice President, Lewin Group, "Analysis Of The July 15 Draft Of The American Affordable Health Choices Act Of 2009," 7/17/09)

         Rhetoric: President Obama Pledges Americans Can Keep Their Doctor. "If you like your plan and you like your doctor, you won't have to do a thing. You keep your plan. You keep your doctor...We're not going to mess with it." (President Barack Obama, Remarks At White House Press Conference, The White House, 6/23/09)

o        FACT: Mayo Clinic Says Government-Run Health Care Will Force Doctors To Drop Patients. '[L]awmakers are on track to approve across-the-board federal payment reductions of $155 billion over 10 years for hospitals ... Mayo and similar health systems object to the sweeping cuts. 'Across-the-board cuts will be harmful to everyone and we think it is particularly bad to penalize the high-value organizations,' said Jeff Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center. 'We will have to violate our values in order to stay in business and reduce our access to government patients.'" (Phil Galewitz, "'Model' Health Systems Press Case For Medicare Fix In Reform," Kaiser Health News, 7/20/09)

         Rhetoric: President Obama Promises No Additional Taxes On Middle Class. "What I've said is, and I have stuck to this point, I don't want to see additional tax burdens on people making $250,000 a year or less." (NBC's "Today Show," 7/21/09)

o        FACT: Democrats' Plan Imposes 2.5% Tax On Uninsured Individuals. "The penalty assessed on people who would be subject to the mandate but did not obtain insurance would equal 2.5 percent of the difference between their adjusted gross income (modified to include tax-exempt interest and certain other sources of income) and the tax filing threshold ..." (Douglas W. Elmendorf, "Preliminary Analysis Of The Insurance Coverage Specifications Provided By The House Tri-Committee Group," Letter To Chairman Rangel, 7/17/09)

The Republicans want an honest and open debate about how to reform health care, but it is the Democrats who do not want to have a legitimate discussion on the issues. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their liberal special interest cronies are resorting to calling concerned citizens who have questions about their health care schemes "astroturf," "un-American," and even "political terrorists."

One White House aide went so far to say "if you get hit, we will punch back
twice as hard
" when coaching Senate Democrats on the ways of "Chicago land politics."

It's time for the President to practice what he preached on the campaign trail and respect all voices in the health care debate.

Help the RNC spread the facts about the Obama Democrats' dishonest rhetoric and stop their efforts to silence dissent by forwarding this email to your friends, and if you can, make a contribution of whatever you can afford to the RNC today.

And for more information about Obama's government-run health care experiment, go to www.BarackObamaExperiment.com. Kenneth, there's too much at stake for Democrats and their left-wing allies to dominate the debate on health care reform with misinformation, name calling and scare tactics. Please help Republicans fight back today!

Sincerely,

Michael Steele
Chairman, Republican National Committee

There they are.  Your call.


VOTER REACTION TO OBAMACARE

Ken Berwitz

For the past week or two, Barack Obama's health care juggernaut has been in full attack mode against the people who are skeptical and critical of his proposed legislation. 

They have been called extremists, thugs, brown shirts, ignoramuses and un-American (among many, many others). 

I thought you might be interested in seeing how this has worked out for Mr. Obama among voters.  So here are the last 7 days of Rasmussen Research's polling:

Date

Presidential Approval Index

Strongly Approve

Strongly Disapprove

Total Approve

Total Disapprove

08/13/2009

-8

29%

37%

47%

52%

08/12/2009

-5

31%

36%

48%

52%

08/11/2009

-7

30%

37%

49%

50%

08/10/2009

-9

30%

39%

49%

51%

08/09/2009

-8

31%

39%

50%

50%

08/08/2009

-5

33%

38%

50%

50%

08/07/2009

-4

34%

38%

50%

49%

Are you impressed?  Do you think the country is with Mr. Obama and Democrats as they frontally assault people who don't want what amounts to nationalized health care? 

I know what some readers may be thinking:  "Berwitz doesn't even believe in political polling and he's cherry-picking one poll to push his opinion on us."

Ok, fair enough.  My response is that I do not believe in poll numbers but I do place some validity in the movement within a given poll from wave to wave, because whatever errors or distortions it may have are the same each time. 

As far as showing a single poll?  In the last five days of available data, Gallup - which utilizes the same three day rolling average technique as Rasmussen - has gone from 58%-36% to 53%-40%.  That's a drop of almost half (from +22% to +13%) in less than a week.

Maybe it isn't such a good idea to denounce these people.  Maybe it isn't such a good idea to stereotype them as a bunch of (pick your favorite insult) when, I suspect, most people see them as just plain citizens who are outraged and scared by what they perceive as a takeover of the health care system.

And maybe it isn't such a good idea to sell it to them by claiming that the government, with its "reputation" for efficiency and economy, will insure 50 million more people, while maintaining and improving the quality of care, and do it at lower cost. 

Even Mr. Obama's strongest supporters, the ones most eager to believe whatever he says, will have trouble with that one.


DEATH PANELS: REMOVING SOMETHING THAT ISN'T THERE

Ken Berwitz

Just curious:  If there were was no death panel language in the Obama health care bill, how were they able to remove it? 

From www.tammybruce.com and pay special attention to the segment Ive put in bold print:

Palin Power: Senate Removes End of Life Provisions

by Tammy on August 13, 2009 9 comments

Palin, apparently an irrelevant quitter yet strangely powerful typer, forces the Senate to do the right thing with two Facebook posts. This is called leadership and will prevail regardless of the medium. It also speaks to the impact and import of Palins positions despite the establishments, both political and media, insistence (aka strange, misplaced hope) that shes irrelevant.

Palin responded again last night on Facebook to attacks on her exposure of the Death Panels as part of Obamas DeathCare agenda. This time she did it with a hard slap at the Obama admin and viola, after being derided as nuts and out-of-touch, Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee made this statement today:

Finance Committee drops end-of-life provision

The Senate Finance Committee will drop a controversial provision on consultations for end-of-life care from its proposed healthcare bill, its top Republican member said Thursday.

The committee, which has worked on putting together a bipartisan healthcare reform bill, will drop the controversial provision after being derided as death panels to encourage euthanasia by conservatives.

On the Finance Committee, we are working very hard to avoid unintended consequences by methodically working through the complexities of all of these issues and policy options, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.

Thank God Sarah Palin has a laptop and is inclined to type, type, type, send! Without that, Grassley makes it clear the political class (R & D alike) would have codified the idea that seniors should die as soon as possible. You know, to help the budget.

Run, baby, run!

They could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly?  You don't need a doctorate in reading comprehension to figure out that is a political-speak way of saying "we got rid of the part that Sarah Palin was right about".

I cant wait to see how our wonderful neutral media handle this one.

free` No wonder they wanted to rush this bill through, thank God they weren't able to. To bad they didn't take more time on the so called stimulus bill. (08/13/09)


TOWN HALL MEETING PLANTS

Ken Berwitz

Do you think that Julia Hall, the 11 year old girl planted at Barack Obama's "town hall meeting" earlier this week (whose mother is a major worker and contributor for Obama) is some kind of fluke?  I hope not.  But if you do, I urge you keep reading and wise up.

Here, from Michelle Malkin, is a compendium of all the other "flukes" orchestrated by Obama & Co. at earlier "town hall meetings".

(If you want to see pictures of each plant, just click here):

The illustrated guide to Obamacare human props

By Michelle Malkin    August 12, 2009 12:48 AM

Little Julia Hall is just the latest in-the-tank questioner with Obama campaign/Democrat ties to turn up randomly at presidential health care forums.

Heres your illustrated guide to Obamacare human props.

In July, Obama hosted a White House citizen town hall that featured three face-to-face questions. The lucky three?

-*Debby Smith. You remember her. She choked back tears as she talked of her battle with kidney cancer, her joblessness, and her lack of insurance. Obama hugged the trembling woman and dubbed her Exhibit A for his massive entitlement program.

Debby Smith, however, is no ordinary patient. While she may be unemployed, she has been rather busy working for the Obama campaign as a volunteer for the DNCs Organizing for America. Smith also identified herself as a worker for the Virginia Organizing Project, which has been coordinating lobbying trips and health care forums with HCAN. Yes, that same HCAN. In December, Smith moderated a a community discussion on health care issues in Appalachia, Virginia and told her local paper that the meeting would be reported back to former Sen. Tom Daschle, who has been directed by President Elect Barack Obama to form a committee to report on health care issues.

-*Jason Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum works for the Washington, D.C.-based Health Care for America Now (HCAN). Thats the K Street Astroturf outfit with a $40 million budget to lobby for government-run health care linked to left-wing billionaire George Soros. And yes, the same HCAN directing its mob to drown out opponents at town hall meetings.

-*SEIU member. Yes, wonder of wonders, this randomly chosen questioner just happened to be a member of the Purple Shirt Army that poured $80 million in independent expenditures into Democrat coffers, made 4.4 million phone calls for Obama, sent out more than 2.5 million Obama mailings during the 2008 campaign, and dispatched thugs to drown out town hall protesters.

Heres how the tough exchange went down:

Q Hi, Mr. President. Im a member of SEIU and Im down here in Fairfax County working on Change That Works. What can I do, as a member of the union, to help you with your reform bill?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate the question..

Of course he did.

In March, the White House conducted a similar health reform town hall with more human Obamacare props (full transcript here). Five lucky questioners were chosen randomly to talk directly with the president in the East Room about their concerns, including:

-*Linda Bock. Shes a registered nurse and a card-carrying member of the SEIU in Prince Georges County, Maryland.

-*Carlos Del Toro. Via WaPo: In 2007, Del Toro stood as a Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, but did not win. A supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic presidential primaries, he backed Obama against McCain in the general, endorsing him in an Oct. 24, 2008 op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.

-*Tom Sawner. Ill let him speak for himself:

Sir, Im Tom Sawner. Im a service-disabled veteran, small-business owner in Arlington, Virginia. My company, Educational Options, works with public schools. We serve more than 200,000 at-risk kids within public schools, providing online content, partnering with teachers, and I was honored to serve on your education platform committee.

THE PRESIDENT: Wonderful.

-*Bonnee Breese. Public school teacher, prominent AFT union member, and member of the 11,626-person Pennsylvania for Obama page on Facebook.

-*Sergio Salmeron. Democrat National Committee member and community blogger at Organizing for America.

Obama World: Land of Amazing Coincidences!

***

Remember, people. Its the Chicago way:

David Axelrod has long been known for his political magic. Through his AKP&D Message & Media consultancy, the campaign veteran has advised a succession of Democratic candidates since 1985, and hes now chief strategist for Senator Barack Obamas bid for President. But on the down low, Axelrod moonlights in the private sector.

From the same address in Chicagos River North neighborhood, Axelrod operates a second business, ASK Public Strategies, that discreetly plots strategy and advertising campaigns for corporate clients to tilt public opinion their way. He and his partners consider virtually everything about ASK to be top secret, from its client roster and revenue to even the number of its employees. But customers and public records confirm that it has quarterbacked campaigns for the Chicago Childrens Museum, ComEd, Cablevision, and AT&T.

ASKs predilection for operating in the shadows shows up in its work. On behalf of ComEd and Comcast, the firm helped set up front organizations that were listed as sponsors of public-issue ads. Industry insiders call such practices Astroturfing, a reference to manufacturing grassroots support. Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward, who has been battling the Childrens Museums relocation plans, describes ASK as the gold standard in Astroturf organizing. This is an emerging industry, and ASK has made a name for itself in shaping public opinion and manufacturing public support.

Culture. Of. Corruption.

These are the same people who accuse Republicans of "astroturfing" - i.e. using plants and organized protestors instead of regular citizens.

The nerve of these liars.  The cynicism and contempt they have for us turns my stomach.

============================================================

UPDATE:  Obama ain't the only one.  Click here to find Sheila Jackson-Lee using a plant, who claims to be a doctor supporting Obama health care, but in fact is a student and Obama worker instead. 

These people have no shame and no scruples.  They lie to your face -- secure in the knowledge that our wonderful "neutral" media are rarely if ever going to call them on it.

And yes, I agree that much of our mainstream media are just as bad.  Maybe even worse.

free` Ken, I couldn't agree with you more. Then when you try to discuss the issue with family and friends [who are too busy to read in-depth about the subject and rely on the MSM] it gets really frustrating. I pray to God that obama doesn't permanently ruin our country. The next election can't get here fast enough. (08/13/09)


THE RECESSION AND THE STIMULUS PACKAGE

Ken Berwitz

Here is the first paragraph of an article posted today at www.bloomberg.com, which talks about how Europe is seeing a sudden upswing in its economies and major countries such as France and Germany are coming out of their recessions.

I am posting this for the people who are impressed by the Obama administration's claim that the US recession is nearly over, and the reason is the "stimulus package":

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The euro-region economy barely contracted in the second quarter as Germany and France unexpectedly returned to growth, suggesting Europes worst recession since World War II is coming to an end.

The point here is that the world is coming out of recession.  Not just the United States.  And, the last time I checked, neither Germany nor France received any money from the "stimulus package".   

So maybe, just maybe, the reason we may be coming out of recession has nothing to do with the stimulus package.  It is that we're just moving along with the rest of the world.  Anyway, that's how it looks to me..

You, of course, can draw your own conclusions.  You've already got mine.


OFFSHORE DRILLING: HANDING THE BENEFITS TO BRAZIL

Ken Berwitz

Why is there a political war over whether we allow offshore drilling?  

The main reasons are that it will pollute the waters and perpetuate use of oil instead of alternative energy sources.

While proponents feel they have answers to those claims, it is hard to argue the points themselves.  We do not want pollution and we would obviously be better off with alternative, preferably renewable, sources of energy.

So why are we not only allowing offshore drilling, but funding other nations to do it?

This incredible fact is discussed in an editorial from yesterdays Investors Business Daily.  Please pay particular attention to the last paragraphs, which I have put in bold print:

Lend $10 Billion To Drill... Brazil?

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Energy: We didn't hear the administration crow about it, but Brazil is about to get $10 billion from U.S. taxpayers to develop its offshore oil reserves. It's not a bad idea, but something's still wrong with the big picture.

Given how many ratholes our government could pour its money down wind farms, switch grass it's good to learn some cash is going toward something productive.

Last week, Spain's news wire reported that the U.S. Eximbank is raising its stake in Brazil's rich offshore oil fields to as much as $10 billion, from an initial $2 billion.

We'll admit that, on first blush, spending such money overseas when we've got plenty at home sounds a little questionable. But the investment has both practical and strategic benefits for our energy security.

First, the U.S. money is a loan, and Brazil has excellent credit with an investment-grade BBB sovereign rating and a record of responsible borrowing. Whatever we loan the Brazilians will be paid back on time and with interest.

Second, the cash will encourage Brazil's state oil company, Petrobras, to contract with American businesses. And we aren't just talking about oil companies, but software, steel, research, environmental impact and engineering concerns, to name a few others.

Third, drilling new offshore discoveries in Brazil's Tupi field is an epic project in its own right. Cutting through 10 miles of ultrahard salt amid wild temperature fluctuations to extract as much as 40 billion barrels of oil, maybe more, is a grand project.

It will create technological breakthroughs not seen since the space program, and qualifies as a great engineering feat. Along with the 1,712-mile natural gas pipeline to be constructed from Alaska to the lower 48, it ought to stir America's imagination to continue to break new frontiers.

When the strategic factors are brought into place, the benefits become very obvious. Four stand out.

First, the project will counteract a $10 billion Chinese investment that would otherwise make China the biggest investment player in Brazilian oil. Last March, the Chinese national oil company also offered the Brazilians $10 billion on the same project, which all told will require $30 billion in capital.

Now, it won't be just China calling the shots. And besides, our technology and way of operating are superior.

Second, it will put more oil on the global market, ensuring that energy crises and soaring crude prices won't keep whipsawing the world economy. Oil is fungible in a global market, and it doesn't matter who buys Brazil's oil. With more supply, prices should go down.

Third, the project will bring the U.S. and Brazil closer a foreign policy goal. But there are also personalities here that are pretty fortuitous for ensuring success. The Obama administration has named Tom Shannon, former assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, as U.S. ambassador to Brazil. On policy, Shannon is a heavyweight and will ensure that U.S.-Brazil relations advance.

Fourth, new oil on the market will break the back of the region's leading troublemaker, Hugo Chavez. Venezuela sits on 100 million barrels of oil, and Chavez intends to rule for a long time. Developing Brazil's energy will give the socialist autocrat the one thing he fears competition.

Venezuela is now America's No. 2 oil supplier (having passed up Mexico and Saudi Arabia), providing us with 1 million barrels a day. If we could buy from Brazil instead, he may be history.

Having said all this, the question remains: Why must we go so far and spend so much taxpayer money to drill oil when we could unleash our private sector to do it here for free ?

Eximbank officials are serving America's interests by developing Brazil. But our Congress, which refuses to encourage offshore drilling, and our Interior Department, which is pulling permits for inland development, are not.

At the center of it is energy security. If lending money to Brazil for oil is a good idea, isn't freeing our own companies to develop America's vast reserves an even better one? But failing that, this promising venture 170 miles off the Brazilian coast will have to do.

There you go.  The idea is great.  The benefits are enormous.  But we are not reaping those benefits.  We are sending billions and billions of dollars to Brazil so it can reap them, while we get nothing but bank interest.

Does this make any sense to you?  

Regarding the argument that offshore drilling would pollute the waters:  we are funding the pollution of the waters.  Regarding the argument that offshore drilling would elongate dependence on oil:  we are funding that elongation.

The difference is that we are doing it for someone else, so that while our money perpetuates the problems with offshore drilling, the benefits accrue to the other party, not us.  

Summarizing:  We fund all the problems and get none of the rewards.

Is there an administration in Washington that we can blame for this?  One that isnt stepping in to prevent it from happening?  Yes there is, of course.  The administration of President Barack Obama.

But are there media other than Investors Business Daily, that is - REPORTING this so that the people are aware that our offshore drilling policy is to perpetuate all the negatives, but give all the benefits to Brazil (and maybe others)?

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


THE REAL ECONOMIC NEWS

Ken Berwitz

Last month we had a short, sweet dose of fantasy.  This month, sorry to say, we are back from fanstasy to reality.

The previous jobless figures, while lousy (247,000 more jobs lost) were better than expected.  This caused a predictable dose of euphoria from President Obama, members of his administration and congressional Democrats:  "See, the stimulus package is a great success.  The man is a genius.  We Democrats told you it would work"

Uh, not so fast.

Today the new jobless figures and retail sales performance data came out.  Here, excerpted from an article by Christopher S. Rugaber, writing for the Associated Press, are the gory details:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Retail sales disappointed in July and the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week. The latest government reports reinforced concerns about how quickly consumers will be able to contribute to a broad economic recovery.

"There is really no positive spin to put on these numbers," Jennifer Lee, an economist with BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research note. "The U.S. consumer remains very weak. The jobs situation, while slowly improving, is still dismal."

The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales fell 0.1 percent last month. Economists had expected a gain of 0.7 percent.

While autos, helped by the start of the Cash for Clunkers program, showed a 2.4 percent jump -- the biggest in six months -- there was widespread weakness elsewhere. Gasoline stations, department stores, electronics outlets and furniture stores all reported declines.

The July dip was the first setback following two months of modest sales gains. Excluding autos, sales fell 0.6 percent, worse than the 0.1 percent rise economists had forecast.

There is no way around it.  These data stink.

Not only is joblessness way up, but the only reason retail sales levels aren't even worse is that the Obama administration is giving away money in a "cash for clunkers" program, thus subsidizing new car sales.  Obviously, the more it gives away, the lower the price of the cars and the more sales there will be. 

Wouldnt you love to hear interviews, today, with the Democrats who assured us of how great things were getting, and how the economy was umbilically tied to the stimulus package?

 But of course you will.  Our wonderful neutral media will hound them into making a statement of some kind and press them on whether they are as willing to credit President Obama and the stimulus package for the economy now as they were when the previous numbers came out, wont they?

Yeah, sure.  And the cow jumped over the moon.

Zeke Remember ... the Stimulation Money has to be paid back. ... The short term benefits (selling more cars today ... poorly thought out priorities in municipal and state construction, etc) will result in major long term debt ... The interest and amortization are future burdens to the economy ... and the only benefit is short term shot in the arm. ... GM and Chrysler are not real good prospects for success ... the Chevy Volt, costing $40,000 is a real gamble ... and is banking on a $7,500 govt rebate. New car sales suffer in a poor economy ... they're discretionary spending. (08/13/09)


SARAH PALIN AND "DEATH PANELS"

Ken Berwitz

It has been a week of nonstop denunciations, derision and personal insults aimed at Sarah Palin for talking about the "death panels" that, she claims, would exist under the health care legislation put forward by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Since the denouncers, deriders and insulters somehow never get around to providing it, I thought you might be interested in Ms. Palin's rationale for her comment.  So here it is, straight from her facebook page:

Sarah Palin's Notes

Concerning the "Death Panels"

 Yesterday at 8:55pm

Yesterday President Obama responded to my statement that Democratic health care proposals would lead to rationed care; that the sick, the elderly, and the disabled would suffer the most under such rationing; and that under such a system these unproductive members of society could face the prospect of government bureaucrats determining whether they deserve health care.

The President made light of these concerns. He said:

Let me just be specific about some things that Ive been hearing lately that we just need to dispose of here. The rumor thats been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for death panels that will basically pull the plug on grandma because weve decided that we dont, its too expensive to let her live anymore....It turns out that I guess this arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allowed Medicare to reimburse people for consultations about end-of-life care, setting up living wills, the availability of hospice, etc. So the intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when theyre ready on their own terms. It wasnt forcing anybody to do anything. [1]

The provision that President Obama refers to is Section 1233 of HR 3200, entitled Advance Care Planning Consultation. [2] With all due respect, its misleading for the President to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients. The issue is the context in which that information is provided and the coercive effect these consultations will have in that context.

Section 1233 authorizes advanced care planning consultations for senior citizens on Medicare every five years, and more often if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual ... or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility... or a hospice program." [3] During those consultations, practitioners must explain the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and the government benefits available to pay for such services. [4]

Now put this in context. These consultations are authorized whenever a Medicare recipients health changes significantly or when they enter a nursing home, and they are part of a bill whose stated purpose is to reduce the growth in health care spending. [5] Is it any wonder that senior citizens might view such consultations as attempts to convince them to help reduce health care costs by accepting minimal end-of-life care? As Charles Lane notes in the Washington Post, Section 1233 addresses compassionate goals in disconcerting proximity to fiscal ones.... If its all about alleviating suffering, emotional or physical, whats it doing in a measure to bend the curve on health-care costs? [6]

As Lane also points out:

Though not mandatory, as some on the right have claimed, the consultations envisioned in Section 1233 arent quite purely voluntary, as Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) asserts. To me, purely voluntary means not unless the patient requests one. Section 1233, however, lets doctors initiate the chat and gives them an incentive -- money -- to do so. Indeed, thats an incentive to insist.

Patients may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority. Once theyre in the meeting, the bill does permit formulation of a plug-pulling order right then and there. So when Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) denies that Section 1233 would place senior citizens in situations where they feel pressured to sign end-of-life directives that they would not otherwise sign, I dont think hes being realistic.
[7]

Even columnist Eugene Robinson, a self-described true believer who will almost certainly support whatever reform package finally emerges, agrees that If the government says it has to control health-care costs and then offers to pay doctors to give advice about hospice care, citizens are not delusional to conclude that the goal is to reduce end-of-life spending. [8]

So are these usually friendly pundits wrong? Is this all just a rumor to be disposed of, as President Obama says? Not according to Democratic New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, Chairman of the New York State Senate Aging Committee, who writes:

Section 1233 of House Resolution 3200 puts our senior citizens on a slippery slope and may diminish respect for the inherent dignity of each of their lives.... It is egregious to consider that any senior citizen ... should be placed in a situation where he or she would feel pressured to save the government money by dying a little sooner than he or she otherwise would, be required to be counseled about the supposed benefits of killing oneself, or be encouraged to sign any end of life directives that they would not otherwise sign. [9]

Of course, its not just this one provision that presents a problem. My original comments concerned statements made by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy advisor to President Obama and the brother of the Presidents chief of staff. Dr. Emanuel has written that some medical services should not be guaranteed to those who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens....An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia. [10] Dr. Emanuel has also advocated basing medical decisions on a system which produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated. [11]

President Obama can try to gloss over the effects of government authorized end-of-life consultations, but the views of one of his top health care advisors are clear enough. Its all just more evidence that the Democratic legislative proposals will lead to health care rationing, and more evidence that the top-down plans of government bureaucrats will never result in real health care reform.

[1] See
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/08/president-obama-addresses-sarah-palin-death-panels-wild-representations.html.
[2] See
http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/AAHCA-BillText-071409.pdf
[3] See HR 3200 sec. 1233 (hhh)(1); Sec. 1233 (hhh)(3)(B)(1), above.
[4] See HR 3200 sec. 1233 (hhh)(1)(E), above.
[5] See
http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/AAHCA-BillText-071409.pdf
[6] See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/07/AR2009080703043.html].
[7] Id.
[8] See
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/10/AR2009081002455.html].
[9] See
http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/letter-congressman-henry-waxman-re-section-1233-hr-3200.
[10] See
http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/Where_Civic_Republicanism_and_Deliberative_Democracy_Meet.pdf
[11] See http://www.scribd.com/doc/18280675/Principles-for-Allocation-of-Scarce-Medical-Interventions.

If that looks like the ranting of a nutcake to you, so be it. 

But if it looks like Ms. Palin has good, fact-based reasons to invoke the term "death panels", so be that too.

In any case, you now have her side of the story to measure against the tidal wave of attacks we've seen and heard. 

Now you can reference both sides of the story to make up your mind.


LES PAUL R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Les Paul, a great, great giant of music died today at the age of 94.  He died of complications from pneumonia - which, at that age, I would qualify as natural causes.

From wikipedia:

He was a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which "made the sound of rock and roll possible."[3] His many recording innovations included overdubbing, delay effects such as "sound on sound" and tape delay, phasing effects, and multitrack recording.

I doubt that you can find a great guitarist, or one aspiring to greatness, who does not have a Les Paul guitar.  That is how important his innovations and advances have been.

Additionally, with his then-wife Mary Ford, (a marriage which dissolved very rancorously, sorry to say) there was also a string of huge hits, mostly in the early to mid 1950's.  My personal favorite was their version of "How High The Moon", but there were many more,   "Vaya Con Dios" and "Beyond The Blue Horizon" among them.

Mr. Paul remained active right to the end, performing once a week at The Iridium, a jazz club on the upper west side of Manhattan.  At the age of 90, he even won two grammys for his album "Les Paul & Friends".

Les Paul will be more than missed.  He is literally irreplaceable.

May he rest in peace.


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