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July 31, 2009

WHEN DOES OBAMA CRASH?

 

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WHEN DOES OBAMA CRASH?

 

The Coming Populist Rejection Of The Obama ‘Promise’

 

The Democratic Party has lost its populist roots.  Its elites have led us to the edge of a cliff.  By elites, I mean the following:

 

Elites are – almost by definition – out of touch with the rest of us “common” folk. 

 

A more formal definition holds that elites are those subgroups among the human family, the members of which enjoy a putative, self-identifying “superiority” (whether assumed via cultural, intellectual, class or economic distinction). This status as “superior” is understood to distinguish elites in some essential way (as opposed to any situational or circumstantial status) from the so called “common” people. And that seductive sense of superiority ineluctably tends to insulate all those it infects from the concerns, sense and wisdom of the common people. 

 

In other words, elites are those “superior” people who are notoriously susceptible to lapses in common compassion, common sense and common wisdom as a direct result of their sense of superiority.

 

By the cliff, I mean that the sheer scale of the ‘bread and circuses’ extravagance of the federal government, running downhill on empty, chased by a growing army of creditors is beyond rescue. 

We will not simply be able to ‘grow out’ of a multi-trillion dollar fiscal CRATER.  When the prospect of being trapped in that hole dawns on the American people (and we are at that tipping point right now) there will be electoral hell to pay.

 

Here’s a populist maxim:  You can’t keep on borrowing.” Here’s another, “I earn it, I get to keep it.”  How far the democratic leadership has strayed.

 

Bill Clinton has plausible populist roots and instincts.  Only a populist democrat, for example (albeit under prodding from  populist conservatives) could implement welfare reform.

 

Mr. Obama lives and breathes the air shared by the country’s liberal elites.  His populist street cred is minimal, conferred externally by adoring black voters (whose innate social populism drove the defeat of the gay marriage initiative in California).

 

Enter Victor Davis Hanson, a Hoover scholar and farmer, a conservative democrat -- he has sounded the warning as to Obama train runs past us all, headed downhill, without brakes.

 

 

“Dozens of key Democratic lawmakers do not wish to run in 2010 on a platform of a $2 trillion annual deficit, serial apologies abroad, and more trillions in additional borrowed money for dubious programs like nationalized health care and cap-and-trade environmentalism. Their earlier Obamania was predicated on expectations that Obama's stimulus would, by now, be inflating the economy, and we'd go back to a little grumbling at most at Obama's pledge to return to Clinton tax rates, which would supposedly help lower the deficit.

“Instead, we are now talking about borrowing another trillion for a second reckless pork-barreling stimulus, more debt, and adding new higher payroll, state, and surcharge taxes on top of the new rates. So former Obamian Democrats are uneasy and daily watching the polls for that key moment when Obama's polls hit 49%, at which point they will begin to bail, and Obama ("This is not about me"/"You're going to destroy my presidency"), for the first time in his life, discovers that his accustomed charm has now worn off and he is left to draw on two-years worth of senate experience. (Obama at least hopes that Biden, Frank, Holder, and Michelle do not come forth to rally the troops.)”

 

Link: http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson073009.html

Hanson has nailed it....

JBG

 

 

 

July 30, 2009

BLUE DOG CARE - REASON OR CAPITULATION?

 

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BLUE DOG CARE – REASON OR CAPITULATION?

THE HEALTH CARE DARE: BETTER, NOT PERFECT
By Jay B. Gaskill

 

THE PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGE

 

On June 10, the president challenged, “To those who criticize our efforts, I ask them, ‘What's the alternative?’”
 
A SANE RESPONSE

 

Health care partisans are disturbed by that irritating, in-house truth teller, the Congressional Budget Office, whose cost numbers are chillingly honest.  There is no realistic scenario in which the pending utopian plans, however the costs are disguised, do not come with a huge tax burden.   

 

Top-down, bureaucratic cost containment has a clear history:  It always fails.  The repeated attempts of government bureaucracies to imitate market-driven efficiencies are like drunken Cossacks plodding their way through a ballet.  Subsidies prop up prices.  Bureaucrats are clueless when asked to produce real efficiencies, but they do know how to reduce performance.  The inevitable budget cutbacks are always felt in delayed diagnosis and treatment. The current, crisis-driven hard sell is like pushing bypass surgery on someone who just needs cholesterol reducing meds and daily aspirin.  Worse still, the bypass that is proposed will actually starve the heart, eventually requiring a new one.  By that time, the only option will be a crude mechanical pump, one size-fits-all. The country is on the precipice of a legislatively enabled led health care catastrophe, one that risks permanent damage to the system.

 

A massive new set of entitlements would be foolish to undertake in the best of times.  During a recession it is flat out insanity.  Fortunately, a growing number of my fellow Blue Dog Democrats are beginning to balk. Almost any alternative would be better than the poison-pill entitlement scheme currently at the prow of the “reform” juggernaut.  If moderates and conservatives take up the president’s challenge, we might be able to make some progress without killing the patient.

 

REFORM GUIDELINES:

 

1. Incremental reform.  We are living through an economic crisis, not a heath care crisis.  Global, top down “reform” proposals have failed in better times, and they deserve even more to fail now when the consequences of making bad policy are amplified tenfold.
2. Better portability and access.  The proposal is for “better” not perfect. 

3. No new unfunded (or under-funded) entitlements. 

4. Incremental, testable progress.  By addressing the real problems realistically and gradually, there will be an opportunity for a progress metric, allowing for self correction and adjustment.

 

REALISTIC PROPOSALS:

 

1. Price Transparency.  Hospitals, physicians and clinics will be required to post actual costs and prices and given incentives for discounts, including a tiny subsidy for accepting credit card payments (offsetting the bank-lender fees).

 

2. Expanded, Shared Risk Pools. In cooperation with state governments and private insurers, the government will insure shared risk pools that contain a sufficiently large mix of patients to offset the high-cost patients.  The resulting per-patient cost then is shared by all private insurers who buy into the pool, subject to the federal guarantee.  Note: The scope of the guarantee is carefully limited, though it can be augmented by state, municipal and charitable supplements.  The risk pools should be assembled incrementally, but available nationally as they come on line.  An illustrative example: $4,500 deductible per condition or per year for serial conditions, with a $1 million cap.  Private individuals could buy-in directly; private insurers, from HMO’s & 80% coverage models to self insured small businesses could contract to fold the group in to a package that includes other coverage.  Each fiscal year, costs and risks would be reevaluated by industry and government actuaries and guarantees adjusted accordingly.

 

3. Indigent Clinics, Not ER Crowding. The requirement that no one can be turned away from an emergency room would be relaxed whenever a hospital, otherwise subject to that mandate, facilitates the establishment of a qualifying clinic nearby to which the hospital contributes at least one physician on call and a nurse practitioner.  The financial arrangements are to be kept flexible, with an expectation that private donations could be commingled with public resources, including volunteer medical staff.  These would be structured as not-for-profit entities, loosely affiliated with the parent hospitals that would establish operating standards but would be fully insulated by law from all liability.  Fees for service would be scaled, a nominal fee for all (to be waived in extreme cases) up to the full fee. Credit cards and prepaid medical cash cards accepted. 

 

4. Fast Track Medical Bankruptcies. A separate, streamlined bankruptcy procedure would be established for medical expenses only.  Under rules established by the court, for good cause, additional bankruptcy filings can be entertained before the current waiting period.

 

AVOID THESE HEATH CARE TRAPS AT ALL COSTS

 

  1. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OR GUISE, FORBID OR DIFFERENTIALLY BURDEN THE RIGHT OF AN INDIVIDUAL PATIENT TO PRIVATELY CONTRACT WITH A WILLING PHYSICIAN.   THIS IS NO IDLE CONCERN.  THE ORIGINAL BILL WOULD HAVE SET IN MOTION A BUREAUCRATIC JUGGERNAUT THAT WOULD HAVE ACCOMPLISHED JUST THAT. DO NOT APPROVE ANY BILL THAT HAS NOT BEEN CAREFULLY VETTED TO PROTECT THE PATIENT’S ACCESS TO PRIVATELY RETAINED MEDICAL SERVICES.
  2. BEWARE THE “FUTILITY” DOCTRINE.  BUREAUCRATIC CONTROL OF HEATH CARE RESOURCE ALLOCATIONS NECESSARILY MEANS TOP-DOWN COST CONTROLS IN THE FORM OF DOCTRINES GOVERNING ‘APPROVED AND ‘NOT-APPROVED’ MEDICAL PRACTICES.’  ONE OF THESE DOCTRINES IS THE ‘FUTILITY’ DETERMINATION.  THIS IS A DRAMATIC STEP THAT CAN BE INVOKED RIGHT IN THE ER, WHERE TREATMENT SUDDENLY STOPS.  THE DOCTRINE ALLOWS A PHYSICIAN (OR COMPELS THE DOCTOR SUBJECT TO A BUREAUCRACY THAT CONTROLS PHYSICIANS) TO DENY ANY TREATMENT IF IT IS ‘FUTILE’ GIVEN THE PATIENT’S AGE OR OTHER CONDITION.   THIS IS A SLIPPERY SLOPE.  IT STARTS WITH THE DENIAL OF GRANDMA’S HIP OPERATION, BUT QUICKLY LEADS TO THE DENIAL OF YOUR HEART OPERATION BECAUSE YOU ARE OVER SIXTY FIVE, THEN FIFTY FIVE.
  3. DO NOT ALLOW AN UNELECTED COMMITTEE OR AGENCY TO CONTROL YOUR ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE, ITS QUALITY OR SOPHISTICATION. 

 

SOME my fellow Blue Dog Democrats are getting the message: The federal ‘In-box’ is already jammed with spending far beyond the national means.  Don’t screw this up for our children.

 

Will the forces of common sense and fiscal restraint acquire the necessary backbone in time? 

 

___

 

Jay Gaskill, a California Attorney, was the former Alameda County Public Defender

 

 

 

 

 

July 22, 2009

Hillary's Trial Baloon --Stopping Iran's A-bomb with Audacious Fantasy

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COPYRIGHT 2009 BY JAY B. GASKILL. CONTACT: law@jaygaskill.com


STOPPING IRANIAN NUKES WITH WORDS AND AUDACIOUS FANTASY


On the ides of June, I revisited the problematic softness of the current administration's foreign policy / national security posture. My piece, “Courage Holocaust” - http://jaygaskill.com/CourageOrHolocaust.htm - was in the form of an open letter to Chief of Staff, Emanuel. As with all such letters, it's still languishing in the “Don't bother him with this” pile.


If you haven't read my analysis, please do. In part, I opined that --


“The reason that the Iranian regime will not back down is that the ruling clique see only two scenarios, and either scenario is glorious. In the one where nuclear weapons are acquired by the Zion-hating mullahs, Iran becomes the world’s ethnic cleanser-in-chief and the untouchable terror-export bully. This would mark the beginning of a nightmare that would make the cold war standoff of the last century seem like a pleasant dream.


The scenario where Israel is provoked into a preventative air strike, followed by a punishing counterattack is equally glorious. The Israelis are too civilized to inflict unnecessary civilian casualties, but the Iranian regime considers killing Israeli civilians a worthy goal. The image of the USA, sitting idly by while its “evil” friend suffers a retaliatory “symbolic” holocaust, is the jihadist wet dream.”


My worst fears may have been realized. It follows that Mr. Emanuel is either a complicit party to the administration's Carteresque hand wringing- “Please, please give up your WMD's policy” - or he has so far been completely ineffectual in adding the necessary spine to POTUS' approach to the intransigent nuclear terrorists.


As Iran swiftly approaches the point of no return, many thoughtful democrats and republicans are asking: What will POTUS do now?


It looks like Hillary may have just spilled the beans:


NEW YORK TIMES

By MARK LANDLER

July 22, 2009 PHUKET, Thailand —

“Stiffening the American line against two nuclear-minded countries, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Wednesday that the United States would not offer North Korea any sweeteners to return to talks and would consider extending a “defense umbrella” over the Middle East if Iran does not heed calls to halt its nuclear weapons program.

“Mrs. Clinton clarified later that her comments on Iran, delivered in advance of a regional meeting here, did not represent a change in the Obama administration’s policy, which is to prevent Tehran from obtaining a bomb. But her words suggested that the administration is at least contemplating how to cope with a nuclear-armed Iran, should all efforts at negotiation fail.”


Translation. The administration already knows that diplomacy will fail to deter Iran and Hillary knows that the current national security team has no stomach for the necessary military action to prevent the preeminent Middle East terror sponsoring regime from getting the A-bomb. The pending question has been answered: Who will bell the cat? No one. We apparently will be relying on the catnip/blind mice defense.


G-d help Israel. G-d help the USA.


JBG

July 19, 2009

THE MOON, IN SPITE OF ALL

As published on “The Policy Think Site'' <www.jaygaskill.com> and the “Human Conspiracy Blog”, Copyright 2009 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law. Contact the author at <law@jaygaskill.com>



THE MOON – IN SPITE OF ALL CONTRARY FORCES...


It was this day, a Sunday, July 20,1969, at 4:17 PM Eastern, 1:17 Pacific.


The first human being (the legendary Neil Armstrong) stood on another world. He had descended an aluminum ladder in a vacuum at 1/6th earth's gravity, wearing an inflated suit that weighed about 180 pounds and lightly bounced down on a celestial body that humans from Aristotle to Asimov had seen only as a glimmering object in the sky, a planetoid beyond all weather, accessible only in myth.


Half a billion people watched the landing on television. About the same time, Astronaut Buzz Aldrin took communion in the landing module; this was done in complete secrecy because anti-religious forces had intimidated the Nixon Administration and NASA.


That same day, CBS news legend Walter Cronkite appeared with science fiction legend Robert Heinlein, whose space travel stories had inspired young pilots to become astronauts. In the course of that discussion, Heinlein made a profound point that has since gone almost unnoticed: Future human societies will use that epochal first moon landing as Year One in a post earthbound calendar.


Heinlein and Cronkite were authentically enthusiastic about this accomplishment and its larger significance. The prosaic and distracted Richard Nixon was not.


The technologically advanced societies of the world have endured much and accomplished much since 1969 but the Apollo program was allowed to die a bureaucratic death. Bold exploration, once one of the most important of all human endeavors, has been allowed to recede into the realm of cinema and athletic contests. Heroic accomplishment is in disfavor among the politically correct, unless it represents altruistic sacrifice for the less fortunate, or the hobby of celebrities.


Heinlein was not religious, but he understood the ultimate value of heroism to the human enterprise. Both he and Buzz Aldrin were on track. Human achievement is driven by heroes and is often sustained by religious faith.


The year 1969 WAS Year One. The human destiny, the one path that includes human survival far, far into the future, is not confined to the third planet of a single solar system.


We humans do not live for the mundane alone. We are sustained in the long term by the Greater Things. Take away our great dreams and we whither. But honor the DREAMS and rejoice the heroes who risk great things, and we will thrive....


JBG

July 08, 2009

Michael Jackson - Passing Too Soon?

Welcome to the Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com    
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→The Human Conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3 
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All contents, unless otherwise indicated are --
Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article - except for personal use - is needed. Forwarded links welcomed.

 

Contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com
 

 

 

PASSING TOO SOON?
Michael Jackson, 1958-2009....

 

Society properly grants a certain moral license to the productive members of the creative community.  But there are limits to this indulgence.  We draw a line when the artist allows his or her creative work to support the dark side, as in when film maker Leni Riefenstahl became a skillful, uncritical propagandist for Adolph Hitler in the 1945 film, “Triumph of the will”.  No one would suggest that Mr. Jackson fell into Ms. Riefenstahl’s category...on any level.

 

We also tend to condemn the artist, not for ordinary moral lapses, but when those tendencies become predatory. 

 

There is a substantial subset of Americans who put Michael Jackson in the latter category - however they might feel about Mr. Jackson’s significant contributions to our musical/entertainment culture.  For them, his childhood innocence was prolonged beyond its natural span and mutated (as did his surgically altered face) into a predatory faux-innocence. 

 

As to the detailed merits of the charges against Mr. Jackson, I remain an agnostic.  But for me, Michael Jackson’s passing from this world does not fall into the classic tragic category (like that of, say Buddy Holley or Wolfgang Mozart).  His demise at the age of 50 in the presence of his cardiologist in a hotel room on the front end of a huge world tour designed to retire mounting debts, does not lead some of us to join in the chorus, “Sadly, he passed before his time....”  

 

JBG

 


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