Monday, January 25, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Just in case you missed these interesting little tidbits this weekend...

Obama endorses deficit commission plan
"... after November."

(More on this deficit commission.)

Naked airport scanner catches cellphone, misses bomb components
Get ready for body cavity searches.

Vocational classes can keep kids in school, on career path
... but we're afraid of appearing to discriminate.

An interesting older piece I came across: Why Martin Luther King Was Republican

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Future of Healthcare Reform

Unless you're living under a rock, you've surely heard that the GOP won Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat putting the Democrats one vote shy of a filibuster-proof super-majority.

The big question is what will happen with the healthcare reform bill(s). So far the options seem to be:

1) The House can pass the Senate bill as-is.
2) The Senate can employ the "nuclear option" and pass a conference bill with 51 votes.
3) The whole thing could die and go away as it did in the 90's.
4) The whole thing could start over with a GOP that can demand to be involved.

I fear we'll get 1 or 2. I deeply hope we get #4.

I really don't want #3. There are a lot of reasons why healthcare reform went away for more than a decade after the death of HillaryCare, but it was a mistake. It's not one we want to repeat.

Even if I don't get everything I want in reform (which is almost certain), Congress could do some real good if they'd drop the bickering, posturing, and ideological wishlists and tackle those issues most Americans can agree on.

We can get more people insured and lower the cost of insurance if we open up interstate insurance markets. We can create a pool for those who have problems getting health insurance that isn't a "public option." We can come down on those who look for a loophole to drop insurees after they get sick. We can reduce the cost of providing medical care by instituting some basic tort reforms.

We can improve our health care system without turning it upside down or making it an arm of the federal government. And we need to Congress that's exactly what we want.

Maybe now they'll listen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Headlines 1/19/10

N.J. Boy, 8, On Terrorism Watch List
Maybe if his dad reports him to the feds they'll let him on a plane.

White House budget director blames old computers for ineffective government
At least they're not blaming Bush this time.

Unions nab sweetheart health-care deal
One more ObamaCare bribe for the list.

World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown
How something "everyone knows" can be completely false.

US accused of 'occupying' Haiti as troops flood in
Yeah, just like they did in Malaysia.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Want Our Money Back

The Obama administration wants to tax banks to pay for the financial bailout, telling banks, "We want our money back."

Can we say that to Washington?

Anyway, some claim this is unfair. They're right.

They want to tax some banks — those meeting certain magic criteria — without asking if these banks have paid back or even ever received taxpayer funds.

But didn't all these banks benefit from the assistance to troubled banks? Probably. But does that make it right to ask you to pay a special tax to pay for actions of another you have no control over?

Would we accept this with individuals? No. Then we shouldn't accept such tortured logic with banks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unforced Error on Health Plan Tax

Big Labor is upset the Dems want to levy a tax on high-value health insurance plans. I'm just scratching my head over whether the Dems realize what they're doing.

On the one hand they say they want to tax "Cadillac" health plans (whatever that means) to discourage them, resulting (somehow) in lower health care costs for everyone.

On the other hand they want to pay for health care reform by taxing these health plans.

So which is it? Are we trying to get rid of them or use them for revenue? More importantly, how can we use them for revenue if we're trying to get rid of them? I'd say it's all an accounting gimmick, but I don't think they're bright enough to recognize the contradiction.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Terror is an Important Word

Conservatives have been attacking President Obama over his approach to terrorism and the war on terror.

Among other things, they're attacking his apparent unwillingness to use the words "terrorism," "war on terror," and, especially, "Islamic terrorists."

This unwillingness disturbs me because an important part of any mission is the goal. If you don't know what you're trying to accomplish, you can't even know what resources you need or what steps you must take.

In war, this is especially important. Who are we fighting? Why are we fighting them? Why are they fighting us? Where are they? How do we find them? What kind of weapons will they use? What kind of targets do they seek?

All of these questions and more require that we know exactly who and what we're fighting.

We are at war with a group that has no nation, but they are predominately found in a couple of particular parts of the world. They have a very distinct ideology that is taught in particular parts of the world. Their ideology makes them eager to die for their cause. They make no distinction between soldier and civilian. They see many of their own neighbors as part of the enemy.

They find the majority of their recruits not among the poor but disaffected middle and upper class young adults. They have no common race or nationality; what they share is ideology. Their goal is not land or money or power but the conversion or extermination of "infidels."

Does this describe Nazis or Soviets? Are these Irish terrorists or Latin American revolutionaries? Of course not.

Are we going to go on offense or simply react to their attacks? Can we cut off their supply lines or anticipate their targets?

Everything in this war depends on knowing who the enemy is.

We must name the enemy. Only then can we maintain focus, resist mission creep, and maintain the support of the populace.

Only then can we win.
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