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      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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Saturday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!! What’s happening out there in the world?


The big story of this slow news day seems to be the attempted “terrorist attack” in Detroit.

ABC News: Man Attempts to Set Off Explosives on Detroit-Bound Airplane

Federal officials and police are interviewing a Nigerian man, who allegedly tried to “explode” a powdery substance aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, injuring himself and two other passengers, law enforcement officials said.

The man said he was directed by al Qaeda to explode a small device in flight, over U.S. soil, ABC News has learned. Authorities have no corroboration of that information, and the credibility of the suspect’s statements are being questioned, officials said.

The suspect was identified as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who according to federal documents is an engineering student at University College of London.

The latest from CNN: Device was on fire in terror suspect’s lap, plane passenger says

A Nigerian man is “talking a lot” to the FBI, said a senior U.S. official, after what the United States believes was an attempted terrorist attack on an inbound international flight.

The initial impression is that the suspect was acting alone and did not have any formal connections to organized terrorist groups, said the official, who is familiar with the investigation.

The suspect, identified by a U.S. government official as 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, ignited a small explosive device Friday, shortly before a Northwest flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, landed at Detroit Metro Airport in Michigan.

Passenger Jasper Schuringa told CNN that with the aid of the cabin crew, he helped subdue and isolate Abdulmutallab.

Abdulmutallab was taken into custody and is being treated for second- and third-degree burns on his thighs, according to federal law enforcement and airline security sources.

CNN World: London police hunt airline terror link

Counterterrorism officers are searching buildings in London in connection with the alleged terrorist attempt aboard a flight to Detroit, police said Saturday.

The officers were believed to be searching locations including an apartment block in central London, but a spokeswoman for the city’s Metropolitan Police would not say specifically where and what they are looking for, or how many officers are involved.

She also said the police are making several inquiries at the request of U.S. authorities.

On the health care deform clusterf%ck:

The Hill: Centrists set strict guidelines for Senate-House healthcare talks

Democratic centrists have informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) they will accept few changes in the final healthcare bill negotiated between the House and Senate.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) have made clear there is little room to deviate from the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve.

They are the most vocal of nearly two-dozen senators who have indicated they see little wiggle room in the conference talks.

Centrists have said they will not vote for a healthcare reform bill that imposes a tax surcharge on the nation’s highest income earners or reduces the tax burden on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans, which are held by many unionized workers.

They have also threatened to vote against the bill if it includes a government-run health insurance program, a proposal that liberal Democrats in Congress acknowledge has little chance of winning inclusion in the final bill.

When The Hill says “Democratic centrists,” I think they mean DINOs. Governor Paterson of New York isn’t so happy with the bill as it now stands.


Paterson ‘Deeply Troubled’ By Senate Health Care Bill
The Daily News published this quote from the NY Governor:

“I am deeply troubled that the Senate version of the bill worsens what was already an inequitable situation for New York and I will continue to be an advocate on behalf of New Yorkers to ensure we are treated fairly by this critical federal legislation….

“The Senate bill adds close to an additional $ 1 billion annually in new State Medicaid costs to New York. This could result in a 15 percent reduction in payments to providers, meaning hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies and community clinics could ultimately face these reductions because of strained State and City budgets.”

“To avoid this outcome, the House and Senate must convene a real Conference Committee to fairly merge these bills and allow our delegation to fight for equitable legislation for New York State.”

I couldn’t find any recent articles on the abortion language in the bill or the section of the bill the strengthens the Bush conscience rules. It appears that women’s health needs have been just about completely forgotten by the media at this point. I did find this interesting critique of the bill by an African American woman who is a paralegal researcher and poet–based on her sources, she appears to be a conservative:

The Senate has dismissed concerns over the individual insurance mandate and the tax penalty imposed on those who don’t meet that requirement. If you refuse to pay the penalty or you refuse to provide any information on your health-care status on your tax return, you will face the prospect of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. This is supposedly a “voluntary mandate” and the IRS can’t do anything against you if you refuse to pay the penalty. They claim that because page 340 (A) and (B) of the bill waives criminal prosecution of taxpayers and says that no liens or levies can be filed on the taxpayer’s property. That claim is wrong.

Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) itself made clear that the financing of health-care reform is based in substantial part on generating $167 billion in “penalty payments” from individual taxpayers and employers.

That is very creepy, if true. It would mean that the bill will largely be financed on the backs of the poor and middle class–a very Bushian method.

Then there’s this strange post from Karl Denninger: The True Intent of Health “Reform.” Admittedly, this piece too is based on conservative sources. He argues that the entire purpose of this deliberate clusterf&ck is to install a single-payer system. If only I could believe that!

The tax increases come now, Medicare cuts come after the next election but in point of fact the spending will come never….

When, not if, it is you will discover the what I have said all along is the truth purpose of this so-called “reform” – a single-payer system.

Here’s how it will happen.

1.Congress will pass and Obama will sign something containing this “individual mandate.”

2.This will generate immediate lawsuits which will begin their way through the system, headed for the United States Supreme Court. That process will take several years. Note that the so-called “benefits” of this reform will also take several years to show up. This is not an accident.

3.Meanwhile, the taxes begin immediately. This is exactly what happened in the 1930s by the way – taxes were raised right into the maw of an economic recession, and helped turn it into a Depression. Such it will be this time as well.

4.Young, healthy people will pay the “fines” under protest and refuse to buy coverage (it’s cheaper than complying with a $15,000/year mandate to pay the $750/year fine!) and join said lawsuits in Step #2. This will in turn begin to force private companies out of the system (remember, there are also price controls in there!) as adverse selection will not be eliminated as promised.

5.At some point the courts will strike the individual mandate. Free to not pay the fine or buy insurance and prevented from raising rates adverse selection will collapse the remaining private health insurers.
At this point you have:

1.Permanently higher taxes (since it is constitutional to tax!)

2.NO private health insurers left in the market.

3.The “standards and practices” remaining and impossible to remove (note the super-majority requirements in the bill – intentionally put there to prevent the removal of those standards and practices!)
What comes next? Unable to impose mandatory individual payments to private companies The Government will then have “no choice” but to put in place a Canadian-style system.

For good or bad, you will get both rationing and a tax-funded medical system in The United States. Private override insurance may remain available and you may be able to continue to buy health care for cash, but neither is assured – neither can be done (for the most part) in Canada, as just one example.

I do not believe this outcome will be an accident – indeed, I believe it is the intention of the Obama Administration and The Democrats all along.

Good Lord! I sure do hope Denninger is correct, but I can’t believe these Democrats we have right now are that smart.

And there’s this interpretation of the health care debate from Adam Nagourney at the NYT: Debate Shows Obama Plays by Washington’s Rules

…this White House, stocked as it is with insiders, people whose view of politics is shaped by the compromises inherent in legislating, is confronting a liberal base made up largely of outsiders to the lawmaking process who are asking why they should accept politics as usual.

As much as Mr. Obama presented himself as an outsider during his campaign, a lesson of this battle is that this is a president who would rather work within the system than seek to upend it. He is not the ideologue ready to stage a symbolic fight that could end in defeat; he is a former senator comfortable in dealing with the arcane rules of the Senate and prepared to accept compromise in search of a larger goal. For the most part, Democrats on Capitol Hill have stuck with him.


In other news….

Blizzard Conditions Could Continue In Plains

Abducted Girl, 5, is Rescued by Police

NATO: Taliban Commander Dies in Mosque Shootout

Pilgrims killed in Baghdad bombing

2009: Year of the Social Network

Sun, Moon Trigger San Andreas Tremors: Study

<a href="Woman charged with threatening first lady worked in New Bedford “>Woman charged with threatening first lady in Hawaii was from Massachusetts

2009 review: Digging up prehistoric monsters

Five snacks that are shaped like the universe

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24 Responses

  1. Slow news day….

    • Slow comment day too. I hope everyone is having a lazy day after Christmas–except for the daring Conflucians who head for the malls.

  2. Gee, what a coincidence. Obama’s numbers go down and suddenly there’s a terror alert. Seems to me I remember another of our “great” leaders who “coincidently” had a similar pattern of events.

    • Same thought crossed my mind, too.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Obama lays an egg with “healthcare reform,” and behold! we get a terra incident. It just happened sooner than I expected and was more innocuous than I’d suspected. Maybe it was the best they could do on short notice.

  3. I heard that the FBI had/has a file on the suspect. Interesting. What’s the purpose of security then if terrorists can get an explosive on a plane? Merry Day After Christmas everyone. Happy Holidays!

  4. It was interesting yesterday when healthcare and the “political climate” conversation started at our holiday celebration dinner – it was quashed almost immediately – I think folks have just had enough and wanted to just “be merry.”

    People are depressed about it but are feeling very frustrated because they don’t know what to do. They know that contacting their reps seem to be fruitless.

    Edgeofforever has a good piece on what’s going on out there at

    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/by-george-theyve-got-it/

  5. Gallup: 78 Percent of Americans Identify as Christians, Continuing Decline

    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/12/24/gallup-78-percent-of-americans-identify-as-christians-continui/

    (sorry very slow day)

  6. Then there’s this cartoon:

    Chaos Theory – Miracle on K. . . I Mean 1st Street

    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/12/26/chaos-theory-miracle-on-k-i-mean-1st-street/

  7. I have long thought that Obama was a product of Rove and company as he is far too right leaning to be righteously liberal…

  8. Darren over at Dissenting Justice picks apart the Nagourney article

    http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2009/12/nyts-adam-nagourney-peddles-new-white.html

  9. Something hilarious and very current considering it was made in 1984.
    Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Watching it, I thought of this site when the broke out in song “Every sperm is sacred”. Here’s the clip but if you watch it from the beginning, they show the banks in ruin from greed. This was the Reagan era. Obama did say he admired the movie star.

  10. No more baby powder on board.

  11. It is all quiet here in the western Bronx. Spousal Unit is snoozing in the bed, and my 100-year-old mom is snoozing as well in her bedroom. It doesn’t get any better than this.

  12. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/26/world/main6024210.shtml
    Nigerian terrorist son of prominent banker. Yes, he was on a “no fly” list. My understanding is that Nigeria has very poor airport security and that nothing in new security measures actually can detect the type of explosive he had.

    I am not sure we should be making so light of this. I don’t think this is O playing games with the level of national terrorist alert—he has nothing to gain with that because he is seen as weak on terror and national security. Anything that makes him look clueless is not going to be good for him. As a matter of fact, I think the more we learn about this incident the worse it is looking for him. It appears strongly that the al-queda types have continuing ambitions of blowing up US flights. That is not very reassuring to me. The attack at Ft. Hood can be read as some bizarro or you can look at it and realize that there is a network out there of people who are a magnet for those bent souls that are hanging on the edge of sanity and that magnet captures their twisted thinking and arms it—with targets and weapons.

  13. I do not identify myself as a conservative; I have always thought of myself as a liberal. But what I am seeing in Washington is really impacting my thinking. I no longer look at single payer hc and feel any warm joy in my heart. When I see what politics is doing with public programs, my new thinking is that the fewer programs we have the better because a government run public program will ever be twisted by political deals. It will either be underfunded or funded and regulated in a way such that those who most need its benefits do not get them and only corporations, lobbyists and politicians will profit.

    The single biggest government program that touches every single American is public education. That used to be a shining beacon of quality and hope—a foundation for the American dream. Today is is a shambles. It fails the poor completely despite 20 years of target fed funds to low-income schools and programs. It is now failing the middle class and the upper middle class.

    Medicare and Social Security were gem stones in our social safety net. The GI Bill, Fannie and Freddie helped millions become homeowners. All of these things that once worked and worked well for all of us are now failing us. Have we changed? I don’t think so. Have they changed? Yeah, Sherlock. They are invested with insider politics and Beltway corruption.

    I ask those of you who still believe in such things as Single Payer—how can you still believe?

    • ?

      We don’t have Single Payer.

      Medicare and Social Security are still giving millions of people important health care and financial support. Granted, Congress may — possibly/probably will — screw them up in the future.

      And the main connection between a kid and her success in school is not public v private, but how much her parents value education.

    • Well, for one thing, it can’t possibly be worse than what we have now. While our current public education system may not be perfect, imagine how things would be if kids weren’t entitled to a free public education? If desperate parents were sending the kids to other countries to be educated more cheaply just as medical tourists flock to other countries for treatment? The most corrupt government bureaucrat won’t make a tiny fraction as much as one insurance company CEO.

  14. Possibly now, this firecracker, flying person will be officially declared a terrorist and Obama will declare war on Nigeria. I hear Nigeria has a lot of oil…….

    • It is interesting that he is the son of a banker and that the father actually turned him into US authorities. I wonder what motivated the father as well as the son?

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