"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have."

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Election: House Races

This is probably something that only political junkies will find interesting, but here are my rankings for the 2010 competitive U.S. House races. Please note that due to the large number of seats in play and the very limited amount of public polling available, it is virtually impossible to predict all of these races accurately. Still, here is my perspective on the current state of the battle for the House, starting with Democratic-held seats.

Likely or Certain GOP Pickups:
1. Open (Bart Gordon) (TN-6)
2. Open (Charlie Melancon) (LA-2)
3. Open (Vic Snyder) (AR-2)
4. Open (Eric Massa) (NY-29)

Vulnerable Seats Leaning Toward the GOP:
1. Open (Dennis Moore) (KS-3)
2. Open (Brad Ellsworth) (IN-8)
3. Frank Kratovil (MD-1)
4. Harry Teague (NM-2)
5. Steve Driehaus (OH-1)
6. Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15)
7. Betsy Markey (CO-4)
8. Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24)
9. Travis Childers (MS-1)
10. Open (Paul Hodes) (NH-2)
11. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1)
12. Earl Pomeroy (ND-AL)
13. Open (Brian Baird) (WA-3)
14. Open (John Tanner) (TN-8)
15. Chet Edwards (TX-17)
16. Open (Marion Berry) (AR-1)
17. Debbie Halvorson (IL-11)
18. Tom Perriello (VA-5)
19. Dina Titus (NV-3)
20. Paul Kanjorski (PA-11)
21. Open (Joe Sestak) (PA-7)
22. Mark Schauer (MI-7)
23. John Boccieri (OH-16)
24. Glenn Nye (VA-2)
25. Open (Bart Stupak) (MI-1)
26. Michael Arcuri (NY-24)
27. Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3)

Tossup Races - Slight GOP Edge:
1. Alan Grayson (FL-8)
2. Allen Boyd (FL-2)
3. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL)
4. John Spratt (SC-5)
5. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-1)
6. Harry Mitchell (AZ-5)
7. Patrick Murphy (PA-8)
8. John Hall (NY-19)
9. Open (David Obey) (WI-7)

Tossup Races - Slight Democrat Edge:
1. Open (Alan Mollohan) (WV-1)
2. Baron Hill (IN-9)
3. Larry Kissell (NC-8)
4. Bill Foster (IL-14)
5. Bobby Bright (AL-2)
6. Jim Marshall (GA-8)
7. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8)
8. Leonard Boswell (IA-3)
9. Ciro Rodriguez (TX-23)
10. Steve Kagen (WI-8)
11. Jerry McNerney (CA-11)
12. Chris Carney (PA-10)
13. John Salazar (CO-3)
14. Zack Space (OH-18)
15. Ike Skelton (MO-4)
16. Tim Bishop (NY-1)
17. Ron Klein (FL-22)
18. Scott Murphy (NY-20)
19. John Adler (NJ-3)
20. Phil Hare (IL-17)
21. Joe Donnelly (IN-2)

Vulnerable Seats Leaning Toward the Democrats:
1. Walt Minnick (ID-1)
2. Rick Boucher (VA-9)
3. Martin Heinrich (NM-1)
4. Betty Sutton (OH-13)
5. Bill Owens (NY-23)
6. Open (Bill Delahunt) (MA-10)
7. Mark Critz (PA-12)
8. Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
9. Ben Chandler (KY-6)
10. Kurt Schrader (OR-5)
11. Lincoln Davis (TN-4)
12. Heath Shuler (NC-11)
13. Gary Peters (MI-9)
14. Loretta Sanchez (CA-47)
15. Jim Himes (CT-4)
16. Rick Larsen (WA-2)
17. Ed Perlmutter (CO-7)
18. Tim Walz (MN-1)
19. Sanford Bishop (GA-2)
20. Charlie Wilson (OH-6)

Long-Shot Opportunities for the GOP:
1. Mike McMahon (NY-13)
2. Jason Altmire (PA-4)
3. Tim Holden (PA-17)
4. Christopher Murphy (CT-5)
5. Dan Maffei (NY-25)
6. Ron Kind (WI-3)
7. Melissa Bean (IL-8)
8. Dennis Cardoza (CA-18)
9. Nick Rahall (WV-3)
10. Bob Etheridge (NC-2)
11. Open (Patrick Kennedy) (RI-1)
12. Rush Holt (NJ-12)
13. John Yarmuth (KY-3)
14. John Barrow (GA-12)
15. Jim Matheson (UT-2)
16. Mike McIntyre (NC-7)
17. Jim Costa (CA-20)
18. Bruce Braley (IA-1)
19. Dave Loebsack (IA-2)
20. Michael Michaud (ME-2)
21. Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4)
22. Anthony Weiner (NY-9)
23. Raul Grijalva (AZ-7)
24. Steve Israel (NY-2)
25. Chellie Pingree (ME-1)

Now for the very few competitive Republican-held seats:

Likely Democratic Pickups:
1. Anh Cao (LA-3)
2. Open (Mike Castle) (DE-AL)

Tossup Races - Slight Democrat Edge:
1. Open (Mark Kirk) (IL-10)
2. Charles Djou (HI-1)

Vulnerable Seats Leaning Toward the GOP:
1. Open (Mario Diaz-Balart) (FL-25)
2. Dan Lungren (CA-3)

Long-Shot Opportunities for the Democrats:
1. Open (Parker Griffith) (AL-5)
2. Charlie Dent (PA-15)

All in all, that leaves us with a total of 8 competitive GOP seats, and a whopping 106 competitive Democratic seats. Right now, I have exactly 40 Democrat-held seats in the GOP column, while 4 Republican-held seats are in the Democratic column. That would be a net 36-seat gain for the GOP, three short of the number needed to take control of the House. However, I have an additional 21 Democratic-held tossup seats, many of which will likely end up going to the GOP on election night. I just don't know which ones yet! It seems quite likely the Republicans will end up with a net gain of at least 40-50 seats, given the large number of vulnerable Democratic incumbents whose challengers are still little-known.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sore Losers

This year, it seems, has really been the year for sore losers on the Republican side of aisle. Back in May, Charlie Crist, the sitting governor of Florida, was badly trailing his more conservative rival for the GOP Senate nomination, Marco Rubio. So what did Charlie do? He left the Republican Party and decided to run for the Senate as an independent. When asked which party he would caucus with if elected, he said he would caucus "with the people of Florida." (That statement appears to be in English but that's about all I can decipher about it.) More recently, Tea Party candidate Joe Miller upset the heavily favored GOP incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican Senate primary. Murkowski's response was to announce that she would continue to run as a write-in candidate. (I won't let the voters' decision stand in my way!)

The reason Crist and Murkowski lost (or were sure to lose) their GOP primaries is because they did not have their finger on the pulse of rank-and-file GOP voters. Republican voters are in no mood for compromise this year. They are angry. Angry about record deficits, record spending, health care reform, cap-and-trade, bailouts, stimulus bills, government takeover of industry, etc. They want dramatic change in Washington, and they are looking for people who share their anger and who will represent their interests and concerns. Murkowski and Crist, as well as other GOP frontrunner candidates such as Rick Lazio, Mike Castle, and Trey Grayson, were rejected by Republican voters because they were establishment candidates who were comfortable with the status quo.

However, for people like Crist and Murkowski, neither party loyalty nor voters' decisions matter much. Their egos have fooled them into believing they are indispensable to the Senate and to the country, and their thirst for power has led them to disregard both primary results and prior promises (in Crist's case, at least). What matters to them is not advancing the cause of the Republican Party or of conservative principles. What matters is their personal career. And it is especially ironic because for years the media has been lecturing us on how conservatives in the party are threatening the "big tent." Yet it is the moderates and liberals in the party, not the conservatives, that are demonstrating real disloyalty to the party. And in fact, there is a long tradition of liberal Republican disloyalty stretching from Jim Jeffords to Arlen Specter.

Now, I admit that my perspective on party loyalty is colored somewhat by my political beliefs. For example, I was happy about Joe Lieberman running as an independent in Connecticut in 2006 when he lost the Democratic primary. Inconsistent? Perhaps. But Lieberman's decision did not put the seat in jeopardy of Republican takeover, as the token GOP candidate in the race was extremely weak and underfunded and never broke out of single digits in the polls. Also, Lieberman did not change his views, either during the campaign or after getting re-elected, and he continued to caucus with his party. Crist, on the other hand, has changed his views dramatically, flip-flopping on everything from gay rights and abortion to health care reform and taxes. He is really trying to run as a de facto Democrat. This demonstrates what an unprincipled and opportunistic person he truly is. Finally, Lieberman never promised not to run as an independent. Crist, on the other hand, looked right into the TV cameras and solemnly promised to remain in the Republican Party just TWO WEEKS before leaving the party and running as an independent.

While Crist's independent bid appears to be purely self-interested and opportunistic, Murkowski's write-in bid looks to be more of a grudge match. Her speech last week launching her write-in candidacy betrayed a great deal of anger against Joe Miller, whom she called an "extremist," and against Sarah Palin, a long-time political adversary whom she also mentioned by name. Essentially, Murkowski is bitter about Palin's defeat of her father in the 2006 gubernatorial primary and furious about Miller's gall in challenging and defeating her, and so she is purposely running to try to destroy Miller's candidacy and embarrass Palin. After all, does she really have a chance of winning as a write-in candidate? Only once in American history has a write-in candidate ever won election to the U.S. Senate (and that one time was nearly a century ago, if memory serves me right). Murkowski is very unlikely to win, and she knows that. But she is hoping to damage Joe Miller and be a spoiler in the race.

One other point. Readers who remember my strong support for independent Tea Party affiliated candidate Doug Hoffman in the special election for the New York 23rd district congressional race last November may see an inconsistency here as well. However, I consider that race very different from the Murkowski and Crist races for a couple of reasons. First, the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, was not chosen by the voters. Instead of winning a primary, she was chosen by a small group of (apparently very out-of-touch) party leaders. Second, Scozzafava was an extreme liberal. She supported most of the Democratic Party's agenda -- everything from card check to cap-and-trade to unfettered abortion, and expressed openness to the Democrat's health care reform bill as well. She even had ties to ACORN! She gave conservatives absolutely no reason to support her. Most Republicans and conservatives rallied around Hoffman, dropping Scozzafava to a distant third. She then dropped out of the race altogether a few days before the election and endorsed the Democrat, further demonstrating her true colors.

I am optimistic that both Joe Miller and Marco Rubio will win their Senate races comfortably, despite their sore loser third-party opponents. However, there is still potential that Crist and Murkowski could end up costing Republicans these seats. Hopefully, these cases will serve as an important reminder to voters to avoid politicians with an "R" after their name who seem to lack real principle and conviction. And hopefully, the losses of these two turncoats (and of Arlen Specter earlier this year) will serve as a warning to future would-be political opportunists.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Religion of Peace Strikes Again

I found this editorial in The Washington Examiner very sad. A few months ago, Molly Norris, cartoonist for The Seattle Weekly, tried to spotlight attempts by radical Muslims to suppress free speech by devising "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." Now, adherents of the Religion of Peace are threatening Norris's life, and since the FBI has told her it cannot protect her, she has been forced to go into hiding.

As terrible as this seems, it doesn't surprise me in the least. The pattern is repeated over and over again. People who have the guts to prominently speak out about Islam and the Muslim world are either killed or are forced to live their life in hiding or with around-the-clock protection. What is a bit surprising to me is the fact that most journalists are not speaking out about this and standing by their own. As The Examiner points out, the American Society of News Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists have both failed to even issue a statement on the issue, despite the fact that they are both supposedly dedicated to promoting free speech and a free press. The press has obsessed about some rogue preacher in Florida with a few dozen followers trying to burn Korans as a publicity stunt, but they have barely covered the Molly Norris story at all.

In fact, The New York Times has been busy blaming America for its persecution of Muslims. Their editorial writer Nicholas Kristof recently wrote, "I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you." Of course, there has been no such "wave of bigotry," either in response to 9/11 or in response to the Ground Zero mosque. Short of one recent isolated incident of violence against a taxi driver (perpetrated by someone associated with a group supporting the Ground Zero mosque, by the way), there has simply been no violence committed against Muslims. Muslims live and work without fear in this country despite being surrounded by non-Muslims. On the other hand, even though Muslims make up a tiny percentage of people in this country, they can force a harmless American cartoonist into hiding for her life. Of course, Kristof is too busy smearing Americans as racist bigots to find time to even pen one sentence of support for Molly Norris.

Here's the problem. The vast majority of journalists in this country are cowards. They are too afraid of radical Islam to speak out against its crimes, or to defend others who have spoken out and become targets. We saw this same cowardice at work earlier when newspapers and publishing houses refused to publish the Danish cartoons making fun of Mohammed that had provoked such outrage in the Muslim world. Or when episodes of South Park were edited by TV networks to avoid Muslim "offense." The First Amendment is considered sacrosanct on every issue from flag-burning to pornography -- except when it comes to criticizing Islam. Then, it's hard to find any journalists willing to speak up for the First Amendment at all. It's because they're cowards, pure and simple. And they don't seem to have much of a moral compass either.

As The Examiner notes, there was a time in our country when our journalists and law enforcement agencies were willing to stand up against violent attempts to curb free speech. Many journalists and newspaper editors risked their lives to speak out against racism and segregation during the civil rights movement. And they received support from the FBI, which sought to protect them and to fight back against the Ku Klux Klan. Nowadays, all brave, patriotic Americans like Molly Norris get from the journalistic and law enforcement communities is the back of the hand. Or worse, they are assumed to have brought it on themselves for being "insensitive" to the notoriously sensitive Muslim community.

Where are the brave Americans in journalism, law enforcement, and politics willing to stand up to the evil of radical Islam? If they don't exist anymore, then I don't think our country is going to stay free for very long.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How's MSNBC Going to Spin Away This Poll?

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 52% of likely voters say their own views are closer to Sarah Palin's than to Barack Obama's. Only 40% say their views are closer to Obama's than to Palin's. Palin beats Obama both among men and women and in every age demographic, even college-age voters.

I really love this poll, because I know it is a finger in the eye to almost the entirety of the political and media establishment in this country, not to mention the Republicans who find it fashionable or expedient to bash her.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Obama vs. the Constitution

Unbelievable as it may sound, Obama was once a constitutional law professor. So he should be familiar with Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that the President "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint...Officers of the United States." The same section goes on to say that the President can only appoint "inferior Officers" without the advice and consent of the Senate if Congress explicitly permits it by law.

In the case of the director of the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the law does not provide an exception for the Senate confirmation process. In fact, the very "financial reform" legislation that created it in July of this year also specifically declared that its director had to be appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate.

So, what do you do if you're President Obama and you're looking for someone to fill the position of Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? First, you select the most partisan, radical, controversial person you can find -- a person that even liberal Senator Christopher Dodd thinks may not be confirmable in a Senate with 59 Democrats. That person would be Elizabeth Warren, who has stated that she thinks her job is to "level the playing field" in the financial sector by dictating the terms and recipients of mortgages and credit cards extended by banks and financial institutions, completely apart from the authority of regulators responsible to maintain the financial soundness of those institutions. Second, you appoint her without the advice and consent of the Senate by changing her technical title from "Director" to "Special Advisor to the Treasury Secretary." Of course, she will report directly to the President and will have unfettered control over the formation and policy of the bureau, so she is in actuality directing it. But with luck the public won't know and the Senate won't make much of a fuss. And after all, the bureau only has a budget of up to $650 million, little Congressional oversight, and tremendous power to make rules governing a huge sector of our economy.

This move was bit much even for The Washington Post, hardly a mouthpiece of right-wing propaganda. In their editorial, they described Warren as an "ideologically contentious" progressive activist who "can be simplistic and hyperbolic." They also questioned whether Obama was within his constitutional rights (putting it charitably). The Wall Street Journal's editorial had even stronger things to say:

"We have here another end-run around Constitutional niceties so Team Obama can invest huge authority in an unelected official who is unable to withstand a public vetting. So a bureau inside an agency (the Fed) that it doesn't report to, with a budget not subject to Congressional control, now gets a leader not subject to Senate confirmation. If Dick Cheney had tried this, he'd have been accused of staging a coup."

Obama was right back in 2008 when he claimed he would be a different kind of politician. Of course, we were all thinking George Washington, not Hugo Chavez....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Some Thoughts on That Controversial Senate Race in Delaware....

One of the more controversial primary races of this election season occurred on Tuesday in Delaware, where Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell shocked long-time U.S. Congressman Mike Castle in the GOP Senate primary. For most of this year, Castle was considered a shoo-in both to win the primary and the general election. However, in the last few weeks of the campaign, O'Donnell received key endorsements from Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and other conservative stalwarts, and ended up surging to victory by six points. The infighting and finger-pointing got even worse after the election. Some Republicans and conservatives, including Charles Krauthammer and Karl Rove, lashed out at the Tea Party movement for giving away a safe GOP seat, while other conservatives, including Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh, attacked the "GOP establishment" for disrespecting the will of the voters and smearing a fellow-conservative (O'Donnell). Here are my thoughts on the Delaware election and the subsequent controversy:

1. Christine O'Donnell is a deeply flawed candidate. Her personal life indicates a serious lack of personal responsibility and financial discipline. Her house was foreclosed on in 2008. As of this year, she had still not paid off campaign debts from her previous Senate runs. She reported less than $6,000 of earned income on her tax return last year, raising the question whether she is using her perennial runs for political office as a way to earn a personal living. Although representing herself as a college graduate, she did not receive her official degree from the college until well over a decade after graduation due to thousands of dollars in unpaid bills to the college. She claimed in a campaign interview this year that she carried two out of the state's three counties during her 2008 run for the Senate; in fact, she carried none of the state's counties. People associated with her campaign were responsible for spreading rumors that Congressman Castle was gay -- rumors that appear to be completely unfounded and untrue. She suggested that independent pollster Scott Rasmussen was in the pay of the RNC when he released a poll that showed her trailing.

Another thing to note about O'Donnell is that she has virtually no accomplishments to point to that would indicate she is qualified to be in the Senate. This sets her apart from other Tea Party "outsider" candidates. Joe Miller of Alaska is a former Marine and a successful attorney and judge. Rand Paul of Kentucky is a doctor with a successful medical practice. Rick Scott of Florida is a successful businessman. Sharron Angle served in the Nevada legislature. Marco Rubio has a long history of achievement, including Speaker of the Florida House. What exactly has Christine O'Donnell accomplished, other than running unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate twice (with a high water mark of 35% of the vote in 2008)?

2. A candidate's stated positions on the issues are not the only consideration when determining who to vote for. A candidate's character and background matter too. When listening to the Mark Levin Radio Show a few days before the Delaware primary, Levin dismissed all the questions surrounding O'Donnell's personal life and financial history as completely irrelevant and unimportant. In essence, he claimed that she would vote the right way in the Senate, so who cares about her character or personal life? I was very surprised by this claim, and found it to be both untrue and hypocritical. I didn't hear Levin dismissing these character issues as unimportant when three of Obama's cabinet nominees were under fire for failing to pay their personal income taxes. I didn't hear Levin dismissing character issues as unimportant when discussing Bill Clinton's serial adultery and repeated lying. But more importantly, personal character does matter. If someone breaks his promise to his wife and cheats on her, how can we expect that politician to be honest with the American public? If someone doesn't pay their own taxes, why should they be entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing the nation's tax laws? If someone is incapable of personal responsibility in handling their own money and keeping within their own budget, can we trust them to be responsible in handling our tax dollars and balancing our country's budget?

After the Delaware election, Levin accused Rove of "smearing" O'Donnell because he brought up the points I listed above regarding O'Donnell's personal life. I don't see how this is a smear if it is true. Smearing means attacking someone unfairly or telling lies or distortions about them. To bring up legitimate facts about someone's behavior is not a smear.

3. Adherence to conservative principles should not be an excuse for lying about an opponent -- even one you consider to be too liberal. Mike Castle is a moderate-to-liberal Republican who disappointed conservatives many times. Nevertheless, there is no justification for Hannity claiming more than once on his news program that Castle voted in favor of ObamaCare. This is a flat-out lie. Castle voted against ObamaCare both times it came up for a vote in the House, and also voted in favor of the Stupak amendment to ban funding for abortion in the bill. Hannity never corrected the record or apologized for lying about Castle -- at least not to my knowledge. I understand Hannity dislikes Castle, but the end does not justify the means.

3. Mike Castle has no one to blame but himself for losing. He never gave Republicans a compelling reason to vote for him. He never took O'Donnell seriously. He refused to debate with her, refused to appeal to conservatives, and did nothing in the final weeks except attack O'Donnell. He seemed to feel he should be coronated without having to campaign for the job. For conservative voters angry about Washington's big spending ways, the argument that he was "more electable" was not sufficient reason to vote for him. And let's not overlook the fact that Castle is far from a conservative.

4. Republican voters and the Republican party should throw their full support behind the winner of the primary, regardless of their personal preference. Christine O'Donnell is the Republican nominee. She was not my first choice; nevertheless she is far better than the very left-wing Democrat in the race, and she won her primary race fair and square. Delaware Republicans knew about O'Donnell's checkered history, yet still determined she was better than Mike Castle. The party should respect the will of the voters. Instead of continuing to attack O'Donnell, we should work hard from here on out to elect her.

5. Mike Castle is under no obligation to endorse Christine O'Donnell. Normally, I think the loser of a Republican primary should show grace and class by quickly endorsing the primary winner. However, this case is different, and the reason for that is O'Donnell herself. During the primary, she indicated that if Castle won she would not endorse him and would consider running as a write-in candidate. And in fact, she did just that the last time she lost a Republican primary, back in 2006. She refused to endorse the Republican nominee and ran as a third-party write-in candidate. So, I ask, why is Castle obligated to endorse O'Donnell when she already made clear she would not support him if the tables were turned? As long as Castle doesn't run as a third-party candidate or endorse the Democrat, I don't see why he should feel obligated to endorse her.

The bottom line is, the Delaware race split conservatives. Some conservatives were angry enough about Mike Castle's non-conservative voting record they chose to overlook O'Donnell's flaws. Other conservatives felt that those flaws were important enough to make her unelectable and unworthy of their support, reasoning that a 50% conservative would be better than a 0% conservative. I can understand both points of view, and neither side should try to demonize the other or make the other side out to be traitors or enemies. I supported Mike Castle, but Delaware voters disagreed and I accept their decision. Now conservatives should stop bickering and unite to defeat the Democrats in November.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Updated Senate Predictions

I recently updated my U.S. Senate predictions. Check them out by clicking on the link on the left side of the page. At the bottom of the predictions page there are some interesting discussions back and forth with other members of the U.S. Election Atlas site. I will be updating my predictions for the governors' races in the next couple of days.

Some may think my comments and prediction regarding O'Donnell in Delaware are too harsh. I posted my predictions the day after the primary and was feeling pretty depressed about our chances there. I'm a little more optimistic after seeing Rasmussen's poll showing O'Donnell only down by 11 points. I still don't think we can win this race, but I hope I'm wrong! I hope to post more comments on the Delaware race later.

UPDATE: I just updated my governor's predictions as well. Check them out also on the link on the left side of the page.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Obama's Thug Politics

Michael Barone has a great column out today about the Obama Administration's disgraceful bullying tactics against the health care industry. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently wrote a letter to the president of the chief lobbying organization for private health insurers, telling her that "there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases." It seems that health insurance companies are raising their premiums significantly in response to ObamaCare, which imposes significant new costs and regulations on them. If anyone on Obama's team knew anything about how a free market economy works, they would be aware that forcing health insurers to provide more benefits leads to additional costs, which these insurers will pass on to consumers in order to stay profitable. Opponents of ObamaCare pointed out that this would be the inevitable result of the Democratic legislation for a year now. However, according to Sebelius, such premium increases are unacceptable because "according to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact...will be minimal." Never mind basic economic principles -- the government has authoritatively declared that your costs will not go up!

So what exactly does "zero tolerance" mean? (Have you heard Obama's Administration use those words about Iran or Hamas or Hugo Chavez lately? Funny how American health insurers get less benefit of the doubt than Islamic terrorists and hostile foreign governments.) Well, Sebelius explains herself. She says that her department will issue regulations to force a "state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases." (That word "potentially" really narrows down the field!) And adds, "We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014."

Let's put Sebelius's Soviet-style approach in ordinary English. Here's what she's really saying: "We control health care in this country now. We determine who gets to participate in the health insurance market and who doesn't, and if you don't set the premiums we tell you to set, we will put you out of business. We know that raising premiums and telling consumers why you are raising those premiums is not against the law -- nevertheless we have a 'zero tolerance' policy for dissent or criticism of our legislation. We will let you know when the First Amendment applies and when it doesn't. Ground Zero Mosque - yes. Criticizing ObamaCare - no."

As Barone points out, "The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm a business because the owners disagree with government officials is thuggery." Of course, this is the same administration that forced GM and Chrysler to reorganize outside of the normal rules of bankruptcy to protect their union allies, and the same administration that tried to bully Fox News by singling them out for exclusion from an interview with a Cabinet official. They are hungry for control -- of the media, the automakers, the financial services industry, the health insurance industry, the energy industry, etc. Control means the right to bully and intimidate people and companies into doing what you want. The Soviets would have been proud.

It's telling that while Sebelius is attempting to silence health insurers who are criticizing the health care bill, not a SINGLE Democratic congressman or senator in a competitive race is bragging about voting for the health care bill. According to Barone, no Democrat running for Congress has even praised or defended the bill since April. They wouldn't be running from it if they didn't know it was an utter failure. But if you're a health insurer, you'd better keep your mouth shut. Or else.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Find Out Where You Are on the Political Spectrum

I found this interesting online test called The Political Matrix that asks you a number of questions about your economic and social beliefs and then tells you where your views place you on the political spectrum. It's not exact, of course, but I've taken these sorts of tests before and this is one of the best ones. Check it out here!

My scores:
+6.32 economic score (economically capitalist)
+4.87 social score (socially moderately authoritarian)