Republicans 47 Democrats 46

…That is what the most recent USA Today/Gallup would read like if politics were a sporting event.  This score does not really provide us with anything substantive, so we need to break down the game-time statistics instead.  For this, I decided to go to The Huffington Post.  Keep your friends close, your enemies non-friends closer (in the spirit of civility and the censoring of Huckleberry Finn).  This is the equivalent of reading the Washington Post to see how the Cowboys played… nevertheless, I am certain that we can gleam some valuable insight by considering HuffPo’s point-of-view.  Here’s how it starts out:

Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they had a favorable view of the GOP, while 43 percent said they had an unfavorable view. Since late in 2005, Gallup has rarely found the party with an unfavorable rating below 50 percent

Now, I am no professional writer.  However, I am a graduate of Montgomery County’s public schools, and remember being taught that if you are going to write numbers stick to writing them out or writing the number (forty-seven or 47), but do not mix.

The article points out that Republicans have a 47% Favorable rating, and a 43% Unfavorable rating.  Not overly impressive, except when it is mentioned that Republicans carried out a November landslide with worse favorable numbers.  The Democrats have a 46% Favorable rating, and 47% Unfavorable one.  This isn’t very good for the party that tends to enjoy high favorable marks because, let’s face it, they come across as the bleeding-heart caring type.  Everyone is more favorable of the parent that says ‘yes’ all of the time, and never punishes, and is the push-over; while the other parent is the one that really molds your disciplined being.  That is what Americans need, they need the disciplinarian.

Despite all of the wonderful information that can be taken from this poll, and all of the analysis that can be done, Huffington Post chooses to live in the past:

As the Gallup poll’s trend data shows, public views of the parties can shift quickly. As recently as May of last year, Gallup found that only 36 percent of Americans had a positive view of the Republican Party while 58 percent had a negative view, for a net rating of -16.

…Really…?  Who’s living in the past now?  By the way, this was how the article was closed-out.  Brava HuffPo!

-rj

Eric Holder vs Liz Cheney (Part Deux)

Originally Posted on Draft Liz Cheney:

Attorney General Eric Holder took his turn in front of the Senatorial talking-points firing squad (also known as a “Senate Committee Hearing,” where Senators don’t bother with what could be regarded as inquiry and instead try to fit as many one-liner rhetorical pot-shots they can during their allotted time) Wednesday.   Interestingly enough, the New York Times reported the event in a considerably concise manner: touching upon the concerns Republicans (and Democratic New Yorkers) had with the idea of the Justice Department holding terrorist trials in New York, or in the United States period.  The Times is also sure to point out the small spat between Senator Jeff Sessions (R – AL) and Mr. Holder, while de-emphasizing Mr. Holder’s respectable ability to quibble his way around Senator Session’s questions and points.  In the end, even Senator Schumer (D – NY) pointedly registered his view that New Yorkers’ had developed a fairly strong consensus against any terrorist trial being held in the state.

Of course, I write for this website that encourages Liz Cheney in a direction that would land her in some sort of public office.  With that in mind, I had to journey into forbidden waters to find what truly interested followers of Draft Liz Cheney, which was the part of the testimony where the Attorney General goes out of his way to address his contempt for Keep America Safe’s campaign to elucidate the nine lawyers working on terrorism cases that had defended ‘suspected’ terrorists in the past.  Fortunately, the HuffingtonPost does a fair and balanced article on the Attorney general’s scornful remarks:

“There has been an attempt to take the names of the people who represent Guantanamo detainees and to drag their reputations through the mud,” he said, when pressed to disclose more information about these lawyers by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “There were reprehensible ads in essence to question their patriotism. I’m not going to allow these kids… I’m not going to be a part of this effort.”

Holder continued: “Their names are out there now. I’m simply not going to be a part of that effort. I would not allow good, decent lawyers who have followed the best traditions of American jurisprudence… I will not allow their reputations to be besmirched. I will not be a part of that.”

Had Mr. Holder answered the questions raised regarding the Justice Department’s employment of attorneys that had been involved in terrorist defense cases, no one’s reputation would have been “dragged through the mud.” Furthermore, it was not for the purpose of dragging through the mud that Senators (before Keep America Safe even became involved) asked the Attorney General for those names in November to begin with, it was in the interest of full disclosure and transparency: these two nefarious notions that the Obama Administration promised would be at the forefront of their Administration. When the Justice Department ducked and dived, Keep America Safe stepped up to the plate and Liz Cheney called Attorney General Holder out on it.

I find it interesting that Holder’s lawyers are “good” and “decent,” while the Bush Administration’s lawyers faced possible indictments the entire year following Bush 43’s ride into the sunset. What is killing the Obama Administration is the knowledge that they might be able to kick around Sarah Palin and a few others by calling them stupid or letting SNL do their dirty work for them; but they cannot do the same with Liz Cheney. This is what makes her such a force inside the beltway, and why we need to push her in that direction.

-rj

Huffington Post is REALLY Stretching It This Time

Last week, a strong accusation was made against Sean Hannity’s Freedom Concerts and the donations to soldiers which the organization- and Hannity- claim to engage in, as well as their fundraising practices. Since the accusation was made, Media Matters mostly brushed over it, citing the accuser’s lack of substantial, in-depth evidence to make a strong case for running roughshod over Hannity. They admitted her numbers tracked, but that she missed a lot of important information.

Unfortunately, Huffington Post has ignored the MM and Frum Forum analyses- the latter, particularly, shows that the accusations are false- and has an article on the front page of the site headlined, “Sean Hannity’s Charity Accused Of ‘Deceptive And Illegal’ Practices.” While technically accurate, as accusations have been made, it would have been nice if the headline had admitted the accusations were wrong. Instead, Huffington Post goes on the attack, with nary a thought for, you know, the evidence.

Ironically, it is Media Matters who has to step in and remind everyone that liberals don’t consider the Hannity accuser, one Debbie Schlussel, a reliable source, and so believers in what she wrote should tread lightly. It’s too bad Huffington Post did not follow suit, especially when, to quote Frum Forum’s Tim Mak on Schlussel’s accusation Hannity benefited from the organization’s travel budget:

If Schlussel stands behind her statement, then she will have to do better than a quote from a blind source, who is, as she admits, a friend of a friend.

Coburn Gets A Good Start

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is one of the most intelligent congressional Republicans on health care. During the crock “summit” a few weeks ago, he hammered the fact that one-third of America’s health care costs are wasted, and that anti-fraud (10% of Medicare’s costs) and tort reform ($54 billion dollars over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office) efforts are good places to start reforming the system. Today Yahoo! News has published a column by Coburn, where he lays out some specific failures of the Senate bill.

This is not Coburn’s best work- he did better in his two Huffington Post pieces, and as I said above was a great conservative representative in the summit. He does, however, name the number one issue with American health care and health insurance: cost. Since cost is directly related to access, lowering cost would increases access. Unfortunately, as Coburn points out, the Senate/House/garbage bill increases coverage (access) to health insurance without lowering cost, and in fact increases cost. Thus, we will have a failure on multiple levels if the Senate bill passes the House.

I think Coburn missed a couple of key points in his column, though this is not entirely his fault- he covered a great deal, and it’s not as if he could tackle everything in a 600 or 800-word opinion piece. The key things he did not address were: why he as a conservative opposes cutting Medicare, when Medicare is a single-payer health care system; why he thinks tort reform is such a big deal, when the CBO director said it would save only .5% in our health care costs (he addresses this in my first link above, though I think he overstates the case); and how lowering health care costs would lower the cost of insurance, something liberals seem not to understand.

When it comes down to it, major health care reform is simple and- surprisingly- probably bipartisan. We have to lower costs, increase patient choice and awareness of costs, lessen government control and incentivize consumer wisdom. I believe the following would do this:

1. Tort reform. It would lower health care costs, which in turn lowers health insurance rates and helps improve the quality of care in America. It would not lower costs as much as Coburn says it would (with respect, of course, to his experience as a doctor), but it would help more than the CBO says it would, since less defensive medicine lowers costs of tests/procedures; allows doctors to worry less about being sued and more about doing their work well; and allows better health because fewer invasive tests will be done unnecessarily.

2. Modify the employer exclusion tax. This would treat individual insurance the same as employer insurance is treated, thus incentivizing insurance policy holders to have their own insurance. Since there would be more direct control and knowledge of insurance, people would watch what they spend more, and when jobs are lost insurance would not necessarily be. It also would give consumers more money, since their individual insurance would now have the same tax treatment as employer-based insurance. Lastly, it would lower the costs on businesses, allowing them to grow.

3. Change our Medicare payment reform system in the style of the Dartmouth Atlas Program. It would lower costs, increase the quality of care and put something of a brake on the overutilization of resources America currently has.

4. Get rid of the insurance monopoly exemption. This will kick in market competition for both the numbers of insurance providers and the prices they charge.

5. Allow the purchase of insurance across state lines, for the same reasons as number four above.

6. Put government efforts towards going after waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and private health care insurers and providers. Even if we only cut out half of the waste/fraud/abuse in Medicare, that is $30 billion saved every year. That’s $300 in ten years.

7. By doing the above, we would put effort towards a culture that does not insure for every little paper cut, but instead treats insurance as it should be looked upon- as a backup in case of catastrophic illness or unfortunate circumstances.

I know Coburn didn’t have the room to attack all of these angles, especially since he had to go after the House/Senate/garbage bill in-depth. I do think, however, that Democrats, all of whom allegedly hate insurance companies; want to increase competition; insist on lowering costs and increasing coverage; and want a better Medicare system, could easily support the above ideas, with the exception of tort reform. This is mostly because trial lawyers are absurdly influential in Democratic circles, but also because there is a legitimate argument against the lawsuit limitations referenced by the CBO- after all, in some cases, half a million dollars won’t be enough to pay for a doctor’s mistake.

Oh, and this answers one of my concerns with Coburn’s piece- if we institute tort reform, payment reform and combat Medicare fraud/waste/abuse, we will save many tens of billions of dollars a year in Medicare costs. THIS is where cuts should be made, not arbitrarily, as Democrats want. Though I dislike Medicare, government has forced two generations of Americans to pay into the system, and the older ones deserve to get something out of it.

Huffington Post Misleads Readers

Reporting on a recent poll by Daily Kos/Research 2000, Huffington Post had this headline: “Large Portion of GOP Thinks Obama is Racist, Socialist, Non-US Citizen: Poll.” Curiously, I read the article, and noted that in several of the results specifically noted not even a plurality of Republicans believed Obama to be something negative, whether it was racist, wanting terrorists to win or not being a natural born citizen. What consists of a large number, I wonder- personally, I would expect at least a plurality in the areas referenced in the headline. I would also expect the reporter, Sam Stein, to report and not editorialize, as he did in the article.

Take a look at the poll by Daily Kos- on the one hand, it was comprehensive in the numbers and kinds of questions asked. On the other, a number of the questions were phrased in a way obviously designed to create a negative view of the Republican Party. Either way, however, Huffington Post should be above the intellectual dishonesty practiced in the published article.

Sunday Shows

While I cannot watch all of the Sunday shows due to my limited omnipresence, I was able to catch This Week on ABC with George Will, Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman, and special guest Roger Ailes of Fox News.  (This was after watching a rare Power Panel on Fox News Sunday which contained both William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer).  I must say, I was impressed with Roger Ailes’ ability to fire back at the other side of the table when they sniped, which is an action George WIll rarely does, for good reason I might add.  It was nice when Huffington accused the GOP of using “paranoid politics” and anger to energize a base that ended up helping Sen. Scott Brown win his elections, to have Ailes fire back with his own anecdote about Huffington Posts’ columns comparing Ailes to J Edgar Hoover and other similar snarky posts.  Point.  Ailes. 

The roundtable played out like a fireworks show: a pop here, glittering showers of fire and lights there before subsiding into monotone.  The end was a magnificent display, however, with Ailes calling them all out around the table, and making ABC regret extending him an invitation in the first place.  Liberal tweeters and bloggers alike are answering Ailes’ points in typical ad hominem fashion:

Roger Ailes’ doctor wants him to lose 100 pounds. #abcnews #thisweek  
 
salkken – twitter.com – 20 minutes ago
  RT @KatrinaNation: Paul Krugman terrific on ABC “This week”on dysfunctional Senate. Priceless: his face listening to Roger Ailes blathering  
 
ChrisBoese – twitter.com – 17 minutes ago
Ugh, Roger Ailes on This Week?! He looks like he ate @JoeLIEberman  
 
TheDude0415 – twitter.com – 46 seconds ago
Nice reposte people…
-rj

Is THIS what pwned means?

I have a good friend (well a couple, who would have thought it?) that is into video gaming and all of the online sophistication that our dear editor Nick is into.  Some time back, I noticed the use of the term “pwned” which my friend Andrew pronounced as “Poned” with particular stress on the P.  Over drinks at a favorite stomping ground in Maryland (Fingers & Claws – plug!) I attempted to gain a good understanding of the proper context in which to use “pwned”, which is about the same as using “owned” which I use.  However, I guess techies got bored and had to invent a new word during the downtime they acquire from “hours” of mindless stimulation (I kid, I kid!). 

I found two really good examples of when someone can use the term “pwned” which entails being destroyed by a superior power

Over a week ago, Jon Stewart was ‘pwned’ by John Yoo, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under George W. Bush.  Stewart is a smart cat, of course, but when engaged in this really good, thoughtful discussion on enhanced interrogation he gets beat by someone who obviously thought this out fully and not as half-heartedly as liberals would have you believe (bear in mind, Stewart should decide sooner or later if he is going to be a legit news reporter or journalist, or when he gets called out for being extremely biased, if he will continue to cower behind the now hackneyed “I’m an entertainer!” argument). 

[Video from HuffPo here which includes the three clips]

Last night, Marc Thiessen, author of the new book Courting Disaster, could be said to have “pwned” Christiane Amanpour (and whoever the tool box on the TV was as well).  Once again, the Conservative is trying to have a down to Earth discussion about a serious topic and the two left-leaning-friends take it to eleven and try to not even let the man talk.  In the end, Christiane should have felt embarassed if such a sentiment still exists in a CNN “reporter’s” lexicon. 

[Marc Thiessen pwnes CNN part one]

[Marc Thiessen pwnes CNN part two] – “They’re only doing training as you know” Great demonstration of ineptitude.

-rj

Harry’s Situation…

In the episode of the FX show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia called “The Gang Goes Jihad,” the three guys who own the Philadelphia bar come face-to-face with a man who just moved from Israel and had bought land that included a portion of their establishment.  Throughout the episode, the three characters banter over the proper use of the term Jew.  At one point they T.P. the man’s building, during which this exchange occurs:

“That jew’s in for a hell of a lot of work.”

“Wow, wow, cool it man.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Dude, you just dropped a hard J.”

“No man, he is of Jewish descent and that is a lot of toilet paper. That is going to take a lot of time to clean up. I was thinking bout the context the whole time.”

 

Suffice to say, I love this show.  But who needs to fork over the extra money to get FX Network when you can watch similar debates occur on the local news?  It’s one thing to have three mentally unstable friends squabble over political correctness; how about a twenty three year Senator, and current Senate Majority leader demonstrating his inability to decide whether or not to use the out-dated term negro?  In case you have been living with Patrick Star under a rock this past week, here is what Senator Reid is quoted in a new Mark Halperin book, Game Change:

            “He (Reid) was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately.”

 

The words could have come straight out of Archibald Bunker’s mouth.  What is it that has the country so enveloped in this demonstration of ignorance?  Ironically enough, Sen. Reid was attempting to compliment the future President of the United States.  Instead people are up in arms.  If we dissect the statement, we can see that there are distinct parts that probably incite more reaction than others.  In what context is the term Negro acceptable?  None (and the same goes for you Rush, even though you used it in a parody that ended up making fun of just this situation).  Is it true that lighter-skinned African Americans tend to be more influential, more popular, and more electable in society than those who are darker?  Sadly this seems to be the case in many situations, but I cannot pretend to be able to comment on the use of such racially charged language and how blacks feel about it truly, in their heart of hearts.  Perhaps we should look at what he meant by “Negro dialect,” what does he mean there?  Surely he demonstrated that he is out of touch with America because most people refer to ‘Ebonics’ or ‘street-talk’ when they are trying to make a similar point.  Nobody is unaware of either of these terms, and his comment just shows his ignorance to popular culture as well as manners. 

There is a lot to analyze there; but there seems to be something missing that is causing such turbulence in the souls of many Americans.  For me, it’s not what was said on the surface, as much as it is what was said without being said.  How can we use this black man to our advantage?  He is black, which is useful; he ‘is articulate,’ which is useful; he can turn his ‘blackness on and off;’ which is useful; in the end, this black man is useful and will succeed for us because he is black how we want him to be, but not black when we need him to be.  THAT my friends, is racism.  There seems to be a disconnect between people who are viewing these comments and only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and those of us who see the rest of the iceberg plummeting miles into the ocean.

This was seen on Sunday, when I watched with gaping mouth, as Liz Cheney and George Will clashed over this point.  Mr. Will seems to be looking at the comments on a surface level, Ms. Cheney on the deeper level.  In order to be completely forthcoming, I must fess up to a deep admiration to both people (and NONE of the others around the table).  I was sad to see the two fight, and sad to differ from George Will, again.  However, I think those African Americans who are tired of feeling like pawns in a political game; whether it’s an effort to win voting blocks in cities with programs that have proven to be detrimental to the black family and communities, or putting up candidates that fit a litmus test for winning and avoiding the Bradley Effect.  This is not a case of Republican versus Democrat, this is a demonstration of a disgusting ends justifies the means mentality for domestic politics, and should be condemned as such. 

-rj

The Party of ?No, But Here?s A Better Idea?

Since the election of President Obama, the Democrats have been very effective at portraying the Republican Party as the ?Party of No.? Depending on your political persuasion, this could be completely true, completely false or somewhere in the middle.

In the last couple of weeks, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been hammered by Erick Erickson of RedState and Michelle Malkin for not fighting to the very finish on the recent Senate passage of a health care reform bill. On the one hand, these criticisms are of delaying tactics would only have slowed the vote by twelve hours, which would have done nothing in the halls of Congress but would have, as Ed Morrissey points out, given the media less time to cover the vote?s aftermath. On the other hand, if the Republican leadership had held firm on the many opportunities they had to slow things down, for example by following Senator Judd Gregg?s (R-NH) advice, and Senator Tom Coburn?s (R-OK) wish to read every part of the Senate bill, among other tactics to slow the bill, senators would have had to go home for Christmas a) without a bill, and b) to face their constituents, the majority of whom dislike the Democratic versions of health care reform and whom are increasingly against them as time goes on.

Senators Gregg, Coburn and Jim DeMint (R-SC), among many others, have been vilified for their articulate and unyielding opposition to health care reform and other Democratic measures. However, they are also the poster children for what Republicans should be about- namely, being the party of ?No, But Here?s A Better Idea.? All of these senators, along with other Republicans, have jammed the Democrats but also offered their own solutions to the various issues facing America. They have also worked with Democrats in a bipartisan fashion on a case-by-case basis.

When it comes to dispelling the myth that Republicans have been, and are being, merely obstructionists, let’s start with Senator Judd Gregg. On the one hand, Gregg voted for Secretary Geithner?s nomination, nearly accepted a position as President Obama?s Commerce Secretary, offered support for the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett bill and has worked with Democrat Kent Conrad (D-ND) on a debt commission. On the other, Gregg has hammered Obama on debt, passed around a virtual handbook for Republican obstructionism and taken the lead on opposing Democratic reconciliation. Additionally, however, Gregg has offered his own bill as an alternative to the Democratic proposals.

Senator DeMint is probably most famous for his Waterloo statement and his numerous delaying tactics on health care reform (see here and here for examples). However, he has also worked with self-declared socialist Independent Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on halting the Bernanke nomination and bringing transparency to the Federal Reserve. As a representative of the Party of ?No, but here?s a better idea,? he too has put forth a health care alternative to the Democratic proposals.

Lastly, we have Senator Coburn. Coburn has slid in two gun amendments this year to two Democrat-supported bills, halting the DC voting bill in its tracks. He has also held up funding for veterans because he wanted to use unused stimulus funds for the benefits and loudly opposed the stimulus package. He also forced a reading of Senator Sanders? single-payer amendment to the Democratic bill. However, at the same time, he has maintained a friendship with President Obama, pushed a transparency bill with then-Senator Obama (D-IL) into law in 2006 and sponsored a Republican alternative to the Democratic health care bills on, of all places, Huffington Post. In fact, he wrote on Huffington Post not once but twice. This is a guy who clearly wants his message to get out to all Americans, not just his constituents or fellow conservatives.

Other ?No but here?s a better idea? Republicans include Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the numerous Republican co-sponsors of the Wyden-Bennett bill and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The fact is that Republicans are trying to stop a very bad makeover of a massive portion of America in ways that swing from bad policy to unethical to unconstitutional. For an example of the latter, with respect to David Frum?s recent piece supporting the individual mandate?s constitutionality, he is wrong- an individual mandate is clearly unconstitutional. Other bad components include the Senate bill’s abortion funding, the House bill’s public option and the lack of legitimate tort reform in either bill.

Personally, I think Republicans should have fought tooth-and-nail for a post-Christmas vote on the Democratic health care reform bill in the Senate. They should have offered amendments, yes, as Frum has said– but they have a responsibility to stop the bill first and foremost. That is what the minority is supposed to do with a bill as bad as this one, with as little power as Republicans and conservatives have right now- stop the legislation cold and start over with a bill that includes conservative and free market principles and ideas. Some Republicans are just being the Party of No, but sometimes saying?saying?’no’ is necessary, despite what some Democrats may say.

Democrats & Liberals Standing On Principles

The left is revolting over health care reform. Almost all Americans agree the country does need health care reform, but not the kind the current crop of Democratic Senators and Representatives want. The left and far left- as well as some of the middle- were leaning towards passage of the health care reform package going through the Senate. However, since Senator Lieberman (I-CT) broke the Medicare buy-in into pieces the other day, Keith Olbermann, Markos Moulitsas– the founder of Daily Kos- have come out against the bill, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has as well and former Vermont governor Howard Dean is against it. Too, an opinion piece featured on Huffington Post calls Dean “a genuine hero” for the way he is opposing the current bill, and the SEIU is calling out the President.

Part of me feels badly for these guys and gals. They worked really hard to put President Obama and his Democratic majority into power and are being rejected on what has been their biggest issue all along. Despite being what many consider a far-right conservative, I greatly respect their stand on their principles, and hope they will continue to work to create real reform, as Dean referenced here in his Washington Post column today: “Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.”

Except for forcing companies to cut unnecessary administrative expenses, I like what Dean for health care reform results. Hopefully he, Kos and the rest of the left will join The Heritage Foundation, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and other conservative organizations and individuals in bringing choice, competition and lower costs to American health care.

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