Ike hosted Khrushchev. Let's bring Kim Jong Il for a visit. By Peter Carlson
Kim Jong Il, the eccentric and unpredictable North Korean dictator, has been misbehaving lately -- firing his missiles, testing his nukes, jailing American journalists and scaring the hell out of everyone by suggesting that he will appoint his 26-year-old son, Kim Jong Un, to succeed him.
So what should President Obama do? Some people suggest diplomacy, others advocate overthrowing the regime, and yet others want to deploy Al Gore to Pyongyang. I've got a better idea: Obama should invite Kim to the United States and let him wander around for a couple of weeks, sipping cocktails with capitalists, visiting a home economics class in Iowa and mingling with Hollywood stars.
This is perhaps the dumbest idea I've read in WaPo. This year, at least. Kimmie lives in the best homes in North Korea. He has the best movie collection (no, Bambi won't dazzle him by giving him a box set of DVDs). He drinks the finest cognac. He gets whatever he wants. Letting him wander around Des Moines for a week isn't going to do a damned thing to change his views, and it's the usual combination of hubris and idiocy that only a liberal publication can concoct that brings us nonsense like this.
Fifty years ago, in similar circumstances, that's what President Dwight D. Eisenhower did. And it worked, sort of.
If you didn't mind waiting thirty years. How many people in the Soviet Union in that interval were imprisoned? How many dissidents ruined? How many ordinary people put upon? How many sent to 'corrective labor camps'?
And oh, remind me, Mr. Carlson, who decided that the old Soviet Union was an 'evil empire'? And who put the plan in motion to get rid of it rather than live in 'detente'? Remind me, because it sure didn't seem at that point that Mr. Khrushchev's visit had done a damned thing.
WASHINGTON -- It's hard to know whether President Obama's health care "reform" is naive, hypocritical or simply dishonest. Probably all three. The president keeps saying it's imperative to control runaway health spending. He's right. The trouble is that what's being promoted as health care "reform" almost certainly won't suppress spending and, quite probably, will do the opposite.
A new report from Obama's own Council of Economic Advisers shows why controlling health costs is so important. Since 1975, annual health spending per person, adjusted for inflation, has grown 2.1 percentage points faster than overall economic growth per person. Should this trend continue, the CEA projects that:
-- Health spending, which was 5 percent of the economy (gross domestic product, GDP) in 1960 and is reckoned at almost 18 percent today, would grow to 34 percent of GDP by 2040 -- a third of the economy.
-- Medicare and Medicaid, the government insurance programs for the elderly and poor, would increase from 6 percent of GDP now to 15 percent in 2040 -- roughly equal to three-quarters of present federal spending.
-- Employer-paid insurance premiums for family coverage, which grew 85 percent in inflation-adjusted terms from 1996 to $11,941 in 2006, would increase to $25,200 by 2025 and $45,000 in 2040 (all figures in "constant 2008 dollars"). The huge costs would force employers to reduce take-home pay.
The message in these dismal figures is that uncontrolled health spending is almost single-handedly determining national priorities. It's reducing discretionary income, raising taxes, widening budget deficits and squeezing other government programs. Worse, much medical spending is wasted, the CEA report says. It doesn't improve Americans' health; some care is unneeded or ineffective.
The Obama administration's response is to talk endlessly about restraining health spending -- "bending the curve'' is the buzz -- as if talk would suffice. The president summoned the heads of major health care trade groups representing doctors, hospitals, drug companies and medical device firms to the White House. All pledged to bend the curve. This is mostly public relations. Does anyone believe that the American Medical Association can control the nation's 800,000 doctors or that the American Hospital Association can command the 5,700 hospitals?
The central cause of runaway health spending is clear. Hospitals and doctors are paid mostly on a fee-for-service basis and reimbursed by insurance, either private or governmental. The open-ended payment system encourages doctors and hospitals to provide more services -- and patients to expect them. It also favors new medical technologies, which are made profitable by heavy use. Unfortunately, what pleases providers and patients individually hurts the nation as a whole.
That's the crux of the health care dilemma, and Obama hasn't confronted it. His emphasis on controlling costs is cosmetic. The main aim of health care "reform" now being fashioned in Congress is to provide insurance to most of the 46 million uncovered Americans. This is popular and seems the moral thing to do. After all, hardly anyone wants to be without insurance. But the extra coverage might actually worsen the spending problem.
How much healthier today's uninsured would be with that coverage is unclear. They already receive health care -- $116 billion worth in 2008, estimates Families USA, an advocacy group. Some is paid by the uninsured themselves (37 percent), some by government and charities (26 percent). The remaining "uncompensated care" is either absorbed by doctors and hospitals or shifted to higher private insurance premiums. Some uninsured would benefit from coverage, but others wouldn't. Either they're healthy (40 percent are between ages 18 and 34) or would receive ineffective care.
The one certain consequence of expanding insurance coverage is that it would raise spending. When people have insurance, they use more health services. That's one reason why Obama's campaign proposal was estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over a decade (the other reason is that the federal government would pick up some costs now paid by others). Indeed, the higher demand for health care might raise costs across the board, increasing both government spending and private premiums.
No doubt the health program that Congress fashions will counter this reality by including some provisions intended to cut costs ("bundled payments" to hospitals, "evidence-based guidelines," electronic record keeping). In the past, scattershot measures have barely affected health spending. What's needed is a fundamental remaking of the health care sector -- a sweeping "restructuring"-- that would overhaul fee-for-service payment and reduce the fragmentation of care.
The place to start would be costly Medicare, the nation's largest insurance program serving 45 million elderly and disabled. Of course, this would be unpopular, because it would disrupt delivery patterns and reimbursement practices. It's easier to pretend to be curbing health spending while expanding coverage and spending. Presidents have done that for decades, and it's why most health industries see "reform" as a good deal.
Galrahn at Information Dissemination has some interesting thoughts on the issue of the Chinese sub hitting the towed array of the USS John McCain. Worth the read.
Posted by: Steve White ||
06/15/2009 00:00 ||
Top|| File under:
ION WORLD MIL FORUM > IIUC US AND VIETNAM TO BEGIN "POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, AND SECURITY DIALOGUES". US MILITARY [USAF]WILL RETURN TO VIETNAM TO HELP THE VIETNAMESE [read, agz CHINA]???
* SAME > CHIN WILL PURCHASE RUSSIAN "BACKFIRE" BOMBERS FOR BASING ON HAINAN ISLAND. CHIN "BACKFIRES" MAY USE NUCLEAR-ARMED LR ANTI-CARRIER CRUISE MISSLES FOR WARTIME USE AGZ THE US NAVY CARRIER AND US FORCES ON/NEAR TAIWAN, THE PHILIPPINES, AND CHINA SEAS???
The news that Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has ordered an investigation into charges of voter fraud in his country's presidential elections has been greeted with skepticism by many in the West. After all, it was Ayatullah Khamenei, who holds the ultimate authority in the theocratic nation, who rushed to embrace incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the victor long before the ballots were counted. But his order to the Guardian Council, the powerful watchdog of the Iranian constitution, to start an investigation may not be as cynical as it appears.
Of course, there is political calculation to Khamenei's investigation. It neutralizes the main demand around which the opposition is rallying on the streets and imposes a de facto 10-day cooling-off period that could sap, even demoralize, the anti-Ahamdinejad demonstrations. The huge rally in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi in Tehran on Monday (estimated by a TIME reporter at the scene at 200,000) is enough to make any ruler, autocrat or not, tremble. The night before, for the first time, the shouts against Ahmadinejad included a few hesitant but yet brave chants of "Marq bar Khamenei," or "Down with Khamenei." It has always been terrifyingly taboo to say anything at all that denigrates the Supreme Leader, successor to the Ayatullah Khomeini. But now it has started - and it may help open the Supreme Leader's window of vulnerability to one very powerful enemy.
As much as some Iranian conservatives may wish otherwise, the Islamic republic has never been able to seal tight state rule over society: it is a sloppy authoritarian state with elements of democracy. Iranian democracy may not be recognizably Western, but its dynamic seeps into the highest echelons of power, even if it is embodied in an instinct for consensus among a clerical Élite with diverse opinions. It is a dynamic that even Khamenei has to answer to.
Apart from the Iranian electorate, Khamenei has a couple of very important constituencies to deal with. Indeed, while most people describe Khamenei as the unelected leader of Iran, he was chosen by a small but critical institution, the Assembly of Experts. He must also deal with the Guardian Council, which is equally small but also influential - and must certify the election results. Some pundits are now arguing that the Assembly of Experts could find constitutional means to remove Iran's Supreme Leader and that a refusal by the Guardian Council to validate the election could throw the country into further crisis.
The main impetus for this speculation is the influence in both groups of Ayatullah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the last surviving powerful member of the revolution's founding fathers. Rafsanjani was a very loud critic of Ahmadinejad, and thus indirectly of the President's patron, the Supreme Leader. Since 2007, Rafsanjani has been the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to call for Khamenei's ouster. He is also the chairman of an important advisory body that has dealings with the Guardian Council. Throwing the investigation into the hands of the council may be an attempt by Khamenei to buy more time to build consensus about what to do next - and to restore the uneasy equilibrium between himself and Rafsanjani.
Before the June 12 vote, Rafsanjani and Khamenei were involved in a public spat over Ahmadinejad, with Rafsanjani wanting the Supreme Leader to censure the President for what he described as slanderous remarks. Khamenei refused. Ahmadinejad's followers continue to see Rafsanjani (also a former President) as the enemy. At Ahmadinejad's celebratory rally on Sunday, almost all chants were directed against Rafsanjani. He is seen as the big threat; there is even speculation that Rafsanjani may see himself as the next Supreme Leader, which would be disastrous for the President.
Remember, Rafsanjani believes it acceptable to nuke Israel even if Iran would be destroyed in return ...
Political scientists in Iran are skeptical that Rafsanjani would make a move to oust Khamenei. But there is intense internal maneuvering going on right now in the hallways of power, invisible to the massive demonstrations in the streets of Iran's big cities, which in turn feed the backroom dealings. For while it is still unlikely that Rafsanjani will make the unprecedented move to remove the Supreme Leader, the more chaotic Iran gets, the more it allows Rafsanjani to find some lever to pull or to do something dramatic. It is in Khamenei's interest, then, to cool down the demonstrations.
In 1979, everyone wanted the Shah to fall, but no one believed that is was thinkable. Then, suddenly, it became so. The 1979 Revolution, once in motion, took months to play out. Even to those within it, none knew what was exactly happening, how long it would take or whether there would be a successful conclusion. The same applies to the situation now.
Posted by: Steve White ||
06/15/2009 17:16 ||
Top|| File under:
From the WaPo
The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin -- greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday's election.
What is the value of a 'public opinion poll' in a country run by thugs? Does anyone think that people will state their honest opinion if there is any chance that the secret police will then beat the crap out of them?
While Western news reports from Tehran in the days leading up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad's principal opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran's provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead.
Oh, scientific are we? How did you account for the fear factor in your polling?
Independent and uncensored nationwide surveys of Iran are rare. Typically, preelection polls there are either conducted or monitored by the government and are notoriously untrustworthy. By contrast, the poll undertaken by our nonprofit organizations from May 11 to May 20 was the third in a series over the past two years. Conducted by telephone from a neighboring country, field work was carried out in Farsi by a polling company whose work in the region for ABC News and the BBC has received an Emmy award. Our polling was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Now, how is their poll a contrast to the typical rigged poll? Because it is the third in a series, which is what they seem to say here? Non-sequitur. More importantly, note that they don't really say their poll was independent and uncensored.
They'd like to think it was because then it gives them the reassurance that all is well and in conformance with their pre-conceived ideas. That's the whole point of this: Bush is evil, Cheney is evil, therefore Short Round is good, so let's 'prove' it.
The breadth of Ahmadinejad's support was apparent in our preelection survey. During the campaign, for instance, Mousavi emphasized his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favored Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Mousavi. Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.
The only demographic groups in which our survey found Mousavi leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians. When our poll was taken, almost a third of Iranians were also still undecided. Yet the baseline distributions we found then mirror the results reported by the Iranian authorities, indicating the possibility that the vote is not the product of widespread fraud. There is also a possibility that this poll was approved by the Revolutionary Guards. Which seems more likely?
Note that the article is written by the same two stooges who conducted the poll.
The association of 'white supremicist' and 'conservatives' is entirely a MSM creation. As is the whole 'Democratic party is for diversity' thing. While being patriotic and for America is a Conservative hallmark - White Supremacy, Racism, and Antisemitism is almost entirely on the Democratic side.
Who wrote the Jim Crow laws? Democrats.
Who formed the KKK? Democrats. (Ask Sen. Byrd)
Who fought the Civil Rights Act tooth and nail? Democrats.
Rev. Wright (Racist!) - Democrat. Jimmy Carter (Anti-Semitic) - Democrat. Jesse Jackson (Racist and Race-baiter) - Democrat.
The DNC is more for keeping minorities down and 'on the welfare plantation' than any sort of diversity.
Those who can't remember history should be educated that it was the Republicans in the US Senate that provided the votes to break the southern Democrat filibuster of the original Civil Rights Act. And again for the Voting Rights Act.
Thank you, Everett Dirkson.
Posted by: Steve White ||
06/15/2009 14:45 Comments ||
Its not a case of 'not remembering'. Its a case of being taught a flat-out lie by the Media and our own education system.
The guy was a member of Mensa, lets start by locking up all the smarty pants. The only group this guy truly belongs to is the whacko crazy Group. But really lets lock up the mensa folks for our safety and because most are so snooty.
The Texas Wildman turns out another rousing sermon. Nuge may yet run for office. Be afraid, "hippies, dopeheads, and corrupt politicoes," be very afraid:
One of the most dangerous places on earth is our own 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Our southern border is a drug-war zone, and we're losing. Know it.
Before she became secretary of Homeland Security, former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano declared a state of emergency along the Arizona/Mexico border because of drug trafficking, shootouts and an increasing illegal immigration invasion.
Could that be part of the reason why President Obama tapped her for the position?
The Justice Department stated that Mexican drug cartels are the "largest threat to both citizens and law enforcement agencies in this country" with gang members loose in nearly 200 U.S. cities." This in the big, bad, brave United States of America! How can this be?
There isn't a city in America that has not been scorched by drug-related violence. In 2008 the drug cartels killed more than 4,000 Mexicans. Almost 500 Mexican police officers and soldiers have been killed since January 2007. Add to this increasing acts of violence against Border Patrol agents by the well-financed and well-armed drug cartels. They are as evil an adversary as the voodoo terrorist Taliban our soldiers face in Afghanistan.
President Obama has stated he will go after the cartels and increase efforts to combat gang-related crime. Good. But he better be prepared to wage war with them with more than just soaring rhetoric.
I'm aware there are prominent conservatives who make strong arguments in favor of legalizing drugs -- for one, that it will take away a tool of organized crime. I don't believe that. Legalizing drugs would be like pouring gasoline on a blazing fire in hopes of extinguishing it. We have all the laws we need to fight drugs. What America needs is the willpower and a renewed warrior spirit to crush evil and evil-doers.
I was ready to serve. Unfortunately, the president tapped former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as his drug czar. Merlikowske then suggested we tone down our "war on drugs" rhetoric. I disagree. Too bad you didn't pick me, Mr. President.
Hippies, dopeheads, corrupt politicos and various forms of human debris hate me, making me the perfect for the job. As drug czar, I would charge our mayors and police departments to commit to fighting the drug gangs. It would be our top priority. Our inner cities will remain war zones until we commit to taking the trash out.
America needs to better arm our Border Patrol agents and we need more of them. The governors of the border states should call out the National Guard to assist the Border Patrol in securing the border. As drug czar, I would challenge them to do this today, as I would the governments of Mexico and South America.
Working with the Colombian government a few years back, U.S. Special Forces filled Pablo Escobar with bullet holes. Until assuming room temperature, he controlled 80 percent of all the cocaine shipped into America.
Every American who smokes dope, manufactures, buys or sells meth or uses any illegal drug is aiding and abetting the enemies of America. Case closed. This spiritual inbreeding and cannibalism must be identified, admitted and stopped immediately. America can and must do this. Good over evil. Next.
Ted Nugent is a Waco-based musician, television show host and bestselling author of two books. Contact him directly at tednugent.com.
Well sorry - here's probably some more trite and discredited snide whatever. I get tired of marijuana being thrown into the same pile as heroin, cocaine - not to mention murder etc. Marijuana is a hundred times less dangerous than even cheap wine. That's a fact - not rhetoric. Despite the tons and tons of propoganda that says otherwise. Some witty people call it a "Gateway Drug". Well then let's call aspirin a gateway drug. Chances are that anybody who's ever smoked marijuana has started off with aspirin. So let's abolish aspirin and jail all the users and dealers. Extreme?! So is Ted Nugent.
Goober, I know a lot of cops that agree with you. They would rather arrest a pothead over a drunk anyday, as they are doofy and lazy but not belligerant and violent. PCP and crack are an entirely different story. Allowing marijuana to be grown as a crop, regulated and taxed would pacify many so the dangerous hard drugs could be focused on. Decriminalizing is not the same as make it legal, either. We need treatment to transition the addicted or crime and violence will only escalate but the borders must be contained, as it is not only drugs that can be smuggled in. It is a national security issue.
You can have your drug war and I say good for you. Just remember there will be casualties. And before you jump on me for saying that take your heads out of the sand. There are 10.000 corpses in Mexico in the last 2 years alone. Yeah guys rah rah. let's ramp up the drug war. Good vs evil. Right. And by the way Alcohol is a drug and a dangerous and addictive one oh warriors of the side of good. Rah rah.
I don't have any sources for numbers, but this editorial seems to imply that marijuana exports aren't a major source of $$ for the Mexican gangs, or at any rate not a major source of the violence. Anybody know of moderately reliable estimates?
By the way, I didn't vote for Obama, most of the people I know do not smoke marijuana but Did vote for Obama, and at no time have I ever been as "Doofy" and lazy as when I was half unconscious or even totally uncoscious (in my young days) from some good old-fashioned alcoholic beverage.
I remember seeing Ted at the Long Beach Arena in 1978. A huge cloud of dope smoke completely engulfed the arena. I was one of the rare non-stoned people in the building, but I don't recall the Nuge calling anyone a hippie or dopehead at the time, or saying anyone was abetting the enemies of America. His attitudes probably haven't changed that much over the years, but he was sensible enough not to bite the hand that fed him at that point.
Posted by: abu Chuck al Ameriki ||
06/15/2009 14:08 Comments ||
I first became aware of him around 1980 from a "dopehead" who really admired him.
For those of you who don't know - Ted walks the walk. He was one of the few rockers from that era who never did drugs or alcohol, and he's actually gotten grief from other performers because of his sobriety.
Like him or not as you wish, have whatever opinion regarding drug regulation you see fit, ut at least he's not a hypocrite with his own consumption habits.
Oh, and he's not a Texas Wildman, but the Motor City Madman (grew up in Detroit area).
Posted by: no mo uro ||
06/15/2009 14:59 Comments ||
Oh my ... I was backstage at the San Antonio Tea Party, and got to meet him very briefly, after his terrific rant in front of the Alamo ... the one in which he did drop some salty language that put paid to our claim to have been a family-friendly event. But everyone on the planning committee just looked at each other, and sighed indulgently.
One very striking thing about him that I noticed, that even though he was meeting and hand-shaking dozens of people backstage afterward, he seemed very intensely interested in each person that he was talking to - just for those few moments, and that he really saw you. It wasn't like that with Glenn Beck - for him one had the feeling that all of us were just passing in a blur in front of his eyes. But the Nuge really engaged with each person, no matter how briefly.
This is a useful quality to have ... the other quality was that he seemed to feed off the audience's energy, and reflect it back onto them, magnified.
Oh, BTW - if any Rantburgundians will be in South Texas for the 4th of July, we're planning a bash at a local ranch, with music and entertainment, and fireworks and all. Sign up for it here. More about the speakers and all, here.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.