ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Left's Infantile Arguments on Healthcare

Two items today regarding healthcare and the President's veto of the expansion of S-CHIP to cover families with an income of up to $80k per year.

First, there's this cartoon from Ted Rall - a guy who most sane people recognize as being unhinged, yet he somehow continues to make a living with poor drawing skills and poor dialog.



Now, is this really what those who like free markets, capitalism, etc are suggesting? That the sick child should go without care - or according to the "hilarious" Rall, gun her down so the father can exercise his 2nd amendment rights?

Ummm, no... the right recognizes that expanding S-CHIP to families who make $80,000 (which, incidentally would put them in the 4th tax bracket, paying a 28% marginal rate) is not necessary. (Perhaps a taxcut for those that were lucky in life's lottery is in order?)

But, Rall's cartoon is missing something... and what might that be?

Well, the McMansion, the two new cars, the flat screen TV with the HD programming & TiVo being pumped into the guy's basement entertainment room, the surround sound 5.1 channel stereo system, the weekly nights out to dinner with the family, the greens fees at the local golf club, the tickets to sporting events, etc, etc.

Just saying... There are plenty of things that a family with $80k per year could forgo in order to pay for health care from a doctor they know and trust.

Next up is this article by Paul Krugman, who makes a similarly infantile argument. The GOP doesn't oppose expanding S-CHIP because of principle - no, they oppose it because they hate kids.

October 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Conservatives Are Such Jokers
By PAUL KRUGMAN

In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.

But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.

On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.
[...]
In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh.

Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don’t think it’s a problem.

“I mean, people have access to health care in America,” said Mr. Bush in July. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

And on the day of the veto, Mr. Bush dismissed the whole issue of uninsured children as a media myth. Referring to Medicaid spending — which fails to reach many children — he declared that “when they say, well, poor children aren’t being covered in America, if that’s what you’re hearing on your TV screens, I’m telling you there’s $35.5 billion worth of reasons not to believe that.”
[...]
Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.

Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration.

What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.

And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn “socialism,” which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

So once again, if you’re poor or you’re sick or you don’t have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.

For an economist, you would think that numbers would be important. Instead, Paul simply throws emotional accusations at his political opponents. The man is a hack and amazingly is extremely poor at making interesting and compelling arguments - which Pinch Sulzberger figured out when people were unwilling to pay to read such crap.

I know that there are a variety of opinions from economists, but for an economist to be so opposed to free market mechanisms and capitalism is quite striking.

As I've pointed out several times (see here and here), our healthcare system today can't be described as being a true free-market system. And the problem of the uninsured isn't always as it seems.

That we would turn over the seriously important healthcare system to government mis-management is ridiculous.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Obama Receives a Thorough Fisking

sometimes post titles write themselves. Jules Crittenden has an excellent post on a recent speech that Barack "Audacity of Hope" Obama gave at Depaul University:

And, it is an excellent question... where in the @#$ does a guy who wrote a book titled The Audacity of Hope get off recommending a foreign policy that is utterly hopeless and destined to cause the deaths of millions?

What's that?

huh?

Oh, I see... by Audacity of Hope, Barack was merely talking about his audacity to hope to tax us until we're wardens of the state. And he certainly wasn't talking about some backwater yokels in the Middle East who we are morally obliged to protect... screw 'em!

Or perhaps Barack is Audaciously Hoping for the defeat of America and the victory of our terrorist enemies...

I'm as confused as Jules is.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Few Friends of Free Trade

If this poll is accurate, it appears that the future of the global economy may be in trouble. At least the NoImpact / Luddite-left will be pleased when we're all forced to live in squalor.

Republicans Grow Skeptical On Free Trade
By JOHN HARWOOD
October 4, 2007; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- By a nearly two-to-one margin, Republican voters believe free trade is bad for the U.S. economy, a shift in opinion that mirrors Democratic views and suggests trade deals could face high hurdles under a new president.

The sign of broadening resistance to globalization came in a new Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll4 that showed a fraying of Republican Party orthodoxy on the economy. While 60% of respondents said they want the next president and Congress to continue cutting taxes, 32% said it's time for some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans to reduce the budget deficit and pay for health care.

Wow.. at least there is some good news! Oh, wait... that's 32% of REPUBLICAN voters... yikes!
Six in 10 Republicans in the poll agreed with a statement that free trade has been bad for the U.S. and said they would agree with a Republican candidate who favored tougher regulations to limit foreign imports. That represents a challenge for Republican candidates who generally echo Mr. Bush's calls for continued trade expansion, and reflects a substantial shift in sentiment from eight years ago.

"It's a lot harder to sell the free-trade message to Republicans," said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with Democratic counterpart Peter Hart. The poll comes ahead of the Oct. 9 Republican presidential debate in Michigan sponsored by the Journal and the CNBC and MSNBC television networks.

The leading Republican candidates are still trying to promote free trade. "Our philosophy has to be not how many protectionist measures can we put in place, but how do we invent new things to sell" abroad, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said in a recent interview. "That's the view of the future. What [protectionists] are trying to do is lock in the inadequacies of the past."

Such a stance is sure to face a challenge in the 2008 general election. Though President Bill Clinton famously steered the Democratic Party toward a less-protectionist bent and promoted the North American Free Trade Agreement, his wife and the current Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has adopted more skeptical rhetoric. Mrs. Clinton has come out against a U.S. trade deal with South Korea.

Other leading Democrats have been harshly critical of trade expansion, pleasing their party's labor-union backers. In a March 2007 WSJ/NBC poll, before recent scandals involving tainted imports, 54% of Democratic voters said free-trade agreements have hurt the U.S., compared with 21% who said they have helped.

While rank-and-file Democrats have long blasted the impact of trade on American jobs, slipping support among Republicans represents a fresh warning sign for free-market conservatives and American companies such as manufacturers and financial firms that benefit from markets opening abroad.

With voters provoked for years by such figures as Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot, "there's been a steady erosion in Republican support for free trade," says former Rep. Vin Weber, now an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
[...]

And of course this is just more proof that relentless, anecdotal, and biased stories on how free trade hurts the average person can have an impact over time. Of the myriad of stories about the outsourcing of America, etc, there are only a few that show the positive aspects - the reality - of free trade.

Most people would say that the state of US Manufacturing is in its death-throes. But when Dick Cheney said that about the insurgency in Iraq, he was wrong at predicting the future. When people think that about today's economy, they just don't know the facts. Here's a quiz from Cafe Hayek from a few weeks back which is just great:
[...]
the state of manufacturing in the U.S. is quite strong. To learn more, take this quiz:

1) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing output reach its all-time peak?
a. 1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

2) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing revenue reach its all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
a. 1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

3) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing profits reach their all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
a. 1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

4) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing exports reach their all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
a. 1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

5) Average annual compensation (wages + benefits) for US manufacturing jobs is
a. $36,000 b. $46,0000 c. $56,0000 d. $66,000

6) What are the relative sizes of the US and Chinese manufacturing sectors?
a. China outputs 2.5 times the US b. Equal c. The US outputs 2.5 times China

7) Which country produces the largest share of total world manufacturing output?
a. China b. Japan c. Germany d. France e. US

Answers:
  1. e. 2006 (Source: Economic Report of the President, 2007)
  2. e. 2006 (Source: Bureau of the Census)
  3. e. 2006 (Source: Bureau of the Census)
  4. a. 2006 (Source: U.S. International Trade Commission)
  5. d. $66,414 (Source: National Association of Manufacturers)
  6. c. The U.S. output is 2.5 times as much as China (Source: U.N. Industrial Development Org.)
  7. e. U.S. manufacturing output is 21 percent of world total (Source: U,N. Industrial Development Org.)

Perhaps it's time to start teaching basic econ & finance in high school...

H/T Instapundit

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cox & Forkum Take a Bow

Sad news from this Sunday - My favorite editorial cartoonists are hanging it up:

ith mixed emotions I announce: John and I will no longer be producing editorial cartoons. John will continue posting his work at his blog, John Cox Art, and he and I will continue working together on various projects, but there will be no more regularly scheduled editorial cartoons. The Web site will remain running indefinitely, as a means to market our books and as an archive of our work.

This decision is primarily mine. I will go into a little more detail below for those interested, but I want to first call attention to some closing matters:
[...]

I regularly linked to Cox & Forkum's cartoons, as they often combined a clarity and wit to make excellent points. This recent cartoon is just such an example:



And, I could go on & on...

Congrats to Cox & Forkum and hope that they have continued success. The blogosphere will sorely miss them.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Unfortunate, but not surprising

This news isn't surprising - not when you've got multi-millionaires competing over whether to endorse Hillary!TM or Obama. (Who's the party of the rich & elites again? I always get confused with that question...)

October 2, 2007
Democrats Surpass Republicans in Fund-Raising
By MICHAEL COOPER

The Democratic presidential candidates continued to raise significantly more money during the last three months than their Republican counterparts, according to official and unofficial third-quarter fund-raising tallies that were released yesterday.

Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, raised at least $20 million over the summer, more than $19 million of which could be spent on the primary — showing that he continued to be a formidable fund-raiser. It was unclear whether he still led in fund-raising, as he did this spring, because Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton did not release her tally. (Her aides had said that they expected to raise a similar amount.) John Edwards raised $7 million, and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico raised $5.2 million.

By comparison, Mitt Romney, who has been one of the strongest Republican fund-raisers this election, raised only about half of what Mr. Obama raised this summer, according to a senior adviser who was granted anonymity to discuss the campaign’s finances. The adviser said that Mr. Romney brought in about $10 million from donors, and that he used more than $6 million of his own money for his campaign.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who replaced his chief fund-raiser at the end of the quarter, did not release a tally, but said over the weekend that he thought he would “do as well as the other Republicans — maybe we will do better than some.” Fred D. Thompson raised at least $8 million in his first quarter as a candidate, according to people involved with the campaign — less than the other leading candidates raised early in their campaigns.

And Senator John McCain of Arizona raised more than $5 million, according to a Republican familiar with the campaign’s finances.

Strategists in both parties said that the fund-raising imbalance showed that Democrats, and their donors, are more energized this year as they battle to reclaim the White House after nearly eight years of Republican rule. And they said President Bush’s sagging popularity is hurting the Republicans who are vying to replace him.

“This just shows the difficult political climate that Republicans are facing,” said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist. “The bright side is that next spring, the Republicans will have plenty of money to give the candidate who goes up against Hillary Clinton.”

And, not mentioned in the Times article, the GOP doesn't have to out-raise the Dems, since they've got the Media machine on their side.

*ahem*

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Obama - US Should Disarm

Well, this should be interesting...

October 2, 2007
Obama to Urge Elimination of World’s Nuclear Weapons
By JEFF ZELENY

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 — Senator Barack Obama will propose on Tuesday setting a goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons in the world, saying the United States should greatly reduce its stockpiles to lower the threat of nuclear terrorism, aides say.

In a speech at DePaul University in Chicago, Mr. Obama will add his voice to a plan endorsed earlier this year by a bipartisan group of former government officials from the cold war era who say the United States must begin building a global consensus to reverse a reliance on nuclear weapons that have become “increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.”

Mr. Obama, according to details provided by his campaign Monday, also will call for pursuing vigorous diplomatic efforts aimed at a global ban on the development, production and deployment of intermediate-range missiles.

“In 2009, we will have a window of opportunity to renew our global leadership and bring our nation together,” Mr. Obama is planning to say, according to an excerpt of remarks provided by his aides. “If we don’t seize that moment, we may not get another.”

His speech was to come one day after an announcement by the Bush administration that it had tripled the rate of dismantling nuclear weapons over the last year, putting the United States on track to reducing its stockpile of weapons by half by 2012.

The exact number of weapons being dismantled, like the overall stockpile, is secret, but officials said Monday that with the planned reductions, the total number of American nuclear weapons would be at the lowest levels since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.

Under a 2002 treaty, the United States and Russia agreed to limit the number of operational nuclear weapons in their arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012, though that agreement did not address weapons in reserve stockpiles.

Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, is seeking to draw attention to his foreign policy views with the approach of the fifth anniversary of the Congressional vote authorizing military action in Iraq. He is highlighting his early opposition to the war, which he argues is a sign of judgment that is more important than the number of years served in Washington.

Mr. Obama, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, often tells voters that the Iraq war has consumed American foreign policy to the detriment of its ability to address other threats facing the nation. In his speech on Tuesday, aides said, Mr. Obama will assert, as he has before, that the United States should not threaten terrorist training camps with nuclear weapons.

If elected, Mr. Obama plans to say, he will lead a global effort to secure nuclear weapons and material at vulnerable sites within four years. He also will pledge to end production of fissile material for weapons, agree not to build new weapons and remove any remaining nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert.

In his speech, according to a campaign briefing paper, Mr. Obama also will call for using a combination of diplomacy and pressure to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs. Aides did not say what Mr. Obama intended to do if diplomacy and sanctions failed.

It's been a while since the Dems embraced the Nuclear Freeze & Disarmament position.

I'm sure that Iran, North Korea, and even Al Qaeda will comply with whatever international guidelines that are established to implement such a strategery. Heck, I don't even think that are non-enemies would disarm, be it Russia, Pakistan, India, etc.

I guess the only question that we have to ask is whether Obama is really this naive or is he just stupid?

Or is this just his Audacity of HopeTM? (Frankly, it sounds like warmed-over Kucinich to me, which isn't good for anyone...)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler