Archive for April, 2009

Health Care Rationing Coming Your Way Soon

All the boomers that voted for Obama will suffer more when they become old and sick

WASHINGTON — In the weeks before he was elected president, Barack Obama confronted a life crisis all too common in families across America. His grandmother, who already had a diagnosis of terminal cancer, fell and broke her hip, possibly because of a mild stroke. The question became whether to replace her hip even though she was dying.

As Mr. Obama recounted the story, his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, decided to have the surgery, but then, two weeks after the operation, everything went downhill. Ultimately, Ms. Dunham, who helped raise Mr. Obama, died in Hawaii two days before her grandson was elected president.

Mr. Obama discussed the episode in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, posted online Wednesday and scheduled for print publication on Sunday, to point out one of the thorniest issues involved in overhauling health care: Much of the spending on medical care in the United States goes to people in their final months of life. If society is to rein in health costs, at what point are expensive operations like Ms. Dunham’s hip replacement surgery no longer affordable?

“I don’t know how much that hip replacement cost,” Mr. Obama said in the interview with David Leonhardt of The Times. “I would have paid out of pocket for that hip replacement, just because she’s my grandmother. Whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model is a very difficult question.”

It is less difficult for him, because he can afford to pay whatever it takes to help a loved one. The rest of us can just pound sand.

- Aggie

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Tune Up

Further to my automobile post below, I liked this comment from the Corner:

These are troubled financial times, but what really makes Chrysler and GM different from those automakers in the U.S. market that are not facing bankruptcy? Answer: The United Autoworkers Union.

In his announcement today that Chrysler is entering bankruptcy to resolve its debts, nothing President Obama said changed Chrysler’s fundamental labor disadvantage vs. its non-union U.S. competitors. Indeed, the UAW will now own 55 percent of Chrysler in a debt-for-equity exchange that finances the union’s health-care trust fund.

Obama mouthed the fiction that Chrysler’s troubles stem from “failing to make the fuel-efficient cars like its foreign competitors.” In fact, Chrysler’s uncompetitive labor costs long ago made it impossible for the company to manufacture anything but large SUVs and minivans at a profit.

Chrysler will also be one-tenth owned by the feds, meaning that a private, for-profit company will be majority-held by two entities whose priorities are not making cars at a profit but saving union jobs and expanding the web of regulation. Former American Motors president Gerald Meyers told WJR-Radio after Obama’s announcement that union/government ownership of an auto company amounted to “a grand social experiment.” Would it work? “No,” he answered.

Those of us who think President Obama is a pompous horse’s ass feel that way not because he’s doing things differently from the way we’d like them done, but because he’s doing the wrong things. Repeatedly, and on almost every occasion.

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Congratulations, It’s an Abortion

The thing about China is sometimes you have to look for the news of the grim and macabre—but never very hard:

With China’s rising affluence, increasing numbers of infertile couples have been seeking surrogate mothers to bear them babies.

In recent years, officials have largely turned a blind eye to this underground womb-for-rent industry that defies the country’s strict childbirth laws. Now, there are signs the authorities are starting to crack down by forcing some surrogate mothers to abort their fetuses.

In the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, three young surrogate first-time mothers were discovered by authorities hiding in a communal flat.

Soon afterwards, district family planning and security officers broke into the flat, bundled them into a van and drove them to a district hospital where they were manhandled into a maternity ward, the mothers recounted to Reuters.

“I was crying ‘I don’t want to do this’,” said a young woman called Xiao Hong, who was pregnant with four-month-old twins.

“But they still dragged me in and injected my belly with a needle,” the 20-year-old told Reuters of her ordeal which happened in late February.

The woman, who declined to give her full name for fear of reprisals, said the men had forced her thumbprint onto a consent form before carrying out the abortion.

Another of the surrogates, who said she’d come from a village in Sichuan province, recounted how officers made her take pills then surgically removed her three-month-old fetus while she was unconscious. “I was terrified,” the 23-year-old said.

China is a sovereign nation and can obviously do as it wishes. And is aborting fetuses really that much more barbaric than marrying them, as they do in Araby? (Okay, not funny.) But I don’t question just the morality of the policy (though certainly that), but also the morality of the people who carry it out. Who goes home at the end of a day spent kidnapping and premature-infanticiding, cracks open a beer, and lets out a satisfied belch at a job well done? The Nazis, sure, and your various Hutus, Khmer Rouge, Soviets, and the like—but if the phrase “banality of evil” ever had meaning, it is the motto for modern China.

This story is as appalling as any you’re likely to read today (or any day), and I’ll bet you a soda that this is the only place you’re going to read it.

And I had to go looking for it.

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Jihad We Can Believe In

Finally, some Palestinians I can heartily support!

Jihad al-Shaer got tired of waiting for Israel to allow cement and steel into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and took matters into his own hands, building a house of clay bricks.

More than three months since the end of an Israeli military offensive which killed hundreds of Palestinians and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, the people of Gaza are still waiting for the reconstruction materials they need to rebuild.

A political deal with Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza remains out of reach, blocked by the split in Palestinian ranks between hardline Hamas Islamists and Fatah moderates.

But al-Shaer says his idea is catching on. Unlike cement and steel, clay is readily available. Gazans have visited his two-room house to check it out and several said they would copy the idea and start building their own clay shelters.

“There is no alternative. Cement is not coming in and our factions are not reconciling,” Shaer said, referring to the lack of progress in Palestinian unity talks, which were adjourned once again this week until mid-May, with no sign of an accord.

“People want to get married, others want to rebuild their houses. I advise people to begin building their shelters of clay and not to wait,” said Shaer, who fashioned his roof out of timber and nylon sheeting.

Good for you, uh… Jihad. One of the big problems with your people, may I say, is that they sit around on their collective asses waiting for their hopeless, criminal, corrupt, Jew-hating leadership to do things for them. How’s that worked out for you?

You want a house? Build it. You want a state? You’ve got the bricks and mortar to build that, too, if you set your minds to it.

Of course, a house is easier. See if you can perfect that, and then we’ll see about statehood.

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When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Autos [UPDATED]

The old Texaco slogan assured us we could trust our car to the man who wore the star—but I don’t think this is what they meant

star

Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy Thursday. But a deal has been reached to combine the company with Fiat in order to allow Chrysler to stay in business.

The bankruptcy filing, which was made in federal court in New York, comes after some of Chrysler’s smaller lenders refused a Treasury Department demand to reduce the amount of money the troubled automaker owed them.

In remarks at the White House, President Obama said that the bankruptcy filing is not a failure for the company but “one more step on the path to Chrysler’s revival.”

The president harshly criticized the hedge funds and investment firm creditors that refused to go along with the deal accepted by larger lenders, saying that they had “decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified, taxpayer funded bailout.”

Well, ahem, they were investors, weren’t they? Anyway, it wasn’t their money, per se, but the money of their investors they were expecting to be made whole. And last, why shouldn’t they expect an “unjustified, taxpayer funded bailout” when that’s all this government has done since taking power?

But it gets better (which is to say worse):

In addition, the United Auto Workers union announced late Wednesday night that its membership at Chrysler had overwhelmingly ratified a concession contract reached between the company and union leadership on Sunday night.

As a result of that deal, the UAW will own 55% of Chrysler.

The hedge fund investors, who actually owned 30% of the company, are publicly scolded, scourged, yet the unions, which owned…. what—nothing, a little?—are handed more than half the company on a chrome platter.

And if the hedge fund investors were so venal, and spit in the proverbial soup, why is he announcing this bankruptcy as a success?

The deals give Chrysler “a new lease on life,” President Barack Obama said.

“This is not a sign of weakness,” he said. “I have every confidence that Chrysler will emerge from this process stronger and more competitive.”

Not least, what the hell good were the billions and billions and billions of bailout dollars if bankruptcy and government takeover are the result?

If all of this sounds familiar:

The feds have decided they should own a neat 50% of GM, yet that is not the natural outcome of the $16.2 billion that the Treasury has so far lent to the company. Nor is the 40% ownership of GM that the plan awards to the United Auto Workers a natural result of the company’s obligations to the union.

Yet Secretary Timothy Geithner and his auto task force, led by Steven Rattner, have somehow decided that Treasury and UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger will get to own a combined 90% of GM.

The biggest losers here are GM’s bondholders. According the Treasury-GM debt-for-equity swap announced Monday, GM has $27.2 billion in unsecured bonds owned by the public. These are owned by mutual funds, pension funds, hedge funds and retail investors who bought them directly through their brokers. Under Monday’s offer, they would exchange their $27.2 billion in bonds for 10% of the stock of the restructured GM. This could amount to less than five cents on the dollar.

Maybe you think I’ve been kidding with the hammer and sickle imagery I’ve used in the past, or the USA-SSR rhetoric—but I sincerely ask these questions:

What ought we to call it when the workers have been given ownership of the means of production at the expense of private investors? When government intervention and strong-arming have nationalized industries, even whole sectors of the economy? When the propaganda office runs night and day to burnish the president’s image? When he ridicules grass-roots protests against the burgeoning national debt and impending tax increases?

It’s all of a piece, as any student of Soviet history knows, and we’re all students of Soviet history now—or we’d better be.

UPDATE:
Of course, I may have the wrong -ism:

Yes, it is indeed similar to fascism.

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At Least He Never Had a Bad Hair Day

John Edwards’ political career lies cold in a shallow grave, where it belongs, but it’s worth remembering how close a man like this came to the executive branch of the the government:

After the former presidential hopeful confessed his betrayal, Elizabeth Edwards writes in her new book, “I cried and screamed, I went to the bathroom and threw up.”

Elizabeth, 59, who is terminally ill with cancer, speaks in far more detail than before about her husband’s infidelity in her new memoir, “Resilience,” due to be published May 12 by Broadway Books.

But she had actually wanted him to quit the race to protect the family. Edwards admitted the hanky-panky to her days after declaring his candidacy in 2006 – almost a year before the National Enquirer reported it.

She was afraid of the destructive questions Edwards’ affair with videographer Rielle Hunter would raise.

Later events proved her right. “He should not have run,” she says.

Even when Edwards confessed to his wife, he lied, claiming he had slipped up just once, Elizabeth writes. His original version of the story “left most of the truth out,” she writes.

So he lied when he confessed to her, yet still put her through the humiliation of the inevitable discovery of the affair—even after her diagnosis of terminal cancer.

And I know people who cried when this became public because they knew his career was over. We should have prayed, in gratitude.

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Ilan Halimi Update

Actually, Halimi’s still dead, sorry to say.

What an odd bunch the French are. Where we would simply put down a rabid dog, they put it on trial:

The alleged leader of a French kidnap gang has gone on trial in Paris accused of torturing and killing a Jewish man – a crime that shocked France in 2006.

Youssouf Fofana – who admits kidnapping 23-year-old Ilan Halimi but denies killing him – shouted “God is great” in Arabic as he entered the courtroom.

Mr Halimi was kidnapped and brutally tortured for more than three weeks before he was found naked and tied to a tree near a railway track in the southern suburbs of Paris.

He had been stabbed and set alight and died on his way to hospital.

Mr Fofana, 28, leader of a Paris gang known as The Barbarians, is accused of carrying out the attack and faces life imprisonment if found guilty.

He entered the court wearing a white tracksuit and looked at Mr Halimi’s relatives before shouting “Allahu akbar”.

I would have thrown a bloody pig-bladder at him at that point, but then I might have missed the rest of his curious claims:

When the judge asked the defendant for his identity, he replied “African barbarian armed revolt salafist”, referring to a strict Sunni Muslim movement.

He the told the court he was born on 13 February, 2006, in Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois – the date and place of Mr Halimi’s death.

The victim, who worked in a mobile phone shop, was lured by a female gang member to an empty apartment in the Parisian suburbs where he was attacked and drugged.

The kidnappers tried unsuccessfully to extort a ransom of 450,000 euros ($600,000; £405,000) from his family.

During his ordeal, his family was sent harrowing images and video recordings by his captors.

Mr Fofana, of Ivorian descent, fled to Ivory Coast after the murder and allegedly made death threats over the telephone Mr Halimi’s father and girlfriend.

He was extradited back to France in March 2006.

We’ve covered this story from the beginning, and there are details here I’ve never heard before. I’m no Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, but I can’t believe people like this are still walking around. Outside of Gaza, anyway. And I’m no supporter of the death penalty, but I’d kick the stool out from under this diseased beast myself, and pull on his legs until he stopped quivering.

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Specter Vision

This is probably overkill, but every which way you look at him, Arlen Specter is full of s**t.

We’ve already recalled that he was so offended when Jim Jeffords forsook the Republican Party to vote with the Democrats that Specter announced he would introduce legislation to prohibit such an act of political betrayal.

We also noted that he said two seemingly contradictory things in the same breath: one, that the Republican Party had gone over to the dark side; two, that his decision was all about political preservation. I suppose I can see the consistency of that argument if he means that the Republican electorate (i.e. citizens, voters, taxpayers, etc.) had sworn allegiance to Satan and all his works.

But let’s look at that, shall we? Evidently, no one hates Pennsylvanians more than their elected officials (see Jack Murtha, who makes Specter sound tame), unless it’s President Obama (thanks to reader RB for reminding us that the “bitter clingers” were Keystoners). And maybe they deserve that contempt. How ’bout it, reader Barb? Are you a bunch of Nazis and Klansmen out there? You can level with us.

But Republicans in general? Didn’t they just nominate the least Republican candidate among their number to run for president? And hadn’t he spent his career so ignoring, insulting, and otherwise infuriating conservatives that he earned the nickname Maverick? That doesn’t sound so terrifying.

Oh, and the presidential election before Republicans actually managed to win. And the one before that. That doesn’t sound so isolated.

Also, haven’t more Republicans in the Senate crossed party lines to vote for Obama’s reckless initiatives than Democrats have voted the other way? In other words, which party is monolithic and demands suzerainty? Certainly, the media take it as given: they’ve declared President Obama a dictator (ever so benevolent, they would hasten to assure us). His filibuster-proof party majority in the Senate assures him absolute power, as if not a single Democrat would dare cross him or think an independent thought—which, admittedly, is probably true.

So, it would appear that Sen. Specter is indeed so full of s**t his eyes are brown. He liked to play maverick himself, and the voters in his party have finally had enough. Most men of principle would accept the consequences of their actions—no, all men of principle would.

Arlen Specter is a man of no principle. Hence President Obama’s warm remarks:

I’m thrilled to have Arlen in the Democratic caucus. I have told him that he will have my full support in the Democratic primary.

Today I have the honor of standing next to the newest Democrat from the state of Pennsylvania. I know the decision Senator Specter made yesterday wasn’t easy. It required long and careful consideration, and it required courage.

That’s the last trait you could ascribe to Sen. Specter—which is why this repellant, dishonest president chose it.

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Biden: Avoid Travel, Subways, Classrooms, Cars

He’s such a work of art.

- Aggie

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Underestimating His Suckiness

Not my best headline, but succinct.

Yesterday, I linked to a story which cited 17 lies in the first 100 days of the Obama presidency. That’s about one a week (with Sunday as a day of rest).

But others have been more dogged in their research, and have found a blunder a day:

1. “Obama criticized pork barrel spending in the form of ‘earmarks,’ urging changes in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals. Then he signed a spending bill that contains nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of Congress. ‘Let there be no doubt, this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability,’ Obama said.” — McClatchy, 3/11

2. “There is no doubt that we’ve been living beyond our means and we’re going to have to make some adjustments.” — Obama during the campaign.

3. This year’s budget deficit: $1.5 trillion.

4. Asks his Cabinet to cut costs in their departments by $100 million — a whopping .0027%!

5. “The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties.” — ABC News, 4/15

As the old song goes: 95 bottles of beer on the wall, 95 bottles of beer…

And don’t forget HotAir’s Obamateurism of the Day:

bama

There’s much to celebrate from the FBI’s first 100 days [sic].

If the FBI had this guy’s record of success, John Dillinger would still be knocking over banks.

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Air Iran

Except it’s not Iran at all—it’s Britian (big surprise):

Cheap British carrier BMI, which launched lines flying to Tel Aviv in March, deleted Israel from electronic maps presented to passengers on its flights so as not to offend Islam, Army Radio reported Thursday afternoon.

However, the orientation of Mecca, the direction to which Muslim face when they pray, is shown on the electronic screens. In the electronic maps presented on BMI flights to Tel Aviv, Israel or any of its cities are not marked, except for Haifa, which is spelled ‘Khefa,’ a transliteration of the Arab name of the city as it was called before 1948.

BMI operates many lines to Muslim destinations and presents the ‘Mecca Compass’ as a service to its many Muslim passengers. The company holds services from England to Syria, Lebanon and Iran, among other Muslim destinations.

Recently BMI signed an agreement with the Tourism Ministry in order to add Israel to its roster of destinations.

The company said in response that two planes flying to Tel Aviv were originally intended to arrive in Arab countries and therefore the map was tailored to the passengers and showed mainly sites holy to Muslims.

A “logistic failure” caused the map to be presented on the flight to Tel Aviv, a company statement said, and it will be removed from the planes flying to Tel Aviv. The company was making every effort not to hurt passengers’ feelings by adopting a nonpolitical position, the statement added.

I don’t have a problem with the “Mecca compass”: Mecca exists, and its location is significant to Muslims. But Tel Aviv exists, too (for now), and while it may not have the symbolic significance of Jerusalem, don’t its million-plus residents (for now) deserve a place on the map, even a Muslim one? Is it too much to ask a British airline to acknowledge geography?

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Listen Up, Eurotrash

Now, this is how to speak European:

A Foreign Ministry official has been warning European countries that unless they curtail criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, Israel will block the European Union from participating in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

The main target of the offensive is EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who recently called for a freeze in upgrading ties with Israel over its peace process policies.

Several days ago, the deputy director for Europe at the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, began calling European ambassadors in Israel regarding the attitude toward the new government. The first conversations were with France’s Jean-Michel Casa, Britain’s Tom Phillips and the Charge d’Affaires of the German embassy.

“For some weeks now, we have been telling everyone in Europe that Israel’s government needs time to reformulate policies, and not to begin a war in the press,” Barak told the diplomats.

He also noted that the European Union had not made an official decision on freezing the upgrading of ties, and therefore it was unclear what gave Ferrero-Waldner the authority to make her statements.

“We want the European Union to be a partner [in the diplomatic process] but it is important to hold a mature and discreet dialogue and not to resort to public declarations,” Barak told the diplomats.

Barak concluded by “warning” that Europe’s influence in the area would be undermined by such behavior. “Israel is asking Europe to lower the tone and conduct a discreet dialog,” he said. “However, if these declarations continue, Europe will not be able to be part of the diplomatic process, and both sides will lose.”

Translation: shutuppa you face. And a good thing, too.

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