Archive for October, 2009

Iran to Obama: ‘We lie!’

A reminder that after you unclench your fist, you can still cross your fingers: Iran has backed out of a deal to export its enriched uranium to Russia, in exchange for purely civilian nuclear materials from France.

Time magazine detailed the potential deal yesterday, also reporting that President Obama “personally weighed in three times during secret, multiparty negotiations with the Iranians over the last four months.” Arguably, the U.S. president should not have been personally involved in talks that may have granted only a temporary halt to an Iranian nuclear bomb. On the other hand, buying even a couple of years would have been extremely valuable given the progress the Iranians have been making.

Now the deal apparently is off. As Power Line notes, Tehran is “nevertheless using the negotiations to claim that the Obama administration has acceded to its nuclear enrichment program.” Even worse, a reader at InstaPundit points out that these negotiations were under way during …

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Old media interviews new media about old media; discuss

I’m back in action today, after a long weekend spent (finally) getting my family moved and settled in our new house. Apologies for the sparse blogging over those days.

When I did have a moment to catch up with the news over the weekend, this interview with BigGovernment.com operator Andrew Breitbart caught my attention. Breitbart’s Web site was the one that pushed the ACORN scandal that was unveiled in a series of videos last month (see the blue box toward the top of the BigGovernment.com home page).

In the interview, Breitbart argues that his biggest target in publishing the videos was what he calls the “Democrat-media complex.” Writes his interviewer, The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto:

“This plan wasn’t just a means to defend against the media’s desire to attack the messenger,” Mr. Breitbart says. “It was also a means to attack the media and to expose them . . . for the partisan hacks that they are.”

The interview appeared on the Journal’s opinion pages, and in it …

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Taxpayers can’t spring for new Falcons stadium

It’s a great time to be an Atlanta Falcons fan. The star-laden team is coming off its biggest win of the season, and more than 70,000 fans will fill the Georgia Dome on Sunday night for a nationally televised matchup with the Chicago Bears. It delights a football nut to pen such sentences, which couldn’t have been written for most of the Falcons’ 44 years.

The franchise thinks this success offers an opportunity to agitate for replacing the 17-year-old Dome. Falcons owner Arthur Blank raised the subject yet again this month. The dream is a billion-dollar stadium with a retractable roof, built downtown or perhaps in Doraville by the end of the 2010s, and funded with public and private money.

But there could be no worse time to talk about spending any tax dollars to replace a functioning stadium, especially in financially flailing Atlanta.

Just this summer, Atlanta raised its property tax rate by 42 percent to close a $56 million budget gap. The city fiscal situation will …

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The Dow hits 7537!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 10,000 mark yesterday, and some people are hailing it as a psychological breakthrough. But 10,000 ain’t what it used to be, as a blogger named Tyler Durden explains:

On a real basis (not nominal) the Dow at 10,000 ten years ago is equivalent to 7,537 today! In other words, not only have we had a lost decade for all those who focus on the absolute flatness of the DJIA, but it is also a decade where the US Consumer has lost 25% of purchasing power from the perspective of stocks!

“Real basis” in this case means the dollar’s strength relative to the six currencies in the U.S. Dollar Index (euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Canadian dollar, Swedish kroner and Swiss franc). So we’re not talking about mere inflation, but our currency’s weakness.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d much rather have the Dow at 10,000 than at 7000. But Durden’s analysis points to the fact that our weak-dollar policy — the product of both “benign neglect” of the dollar …

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Tennessee gov: Health reform will cost states billions

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is a Democrat who has already called congressional health-reform efforts “the mother of all unfunded mandates.” Now he’s estimating that the Baucus bill could dump $3 billion in unfunded mandates on his state over a five-year period. Reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

“I’m glad they’re trying to do it without increasing the federal deficit, that certainly is important,” said Gov. Bredesen, a Democrat who has been critical of the plan’s impact on states. “But to turn around and increase the state deficits as the way to handle it that does not seem a very appropriate way to do that.”

The point is that Democrats’ plans will increase deficits, whether that happens at the federal or state level.

Bredesen has some experience with public options, as he has spent the last seven years trying to rein in Tennessee’s version of ObamaCare, TennCare. There’s a nice summary of the problems TennCare has faced — and its similarities and differences with …

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How’s ObamaCare working out in Massachusetts?

OK, so RomneyCare would be a better name. But the answer is: Not too well.

Writes The Wall Street Journal:

[Massachusetts] passed a prototype for ObamaCare in 2006 on the same cost-control theory as Senate Finance, only to see spending explode. So now Beacon Hill is contemplating far more drastic spending-control measures, such as a plan to “require residents to give up their nearly unlimited freedom to go to any hospital and specialist they want,” as the Boston Globe reported on Sunday. Paul Levy, the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told the Globe that “You can’t reap these savings without limiting patients’ choices in some way.”

If this was the same cost-control theory that Democrats in Washington are still operating on, it bodes ill for promises like “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.”

The Globe story is worth reading in its entirety.

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Hope and Change: Our ‘new politics’ edition

Glad to see so much Change in the Democrats’ political playbook: Democrats must attack to win in 2010, the New York Times reports.

The strategy is already in place this year in New Jersey, where Gov. Jon Corzine “has mocked his heavy-set Republican opponent, Christopher J. Christie, in an advertisement that claimed Mr. Christie ‘threw his weight around’ to avoid traffic tickets,” according to the Times story. No surprise there, given that Corzine lacks any kind of positive record to run on after four years in office.

What’s worse — and most telling — is this response by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin:

Considering the electorate’s sour mood, Mr. Garin said, “it would border on malpractice” for an embattled incumbent like Mr. Corzine not to attack his Republican challenger aggressively.

Avoiding personal attacks and sticking to issues, however difficult that might be for Corzine, would represent “malpractice”? And don’t expect what happens in New Jersey to stay in New Jersey, …

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An inconvenient admission

The latest sign that the “consensus” about global warming is falling apart: The BBC is finally reporting that global temperatures have leveled off since 1998, and that there maybe, possibly, perhaps, conceivably, theoretically, hypothetically, probably-not-but-you-never-know, could be explanations for changes in temperature that don’t involve mankind and carbon dioxide.

Understand, there has been no greater media proponent of climate alarmism than the BBC. Its reach may not be as great in the U.S., but elsewhere in the English-speaking world it’s considered the gold standard for journalism.

If even the Beeb is now grudgingly acknowledging that other viewpoints on the issue may have some legitimacy — after going to great lengths to deny this possibility in the past — then perhaps we can finally have  a rational debate.

Or, if this clip of a filmmaker being cut off as he presses Al Gore on a question at a conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists is any indication, …

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Why the Baucus bill doesn’t help the middle class

Back to the economic case against the Baucus health-care bill. The Harvard economist Greg Mankiw looks at some new data from the Congressional Budget Office and calculates the marginal tax rate that the bill piles onto middle-class families:

According to CBO, a family of four making $54,000 would pay $4,800 for health insurance. The rest of the premium would come from government subsidies. If the family’s income rises to $66,000, the subsidy falls, and the cost of health insurance rises to $7,600. In other words, earning an additional $12,000 requires the family to pay an additional $2,800. The implicit marginal tax rate is $2,800/$12,000, or 23 percent.

Similarly, a single person earning $26,500 would pay $2,300 for health insurance, but if his income rises to $32,400, his premium rises to $3,700. This yields an implicit marginal rate rate of 24 percent.

As Mankiw notes, these increases come on top of marginal income and payroll taxes. A family of four earning $66,000 a year …

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Conservative objections to ObamaCare: More than just money

The feeling this summer was that the right was winning the health-care debate. With each week, it seemed, came damning new information about the Democrats’ various plans. A nation willing, even eager, to modify this crucial component of our economy grew increasingly skeptical that the ruling liberals knew what they were doing.

Now all that has supposedly changed. Budget crunchers estimated this week that the health plan pushed by Sen. Max Baucus would cost “only” $829 billion from 2010 to 2019. Most helpful to the left, though, was a projection that the Montana Democrat’s plan would trim the federal budget deficit by a cumulative $81 billion in the coming decade.

Yet if these projections alone spell the end of debate over government’s role in health care, conservatism is in more trouble than we thought.

There are of course significant holes in the estimates: The deficit would fall over 10 years chiefly because taxes would rise a few years before the new spending begins. There …

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