Tuesday, 30 March 2010

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE

Ken Berwitz

In the previous blog, the Las Vegas Review-Journal's editorial demonstrated that the people around President Obama are woefully short on private-sector experence.  Its exact words were:

"Most of these people (in the administration) have never had a real job in their lives," a senior lobbyist for one of the firms told the American Spectator over the weekend. "They don't understand a thing about business, and that includes the president

Is this true?  Let's find out.

Months ago, J.P. Morgan put together a chart showing the real-world experience in every presidential cabinet over the past century.  I posted it at that time. 

Let's look at it again now:

 

Just so there's no mistake, here are the same data in a written chart:

Percentage of Cabinet Appointees Who Came From The Private Sector (as opposed to government or academia):

 

T. Roosevelt   38%
Taft              40%
Wilson           52%
Harding         49%
Coolidge        48%
Hoover          42%
F. Roosevelt   50%
Truman         50%
Eisenhower    57%
Kennedy        30%
Johnson         47%
Nixon            53%
Ford             42%
Carter           32%
Reagan         56%
GH Bush        51%
Clinton          39%
GW Bush       55%
Obama            8%

There, folks, is the problem.  Obama has surrounded himself with academics, political wonks and ivory tower theorists.  Not people who ever had to earn a buck in the real world. 

Does that explain a lot, or what?

Zeke ... .... The real handicap Obama has is that he was a SUCCESSFUL community organizer. .... .... .... Success there means that he made progress in SOME THINGS that were goals of his backers. ... .... If he didn't get them this year, then 5 years from now is still good. .... .... He did not have to RUN ANYTHING, did not have to have a comprehensive range of accomplishments ... just to have SOME things done. .... .... As president, he is a failure if he has SOME things done (Health Care) and some things ... well maybe & perhaps in the future (Iran's Nukes, China emerging as a superpower, al Q'aida, Economy & Jobs, Energy, etc, etc) ... ... (03/30/10)


ERIC CANTOR? ERIC WHO?

Ken Berwitz

The threats against Democrats were important enough for The Today Show to do days of stories and discussions on. 

Here is a partial list:

-The Tea-partiers calling John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver "nigger" - which no one has any recording of, whether video or audio or tape or digital, even though there were cameras and cell phones and media everywhere?  An outrage.

-The Tea-partier spitting on Cleaver, which even Cleaver has now backed down from?  An outrage.

-The guy who screamed "faggot" at Barney Frank (one person in a crowd, with no one else yelling out support for)?  An outrage.

-The threats called into several Democratic congresspeople's offices?  An outrage.

But then we started finding out that Democrats were not the only ones being threatened.  We also had.....

-The threats called into Republican congresspeople. Really?  That's too bad. 

-The brick put through a double-pane window at Republican headquarters in Charlottsville, Va.  Oh, that's too bad too.

-The threats called into several Republican congresspeople's offices.  Did that happen?  No kiddin'.

-The bullet that hit Republican minority whip Eric Cantor's office in Virginia.  Ah, that's nuthin', they probably were shooting in the air and it just landed at Cantor's office.  What a coincidence.

Notice a slight difference in concern?  Well, trust me, that, in essence, was how Today handled the threats against Republicans -- up to, and including, yesterday when Matt Lauer made the mistake of interviewing conservative commentator Laura Ingraham after airing a particularly one-sided hit piece which tied Sarah Palin to the threats.  Ingraham made mincemeat of both Lauer and George Lewis, the "journalist" who made this utterly false connection.

But wait, there's more.  Yesterday we learned that the FBI had arrested "man" named norman leboon, for putting up a youtube video which said, and I quote:

"My Congressman Eric Cantor, and you and your cupcake evil wife..." "Remember Eric...our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given. You are a liar, you're a Lucifer, you're a pig, a greedy fucking pig, you're an abomination, you receive my bullets in your office, remember they will be placed in your heads. You and your children are Lucifer's abominations."

Was leboon some Republican operative who went over the edge?  One of those hated Tea-party looney-toons? 

Well, no.  Actually norman leboon is a big Obama supporter who gave over $500 to his presidential campaign.  So, of course, the Today show, which pulled out all stops for the undocumented claims of theats against Democrats, would do a major feature on this unequivocal, fully documented real threat, right? 

Having watched Today for years and years, and experienced its "evenhandedness", I was skeptical.  That is why, yesterday, I had this to say about leboon and the Today Show:

There are two important lessons to be learned here:

1) There are lunatics on every side of a political issue, whether right or left, Republican or Democrat. 

2) Be careful when attacking one side for what both sides do.  What goes around comes around.

That said, let's see how those renowned neutralists at The Today Show handle this one tomorrow.  If I were betting, I'd bet they don't even mention it.  But I would love to be proven wrong.

We'll find out then.

Now we have our answer.  This morning, the Today Show has not said one word about leboon.  No feature, no discussion, not even a mention in its news report.  Today was too busy sugar-glazing its viewers by airing Matt Lauers's cheesy, softball interview with the show's great love, Barack Obama.

The partisanship level on Today (among many, many other supposedly "neutral" media venues) is breathtaking.

Zeke .... ..... I really do not understand the mindset of the liberal press. ... ... The ability of flat-out ignore facts and events that do not conform to their world-view. ... .... Like the blinders are shut, when uncomfortable facts are presented ... ... (03/30/10)


OBAMACARE: NOW THE POST-VOTE LEARNING PROCESS

Ken Berwitz

There's an old saying:  "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me"

Nowhere is the truth of this saying more evident than the fact that, after demanding passage of the so-called "stimulus package" before anyone read it (you know, the legislation that was going to cap unemployment at 8%, remember?),  President Barack did exactly the same thing with ObamaCare. 

Write it, rewrite it, add to it, build it up, get to 2,700 pages of verbiage, then demand that it be voted on and passed before most congresspeople have more than a cursory knowledge of what's actually in it.  Yeah, that's the ticket. 

Well, it worked.  Again.  Just like the "stimulus package". 

And because it worked again, the congressional Democrats who were so proud of its passage just a few days ago now will have to live with its actual contents.

How bad could that be?  In (partial) answer, here is today's editorial from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which should give you an idea.  The bold print is mine:

EDITORIAL: Didn't understand what was in it

Ramifications of health care bill already surfacing

 

Since the passage of ObamaCare, several major U.S. companies -- so far, they include AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar, Deere, Valero Energy, AK Steel and 3M -- have announced that they expect the law to cost them billions of dollars in higher health care expenses.

 

This has prompted an angry Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and one of many Democrats who swore up and down that the measure would actually cut costs, to summon some of the executives to Capitol Hill to defend their assessment.

 

Rep. Waxman is also demanding that the executives give lawmakers internal company documents related to health care finances, a move one committee Republican describes to Byron York of the Washington Examiner as "an attempt to intimidate and silence opponents" of ObamaCare.

 

Perhaps these Democrats really are surprised ­-- perhaps (as Republicans consistently warned) they never actually read and comprehended what was in their nearly 3,000-page social engineering experiment.

 

"Most of these people (in the administration) have never had a real job in their lives," a senior lobbyist for one of the firms told the American Spectator over the weekend. "They don't understand a thing about business, and that includes the president. My CEO sat with the president over lunch with two other CEOs, and each of them tried to explain to the president what this bill would do to our companies and the economy in general. First the president didn't understand what they were talking about. Then he basically told my boss he was lying."

 

Nor is this just coming from Republicans. One Democratic staffer affiliated with the Waxman committee told the magazine that neither Rep. Waxman nor Rep. Bart Stupak, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations panel, had anything more than a cursory understanding of how the many sections of the bill would impact business or even individuals before they voted on the legislation.

 

"We had memos on these issues, but none of our people, we think, looked at them," says the staffer. "When they saw the stories last week about the charges some of the companies were taking, they were genuinely surprised and assumed that the companies were just doing this to embarrass them. ... They just didn't understand what they were voting on."

 

And it's only just begun

As you can see, instead of worrying about ObamaCare's affect on major corporations (you know, those terrible people who employ so many millions of us), henry waxman's reaction is to act like some tinhorn torquemada and demand that they answer to him for daring to point out what it does to their cost structure. 

Tell me:  who appointed henry waxman God?  Is it his sickening combination of arrogance and partisanship, combined with over four decades of being a politician (the last 35 of them in congress) rather than living in the real world, that makes him so ridiculous?

Also, let's not forget that this editorial is running in a major Nevada newspaper.  Nevada is a battleground state (whoops, sorry if I incited anyone to violence by saying "battleground") in which Harry Reid - with Nancy Pelosi one of the two most significant facilitators of ObamaCare - is fighting for his political life. 

There's a long time between March and November. How many more parts of ObamaCare will the voters learn about between now and then - parts that a) they resent and b) they had no idea were in there? 

We'll find out, won't we?


SELLING OUT THE UNBORN

Ken Berwitz

Although I do not agree with them, I respect people whose beliefs are that life begins at conception.  And I certainly respect any congressperson who, believing abortions are wrong, voted against the health care bill earlier this month because, as written, it would allow federal funding for abortions.

Now; ask me what I think of people who profess anti-abortion beliefs, but change their vote from "no" to "yes" in return for a political payoff.

With that in mind, please read the following article from Fox News.  The bold print is mine:

Updated March 29, 2010

Pro-Life Democrats Who Switched Vote for Health Bill Request Billions in Earmarks

FOXNews.com

The 11 House Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak who dropped their opposition to health care reform mere hours before the final vote have requested $3.4 billion in earmarks -- and one watchdog group wants to know whether the money represents business as usual, or a political payoff. 

The 11 House Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak who dropped their opposition to health care reform legislation mere hours before the final vote have requested $3.4 billion in earmarks -- and one watchdog group wants to know whether the money represents business as usual or political payoffs. 

The Sunlight Foundation says it plans to track the earmark requests, which were put in one day after health care reform cleared Congress, to see whether they're approved and whether it appears lawmakers are being rewarded for their vote. 

"We know that in Congress one of the ways that leadership tries to influence members is through earmarks," said Bill Allison, editorial director at the nonpartisan organization. "So this seemed to us something good to follow." 

Stupak and the 10 other Democrats were critical to the success of the health care bill. They were holding out over concerns about funding for abortion coverage but announced the president had assuaged their worries -- with an executive order restricting abortion funding -- the morning of the big vote. 

Stupak's office said there's absolutely no link between the earmarks and the health care bill's passage. 

"The congressman's vote for health care has no connection to annual appropriations requests," spokeswoman Michelle Benoche said. "Appropriations requests were submitted on Monday, March 22, because that is the deadline of the Appropriations Committee." 

She also said his earmark requests this year are in line with prior years, in number and in total amount.

But watchdogs want to know whether there's more to the story. 

Since the health care reform push hit its final stretch, numerous sweeteners for lawmakers' districts and states have been found inside the package. Earmark requests are made outside of the health care bill, making them a bit more difficult to link to any vote-trading. But it is precisely that kind of tricky-to-catch deal-making that Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said he and other GOP senators would be monitoring for months to come. 

"If you think you can cut a deal now and it not come out until after the election, I want to tell you that isn't going to happen," Coburn said a few days before the bill passed. 

Lawmakers like Stupak have since been heavily scrutinized. Allison said the lawmakers who stood with him will find out if those earmarks are approved when the Appropriations Committee's bills come out in June or July. 

The individual earmarks requests from each of those lawmakers range from $20 million to $1.4 billion. Of the eight lawmakers whose 2010 requests were available for comparison, five requested more money than they did a year ago. Stupak requested $579 million. 

Here are the earmark amounts requested by the 11 House Democrats in the 2011 bill: 

Rep. Jerry Costello of Illinois.: $1,418.7 million ($256.4 million in 2010)

Rep. Solomon Ortiz of Texas: $618 million ($726.1 million in 2010)

Stupak of Michigan: $578.9 million 

Rep. Steve Driehaus of Ohio: $332.2 million 

Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio: $294 million ($305.7 million in 2010)

Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania: $236.8 million ($54 million in 2010)

Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota.: $207 million ($226 million in 2010)

Rep. Brad Ellsworth of Indiana.: $115.4 million ($82.3 million in 2010)

Rep. Charles Wilson of Ohio: $84 million ($62.3 million in 2010)

Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania.: $67.1 million 

Rep. Joseph Donnelly of Indiana: $19.8 million ($11.65 million in 2010)

The Sunlight Foundation also says it is going to look at Republican earmarks. House Republicans say they are not requesting any earmarks for the next fiscal year, but Allison said the Sunlight Foundation will watch GOP senators to see if they appear to be putting in earmark requests for their House colleagues. 

How bad does this stink?  Could it stink worse?

Does anyone seriously believe that the almost three and a half BILLION dollars in earmarks, submitted on the very last day before the bill was voted on - when there would be the least amount of time for media scrutiny - had nothing to do with those vote changes? 

I especially love the line about earmark requests being "in line" with with prior years in number and total amount.  Sure, Stupak attaches $578.9 million in earmarks to pretty much every bill that congress votes on.  And that 1.4 billion from Jerry Costello, the 600 or so million from Solomon Ortiz and the $300 million plus from Driehaus and Kaptur?  Heck, it happens every day. 

Poor Wilson, Kanjorski and Donnelly; they didn't even get into 9-figure range.  I guess they're the honest ones.

Ok, now that Fox News has reported this, where are the rest of our wonderful "neutral" media?  What happened to their reports?

Aren't these the folks who sneer that Fox is neither fair nor balanced? 

So where are their reports about a 3.4 billion dollar earmark-fest by the supposed anti-abortion contingent?  Where are their reports about how, if you believe this bunch really is anti-abortion, they may have sold the unborn down the river to get $$$$$$$ out of ObamaCare?

Does "fairness and balance" mean you suppress the news that makes the house members responsible for passing this atrocity (i.e. without them it doesn't get a majority) look like hypocrites and - by their own stated standards - abettors in the murder of unborn babies?  Evidently, to these "journalists", it does.

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


THE OBAMACARE BOUNCE

Ken Berwitz

As expected, we saw a positive bounce for President Obama after signing the health care legislation into law.

Now comes the other bounce - the one which occurs after euphoria gives way to reality. 

From USA Today:

Health care law too costly, most say

By Susan Page, USA TODAY

 

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government's role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Those surveyed are inclined to fear that the massive legislation will increase their costs and hurt the quality of health care their families receive, although they are more positive about its impact on the nation's health care system overall.

Supporters "are not only going to have to focus on implementing this kind of major reform," says Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard. "They're going to have to spend substantial time convincing people of the concrete benefits of this legislation."

The risk for them is that continued opposition will fuel calls for repeal and dog Democrats in November's congressional elections. The bill was enacted without a single Republican vote.

In an interview airing Tuesday on NBC's Today, Obama acknowledges concerns about cost. "It is a critical first step in making a health care system that works for all Americans," he said of the law, adding, "We are still going to have adjustments that have to be made to further reduce costs."

Obama's approval rating was 47%-50% the first time his disapproval rating has hit 50%.

In the survey:

A plurality predicts the law will improve health care coverage generally and the overall health of Americans. But a majority says it also will drive up overall costs and worsen the federal budget deficit.

When it comes to their families, they see less gain and more pain: Pluralities say it will make coverage and quality of care worse for them. By 50%-21%, they predict it will make their costs higher.

Opponents of the health care bill are a bit more likely than supporters to say the vote will have a major impact on their vote for Congress in the fall. Three in 10 are much more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the bill. One in four are much more likely to vote for a candidate who supports it.

 USA TODAY/ GALLUP POLL

Do you think the health care legislation: (percentage who said "yes")

Source: USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,033 adults March 26-28. Margin of error +/- 4 percentage points.

The poll of 1,033 adults, taken by land line and cellphone Friday through Sunday, has a margin of error of +/4 percentage points.

Half call passage of the bill "a bad thing" and 47% "a good thing." That differs from a one-day USA TODAY poll taken March 22 a day after the House approved the legislation in which a 49%-40% plurality called the bill "a good thing."

"Any one-day poll in the immediate aftermath of a major event is likely to be subject not only to sampling error but also to very short-term effects," says political scientist Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the time, "the news cycle was dominated by the positive side of the story, and only a little bit by the Republicans' rebuttal to that."

There was a strong reaction against the tactics Democratic leaders used to pass the bill. A 53% majority call Democratic methods "an abuse of power;" 40% say they are appropriate.

And when asked about incidents of vandalism and threats that followed the bill's passage, Americans are more inclined to blame Democratic political tactics than critics' harsh rhetoric. Forty-nine percent say Democratic tactics are "a major reason" for the incidents, while 46% blame criticism by conservative commentators and 43% the criticism of Republican leaders.

Suppose you are a congressperson in a competitive district, who voted for ObamaCare.  How do you feel about these data? 

Sorry I asked.  Just let me know after you get your head out of the toilet bowl you're regurgitating in.


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