Friday, August 21, 2009

Golden Tongue President With A Tin Ear!

I often get a lot of responses to what I write from fellow memo readers. I do not post them all but here are a few of recent vintage.

With respect to the response to my friend from his friend about 'clunkers' I would pose: If the "clunker" program is so good why not have the government fund more citizen comforts. We could start with kitchen equipment and appliances that are more energy efficient and lord (Obama) only knows where that could lead. Our economy could be humming with full employment.

And as I recently wrote, Constitutionally speaking, we have a right to demand the government to buy us arms to protect us from the government! (See 1 below.)

Then, is there an actual Constitutional issue regarding health care reform? (See 1a below.)

Outstanding article on Russia and why it is the way it is. A Must read by Richard Pipes! (See 2 below.)

Explanation of 'town hall meetings' and why the public anger. (See 3 below.)

Explaining Arlen Specter's role in supporting Obamascare - he wants to defeat any primary challenge. Being the good political prostitute Specter is, he willingly has aligned himself with Obamascare. (See 3a below.)

An 11 point Obamascare rebuttal by a doctor. You guessed right - we not only don't need it but would also suffer mightily from it. (See 4 below.)

Obama sucks eggs as Ramadam begins. Brothers in arms? (See 5 below.)

Our golden tongue president has a tin ear and The White House - home of the Obama whoppers. No not a baseball team either. (See 6 below.)

Black on black - Bob Herbert, a black op ed writer for the New York Times, goes after Obama. (See 7 below.)

A Blue Dog - Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla. - gets barked at. (See 8 below.)

Excerpt from an article extolling why small is beautiful and beware of bigness. (See 9 below.)


1) It's quite amazing - but earlier today, with re to today's parsha, I wrote almost exactly the same things you said in the beginning of your last night's comments. Moses tells the people that if they want a king once they're in the promised land, well, it's OK - but make sure the king doesn't amass wealth; instead he should spend time every day copying the LAW, the TORAH! Imagine that! If our leaders spent time copying our Constitution and Declaration, they might actually learn something! they'd have less time and money of ours to waste! they might learn to be succinct! they might learn that the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, & Bill of Rights say it all, in fewer words than any bill passed in the past 50? 100? years.


Oh yeah! He’s at it again. Turning the Office of the President into an opportunity to travel the globe on a 4-year vacation spree!

Let’s see…this week he was at the Grand Canyon and now he is in Martha’s Vineyard . And I thought we traveled a lot?

Obama bin Travelin’

We the people are coming

The following letter is rapidly circulating around the country. Americans everywhere identify with this 53-year-old woman. She has given us a voice.

I'm a home grown American citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer felt the Democratic Party represented my views or worked to pursue issues important to me. Now I no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. There must be someone. Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you're willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now. You might ask yourself what my views and issues are that I would horribly feel so disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me?

Well, these are briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:

One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I'm not a racist. This isn't to be confused with legal immigration.

Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.

Three: Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.

Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.

Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don't you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!

Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don't you start there?

Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don't trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello!!! Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.

Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why -- what do you have against shareholders making a profit?

Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.

Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we'll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band-Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let's have it. Let's say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try -- please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for.. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.

Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now. Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let's just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I'm busy. I'm busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the businesss of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same - all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.

From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making.

We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington . Our president often knows all the right buzzwords is unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don't want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we're morons.

We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented. You think we're so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work, pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you.

You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured.

They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have canceled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn't ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when he will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.

Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don't care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you.

You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired, and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are.

If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep, and we will replace the whole damn Congress if need be, one by one. We are coming. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.


Cash for Clunkers" hits the trifecta: bad economics, bad science, and bad government.

I couldn't disagree more vehemently, A.....

The above concept is the epitome of conservative, right wing bullshit.

The C4C program has been a huge success. I have a good friend who runs three car dealerships. He has sold more cars in the past two months than he has sold in a year. Most other auto dealers (except Hummer, Jeep, GMC, et al.) have expressed the same situations. The auto industry has hired back thousands of workers to keep up with the demand, their suppliers have hired back hundreds of workers and the finance companies are lending money out. The government has been so overwhelmed by the response that they have had to hire three times as many people to handle the demand and Congress allocated another two billion to keep things going until Monday.

Obama has only been in office for seven months, yet our auto industry has received a booster shot, States have received hundreds of millions for road projects which puts many construction workers back in the field, existing housing sales have had four months of growth (not seen since 2004), our soldiers in Iraq will soon be out of that mire, and there are other situations where progress has clearly been made.

But I do not wear rose colored glasses as there are other situations, Israel and illegal immigrants for example, where things are not quite so clear to me as to whether these situations will turn out to be in this country ' s best interests. Regardless, unbelievable accomplishments by any measure, in such a short period of time for an administration, given the burden and the mess inherited from the previous administration.

Yet although I am still on the sidelines on Obama as you know, because I want to give him a year to see what falls out, conservatives are already calling for his head. How fucked up!

Let's get back to a UNITED States and stop this divisiveness and hatred, which only benefits our enemies. If the conservatives succeed in their mission and our country becomes divided and falls, they will undoubtedly put the blame on Obama instead of looking at their own actions. Congress and citizenry need to act in a sense of brotherhood and take appropriate actions to let the world know that we are still the greatest country in the world... or that phrase will tragically cease to apply.



then there is: alankeyes.wmv(9318kb)

1a) Illegal Health Reform
By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey

President Obama has called for a serious and reasoned debate about his plans to overhaul the health-care system. Any such debate must include the question of whether it is constitutional for the federal government to adopt and implement the president's proposals. Consider one element known as the "individual mandate," which would require every American to have health insurance, if not through an employer then by individual purchase. This requirement would particularly affect young adults, who often choose to save the expense and go without coverage. Without the young to subsidize the old, a comprehensive national health system will not work. But can Congress require every American to buy health insurance?

In short, no. The Constitution assigns only limited, enumerated powers to Congress and none, including the power to regulate interstate commerce or to impose taxes, would support a federal mandate requiring anyone who is otherwise without health insurance to buy it.

Although the Supreme Court has interpreted Congress's commerce power expansively, this type of mandate would not pass muster even under the most aggressive commerce clause cases. In Wickard v. Filburn (1942), the court upheld a federal law regulating the national wheat markets. The law was drawn so broadly that wheat grown for consumption on individual farms also was regulated. Even though this rule reached purely local (rather than interstate) activity, the court reasoned that the consumption of homegrown wheat by individual farms would, in the aggregate, have a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce, and so was within Congress's reach.

The court reaffirmed this rationale in 2005 in Gonzales v. Raich, when it validated Congress's authority to regulate the home cultivation of marijuana for personal use. In doing so, however, the justices emphasized that -- as in the wheat case -- "the activities regulated by the [Controlled Substances Act] are quintessentially economic." That simply would not be true with regard to an individual health insurance mandate.

The otherwise uninsured would be required to buy coverage, not because they were even tangentially engaged in the "production, distribution or consumption of commodities," but for no other reason than that people without health insurance exist. The federal government does not have the power to regulate Americans simply because they are there. Significantly, in two key cases, United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (2000), the Supreme Court specifically rejected the proposition that the commerce clause allowed Congress to regulate noneconomic activities merely because, through a chain of causal effects, they might have an economic impact. These decisions reflect judicial recognition that the commerce clause is not infinitely elastic and that, by enumerating its powers, the framers denied Congress the type of general police power that is freely exercised by the states.

This leaves mandate supporters with few palatable options. Congress could attempt to condition some federal benefit on the acquisition of insurance. States, for example, usually condition issuance of a car registration on proof of automobile insurance, or on a sizable payment into an uninsured motorist fund. Even this, however, cannot achieve universal health coverage. No federal program or entitlement applies to the entire population, and it is difficult to conceive of a "benefit" that some part of the population would not choose to eschew.

The other obvious alternative is to use Congress's power to tax and spend. In an effort, perhaps, to anchor this mandate in that power, the Senate version of the individual mandate envisions that failure to comply would be met with a penalty, to be collected by the IRS. This arrangement, however, is not constitutional either.

Like the commerce power, the power to tax gives the federal government vast authority over the public, and it is well settled that Congress can impose a tax for regulatory rather than purely revenue-raising purposes. Yet Congress cannot use its power to tax solely as a means of controlling conduct that it could not otherwise reach through the commerce clause or any other constitutional provision. In the 1922 case Bailey v. Drexel Furniture, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could not impose a "tax" to penalize conduct (the utilization of child labor) it could not also regulate under the commerce clause. Although the court's interpretation of the commerce power's breadth has changed since that time, it has not repudiated the fundamental principle that Congress cannot use a tax to regulate conduct that is otherwise indisputably beyond its regulatory power.

Of course, these constitutional impediments can be avoided if Congress is willing to raise corporate and/or income taxes enough to fund fully a new national health system. Absent this politically dangerous -- and therefore unlikely -- scenario, advocates of universal health coverage must accept that Congress's power, like that of the other branches, has limits. These limits apply regardless of how important the issue may be, and neither Congress nor the president can take constitutional short cuts. The genius of our system is that, no matter how convinced our elected officials may be that certain measures are in the public interest, their goals can be accomplished only in accord with the powers and processes the Constitution mandates, processes that inevitably make them accountable to the American people.

The writers are partners in the D.C. office of Baker Hostetler LLP and served in the Justice Department under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

2)Pride and Power: Russia is caught between continents and haunted by its past. Richard Pipes on the need to convince a nation to dial back its aggressive tendencies and join the West.

Russia is obsessed with being recognized as a "Great Power." She has felt as one since the 17th century, after having conquered Siberia, but especially since her victory in World War II over Germany and the success in sending the first human into space. It costs nothing to defer to her claims to such exalted status, to show her respect, to listen to her wishes. From this point of view, the recent remarks about Russia by Vice President Joe Biden in an interview with this newspaper were both gratuitous and harmful. "Russia has to make some very difficult calculated decisions," he said. "They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years."

These remarks are not inaccurate but stating them publicly serves no purpose other than to humiliate Russia. The trends the vice president described will likely make Russia more open to cooperating with the West, Mr. Biden suggested. It is significant that when our secretary of state tried promptly to repair the damage which Mr. Biden's words had caused, Izvestiia, a leading Russian daily, proudly announced in a headline, "Hillary Clinton acknowledges Russia as a Great Power."

Russia's influence on world affairs derives not from her economic power or cultural authority but her unique geopolitical location. She is not only the world's largest state with the world's longest frontier, but she dominates the Eurasian land mass, touching directly on three major regions: Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. This situation enables her to exploit to her advantage crises that occur in the most populous and strategic areas of the globe. For this reason, she is and will remain a major player in world politics.

Opinion polls indicate that most Russians regret the passing of the Soviet Union and feel nostalgia for Stalin. Of course, they miss not the repression of human rights which occurred under Communism nor the miserable standards of living but the status of their country as a force to be reckoned with: a country to be respected and feared. Under present conditions, the easiest way for them to achieve this objective is to say "no" to the one undeniable superpower, the United States. This accounts for their refusal to deal more effectively with Iran, for example, or their outrage at America's proposal to install rocket defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Their media delight in reporting any negative news about the United States, especially the dollar, which they predict will soon be worthless (even as their central bank holds $120 billion or 30% of its reserves in dollar-denominated U.S. securities).

One unfortunate consequence of the obsession with "great power" status is that it leads Russians to neglect the internal conditions in their country. And here there is much to be done. To begin with: the economy. The Russian aggression against Georgia has cost it dearly in terms of capital flight. Due to the decline in the global prices of energy, which constitute around 70% of Russian exports, exports in the first half of 2009 have fallen by 47%. The stock market, which suffered a disastrous decline in 2008, has recovered, and the ruble has held steady, but the hard currency reserves are melting and the future does not look promising: The latest statistics indicate that Russia's GDP this year will fall by 7%. It is this that has prompted President Dmitry Medvedev recently to demand that Russia carry out a major restructuring of her economy and end her heavy reliance on energy exports. "Russia needs to move forward," he told a gathering of parliamentary party leaders, "and this movement so far does not exist. We are marking time and this was clearly demonstrated by the crisis... as soon as the crisis occurred, we collapsed. And we collapsed more than many other countries."

One of the major obstacles to conducting business in Russia is the all-pervasive corruption. Because the government plays such an immense role in the country's economy, controlling some of its most important sectors, little can be done without bribing officials. A recent survey by Russia's Ministry of the Interior revealed, without any apparent embarrassment, that the average amount of a bribe this year has nearly tripled compared to the previous year, amounting to more than 27,000 rubles or nearly $1,000. To make matters worse, businesses cannot rely on courts to settle their claims and disputes, and in extreme cases resort to arbitration.

The political situation may appear to a foreigner inculcated with Western values as incomprehensible. Democratic institutions, while not totally suppressed, play little role in the conduct of affairs defined by the leading ideologist of the regime as "sovereign democracy." Indeed, President Medvedev has publicly declared his opposition to "parliamentary democracy" on the grounds that it would destroy Russia.

A single party, One Russia, virtually monopolizes power, assisted by the Communists and a couple of minor affiliates. Parliamentary bodies duly pass all bills presented to them by the government. Television, the main source of news for the vast country, is monopolized by the state. One lonely radio station and a few low-circulation newspapers are allowed freedom of expression in order to silence dissident intellectuals. And yet, the population at large seems not to mind this political arrangement—an acquiescence which runs contrary to the Western belief that all people crave the right to choose and direct their government.

The solution of the puzzle lies in the fact that during their 1,000-year old history of statehood, the Russians have virtually never been given the opportunity to elect their government or to influence its actions. As a result of this experience, they have become thoroughly depoliticized. They do not see what positive influence the government can have on their lives: They believe that they have to fend for themselves. Yes, they will gladly accept social services if offered, as they had been under the Soviet government, but they do not expect them. They hardly feel themselves to be citizens of a great state, but confine their loyalties to their immediate families and friends and the locality which they inhabit. From opinion polls it emerges that they believe democracy everywhere to be a sham, that all governments are run by crooks who use their power to enrich themselves. What they demand of the authorities is that they maintain order: when asked what is more important to them—"order" or "freedom"—the inhabitants of the province of Voronezh overwhelmingly expressed preference for "order." Indeed, they identify political freedom, i.e., democracy, with anarchy and crime. Which explains why the population at large, except for the well-educated, urban minority, expresses no dismay at the repression of its political rights.

One aspect of the "great power" syndrome is imperialism. In 1991, Russia lost her empire, the last remaining in the world, as all her colonies, previously disguised as "union republics" separated themselves to form sovereign states. This imperial collapse was a traumatic experience to which most Russians still cannot adjust themselves. The reason for this lies in their history. England, France, Spain and the other European imperial powers formed their empires overseas and did so after creating national states: As a result, they never confused their imperial possessions with the mother country. Hence, the departure of the colonies was for them relatively easy to bear. Not so in the case of Russia. Here, the conquest of the empire occurred concurrently with the formation of the nation-state: Furthermore, there was no ocean to separate the colonies. As a result, the loss of empire caused confusion in the Russians' sense of national identity. They have great difficulty acknowledging that the Ukraine, the cradle of their state, is now a sovereign republic and fantasize about the day when it will reunite with Mother Russia. They find it only slightly less difficult to acknowledge the sovereign status of Georgia, a small state that has been Russian for over two centuries. The imperial complex underpins much of Russia's foreign policy.

These imperial ambitions have received fresh expression from a bill which President Medvedev has submitted in mid-August to parliament. It would revise the existing Law of Defense which authorizes the Russian military to act only in response to foreign aggression. The new law would allow them to act also "to return or prevent aggression against another state" and "to protect citizens of the Russian Federation abroad." It is easy to see how incidents could be provoked under this law that would allow Russian forces to intervene outside their borders.

How does one deal with such a difficult yet weighty neighbor, a neighbor who can cause no end of mischief if it becomes truly obstreperous? It seems to me that foreign powers ought to treat Russia on two distinct levels: one, which takes into consideration her sensitivities; the other, which responds to her aggressiveness.

We are right in objecting strenuously to Russia treating her one-time colonial possessions not as sovereign countries but dependencies lying in her "privileged zone of influence." Even so, we should be aware of their sensitivity to introducing Western military forces so close to her borders. The Russian government and the majority of its citizens regard NATO as a hostile alliance. One should, therefore, be exceedingly careful in avoiding any measures that would convey the impression that we are trying militarily to "encircle" the Russian Federation. After all, we Americans, with our Monroe Doctrine and violent reaction to Russian military penetration into Cuba or any other region of the American continent, should well understand Moscow's reaction to NATO initiatives along its borders.

.This said, a line must be drawn between gentle manners and the hard realities of politics. We should not acquiesce in Russia treating the countries of her "near abroad" as satellites and we acted correctly in protesting last year's invasion of Georgia. We should not allow Moscow a veto over the projected installation of our anti-rocket defenses in Poland the Czech Republic, done with the consent of their governments and meant to protect us against a future Iranian threat. These interceptors and radar systems present not the slightest threat to Russia, as confirmed publicly by Russian general Vladimir Dvorkin, an officer with long service in his country's strategic forces. The only reason Moscow objects to them is that it considers Poland and the Czech Republic to lie within its "sphere of influence."

Today's Russians are disoriented: they do not quite know who they are and where they belong. They are not European: This is attested to by Russian citizens who, when asked. "Do you feel European?" by a majority of 56% to 12% respond "practically never." Since they are clearly not Asian either, they find themselves in a psychological limbo, isolated from the rest of the world and uncertain what model to adopt for themselves. They try to make up for this confusion with tough talk and tough actions. For this reason, it is incumbent on the Western powers patiently to convince Russians that they belong to the West and should adopt Western institutions and values: democracy, multi-party system, rule of law, freedom of speech and press, respect for private property. This will be a painful process, especially if the Russian government refuses to cooperate. But, in the long run, it is the only way to curb Russia's aggressiveness and integrate her into the global community.

Richard Pipes is Frank B. Baird Jr. professor of history, emeritus, at Harvard University. In 1981 and 1982 he served as Director of East European and Soviet Affairs in President Reagan's National Security Council.

3) Explaining the Town-Hall Protests: Our 1.1 million signers include cancer survivors, seniors, and others who are very well informed

‘They’re un-American,” says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “They’re spreading lies and distortions,” says senior White House adviser David Axelrod. They are “being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies,” says the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

"They," as you probably guessed, are the concerned citizens who've shown up at town-hall meetings across the country to express their displeasure over what President Barack Obama and the Democrats are about to do to our health-care system. But who are they really? What motivates them? And why are they so angry?

I believe my colleagues and I are in an excellent position to answer those questions. For the past two months the National Center for Policy Analysis (the think tank I run) and Salem Communications (which employees such talk-show hosts as Mike Gallagher, Bill Bennett and Michael Medved) have been sponsoring an online petition at for those who wish to express their opposition to nationalized health care. In the process we've collected more than 1.1 million signatures and we're in email communication with many on a weekly basis.

These are a very diverse group of people. Some of them are part of a 40,000-person network of former Obama supporters who are experiencing buyer's remorse. Others are part of various disease networks, including patients concerned about the future of cancer care. There are networks of senior citizens worried about cuts in Medicare and the possible closing of their private Medicare insurance plans. There are Christian conservatives worried about taxpayer-funded abortions and subsidies for euthanasia. And there are an enormous number of people who are simply concerned about their health care.

For the most part, these individuals are not funded or organized by anybody. They really are grass roots. Sure, there may be a few top-down "astroturf" groups and some special-interest groups that are secretly gleeful. But there is no way the kind of spontaneous outpouring we've witnessed could be bought or organized by anyone.

Why are they so angry? The reasons are manifold, but the single biggest reason is the arrogance of our elected officials in Washington. Think about it. For the past seven months a small group of politicians has been meeting behind-closed-doors with powerful special interests to decide whether you will be able to keep your current insurance, where you will be directed to get new insurance and at what price, what fines you and your employer will have to pay if you don't conform, and how they're going to get your doctor to change the way he or she practices medicine. In the process, they never asked you what you thought about anything. If you are not mad about this, odds are you don't understand the situation.

Remember, according to a Fox News poll conducted last month, 84% of Americans rate the quality of their insurance as "excellent" or "good." When they voted for Mr. Obama for president, they thought "universal care" meant helping some unfortunate Americans obtain insurance they cannot otherwise afford. Not once did candidate Obama say he was going to make changes that affected them and their health care. In fact, he promised the opposite.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration is pulling out all the stops for its "public option." While the mainstream media generally fail to cover it, at least once a week a message on health care goes out from the president, his staff, or someone from the DNC to 13 million Americans. These messages convey talking points defending the bills in Congress, attacking points aimed at critics, and suggested "to dos" for the faithful.

To counteract that, my colleagues and I have used talk radio and the Internet to send out counter messages, using material that has previously been posted at John Goodman's Health Policy Blog—where everything is vetted in the clear light of day by policy wonks on the left and the right. We pride ourselves on being accurate and believe we're far more accurate than the White House on the issues.

Indeed, most opponents of ObamaCare are much better informed than is commonly believed. At a typical town-hall meeting, the citizens are usually better versed on the Obama plan than the member of Congress. Some have actually read the 1,000-plus page House bill (HR3200), which most representatives have definitely not read. In my opinion, Mr. Obama is losing the health-care debate because his critics are better informed than his defenders.

He is also losing because of the off-handed way he discusses matters that are deeply personal and very important. For example, it was Mr. Obama—not the critics—who first brought up the issue of giving people less health care. It was the president who mused on whether his grandmother really needed a hip replacement. It was the president who casually said that sometimes "you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the pain killer."

Before the American Medical Association, he told the doctors we have too many tests, too many exams, too much of everything. In an off-the-cuff answer to a question on ABC's nationally televised White House infomercial, the president said we're only talking about people giving up care that is "unnecessary." Yet no patient, no doctor, not even the most liberal person in the country thinks the government can pull that off without a glitch.

In truth, there is a deadly serious issue here: How do you get rid of waste and inefficiency without denying people care they really need? The answer is not easy. No other country has found it. And if the president wants to tackle this challenge he, not his opponents, bears the burden of proof to show how that will work.

Yet far from accepting this responsibility, the White House is ducking the issue. For example, they have chosen to scapegoat the insurance industry, making them out to be the villains in the health-care debate. These are the very same companies that have been negotiating with the administration behind closed doors in good faith, and are even spending millions of dollars on television ads supporting health reform.

The new tactics it is employing show the White House is completely out of touch with the American people. Those who attend town-hall meetings know they are not being organized or funded by anyone. And when the administration attacks their character and their motives and intentionally distorts the truth, it only adds to the anger people already feel.

Mr. Goodman is president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

3a)Arlen Specter's Dilemma: How the former GOP senator became a salesman for ObamaCare

I'm out there fighting for President Obama's health-care plan, and nobody in the Democratic caucus has been out there with four town-hall meetings. I put my neck on the line. —Sen. Arlen Specter

Pugnacious and aggressive, Arlen Specter has an approach to town-hall meetings that makes for interesting video highlights. One clip on the Web shows him going toe to toe with a constituent who warns him that some day he'll have to account for his decisions in front of God. Voters can also watch him being booed after admitting he doesn't read every page of legislation he votes for and desperately pushing back against a tide of anger by telling jeering constituents to "hold on."

But the line he delivered nearly two weeks ago about defending the president's health-care plans is the most revealing. The senator isn't so much out of touch as he is intent on grabbing hold of health-care reform in hopes of winning his Democratic primary next year.

The next several months will determine whether he is right to believe that close association with an issue popular with core Democrats will save him. But the tide of public opinion has been shifting of late, which poses a potentially dangerous dilemma for the five-term senator in the 2010 general election.

Mr. Specter switched parties in April when polls showed he'd lose the GOP primary to Pat Toomey, a former congressman and president of the Club for Growth. And now conservatives in his former party, upset over Mr. Specter's support of the $787 billion stimulus package and his general agreement with Washington's big spending, have been energetically organizing to take their revenge.

Mr. Toomey's challenge initially caused some angst among Republicans. When he announced in April his plans to run, the GOP was still reeling from November losses and worrying about being too conservative. Mr. Specter was one of the few Republicans still in power northeast of the Mason-Dixon line. Yet in a few short months, polls, fund raising and endorsements have turned in Mr. Toomey's favor. The issues most on voters' minds—spending, taxes, the economy and health care—play to his strengths as well.

Even before the town halls began, Jane Peronteau, a 44-year-old Republican in East Vincent Township, Pa., had "high hopes" for Mr. Toomey. Mr. Specter was a "big disappointment," she told me. "I wasn't a fan of his before, but I voted party." Now she has no plans "whatsoever" to support him.

I interviewed her last month at a picnic sponsored by the Chester County Young Republicans. She and about 80 others turned out to hear Mr. Toomey. Her comments foreshadowed what would be heard in this month's town halls. "I'd like to see a push on economic issues right now," she said. As a libertarian, Ms. Peronteau would also prefer conservatives to ease up on social issues—a common refrain among Republicans outside Philadelphia, including party leaders.

Bob Asher, a national committeeman from southeast Pennsylvania, agrees. He told me, "The party has to moderate to the point where we appeal to people in the suburbs—and we were harmed all over the country, not just in the Philadelphia suburbs."

At the picnic, Mr. Toomey railed against government bailouts and spending on a "breathtaking scale." He warned of coming tax increases, a pending government takeover of health care, and of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow unions to organize employees without secret-ballot elections. He also said that while the Obama agenda is cause for despair for conservatives, it also opens a door for Republicans.

"This lurch to the left is unacceptable to voters, including lots of Democrats and an overwhelming number of independents," he told the crowd. "This wildly ambitious agenda is their Achilles' heel—and our opportunity."

Indeed, what is different this time is that Democrats in Congress are going out of their way to provide grist for Mr. Toomey's mill—cooking up thousand-page, trillion-dollar helpings of reform and bailouts, and pushing health-care legislation that's driving independents into the GOP camp.

The most recent Rasmussen poll shows Mr. Toomey leading Mr. Specter, 48%-36% among likely voters. Just two months ago, Mr. Specter was up, 50%-39%. The same poll has Mr. Toomey beating Mr. Specter's Democratic primary opponent, Congressman Joe Sestak of the 7th district in suburban Philadelphia, in a general election matchup, 43%-35%. In June, Mr. Sestak led Mr. Toomey 41%-35%.

In the second quarter of this year, Mr. Toomey raised $1.6 million, just shy of the $1.73 million raised by Mr. Specter. GOP leaders have taken notice. Last month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsed Mr. Toomey, a switch from its early stand-offishness. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and others encouraged Tom Ridge, the former governor and first director of the federal Department of Homeland Security, to run for the seat. But Mr. Ridge took a pass, and no other serious candidate emerged.

The GOP unity is in part due to Mr. Toomey, who has spent months building bridges within the party, and in part due to the political environment. In 2005, state legislators rammed through a pay raise for themselves that unleashed a torrent of voter hostility, costing some lawmakers their seats in 2006. Now no Republican wants to be on the wrong side of a tax-and-spend issue—which is one reason state senate Republicans killed a Democratic income tax hike this summer.

All of this presents Mr. Specter with a dilemma. To be on the ballot in November, he has to first win over Democratic primary voters who have doubts about his loyalties. He's apparently decided that the best way to burnish his liberal bona fides is to become the face of ObamaCare in the state, in order to win the affection of core liberal Democrats.

What this means, at least for now, is that Messrs. Specter and Sestak will go on pushing each other to the left to win their primary election. Meanwhile, Mr. Toomey is free to focus on his general election campaign by working to unite his party and win over Democrats and independents who are wondering whether all the "change" they are seeing coming out of Washington is good for their pocketbooks, or the nation's economic future.

Mr. Ferris is a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

4) Obamacare-Point and Counterpoint
By Frank S. Rosenbloom, M.D.

Mr. Obama has gone back on the campaign trail to try to sell his health care reform to the nation. Mostly hand-picked, sympathetic attendees have been showing up to his town hall meetings. He continues to make the same points regarding health care reform, which need to be addressed specifically. I hope to address more in future articles.

1. We need health care reform.
We do not need health care reform. We have the best health care system in the world. We need health insurance reform.

2. Free market health insurance has caused our current problem.
It is the government that has caused the current problem. We have not had free market health insurance in this country since 1965. It is not possible to consider our system of medical payment free market when the government controls $.60 of every dollar spent on health care.

3. The evil and greedy health insurance companies have caused prices to skyrocket.
Again, it's the government that has caused prices to skyrocket. Medicare and Medicaid are the 800 pound gorilla and insurance companies are the fleas on the gorilla. Nothing can be done by the private insurance companies that has not been done by Medicare and Medicaid. The federal government opens the door and the private insurance companies follow. It is the government manipulation of the free market that has caused our current health insurance problem. The out of control medical costs in Britain and Canada, as well as in Massachusetts and other states that have tried government health care prove this point.

4. Nearly 50 million Americans are without health care.
Nearly 13 million Americans are without health insurance. No one in the United States is without health care. Government regulations prohibit patients from being turned away from hospitals, which must provide medical care to anyone. The huge number that the Obama administration has used is highly inflated.

5. A government option will lower costs and improve quality of care.
A government option will increase costs and reduce quality of care. In every instance so far government involvement in medical services has caused prices to increase. Medicare spending has increased at a rate greater than 10 times that which was projected. Medicare and Medicaid will be broke in less than nine years. Adding another entitlement program will cause economic disaster. The Congressional Office of Management and Budget has stated that the president's plan is unaffordable. Further, the necessary rationing in order to even begin the program will reduce quality of care.

6. If you like your insurance and your doctor you can keep them.
The same things were said at the inception of Medicare. Medicare was supposed to be a supplemental insurance plan for retired people. It now covers the disabled as well and those over the age of 65, who are now ineligible for any other type of primary medical insurance. The government option will become the only option. Therefore, it's not an option and in the end hospitals, doctors, and all health care companies will be working directly and only for the government.

7. Government medical insurance is more cost efficient.
Government medical insurance is less efficient. The government, by force of law, transfers administrative costs to the private sector. Hospitals and doctors' offices must assume the burden of administration under threat of criminal penalty. This unfunded administrative burden transferred to private individuals and private insurance is then added to the cost of the supposedly free-market healthcare system.

8. The government option is necessary in order to prevent loss of insurance by individuals with medical problems.
Government regulations make it mandatory for hospitals to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. The government can certainly pass a simple regulation making it illegal for medical insurance plans to be canceled due to illness on the part of the insured. This would be a simple solution but of course would not increase government control over our lives.

9. The government option would ensure treatment for sick individuals who would otherwise have lost health care insurance. It would prevent lifetime limits on medical care.
This is blatantly untrue. There are definitive limits to Medicare that are not being publicized. For example, a review of Medicare regulations shows it will pay up to a maximum of 90 days in the hospital for each medical incident. After that, a patient must be in a rehabilitation facility for 60 days in a row in order for Medicare to begin another cycle of payment. Similarly, there are limits on most other Medicare services. While private medical insurance may have a total lifetime limit on the amount that can be spent, there is almost never a limit on the number of days in the hospital.

10. A government option will not result in rationing.
The major government options already in existence employ rationing every day. Prohibitively difficult preauthorization, statements of medical necessity, convoluted and complicated paperwork, and often impossible to meet requirements result in rationing on a huge scale. Furthermore, delay in payment, denial of payment for services already rendered and other tactics reduce access to medical care on a widespread basis. The government may not call this rationing but it is an insidious form of rationing that will be an integral part of any government plan. Medicare misuses and abuses its funding and is guilty of literally stealing from hospitals and physicians.

As an example of this thievery, due to a change in the corporate status of my practice I was required to apply for a new national provider identification number (NPI) in March of this year. Within several weeks, without exception, all of the private insurance companies had registered the number and were paying on claims. After five months and exhaustive work of over 140 hours by my office staff Medicare and Medicaid had still not paid on a single claim. Finally, on August 14, Medicare made their first payment on claims that were five months old. Yet, if we do not bill Medicare within three months of the date of service, Medicare will not pay us at all. Government regulation and control permeates the entire medical system.

11. A government option will simplify the payment for medical services.
The government has always made things more complicated and expensive. This is part of their rationing system. The government has a habit of requiring new provider numbers every couple of years that must be used for all claims, including private insurance claims. When these are instituted, payment can be delayed for as long as six months. To see how "simple" the federal government makes medical claims, what follows are my required identification numbers.

UPIN #G16766


Medicare#R0000BLCGY (PTAN) OLD

Medicare # R147304

(PTAN) **NEW** R147303

Railroad Medicare#110162014

NEW Tax ID # 264520277

OLD Tax ID# 911768627

DEA # BRxxxxxxx (Hidden to prevent use)

Clia# 38D0933946

NPI# 1306924691 (individual)

NPI Group # 1235371485

Every point the president has made regarding his health plan is either a gross misrepresentation or an outright lie. The purpose of this plan is to ensure dependence on government and a financial windfall for his cronies, including trial lawyers, and has nothing to do with concern about the cost of medical care or about the health or lives of American citizens.

5)Obama marks beginning of Ramadan: US president records video message promising to forge new relationship between US and Muslims

President Barack Obama on Friday paid homage to the Muslim Ramadan and cast US military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of his drive to forge a new relationship between America and the Muslim world.

Defense establishment to ease restrictions on West Bank population during month of Ramadan, which begins Saturday. Troops instructed to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public

In a video message to Muslims getting ready for the Islamic holy month, Obama said US efforts to end the war in Iraq and to isolate extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan are in keeping with America's responsibility to build a more peaceful and secure world.

He said that also includes US support for a two-state solution recognizing the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security.

"All of these efforts are part of America's commitment to engage Muslims and Muslim-majority nations on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said in the message posted on the White House Web site. "And at this time of renewal, I want to reiterate my commitment to a new beginning between America and Muslims around the world."

Ramadan, a monthlong period of prayer, reflection and sunrise-to-sunset fasts, begins Saturday in most of the Islamic world.

Obama said Ramadan's rituals are a reminder of the principles Muslims and Christians have in common, including advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

Obama has made a special effort since taking office to repair U.S. relations with the world's Muslims, including visits to Turkey and Cairo. Obama's visit to the Egyptian capital in June fulfilled his promise to deliver a speech in a major Muslim city.

In that speech, as well as in one to another important Muslim audience, in Turkey, Obama said: "America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam."

6) Death of a Salesman: The more Obama talks about health care, the lower his approval rating goes.
By Fred Barnes

Between July 20 and July 30, President Obama was a busy man, barely out of the public eye while campaigning furiously for his health care initiative. He did four town hall events, spoke at two hospitals, delivered a radio address, was interviewed on two network TV news shows, and held a prime time press conference--all devoted to promoting his health care plan. On this issue as on no other, Obama personally took his case to the people.

Something else occurred during that time frame. The president's job approval rating fell 9 points, from 61 percent to 52 percent in the Gallup Poll. This was an unusually precipitous decline from which Obama hasn't recovered. In mid-August, after more weeks of barnstorming for his health care program, his approval rating remained in the low 50s. Only Bill Clinton among recent presidents had a lower approval after seven months in office.

For Obama, there's still worse news. Not only has he lost ground, but public support for his health care proposal has collapsed to the point that a majority of Americans prefer no reform at all to his plan. And the more he stumps for it, the less support it attracts. Rather than a peripheral phenomenon, the noisy opposition in congressional town hall meetings turns out to be a reflection of the deep national suspicion of Obamacare.

Two conclusions are inescapable. The first is that Obama is not Mr. Persuasive, a compelling orator like FDR, swaying public opinion with his words. Quite the contrary, he has failed to sustain public backing for his economic stimulus package, his decision to shut down Guantánamo, his proposed spending, the takeover of General Motors, bailouts in general, and now health care reform.

Health care is the big one for Obama, his signature program, the one that's most far-reaching and politically important. It's the real test of Obama. If he can't persuade the country to back it--and so far he's failed miserably--then he's not the spellbinding speaker or the master politician he's been cracked up to be. Yet the media won't acknowledge his failures. In the Washington Post on August 15, reporter Michael D. Shear wrote that Obama's "popularity and powers of persuasion may well make him the reform effort's most effective spokesman." If Shear is correct, then Obamacare is dead.

There's a corollary. The impulse at the White House to rely on Obama as salesman-in-chief, to put him on the road, is surely mistaken. For him, the bully pulpit has limited utility. In fact, presidential scholar George C. Edwards III argued in his book On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit that presidential speechmaking no longer moves public sentiment.

The second conclusion to draw is that Obama has been dragged down by his health care policy. The more he's identified himself with it, the less the public likes him. There's nothing irrational about this. Why should people without a partisan allegiance to Obama hang with him when they dislike his signature policy? There's no good reason.

Besides, it shows the public is paying serious attention to a national issue. This doesn't happen often. Democrats and Obamaphiles may not like the drift of the debate over health care, but it was Obama who prompted it. Now it's exposed his lack of persuasiveness.

What's wrong with Obama's rhetoric on health care? For one thing, he's lost control of his own message. He's all over the lot, one day zinging health insurers, the next blaming Republicans for impeding his plan, a day later suggesting that God wants his health care bill to pass Congress. More often than not, he plays defense, responding to what he says are false notions about his plan.

Yet his basic pitch is stale and uninteresting. You could argue this isn't true for the people at his town halls far from Washington. But you'd be wrong. He's been on TV so much that the folks who came to see him in New Hampshire, Montana, and Colorado--states he visited in mid-August--had already heard his spiel, probably more than once. Even some in the press won't stand for it anymore. They've finally begun to take note of the dubious assertions he repeats over and over and over.

He's suffering from a hardy perennial of presidential ailments: overexposure. Obama had four prime time press conferences in his first six months. George W. Bush had four in eight years. FDR, who actually was a great communicator, delivered fireside chats on radio every five or six months.

In our televised age, the public quickly grows tired of political leaders. When Obama spent a half inning in the broadcast booth at the baseball All-Star game in St. Louis on July 14, he was pressing his luck. Americans routinely boo politicians when they're introduced at sports events, where they don't belong. This is a healthy habit that Obama and his entourage may be unaware of.

Being president isn't easy. A candidate can get away with speeches that are glib and vague. A president can't. "It's easy to sell ice cream," says Don Stewart, the spokesman for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. "It's hard to sell rum raisin ice cream." Obama's problem is he hasn't learned the difference.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

6a) Obama's Health Care Whopper is Bigger
By Robert Robb

Health care reform supporters claim they are losing public support because of lies and distortions told by opponents designed to scare people.

There's some of that going on. But the most consequential misrepresentation in the health care debate is actually being told by President Barack Obama and other supporters.

The lie supporters most resent, and with good reason, is that the health care reform bills have death panels or provisions to encourage euthanasia for the old and infirmed. Instead, there was a provision to provide end-of-life counseling services.

There's reason to doubt that government should be paying for or involved in such services, but the country needs to continue to have a grown-up discussion about end-of-life issues. The hospice movement is one of the most blessed developments of our time, allowing people to die with dignity in their own homes rather than in an impersonal, and expensive, hospital bed.

The old and infirmed have reason for worry about health care reform, however. One of the premises of the effort is that the amount of overall health care expenditures in this country is a concern for the federal government. Virtually all the countries that are supposedly our betters in containing health care costs limit access to some medical procedures on the basis of age and infirmity.

There are not explicit provisions for such rationing in the current health care reform bills. But there are the mechanisms put in place - government panels to determine benefit packages and medical cost-effectiveness - for such. Moreover, the bills don't fundamentally change the economic incentives driving costs - third-party payers for even routine expenses - so rationing is the only practical way cost-containment will happen.

The alleged distortion that most concerns supporters is that the Obama reform constitutes "government-run" health care. Obama protests that's not true. He has a point, but not much of one.

The heart of the Obama reform, supported by virtually all congressional Democrats, is to treat health insurance companies as national public utilities. The federal government would determine the benefit packages they could offer. Pricing decisions would be strictly limited and profits capped.

An essential element of the reform is also a mandate that people purchase health insurance. If the federal government is requiring people to purchase health insurance, you can bet that politicians and bureaucrats will increasingly treat health insurance companies as federal subsidiaries, feeling free, even obligated, to meddle in every aspect of what they do.

And then there is the public option, which would be government-run health care. The notion that such an entity can exist without the government showing such favoritism that private competitors eventually die out defies logic and history.

So, the accurate way to frame the opposition point is that the Democrats are proposing extensive government control of health care, which may lead to government-run health care.

The most consequential misrepresentation in the health care debate is when Obama and other supporters claim that if people like their doctor and their insurance plan, they will get to keep them. The reason for the heavy stress on that reassurance is the belief that health care reform that jeopardizes what people currently have isn't going anywhere.

The promise is false, however, even by the terms of the committee bills. Existing plans are grandfathered in, but only for five years. After that, they have to meet the new federal mandates, whatever they turn out to be. In the interim, they can accept no new enrollees.

More fundamentally, the Obama reforms completely scramble the health care market. There will be new governmental mandates, huge new individual subsidies and different tax treatments. What employers will offer after everything is scrambled up and resettles is entirely unknowable.

Simply put, the health care coverage people currently have would be subject to considerable change. An honest health care debate would acknowledge that.

7) Voices of Anxiety

Barack Obama is a guy who is easy to underestimate. Six years ago hardly anyone outside of Illinois had ever heard of him. Now he’s America’s first Zen-master president.

On Thursday, he made a jocular reference to the tendency of pundits and others to declare periodically that he’s off his game and headed for disaster. He noted that in August 2008, with his poll numbers wavering and the Republicans energized by the addition of Sarah Palin to the national ticket, a lot of people were convinced that, as he put it, “Obama’s lost his mojo.”

“You remember all that?” he asked, smiling. “There is something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up.”

Wee-weed up? I don’t know what that means, but the president seemed pretty relaxed when he said it. This was the same day that he went on a radio program and did his Joe Namath routine, guaranteeing that health care reform would get done.

The president may be sanguine, but the same cannot be said of the general public, including some of Mr. Obama’s most ardent supporters. The American people are worried sick over the economy, which may be sprouting green shoots from Ben Bernanke’s lofty perspective but not from the humble standpoint of the many millions who are unemployed, or those who are still working but barely able to pay their bills and hold onto their homes.

This is the reality that underlies the anxiety over the president’s ragged effort to achieve health care reform. Forget the certifiables who are scrawling Hitler mustaches on pictures of the president. Many sane and intelligent people who voted for Mr. Obama and sincerely want him to succeed have legitimate concerns about the timing of this health reform initiative and the way it is unfolding.

The president has not made it clear to the general public why health care reform is his top domestic priority when the biggest issue on the minds of most Americans is the economy. Men and women who once felt themselves to be securely rooted in the middle or upper middle classes are now struggling with pay cuts, job losses and home foreclosures — and they don’t feel, despite the rhetoric about the recession winding down, that their prospects are good.

People worried about holding on to their standard of living need to be assured, unambiguously, that an expensive new government program is in their — and the country’s — best interest. They need to know exactly how the program will work, and they need to be confident that it’s affordable.

Mr. Obama, who has a command of the English language like few others, has been remarkably opaque about his intentions regarding health care. He left it up to Congress to draft a plan and he has not gotten behind any specific legislation. He has seemed to waffle on the public option and has not been at all clear about how the reform that is coming will rein in runaway costs. At times it has seemed as though any old “reform” would be all right with him.

It’s still early, but people are starting to lose faith in the president. I hear almost daily from men and women who voted enthusiastically for Mr. Obama but are feeling disappointed. They feel that the banks made out like bandits in the bailouts, and that the health care initiative could become a boondoggle. Their biggest worry is that Mr. Obama is soft, that he is unwilling or incapable of fighting hard enough to counter the forces responsible for the sorry state the country is in.

More and more the president is being seen by his own supporters as someone who would like to please everybody, who is naïve about the prospects for bipartisanship, who believes that his strongest supporters will stay with him because they have nowhere else to go, and who will retreat whenever the Republicans and the corporate crowd come after him.

People want more from Mr. Obama. They want him to be their champion. But they don’t feel that he is speaking to them in a language that they understand. He is seen as more comfortable speaking the Wall Street lingo. People don’t feel that the voices of anxiety are being heard.

Maybe they’re wrong. Maybe the economy really is turning around. Maybe Mr. Obama is working on a bipartisan deal that will take us a few small steps down the road to real health care reform.

It’s possible that we’ve been without mature leadership for so long that it’s difficult to recognize it when we see it. Mr. Obama has proved the naysayers wrong time and again. But if it turns out that this time he’s wrong, hold onto your hats. Because right now there is no Plan B.

8) I'venever seen anything like this'
By: Jonathan Martin

Rep Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) is a skilled politician who has pretty much seen it all — a Deep South Democrat who’s managed to dispatch all opponents in his conservative-leaning Panhandle district since winning election in 1996.

But as he fended off gnats buzzing through the August humidity after a morning fending off angry constituents at a town hall meeting here, Boyd confided that the depth of the unease spurred by the health care debate had caught him by surprise.

“They may be in a minority, but they are a larger minority than we’ve seen in the 20-plus years that I’ve been doing this,” said Boyd of the standing-room-only crowds who have been showing up to shout, boo, mutter and, in one case, hand him an actual stack of pink slips since he returned home for recess. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

The overhyped and in many cases fraudulent sense of grass-roots fervor during an August Democrats would like to forget is easy to minimize. But for all the cries of Astroturf fakery and ginned-up crowds, a ground zero view in a district like Boyd’s underlines that a very real sense of anger and frustration is bubbling over as summer wanes.

A visit to Florida’s 2nd District also is a bracing case study in the mounting political peril some Blue Dogs like Boyd may be facing. Boyd acknowledged that after coasting to victory in a string of elections, including when a popular President George W. Bush was on top of the ticket in 2004 and national Republicans actively plotted his ouster, he may face a real threat next year at the polls.

And his candor is borne out of his own up-close view from the past three weeks. While some of his colleagues took refuge in constituent-free codels and undisclosed private meetings, Boyd plunged headlong into a series of public forums throughout his district and discovered the sort of public unrest that doesn’t come around very often.

“People are scared,” Boyd said twice, trying to explain what would drive his constituents away from home and work and out into the broiling Florida sun in the middle of the week to see their congressman.

It’s health care that has spurred the now-familiar images of conservatives protesting and interrupting town hall meetings during this summer of discontent. But two days of witnessing town hall meetings in north Florida small towns also made clear that the issue is only the spark behind a host of resentments and anxieties.

The disquiet among conservatives and some independents began with the collapse of the economy and subsequent bailouts last fall. It increased with the election of President Barack Obama and then spiked after he took office. The shorthand, heard here repeatedly and always in disgust, usually includes references to: stimulus, more bailouts, bonuses, cap and trade and now health care.

John Webb, a retiree from the small village of Woods, said after a Boyd town hall meeting in the county seat town of Bristol that he thought the country is headed in the wrong direction — and he wasn’t alone.

“I go to church. I hear it at church. They’re just afraid. They don’t trust this administration,” Webb said.

Exactly why is tougher to pin down, but it often returns to the same litany, a mix of conservative and populist frustrations. Webb cited the stimulus before wondering in his next breath: “I don’t understand how a company can fail and then the head of that company gets a $3 or $4 million bonus.”

Observed Randy Mackey, a former Democratic state legislator from nearby Lake City who came to Boyd’s Bristol meeting: “They think, ‘I didn’t get a stimulus package, nobody bailed me out.’ ”

While Boyd’s district includes the student and state worker-filled city of Tallahassee — a Democratic enclave — much of it is rural and deeply conservative, indistinguishable from nearby south Georgia and Alabama. This is the Florida where pine trees meet palms, the convenience stores sell live bait and sweet tea is always an option.

Add in Republican-leaning retirees and locals in Gulf towns such as Panama City, and it makes for tough terrain for a Democrat who is more moderate than his national party.

Boyd has made his standing more difficult by voting for the stimulus and the energy bill — or as one local derided the latter at the town hall in Marianna: “tap-and-crap.”

Now he’s faced with what may be one of the most consequential votes of his congressional career. On the left, Boyd faces a primary challenge from an African-American state senator from Tallahassee who is already calling health care a top issue.

And on the right he’s staring at the likes of Francis Kellison of Marianna, a Republican who said he had previously supported Boyd.

But Kellison — who thinks Obama is a “radical” — said now he may vote against the incumbent.

“I don’t like health care, I don’t like cap and trade, I didn’t approve of the bailout bills,” he explained after the meeting in his hometown.

Boyd, a farmer and former state senator, is the picture of the charming Southern pol, quick to place his hand on a shoulder and faster still to repeat the first name of the person he’s talking to.

He has used these skills to keep his town hall meetings, though spirited, free of the sort of vitriolic rancor that has taken place elsewhere.

“People in north Florida are polite and courteous,” he said by way of reminder at the start of the Marianna meeting. “We're going to show the rest of the country a little bit about Southern hospitality and Southern manners.”

Just in case playing on regional sensibilities didn’t work, Boyd also took the precautionary step of having his questioners walk to the front of the room, introduce themselves and then stand next to him both for their questions and his answers all while he held the microphone like a genial game show host.

“One of the things I’ve learned in life is if I get up close to you and know you better, I’m less likely to yell at you,” he shared afterward about his strategy.

And in a district with a significant population of seniors, retired military and state workers, Boyd also slyly reminded many of his constituents that they were already dependent on the dreaded state for their health care coverage. He did this by asking every questioner what their health care plan was until one man in Marianna wised up to the technique and pre-emptively said it wasn’t any of the congressman’s business.

So Boyd prevented any YouTube moments, but the civility was often strained. He frequently had to hold his finger to his lip to hush the crowds as scowling sheriff's deputies and police officers looked on.

At events in Bristol and Marianna, the crowds were overwhelmingly composed of those opposed to health care reform and wary of government in general. And in a district that is more than 20 percent African-American, the audiences were also overwhelmingly white.

Veteran politician that he is, Boyd had answers at the ready for all the familiar questions.

No, he said when it was brought up four separate times in Bristol, illegal immigrants won’t get government health care in the new legislation.

On the stimulus, he noted the infusion of local dollars to bolster school budgets and pay for infrastructure ($24 million alone for Marianna’s Jackson County).

As for the energy bill, he recalled last summer’s soaring gas prices to make the point that something has to be done before segueing into the benefits the legislation would have for rural electric co-ops (Boyd’s own father, he made sure to point out, offered up a right of way on their family farm to help electrify their county).

These answers didn’t allay the restive crowds, nor did his response on health care. Boyd repeatedly cited four principles on health care — choice, reduce overall costs, offer access to the uninsured and deficit neutrality — but wouldn’t go much further.

But he did reflect the increasing unease of moderate Democrats with the issue, in Marianna holding up hefty H.R. 3200 — the primary bill in the House — and proclaiming to applause that he would not support it as is.

He also told crowds that the public option was probably unlikely, that he would prefer the process to slow down and was open to a more incremental approach.

And in an effort at reassurance in Marianna, he urged the audience to pay attention to the Senate Finance Committee, the only relevant committee in either chamber that has yet to move a bill and the one that is most inclined toward a centrist approach.

“Wherever we end up will be more like what they're doing, anyway,” Boyd said.

While eyebrow-raising to a visitor from Washington, such comments mattered little to a crowd that included the likes of Jim Peacock, a retired Secret Service agent from Grand Ridge.

“We don’t want the government in our health care, period,” Peacock said, before allowing that he was OK with Medicare and Medicaid only to take care of the elderly.

There were proponents of reform, including Louis Hatos, a retired technology worker for the state whose monthly premiums have soared to $1,127 a month — over half the amount of his pension.

“I want to know what in the world they’re going to do about reining in the cost of health insurance,” Hatos complained on his way out of the Bristol meeting, where his raised hand never got Boyd’s attention.

With a mix of frustration and resignation, Hatos shook his head when asked about fellow citizens who were more interested in illegal immigrants getting access than their own struggles with coverage.

“Ignorance,” was his explanation. “They’re on Medicare, they’re at the VA.”

But the voices of Hatos were, often literally, drowned out by opponents, some of whom who came to vent.

“They want to take over our life,” insisted Elaine Thompson just minutes before she shoved a stack of signed pink slips and a copy of the Constitution in Boyd’s hands.

Wearing a shirt that read “Concerned American Patriots” on the front and “Wake Up America” on the back, Thompson, of Marianna, said the White House was being run using “Chicago terrorism.”

“Saul Salinsky is their mentor,” she replied when asked to explain what she meant, misstating the name of leftist community organizer Saul Alinsky, who is often cited by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. “They are controlling what’s happening in this country.”

After his summer recess, Allen Boyd may disagree.

9) Beware blind faith in bigness
By Christopher Caldwell

If there is a slogan or catchphrase that sums up the way the world’s mind has changed in the past year, it is “too big to fail”. When governments rushed to the aid of failing financial institutions last autumn, everyone sensed there was something wrong with the way our societies and economies were organised. For a while, the world appeared to have rediscovered a lot of age-old wisdom about hubris and excess. Yet we have lost the sense that big institutions can be a problem even when they are not failing. Managing bigness is always a problem because big companies, big organisations, big political units, tend to narrow the individual initiative of those who belong to them.

Montesquieu thought about the ideal size of countries, Tolstoy championed handicrafts over the mechanisation of the railway age, and the American jurist Louis Brandeis identified a “curse of bigness” in the finance industry that seems eternal and insoluble. But the thinker whose name is most often linked to these matters was probably E.F. Schumacher, who in 1973 published the classic work on the size of institutions, Small Is Beautiful.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"LIAGRA" Time - From "In God We Trust" to America's Kristal Nacht!

"LIAGRA" Time!

Obama began by overreaching. Now he and "wee people" are paying the price. He seemingly has had to backdown on healthcare. He will assuredly backdown, when and if he confronts Iran. So it goes for the messiah. As the rubber hits the road his tiremarks are all over from braking and skidding. Yes, experience does matter even for someone who wants to be president and never learned the skills of driving in D.C.

D.C is like a jungle full of predators and the smell of blood brings out the beast in all politicians. Obama began governing by setting up straw men, by attacking self-described 'pinatas.' First he went after GW and when that no longer served his interests he went through a whole litany of 'enemies' but the next battle seems to be with himself and his Far Left.

But do not count our messianic president out just because he is holding a losing health care hand. Taking a page from twenty years of listening to Rev. Wright, Obama has now decided to invoke God. He has chosen to make morality the issue, to still the troubled waters by using guilt as his new thematic weapon.

If you were turned off by the Republican's 'Religious Right' you have not seen anything. Wait till you get a dose of Obama's religious and divisive tactics.

So, in reality, backing down has not become a way of life at The White House? Getting a government controlled health care plan legislated has become a messianiac mission. It is critical to both Obama's presidency and his Far Left supplicants. Therefore, call out the goons. Start by attacking the founder of Whole Foods, then boycott Whole Food stores and their 50,000 employess because the founder dared to offer an alternative halth care plan that works.

Attack Americans who demand answers from their Senators and Representatives at Town Hall meetings. Accuse them of being 'Brown Shirts.' Challenge their right of assembly, of protest and use of free speech. This is all out of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged."

The most divisive president ever elected has now chosen to unleash his version of vitriol on the American public. What will follow will be a series of Obama's mellow version of 'Kristal Nacht!' I will not speculate where this all goes but I retain my deepest reservations. It has been my lifelong experience that frauds soon reveal themselves and with the passing of each day we are getting a pretty good look at a dangerous president who will stop at nothing because he wanted change and many voters bought into this 'music man's' mesmerizing ways. They dropped their guard, they abdicated reasoning, they succumbed to his emotional appeal because of angst over GW. Obama played them like a violin and they danced. Now we are going to pay a 'taxing' price.

If you can't stand the heat don't get out of the kitchen turn it up on the diners!

Obama has chosen to pit American against American. Obama the avowed healer has become Obama the actual divider and he has chosen to make God and morality his ally against us "wee people!"

"In God we Trust" is being repackaged and Rev. Wright's "God damn America." is happening all over again. (See 1, 1a, 1b and 1c below.)

This is how Sweden responds to lies. (See 1d below.)

Another 'pinata' Obama attacked recently were doctors, He spoke about them as if they were Rodney Dangerfield who always complained 'he never got any respect.'

There is something wrong when a president has to constantly do battle by creating enemies in order to attack them. That is not the mark of maturity. In fact it smacks of insecurity. But divide and conquer can become an effective strategy but it can also backfire. (see 2 below)

I warned that eventually it would come to pounce time if Obama stumbled. Are we there yet? (See 2a below.)

This was sent to me by a friend, fellow memo reader and once upon a time a government employee. What his message indicates is that Democrats are doing what they accuse Republicans of doing but apparently when 'they do' it is 'kosher.'

Politics is a dirty business, full of deception, self-righteous and self-important people who love to emerse themselves into its ugliness. These same people want to control our lives because they know what is best but they often cannot look you in the eye when challenged so they resort to bullying. This is what Obamascare is all about and this is what the health care debate is turning into - power over principle, muscle over reason, government control at all cost. (See 3 and 3a below.)

Leave it to Jackie Mason. But,in his desire to be funny he forgets that you are not asked to dial 3 for Yiddish. (See 4 below.)

Talk about Chutzpah! (See 5 below.)

Caroline Glick attacks Netanyahu for lying and for allowing himself and Israel to be bludgeoned by forthcomng agreements currently being hammered out by Czar Mitchell. Glick suggests there are alternatives if Netanyahu has the courage to seek them.

Netanyahu is a clever politician. However, he might prove no match for Obama. As with most politicians, they both take "LIAGRA" but Obama takes a bigger dose. Wintess his orchestration of the health care challenge. (See 6 and 6a below.)

But one doctor tells it like it is - not enough doctors to even do want Obama would want. Therefore, rationing is the answer and long lines the ultimate result. Those who can afford more will be in line with those who cannot and if the wealthier try to hussle the line I am sure there will be a government bureaucrat waiting to penalize and tax them. That is where health care change could take us. But then is not the goal of change to melt everyone down so that we are all equal

There is a cartoon going around with Obama's picture on it entitled "Liagra" and this is what it says:

Stronger, longer lasting fabrications
Removes remorse
So effective you will even believe your own B.S.(See 7 below.)

Have a great week, off to see my oldest daugher and her husband.


1) On defense, Obama woos right, left on health care

With control of the health care debate slipping from his grasp, President Barack Obama pitched his ambitious plan to both conservative talk radio and his own liberal supporters Thursday — and denied a challenge from one backer that he was "bucklin' a little bit" under Republican criticism.

Liberals were on the verge of revolt as Obama refused to say any final deal must include a government-run insurance option, while Republicans pressed their all-but-unified opposition to the White House effort. Obama, who will leave Washington Friday on vacation, said reason would prevail and it was no time to panic.

"I guarantee you ... we are going to get health care reform done. And I know that there are a lot of people out there who have been hand-wringing, and folks in the press are following every little twist and turn of the legislative process," Obama told a caller to Philadelphia-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish during a broadcast from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room.

"You know, passing a big bill like this is always messy."

Obama is struggling to regain the momentum on a comprehensive bill that would extend health coverage to nearly 50 million Americans who lack it and restrain skyrocketing costs. Opponents of the overhaul have drowned out supporters at lawmakers' town halls around the country this month, and public backing for Obama's effort has slipped in opinion polls. Congressional Democratic leaders are preparing to go it alone on legislation, although bipartisan negotiations continue in the Senate.

On the defensive, Obama is embracing a new role of fact checker-in-chief, trying to correct untrue claims such as that the proposals would provide health care for illegal immigrants, create "death panels" or pay for abortions with taxpayer dollars. Aides say the situation has left Obama exasperated.

"Now, c'mon," a mocking Obama told a cheering crowd late Thursday at a Democratic National Committee appearance designed to re-energize activists who were instrumental in his drive to the presidency. "What we're going to have to do is to cut through the noise and the misinformation."

"I said during the campaign that the best offense against lies is the truth," Obama said. "And so all we can do is just keep on pushing the truth."

Yet for all the gnashing from Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats, he faces equally tough opposition from lawmakers and activists on the left who insist any overhaul must include a government-run insurance option.

In fact, shortly after his comments Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared the Democratic-controlled House simply won't approve the overhaul without it.

"There's no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option," Pelosi, D-Calif., said after a round-table in San Francisco.

Obama told his DNC audience — as well as thousands watching online and listening by telephone — that health care was the toughest fight he has faced in office.

"Winning the election is just the start," he said. "Victory in an election wasn't the change that we sought."

That election, though, came with his promise of the government insurance option, a provision that Obama's team now calls "preferred" but not mandatory. During both his Thursday appearances, Obama declined to call it a deal breaker.

"What we've said is that there are a number of components to health care," he told Smerconish, who is generally seen as a conservative, although he endorsed Obama last year and supports abortion rights. "I see nothing wrong with having public option as one choice."

He said "the press got excited and some folks on the left got a little excited" when he and top administration aides last weekend made statements indicating that a publicly run health insurance option was just one of several alternatives.

Since then, Obama has faced increasing criticism from his left flank.

"And even though some White House advisers seem to have forgotten, the reason the public option has become central to reform is simple: We're fed up with the insurance companies and we need real accountability for them," liberal said in a message sent to its 5 million members while the president was speaking with Smerconish. "They've had decades to fix the problems with our health care system, but they haven't done it."

One caller to Smerconish's program said he sensed the administration was making a misstep.

"I'm getting a little ticked off that it feels like the knees are bucklin' a little bit," said the caller who identified himself as Joe. "You have an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate, and you own the whole shooting match. ... It's very frustrating to watch you try and compromise with a lot of these people who aren't willing to compromise with you."

Obama told his audiences he is trying to reach across the aisle to craft a bipartisan plan, even as he blamed Republicans for delay. He peppered his DNC remarks with jokes and jabs at conservatives that had the partisan crowd breaking into applause and laughter.

In response, a spokesman for the No. 2 Republican in the House said he had a question for Obama and his team.

"We would love to know when, exactly — time, date, place — the president or his staff reached out to Republican leaders?" said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Republican leaders in May sent Obama a letter outlining the GOP's principles and asking to collaborate.

"And the president's response?" Dayspring said. "Meeting? Nah. Work together? No thanks. Further discussion? Nope. Instead, they went with, 'Thanks for the letter.'"

While the White House insists Obama is still looking for Republican support for a comprehensive health care bill, Democrats privately are preparing a one-party push, which they feel is all but inevitable. Polls show slippage in support for the president's approach, although respondents express even less confidence in Republicans' handling of health care.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday that Obama is struggling to get a health care bill because he has been too deferential to liberals. Romney, who may challenge Obama in 2012, said on CBS' "The Early Show" that "if the president wants to get something done, he needs to put aside the extreme liberal wing of his party."

1a) Obama and the Upchuck Factor
By Christopher Chantrill

Among the most powerful psephological tools available to political strategists and commentators is the well-known Upchuck Factor. Never heard of it? I'm surprised.

The Upchuck Factor is, quite simply, the length of time it takes the US voter to decide that s/he's "had enough" of the Democrats. And it looks like this year it is hitting a new record.

You may have been taught in school, for instance, that the American people loved Franklin Delano Roosevelt so much that they would have gone on voting for him forever. In fact the American people demonstrated in the mid-term election of 1938 that they were ready to upchuck him and all his works. The 1938 elections featured an 81-seat gain in the House of Representatives for the Republicans. Figure that FDR's Upchuck Factor was 6.

What was the problem in 1938? It wasn't that complicated. After six years of political bombast and war on the private sector -- and after FDR gunned the economy into the red zone in 1936 with unprecedented stimulus -- the economy collapsed in 1937 and the American people decided that they had had enough. They determined to upchuck the New York machine politics of FDR. But then along came World War II and saved his political skin.

The 1960s is another era in which we are taught that Americans loved their government. They basked in the sun of JFK and LBJ, and loved the exciting space programs and wars on poverty. But in fact, the American people decided they had had enough after six years of it. In 1966, well before the Summer of Love, American voters upchucked and gave the Republicans 47 additional seats in the House. Two years later they sent the very un-sunny Richard Nixon to the White House. Give the JFK/LBJ Democrats an Upchuck Factor of 6.

In the late 1970s President Jimmy Carter came into office promising that he'd never lie to the American people. Maybe he didn't, but he wrecked the economy and this time the American people didn't wait six or eight years before upchucking.

It was then that the voters' digestion really started to go south. They vomited up Carter and the Democrats after four years in 1980 and elected a man that "everyone" agreed was little more than an amiable dunce. Things must have been really bad for the American people to go to that extreme. President Carter moved the Upchuck Factor to 4.

Now we come to the modern era. After twelve years of Reagan and Bush, Bill Clinton won the 1992 election for the Democrats, with the help of Ross Perot. Democrats thought that with Bill Clinton that they were really on their way. But they were wrong. The Upchuck Factor was getting stronger, and the American voters in 1994 recorded an Upchuck Factor of 2. They vomited up the Democrats in the first off-year election after 1992 and sent 54 new Republicans to the House. The distress among Democratic voters must have been extreme, but Post-election Stress Disorder hadn't been invented yet, so the mental health problems of the liberal community went undiagnosed and unfunded.

Bill Clinton was the best gut politician of his time, so he managed to avoid defeat in 1996 by passing welfare reform and seducing naïve young soccer moms into supporting him for another term. But he didn't do his party much good. An unimpressive George W. Bush managed to eke out wins against an angry, but unfocused Democratic Party in 2000 and 2004.

But now, after the solid Democratic win of 2008, it looks like the Upchuck Factor has shortened again. Now it is pegging at 6 months!

The ominous thing is that Americans are not expressing their indigestion at the ballot box in a mid-term election in their usual sensible way. Their gastric reaction to a single dose of Obama's Chicago politics is so extreme that they are heading to the nation's vomitoria already. They are spewing out their rage at politicians' town halls and even in the street.

Let's stop right there and clear away all the fun and frivolity.

This is the first time that the American middle class has taken to the streets in living memory.

Back in the 1930s street politics featured the workers in the Battle of the Overpass between Ford's striking workers and its security guards. In the 1960s it was African American marchers being set upon by Bull Connor and the KKK. In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was elite liberal youths refusing to go to war. Now all of a sudden average middle-class Americans are organizing Tea Parties and street protests. The old politics of the liberal "teach-in" has been replaced by the new politics of the town-hall "shout-in."

Liberals are beside themselves with rage. They are recounting how their parents lost their jobs during the McCarthy period, and telling each other that opposition to the president's program is all about racism.

You can tell the Democrats are in trouble when a naïve hockey mom from Alaska can appear out of nowhere and wrestle the entire Democratic Party to the ground. After all, when it comes to "death panels" for grandma you have the American people on one side and you have "comparative effectiveness research" professionals and rational ethicists on the other. How come Sarah Palin could see that and the intelligent President Obama could not?

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his and His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

1b) The Biggest Missing Story in Politics - One Year Update
By Bruce Walker

August 25, 2008, just about one year ago, my article on those Battleground Polls -- which have routinely shown for many years that about sixty percent of Americans are "conservatives" -- stirred up quite a ruckus. If my analysis is right, then that would explain Democrat hysteria over the town hall meetings in America as the revelation that the Left is just a small minority of Americans who have insinuated themselves into the chokepoints of information, education, entertainment, and policy in American society.

Gallup, which has also polled the ideology of Americans, has presented the data in a much murkier way. While the Battleground Poll allows respondents six options -- "very conservative," "somewhat conservative," "moderate," "unsure," "somewhat liberal," and "very liberal," the Gallup asks (or reveals) only whether respondents identify themselves as "conservative," "moderate," or "liberal." Nevertheless, three Gallup Polls this summer have shown just how profoundly conservative Americans are. On June 15, for example, Gallup revealed that conservatives are the largest ideological group in America: 40% of us call ourselves conservative, 35% of us call ourselves moderates, and 21% of us call ourselves liberal. Moreover, Gallup shows that since 1992 conservatives have become an increasingly larger share of America.

Then, on July 6, Gallup revealed that Democrats were becoming more conservative, independents were becoming more conservative, and Republicans were becoming dramatically more conservative (a whopping 58% of Republicans said that they had become more conservative in the last few years.) Viewed from every angle, both Gallup and the Battleground poll identify conservatives as the largest ideological group in America and a group that is growing fast.

The most fascinating poll, however, was revealed by Gallup on August 14. The impact appears deliberately downplayed by Gallup. The title of the article simply states that the conservative ideology prevails in the South. That is hardly news. Gallup also, erroneously interprets its own data by stating that conservatives outnumber liberals in almost every state. In fact, the data poll shows that in every state of the nation, conservatives outnumber liberals. (Did Bruce just say that? Yes, he did!)

In the People's Republic of Massachusetts, 30% of the respondents identified themselves as conservative and 29% identified themselves as liberals. In Bernie Sander's Vermont, 29% of the people call themselves conservative and 28% call themselves liberals. In Hawaii, conservatives outnumber liberals by five percentage points. This probably understates the percentage of conservatives. Being called a conservative in Massachusetts or Vermont is like being called a child molester, and the polling organization, Gallup, tilts clearly Left, not Right.

And consider these states in which the number of conservatives is ten percentage points or more than the number of liberals: Maryland (+10%), Illinois (+12%), Minnesota (+13%), Michigan (+15%), Wisconsin (+17%), Pennsylvania (+18%.) These states are considered very Blue states, but conservatives outnumber liberals in each state by a whopping margin.

Is there anywhere in America where liberals outnumber conservatives? Yes, in the District of Columbia liberals are 65% of the population and conservatives are 14%.

There is a big secret out there. One year ago, I called it "The Biggest Missing Story in Politics" - Battleground Polls, the most accurate and bipartisan polling group around, had been reporting in poll after poll for many years that just about 60% of Americans called themselves conservative - which might explain how Ronald Reagan got about 60% of the popular vote in 1984! Ed Goeas, after the election, looked at the data again, trying to probe deeper and find out what it meant (he did an excellent and fair job.) The result: America is a conservative nation.

Now Gallup has come up with three polls in three months, which deal explicitly with the ideology of Americans, which confirms everything I have been writing about the strong conservative character of our country. The Red State / Blue State map reflects a partisan divide in America, but not an ideological divide at all. If Red State means "conservative" and Blue State means "liberal," then guess what? The entire map of the United States, except for a peculiar tiny rectangle carved out of southern Maryland, is Red State. The Biggest Missing Story in Politics is still The Biggest Missing Story in Politics. What is it that Republicans don't get?

Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.

1c)Pull the Plug on ObamaCare: It's the best cure for what ails the Obama presidency.

Looking back, this must have been the White House health-care strategy:

Health care as a subject is extraordinarily sticky, messy and confusing. It's inherently complicated, and it's personal. There are land mines all over the place. Don't make the mistake the Clintons made and create a plan that gets picked apart, shot down, and injures the standing of the president. Instead, push it off on Congress. Let them come up with a dozen plans. It will keep them busy. It will convince them yet again of their importance and autonomy. It will allow them to vent, and perhaps even exhaust, their animal spirits. Various items and elements within each bill will get picked off by the public. Fine, that's to be expected. The bills may in fact yield a target-rich environment. Fine again. Maybe health care's foes will get lost in the din and run out of ammo. Maybe they'll exhaust their animal spirits, too.

Summer will pass, the fight confined to the public versus Congress. And at the end, in the fall, the beauty part: The president swoops in and saves the day, forcing together an ultimate and more moderate plan that doesn't contain the more controversial elements but does constitute a successful first step toward universal health care.

That's not what happened.

It all got hotter, quicker than the White House expected. The many plans of Congress congealed in the public mind into one plan, and the one plan became a poison pool. The president is now immersed in it.

Here's another thing that didn't work. (I write as if health-care reform or insurance reform or whatever it's called this week is already a loss, a historic botch, because it is. Even if the White House wins, they lose, because the cost in terms of public trust and faith was too high.)

Every big idea that works is marked by simplicity, by clarity. You can understand it when you hear it, and you can explain it to people. Social Security: Retired workers receive a public pension to help them through old age. Medicare: People over 65 can receive taxpayer-funded health care. Welfare: If you have no money and cannot support yourself, we will help as you get back on your feet.

These things are clear. I understand them. You understand them. The president's health-care plan is not clear, and I mean that not only in the sense of "he hasn't told us his plan." I mean it in terms of the voodoo phrases, this gobbledygook, this secret language of government that no one understands—"single payer," "public option," "insurance marketplace exchange." No one understands what this stuff means, nobody normal.

And when normal people don't know what the words mean, they don't say to themselves, "I may not understand, but my trusty government surely does, and will treat me and mine with respect." They think, "I can't get what these people are talking about. They must be trying to get one past me. So I'll vote no."

In a more beautiful world, the whole health-care chapter could become, for the president, that helpful thing, the teachable moment. The president the past month has been taught a lot by the American people. It's all there in the polls. He could still step back, rethink, say it didn't work, promise to return with something better.

When presidents make clear, with modesty and even some chagrin, that they have made a mistake but that they've learned a lesson and won't be making it again, the American people tend to respond with sympathy. It is our tradition and our impulse.

Such admissions are not a sign of weakness. John F. Kennedy knew this after the Bay of Pigs. He didn't blame his Republican predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, or the agencies that had begun the invasion's tentative planning under Ike. JFK made it clear he'd learned a great deal, which increased confidence in his leadership. His personal popularity rose so high that he later wryly noted that the more mistakes he made, the more popular he became.

I suspect the American people would appreciate seeing Barack Obama learn from this, and keep going. He's their president. He will be for the next few difficult years, which will no doubt contain moments he will have to lead us through. They also probably wouldn't mind seeing a wry, modest, very human and self-critical stance from a new president who doesn't strut and doesn't swagger but does have a level of 1950s cool, Old Vegas cool, of supreme and confident smoothness that one wouldn't mind seeing ruffled a bit by that old ruffler, reality. Critics of George W. Bush will say here, "Did he ever show wry self-criticism?" No, he didn't. And that's why it ended so well for him.

Modern presidents are always afraid to show anything so human as modesty or doubt. They're afraid of the endless cable-news loop of "I think I was wrong, I think I misjudged, I didn't get it right." They're afraid of death by soundbite. Which is understandable. But they should get over it, especially when it comes to a bit of self-criticism, and even a bit of self-doubt. Modesty is one of the prevailing moods of the moment, it's part of where the American people are and have been since at least a year ago when the economy tanked. We all lived through the abundance, made investments, not only financial ones, that turned out good or bad, made mistakes of judgment, and are wondering about the past decade, and its mistakes, and our part in its mistakes.

It shouldn't become a wallow, but there's nothing wrong with self-reflection and trying to learn from everything we did that was wrong, and right. It wouldn't be so bad to see a president echo this.

A final factor contributed to the mess of the health-care debate, and that the White House might ponder it. Looking back, what a lucky man President Clinton was to have—to help bring about after his own health-care fiasco—a Congress controlled by the opposite party. What a great and historic team Mr. Clinton and Newt Gingrich were, a popular Democratic president and a determined GOP leader with a solid majority. Welfare reform, a balanced budget, and a sense the public could have that not much crazy would happen and some serious progress might be made. If Mr. Clinton pressed too hard, Mr. Gingrich would push back. If Mr. Gingrich pressed too hard Mr. Clinton pushed back. Two gifted, often perplexing and always controversial Boomers who didn't even like each other, and yet you look back now and realize: Good things happened there.

Right now Mr. Obama's gift is his curse, a Congress dominated by his party. While the country worries about the economy and two wars, the Democrats of Congress are preoccupied with the idea that this is their moment, now is their time, health care now, "Never let a good crisis go to waste," the only blazingly memorable phrase to be uttered in the new era.

It's not especially pleasurable to see history held hostage to ideological vanity, but it's not the first time. And if they keep it up, they'll help solve the president's problem. He'll have a Republican congress soon enough.

1d) Sweden denies Israel request to condemn IDF organ harvest article

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has rejected Israeli calls for an official condemnation of a recent article by a top Swedish newspaper that alleged that Israel Defense Forces soldiers kill Palestinian civilians in order to harvest their organs.

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had asked Bildt to print a a state rebuttal to the piece, which was published earlier this week in Sweden's top newspaper Aftonbladet. Israel's Ambassador to Sweden Benny Dagan was expected to make a similar request during a meeting Friday with Sweden's Deputy Foreign Minister.

Bildt denied the request, however, writing in a blog post late Thursday that he would not condemn the article as "freedom of expression is part of the Swedish constitution."

"Freedom of expression and press freedom are very strong in our constitution by tradition. And that strong protection has served our democracy and our country well," Bildt wrote.

"If I were engaged in editing all strange debate contributions in different media I probably wouldn't have time to do much else."

Bildt said he understood why the article stirred strong emotions in Israel, but said basic values in society are best protected by free discussion.

The article has enraged Israeli officials, who called it blatantly racist and said it played on vile anti-Semitic themes.

Bildt, meanwhile, says the condemnation of anti-Semitism is "the only issue on which there has ever been complete unity in the Swedish parliament."

The article in Sweden's biggest-selling newspaper was first reported internationally by on Tuesday, and has sparked fierce widespread debate both in Sweden and abroad. The article claims that as far back as 1992, the IDF was taking organs from Palestinian youths it killed, and also mentions an ongoing U.S. crime investigation involving members of the American Jewish community.

The Foreign Ministry is doubtful that the Swedish government will publish a condemnation, and are therefore considering other measures. One idea is to cancel an upcoming visit by Bildt to Israel, which is planned for ten days from now.

Another idea is to allow Bildt to make his visit to Israel, but to use the visit as a well publicized criticism of the article, and for officials to refuse to speak with him about any subject other than the article.

Foreign ministry officials said if there is no official Swedish condemnation this crisis will not be solved.

Lieberman has informed foreign ministry employees to weigh canceling the government press cards of writers from Aptonbladt in Israel, as well as to refuse to assist the paper in any way whatsoever in covering Israeli news.

It also emerged Thursday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is considering a slander lawsuit against the writer of the article.

The Swedish government on Thursday distanced itself from a statement by its ambassador to Israel, in which she criticized the article saying that "the condemnation was solely the judgment of the embassy [in Tel Aviv], and designed for an Israeli audience." The comments came in a statement released Thursday by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

"The article in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet is as shocking and appalling to us Swedes, as it is to Israeli citizens," said Ambassador Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier on Wednesday.

"Just as in Israel, freedom of the press prevails in Sweden," Bonnier said. "However, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are freedoms which carry a certain responsibility."

2) Devaluing Doctors -- and Care
By Marshall Ackerman

Physicians have been cast as the villains in the drama that our national health-care debate has become. We stand accused of raising charges to private insurers to compensate for low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements as well as care of the uninsured or illegal immigrants; doing more to get paid more; seeing patients more often than necessary to increase revenue; and providing inefficient and ineffective care to patients in the hospital. Our motives are impugned. The care we render is being disparaged and our professionalism disregarded -- yet somehow it is assumed that doctors are merely passive pawns to be moved around the chessboard of health care.

Where are the investigative journalists? How many physicians who are not radiologists own their own MRI machine, CT scanner, PET scanner or other sophisticated diagnostic equipment to which they refer their patients? Why would President Obama blast pediatricians for doing tonsillectomies for profit, when any intelligent person knows that pediatricians do not do surgery? They care for sick children and refer them to ear, nose and throat specialists when surgery is needed. Why does no one seem to be aware that surgeons have functioned under a "global reimbursement" system for more than 35 years? Surgeons are paid a set fee for the care rendered for surgery or fracture care for a fixed period (frequently 90 days) regardless of how often they see a patient or how long the patient remains in the hospital.

For that matter, why would intelligent physicians fill their schedules with unnecessary return visits for Medicare/Medicaid patients, who are the lowest payers in the mix, limiting the number of new patients they could see? And how is it that so many physicians "pass along" the losses of caring for the uninsured or Medicare/Medicaid patients when in fact doctors labor under contracts with big insurers that are basically take-it-or-leave-it with payment rates not much higher than Medicare, which has become the new standard?

I have been a practicing orthopedic surgeon for 40 years. I have observed profound changes in my profession since the advent of Medicare, changes that have affected patients' access to care. As reimbursements plummeted, internists abandoned hospital care to the new specialty of hospitalists, created boutique practices and stopped participating with health insurance companies. Physicians in all specialties have been retiring at earlier ages than ever before. In my own office, our staff has doubled over the past 40 years to enable us to handle the growing stream of government and insurer mandates. Our reimbursements continue to drop -- with no ability to pass on these costs. We are not the Mayo Clinic. There is no foundation to provide computers and electronic medical records or research grants to supplement salaries. Everything we do must come out of the reimbursement we receive for the care we provide to each patient.

Total joint replacement surgery for an arthritic hip and knee is a prime example of the difficulties physicians face and of the implications of health-care reform as envisaged by Congress and academic "experts." In 1971 I was paid $1,000 for a total hip replacement. Today, I would be paid approximately $1,600 for the same service. There is no multiplier -- a surgeon can only do one patient at a time. We continue in our practice for the immense satisfaction we receive from knowing that this surgery does more to restore a high quality of life to patients than any other surgery, and for the gratitude patients show. We implant devices because we believe, based on medical literature, that they are the best choices for patients. The overwhelming majority of surgeons have not received fees from implant manufacturers -- many times lowering the profitability of our hospitals.

Consider the implications when a global fee will be paid to the hospital: Then hospital and physician incentives will be aligned, and patients will bear the cost of the search for ever-cheaper implants and techniques, such as a return to cemented total hips. Forget metal-on-metal bearings, resurfacing, rotating platforms, high-flex knees, navigation systems or bilateral replacements. And if our hospitals are financially penalized for occurrences such as infection and deep-vein thrombosis after surgery, who will operate on the obese, the hypertensive or the diabetics among us? Experience with government funding reveals a never-ending spiral of decreased reimbursements in the name of restraining costs. In the end, this will come out of the care we all receive.

At your next visit to your specialist, take a tip from the drug company ads and "ask your doctor": Does he or she plan to retire early if reform legislation passes close to its present form? Does he or she plan to continue to participate with Medicare/Medicaid or participate with insurers that will not reimburse adequately? How does your doctor think health-care reform will affect the care you receive in his or her specialty? Access to a waiting list is not access to health care. Let's stop pointing fingers and start considering the real flaws and strengths of our system and how to improve it.

The writer, an orthopedic surgeon, has worked in private practice in the Washington metro area since 1969.

2a) Obama's Ailing Popularity
Todd J. Zywicki

President Obama took to the stump this week to respond to criticisms of his health care plan. But he now confronts an even deeper problem, one that threatens not only the success of Obamacare, but his presidency itself. Since the beginning of his term, Obama's personal popularity has exceeded that of his policies--a gap that was obviously unsustainable. Yet the final resolution remained unclear: Would his personality make his policies more popular, or would his policies drag down his personal likeability?

As the health care debate unfolds, we are seeing something we could not have predicted just weeks ago. President Obama's popularity is eroding--fast.

This week the Rasmussen poll of likely voters found the president's approval rating dipping below 50% for the first time. This is not only due to Obama's unpopular health reform program (although that may explain some of it). It is also because of the process he has used to push his signature initiative--a process that reeks of arrogance, deception and bullying.

This was unexpected: Even those who weren't crazy about the president's policies generally liked and respected the man. He seemed to be even-tempered, honest and somewhat earnest. He came across as reflective and open to debate, listening and persuasion.

This Obama has disappeared in the past few weeks while the health care debate has unfolded. Rather than open, he comes across as a sarcastic and lecturing professor. Rather than honest, he has seemed duplicitous and slick. Rather than careful and measured, his plan appeared rushed and extreme.

Voters were willing to forgive haste and sloppiness in ramming through a pork-laden economic stimulus bill that only loosely splattered on the target. To many, the financial crisis and rising unemployment justified a kitchen-sink approach. Sure, there would be waste, many voters acknowledged, but better to do too much than too little. After all, what was a few billion dollars when the economy itself seemed near collapse? Washington's urgency and inattention to the details of the legislation seemed appropriate leadership in a time of crisis. And most recognized that the Congress, not Obama, was to blame for the less appetizing ingredients in the stimulus crock pot.

These traits are less acceptable in the context of health care reform; this is a systemic, generational change, and it affects our health and medical care. Haste is irresponsible and reckless when the stakes are so high, and the need for urgency comparatively weak. The Rasmussen poll finds that a clear majority of Americans are more concerned that health reform be done right rather than enacting the hastily constructed proposal currently on the table.

The refrain of a health care system in "crisis" is not just overwrought, but obviously untrue for most Americans whose personal experience is of a health insurance system that works pretty well, albeit with some inconvenience, most of the time and provides state-of-the-art care, albeit inefficiently, almost all of the time. We are not creating a one-time obligation, but a fundamental entitlement that will be with us indefinitely.

Finally, the town hall confrontations across America have shown a political class that brazenly refuses to read--much less master--the details of the legislation, an irresponsible arrogance that was tolerated when it came to the stimulus legislation but which voters are much less willing to accept when there is no need for panic.

There is a growing perception of condescension surrounding the selling of the White House's health care plan. Common sense tells us the government cannot simultaneously expand coverage and reduce costs. The government cannot dramatically inflate demand for health care services and eliminate market mechanisms for allocating them without devising some way of rationing supply and demand through political means. To suggest otherwise, as the White House has, is not just misleading but insulting. And the American people don't like to have their intelligence insulted.

The phony sense of crisis, the inattention to the details and the transparent dishonesty of many of the claims have made voters question not only the program but the president. What does Obama have to hide? Why won't he level with us? The discovery that there are hidden, controversial provisions in the plan has sparked rumors about imaginary provisions. Denouncing the false concerns as "lies," as the White House has done, doesn't redeem the apparent effort to obfuscate certain details of the plan. And the now-abandoned request of loyalists to report "suspicious communications" to the White House did nothing to assuage voters' distrust.

It is this distrust, more than anything, that is eroding Obama's popularity. Voters no longer see him as a grown-up, straight-shooter and basically good guy who is trying to do his best, but as a political opportunist taking advantage of their charity and trust.

George W. Bush had a long way to fall after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the American people trusted him to use his power responsibly to do what needed to be done to wage the war on terror. But he abused this mandate to justify policies that had little to do with keeping us safe. The American people eventually came to feel like they had been suckered by a president who took advantage of their goodwill, and they turned on him with a vengeance. Is Barack Obama in the same position, post-financial crisis?

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously announced his desire not to squander a good crisis. But Americans recognize that the health care system, while troubled, is not in crisis. Nor, as President Obama might soon discover the hard way, is global climate change a crisis for which voters will tolerate job-killing legislation enacted through slap-dash decision-making and irresponsible haste. Unless Obama quickly recognizes that voters know the difference between an authentic and inauthentic crisis, the success of his health care overhaul--and perhaps his presidency itself--is in jeopardy.

Todd J. Zywicki is a professor at George Mason University School of Law and a senior scholar at Mercatus Center.

3)Somehow, I have gotten on the mail list of the Chatham County Democratic Committee. This is the Party that claims all protests against Obama's health care plan are organized ventures and there is no grassroots movement taking place at all.

In response to that, let me share with you a note that I received from them yesterday as they "organize" a rally outside a Jack Kingston town meeting to be held on Friday. Guess only the Right organizes...the Left simply pulls together a contrived gathering of opposition.

The "colored type" emphasis in the body of this message are their's, not mine.

Dear CCDC Members and All Supporters of Health Care Reform,

Riding on the waves of the success of our rally last week at Congressman John Barrow's office - 50+ attendees - it is time to mobilize the forces once more.

This week's rally will take place at Congressman Jack Kingston's office this coming Friday, August 21, at 12 noon.

I am working to get support for this rally from other local organizations who are on record as supporting universal health care reform. Additionally the mantra for each of us is, "Each One Bring 5." So please "phone a friend (s)."

1 Diamond Causeway, Suite 7
Savannah, GA 31406

In the words of Valerie Jarrett, President Obama's senior advisor, when she responded to questions from bloggers and activists at a Netroots Nation conference in Pittsburg last week, "winning health care reform is a 'retail operation', ' a block by block,' 'person by person' effort."


Mildred Reynolds,
- CCDC -

3a) A Little More Heat, Please
By Eugene Robinson

Here's the least surprising news of the week: Americans are souring on the Democratic Party. The wonder is that it's taken so long for public opinion to curdle. There's nothing agreeable about watching a determined attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

A poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center reports that just 49 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the Democrats, compared to 62 percent in January and 59 percent in April. This doesn't mean, though, that Americans look any more kindly upon the Republican Party -- favorability for the GOP has been steady at 40 percent throughout the year, according to Pew.

What it does mean, however, is that Republican efforts to obstruct, delay, confuse, stall, distort and otherwise impede the reform agenda that Americans voted for last November have had measurable success. And it means that Democrats, having been given a mandate -- one as comprehensive as either party is likely to enjoy in this era of red-vs.-blue polarization -- don't really know how to use it.

That the Democratic Party is no paragon of organization and discipline is almost axiomatic. That's not the problem. The Pew poll suggests that the Democrats' weakness is neither strategic nor tactical, but emotional. To quote the poet William Butler Yeats: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

There's not enough passion on the Democratic side, not enough heat. There's some radiating from the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, too little emanating from the Democratic majority in the Senate, and not nearly enough coming from President Obama. Republicans, by contrast, have little going for them except passion -- but they're using it to impressive effect.

Step back from the health care debate for a moment and survey the landscape. Democrats are within sight of a goal that has fired the party's dreams for half a century. They have the power to enact meaningful reform. Polls show that Americans are hungry for reform. The solid wall of opposition once presented by big business has crumbled. Even the insurance companies and Big Pharma are ready to deal. Yet somehow we've gotten sidetracked onto an argument about "death panels," while a provision that many advocates believe is central to effective reform -- a government-run, public health insurance -- is suddenly in doubt.

How could this happen? The Pew survey suggests, basically, that Republicans are more passionate about the health care issue than Democrats.

According to Pew, those who would be "pleased" if health care reforms proposed by Obama and Congress are enacted outnumber those who would be "disappointed." But when you look at those who feel most passionately about the issue, just 15 percent say they would be "very happy" if the reforms go through, while 18 percent say they would be "angry." Among Republicans, a full 38 percent would be angry if health care reform finally passes -- but among Democrats, just 13 percent would be angered if it doesn't.

It's hard to argue that anger, per se, is something we need more of in American politics. But passion -- which sometimes, yes, finds expression in anger -- is a powerful and legitimate tool. Health care reform is something the Democratic Party has been trying to achieve since the Truman administration, and only 13 percent of Democrats would be angry if it fails? Only 27 percent of Democrats would be "very happy" if reform passes, according to Pew, while 42 percent could only bestir themselves to feel "pleased" that the Grail long sought by the most beloved Democrat of all, ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, has finally been attained?

One reason for this imbalance of passion about health care reform, I believe, is that there still is no single piece of legislation around which Democrats -- and others who see the need for reform -- can rally. But it's impossible to deny that the Republican strategy of generating anger and fear has also been a major factor.

Where are the millions who so passionately chanted "Yes, we can!" at Obama's campaign rallies? Where are the legions who cried tears of joy on Election Night and tears of pride on Inauguration Day? Is Sarah Palin now the only politician capable of inspiring "passionate intensity"?

Passion finds expression in anger, but also in hope. Democrats knew and felt that during the campaign. If they forget it, they might as well also forget about achieving the kind of fundamental change that the country sorely needs.

4) Jackie Mason On Speaking Spanish

There may be those among you who support including Spanish in our national language. I for one am 110% against this! We must preserve
the exclusivity and above all, the purity of the English language.

To all the shlemiels, shlemazels, nebbishes, nudniks, klutzes, putzes, shlubs, shmoes, shmucks, nogoodniks, and momzers that are out there pushing Spanish, I just want to say that I, for one,
believe that English and only English deserves linguistic prominence in our American culture. To tell the truth, it makes me so farklempt, I'm fit to plotz. This whole Spanish schmeer gets me
broyges, specially when I hear these erstwhile mavens and luftmenschen kvetching about needing to learn Spanish. What chutzpah!

These shmegeges can tout their shlock about the cultural and linguistic diversity of our country, but I, for one, am not buying their shtick. It's all so much dreck, as far as I'm concerned. I exhort you all to be menshen about this and stand up to their
fardrayte arguments and meshugganah, farshtunkene assertions. It wouldn't be kosher to do anything else.

Remember, when all is said and done, we have English and they've got bubkes! The whole myseh is a pain in my tuchas!

5)Ahmadinejad's defense minister is wanted by Interpol for 1994 Buenos Aires atrocity

Ahmadi Vadhidi, whom President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has designated Iran's next defense minister, was head of the notorious al Qods Brigades which ordered and organized the bombing attack on the Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that left 84 people dead.

Interpol has issued an international warrant for his arrest for this crime. (See attached photo)

Al Qods is responsible for the Revolutionary Guards terrorist operations in foreign countries. For the attack on the Jewish center, Vadhidi used Hizballah operatives with whom he was acquainted from his days as commander of the IRGC's Lebanon Corps in the 1980s.

He was especially close to Hizballah's bombing and abduction expert, the late Imad Mughniyeh. Together, they plotted and executed the kidnapping of a series of high-ranking Western officials in those years, among them William Buckley and Col, Richard Higgins.

Buckley, the CIA station chief in Lebanon, was snatched in 1984, the first senior US intelligence official to be interrogated under torture by joint teams employed by Vadhidi and Mughniyeh. He did not survive the ordeal.

Four years later, the due captured Col. William Richard ("Rich") Higgins, the highest-ranking US military and intelligence officer in Lebanon at the time. He too was tortured to death in the attempt by Iranian agents to extract the secrets of US Middle East operations.

Vadhidi has been employed in recent years at home base in Tehran, latterly as deputy defense minister with responsibility for "aerodynamic development" i.e. missiles. He has also served as head of the ministry's planning department and head of the Expediency Council's political-security commission.

The Iranian president is poised to unveil his cabinet in the coming days. Composed mainly of his most brutal cronies and loyal yes-men - as well as three women for the first time - it faces the opposition of large sections of parliament who threaten to withhold endorsement.

6) Et tu, Netanyahu?
By Caroline B. Glick

This week we discovered that we have been deceived. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's principled rejection of US President Barack Obama's bigoted demand that Israel bar Jews from building new homes and expanding existing ones in Judea and Samaria does not reflect his actual policy.

Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Attias let the cat out of the bag. Attias said that the government has been barring Jews from building in the areas since it took office four months ago in the hopes that by preemptively capitulating to US demands, the US will treat Israel better.

And that's not all. Today Netanyahu is reportedly working in earnest to reach a deal with the Obama administration that would formalize the government's effective construction ban through 2010. Netanyahu is set to finalize such a deal at his meeting with Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell in London next Wednesday.

Unfortunately, far from treating Israel better as a result of Netanyahu's willingness to capitulate on the fundamental right of Jews to live and build homes in the land of Israel, the Obama administration is planning to pocket Israel's concession and then up the ante. Administration officials have stated that their next move will be to set a date for a new international Middle East peace conference that Obama will chair. There, Israel will be isolated and relentlessly attacked as the US, the Arabs, the Europeans, the UN and the Russians all gang up on our representatives and demand that Israel accept the so-called "Arab peace plan."

That deceptively named plan, which Obama has all but adopted as his own, involves Israel committing national suicide in exchange for nothing. The Arab plan -- formerly the "Saudi Plan," and before that, the Tom Friedman "stick it to Israel 'peace' plan" -- calls for Israel to retreat to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and expel hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. It also involves Israel agreeing to cease being a Jewish state by accepting millions of foreign, hostile Arabs as citizens within its truncated borders. The day an Israeli government accepts the plan - which again will form the basis of the Obama "peace" conference" -- is the day that the State of Israel signs its own death warrant.

Then there is the other Obama plan in the works. Obama also intends to host an international summit on nuclear security for March 2010. Arab states are already pushing for Israel's nuclear program to be placed on the agenda. Together with Obama administration officials' calls for Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- which would compel Israel to relinquish its purported nuclear arsenal -- and their stated interest in having Israel sign the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty -- which would arguably force Israel to allow international inspections of its nuclear facility in Dimona -- Obama's planned nuclear conclave will place Israel in an untenable position.

Recognizing the Obama administration's inherent and unprecedented hostility to Israel, Netanyahu sought to deflect its pressure by giving his speech at Bar Ilan University in June. There he gave his conditional acceptance of Obama's most cherished foreign policy goal -- the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel's heartland.

Netanyahu's conditions -- that the Arabs generally and the Palestinians specifically recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state; that they relinquish their demand that Israel accept millions of hostile Arabs as citizens under the so-called "right of return;" that the Palestinian state be a "demilitarized" state, and that Arab states normalize their relations with Israel were supposed to put a monkey wrench in Obama's policy of pressuring Israel.

Since it is obvious that the Arabs do not accept these eminently reasonable conditions, Netanyahu presumed that Obama would be forced to stand down. What Netanyahu failed to take into consideration was the notion that Obama and the Arabs would not act in good faith -- that they would pretend to accept at least some of his demands in order to force him to accept all of their demands, and so keep US pressure relentlessly focused on Israel. Unfortunately, this is precisely what has happened.

Ahead of Obama's meeting Tuesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Al Quds al Arabi, reported that Obama has accepted Netanyahu's call for a demilitarized Palestinian state. Although Netanyahu is touting Obama's new position as evidence of his own diplomatic prowess, the fact is that Obama's new position is both disingenuous and meaningless.

Obama's supposed support for a demilitarized Palestinian state is mendacious on two counts. First, Palestinian society is already one of the most militarized societies in the world. According to the World Bank, 43 percent of wages paid by the Palestinian Authority go to Palestinian militias. Since Obama has never called for any fundamental reordering of Palestinian society or for a reform of the PA's budgetary priorities, it is obvious that he doesn't have a problem with a militarized Palestinian state.

The second reason his statements in support for a demilitarized Palestinian state are not credible is because one of the central pillars of the Obama administration's Palestinian policy is its involvement in training of the Fatah-led Palestinian army. US Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton is overseeing the training of this army in Jordan and pressuring Israel to expand its deployment in Judea and Samaria.

The US claims that the forces it is training will be responsible for counter-terror operations and regular police work, and therefore, it is wrong to say that Dayton is raising a Palestinian army. But even if this is true today, there is no reason not to assume that these forces will form the backbone of a future Palestinian army. After all, the Palestinian militias trained by the CIA in the 1990s were trained in counter-terror tactics. This then enabled them to serve as the commanders of the Palestinian terror apparatus from 2000 until 2004 when Israel finally defeated them. It is the uncertainty about these forces that renders Obama's statement meaningless.

And that gets to the heart of the problem with Netanyahu's conditional support for Palestinian statehood. Far from deflecting pressure on Israel to make further concessions, it trapped Israel into a position that serves none of its vital interests.

For Israel to secure its long-term vital national interests vis-�-vis the Palestinians, it doesn't need for the US and the Palestinians to declare they agree to a demilitarized state or for a Palestinian leader to announce that he recognizes Israel's right to exist or even agrees that Israel doesn't have to commit national suicide by accepting millions of Arab immigrants. For Israel to secure its national interests, Palestinian society needs to be fundamentally reorganized.

As we saw at the Fatah conclave in Bethlehem last week, even if Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas were to accept Netanyahu's conditions, he wouldn't be speaking for anyone but himself. Fatah's conclave -like Hamas's terror state in Gaza - gave Israel every reason to believe that the Palestinians will continue their war against Israel after pocketing their state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. There is no Palestinian leader with any following that accepts Israel. Consequently, negotiating the establishment of a Palestinian state before Palestinian society is fundamentally changed is a recipe for disaster.

Furthermore, even if Netanyahu is right to seek an agreement with Mitchell next week, he showed poor negotiating skill by preemptively freezing Jewish construction. Domestically, Netanyahu has lost credibility now that the public knows that he misled it. And by preemptively capitulating, Netanyahu showed Obama that he is not a serious opponent. Why should Obama take Netanyahu's positions seriously if Netanyahu abandons before them before Obama even begins to seriously challenge him?

Beyond the damage Netanyahu's actions have inflicted on his domestic and international credibility is the damage they have caused to Netanyahu's ability to refocus US attention and resolve where it belongs.

As Netanyahu has repeatedly stated, the Palestinian issue is a side issue. The greatest impediment to Middle East peace and the greatest threat to international security today is Iran's nuclear weapons program. A nuclear armed Iran will all but guarantee that the region will at best be plagued by continuous war, and at worst be destroyed in a nuclear conflagration.

Netanyahu had hoped that his conditional support for Palestinian statehood, and his current willingness to bar Jews from building homes in Judea and Samaria would neutralize US pressure on Israel and facilitate his efforts to convince Obama to recognize and deal rationally with the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program. But as Ambassador Michael Oren made clear on Sunday, the opposite has occurred.

In an interview with CNN, Oren said that Israel is "far from even contemplating" a military strike against Iran's nuclear installations." He also said, "The government of Israel has supported President Obama in his approach to Iran, initially the engagement, the outreach to Iran."

From this it appears that Israel has not only made no headway in convincing the administration to take Iran seriously. It appears that Jerusalem has joined the administration in accepting a nuclear armed Iran.

It is possible that Oren purposely misrepresented Israel's position. But this too would be a disturbing turn of events. Israel gains nothing from lying. Oren's statement neutralizes domestic pressure on the administration to get serious about Iran. And if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear installations in the coming months, Oren's statement will undoubtedly be used by Israel's detractors to attack the government.

Some critics of Netanyahu from the Right like Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman claim that it may well be time to begin bringing down Netanyahu's government. They are wrong. We have been down this road before. In 1992 the Right brought down Yitzhak Shamir's government and brought the Rabin-Peres government to power and Yassir Arafat to the gates of Jerusalem. In 1999 the Right brought down the first Netanyahu government and gave Israel Camp David and the Palestinian terror war.

There is another way. It is being forged by the likes of Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon on the one hand and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on the other.

Ya'alon argues that not capitulating to American pressure is a viable policy option for Israel. There is no reason to reach an agreement with Mitchell on the administration's bigoted demand that Jews not build in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. If the US wants to have a fight with Israel, a fight against American anti-Jewish discrimination is not a bad one for Israel to have.

Ya'alon's argument was borne out by Huckabee's visit this week to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Huckabee's trip showed that the administration is not operating in a policy vacuum. There is plenty of strong American support for an Israeli government that would stand up to the administration on the Palestinian issue and Iran alike.

Netanyahu's policies have taken a wrong turn. But Netanyahu is not Tzipi Livni or Ehud Olmert. He is neither an ideologue nor an opportunist. He understands why what he is doing is wrong. He just needs to be convinced that he has another option.

JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

6a) The Truth About Death Counseling
By Charles Krauthammer

Let's see if we can have a reasoned discussion about end-of-life counseling.

We might start by asking Sarah Palin to leave the room. I've got nothing against her. She's a remarkable political talent. But there are no "death panels" in the Democratic health care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate.

We also have to tell the defenders of the notorious Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 that it is not quite as benign as they pretend. To offer government reimbursement to any doctor who gives end-of-life counseling -- whether or not the patient asked for it --is to create an incentive for such a chat.

What do you think such a chat would be like? Do you think the doctor will go on and on about the fantastic new million-dollar high-tech gizmo that can prolong the patient's otherwise hopeless condition for another six months? Or do you think he's going to talk about -- as the bill specifically spells out -- hospice care and palliative care and other ways of letting go of life?

No, say the defenders. It's just that we want the doctors to talk to you about putting in place a living will and other such instruments. Really? Then consider the actual efficacy of a living will. When you are old, infirm and lying in the ICU with pseudomonas pneumonia and deciding whether to (a) go through the long antibiotic treatment or (b) allow what used to be called "the old man's friend" to take you away, the doctor will ask you at that time) what you want for yourself -- no matter what piece of paper you signed five years ago.

You are told constantly how very important it is to write your living will years in advance. But the relevant question is what you desire at the end -- when facing death -- not what you felt sometime in the past when you were hale and hearty and sitting in your lawyer's office barely able to contemplate a life of pain and diminishment.

Well, as pain and diminishment enter your life as you age, your calculations change and your tolerance for suffering increases. In the ICU, you might have a new way of looking at things.

My own living will, which I have always considered more a literary than legal document, basically says: "I've had some good innings, thank you. If I have anything so much as a hangnail, pull the plug." I've never taken it terribly seriously because unless I'm comatose or demented, they're going to ask me at the time whether or not I want to be resuscitated if I go into cardiac arrest. The paper I signed years ago will mean nothing.

And if I'm totally out of it, my family will decide, with little or no reference to my living will. Why? I'll give you an example. When my father was dying, my mother and brother and I had to decide how much treatment to pursue. What was a better way to ascertain my father's wishes: What he checked off on a form one fine summer's day years before being stricken; or what we, who had known him intimately for decades, thought he would want? The answer is obvious.

Except for the demented orphan, the living will is quite beside the point. The one time it really is essential is if you think your fractious family will be only too happy to hasten your demise to get your money. That's what the law is good at -- protecting you from murder and theft. But that is a far cry from assuring a peaceful and willed death, which is what most people imagine living wills are about.

So why get Medicare to pay the doctor to do the counseling? Because we know that if this white-coated authority whose chosen vocation is curing and healing is the one opening your mind to hospice and palliative care, we've nudged you ever so slightly toward letting go.

It's not an outrage. It's surely not a death panel. But it is subtle pressure applied by society through your doctor. And when you include it in a health care reform whose major objective is to bend the cost curve downward, you have to be a fool or a knave to deny that it's intended to gently point you in a certain direction, toward the corner of the sick room where stands a ghostly figure, scythe in hand, offering release.

7) Commentary: Why the doctor won't see you now
By Dr.Kevin Pho

Dr. Kevin Pho says health reform can't succeed as long as there's a shortage of primary care doctors.

When President Obama recently cited the number of Americans without health insurance, he declared that, "We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women, and children."

Uninsured patients often delay preventive care, waiting to seek medical attention only when their conditions worsen. This leads to more intensive treatment, often in the emergency department or hospital where costs run the highest.

Universal health coverage is therefore a sensible goal, and the reforms being considered all make considerable effort to provide everyone with affordable health care.

But expanding coverage cannot succeed as long as there remains a shortage of primary care clinicians.

After all, what good is having health insurance if you can't find a doctor to see you?

Massachusetts is often held out as a model for national health reform, and the bills being considered in Washington emulate much of that state's 2006 landmark universal coverage law. As a physician in neighboring New Hampshire, I have had the opportunity to observe the effect of the Massachusetts reforms.

Today, 97 percent of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, the highest in the country. But less publicized are the unintended consequences that the influx of half a million newly insured patients has had on an unprepared primary care system.

The Massachusetts Medical Society reported that the average wait time for a new patient looking for a primary care doctor ranged from 36 to 50 days, with almost half of internal medicine physicians closing their doors entirely to new patients. And when you consider that Massachusetts already has the highest concentration of doctors nationwide, wait times will likely be worse in other, less physician-abundant parts of the country, should universal coverage be enacted federally.

When patients are forced to wait weeks to obtain medical care, they inevitably find their way into the emergency department for treatment that ordinarily can be handled in a doctor's office. Indeed, since health reform was passed, according to state data provided to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts emergency rooms have reported a 7 percent increase in volume, which markedly inflates costs when you consider that emergency room treatment can be up to 10 times more expensive than an office visit for the same ailment.

Alwyn Cassil, a spokeswoman for the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change, told HealthDay News that expanding coverage without improving access to care is a "recipe for failure," as well as unsustainable, "because it will just bankrupt us."

Massachusetts is finding out just how difficult it is to fiscally maintain universal coverage. In part due to soaring health costs, the state Legislature has proposed reducing health benefits for 30,000 legal immigrants and cutting funding to inner-city hospitals like Boston Medical Center, which, according to the Boston Globe, may "force it to slash programs and jeopardize care for thousands of poverty-stricken families."

The success of universal health coverage depends on an adequate supply of primary care providers. But the Association of American Medical Colleges is forecasting a shortage of 46,000 primary care physicians by 2025, a deficit that not only will balloon under any universal coverage measure, but cannot be made up as doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants all gravitate towards more lucrative specialty practice.

It's not only the financial incentives that need to substantially change for primary care to prosper. More important, the working conditions for the physicians already in the field have to improve. A recent survey in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that roughly half of primary care doctors reported practicing in a work environment "strongly associated with low physician satisfaction, high stress ... and [an] intent to leave."

Primary care clinicians routinely face unreasonable time pressures, a chaotic work pace, and bureaucratic impediments. Onerous paperwork requirements that obstruct patient care have to be reduced. And instead of the current system which encourages doctors to rush through as many office visits as possible, physicians who take the time to counsel, guide, and address all of their patients' concerns should be rewarded. Better valuing the doctor-patient relationship will increase satisfaction, not only for physicians, but for their patients as well.

Such solutions, however, have been largely absent from the health reform conversation.

Although it is a moral imperative for every American to have access to health insurance, alleviating the shortage of primary care providers is of equal importance. The prospect of suddenly adding tens of millions of patients to an overburdened primary care system has the potential to make the already dire state of American health care even worse.