Thursday, July 30, 2009
Given the pressing implications of the meeting for race-relations, ethnic profiling, privacy, home invasion, and police abuse of power, naturally, the question on everyone's mind is what kind of beer should be served.
The simplest answer is whatever beer each participant wants. But next to nothing is simple when it concerns the White House so one can only wonder whether the matter will be allowed to become more complicated. Assuming complication is a must, yours truly can't help back to the pitch made by Sam Adams President, Jim Koch:
A blend of ingredients from all over the world, made by the finest beer maker in these states united. Now that's change we can believe in.
But Sam Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch told NPR if it was up to him he would make a special beer just for the event.
"I'd make a blend of ingredients from all over the world. Which is certainly what's represented there with the three participants," he said. "I would blend those ingredients together artfully and harmoniously, because that's really what we all hope for."
But the AP report about cops tasering a deaf, and mentally disabled man is simply beyond the pale.
I understand that State legislatures are wary about seeming to be squishy on crime, but there is simply no excuse for the brutality that comes with the police's new toy. The magistrate was so disgusted with the actions of the police that he refused to press charges.
Isn't that right, Chris Dodd?
Ironically, the President made more news for his half-baked remarks slamming the Cambridge, MA police department than he did for his comments on health care reform.
Given the fiasco generated by a pointless press conference, it is difficult to say who acted 'stupidly' - the police, or the President.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
As John Adams was apt to say, 'facts are stubborn things,' and the bottom line is that Obama's math just doesn't add up.
OBAMA: "We already have rough agreement" on some aspects of what a health care overhaul should involve, and one is: "It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you're happy with it."In truth, given the current data set, the President has absolutely no way of knowing what impact his public insurance option will have on the health insurance market. Accordingly, he is in no position to make any promises at all about the future ability of Americans to keep their current insurance plans. The public insurance option (viz., publicly subsidized) could very well send prices plummeting, and force private insurers out of the market.
THE FACTS: In House legislation, a commission appointed by the government would determine what is and isn't covered by insurance plans offered in a new purchasing pool, including a plan sponsored by the government. The bill also holds out the possibility that, over time, those standards could be imposed on all private insurance plans, not just the ones in the pool.
Indeed, Obama went on to lay out other principles of reform that plainly show the government making key decisions in health care. He said insurance companies would be barred from dropping coverage when someone gets too sick, limits would be set on out-of-pocket expenses, and preventive care such as checkups and mammograms would be covered.
It's true that people would not be forced to give up a private plan and go with a public one. The question is whether all of those private plans would still be in place if the government entered the marketplace in a bigger way.
He addressed some of the nuances under questioning. "Can I guarantee that there are going to be no changes in the health care delivery system?" he said. "No. The whole point of this is to try to encourage changes that work for the American people and make them healthier."
He acknowledged then that the "government already is making some of these decisions."
Lost in the debate, of course, is any discussion of the Democrats plans for expanding Medicaid. With some states amassing colossal deficits, most can ill afford to assume the unfunded mandate included in the Democrats' plan.
The National Conference of State Legislatures released a telling survey this month detailing the fiscal health of our states. The outlook is grim. Many states are projected to be in the red for several years into the future. Governors across party lines have begun lining up in opposition to the expansion for fear that its attendant costs will make matters even worse. Medicaid is funded, roughly, on a 60-40 split between the Federal and State government respectively. Expending the program by Federal fiat would forces states to incur more costs for newly eligible payees. New York, California, New Jersey, and Florida are poised to take some of the toughest hits.
Mysteriously, despite all of these warning signs, the President has concluded that the 'stars are aligned' for health care reform. I would respectfully suggest to the President that what we are witnessing is less like an alignment of stars, and much more like an eclipse.
This time, the market is there. The public wants a health-care overhaul, so misjudging the market is not President Obama's problem. Closing the sale by "putting the screws" to his own party is, and his performance on the second hurdle will go a long way toward determining if he can turn political popularity into meaningful legislation.[Link]
Arguably, the market isn't there either. Some 53% of all Americans oppose Obamacare.
But based upon his Senatorial campaign debut, I am quite impressed.
As we have argued here many times, the GOP must learn to comfortably, and genuinely traffic in the the language of inclusiveness. Our rhetoric must match our policy interest in creating opportunities for people from all walks of life. We must learn to meaningfully articulate an agenda of freedom, rather than the failed, government-first model offered by the Democrats. Kirk's opening speech hit just this right note. He reached out to a broad number of communities, and spoke to people in clear, honest terms.
It will be leaders like this that bring the GOP back from the wilderness.
The Dogs for Vets program would not fit the bill for every veteran. But for those who are recovering from injuries, or for those who find themselves alone upon returning from duty, Man's Best Friend is a reasonable benefit to provide the men and women who have already given us so much.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Wedding Date: August 15, 2009
Wedding Website: http://gwynandtory.weddings.com
Place: Avoca Baptist Church, Avoca Indiana
Reception: Deer Park Manor, Bloomington, Indiana
Deer Park Manor was built from 1953 to 1956 by Sarkes and Mary Tarzian. Sarkes Tarzian invented essential components for color television and was the owner of several radio and television stations, including Channel 4 Television whose Bloomington studio was previously located elsewhere on the property. Both President Richard Nixon and President Dwight Eisenhower were guests here.
Our Engagement: by Gwyn, Walters, Oklahoma
They visited each other regularly, and it wasn't long before Gwyn got to re-visit southwestern Oklahoma, Tory's home and family. While they were there, of course they had to go and visit Tory's home church, where they first met and where the 'magic' first began. One night, as providence would have it, they found themselves at the very same church where, so many years ago, she had been sitting in the front pew, staring at him on the stage, getting butterflies in her stomach when he would stare back.
Gwyn and Tory sat together on that same front pew that night, taking a trip down memory lane. But Tory didn't stay sitting on the pew. Instead, he knelt down on one knee in front of Gwyn and asked her to marry him.....and she said yes. She knew this was the man that she had been praying for since she was a little girl. And they prayed. And they thanked God for each other, and asked for His wisdom as their relationship grew into something even more wonderful than she had imagined.....
Many questions remain: How will Obama handle this crisis? And to what lengths is he willing to go in defending his surge in Afghanistan?
By contrast, one thing is for certain: a speech on the matter simply will not suffice. For once, the President must act, and the world is watching.
But more important still, a family from rural Idaho places the fate of their loved one in the President's hands. He must not let them down.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Despite the plan rammed through last week by Speaker Pelosi, an intrepid group of centrist Democrats are threatening a mutiny and considering forging an alternative plan with House Republicans.
The effect of such a move would fundamentally shift the political dynamic in the health care debate - a shift away from President Obama's government-first model toward a more moderate course.
Here's hoping the Blue Dog Democrats finally come through.
Friday, July 17, 2009
The article offers a stark warning to tribes of the need to diversify their economic base, and to think beyond gaming toward a long-term vision for economic sustainability.
The problem with gaming is that while casinos are fine operations when individuals have discretionary income, when times get lean trips to a casino are often the first luxuries to go (one would hope). Accordingly, so are the revenues tribes had hoped to rake in.
A solid economic foundation for tribes must include more than gaming in order to compensate for revenue shortfalls during times of economic recession.
But in an interesting summary of this week's stories about our fearless leader, Politico ran a couple of telling headlines offering profound insight into the plight of our 44th President:
1. Obama is no longer cool.
2. Obama is a nerd.
3. Obama is (maybe) a little bit petulant.
Perhaps, the most telling aspect of Politico's 'hard-hitting' political coverage is point three. The President's priorities clearly hit a roadblock this week. Human nature almost requires that he complain a bit. But the President's health care plan really hit more than a roadblock. In the words of CNN's John King, the President's plan for health care reform was dealt a 'bruising body blow.' King explains:
Douglas Elmendorf, chief of the Congressional Budget Office, said this of the leading Democratic health care proposals in the House and Senate: "In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount and, on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs."
Translation: The bills, as they stand, do not meet the president's promise to reduce the long-term drain of health care spending on the federal budget.
The problem, of course, is that the Democrats would rather come up with some type of health care legislation, indeed, any type of legislation, while kicking nettlesome conflicts like cost and effectiveness down the road.
Lost in the debate is the fact that the President's agenda is losing its shine even among Democrats. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus went so far as to publicly criticize the President, calling him, among other things, 'difficult.'
With the Democrats poised to implode, Republicans may do well simply to turn up the heat, and watch the fireworks.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
During a tortured hypothetical proffered by Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Senator remarked that she would have a lot of 'splainin' to do were to bring a loaded gun to her confirmation hearing as described in her hypothetical.
In response, AP Editor Michael Giarrusso opines:
Calling Coburn out for this might be going too far -- those who know him say he often speaks like this -- but it was hard not to notice his inflection and choice of words. At the very least, it suggests a tin ear -- particularly when you're speaking to a woman who may become the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.Giarrusso's suggestion is laughable for anyone who has ever visited the State of Oklahoma, or spoken (even briefly) with one of its denizens.
We Oklahomans have a neddlesome habit of dropping our 'ing' suffixes, as well as some of the coarser-sounding prefixes such as 'ex.' It's a regional, linguistic idiosyncracy - not a racially motivated 'tin ear'.
The AP is simply reaching for a story where none exists. Is the confirmation hearing really that boring?
According to the BBC:
Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.Really? Russia called a joint venture with a Sub-Saharan African Nation, NIGAZ?
The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.
Update: Apparently, I am not the only one to question the wisdom of the name.
Boltbus can surely boast itself as one of the nicest bus companies around. It hits most major cities between Washington and Boston, and includes Wi-Fi, extra legroom, boarding groups, reserved seating, and plug-ins for your laptop.
It can also boast that it has extremely flexible reservation policies. This evening, I left my apartment in Washington's Foggy Bottom and took the DC Metro to Metro Center in the heart of downtown Washington. As luck would have it, my metro car stalled on the tracks as we waited, easily, 45 minutes before moving ahead. Needless to say, I missed my initial reservation.
A quick call to the company, and I was able to get on as a standby passenger without having to pay any additional fees. it's pretty close to 7pm now, and we're moving slowly in traffic, but the trip has been fine and I could not appreciate their flexible service more.
The reason for my trip, and utter appreciation to BoltBus is that I am joining my buddy, and best man in the Big Apple for a bit of shenanigans and a mini-bachelor party. The wedding, of course, is August 15, 2009 so the trip to New York comes only a couple of days before the one month countdown, and a seismic shift to life as I know it. In all, despite my frazzled state early on, the trip has been a real treat.
Check in for updates from the weekend if you'd like - but don't expect much in the way of photos! I have no desire to needlessly incriminate myself any more than the trip already does.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Prior to the shindig, New York Congressman Peter King called Mr. Jackson a "pervert" and a "child molester."
For all I know, there could be some truth to the accusation. But be that as it may, it is difficult not to feel for Mr. Jackson's daughter, Paris, who had a markedly different reaction, mourning her 'Daddy' as 'the best father you could ever imagine.'
At risk of seeming a bit sentimental, it strikes me that the disparate reactions speak to the unique ability we have to see what we want in other people. Congressman King clearly saw in Mr. Jackson the embodiment of a fawning mainstream press that he has grown to loathe. Meanwhile, Ms. Paris Jackson clearly saw in her late father the epitome of a loving Dad.
Both perspectives require suspending some disbelief.
Congressman King surely understands that Michael Jackson was never convicted of the child molestation allegations levied against him, and, indeed, ours is a land that presumes innocence rather than guilt. Meanwhile, Ms. Jackson, at the tender age of 11, is probably not completely out of the loop of her late father's infamy.
The contrasting opinions simply underscore our ability to look at others and see what we want. Perhaps the whole matter is a lot like love?
Politico described meaningful change from yesterday's Kremlin pow-wow as elusive - or beltway double talk for failure.
The biggest achievement touted from the summit — and the only document the two men signed — was a nonbinding “joint understanding” setting target ranges for a new round of nuclear arms reductions.Apparently, in the world of Obama foreign policy, nonbinding, joint understandings are "change we can believe in." Strangely, this seems a lot like the status quo...
But just to be clear, and before the hate-mail comes rolling in, there are no 'winners' in the President's obvious weakness on display before America's antagonists.
At the end of the day, security is an issue that should transcend party, and America is no safer for the President's diplomatic inability. If any Nation looks stronger as a result of these preliminary discussions, it is Russia which has maintained all of its fixed positions on most major issues, ranging from Iran to missile defense.
Further, given that America's nuclear arsenal is bigger than Russia's (even by Russian estimates), and given that Russia's nuclear arsenal is aging, the U.S. really had no strategic, defense incentive to cede so much ground to Moscow as the Obama Administration did today.
The result is a troubling pattern on the part of the President to put international appearances before America's best security interests.
Here's hoping that round two with Prime Minister Putin goes much better.
Monday, July 6, 2009
On Fox News Sunday, Kristol explained:
"In 2004, Obama had given one good speech at the Democratic convention. And Palin gave one good speech in 2008."My friends on the left will be hard pressed to counter Mr. Kristol's point. Obama remains, even as President, a man who has accomplished surprisingly little in public life.
The experience argument against Gov. Palin, at worst, simply mirrors that of the Democrats' heir-apparent.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Naturally, the Muppet version of Stars and Stripes Forever is a bit more my speed. Enjoy!
And happy Independence Day!
Friday, July 3, 2009
Within minutes of her announced resignation, my Blackberry easily fielded ten messages poking fun at GOP prospects in 2012. The glee is misplaced. As a complete outsider to both the Governor and the State of Alaska (consider the source), it strikes me as a fairly savvy move for a Governor interested in a 2012 Presidential bid.
Resigning early frees up Gov. Palin to mull, and plan for a 2012 White House run. It also generates 'buzz' about her potential candidacy, by allowing Republicans to rally behind one of their most familiar faces. And most importantly, yet specific to AK, it allows AK Republicans to defend their State House by installing a Republican Governor at the helm once Gov. Palin decided not to seek reelection. This has the net effect of allowing Sean Parnell to prepare for his own run for Governor in 2010, while already getting acclimated to the office.
Given that even a lowly magazine article about the Governor can generate substantial media and political interest as last week's piece in Vanity Fair surely did, I suspect we have not seen the last of Sarah Palin.
But today, CNN reports that even the former Secretary of State has his doubts about the President's radical agenda.
"I'm a little concerned," former Secretary of State Colin Powell says. "I'm concerned at the number of programs that are being presented, the bills associated with these programs and the additional government that will be needed to execute them."Well, it certainly is a fine time for Secretary Powell to be concerned after having done all he could to see the man elected. This duplicity aside, it remains a bit mysterious as to why the Secretary is concerned at all. Anyone who followed the President's agenda as a candidate, with even vague interest, could see in very clear terms exactly what he intended to do upon taking office.
All of these proposals carried hefty price tags. There was no secret that our deficit would grow and that taxes would rise. If Secretary Powell was not concerned then, with the hand writing on the wall, his concern now seems misplaced.
But after further thought, that's more or less the status quo for any performance of the National Anthem. There really are only two ways a performance of the Star Spangled Banner can go - undeniably great or astoundingly terrible. Surprisingly, there is very little middle ground.
On the other hand, the JibJab tribute below straddles this fine line.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
According to the plan, in order to force those who would rather drop health insurance coverage altogether (e.g., the young, and the healthy), the government would fine anyone $1,000 for refusing to pay for private insurance, or one of the government alternatives.
In a twist of words that would surely make Karl Marx proud, the Democrats have dubbed the fines "shared responsibility payments."
True to form, the mainstream press is not so much opposed a supportive. The AP characterized the coercive nature of the fines as a 'nudge'
Called "shared responsibility payments," the fines would be set at least half the cost of basic medical coverage, according to the legislation. The goal is to nudge people to sign up for coverage when they are healthy, not wait until they get sick.The problem, of course, is that the young and healthy would be forced to pay for coverage they do not necessarily need, while those who might genuinely have other spending priorities would be forced to pay for coverage they do not want - or be fined. The bottom line results in a net loss of freedom for the individual to decide how to spend his or her money.
Or as the Democrats might pithily suggest, Uncle Sam knows best.