Monday, June 15, 2009
As the flu panic recedes, we are left to contemplate this embarrassing fact: we've done it again. That is, responded to a modest risk with a dangerous stampede. The tendency seems to be built into our genes, or into the self-interest of big headlines and high ratings and of government and international health officials, says Michael Fumento, a health writer with a specialty in epidemiology.
To put the risks in perspective:
- Seasonal flu infects 15 million to 60 million Americans a year, hospitalizing 200,000 and killing 36,000.
- The new swine flu has so far killed only 15 in the United States, including one Mexican national who came here for treatment.
- Even in Mexico, where poor health care translates into higher mortality, the disease is not as widespread as we were led to believe; originally, the death count was reported at 159, but in actuality it is only 25.
However, the real threat is what hysteria will do to a sick global economy:
- The SARS panic cost the economies of East and Southeast Asia 0.6 percentage points of 2003 gross domestic product (GDP).
- Last year a World Bank report estimated that just the impact of avoiding infection during a flu pandemic, not the illness itself, would shave 1.9 percent off world GDP.
- Some poorer parts of the world -- including that containing Mexico -- would lose 2.9 percent of GDP.
The Politico's Jeanne Cummings, a veteran of the Wall Street Journal, fretted on this weekend's Inside Washington that former Vice President Dick Cheney has “changed this debate in a way that has made it much, much harder to close Guantanamo, which the President is already committed to doing.”
So he's done an awful thing in daring to oppose something President Obama is “committed to doing.” Dreadful.
In fact, she soon charged that in complicating Obama's intention to close Guantanamo -- which Obama had announced without any plan for where to place the detainees -- “Cheney really did damage to the effort to keep our country secure [?] by turning this into a political issue. We were going to have to deal with this and to make it a political issue is not helpful. It's just not.”
To which columnist Charles Krauthammer retorted by pointing out the overwhelming bi-partisan vote to block the closing: “Cheney is the one who turned it into a political issue? I thought it was a 90-6 vote in the Senate. Just about every Democrat in the Senate-”
It is something to read a major press piece by someone not beset by Obama fever.
1. "I've heard occasional speculation that I'm a different man after 9/11. I wouldn't say that, but I'll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities."
2. "The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law- enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact: arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed."
3. "By presidential decision last month, we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public's right to know. We're informed as well that there was much agonizing over this decision. Yet somehow, when the soul searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth."
4. "It's hard to imagine a worse precedent filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessor. Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers, who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security and what it requires."
5. "We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country, things we didn't know about al Qaeda. We didn't know about al Qaeda's plans, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we did not think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all."
6. "On his second day in office, President Obama announced he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation, and no plan. Now the president says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries; but so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists."
7. "The administration has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo, but it's tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interest of justice and America's national security."
8. "If fine speechmaking, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field."
9. "It's worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the president himself. President Obama has used his declassification authority to reveal what happens in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials."
10. "To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, 7- 1/2 years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized."
It's indisputably an achievement of the Bush administration that it prevented the US from being attacked after 9/11. By ramming this point home, Cheney tees things up for some very tough questioning of Obama in the event that the US is attacked again.
What does Hillary Rodham Clinton have against Jewish babies? Last week, the secretary of state issued a demarche to Tel Aviv stating that Washington "wants to see a stop to [West Bank] settlements - not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."
The euphemism "natural growth" refers to children. About 9,600 babies were born in West Bank settlements in 2007, and the State Department views these bundles of joy as a threat to its precious peace process.
The new arrivals require larger houses, schools, playgrounds and other facilities, hence the need for the settlement growth that is upsetting Foggy Bottom. [despite no additional land being annexed - i.e., they're not to build housing additions as their families grow. Why is this important to Palestinians? ... ]
The no-baby declaration came as welcome news to Palestinians, who are rapidly losing their advantage in the breeding battle.
Aggressive international family-planning programs contributed to Palestinian fertility rates dropping almost 30 percent between 2003 and 2008, to 3.31 children born per woman. This compares to 2.77 births in Israel, which experienced a 10 percent increase over the same five-year time period. If these trends continue, Israelis will be outpacing Palestinians in a few years.
For this reason abortion is now a crime in the Palestinian Authority... [snip]
The State Department would do well to stay out of this issue.
The West Bank settlers will not respond well to finger-wagging from the United States over how many children they choose to have. Behind the euphemism "natural growth" are thousands of babies, girls and boys, who are objects of love and adoration of their doting parents.
Secretary Clinton's devotion to the peace process is a much less powerful force than the love of Israeli parents for their children....
Liberals and conservatives both show too much deference to Congress.
The growing dispute between conservatives and liberals over the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor obscures a more troubling point of agreement: The government should almost always win.
Many conservatives who think of themselves as proponents of limited government would be surprised to discover that conservative judges begin their constitutional analyses in almost every context by placing a thumb firmly on the government side of the scale. It's called "judicial deference." Many liberals, who take pride in being "empathetic," would be surprised to learn that liberal judges also subscribe to judicial deference.
The practical result is that judges of both persuasions almost never enforce any constitutional limit on the power of government to regulate property and the economy. Given that the vast majority of law concerns these two areas, the real crisis in constitutional law is not judicial "activism" but judicial passivism... [snip]
Bad government is usually the result of runaway government. And runaway government is usually the result of government exceeding its constitutional prerogatives. Because they have a far stronger stake in the integrity of checks and balances on government power than in the culture war, conservatives and liberals should declare a truce over "activism" and reflect on the need to take the whole Constitution seriously...
[Highly Recommended > ]
Eighty-three percent (83%) of voters nationwide rate the U.S. Constitution as good or excellent, and there is little public support for changing the document.
However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 44% believe the Constitution doesn't place enough restrictions on the government. Only 10% hold the opposite view and say the nation’s governing charter places too many restrictions on government. Thirty-eight percent (38%) say the balance is about right.
Those figures reflect a modest shift from a year ago. The number who believe that there are not enough restrictions on government is up five points while the number who see too many restrictions is down four points.
As on many issues, there is a huge gap between the Political Class and the rest of the nation. Most who share Political Class views believe the current constitutional balance is about right. But 50% of those with populist or Mainstream views believe that there aren’t enough restrictions on government.
All those in favor of giving yourself a raise, say ''aye.'' A state appeals court yesterday ordered legislators to give New York's 1,250 judges a raise within 90 days, saying the lawmakers "abused their power" by not doing so.
[Does anyone not recognize how out of control our judiciary has become? It's past time it be fixed.]
Most U.S. voters continue to worry that the federal government will do too much in reacting to the country’s current economic problems.
For the second month in a row, 52% of voters express concern about the possibility of too much government action, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s up from a low of 43% in mid-February to and remains the highest level of concern since Barack Obama was elected president in November.
The survey was conducted just before the government took a 60% percent ownership stake in General Motors in exchange for an additional $30 billion in taxpayer funds to keep the auto giant in business. GM has already gotten $20 billion in government loans to stay afloat.
Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters oppose the GM bailout deal, a view shared by most Americans for months...
Taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $55,000 a household to cover rising federal commitments made just in the past year for retirement benefits, the national debt and other government promises...
Source: Dennis Cauchon, "Leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink," USA Today
Neither the $700 billion bank bailout known as TARP and the $787 billion stimulus package approach the civic munificence displayed by the Federal Reserve.
In the past year, the Fed has undertaken interventions in the economy broader and deeper than anything attempted since its founding in 1913. And with the credit system paralyzed, the central bank increasingly looks like the lender of both first and last resort. Take the examples below:
- In October, the Commercial Paper Funding Facility was given up to $1.8 trillion to buy commercial paper (short-term debt that companies use to fund day-to-day operations like payroll).
- Up to $1.45 trillion was appropriated to buy debt from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks, as well as mortgage-backed securities from Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie Mae ('expanded' from an initial $600 billion commitment in November 2008).
- The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) was given up $1 trillion to spur consumer lending by purchasing securities back by credit cards, student loans, auto loans and other debt.
Largely unencumbered by congressional meddling, the Fed has in most cases refused to reveal the beneficiaries of its largesse lest panicky investors and depositors lose faith...
Forty-five percent (45%) of Americans say the rest of the new government spending authorized in the $787-billion economic stimulus plan should now be canceled. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 36% disagree and 20% are not sure.
"Curiouser and curiouser", said Alice. Not an unnatural response to the wholesale departure from reality she experienced at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. And we have precisely the same head-scratching response to the refusal of green ideologues to grasp the energy realities of our age, especially as they affect a realistic role for renewable energy sources.
"We all know ..." Is that so? Because it seems that all the scientists and informed climate observers who signed the Manhattan Declaration clearly don't "already know". Neither do a raft of the world's leading climatologists and scientists in Japan, the UK, Australia, Russia, New Zealand, Denmark, Poland, the United States and hundreds of other prominent scientists, not to mention the 66 percent of Americans who are not convinced.
Indeed of the famous 2,000+ who proclaimed to "know" on behalf of the UN's IPCC, it seems a mere 20 percent (yes, around just 400) worked in any climate science capacity. None of which should come as a surprise when even the UN's own objective climate data reveals that the latest cycle of global warming ended in 1998.
So when Greenpeace states: "We all know..." what they actually mean is all Green ideologues "know"... [snip]
As we have said elsewhere, by the year 2030, while world energy demand is likely to increase by 50 percent, all serious projections agree that oil, gas and coal will still account for around 87 percent of world energy production.
Somebody's math somewhere is clearly wildly awry. So let's look at some basic facts...
MOBILE —- Alabama Power Co.’s Barry Electric Generating Plant north of Mobile will be the site of the nation’s first large-scale attempt to capture carbon dioxide emitted from a coal-fired power plant and to inject the gas deep underground.
Tens of thousands of tons of the potent [?*] greenhouse gas will be piped 9,000 feet underground around the Citronelle oil fields, about 10 miles from the Barry plant.
[Again and again.
From the Global Warming Petition Project, at http://www.petitionproject.org/, where "31,478 American scientists have signed this petition, including 9,029 with PhDs" in climate related fields:
The global warming hypothesis with respect to CO2 is not based upon the radiative properties of CO2 itself, which is a very weak greenhouse gas. It is based upon a small initial increase in temperature caused by CO2 and a large theoretical amplification of that temperature increase, primarily through increased evaporation of H2O, a strong greenhouse gas. Any comparable temperature increase from another cause would produce the same calculated outcome.
[That's right, water vapor, which represents roughly 95% of all greenhouse 'gas' in our atmosphere, has a much stronger effect than does CO2. But cars don't put out water, hence the focus on CO2 so alarmists can somehow make industrial man responsible for their claimed problem - for which they must pay...
BTW: this is a great primer site, especially THIS PAGE, which is very good at conveying the broad scope and depth of varied data available to anyone looking beyond TV to see.
But reading is optional, just scroling down the page for the graphs is instructive, like this one:
and more.... Highly Recommended > ]
The so-called public option is now included in both the Senate and House health care reform bills, and is strongly endorsed by President Obama. Under the public option, the government would offer a plan resembling Medicare for more than 100 million working Americans. Today, most of them are covered by their employers' plans. But the Democrats' proposals contain a "pay or play" provision that would allow companies, in effect, to drop their coverage and substitute a payroll tax.
Because their health care costs are growing so rapidly, it's likely that most companies would dump their plans. "That's what will happen," says John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, which champions free-market solutions to health care. "Employees could then go to the exchanges and get subsidized insurance."
The problem here is that the public option would compete directly with the private plans, says CNNMoney.com:
- Both would be heavily subsidized, with Americans making up to $110,000 eligible for assistance under the Senate proposal.
- It's likely that the Medicare-like option will drive out private insurers, since the government plan has several advantages.
- The plans impose public-utility-like restrictions on the insurers, capping their profits and transferring premiums from the insurers with the younger, healthier patients to those who serve an older, sicker population.
- Those restrictions will hardly make them nimble competitors.
- At the same time, the imposition of costly benefits packages and community rating will raise their costs.
The demand for everything from knee surgery to mental health counseling will soar. But the government will keep a lid on prices, so Americans, for the first time, will be faced with rationing.
The hospitals and physicians simply won't be able to satisfy the unhinged demand for the services that look like a bargain. The lines will grow. And so will the spending, and the taxes.
And that's what Obama isn't telling you.
The "Glenn Beck Program" did an excellent piece on June 3 about Herb and Marion Sandler, the toxic mortgage king and queen, and their connection to ACORN and the inappropriately named Center for Responsible Lending. (The video clip is embedded above.)
Through their charity, the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, they gave at least $5,723,222 to the ACORN network. Specifically, the charity gave $4,498,222 to American Institute for Social Justice (since 2003), $700,000 to Project Vote (in 2005), $525,000 to ACORN (2000–2001 according to Activist Cash). This excludes any contributions that either Sandler may have made personally to ACORN or its affiliates.
According to the "Glenn Beck Program," the Sandlers paid ACORN to send out protesters to hound Wells Fargo Bank, which competed with Golden West, the Sandlers' bank...
ACORN, the publicly funded national organization linked to voter fraud in several states, is now actively interfering with the exercise of firearm civil rights in New Jersey, and the Second Amendment Foundation is calling for an immediate federal investigation.
One example of ACORN's gun control activism is when its officials intervened in an unsuccessful attempt to defend Jersey City, New Jersey's local gun control ordinance, which was struck down December 13, 2006 in New Jersey state court as a violation of state law pre-empting stronger local gun ordinances.
"ACORN has, since 1998, received an estimated $31 million in government funding," said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. "Now they have intervened in a New Jersey gun rights case in defense of an illegal Jersey City one-gun-a-month ordinance that violates the state preemption statute."
"For the past few election cycles," Gottlieb noted, "ACORN has clearly grown more partisan toward the political Left. ACORN'S PAC, in fact, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president, even though their tax-exempt status prohibits endorsement of political candidates.
That's hardly surprising since he used to serve as their legal counsel and he taught the group about community organizing. ACORN and Obama are lockstep in seeking to destroy our Second Amendment rights," he stated.
The organization is currently under FBI investigation over allegations of voter fraud in several states.
Pasadena, Calif. - A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit against gun maker Glock Inc. and a Seattle gun dealer stemming from a white supremacist's 1999 shooting rampage at a Los Angeles-area Jewish center and the murder of a postal carrier.
A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' panel ruled Monday that a 2005 federal law shielding gun makers from lawsuits over criminal use of their products was constitutional...
image toon 1st bbro legal - Sotomayor re 2nd amendment guns
New York Senate Republicans regained majority control of Senate in a surprise maneuver with the help of two Democrats who switched sides.
Pedro Espada from the Bronx and Hiram Monseratte from Queens sided with 30 Republicans on key votes to change the Senate’s leadership.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The leader of a coalition that mounted Monday's coup in New York's Senate says he's being denied the keys to the historic chamber. The alliance of Republicans and two dissident Democrats is asking for the resignation of the secretary of the Senate, a position appointed by the Democratic conference that appears to have lost its majority.
The secretary holds the chamber's keys.
Patrick Gavin of the Politico put on display an eye-opening contrast on YouTube over the weekend. From February 28, 2008, President Bush made a morning appearance in the White House briefing room and is greeted unsurprisingly with reporters remaining seated.
But on May 1, 2009, when President Obama walks in the room (that would be the "dream sequence" appearance, as an NBC reporter put it), the reporters all stand until he asks them to be seated. You see them rise in the video.
This could be a rather mild outbreak of old-fashioned politeness to the chief. But in my two years in the White House press corps, I never saw reporters in the informal all-business setting of the briefing room stand up to greet the president...
Reports on Governor Sarah Palin's appearance at the National Republican Senatorial Committee dinner in D.C. on Monday nearly all mention that she was quite the center of attention with dinner attendees. Well, all agree with that characterization but Politico's Alex Isenstadt, that is. Isenstadt seems to have been the only one to report that her attendance was a dud.
This spurred our friend Videmus Omnia to wonder if Isenstadt went to the same dinner as everyone else? After looking it over, I have to ask the same question...
Obama's America: There's no place like homelessness
When a Republican is in the Oval Office, you can count of the media to hyperventilate over homelessness, and blame the heartlessness of the GOP.
As America's economy falters under the weight of Obama's policies, homelessness has and will only get worse.
But don't hold your breath waiting for the stories on network news casts linking the condition in any way to the current president...
51% Say Cut Everybody’s Taxes To Stimulate the Economy
Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans favor an across-the-board tax cut for all Americans to stimulate the U.S. economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Thirty-four percent (34%) oppose such a tax cut, and 15% are undecided.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of both Republicans and adults not affiliated with either major political party think an across-the-board tax cut is a good idea.
Democrats are fairly evenly divided.
Matt Lauer: Scarborough 'New Face' of the Republican Party
NBC’s "Today" picked their leader to revive the Republican party: MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. The former congressman (and former conservative) who admitted to bashing Republicans more than Democrats, appeared on the June 9 edition of "Today" to promote his new book "The Last Best Hope."
Host Matt Lauer inquired as to who should speak on behalf of Republican principles and quickly added "leave your name out of it for a second." Lauer then branded Christopher Buckley, who endorsed Obama, "a modern conservative" and then proceeded to quite "Obamican" promoting Scarborough as the "new face" of the Republican party.
[I think it's just terrific how helpful the MSM want to be in 'fixing' the Republican Party's problems.]