Thursday, February 28, 2008

For Those Who Want to Know...

... my middle name is City.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Stern Warning to My GOP Friends

Some conservative Republicans are playing a game that will do great damage to the Republican Party. I will explain.

In 2004, Democratic candidate for vice-president John Edwards made a clumsy, even stupid, attempt to siphon off, or at least suppress, Republican voters by in essence outing the daughter of Dick Cheney. I don't know anyone who believes that Mr. Edwards is a homophobe or any other kind of bigot, but there can be little doubt that he was attempting to appeal to those who might be considered such, and whose views he would consider repugnant.

Now, for those who persist in making use of Barrack Obama's middle name: really, there is only one reason to do this -- the name sounds Middle Eastern, like Saddam's name. The Oracle is not accusing you of bigotry. However, I will accuse you of attempting to make a thinly disguised appeal to some of the baser instincts of a portion of the electorate.

If you keep doing this, it will backfire. The number of votes you gain will be greatly diminished by the number of people you lose because of this ill advised tactic. Please stop.

Update: See also Bob Krumm

William F. Buckley, Jr. RIP

William F. Buckley has died, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Buckley probably did more to revive conservatism as a political movement than any person in the 20th century. His National Review is frequently cited by conservatives as a significant influence on their own development dating back to a time when there were few popular and intellectually credible conservative resources. Many observers considered the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan to be a triumph of National Review.

On a personal level, The Oracle will note that Mr. Buckley helped shape much of my own political thought when I first became interested in such things back in the late '70's and early '80's. Though I never met him, I feel as though I owe him a great deal.

McCain's Desire to Regulate Speech again Raises Its Head

John McCain acted correctly to distance himself from the remarks made by Cincinnati radio shock jock Bill Cunningham when introducing the Republican candidate for President at a campaign rally. Mr. Cunningham has been performing his shtick (which The Oracle has sometimes found hilarious) for something like 30 years on 50,000 watt WLW, so it is a bit of a mystery why the McCain campaign invited him if they were concerned about a supporter pushing the envelope.

That being said, it is unfortunate that the event brought forward again Sen. McCain's ongoing interest in regulating political speech. Speaking to reporters on his campaign bus following the event, he is reported to have said:

“We’re aware of many of the things that 527s have done … where unlimited amounts of money can pour into negative campaigns such as we saw against John Kerry and his combat record, as we saw against (former Georgia Sen.) Max Cleland … they’re really very not accountable to anyone. At least I have to say ‘I’m John McCain and I approve this message.’”

Conservative Republicans will find it unconscionable that the Senator found fit to attack the efforts of 527 groups favorable to Republicans, but failed to mention the largest of all of these organizations,, which was, among other things, responsible for the New York Times ad attacking the loyalty to the United States of General David Petraus, whom they labelled a betrayer.

Leaving that aside, Sen. McCain has again shown his antipathy toward speech that he deems not "accountable" -- meaning not regulated. He prefers regulated speech. Of course, regulating speech can make things less messy. But it is not free.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Outrageous Attacks

Hillary Clinton, who's campaign a couple of months ago expressed shock that Barack Obama had shown political ambition as a kindergarten student, now is condemning the campaign of the U.S. Senator from Illinois for running a negative campaign. Sen. Clinton is now reaching a level of silliness that is beyond parody. She is taking umbrage over a mailer, based on a New York Newsday report, that states that she praised NAFTA as a "boon" for the U.S. economy. Ms. Clinton complains, and Newsday now acknowledges, that she never used that word, though she has been on the record praising the trade agreement reached while she was gaining superior political experience as a first lady.

Desperation looks pretty ugly, doesn't it?

For the record, the attacks of the Clinton campaign have not tended to be based on mere semantics. Clinton attack dogs have sought to take advantage of Sen. Obama's admitted youthful drug usage, baselessly implied that he may have sold drugs, called his foreign policy statements "fairy tales," dismissed him as having a Jessie Jackson like niche candidacy, accused him of plagiarism, and on and on.

The nation will be better off should Sen. Obama some how pull off wins in Texas and Ohio.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Unintended Consequence of Smoking Bans?

According to this article, a "rigorous statistical examination" soon to appear in the Journal of Public Economics reveals a correlation between smoking bans and an increase in deaths caused by drunk drivers. The reason: drinkers will drive longer distances in order to go to a bar where they are allowed to smoke.

Hat Tip: RPVTW

The Backfiring of a Cheap Shot

Anyone who doubts Hillary Clinton's tin-eared political skills needs only to be pointed to her shockingly bad response last night to the question about her campaign's allegation in the last week that Barack Obama had committed plagiarism.

Sen. Obama has used some words in recent speeches that were previously utilized by the Governor of Massachusetts, who is an active supporter of his campaign. Given that all major politicians rely heavily on the work of speech writers, and that Gov. Patrick is a supporter, this is hardly a shocking revelation. It is not as though the Senator from Illinois stole the words from an unwitting British politician, as Joseph Biden did in 1988.

The claim was never anything more than a clumsy cheap shot, but such charges sometimes are effective when made from a distance. However, making cheap shots of misconduct while sitting side by side with the alleged perpetrator only makes the accuser appear to be guilty of bad taste. The reaction of the crowd was what one would expect it to be.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Overstated and Overrated

George F. Will aptly confronts Hillary Clinton's claim that her experience makes her the better Democratic candidate for President:

Nothing, however, will assuage Clinton supporters' sense of injustice if the upstart Obama supplants her. Their, and her, sense of entitlement is encapsulated in her constant invocations of her "35 years" of "experience." Well.

She is 60. She left Yale Law School at age 25. Evidently she considers everything she has done since school, from her years at Little Rock's Rose Law Firm to her good fortune with cattle futures, as presidentially relevant experience.

The president who came to office with the most glittering array of experiences had served 10 years in the House of Representatives, then became minister to Russia, then served 10 years in the Senate, then four years as secretary of state (during a war that enlarged the nation by 33 percent), then was minister to Britain. Then, in 1856, James Buchanan was elected president and in just one term secured a strong claim to being ranked as America's worst president. Abraham Lincoln, the inexperienced former one-term congressman, had an easy act to follow.

Because Inquiring Minds Need to Know?

After reading the New York Times exhaustive, and exhausting, piece on allegations of an inappropriate relationship between John McCain and a much younger female lobbyist, one might wish to quote an old Wendy's ad (and the late Fritz Mondale) and ask, "Where's the beef?"

Apart from the salacious suggestion (and really, the article offers nothing more than a suggestion of the possibility with no real evidence) that intimacy was involved, there is nothing here.

I know that some people want to use the term "lobbyist" as a pejorative, but unless there is something actually nefarious going on, a lobbyist is nothing more than a person trying to help American citizens influence their government.

With that in mind, here's the story. Sen. McCain had an association with a lobbyist, who he describes as a friend he saw at public events. Said lobbyist bragged to clients about her relationship with Sen McCain (all lobbyists brag about their relationships with key contacts). Sen. McCain occasionally agreed with the needs of said lobbyist's clients and took some actions in their behalf. Some of Sen. McCain's disgruntled former staffers say they never liked the lobbyist and tried to keep her away from him.

So? What's the point?

I think the point was to smear the Senator with vague suggestions of improper conduct.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

And Evidently He's Given up on the Miracle, Too

Mike Huckabee, in a fit of immodest gracelessness, charges that his rejection at the polls amounts to a "coronation" by the establishment that signals the "death of the Republican Party in this country." For good measure, the former minister mocks those who would encourage reconciliation and makes a sneering reference to the song Kumbaya.

It is frankly the sort of reaction one might expect from an opportunist who can't admit that he wasn't half as clever as he thought.

John McCain was the "establishment's candidate?" Mr. Huckabee represents the base of the party?


Why All the Major Candidates' Health Care Proposals Will Make Things Worse

The Oracle is occasionally asked what he thinks of the health care reform proposals being set forth by the various presidential candidates. The short answer: not much.

The major problem is that all of the candidates only give attention to one side of a two sided issue. Americans are concerned about two matters related to health care coverage: 1) access to insurance coverage; and 2) health care costs. The candidates are giving considerable attention to the issue of universal, or near universal, access. No one is paying real attention to cost containment. While some candidates pretend that expanding coverage will in itself help to contain costs, that would be, in the immortal words of Bill Clinton, a fairy tale, believed by people such as his loving spouse. If anything, creating a universal entitlement to health care will increase demand for services and, thus, increase costs. The most likely outcome of the kinds of health care reform being proposed is nothing more than the shifting of ever increasing health care costs to taxpayers. In response to those increasing costs, the options will be either to increase taxes at a pace to keep up with the rising costs or to ration care (either by denying access to services or by ratcheting down prices to a level where there will be an insufficient number of practitioners available to provide the services). Neither option is terribly palatable.

There are some things that can be done that would help on the cost side of the ledger. These are not as exciting to the general population as is providing universal coverage. However, they would be more helpful. Because of the government's role in creating some of the current problems, federal action is required to fix them.

1. Price transparency. Over the last few years, the concept of consumer directed health care has gained some attention. The idea has been that if consumers have a stake in the cost of their health care, then they will make decisions based on cost, just as they do for other types of products and services. While that is a sound concept, the idea has had limited success, largely because patients can make neither heads or tails of the health care pricing system.

Indeed, it is a bizarre and inefficient world. What medical providers bill has absolutely nothing to do with what they expect to be paid. I was reminded of this recently with my own brief hospital stay. The hospital billed me something around $19,000. However, after the insurer adjustments, the total payment was closer to $3,000. Medical providers bill in such a way as to maximize reimbursement under various payment systems (Medicare, their various group health managed care contracts, work comp, auto, self-pay, etc.). This results not only in confusion for health care consumers, but also in additional administrative complications in processing the bills. Rube Goldberg could not design a more complex system of reimbursement.

Health care providers will sometimes respond that it is not possible to price an appendectomy in the same way that one prices other products and services, but that is silly. It is certainly possible to establish prices that are applicable to typical contingencies. If one takes his car in for an oil change, and it turns out that he also needs an engine overhaul, he understands that some additional costs will apply. In the same way, it should be possible for providers to establish understand pricing mechanisms that most patients could understand in making health care decisions.

However, it is not the way it is currently done, so there will be tremendous resistence to change.

2. Paying for the right thing. The health care system, following the lead of Medicare, pays for the wrong things. It pays for tests and diagnoses. It does not pay for patient care and patient education. And, the tight price controls of the government programs, primarily Medicare and Medicaid, and the various managed care schemes that largely follow them, result in cost shifting. As a consequence, costs are artificially higher in unregulated areas. This inevitably leads to calls for further regulation.

3. More standardized, evidence based medical practice. People trust their doctors more than their insurance companies -- often rightly so. Too often, companies that claim to be "managing care" are in actuality only in the business of managing costs, without adequate regard to care. That being said, payers often deny coverage for treatment requests by physicians for good reason. The lack of attention given to evidence based medicine by many medical providers is absolutely frightening. Too many tests are ordered and expensive surgical procedures recommended that are simply not supported as constituting best practices by medical research. While medical doctors will frequently complain that mandates to practice evidence based medicine is nothing more than "cookbook medicine," the fact is that there is too much variety in medical practice that results in poor patient outcomes.

If the politicians leading the way would address these issues, rather than making promises to cover more people, costs would be reduced, and more people would be able to afford coverage.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Have Met the Enemy....

Conservatives frequently complain about their minority status on college campuses, but conservative political science professor Matthew Woessner's research suggests that differences in the personalities and priorities of conservatives and liberals result in conservatives being less interested in pursuing Ph.D's and academic careers.

Read it here.

Hat tip: Harrison Scott Key

Lessons Still Not Learned by Republicans

The Wall Street Journal is correct that congressional Republicans, by passing over Rep. Jeff Flake for a seat on the Appropriations Committee, have proved that they are not serious about principles of fiscal restraint, and, thus, should not be taken seriously when they criticize Democrats for the same. This group of Republican leaders prefers minority status to giving up their ability to send gifts to their friends at taxpayer expense.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Recommended: Novak's Prince of Darkness

I just finished syndicated columnist Robert Novak's memoir, Prince of Darkness. It is a great read.

As one might expect of most memoirs, this one is opinionated and, at times, self-serving. Mr. Novak certainly manages to settle some old scores, even while admitting some mistakes of his own. That being said, it makes for lively reading, and I very much enjoyed his retelling of the various events that he reported on over the last half century.

I also enjoyed Mr. Novak's description of the goals of the column he started with the late Rowland Evans and now continues as a solo endeavor. They set out to do real reporting and break news in every column. This differs markedly from many of the pundits who nowadays try to pass themselves off as opinion journalists. As opinion has moved more blatantly into the news sections of the paper, those who write columns have all too often excused themselves from any actual fact gathering at all. While it is true that through the years Mr. Novak has been criticized for spreading gossip, at the very least he has actually gotten out there and done real reporting. Frequently, he has accomplished much more.

While conservatives would enjoy this memoir more than those on the left, I would think that it could be appreciated by many political junkies on both sides of the aisle.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Keeping up with What's Important

There are certain days that are of extreme importance on the calendar every year -- Christmas, Easter, my son's birthday, and, of course, today.

Pitchers and catchers report. Hope, once again and even for a longsuffering Reds' fan, springs eternal.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Perspective Changes Things

I was planning to write this morning about the disgusting and crass commercialization of what is known as St. Valentine's Day.

But, then I got a date. It all seems perfectly fine to me!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nursing a Great Career Choice

While one might argue that it is misplaced in a list of "political issues," I was interested to read the portion of this post suggesting that the nursing profession is demeaned by television shows that "depict nurses as physician assistants and handmaidens that have little technical knowledge. Because of this misrepresentation, nurses get less respect and authority from both doctors and patients, which of course causes friction in these relationships."

I watch very little television, so I can not speak to the point, but it is astounding if true, as any diminution of the professionalism and importance of skilled nurses is far out of step with reality. The fact is that nursing offers great paying jobs with ever expanding responsibilities and a nearly endless array of career options based on knowledge and/or experience. Given the nursing shortage, they are in high demand. It is a great career choice for young men and women.

The Oracle passes out at the sight of blood, so that was never an option. :)

Hat Tip: Adam Groves

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Courting the Hispanic Vote

With Hillary Clinton needing to hold on to her advantage among Hispanics in order to win the Texas primary next month, both candidates are breaking out Spanish language ads in major markets across the state, with the Obama campaign announcing radio ads and the Clinton organization doing television.

It has also been announced that the debate between the Democratic candidates to be held in Austin next week will be re-broadcast in Spanish on the Univision network.

Readers of this blog from outside Texas may not be aware that the Clinton's have longstanding relationships in the state dating back to their work on the McGovern campaign in 1972, when Bill Clinton served as the Texas state chairman of the McGovern campaign. Sen. Clinton is hoping that those relationships, and particularly those in heavily Hispanic south Texas, will provide her with needed traction in the state.


For those scoring at home (as well as those who are alone), Sharon Cobb has compiled a list of Democratic Party superdelegates who have committed to one candidate or another. Ms. Cobb laments that these party regulars could ultimately decide the nomination against the wishes of the Party's grassroots.

Ms. Cobb, an Obama enthusiast from the early days of talk of his candidacy, need not fear. Historically, these delegates have tended to be considered notoriously soft in their commitments, and many of them will likely be more than willing to jump ship to get on the right side of history. That partly explains the desperate measures taken of late by Sen. Clinton to right her campaign. She seems to understand that if she is not winning going into the convention based on the primaries and caucuses, that her superdelegates will peel away and seal the deal for Sen. Obama.

Thus, while various media outlets are currently counting these, to Sen. Clinton's advantage, in their delegate tabulations, one can be sure that these are not solidly in the Clinton ledger.

Lincoln's God

Marvin Olasky notes that while various ideologues have tried to simplify Abraham Lincoln's religious views to suit their purposes, that the truth is more complex. He attempts to summarize it here.

A Light Sentence for a Poster Lawyer for Tort Reform

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal contends that corrupt class action attorney Bill Lerach got off too easily. Among other things, his mea culpa wasn't terribly convincing:

Mr. Lerach's lawyers also contended that he had accepted responsibility for his misdeeds. This is how he defined that "responsibility" in an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post last November after this newspaper declined the submission: "I'm on my way to prison because, in my zeal to stand up against this kind of corporate greed over the years, I stepped over the line."

Monday, February 11, 2008

"You Said You Were Holding Your Nose...."

While interviewing feminist and former Gore advisor Naomi Wolf, Shepherd Smith loses his cool. Its great stuff!

He didn't accuse Ms. Wolf of pimping anyone out, though.

Hat Tip: World Magazine Blog

Dandy Don Is Singing on the Race for the Democratic Nomination

Although most major news organizations are continuing to talk about the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama as though it may go all of the way to the convention, barring some major event, Sen. Obama will be the nominee. And, Sen. Clinton knows this.

This weekend's firing of her national campaign manager was only the most recent indication of a campaign desperate to regain traction. Last week, Sen. Clinton, resorting to a tactic only used by underdogs, insisted that Sen. Obama debate her four times over the next four weeks. Earlier, she showed her concern by breaking a promise and party rules by campaigning in Florida and Michigan and demanding that the party retrospectively change its earlier ruling disqualifying delegates from those primaries.

While the delegate count remains nearly even -- depending on which count one accepts -- both the momentum and the upcoming primaries favor Sen. Obama. Barring some enormous event detrminental to his candidacy, he will be the Democratic nominee. You can take it to the bank.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Transforming Culture

Rod Dreher has an outstanding piece in today's Dallas Morning News discussing the unique ministry of Dallas minister Trey Hill. Warming to his subject, Mr. Dreher asks:

But what happens when a Republican white guy who grew up north of the river – and not just northern Dallas, but Highland Park, the richest, whitest part – hears a call from God, gathers up his family and crosses the river to settle in one of the blackest, brownest and poorest parts of the city?

The decision of Rev. Hill actually to move his family to west Dallas -- rather than just work there -- makes him unusual. However, he considers that decision to be fundamental to what he is doing there:

"It's not that the church doesn't care about the poor," Trey says. "Our churches are so segregated racially and economically that we just don't know the poor. It's hard to love someone you don't know...."

"Being a white guy living in a predominantly black and Hispanic community, my own presence is important here as well," he says. "The suburban churches' typical involvement with the inner city is to drive in and drive out ... not living among the people and sharing their lives and experiences. Our example is Christ, who vacated the perfection of heaven to live in the slums of our world, so that he might redeem a people for himself."

This is the way that Christians should be working to transform culture. Evangelical churches need more Trey Hills -- and fewer people concerned about whether James Dobson intends to vote or not.

Disclosure. Though The Oracle is not a member, he regularly attends the church that supports Rev. Hill's work.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why the Hostility?

The anti-McCain hysteria on the right wing of the Republican Party continues to astound The Oracle, who is generally regarded as quite conservative. Of course, Sen. McCain, while voting with conservatives on most issues, has deviated on others and has at times used rhetoric hostile to various conservative constituencies. But, really.... In 1988, conservatives didn't use this kind of rhetoric to oppose George H.W. Bush, a liberal Republican straight out of the eastern establishment who dismissed Reaganism as "voodoo economics." Nor did they so stridently oppose Bob Dole, an establishment Republican who also supported tax increases and rejected the supply side economic views of Jack Kemp. Somehow, the same radio talk gurus who talk about Sen. McCain as though he is the devil incarnate managed to throw their relatively unconditional support to Messrs. Bush and Dole.

Meanwhile, it is pretended that there is a clear cut conservative choice between Gov. Romney and Sen. McCain, in spite of the fact that the former has changed sides on more issues, both social and economic, than The Oracle can count.

Don't misunderstand. Your humble correspondent intended at the outset to vote for Fred Thompson and at this point would prefer Mr. Romney to Mr. McCain. However, the personal animus being expressed toward Mr. McCain is completely disproportionate to reality.

Is This an Accurate Description?

Edward J. Larson suggests that conservative and liberal politicians generally view history differently:

Liberal Democrats have always looked to the future with hope and embraced marginalized groups. When they look back, even to the deeds of their own former leaders, they see trails of tears like the one over which Andrew Jackson drove out the Cherokee. Blemishes on past presidents, even those who pointed the way toward future progress, tend to stain them wholly for at least some key elements within the Democratic coalition.

In contrast, conservative Republicans look to the past for inspiration but often to the future with trepidation. Originalists at heart, they tend to see only the shining city on a hill of earlier times and not its darker neighborhoods. George Washington's slaves are forgotten along with Adams's Alien and Sedition Acts. For some Republicans, both Lincoln and Robert E. Lee become models of Christian virtue as if they never ordered millions of men into battle against the other. As his letter to me suggests, even Mr. Bush can embrace Jefferson by selecting aspects of the third president's character and career.

That characterization is consistent with my own view that a common liberal flaw is utopianism, while conservatives are more likely to be overly nostalgic. Utopianism leads one to heightened resentment of the failures of the past while being overly optimistic about the future. Nostalgic impulses tug a person in the opposite direction.

With regard to history, Mr. Larson argues that all sides would benefit from recognizing and appreciating the complexity of history.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Bad Old Days

Those who think modern politics are ferocious might check out this brief description of the "5 Nastiest U.S. Presidential Elections in History."

Hat Tip: Evangelical Outpost

Republicans Like Obama?

Peter Wehner describes Barack Obama as a candidate who has gained favorable reviews from Republicans and Democrats alike who see him as a fresh and novel candidate based largely on his eloquence and dignified bearing, but who beneath the veneer has campaigned essentially as a conventional liberal. Wehner notes that such a campaign will not ultimately win over Republicans and many independents in the general election.

That is true, but it is still too early to judge Sen. Obama on that basis. Should he win the Democratic nomination, surely he will find some issues with which he can appeal to the center in the general election.

My own feelings about the Democratic race have crystalized over the last couple of weeks. Sen. Clinton, both as a candidate and a President, can be expected to be both predictable and mediocre. She simply lacks the creativity and political skills to excel as President. One suspects that Sen. Obama will be either very good or very bad in both roles. If very good, he poses a much greater threat to the Republican Party.

Hat Tip: Kristin Chapman

Taking Health Care to a Retail Store Near You

Statenet has compiled an interesting report about legislative battles to regulate the growing number of quick stop health care clinics springing up in retail outlets. Physician groups proclaiming concerns about quality of care, but in actuality attempting to gain the help of government in stifling competition in the form of innovative and inexpensive health care alternatives, are pressing for regulation, even as other groups are urging increasing the scope of practice of nurse practitioners providing care in these types of venues.

While this trend for providing some primary care services in non-traditional settings does not constitute an ultimate solution to problems with our health care system, this is an important debate. This practice model provides a convenient, inexpensive way to make primary health care available and more affordable -- without expensive government mandates.

A Tacit Admission from Senator Clinton

Anne Kornblut is correct in describing Hillary Clinton's challenge to Barack Obama to share the stage in four weekly debates following Super Tuesday as an acknowledgement that the Senator from New York "does not expect to sweep up tonight." However, one might go one step forward. Traditionally, the candidate pushing for debates is the one who is behind -- and the more behind one is, the more debates the candidate insists upon. Sen. Clinton has already shown a degree of desperation by pushing for the restoration of delegates in Florida and Michigan, in defiance of the enforcement of Democratic Party rules. By this call for frequent debates, she is revealing, correctly or incorrectly, that as things now stand she does not believe she will win.

To Be an Actual "Mandate" There Must Be a Consequence for Non-compliance

Hillary Clinton appeared Sunday on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Sen. Clinton performed some interesting verbal contortions when Mr. Stephanopoulos cited questions raised by Barack Obama as to how she would enforce her universal health insurance mandate. Sen. Obama reasons that if every American is required to have insurance (whether they want to pay for it or not), then there must be some mechanism for enforcing this kind of requirement. Thus, the question arises as to what penalties Sen. Clinton might impose to rein in wayward non-purchasers.

Americans might not be terribly relieved to learn that Sen. Clinton promises that there will not be any fines. She will merely garnish your wages.

In fact, any nationalization of health care coverage necessarily involves a loss of personal freedom as the price paid for increased security. Sen. Clinton will not tell you that. The Oracle just did.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The "College to Nowhere"

This story should make Texas taxpayers sick. And, its a tale that makes important points about accountability with public funds that taxpayers should insist upon everywhere.

Hat Tip: Keller City Limits

Corker, Cooper Oppose Minimalus Stimulus

The Oracle notes that U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and U.S. Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) are among the few brave souls opposing in principle the so-called stimulus package working its way through Congress. The Republican President and Democratic leaders in Congress share equal responsibility for this effort at fiscal irresponsibility in pursuit of voter love.

The stimulus will do little that will actually stimulate the economy while further ballooning the federal deficit. The $150 billion that will go into American pockets represents approximately 1% of GDP, which is not enough to make a real difference. However, politicians from both parties, being bereft of actual ideas regarding either economic policy or broad based tax reform, simply resort to a handout in hopes that average citizens won't recognize those inadequacies.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Thoughts Exactly

Jonah Goldberg explains why, though John McCain is not his first choice in the Republican primaries, he disagrees with the fervent anti-McCain hysteria now common among conservative pundits.

But this disaster talk leaves me cold. McCain wouldn't be my first pick. Then again, none of the candidates were really my first pick. But I think the notion that, variously, conservatism, the country or the party are doomed if he's the nominee or the president is pretty absurd.

Read the rest here.

There is certainly a great deal for conservatives to disagree with Mr. McCain about. However, those who want to paint the Arizona Senator as a flagrant liberal ignore the fact that his lifetime American Conservative Union rating is over 80%.

Hat Tip: Abramson

Friday, February 01, 2008

Putting Away the Bucket List for Now

Three weeks ago today, I wrote, but did not post, a summary of part of my conversation with my doctor:

"So, what is the prognosis?" I asked after listening to the doctor describe the various treatment options that might come up. I had been peppering her with questions.

"I am not saying that you have myeloma," she said. "That is why we do the bone marrow biopsy."

"I know," I said impatiently, "but if I do have it, what is the prognosis?"

"3 years, or 5 or 7," she replied, her eyes looking firmly at me, though not without sympathy.

That was not what I was expecting. My mouth opened as I started to ask another question but then closed silently as the words that I had just heard began to sink in.

My world had just changed.

I just received the results of that biopsy and am relieved that my world has not changed as much as I thought. I will have to be monitored for the rest of my life, but, without getting into the technicalities, the condition that I have is benign for now, and may remain perpetually so. There are no words to express the sense of exhiliration I felt when I realized that I did not have cancer.

I have often quoted the statement by Samuel Johnson to the effect that it focuses the mind when one knows that he is to be hanged in a fortnight. While that may be true, I have also learned that it can merely confuse the mind. I had gone to the doctor without any feeling of illness or observable symptoms. All of this started with my car accident in November. A full body scan had shown no injuries from the accident, but did reveal one spot, and possibly two, on my ribs. Tests of blood and urine followed, and the above conversation was the culmination of the doctor's discussion of those lab results. Before that day, I had thought the doctor was being overly cautious. Suddenly, reality slapped me in the face.

I had to wait two weeks for the results of the biopsy. I managed it reasonably well, thanks to the prayers and thoughtfullness of friends who provided encouragement and helped to keep me occupied. When one is starting to think that retirement savings is no longer a relevant issue, the mind careens all over the place -- ranging from a do-gooder interest in taking a pay cut and doing something to help the world (teaching kids became a focus) to a "bucket list" interest in seeing and doing as much as I could while good health remained.

While thoughts of those radical changes are drifting away, the sense of the joy of having life has returned. I have also been brought back to my Christian roots which have always taught me that this life is but a vapor, and that one ought to live, so to speak, with his bags packed up and ready to go. I have also realized the need to seize each day and enjoy it.

I hope those thoughts will stay with me, however long life will last.