Sunday, January 6, 2013

Aiding and abetting as far as I'm concerned...

Egyptian lawyers say Obama gave Muslim Brotherhood $1.5 billion

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

Surprised? "Muslim Brotherhood took ‘billions’ from Obama: Egypt lawyers," from al Arabiya, January 4 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has been accused of taking 10 billion Egyptian pounds (U.S. $1.5 billion) from the American government, according to claims by Egyptian lawyers. 
An immediate investigation into the accusation was ordered by Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah on Thursday.
The lawyers, Mohamed Ali Abd al-Wahab and Yasser Mohamed Sayab, filed the complaint against the Muslim Brotherhood for the allegedly illegal money transaction, Egypt’s private daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Jan. 3.
The complaint noted that Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the recent U.S. presidential election, had said that $1.5 billion was given to support Egypt's Brotherhood by the Obama administration.
In addition, the lawyers accused the Muslim Brotherhood of having armed mercenaries or a “third party,” who have instigated violence during and after the revolutionary uprising in the country.
The armed mercenaries are trained in the desert, which lies between the city of Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh in Egypt, the lawyers alleged.

An Exercise in Fiscal Evasion

An Exercise in Fiscal Evasion
When it comes to serious, lasting budget constraints, our leaders in Washington have the escape talents of Houdini. The ominous approach of the fiscal cliff put Democrats in a position to extract a lot more revenue and Republicans to force real spending cuts. That prospect drove the two sides to agree that the only reasonable option was neither.

They fixed the budget the same way they always fix it: wrapping it up with a big red bow and shipping it to the taxpayers of the future. As Robert Bixby of the fiscal watchdog group The Concord Coalition puts it, the deal "requires no hard choices and solves no difficult problems." It neatly postpones that painful, necessary work till another day, when we can expect it to be postponed again.

President Barack Obama set out to cut total deficits by $2 trillion over the next decade, comparing to what they would have been under the tax and spending policies in effect last year. His main remedy was raising tax rates at the top end of the income spectrum. In the end, according to The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), he got $650 billion, a piddling one-third of his goal.

Congressional Republicans wanted to focus on curbing outlays. They preferred no additional taxes at all, but if they were going to give on that point, they would demand big concessions from Obama on expenditures. In the end, though, Congress agreed to higher tax rates in exchange for ... no spending cuts. That's right: none.

Over the next decade, says CRFB, the U.S. government debt was on track to reach a staggering 81.5 percent of GDP, up from 72.8 percent today. Thanks to this noble display of statesmanship, it may hit only 78.9 percent.

It's enough to make you wish they hadn't bothered making a deal. In that case, automatic spending cuts would have kicked in, trimming projected outlays by $1.2 trillion over nine years. The sequester would have been ugly, taking the form of indiscriminate across-the-board reductions for domestic programs and defense.

But it would have actually made a dent in the ever-expanding federal budget.

What we got instead was not a grand bargain. It was an exercise in evasion. That is no accident. The reason we got into the current fiscal pit is that politicians follow the path of least resistance. They prefer not to antagonize constituents by trimming back benefits that are widely cherished. But they also know better than to compel taxpayers to cover the entire cost of those programs. So spending mushrooms, tax revenues lag behind, and the debt soars.

Even when both sides found a way to agree on how to restrain spending, they found a way to disagree.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had proposed to save money on entitlement spending, the biggest cause of budget bloat, by slightly modifying cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security (using a formula known as the "chained Consumer Price Index").

It wasn't the sort of change that would have impoverished seniors, since it would have shaved about a quarter of a percentage point off the annual increases. And the savings were modest: about $112 billion over 10 years, while yielding an additional $72 billion in revenue. Still, it was far better than nothing.

Many congressional Democrats denounced the suggestion, but Obama surprised everyone by agreeing, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the change would amount to "a strengthening of Social Security."

The deal was on.

And then it was off: Republicans abruptly changed their minds. Sen. John McCain of Arizona excused the reversal on the ground that "we can't win an argument that has Social Security for seniors versus taxes for the rich." Said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, "There's a realization that in spite of the president's apparent endorsement of a chained CPI, that that proposal deserves more study."

In spite of Obama's endorsement? She meant because of it. Offering this money-saving change made Republicans look fiscally responsible, in contrast to the free-spending Obama. But actually enacting it was a political risk they were not willing to take.

Instead of forcing the president to accept new entitlement cuts as the price for raising taxes, Congress let him have his tax increase for free. Obama wasn't about to say no.

So here's the payoff for weeks of fear and anguish about the looming fiscal cliff: higher taxes, higher spending and a bigger debt. Funny how that worked out.
The Week In Stupid

The Week In Stupid 

By: Derek Hunter  / Townhall Columnist

Sometimes there is so much stupid going on in the world that you have to just stop and take stock of it all.

Al Gore sells Current TV to Al Jazeera. 

The Americans who owned the anti-American network Current TV soon will be replaced as owners by foreigners who operate the anti-American network Al Jazeera. I doubt any of the 40,000 regular Current TV viewers would have noticed had the news not gone public. Of course, most of them spend their time writing diaries at the DailyKos, when not being yelled at by their moms to clean their rooms. But the big winner in all this is former Vice-President Al Gore. The private-jet-flying, limo-riding, mansion-heating/air-conditioning bearded Pope of the Holy Church of Global Warming stands to pocket $100 million in dirty oil money from the deal. Unfortunately for him, in spite of his scrambling to do so, he wasn’t able to seal the deal before the end of 2012 and will have to pay the higher tax rates he tried desperately to avoid. Seems like Al Gore is looking to win the Nobel Prize in hypocrisy.

Sadly, the current line-up of Current TV, Jennifer Granholm, Eliot Spitzer, The Young Turks, Joy Behar, etc., are not expected to be retained when the new owners take over. Even terrorists have some standards.

The Dud Heard ‘Round the World

Have you heard about the resignation and/or ouster of Speaker of the House John Boehner? No? That’s so weird. It was the biggest story that wasn’t. Journalists, bloggers and activists took wishful thinking to exciting new levels when they assured their readers and followers they had the details, the inside dope on how the Republican caucus had had enough and planned a coup. Only it didn’t.

The “leader” of this fool’s caucus was a guy named Ron Meyer Jr., who works for something called American Majority Action. I’ve never heard of Ron and I’ve heard only a tiny amount about American Majority Action – but then, I’ve been active in the Washington, D.C., conservative movement for only about 12 years now, so what do I know? Ron assured the world he knew the truth…then came the vote. Oops.

Forget an egg, forget an omelet, Meyer Jr. had a chicken farm on his face. How did he handle it? The way everyone in the Washington Ron decries handled it – he blamed everyone else.

Ron is only 23, and he suffers from a tragic case of what afflicts nearly everyone at that age – an inability or unwillingness to simply admit you screwed up, that you aren’t as smart or important as you think you are. Come to think of it, in a lot of ways he’s guilty of exactly what he’d been accusing Speaker Boehner of.
Dude, Where’s My Money?

While President Obama and his supporters were busy crowing about finally sticking to those greedy rich people (you know, the people who sign the front of paychecks), a funny thing happened on the way to direct deposit. A lesser known feature of the “fiscal cliff” deal, one for which the president did not fight, was the end of the payroll tax “holiday.” For the past two years, this holiday has provided every working American a 2 percent bump in take-home pay. It wasn’t a raise, and it wasn’t a tax cut; it was a temporary perk to fool people into thinking having Obama in office was good for their bottom line. Well, since Barack Obama doesn’t need your vote anymore, he now cares for you about as much as OJ Simpson thinks of what his ex-mother-in-law thinks of him.

The payroll tax is back to where it was before President Obama needed your vote, and a lot of his supporters are confused. One took to the “progressive” website Democratic Underground to ask what happened to his paycheck. He’s not a millionaire or billionaire, so why is his check smaller? He’s since deleted his original post, presumably because he felt so stupid, but the rest of the comments are still there and they are golden. It’s like watching someone watch that scene in The Usual Suspects when Kevin Spacey’s “Verbal” Kint starts walking normally and they realize he was Keyser Soze and they’ve been just as fooled as Chazz Palminteri was. Good stuff.

Been Jealous Much? 

Few groups have done as much to advance the cause of the American Dream as the NAACP. Its legacy is legendary, except for the part that’s been tarnished since the group was co-opted by progressives who put their agenda over anything resembling their original mission of equality. Today, NAACP President Ben Jealous spends his time not fighting for his people, not rooting out the true unfairness still baked into the American system, but attacking the Tea Party, Republicans, black conservatives and especially black Tea Party Republicans. Enter U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

Scott, a Republican from South Carolina and the only member of the Senate who is black, found himself on the end of an attack from the NAACP for not caring about civil rights. Yes, you read that right. How did the NAACP come to this conclusion? Because Scott, as a member of the House of Representatives, didn’t support unions or progressives for judgeships and other government positions. Because that’s what constitutes “civil rights” these days.

Jealous burns his calories attacking anyone who supports individual responsibility and a sense of self-reliance. So he doesn’t have the energy to address the destruction of the black family, the 50 percent abortion rate of black pregnancies, the 70 percent of black births to unmarried women, the education system that fails its children or the black unemployment rate of 14 percent. As long as blacks vote for Democrats, the progressive agenda will be advanced, and these numbers will get worse. It’s a sad truth the NAACP is more interested in advancing the progressive agenda and maintaining power than in doing anything that remotely resembles its mission. It’s ironic the NAACP would become a de facto arm of the Democratic Party, the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow, and the party that replaced those chains of slavery and inhumanity of Jim Crow with the chains of government dependence and the inhumanity that accompanies it.

Then again, when you realize progressives founded the idea of self-appointed intellectual superiors overseeing those who didn’t measure up to their standards, including the extermination of people they deemed unworthy or unproductive, it only makes sense they’d be silent on a system and culture that does nothing but produce dupable dependent voters to maintain their hold on power. Were Ben Jealous capable of shame, he would be drowning in it. Since he’s clearly not, he’ll just keep cashing those fat checks and attacking role models such as Tim Scott. Sickening.

Of course there was a lot more stupid this week, but there’s only so much that can be crammed into one column. I’ll revisit this topic throughout the year because stupid is the only thing being created faster than the Federal Reserve is printing money.

Go about your week.

More evidence of ‘death panels’ in Obamacare

Rationing concerns based on age, race, ethnicity

by Aaron Klein / WND
The foundations for health-care rationing and even so-called death panels may have already been quietly laid in largely unreported sections of President Obama’s health-care legislation, WND has found.

There is also concern for preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity and so-called life preferences.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, called for the establishment of a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

The new institute’s purpose is to carry out “comparative clinical effectiveness research,” which is defined in the law as evaluating and comparing “health outcomes” and “clinical effectiveness, risks and benefits” of two or more medical treatments or services.

The purpose of the research is purportedly for the government to determine which treatments work best so that money is not spent on less effective treatments.

Such research was already previously alloted $1.1 billion in Obama’s 2009 “stimulus” package. That legislation first created a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.

Obamacare now allows for about $3.8 billion in additional funding for effectiveness research, with the establishment of the new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

The institute is to be governed by a “board” to assist in identifying research priorities and establishing the research project agenda.

Also weighing in will be an “expert advisory panel” of practicing and research clinicians, patients and experts in scientific and health services research and health services delivery.

A section of Obamacare makes clear the secretary of health and human services may not use research data from the new institute in a manner that treats the life of an elderly, disabled or terminally ill individual as lower in value than that of an individual who is younger, non-disabled or not terminally ill.

However, the dictate comes with a qualifier some many find concerning.

Obamacare contains largely unreported text that allows the health secretary to limit any “alternative treatments” of the elderly, disabled or terminally ill if such treatments are not recommended by the new research institute.

Reads that qualifier:
Paragraph (1) shall not be construed as preventing the Secretary from using evidence or findings from such comparative clinical effectiveness research in determining coverage, reimbursement, or incentive programs under title XVIII based upon a comparison of the difference in the effectiveness of alternative treatments in extending an individual’s life due to the individual’s age, disability, or terminal illness.
Paragraph (1) refers to the section that bars the health secretary from valuing the life of an elderly, disabled or terminally ill patient as lower than that of the younger or nondisabled patient.

The qualifier leaves the health secretary with the power to use government-provided research data to determine whether “alternative treatments” are effective in extending the life of the elderly, disables, or terminally ill.

Health-care rationing based on ethnicity?

Another section of Obamacare calls for the new institute to study the effectiveness of treatment in “subpopulations,” including “racial and ethnic minorities, women, age and groups of individuals with different comorbidities, genetic and molecular sub-types, or quality of life preferences.”

The effectiveness of such research has been widely called into question.

In a 2009 study, the CATO Institute raised concern about such government-funded research being politicized or influenced by lobbying.

“Unlike market-generated research, a federal comparative-effectiveness agency would be subject to political manipulation, which could block the generation of any useful research,” wrote CATO.

Continued CATO: “Such research necessarily poses a direct threat to the incomes of pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device manufacturers and millions of providers. If a government agency produces unwelcome research, those groups will spend vast sums on lobbying campaigns and political contributions to discredit or defund the agency.”

During the “stimulus” debate, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., fought the $1.1 billion spending on effectiveness research, spotlighting countries like Britain as cautionary tales.

“Think about this a moment,” Kyl said on the Senate floor. “Do you want Washington bureaucrats, such as those who brought you the AIG mess, making your health care decisions for you and your family?”

Currently, in the U.K., the equivalent to Obamacare’s institute is the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE.

The New England Journal of Medicine related that “NICE considers treatments cost-effective if their cost-effectiveness ratio is £20,000 ($34,000) per QALY (quality adjusted life year).”

A QALY is an extra year of “quality” life expectancy added based on the treatment.

There were recent reports that NICE was refusing to fund four new treatments for kidney cancer because they only change a patient’s life expectancy from six months to a year.

Andrew Dillon, NICE Chief Executive, commented on the denial of one drug for kidney cancer: “Before we recommend any new treatment we have to be sure the evidence on how well it works is robust and that it is cost effective. We do not want to divert NHS funds to a treatment that costs more but doesn’t help people live longer.”

Writing in Forbes last month, Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, slammed effectiveness research under Obamacare as a “recipe for cook-book medicine, where the government can pressure doctors into prescribing treatments according to average results rather than an individual patient’s needs and preferences.”