Archive for July, 2009

Bye-bye, Medicare. Hello, QALYs!

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

As I blogged earlier, the proposed “universal health care” plans now pending in Congress, if adopted, will replace Medicare. The new plan will provide seniors with much less health care than they get now under Medicare.

But where seniors will really get ripped is in the rationing decisions based on “comparative effectiveness research” which will discriminate against older patients. This discrimination will not be mere happenstance, but by design. Comparative effectiveness will require the bureaucrats who decide a patient’s treatment to evaluate all care based on “quality-adjusted life years” (QALYs). That means that the cost of a treatment is divided by the number of years that the patient is likely to benefit. The older the patient, the fewer QALYs the patient has to justify the expense, resulting in a higher cost rating and therefore a lower likelihood the treatment will be approved.

But will that really be what happens? This system is already in place in Britain, where that formula regularly denies treatments for older patients who have fewer years to benefit from care than younger patients. And it’s coming soon to a doctor’s office near you.

If you’re having a hard time finding “comparative effectiveness research” in the proposed bill, there’s a reason. Congress and the Administration hid that provision in a different bill. Worse yet, that bill is the Obama stimulus bill that is already law, the bill that nobody read before they voted for it! Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Congressmen Lacy Clay (D) and Russ Carnahan (D) all voted for it. Sen. Kit Bond (R) and Rep. Todd Akin (R) voted no.

And just to reinforce the point for those who don’t get it, the new government health plan will increase one service to seniors: “end of life” counseling.

Under Obamacare, old people just have a duty to die!


Obama drives new wedge between the races

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

According to a new poll by Rasmussen Reports, President Obama, who had promised to be a healer of race relations in a “post racial” presidency, actively drove a wedge between the races in last week’s prime time press conference.

In the presser’s final question, President Obama reacted to the arrest of his friend, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, by saying, “The Cambridge Police acted stupidly.”

Rasmussen Reports subsequently asked a representative sample of the public what they thought about President’s response to the question. The results showed a racial disparity that hadn’t been seen since the acquittal of O. J. Simpson:

White respondents:        Good or excellent   22%            Poor 53%

Black respondents:         Good or excellent   71%            Poor   5%

Those who defend Obama for being blind sided by an unfair question are uninformed. The current administration orchestrates its press conferences like no other, with total control over the questions and the order in which they are asked. Obama aide David Axelrod later specifically acknowledged that the administration had requested such a question from the Chicago reporter who asked it. The question was consciously placed as the press conference’s final question, so that it would have maximum impact.

Obama’s answer was planned in advance, and he was consciously race-baiting. What he didn’t plan, and couldn’t control in spite of his best efforts to do so, was the public reaction.

The next day, as part of damage control, Obama invited both the professor and the arresting officer to discuss the incident “over a beer.” Let’s see, an angry black man with the humility of a Harvard professor, a defensive cop, and free beer. What could possibly go wrong there?

My doctor confirms worst fears of Obamacare

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

At my regular checkup with my doctor this past week, I asked him about universal health care as currently proposed by President Obama and his Congress. My doctor, a young 30-something who was born here to foreign-born parents, is not politically active, but voted for Obama and regards himself as liberal. He supports the concept of universal health care, even though he realizes his income will go down after the plan takes effect. So what he said cannot be dismissed as coming from some right-wing kook.

I asked my doctor specific questions, and unlike Obama and his yes-men in Congress, he answered them. He matter-of-factly confirmed my concerns about universal health care:

  • Obamacare will replace Medicare.
  • Seniors will get less health care under Obamacare than they do now under Medicare.
  • Obamacare will ration health care.
  • Rationing will get more severe because of increasing shortages of doctors. In fact, he noted that this is already happening, because fewer students are going into medicine because of the likelihood of reduced income under Obamacare.

But my Obama-backing doctor isn’t all that concerned about rationing of health care. He sees the problem as being that Americans consume too much health care. That seems to reflect how the governing Democrats think.

So, yes, after I paid into Medicare my entire working career, just before I become eligible for it, they’re scrapping Medicare and taking all the money and lumping seniors in with everyone else in a dumbed-down plan that is essentially a budget-level HMO.

RINO vs. DINO: Party still matters

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin recently stated that she would campaign for conservative candidates, regardless of party. Locally, prominent 20-something conservative talk show host Dana Loesch has stated she will never join a political party, and the “tea party” movement in which she is involved is non-partisan and welcoming to like-minded Democrats.

I admire and support both women, but there are many situations in which that thinking should not apply. It’s appropriate for events/movements of broader appeal, such as the tea parties, but not usually for serious candidate support.

Even though it is infuriating when RINOs (Republicans in name only) cast crucial votes against the party’s (and nation’s) interests, as was the case of the handful of Republicans who gave President Obama’s cap-and-trade bill the margin it needed in the House, we must realize that those “traitors” are still more useful to us than a Democrat replacement, even a conservative DINO (Democrat in name only).

Congressional Quarterly’s party unity ratings provide objective evidence. These ratings measure what percentage of the time a member of Congress votes with his or her party in votes in which most of each party are on opposite sides. These ratings, unlike the presidential support ratings, weed out the numerous consensus matters that get nearly unanimous support.

During the first half of this year, the CQ study shows that all of the notorious “RINO 8″ who voted for cap-and-trade still voted with Republicans and against Democrats on the vast majority of polarizing votes. The worst of the RINO 8, Chris Smith of New Jersey, still voted with Republicans in key votes 64% of the time. In fact, every Republican congressman voted with Republicans more often than any Democrat congressman. Even Idaho Democrat Walt Minnick, whose 40% party unity rating was the lowest in all of Congress, voted with Republicans less than any RINO. Cap-and-trade traitor Mary Bono Mack had an 87% party unity rating on other controversial votes, and the other six RINO 8 members still voted with their GOP colleagues 65% to 76% of the time.

If cap-and-trade is the litmus test, then take note: Congress’ biggest RINO (party unity rating 63), New Orleans’ Ahn Cao (the accidental congressman who ousted “cash in the freezer” Democrat William Jefferson), voted with fellow Republicans against cap and trade. So did notorious RINOs Walter Jones, Don Young, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Steven LaTourette, as well as Missouri’s least reliable Republican, JoAnn Emerson (party unity rating 79%). We were damned glad to have these RINOs for that vote, instead of even a conservative Democrat.

It is well and good to reach out across the aisle to like-minded folks to build coalitions for causes and, of course, for support for oneself. Supporting candidates of a different party can sometimes also be acceptable in hostile one-party-rule areas like the City of St. Louis (and most other urban centers in the U.S.), where a conservative Democrat is the best alternative to another Democrat who is worse, and that support is best limited to the Democratic Primary (unless there is no Republican candidate in the general election). But in contests in which a Republican candidate is even remotely viable, we should be hesitant to support the enemy. That conservative sounding Democrat may realistically be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, even if the candidate’s intentions seem pure. Every DINO votes for Nancy Pelosi for speaker.

The time to challenge a RINO is in a Republican Primary, not with a conservative Democrat in a general election.

And sometimes not even a primary challenge is advisable. One is best avoided if it would so wound the primary winner (whether RINO incumbent or clear-thinking challenger) as to help the Democratic nominee win the general election. That’s how Republicans lost the safely Republican Maryland eastern shore seat held by RINO Walter Gilchrist after he lost the primary to conservative State Sen. Andy Harris. Gilchrist’s replacement Frank Kratovil votes with his fellow Democrats 79% of the time, including for cap-and-trade.

Creating a broad cross-party coalition on an important issue: Good.

Trading in a RINO for someone even worse: Bad.

Euro influence dogs Obama’s financial projections

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

I finally figured out why President Obama always understates the costs of his programs by so much. The Euromensch, our citizen of the world, loves everything European. We’ve known for a long time that he wants to scrap American capitalism for European socialism, but there’s more to it than that.

The culprit is Germany, specifically its language. The German word for “trillion” is “billion.” So when Obama says “billion,” he means it in its German sense, “trillion!”

But if this is the answer, run for cover when Obama says “trillion.” That’s the German word that means “quintillion” (1,000,000,000,000,000,000)!

3 ‘sleeper’ house targets GOP should pursue

After two straight elections with big Republican losses in Congress followed

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

by two years of worsening economy under President Obama, Republicans should rebound in 2010. Since the party still controlled Congress as recently as 2006, merely winning back the districts that elected Republicans just four years ago would be enough to take back control and take the speaker’s gavel away from Nancy Pelosi.

Unfortunately, some of those seats realistically aren’t coming home to the GOP because of demographic changes. When these districts elected Republicans, they didn’t have many of the minority voters who migrated into them since then and who vote mostly Democrat.

Therefore, Republicans need to turn over some other Democrat-held districts in order to take back the House. Fortunately, there are enough possibilities out there to do so. The ideal target would be a rural district that voted for John McCain for president last year but continues to elect a complacent Democrat congressman who hasn’t been seriously challenged in a while. The congressman, while using a conservative reputation to keep winning the seat, has recently voted the liberal line of the Pelosi leadership and the Obama presidency, including a high-profile vote for the cap-and-trade bill that is highly unpopular in rural America.

Based on recent election returns and Congressional Quarterly’s presidential support and party unity ratings, the following three Democratic incumbents (who aren’t on anybody’s radar screen because of their past electoral success) should be considered for targeting by the Republican Party. They all used to question their Democratic House leadership, but now when Pelosi says “Jump,” their only question is “How high?” Collectively, these three provided the decisive votes for cap-and-trade in the House. But their conservative supporters don’t know about their shifts, and won’t until they face qualified, well-financed challengers.

Ike Skelton (MO-4)
Skelton has served continuously since being swept into an open seat on Jimmy Carter’s coattails in 1976. His only serious re-election challenges were in 1982, when redistricting pitted him against fellow Congressman Wendell Bailey, and in 1996 when he held off former Lieutenant Governor Bill Phelps. Long regarded as a conservative pro-military Democrat, Skelton soured on the Iraq war and has been a loyal Pelosi foot soldier since the Democrats took power that year. Congressional Quarterly reports that during the first half of this year, Skelton supported President Obama’s position 96% of the time, just as much as Missouri’s urban congressmen Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver. The CQ party unity test showed that he toed Pelosi’s party line 97% of the time, including his decisive vote for the controversial cap-and-trade bill. This record can’t be popular in a district that gave Obama only 38% of its votes. The district has an above average over-65 population, and 61% of adults are married, both excellent demographics for Republicans. If the GOP can nationalize the 2010 elections the way Newt Gingrich did in 1994, Skelton, who will be 79 in 2010, could be vulnerable to a well-financed challenge from an experienced, well-known candidate. Four Republican state senators live in the district, including three who are term-limited, so talent is available for the Missouri Republican Party to recruit.

Bart Gordon (TN-6)
Gordon first won his seat against the tide in 2004, when Republican Ronald Reagan was sweeping to reelection. Gordon has now held the office for 25 years, and Republicans fielded no opponent last year. But his district, which gave Obama only 37% of the vote, is trending strongly Republican. After Bush and Tennessean Al Gore virtually tied in the district in 2000, Bush soared to 60% in his 2004 reelection, and McCain ran 2 points better than that in 2008. Gordon, though, hasn’t changed with his district, backing Obama’s policies 92% of the time and scoring a CQ party unity rating of 94%. He voted for cap-and-trade. Tennessee Republicans bucked 2008 trends and enjoyed great success. The party should build on that strength by recruiting and supporting a serious challenger to Gordon in 2010.

Vic Snyder (AR-2)
Snyder first won the seat on the coattails of home state President Bill Clinton in 1996. Republicans fielded no challenger in 2008, leaving that job to the fledgling Green Party. This Little Rock based district is the least rural of the three mentioned here, but Obama won just 44% of the vote, and the district’s political trend is as Republican as Gordon’s. Bush beat Gore there by just a point, improved in 2004, and McCain opened up a 10-point margin in 2008. For his part, Snyder supported Obama’s policies 96% of the time during the first half of this year, and his CQ party unity rating with Pelosi’s Democrats was 95%, including his decisive vote for cap-and-trade. This district should be the Arkansas GOP’s second 2010 priority, after recruiting a  viable Republican challenger to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (like, say, Mike Huckabee).

Not every district whose voters are rebelling against their Democratic congressman’s vote for cap-and-trade should be targeted. It would be a mistake to target some because of the impact on statewide contests, especially a U.S. Senate race. Whenever Republican activity steps up, Democrats always react by rallying their supporters with protective GOTV efforts. The Republican nature of  the three districts mentioned above means that GOTV efforts among known supporters of these Democrats might actually yield Republican votes in other contests. But in truly Democratic districts, riling up Democrats opposed to cap-and-trade could increase the turnout of Democratic votes in other contests, even if those voters cross over in the congressional contest.

An example of a district to leave alone is Missouri’s 3rd District. Hostile reaction to Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan’s vote for cap-and-trade has gained national attention. But the district backed Obama 60-39, and Democratic margins have steadily improved over recent years. Even when running for an open seat (vacated by former House Democrat leader Dick Gephardt) in 2004 against a well-financed Republican and after having won a divisive Democratic primary with less than 23% of the vote, Carnahan still carried the district by nearly 8 points. His reelections since then have topped 2-to-1. More important to Missouri and the nation is a tough U.S. Senate race where Republicans have to fight to hold onto the seat of retiring Sen. Kit Bond. The likely Democrat for that seat is Carnahan’s sister Robin. Creating a contest that increased turnout in this district could result in the loss of the senate seat. Missouri Republicans should play it smart and target Skelton and leave Carnahan alone.

McCaskill backs card check, blows off concerns

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Missourinet reports that Sen. Claire McCaskill,in a July 8 conference call with Missouri radio reporters, expressed her support for Big Labor’s “card check” bill (misnamed the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)), and belittled a 10,000 postcard petition (containing over 40,000 signatures) opposing that law.

EFCA would eliminate elections by secret ballot concerning union representation, and allow a union to be certified by merely filing signed consents from a majority of employees. Such consents would be solicited by union organizers who would be in a position to compel workers to sign or refuse in their presence. Opponents of the bill believe that workers who oppose joining a union would be intimidated into signing. Ironically, that is exactly what bill supporters hope will happen.

More interesting than McCaskill’s support for the bill was the contemptuous manner in which she dismissed opponents concern. She started with a classic “straw man” strategy, by grossly exaggerating concerns. McCaskill told the reporters, “I think that this notion that thugs are going to go out and slash people’s tires in order to get them to check a card is ludicrous and insulting to working people. That’s not going to happen.” No one said it would, Claire. Just having the union boss, someone who could influence your job assignments, watching you respond to his request is all the intimidation necessary. But that’s too much. That’s why we have secret ballots.

But McCaskill went on to acknowledge that her exaggerations had actually taken place, dismissing them as “literally a handful of instances where there has been any kind of allegation that has been proven in that regard in the last 20 years.” Well, exactly how many instances of proven tire slashing to get a worker to sign the union card is acceptable to Claire? Isn’t once too often? And wouldn’t the number be greater if these things weren’t so hard to “prove”? If one had sustained vandalism over such a thing, wouldn’t proving it be, well, life threatening?

That’s why we have secret ballots.