Friday, July 31, 2009

Sir Bobby Robson (1933-2009)

England International legend Sir Bobby Robson passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

One of the best known English players, Sir Bobby had represented Fulham twice as a player and once as a manager. Robson was also England's manager during their 1990 World Cup run to the semi-finals.

A tip of my hat to a Fulham legend as I bow my head in sorrow.

Onyewu against Boca Juniors in Audi Cup

Gooch looking pretty good in this highlight reel. AC Milan came in fourth in the Audi cup after losing to Boca in Penalties, but Gooch was looking much stronger than his performances during the World Football Challenge.

Serie A starts their season proper on August 23.

Fulham Win In Europa League Tie

Fulham grabbed three away goals against Latvian side FK Vetra in Vilnius to take commanding control of their first Europa League tie.

Goals by Bobby Zamora, Danny Murphy (PK) and Seol Ki-Hyeon each netted as the Cottagers will play the return leg next week at Craven Cottage virtually assured of advancing to the next round. Even with the very early start to the Europa league campaign, manager Roy Hodgson started most of what will probably be his default starting 11 for much of the season:

A. Johnson

Super sub Erik Nevland came for Johnson with 22 minutes to play and Seol Ki Hyeon for Dempsey a few minutes later.

Recent signing Bjorn Helge Riise got a run out in the final minutes after the game was done and dusted for his debut with the Club.

Granted, it is early in the season and in the Europa League, but this is a solid result and hopefully it can be built upon. Fulham will host Ventra next week at the cottage before an international break.

Fulham open their Premier League campaign on Aug. 15 by traveling to Fratton Park to visit Portsmouth.

Thursday, July 30, 2009 » Constitutionally Astute US Soldier Demands Apology From US Senator at Missouri Town Hall

From Go watch this video. The cheering gets distratcting a little bit, but this young man takes his Senator to task and I think he is brilliant for it.

'Stolen' car found 2 years later accidentally parked in neighbour's garage

I bet she feels silly now.

I Voted Democrat Because… | Humor & Fun Blog

I thought this was a little funny, great and it encapsulates so much in one place:

I voted Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry whoever I want. I decided to marry my horse.

I voted Democrat because I believe oil companies’ profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 18% isn’t.

I voted Democrat because I’m not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.

I voted Democrat because freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

I voted Democrat because I believe that people who can’t tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don’t start driving a Prius.

I voted Democrat because when we pull out of Iraq I trust that the bad guys will stop what they’re doing, because they now think we’re good people.

I voted Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

I voted Democrat because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

I voted Democrat because I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves.

I voted Democrat because my head is so firmly planted up my a** that it is unlikely that I’ll ever have another point of view.

A Liberal is a person who will give away everything they don’t own.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Obama still cashing in on Bush

Washington Times:
Facing the first real rough patch of his presidency, President Obama and his supporters are once again resorting to a tried-and-true tactic: attacking George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In his White House press conference last week, Mr. Obama referred to the Bush era at least nine times, three times lamenting that he "inherited" a $1.3 trillion debt that has set back his administration's efforts to fix the economy.

With the former president lying low in Dallas, largely focused on crafting his memoirs, Mr. Obama has increasingly attempted to exploit Mr. Bush when discussing the weak economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the difficulty closing the military prison at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The problem is that while Obama may have legitimately inherited a budget deficit, his spend, spend, spend style of government is not doing him any favors. Instead of austerity and fiscal restraint, Obama is acting like a 16 year old heiress with daddy's American Express Card, spending like there is no tomorrow or consequences. Eventually, that bill will come due.

Bashing Bush, while popular with the left, is not going to carry the day much longer, if at all. The middle of America, literally and figuratively, is not going to stomach excuses. Obama pledged a hope and change and right now most of America is hoping for a change-and not getting it from their President. Bashing your predecessor might work for the first six months, but now Obama owns the deficit, which he has probably doubled or tripled for the near term and worse for the long term.

What would be refreshing--aside from an actual cut (and I mean a true cut--not a Washington "cut") in spending of a substantial amount and for Obama to man up and take responsibility for his Presidency and his nation.

Arizona May Sell Capitol Buildings

Man, that is getting to the nitty gritty. Of course, getting to the point of needing to consider that is just an indication of how bad their budget crisis is. Of course, this has to be taken into account:
The state may have little choice. Reserves already have been drained, easier fiscal gimmicks are virtually tapped out, and there's no political will for spending cuts of the size and scope needed to close the deficit.

"This is the predicament we find ourselves in," said Tom Manos, a Brewer budget adviser. "We've exhausted the better options."(emphasis added)
And therein lies the problem with governments who expand spending in flush times, but lack the courage to cut spending in the lean times. If the the Arizona legislature would have just resisted the temptation to spend more, they wouldn't have to face the fact that they would have to make cuts now.

Of course, Arizona is not alone in the notion of spending heavily in good times and then lacking the will to cut spending when times are tough.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear Citizen

Ha! Ha!

GOP's teachable moment on the risks of Obamacare

Via Washington Examiner:
Pick your average member of the House of Representatives, one who has a lot of work to do but hasn't been deeply involved in crafting the massive health care makeover bill. Who knows more about what's in that bill -- Mr. Average Democrat, or Mr. Average Republican?

Bet on the Republican. For weeks now, GOP lawmakers have been studying the Democratic health care bill, and for months before that, they studied preliminary Democratic plans. Many rank-and-file Democrats, on the other hand, have been so ill-informed about what their leadership has been doing that it was only last week, when the party offered a five-hour class on the bill's contents, that some members began to grasp the details.
I am happy that the GOP conference has really studied the Obama/Democratic plan. At least someone is reading the bill.

But knowing your enemies plan is only part of the battle. A good defense can only help you prevent a loss, the best the GOP can get by playing defense is the status quo. But the GOP has a real opportunity here, particuarly when you are looking at the whole sale defection of Blue Dog Democrats and some other more moderate Democrats from the Obamacare plan. They need to put forward another plan, another idea--an option for voters to compare.

Of course, there is almost no chance that a GOP plan will emerge from a committee in the House and it doesn't matter. What a GOP plan will do is force a comparison and if the GOP can put together a plan that Democrats have to talk about--then victory is in hand because Democrats are not talking about their plan.

So while I appreciate the good defense, what the GOP needs is a good offense too.

CongressDaily - Plastic Surgery Tax Eyed As Revenue Raiser

Congress considers a tax on plastic surgery:
Face-lifts, tummy tucks and hair transplants could be hit with a new tax to help finance the trillion-dollar healthcare overhaul plan, according to sources familiar with the Senate talks.

The Senate Finance Committee has discussed imposing a 10 percent excise tax on cosmetic surgery deemed unnecessary for medical purposes. The idea was broached in a meeting with OMB Director Orszag in mid-July, after which Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus told reporters he had heard some 'interesting,' 'creative,' and 'kind of fun' ideas.
I have two problems with this concept in general.

1. When ever the government starts to tax an activity that was previously untaxed or taxed like other similar activities, they will never make as much money as they think. As a service, most medical surgeries are exempt from sales tax laws, although some states have a sales tax on some services and comestic surgery may fall into a taxable category. I have no idea how much cosmetic surgery does as a business in American, but surely a multi-billion dollar market exists and the government sees it as a source of revenue. Estimates will be made based on how much that market currently is. But if you tack a 10% surcharge on the industry, you can bet that the industry will shrink by at least 10% if not more and then not enough money will becoming in.

2. If the government is looking at elective cosmetic procedures to fund the government, perhaps, just perhaps, Congress is spending too much money.

Colleges, Free Thought and Blogging

Jay Mathews tells a fascinating story about the dangers of blogging about your collegiate experience.

I have never shied away from having my name on this blog and I never will. Similarly, I have never allowed other individuals to write material for this blog, although I have routinely been approached to do so. What you see on this blog are my thoughts and my ideas.

I have never been denied a job because of this blog, but by the same token, I have never had a prospective employer ask me if I had a blog. I take care to avoid profane language, mostly, and generally do well to cite sources and provide links to every quote I post here.

But here is the thing, part of my job is to present ideas, make arguments and espouse a point of view--sometimes a point of view I don't necessarily agree with. That is the nature of being a lawyer. But dissenting views are part and parcel of what lawyers are about. The profession expects indeed, litigation is premised on the notion of disseting views and alternative theories.

But, by the same token, I don't expect that colleges are as prudent about censoring their students when it comes dissenting views. I know we should be surprised, but this bit from Mathews piece hit me hard:
Although there are generally at least two sides to every story, we cannot comment on the particulars of this case because the confidentiality of a student’s record is involved. Nevertheless, on two matters of academic principle we can be clear. First, the Stanford School of Education has never attempted to dismiss or discipline a student, either for having a blog or for espousing any particular set of beliefs. We stand firmly in support of intellectual freedom and the right of all students to express their views.

“Second, teachers, including student teachers at STEP, have ethical and legal obligations (e.g., under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) to maintain the privacy interests of the students who have been entrusted to their care.”

How did these otherwise sensible and well-regarded academic professionals twist themselves into such an untenable knot?
Colleges, and in particular colleges of education, tend to the liberal side, a fact that is fairly well known. If you are aware of the bias and can live with it, then so be it, but you shouldn't be surprised. The policy of non-disclosure of student records is proper--they are not for public consumption. But when the school or college has the practially unfettered right to deny a credential on an amorphous, ever shifting standard, then they can and will use policies like these to deny that credential--which is exactly what was threatened. So Mathews question of how these policies got used in the case at Stanford should not be a surprise. I think what happened was that this particuarly student and blogger didn't tuck her tail between her legs and meekly accept the threat and Stanford caved.

Standing up is really the only way to prevent this, but the risks are huge. If you have invested in your education to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, and you blog about your experiences, when this kind of threat comes up, the easiest step is to quit blogging rather than asserting your rights to free speech and academic freedom. Colleges count on that and they expect that most students will quit. But if more people are like the student Mathews profiles, then the censorship and suppression of speech rights will end.

ESPN Will Show MLS in Britain

This is big news.I don't know if MLS will catch on or what the ratings will be and that could be an interesting bit to watch.

While it is nice for MLS to get exposure overseas, I think the league needs to spend a little more time building an audience in this country.

Robert J. Samuelson - Obama Reform Sidesteps Health Costs -

Robert J. Samuelson on health care
The health-care conundrum involves a contradiction that the administration steadfastly obscures: In the short run -- meaning four to eight years -- government cannot both insure the uninsured and rein in health spending. Here's why. The notion that the uninsured get little or no care is a myth: They now receive about 50 to 70 percent as much health care as the insured. If they become insured, they would use more health care, possibly as much as today's insured. That would increase both government and private health spending, depending on how the insurance is provided.

Until health-care costs are better controlled, expanding insurance coverage will be expensive. The president talks endlessly about the need to limit spending and eliminate waste. These are worthy goals. But changing the way medical care is delivered and paid for would take years and involve disruptive and unpopular measures. Patient co-payments might increase; networks of doctors and hospitals might displace individual practices; the tax exclusion for employer-paid health insurance might be curbed. Obama downplays the obstacles. His 'reform' isn't likely to compel needed changes, partly because it's not clear what will work.

Who Do You Trust? - John Stossel's Take

Once againJohn Stossel ask the good question, although it is spawned by this post by Greg Mankiw asking who do you trust.

Stossel notes that early in his career, he took for granted that the profit motive was inherently wrong and his efforts to uncover scams was predicated not on protecting people from the unscrupulous, but on the notion that people and businesses should not be making profits.

I don't like government making decisions for me and I distrust the notion that some bureaucrat or legislators knows better than I what is best for me. But the lower the level of government making a decision, the more I trust that decision as issues, in the end are local and personal, but Mankiw makes a solid point:
I tend to distrust power unchecked by competition. This makes me particularly suspicious of federal policies that take a strong role in directing private decisions. I am much more willing to have state and local governments exercise power in a variety of ways than for the federal government to undertake similar actions. I can more easily move to another state or town than to another nation.
Of course, the problem with Mankiw's proposition is that you would have to have a state or local government that understands the reason it is loosing residents and businesses is related to their policies, and such insight and understanding is often lost upon those policymakers who believe that their power is predicated upon their inherent wisdom as government. So there is a problem.

But the reason I trust the market system (properly regulated by a court system for the resolution of disputes) is that competition generally drives good service and morality. Yes, as Stossel himself has uncovered time and again, there are unscrupulous actors out there and that is why you have a court system to protect individuals from frauds, cheats and bad actors. But the companies that make the most profits do so because they 1). truly understand that providing goods and services that people want and repeated will use and recommend is a good way to make a buck and 2). they know that if they don't some competitor out there will provide that service, better and cheaper than they offer. Thus competition drives excellence.

The fact that so many people seem willing to cede control over their lives to government or to allow the government to dictate their choices seems counter-intuitive for me. I don't get how a nation that cherishes the ability to largely do what they want with their lives is willing to allow government to set up a regime and system for things like health care and spending, that compels behavior without choice.

Now before some gets off on a rant with me about government etc., there is a role for government and it is a limited role. Government is given powers by me through the Constitution to do for me that which I really can't do as well for myself, like repel foreign invaders, print money, help keep me safe from those who will do me harm (criminals and the like). But I don't cede to the government the power to determine who I will see for medical care, or which industry or private company will be bailed out with my tax money.

So I trust the market because competition makes people and institutions better.

Health Care Mythology

Debunked quite well.

Previously Listened To:

This is a list of the CD's I have listened to and posted on this site. Over time, I hope to get my review of each disk posted. As this list is updated, I will be moving it to the top of the postings.

Updated 2/10/2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

LA Fan Lifetime Ban Lifted

the LA Galaxy Riot Squad fan who was banned for life by the Home Depot Center after jumping from the stands to confront David Beckham has had his lifetime ban lifted after the facility and team reconsidered the ban.

In light of the fine that Beckham received, this was probably the right move. Ban the man for a couple of games, fine, but not for life--that is simply over the line.

I could have told you that

CBO says the Obama health plan stands a good chance of not saving any money. A fair number of people smarter than I have been saying that for some time.

When you make something free to the user, they will use more of it. If taxpayers are footing the bill for "free" health care, I am not sure how a savings would even be possible.

That is just funny

Stimulus money going into toilets.

The Invisible Man

Check out these photos.
These are just too cool.

Another Bad Idea

Over the weekend, I chastised President Obama for getting involved in the Gates/Campbridge police matter as federal meddling in a purely local matter. Well it looks like Congressional Republican figure, what is good for Obama is good for them. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) is apparently preparing a resolution calling on the President to apologize to the Campbrindge police officer.

This is just more federal meddling in a purely local matter. If Republican want to call the President on the carpet, there are plenty of legitimate, federal matters to use as pressure points, this is not one of them.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

U.S.A v. Mexico: 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final

For the second consecutive final, the two regional powers Mexico and the U.S. will face off in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final today at Giants stadium.

Both teams came to the competition with less than the A team starters. The U.S. has fielded a squad that is charitably called a B Team but really is essentially an MLS All-star team. Of the 19 players on Bob Bradley's Squad, only four players ply their trade outside the MLS, Heath Pearce, Troy Perkins, Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst. Only Heath Pearce has spent more than two years abroad and he is currently out of contract after falling out of form and favor with his former club Hansa Rostock.

I would suspect that Bradley will start with this line-up





There are three potential changes that could be made: Santino Quaranta for Arnaud, Jimmy Conrad for Goodson. Alternatively, I could see Quaranta on the right wing and Holden in the middle.

However, I don't see Bradley making any of those changes. The line up above played well against Honduras and I don't see any reason to make changes. Goodson stepped up well in a difficult situation when Conrad went down.

Game time is 3:00 PM EDT and will be on Fox Soccer Channel. You can also follow the action on the U.S. Soccer match tracker if you don't have FSC.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Buying American Isn't Necessarily Wise brings the issue. Please note there are bikini babes, American Football and soccer. By the way, soccer is not un-American.

Was the Housing Bubble A Market Failure or Government Failure

John Makin makes the case that it was government policy brought about the housing bubble. One of the causes, according to Makin, is the tax deductibility of mortgage interest.

Obama and race

The story today of Obama and the Prof. Gates story is that Obama is looking to ease back on the rhetoric, for fear that the small incident will overtake his domestic agenda and health care. With his health care plan already imploding, it is probably a smart move.

Of course, the smart move would have been to not get involved in the first place. Obama's reaction to the arrest of Prof. Gates is symbolic of a larger problem--the federalization of what should be local matters.

I frankly could give a toss about Prof. Gates arrest. From what I have read Prof. Gates should have called a locksmith--surely he can afford it on his salary. The cop should have been a bit less belligerent and understanding. It sounds that all parties didn't handle the incident well.

But this was a local problem, small, and in the grand scheme of things, not worth the attention it has received. The incident, in which no one was hurt, is not something that the President of the United States should be involved in, comment on or even dedicate someone from the White House to monitor. It simply is beneath the office of the President and even beneath consideration by any agency of the federal government. But that didn't stop the Obama Administration from jumping in with both feet without even thinking about what the blowback would be.

The federal government has no business getting involved in this matter. But the mindset of the Administration that there is no problem too small or too local in which the federal government should not get invovled should bring us in to greater understanding that this Administration wants to micromanage every aspect of American society--federalism be damned.

Betsy has a slightly different take.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Death of Obamacare?

Charles Krauthammer writes:
What happened to Obamacare? Rhetoric met reality. As both candidate and president, the master rhetorician could conjure a world in which he bestows upon you health-care nirvana: more coverage, less cost.

But you can't fake it in legislation. Once you commit your fantasies to words and numbers, the Congressional Budget Office comes along and declares that the emperor has no clothes.

President Obama premised the need for reform on the claim that medical costs are destroying the economy. True. But now we learn -- surprise! -- that universal coverage increases costs. The congressional Democrats' health-care plans, says the CBO, increase costs on the order of $1 trillion plus.
I think another part of the problem is that Americans understand that health care is a complex policy issue and are having a hard time swallowing the notion that a one-size fits all solution or even a single solution.

The fact is, we as Americans spend a great deal of money on health care, probably too much. It is not that we pay too much for a specific procedure or treatment, but that we use health care too much. If you really want to cut costs in health care you have to do two things:

1. Get rid of third party payers--specfically private insurance companies and get serious about reducing the payment government pays.

2. Make health insurance true insurance. You don't pay for oil changes on your car with auto insurance. You shouldn't pay for check-ups with your health insurance.

In order to control costs, we have to get Americans to be more cognizant of how much health care really costs. When a person goes to the doctor they pay their $10 or $15 co-pay, they will usually get an explanation of benefits letter from their insurer (which by the way increases costs a little), but most people don't look at them. Most people don't have any idea how much the actual cost of a doctor's visit really is. So we use health care far too much.

White Sox Mark Buehrle Pitches Perfect Game

I am not a big baseball fan, but I can appreciate the quality and difficulty of pitching and when I hear about a perfect game, you have to admire the skill. I also like the fact that his teammates also work hard to delivery a perfect game to White Sox left hander Mark Buehrle.
There was a tense moment in the ninth inning, when Dewayne Wise made a spectacular catch at the wall in left center field to preserve Buehrle's gem. Wise sprinted into deep to the wall to take away what would have been a home run off the bat of Gabe Kapler.

The ball almost came out when Wise caromed off the fence, stumbled, fell to the ground and rolled. But he bounced right up, proudly displaying the ball for the crowd in his bare left hand.
Here's the thing, in a couple of years people will talk about Buehrle's perfect game, but almost everyone will forget about the spectacular nature of Wise's catch to preserve the perfect game.

Rasmussen: Obama Bel0w 50% Approval

Among likely voters. Not a good sign for Hope and Change.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Arrogance of Health Care Reform: Why do politicians with no business experience think they can run 15 percent of the economy? - Reason Magazine

If passed it will end up being called hubris.

John Stossel:
It's crazy for a group of mere mortals to try to design 15 percent of the U.S. economy. It's even crazier to do it by August.

Yet that is what some members of Congress presume to do. They intend, as the New York Times puts it, "to reinvent the nation's health care system."

Let that sink in. A handful of people who probably never even ran a small business actually think they can reinvent the health care system.
Yeah, that is smart.

Has The "Revisionist" History Caught up With Us

"Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity no quality." George Santayana.

A couple of months ago, I responded to a comment by an acquaintence who said that it would be great to have national, free health care. It didn't take me long to figure this person as a liberal or rather progressive (that was not her only "progressive" comment). As the same time, I was reading Robert A. Heinlein's libertarian classic "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress." In Heinlein's book, the motto of the Moon is TANSTAAFL, the acronym for "There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch." Oh would more people understand such a statement. No matter what you talk about in life, there is a cost-sometimes easy to shoulder and sometimes not.

After pointing out to this liberal chucklehead that "free" health care comes with a price tag, the most immediate being that the "price" of a "free health care" is increased taxes. She of course quickly noted that she didn't mind paying taxes--which is easy to say until the actual tax bill comes in. But let's assume that she is sincere in her belief that she will pay the tax bill, which is all fine and dandy, but I don't want her running my business or finances, let alone insisting I pay for something like that. But there are other costs, many of which have been detailed by others.

What is more troubling to me, is that this supposedly well educated woman has no idea of what she speaks when it comes to the notion of health care, i.e. that it is a right in America. This woman insisted that we in America could make it work since hadn't really been tried before in our country. This is where I find that in our world of near instant information, there are so many people who act or speak without having any information.

In the grand scheme of things, this particular woman is just a single person; a clearly committed citizen who truly believes and advocates for her beliefs. I don't agree with her, but I do respect her in her ignorance. I think that once she begins to learn the facts, her tune will change--most intelligent people can be educated.

But the difference between this woman and the leaders we now have in Washington is not as great as it should be. I can forgive a single, relatively young person for their lack of knowledge. I cannot forgive high leaders, with access to the absolute best and latest information on a subject for the same ingnorance.

I used to look forward to leaders who have a vision, a belief that American and the World will always get better. As much as I don't believe the Republican Party should keep looking back to Ronald Reagan and be looking for the "Next Reagan," I do believe that the GOP does at least look backward with a purpose (even though I don't agree with it). However, I have, grudingly, come to the conclusion that our "hope and change" President and the "progressives" in Congress have failed to even consider history--at all--even directly relevant history.

President Obama was not only a law student but a law professor and the heart and soul of legal analysis comes from the application of past cases (read past experience) to the current fact pattern. Such an analysis will inevitably lead to consistency in the law, and point the lawyer to a probably outcome. Sure, lawyers can and often do argue for an extension of the law, a change in the law or that a given case doesn't apply to the facts because the fact patterns are different. However, past experience is the primary instructor in the legal profession. My, My, My how far our president has come to ignore even the recent past.

This long ramble does have a point--health care in America. Representatives Marsha Blackburn and Phil Roe, both of Tennessee are trying to instruct the nation and our president about the failures of single payer health care. We don't have to look beyond our borders, to Canada or western Europe to see the problems of universal single payer health care--you can look at Tennessee.
Tennessee was home to a failed attempt at universal single payer care, and has lessons to teach a President who has promised that in pursuing his goal of universal health care, he will learn from the policy failures of the past. In 1994 Tennessee implemented managed care in its Medicaid program, creating a system known as TennCare. The objective was to use the anticipated savings from Medicaid to fund and expand coverage for children and the uninsured. The result was a program that nearly bankrupted the state, reduced the quality of care, and collapsed under its own weight.
Keep in mind that TennCare was intended only for a small subset of the population, those who qualified for Medicaid--i.e. those without the funds to pay for their healthcare. Remember TANSTAAFL? Here is the lesson:
TennCare lessons challenge the Administration's thinking on the benefits of a "public option" solution to assuring American's have the care they deserve. As a Tennessee doctor who provided care under TennCare and a state legislator who had to find ways for the state to pay for it, we learned these lessons the hard way. They shaped the way we both approach health care policy. With Democrats promising to pass a similar system in the House by August, those lessons are worth sharing with the country now.

"Free" Care Is Expensive: No matter how forthright the Administration's cost estimates are; no model accounts for the rational decisions that push people to over-utilize the "free care" a public option offers. TennCare's gold plated coverage included every doctor's appointment and prescription. As such, patients with a cold opted to charge the state hundreds of dollars for doctor visits and medicine instead of paying $5 out of pocket for over-the-counter cold medicine. Over-use caused TennCare's anticipated savings to evaporate and its cost to explode. While TennCare consistently covered between 1.2 and 1.4 million people; costs increased from $2.5 billion in 1995 to $8 billion by the time of TennCare's restructuring. It consumed a third of the state budget including nearly all state revenue growth. When the illusion of "free" care is fostered, it is always over-utilized.
Reps. Blackburn and Roe also point out that the "government" plan was pushed by many small employers. Small employers who currently provide health insurance for their workers will most definitely make the calculation regarding maintaining that insurance or paying the 8% surtax and if you don't believe that, you are deluding yourself.

Millions of Americans will be forced on the rolls of the public option under Obama. More people need to take a good hard, long look at the lessons of TennCare.

I understand the goal of health care reform, that is to make sure more people have access to affordable quality health care. A noble goal to be sure, but it is a goal that has multiple paths to success, but that path should be considered in light of history. The opening quote to this post was by Santayana and clearly not his most famous.

More and more of our leaders have failed to look to our history, despite their access to that history. The public option for health care will be expanded beyond all measures right now available, of that I have no doubt. It will be TennCare writ large and it will bankrupt this country faster than Medicare and Social Security combined. Is that really the lesson we need to experience?

Friday, July 17, 2009

US Men vs David Akers

It is a good thing that Santino Quaranta is a quality striker/midfielder, because he sucks as a goalkeeper.

Stuart Holden looks like he could make a career out of American football.

Biden: ‘We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt’

Seriously, this is the logic from our Vice President. In the real world, if you are on the verge of bankruptcy, the last thing you want to do is spend money.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Not a Bad Idea

From John Stossel:
Immigrants seeking to become U.S. citizens have to pass a test. It’s not that hard a test. 92.4% of new immigrants pass on first try. The test includes simple questions like “Who was the first President?” and “How many justices are on the Supreme Court?”

But a new Goldwater Institute study finds that only 3.5% of surveyed public high school students could answer enough questions correctly to pass the citizenship test.

USA Today profiled the Goldwater study and suggested:

Why not make the 100-question citizenship test part of the high school curriculum, and passage a graduation requirement?(links in original)
It really is not a bad idea.

See, we have been told over and over by the education establishment that the purpose of a high school diploma is to prepare our young people to be effective, contributing members of society. I accept that as a good reason among others, for a high school diploma. But one of the "rights" that comes along with attaining the age of 18 in this country is the same right that immigrants looking to become naturalized citizens seek--the right to vote.

It seems that in order to graduate from high school, our young people should demonstrate a basic understanding of our history and political system. After all with rights come responsibilities, including the responsibility to know a little bit about the country of which you are a citizen.

"Powerful GM"

John Stossel talks about real power in the context of Government Motors.

He makes a good point.
I confess: I don’t write everything that I say on TV. I write almost everything, but when I anchor, another writer often does a first draft.

Tonight on 20/20, we report on GM. The writer suggested I begin: "it was once the most powerful company in the world…"

GM was indeed the most "profitable," or "biggest"—that I get. But powerful? Why do people think about business that way? GM has/had no armies with which it can invade other companies. It had no power for force anyone to work there. It couldn’t force anyone to buy GM cars.

Your average two-bit government bureaucrat has more "power." He can send people with guns to take your money (tax collection). He can lock you up, seize your property, tell you what you cannot do on your property, summon you to court, and so on. Government has the monopoly on power.
I think we all need to remember that.

When government, i.e. Obama and the Congressional Democrats, talks about big, bad companies, remember this: Government has the ability to take one of the biggest companies that has ever existed and rendering it a tax payer owned company in the blink of an eye. True, GM has a big role in their own government take over, but the government had the power to just sit on teh sidelines and let the company fail and you know what- it would have sucked, but it is the nature of companies to be born, live, and die--just like people, and unlike govnerments.

Cool: In So Many Ways

Teen becomes youngest African American female to complete flight across U.S.
Kimberly Anyadike took off from Compton 13 days ago with an adult safety pilot and Levi Thornhill, an 87-year-old who served with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. They flew to Newport News, Va., making about a dozen stops along the way.

Anyadike learned to fly a plane and helicopter when she was 12 with the Compton-based Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, an after-school program that offers aviation lessons to at-risk youth and economically disadvantaged students. The organization owns the small plane.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Case Against College Entitlements

Those libertarians are at it again, make a strong case based in logic. - The Case Against College Entitlements. go Check it out.

This is a mind boggling stat: Four year colleges graduate just 53% of their students in six (6) years. No that is not a typo. When I was in college just 12, 13 years ago, we joked about a "five year plan." Six is getting ludicrous.

Of course, colleges don't want you to know that it takes six years to get that done.

Fabius Maximus: Government Intervention has softened blow of economic downturn

But it still doesn't make the scope of the federal reaction right or proper.Why has the worst recession since the 1930’s had such a mild effect on America? « Fabius Maximus

How Not to Generate an Economic Recovery

The Rangel Tax Plan. Apparently, our leaders in Congress have not learned their history:
Every detail isn't known, but late last week Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel disclosed that his draft bill would impose a "surtax" on individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $280,000 a year. This would hit job creators especially hard because more than six of every 10 who earn that much are small business owners, operators or investors, according to a 2007 Treasury study. That study also found that almost half of the income taxed at this highest rate is small business income from the more than 500,000 sole proprietorships and subchapter S corporations whose owners pay the individual rate.

In addition, many more smaller business owners with lower profits would be hit by the Rangel plan's payroll tax surcharge. That surcharge would apply to all firms with 25 or more workers that don't offer health insurance to their employees, and it would amount to an astonishing eight percentage point fee above the current 15% payroll levy.

Here's the ugly income-tax math. First, Mr. Obama has promised to let the lower Bush tax rates expire after 2010. This would raise the top personal income tax rate to 39.6% from 35%, and the next rate to 36% from 33%. The Bush expiration would also phase out various tax deductions and exemptions, bringing the top marginal rate to as high as 41%.

Then add the Rangel Surtax of one percentage point, starting at $280,000 ($350,000 for couples), plus another percentage point at $400,000 ($500,000 for couples), rising to three points on more than $800,000 ($1 million) in 2011. But wait, there's more. The surcharge could rise by two more percentage points in 2013 if health-care costs are larger than advertised -- which is a near-certainty. Add all of this up and the top marginal tax rate would climb to 46%, which hasn't been seen in the U.S. since the Reagan tax reform of 1986 cut the top rate to 28% from 50%.

States have also been raising their income tax rates, so in California and New York City the top rate would be around 58%. The Tax Foundation reports that at least half of all states would have combined state-federal tax rates of more than 50%.
You don't generate an economic recovery by taxing the very people who generate jobs an income. If they are not a small business owner, the people with the most money invest in other companies that generate jobs and income.

Class warfare has never stimulated an economic recovery. There is a reason why small businesses are referred to as the engine that drives the American economy.
Democrats claim these tax increases on the rich won't do any economic harm. They should read the work of Christina Romer before she became chief White House economist. Ms. Romer and her husband, David Romer, a Berkeley economist, have published multiple studies on the impact of tax policy changes over the past 100 years. One of their findings is that "tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained and highly significant negative impact on output." In other words, tax hikes are an antistimulus.

Another implication of the Rangel plan is that America's successful small businesses would pay higher tax rates than the Fortune 500, and for that matter than most companies around the world. The corporate federal-state tax rate applied to General Electric and Google is about 39% in the U.S., and the business tax rate is about 25% in the OECD countries. So the U.S. would have close to the most punitive taxes on small business income anywhere on the globe.


A new study by the Kaufman Foundation finds that small business entrepreneurs have led America out of its last seven post-World War II recessions. They also generate about two of every three new jobs during a recovery. The more the Obama Democrats reveal of their policies, the more it's clear that they prize income redistribution above all else, including job creation and economic growth.
Elsewhere, the WSJ notes that when you raise taxes on the rich, their reported income tends to decline. For proof, look what happened in Maryland (see also here. The same thing is happening on other places as well.

See, this article from Portland, OR, this one from the DC Metro area, or Ohio's plight, Tennessee.

I'm sorry, but the only rationale for increasing taxes in this economic climate is to redistribute a dwindling wealth.

ObamA Administration: Hope to Change Perceptions

And not doing a very good job at it.
President Obama’s approval rating has fallen six points in the past month, a new CBS News poll finds, amid growing skepticism about his handling of the economy and questions about the impact of the stimulus package.

The president’s current approval rating, which is 57 percent, is still relatively high. But it has fallen 11 points from its peak of 68 percent in April, and has also dropped since last month’s mark of 63 percent. His disapproval rating, meanwhile, has risen from 23 percent in April to 32 percent today.
That is CBS trying to put a decent spin on poll numbers that are in free fall. Yes 57 percent approval is far better than President Bush enjoyed in his second term, but Obama has fallen 11 points in just three months.

The fact is that as we move further and further from January 20, 2009, the hard it becomes for the Obama Administration to claim that the problems were started by Bush. President Obama's highly touted plans and stimulus package do not appear to be garnering any fans and the constant intrusion and government creep in to private enterprise must have a fair number of people getting nervous.

The flip side of the notion of "too big to fail" is that no company is so big that the government can't step in to correct matters as it sees fit. If the government can take over General Motors and their legion of lobbyists, lawyers and contributors, what is to stop the government from stepping in to take over some small business or worse, put that small business out of business.

Similarly, the pace of Obama's legislative agenda and push to pass legislation without some much as allowing Representatives to read it has made people nervous. While people may grumble about the inability of Congress to get anything done, I think a happy medium of deliberative action, with time for reflection and investigation, is much more palatable than the break neck speed of legislation that Obama has pursued.

Grant Wahl, "The Beckham Experiment"

Today is the release date of "The Beckham Experiment" the new book by Sport's Illustrated's Grant Wahl and the book could very well be the most important book about the current state of soccer in America. I personally can't wait to read the book, I am hoping that Amazon comes through and gets me the book today or tomorrow. This Is American Soccer's Adam Spangler has an interview with Wahl.

There has been a fair amount of press about Landon Donovan's comments and how Beckham considers them a personal affront (and they are), but this question from Spangler and answer from Wahl is actually the most interesting bit of back story on the book:
That speaks to my #1 question for you. Access. It appears you had tremendous access to players and some management. The candidness of your sources is unbelievable. Take me through how you negotiated those usually tepid waters for sports journalism as you went along.
With Beckham I had done two major stories about him for SI. One in 2003, kind of introducing him to the American audience, and then a cover story in 2007 for his arrival to Los Angeles. We had a good relationship based on the time we spent together. Both stories involved significant one-on-one interviews with me and him, about an hour each time; photo shoots in both cases. I didn’t know going in how much one-on-one access I was going to get with Beckham, but I knew he would do media availabilities before and after every game, which is more than he had ever done in Europe. But when I brought the idea of the book to Beckham’s people, even though we had always had a very good relationship, their stance was that David had done books before that were “by David Beckham, ghost written by somebody else” and that he got significant advances for those books—over a million dollars. The implication being, if I wanted to have special one-on-one access to David Beckham for this book itself, that was the sort of money that had to be paid. That wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t angry about that, and I would not have accepted the book deal if I thought that was a possibility. I knew that Beckham’s voice would be throughout the book, and I would be able to ask him all sorts of questions because of the access before and after most games. So I wasn’t all that concerned to be honest because Beckham is not the most colorful source ever, and I don’t know how much I would have gained one-on-one.

But I did know that everyone else within the Galaxy, just because of my relationships that I developed over the last 12 years at SI, would be interested in sitting down with me throughout the reporting process, and that is what happened. It worked out really well in the end. Hypothetically, I guess if Beckham’s handlers wanted money they also wanted approval over what went into the book, and I don’t work that way. I’m a journalist. No past stories I’ve written about Beckham were subject to the approval of Beckham and his people, so the best way for me to put it is that this is neither an authorized chronicle or an unauthorized chronicle. It’s just a straight-up chronicle of what happened, good and bad, from the inside.
I think that the viewpoint of money for access to Beckham says a lot about brand Beckham. I don't know how much Beckham has a role in that "money for access" set up that seems to surround Beckham, but that Wahl refused to be a party to that situation speaks well of Wahl and the book itself.

I think that most interesting part of Wahl's book will be the actual collision of history and stature that permaeates the MLS. In 2007, the MLS still had a reserve division, where players were making just $12,500 a year, which is less than what Beckham made for a daily training session, and how they dealt with the press, the media, the entourage of a player who has made millions of dollar a year, on par with American basketball players.
Those stories open up that larger story of American soccer, and the realities of life in MLS for a player, team, franchise, and even the league. How different would this story be if those situations didn’t exist?
I think it would have taken out a big, interesting part of the story—this world’s colliding narrative. I found it fascinating. Going in I knew that would be one of Beckham’s biggest challenges to try and relate to teammates who were making such a microscopic fraction of his salary and his income and whose fame was minuscule, nonexistent really, compared to him. And yet a guy like Alan Gordon was going to play a lot and be relied upon to finish a lot of the passes that Beckham was giving him. That to me was a crucial part of the story. Alan Gordon to me is very symbolic of the MLS player. So many players in MLS, most of them American, make almost no money—Gordon made $30,000 for four years and only later got a bigger contract, which was still not guaranteed. But he kept performing and was asked to do a lot of things in front of crowds of 66,000 people in New York when he is getting paid $30,000 a year. He represents this huge section of MLS players who don’t get a lot of recognition and probably deserve a lot more.
I cannot wait to see and read the whole book.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Gooch to AC Milan

Chris Courtney of Letters from Vagabondia is reporting that U.S. center back Oguchi Onyewu has signed a three year deal with Italian powerhouse AC Milan. The U.S. international will be the first American to play in Serie A since Alexi Lalas played for Padova in 1994-1996. The biggest difference is that Onyewu will be playing for a Italian powerhouse at the San Siro, will be playing on a Champions's League team.

Given the age of the AC Milan starting 11 last year, just putting Gooch in the starting 11 will reduce the average age of the team. Gooch will also be playing against some of the top talent in the world and that will only make him better.

Congrats to Gooch.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is not a tournament that garners a great deal of attention in the U.S. and rarely has. But yesterday was not a banner day for the top flight of American soccer and a growing indication that the USL, the second, third and fourth divisions of American soccer are showing that they can get it done sometimes in this tournament.

Since the arrival of MLS into the tournament in 1996, the Rochester Rhinos won the competition in 1999, the only USL team to do so.

But the tournament this year could see a USL team raise the Dewar Trophy. Yesterday was not a banner day for MLS clubs as Columbus lost in penalty kicks to Rocherster (USL-1), Wilmington (USL-2) bested Chicago, Harrisburg (USL-2) upset New England in extra time, Charleston (USL-1) put the smack down on Chivas USA. Only DC United and Kansas City of the MLS advanced last night but only barely.

DC has to struggle until the 74th minute before going ahead against the only amatuer team left in the competition, the Ocean City (NJ) Barons. The Barons had more than a few chances and were the recipient of some controversial calls against them. Kansas City had to advance on penalty kicks against Minnesota (USL-1).

The marquee game of the round will be Portland v. Seattle, two teams that last year played in USL-1 and in two years will face each other in the MLS. The rivalry between these clubs extends for over 30 years going back to the NASL. In another match tonight, Houston will face the USL-1 expansion team Austin Azteks.

DC United will not face another MLS team until the final assuming they advance that far.

A Domestic Violence Czar?

U.S. News' Bonnie Erbe reports that the Obama administration has enough "czars" to field a full baseball game and have two substitutes, over 20 of those Russian flavored Czars.

So what issue (in addition to all the czars that we have) requires a newly crowned czar: Domestic Violence.

This is a waste of federal tax payer dollars and should be eradicated quickly. The announcement by Vice President Joe Biden states:
Vice President Biden announced today that Lynn Rosenthal will be the White House adviser on Violence Against Women, a new position created to work with the president and vice president on domestic violence and sexual assault issues...Rosenthal most recently served as the executive director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence and has focused on domestic violence issues like housing, state and local coordinated community response, federal policy, and survivor-centered advocacy.
Now don't get me wrong, domestic violence against anyone, women, children, men, or the elderly is not only legally wrong but morally so and such perpetrators should be caught, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, punished and then publicly humilitated in a manner we have thus far reserved for sexual predators.

But this is not a federal issue and should not be a federal issue.

Domestic violence is a state and local issue, should be handled by state and local police. The federal government through the FBI and Justice Department can rightfully serve as a data collection agency, but should not be involved in any other way. Of course, the FBI already performs this function and there is no reason why the White House needs another advisor on the issue.

Breaking Down the Public Health Care Arguments

George Newman does a good job in the Wall Street Journal of breaking down a number of the arguments made in favor of the public option health care plan being put forwardby the Obama Administration. A couple that I really like
:"The American people overwhelmingly favor reform."

If you ask whether people would be happier if somebody else paid their medical bills, they generally say yes. But surveys on consumers' satisfaction with their quality of care show overwhelming support for the continuation of the present arrangement. The best proof of this is the belated recognition by the proponents of health-care reform that they need to promise people that they can keep what they have now.


- "We need a public plan to keep the private plans honest."

The 1,500 or so private plans don't produce enough competition? Making it 1,501 will do the trick? But then why stop there? Eating is even more important than health care, so shouldn't we have government-run supermarkets "to keep the private ones honest"? After all, supermarkets clearly put profits ahead of feeding people. And we can't run around naked, so we should have government-run clothing stores to keep the private ones honest. And shelter is just as important, so we should start public housing to keep private builders honest. Oops, we already have that. And that is exactly the point. Think of everything you know about public housing, the image the term conjures up in your mind. If you like public housing you will love public health care.
Government is designed to do those things that cannot or should not be done by private providers or individuals, things like law enforcement or protecting our nation. Government does just about everything else quite poorly and when it comes to services to people, the government has never proven that they are better at providing a service like health care, housing or anything else better than the private sector or private charity organizations. Do we really accept the idea that the government can somehow do so much better at providing health care?