Thursday, September 24, 2009

Karl's Weekend Reading

WSJ's Mary Anastasia O'Grady explains how the US is "trying to force the country [Honduras] to violate its constitution" in her op-ed Hillary's Honduras Obsession:

Thousands of readers have written to me asking how all this can happen in the U.S., where democratic principles have been recognized since the nation's founding. Many readers have written that they are "ashamed" of the U.S. and have asked, in effect, "How can I help Honduras?" A more pertinent question may turn out to be, how can they help their own country?

In its actions toward Honduras, the Obama administration is demonstrating contempt for the fundamentals of democracy.

Strong arm tactics. That is what is discussed in Tuesday's WSJ Opinion page, Baucus Bludgeons Humana. Apparently, Humana sent a one-page letter to their customers informing them of proposed changes to Medicare in the health reform legislation:

Political intimidation has always been part of the current Congress's health-care strategy: "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu" is tattooed on every lobbyist and industry rep in Washington. But Max Baucus's latest bullying tactics are hard to believe by even these standards, as the Senate Finance Chairman has sicced federal regulators on the insurer Humana Inc. for daring to criticize one part of his health bill.
A new study from America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, finds that seniors on Advantage in California spent 30% fewer days in hospitals over fee-for-service patients, based on federal data. Democrats say that insurers are "overpaid," but the cuts—as Humana correctly noted—mean that seniors may lose this coverage.

Mr. Baucus doesn't want seniors to be educated about these facts, and obviously he's willing to use his enormous power to punish any private company that doesn't affirm his, well, creative version of reality. Nearly half of Humana's yearly revenue comes from Medicare Advantage, and the insurer says that it is complying in full with the CMS investigation. Yesterday, the agency also barred all Advantage insurers from providing similar information to their beneficiaries.

This episode neatly shows how all U.S. health care will operate if Mr. Baucus's bill becomes law.
Humana merely made the mistake of trying to tell seniors the truth about what will happen to their coverage, and now CEO Michael McCallister had better hire a good team of lawyers. Mr. Baucus and the Obama Administration are out to make him an object lesson to the rest of the business class, and that means they won't stop until Humana cries uncle or is ruined.

Author Mark Helprin reports that Obama blinked twice while the world watched. In his WSJ article, Obama and the Politics of Concession, he discusses the blinks: to Russia over missile defense, and to Iran over their nuclear program.

What we have here is an inadvertent homage to Lewis Carroll: We are going to cancel a defense that takes five years to mount, because the threat will not materialize for five years. And we will not deploy land-based interceptors in Europe, because our new plan is to deploy land-based interceptors in Europe.
Not OK. When Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich at least he thought he had obtained something in return for his appeasement.
Stalin tested Truman with the Berlin Blockade, and Truman held fast. Khrushchev tested Kennedy, and in the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy refused to blink. In 1983, Andropov took the measure of Reagan, and, defying millions in the street (who are now the Obama base), Reagan did not blink. Last week, the Iranian president and the Russian prime minister put Mr. Obama to the test, and he blinked not once but twice. The price of such infirmity has always proven immensely high, even if, as is the custom these days, the bill has yet to come.

Baltimore's ACORN office finally stepped up and filed a law suit against those meddlesome kids. $2 million, which is a paltry sum compared to the massive (proposed) cuts in government grants to the criminal organization. These comments from James Taranto caught our eye, and suggest ACORN is saving money by going to the low-cost attorneys.

This lawsuit is a gift to Acorn's critics. Assuming it goes forward, the defendants will be able to use the discovery process to gather still more facts about Acorn--and this columnist for one cannot wait to see what they find out.

Here's another oddity: Acorn's co-plaintiffs are the employees it recently fired precisely because of the misconduct the defendants exposed. Doesn't this create a big fat conflict of interest for the plaintiffs' lawyers? Maybe Thompson and Williams can sue Acorn for rightful termination.

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