Discussing what's right till there's nothing left.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Change You Can Believe In? Take a Closer Look...

In the recent debate over healthcare and recess appointments, the Democrats were attacked for using tactics to get around legislative approvals and Republican filibusters. Their response? "Bush did it too." This got me to thinking. Has Obama really brought change to Washington as he promised? Or is he really just another lackey from the same school as Bush? Take a look at this chart. Maybe you have some additional comparisons to add. Feel free to comment.

Bush
Obama
Used reconciliation process to pass tax cuts opposed by Dems
Used reconciliation process to pass Healthcare reform opposed by GOP
Used recess appointments to bypass Judiciary Committee on John Bolton and Judges
Used recess appointments to bypass filibusters on NLRB and Treasury picks
Approved surge strategy for Iraq
Approved surge strategy for Afghanistan
Approved TARP to bail out banks
Approved bailout of auto industry and financial entities
Used strategy of UN pressure and sanctions on Iran
Using strategy of UN pressure and sanctions on Iran
Largely ignored North Korea
Largely ignoring North Korea
Appointed Gates Secretary of Defense
Retained Gates as Secretary of Defense
Added huge entitlement through Medicare Plan B
Added huge entitlement through healthcare reform
Expanded role of government in education through No Child Left Behind
Expanded role of government in education through student loan takeover
Refused to support border control
Refusing to support border control
Favored amnesty for illegal immigrants
Supports amnesty for illegal immigrants
Served while holding majority in both legislative houses
Serving with majority in both legislative houses

Monday, March 29, 2010

All Roads Lead to Tehran

While the Obama administration shrinks from its lofty rhetoric about dealing with Iran and instead tries to force peace in the Middle East through Israeli concessions, it has become clear that Iran is the key to peace, not Israel.

In Iraq, the lingering insurgency is mostly an Iran-backed terror campaign designed to influence the government and to weaken the US. For years it has been reported that the sophisticated IED's in use in Iraq are Iranian made. Further, Iranian money surely fuels the violence.

Likewise in Lebanon, instability comes from Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy set up to strike any foe anywhere but centered in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Hezbollah not only keeps Lebanon as a terror state but launches raids against Israel, including the one that led to the Israeli-Lebanese War. The UN brokered cease fire demanded that Hezbollah disarm. They're still laughing at that one as they rearm under the distracted eyes of UN "peacekeepers".

In Gaza, Hamas, another Iranian proxy keeps the Palestinian conflict alive with continued violence either directed against Israeli patrols or civilian targets with their thousands of Iranian made rockets.

And as the US and NATO troops are well aware, there is an Iranian connection in Afghanistan as well. Iranian made weapons are being used by the Taliban and Al Qaeda to kill US and NATO troops, keeping Afghanistan from ever emerging from continuous violence.

Obama can lean on Israel all he wants. The nexus of violence in the Middle East isn't in Tel Aviv. It is in Tehran. And until Obama realizes that and acts against the increasing Iranian threat, there will be no peace.

This summer, as the troop buildup continues in Afghanistan and the troops have yet to depart Iraq, Obama will have Iran completely surrounded with over one hundred thousand troops on each side and two aircraft battle groups on Iran's front steps in the Persian Gulf. If ever there was a time to exert the might and power of the US, it will be at this time.

Peace will only come to the Middle East once the Ayatollahs and their forces are removed from Iranian life. It's up to Obama to act.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Healthcare Fantasy by Niki Tsongas

If you want to peek into the world of make believe that today's left wing Congressman lives in, then read the letter below from US Representative Nik Tsongas, Massachusetts 5th Congressional District. The first thing you will notice is it's a form letter that in no way addresses whatever concern the constituent had. You can't tell if she's writing to a supporter or detractor of the bill.

Thank you for being in touch with me about health care reform and for taking the time to share your personal interest in this issue. I know how strongly people feel about this subject, and I've heard compelling stories from people in support and opposed to the legislation we have been debating over the past year and a half. I want to take this opportunity to explain my vote on Sunday, March 21st, in favor of health care reform.

Next she talks about the great care her husband, late Senator Paul Tsongas got as a result of his government healthcare for life benefit. She never mentions that the bill she voted for doesn't have the same benefit for us peasants that the royalty reserves for itself.

I know firsthand how providing access to affordable health care isn't a political issue, but a deeply personal one for every family. My late husband Paul waged a long, courageous fight against cancer. During that time, our family had the benefit of excellent care from extraordinarily able and dedicated professionals. I understand the fear and helplessness so many feel when faced with an illness in their family. But I have also experienced the hope our health care system can offer and shudder to think what our experience might have been if our family had been uninsured. I ran for Congress over two years ago because I believe that every American deserves access to the same level of high quality care that my family received. On Sunday, we took a step toward making that a reality.

Now she goes into how important it was to "rein in exploding healthcare costs" but never mentions what provisions of the bill do that because there aren't any.

For the last year and a half, Congress has been debating the best way to reform our broken health care system. This effort was born out of the reality that if nothing is done to rein in exploding health care costs, increasing numbers of families will no longer be able to afford coverage, businesses will no longer be able to offer health insurance to their employees, and our unsustainable deficits and long-term debt will continue to grow. These realities will compromise our country's future competitiveness, and perhaps most importantly, our own health and well-being. This debate about how best to address problems with our health care system has also been echoed at town hall meetings, diners and coffee shops, and at kitchen tables across the country.

Next she talks about how she spoke with as many residents of her district as possible but again leaves out that her town hall meetings were closed and held during the evening commute so as few people as possible could attend. More likely she met with as many union leaders, insurance executives and Planned parenthood operators as she could.

I have made it a point to talk with as many Fifth District residents as possible and sought their input and views over the past 15 months. Through my Congress On Your Corner program which has taken me to every corner of our district, at town hall meetings, during meetings in each of my offices, and in regular visits to the communities that I represent, I have had literally thousands of conversations with those I represent on this subject.

Here she talks about people in her district being denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. Really? I though under the Massachusetts healthcare law, Romneycare, insurance companies couldn't deny coverage based on preexisting conditions. As well, all her constituents are required by law to have coverage.

I have heard from small business owners about how the cost of health care is preventing them from expanding their business and forcing them to seriously consider laying off workers just to make ends meet. I have talked with Fifth District residents who have been denied coverage based on a preexisting medical condition and the painful consequences of not having access to medical care as a result. I have met with seniors who cannot afford the prescription drugs that they need to stay healthy. I have met with doctors and nurses who would like nothing better than to be able to provide care to their patients based on their medical needs, not on what their insurance plan covers. I have heard from residents who simply want to keep the plan and doctor that they currently have. And, I heard from one of the district's major employers who said providing health care for all Americans is a moral necessity.

Because this health care reform legislation addresses these many problems and accomplishes many of the goals that I believe are essential to making our system of health care more affordable, accessible and sustainable, I voted to support it.

Again, none of these "facts" Tsongas presents below apply to Massachusetts.

I have heard from many of you who have been concerned about the rising cost of healthcare, and who have wanted to know how this bill addresses that issue. In fact, the bill takes several critical steps to address our system's out of control costs. First, by requiring insurance companies to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms, colonoscopies, and routine vaccinations. For example, if a senior chooses not to get a mammogram because she could not afford it, or because it was not covered in her insurance plan, she is at greater risk of developing breast cancer and letting that cancer grow, unchecked, requiring even more expensive and potentially less effective care later on. We can avoid these additional costs and this unnecessary suffering by providing access to preventive care.

Nothing in here about the review boards or about the cap on Medicare payments that force doctors to leave the program. And how will care be affected by the half a billion dollars in cuts to Medicare that the bill included as a phony way to appear deficit neutral?

The bill helps move towards a system in which we pay doctors for the quality of care they provide, rather than the number of tests and procedures they perform. It invests in electronic health records, which will avoid the cost of duplicative tests and treatments. And it makes use of comparative effectiveness research - which will help doctors ensure that patients get the best care possible.

Here Ms. Tsongas talks about how forcing healthy people to buy insurance will lower premiums for everyone. But in Massachusetts, where such a program is in effect, premiums rose faster than any other state.

It reduces the growing cost of health care premiums and co-pays by ensuring that health insurers cannot implement excessive rate increases, and requires them to spend at least 85% of premiums on providing consumers with additional benefits, rather than on profits and overhead costs. By permitting young Americans to stay on their parents plan until the age of 26, the bill will provide them with increased financial flexibility at a time in their lives when insurance is often difficult to afford or is not offered by their employers. This will also bring millions of healthy individuals into the system, which will place downward pressure on premiums.

Ever heard of Medicare plan B? What about Medicare Advantage, the program that closed the "donut hole" until it was abolished by this bill. Glad you brought up AARP. How much does AARP get for their insurance in reward for supporting Obamacare?

I have heard from many seniors who have been unable to afford their prescription medications, and who have been forced, as a result, to dip into their social security checks and their savings in order to afford those medications. Approximately 6 million seniors - 7,400 of whom live in the Fifth District - currently fall into the Medicare 'donut hole', the gap in which prescription drugs are not covered. This bill ensures those seniors will see that gap in coverage completely closed over time. In fact, seniors who fall into the donut hole this year will see a $250 check in the mail this September to help pay for their drug costs, which will provide temporary relief. Contrary to what some critics have claimed, the bill does not reduce Medicare benefits in any way; in fact, the improvements made to Medicare strengthen the program for today's seniors and future generations and are why the bill has garnered the support of the AARP.

Women are uniquely impacted by our broken health care system, and this bill enacts reforms that will have a tremendously positive effect on the lives of women all over our country. It prohibits the practice of 'gender rating', in which insurers can charge women many times more in premiums than their male counterparts, often for less comprehensive coverage. It prohibits discrimination based on so-called 'pre-existing conditions' such as a history of domestic violence or cesarean sections. And it prohibits insurers from denying maternity care to a woman who is already pregnant.

Small businesses across Massachusetts report that they cannot hire more workers or expand due to the requirement to purchase insurance and the costs that get passed onto them. nice try though.

Small businesses are not required to offer health insurance to their employees under this bill, but for those who do, they will have access to an Exchange where they can shop for plans that will be much less expensive than what is currently offered. This is because insurers will be forced to compete for their business in a transparent manner, and because they will be able to band together and use their collective purchasing power to get low-cost, high quality plans much like large employers have access to now. Small businesses will also be eligible for a tax credit to pay for 50% of the cost of premiums for their employees. This is not something that is currently available to small businesses in Massachusetts, and is an added benefit because of national health care reform.

Huh?

Many of you have asked about how this bill will benefit Massachusetts, given that the Commonwealth has already enacted reform of its own. In fact, the bill holds many benefits that will directly impact residents in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Many middle class families who do not currently qualify for subsidies through the Commonwealth Connector will qualify because of national reform. For example, a family of three making up to $73,240 a year will be eligible for subsidies that will make insurance more affordable for them. Insurers in Massachusetts will no longer be allowed to implement lifetime or annual caps on benefits, ensuring that all residents of the Commonwealth can count on their insurance no matter how sick they get or how seriously they need to see a doctor. This legislation invests in more primary care doctors and nurses, which ensures that there are more providers available to care for patients in our state. Small businesses in the Commonwealth who offer health insurance to their employees will be eligible for a tax credit to pay for the cost of that coverage. Many of the cost control mechanisms in this legislation had to be put in place at the national level in order to bring down costs down in our state. Finally, Massachusetts taxpayers will no longer have to pay for the emergency care that uninsured patients across the country currently receive.

98% of Massachusetts residents have health insurance. That is a higher percentage than the country will have AFTER enactment of this horrid bill.

While access to care is not a pervasive problem in Massachusetts, tens of millions of Americans do not have health care coverage they can afford and that number increases by 14,000 every day. The legislation takes significant steps towards covering all Americans, while enabling anyone happy with their current plan to keep it, facts which have earned it the endorsement of the American Medical Association, Alliance for Retired Americans, Consumers Union, Families USA, Massachusetts Medical Society, and many other leading health care provider and patient advocacy groups.

And here's the biggest lie. Just today, CBO admitted they missed the estimate of solvency for Social Security by six years and this year it will run at a deficit. They missed the original estimate of the cost of Medicare by a factor of 12. Closer to home, we had a project called the "Big Dig" that was estimated at $1.4B and came in at over $14 not counting the liability for shoddy work that has already killed people. The republicans had proposals for competition, for tort reform and other measures that focused on cost. The Democrats ignored them all.

Many of you have expressed concerns around taking on this effort because of its cost, and asked me how our nation can afford such an undertaking at a time when our deficit is at a historic high. One of the reasons I supported health care reform is because I believe that reform is critical to reducing our deficit, and necessary to ensure our nation's long term economic prosperity. Health care premiums are growing faster than wages, and health care costs are projected to eat up more and more of our nation's budget if we don't get them under control. If we do not enact reforms now, at this critical moment, our deficit problems will only get worse.

This phony estimate is only because the doctor fix was kept separate and when included sinks this bill into deficit. That is the same tacxtic Mr. Change You Can Believe In said Bush did to hide war costs by keeping them off budget.

I stated when health care reform was first being crafted that it should not add to our debt and deficit. Not only is this bill fully paid for, it cuts the federal deficit by more than $143 billion dollars over the course of the next 10 years, and reduces it by another $1.2 trillion in the decade that follows according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Additionally, more than 40 of the nation's leading economists - including three winners of the Nobel Prize - signed a letter urging the swift passage of comprehensive health reform to slow 'unsustainable' health care spending facing our country.

So Niki is unhappy that a public option for a complete government takeover of healthcare wasn't included and that there are restrictions on baby killing. Abortion is the only healthcare procedure where two otherwise healthy people go in, one is killed and the other comes out with an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, internal bleeding, and lifelong depression. And to femi-nazis like Tsongas, that's healthcare.

As with any undertaking of this magnitude, the legislation is not perfect. I was disappointed that attempts to add a public option, which would have further lowered health care costs and increased competition, were unsuccessful. And, this legislation unfortunately contains hurdles that place unnecessary restrictions on a woman's reproductive rights.

But, overall, I strongly believe that this bill succeeds in expanding access to health care, takes many commonsense steps to rein in health care costs, and reflects so many of the concerns that my constituents have raised with our current health care system. It is for these reasons that I voted in support of this historic legislation.

What's the point of writing to this politician? She has a tin ear. All you get back is a Mother-Knows-Best form letter. thanks for nothing!

Please do not hesitate to contact my office in the future with questions or concerns. For more information on how health care reform impacts you, please visit my website at http://tsongas.house.gov and click on "health care" under the "issues" tab.

Sincerely,

Niki Tsongas

Member of Congress

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

STEALING THE NEXT ELECTION



Monday, March 22, 2010

How the Democrats Win in November

So how do the Democrats hold onto power despite passing the wildly unpopular healthcare reform law? Do you think they'll just give up their majorities and the presidency and call it a day, proud of their accomplishment?

I don't think so. How did they get into power in the first place? Well it took the usual alliance of the media and the DNC propagating the myth that the Iraq War was a failure combined with their hammering the Republicans over their irresponsible spending and deficits. But with the GOP rendered irrelevant, a new tactic or set of tactics will be needed to hold onto power and don't for a minute think it hasn't all been worked out.

The legislative agenda of the far left begins with health care but doesn't end there. Next up is banking "reform," the continued nationalization of the centers of financial power. TARP was just a warning shot. What comes next will make TARP a distant memory. With control of the lending institutions, money will flow freely into Democratic campaign coffers through special interests like MoveOn.org, Center for American Progress, ACORN, etc.

Even now, immigration reform is heating up again. The Democrats will try to not only grant amnesty to 12-20 million illegal aliens but also speed their path to citizenship. At the same time, they will continue to fight GOP efforts at requiring any identification or proof of citizenship at the polls. As presidential races are typically decided by 1-2 million votes, the Democrats will count on the gratitude of the new citizens to keep them in power.

Per Rush Limbaugh:

"He has come to divide. He has come to conquer. He hasn't failed. He has succeeded," Limbaugh said. "The Democrat Party has been co-opted and is being led by a far-leftist faction who admire and envy people like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro."

Then he explained what be believes Obama's next move will be: padding voter rolls.

"The next thing that's going to happen is a major push for comprehensive immigration reform. It will be called amnesty," said Limbaugh. "None of this should have been a mystery to anybody.


Think ACORN is dead? Maybe in name but not in practice. ACORN will morph into decentralized community agitators in time for the Fall elections and continue their fraudulent voter registration drives. Where will they get the money? Why from banks more than happy to lend to them while under government control. And manpower? With 17% real unemployment, they won't have trouble recruiting low level staffers like the ones in the famous O'Keefe videos.

Where else do the Dems need to shore up support? The unions. union rank and file have drifted from the Democrats and voted for Scott Brown in Massachusetts. But with the Card Check Bill sure to get revived before November, there will be thousands if not millions more workers added to the union rolls, many of them illegals or new citizens under amnesty.

The GOP has the wind at its back in terms of voter discontent and unease at the left wing takeover of the government. But the Democrats have the cunning and strategy to remain in power. And if there is one thing Washington politicians are good at, its finding ways to cling to power.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Turkey: Our Lone Islamic Ally?

The linked article implies Turkey is so offended by the US Congress' vote to call the Armenian genocide a genocide that they will now back Iran in its dispute over nuclear weapons development. So much for Obama restoring the US' reputation in the world.

Turkey has long been considered an ally in the Islamic world, a so-called secular state with modern leaning tendencies. But beneath the surface lies an uneasy truth. Turkey is closer to the terror supporting states of Islam than to the west.

Indeed there was a little covered pivot point in relations with the former Ottomans at the outset of the Iraq invasion. Many have forgotten the brilliant invasion plan devised by Donald Rumsfeld and the military chiefs. There would be a three pronged pincer attack with Baghdad in the middle. The Marines and special forces would attack from the west where they had been positioned well before the official invasion. The 3rd Infantry Division would deploy from Kuwait in the south and march northward. And the 4th Infantry Division would meet them both as they descended from Turkey in the north. There would be no escape routes for dictators or their foreign enablers from Russia and China.

Kuwait's participation was a sure thing. Their gratitude for their liberation from Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion ensured complete cooperation. It was up to Secretary of State Colin Powell to secure Turkey's approval to offload and deploy the 4th ID. Turkey it was assumed would be more than cooperative as they would be offered a massive influx of foreign aid and support for their entry into the EU common market. They also were a NATO member and it was assumed they would want to show their loyalty to the alliance. The US would also suppress Kurdish unrest and cross border raids.

But in perhaps the greatest diplomatic defeat in history, Powell failed to convince the Turks that allowing the US to offload and deploy on their soil was in their best interest.

The result was disastrous. While Powell and Rumsfeld and Co. tried to paint a rosy face on the debacle, the lack of a Northern invasion allowed many of Saddam Hussein's government and military to escape to Syria and Iran where they would evade capture and plan the insurgency that cost countless Iraqi and coalition lives over the next several years. Turkey, seeing the weakness and distraction of the forces in the Kurdish area mounted many cross border raids into Iraq. Documents detailing foreign involvement in breaking UN sanctions and in weapons programs were spirited out of the country hopelessly damaging US prestige and credibility.

And now Turkey is upset at the US over the genocide resolution? So much so that they're willing to set aside ancient and serious animosities with the Persians?

I think its time to exert a substantial amount of pressure on the Turks to remind them of their place in the modern world. They have a choice to make. They can continue to feign secularism and participate in the benefits of the world economy or they can join Iran in isolation and fall victim to the extremists that up to now they have successfully kept in check.

Congress was right to call the genocide for what it was. And to view Turkey as little more than an historical footnote, the seat of a once vast and aggressive Islamic empire.

Ally? I don't think so.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ann Coulter on NY ACORN Finding



It looks like Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is on track to win another endorsement from ACORN!

This week, Hynes announced that "no criminality has been found" after his investigation of the videotapes made by investigative journalists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, which show ACORN employees counseling the pair on getting a mortgage for a house of prostitution.

(They got a choice of government loans: Phat Fannie Mae, Prince Freddie Mac or Barney Fresh Daddy Frank ... aka "Sir Fix-A-Lot.")

I'm just glad to know that Hynes conducted a thorough "investigation" first. Who did he have screen the videotapes, Gov. Paterson?

If his investigators had actually watched the videotapes, they would have found ACORN employees apparently advising a pimp and prostitute on how to defraud mortgage lenders, deposit prostitution money in a bank, hide money from the government and avoid detection while running a whorehouse with teenage girls from El Salvador.

I'm not a lawyer – oh, wait, yes, I am – but I count approximately a half-dozen state-law crimes being discussed on those tapes, from money laundering to advancing prostitution.

In a "Eureka" moment, ACORN Employee-of-the-Month Volda Albert identifies for O'Keefe and Giles the problem they had been having getting a mortgage:

Albert: Um, is it legalized? Is prostitution legalized in New York state?

O'Keefe: It's not. It's not, unfortunately.

Albert: Well see, that's your problem.

As ACORN employee Milagros Rivera said, "You can't say what you do for a living because of the law." But displaying ACORN's can-do attitude, she explained: "Honest is not going to get you a house."

ACORN employees helped concoct a scheme to hide from the lender the source of O'Keefe and Giles' down-payment money. Albert suggested that O'Keefe "pay a down payment – or (Giles) can transfer to somebody else, who is not in thatbusiness ... a close friend, then (Giles) can transfer that, and then he can give you, like, a gift to purchase."

Under New York law, hiding the true source of down-payment money from a lender constitutes mortgage fraud. Also, using the proceeds of criminal conduct in any banking transaction is money laundering.

Does anybody need a flow chart at this point, or should I continue?

To help Giles hide her income from turning tricks, ACORN employee Albert advised Giles to open two bankingaccounts, depositing no more than $500 per week in each one. (This would not only enable her to conceal her illegal earnings, it would also qualify her for free checking.)

But Albert's most inspired idea was that Giles get a "house with a backyard. You get a tin can ... and bury (your money) down in there, and you put the money right in, and you put grass over it, and you don't tell a single soul but yourself where it is."

Back when I was in Louisiana, we advised people to put their illegal money in the freezer, but that didn't work out so well. And I guess putting your money in a mattress isn't advisable if you live in a whorehouse.

Anyway, Albert was particularly detailed on the tin-can-in-the-backyard investment plan: "Keep thinking: 'I have a yard. I have a house.' You gotta start coming out with, like, plants and you start doing – so it won't be suspicious. You start buying plants for the backyard in pots and what have you, and you mark a spot."

She later told Giles: "You are not paying Social Security, so you'll have society, all right? You are not getting a pension, so you need to save that money for in later years." ACORN: Helping Plan Your Financial Future.

If only shady lawyers advised clients to bury money in cans in their backyards, instead of putting it in tax shelters, we wouldn't have all those attorneys clogging up prison cells!

The ACORN employees also stressed that Giles should do nothing to attract attention to her prostitution money. Albert said: "You can buy a decent car for yourself, no big fancy thing to attract people, all right?"

In Albert's defense, this could have been common etiquette advice. No one likes a showy hooker.

Even after Giles explained her plan to house a "slew" of 13-, 14- and 15-year-old girls from El Salvador for her prostitution business, Rivera simply responded: "So you guys ready to schedule that (mortgage application) for the summer?"

Rivera clearly missed her calling – she should be pushing vacation time shares in Boca Raton beach condos.

Under New York law, a person is guilty of advancing prostitution if he: "knowingly ... aids a person to commit or engage in prostitution (or) ... engages in any other conduct designed to institute, aid or facilitate an act or enterprise of prostitution."

It is a class D felony (up to seven years in prison) if the prostitute is under 19 years old – as the ACORN employees knew Giles was – and a class C felony (up to 15 years in prison) if the prostitute is under 16 years old – as Giles stated the El Salvadoran girls were. (And if she's under 15 years old, Eliot Spitzer may be involved.)

If none of the advice given by ACORN on those videotapes constitutes conspiracy or aiding or abetting a crime, see this column next week for my opus: "10 Detailed Plans to Kill George Soros and Why This Might Be Right for You.