Archive for November 17th, 2009

Obama Does it Again – Draws Fire for Bow to Japanese Emperor

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

This yahoo in the White House doesn’t even learn from his mistakes.

President Obama’s deep bow to Japanese Emperor Akihito on Saturday may not have violated any official protocol, but critics of the presidential act of deference nevertheless say he’s guilty of bad form.

The incident followed Obama’s dip to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in April, which the White House said was not a bow despite the criticism that followed.

But in Japan, the White House could not argue with a photograph that showed him bent at a nearly 90-degree angle while shaking the hand of the emperor, as Empress Michiko smiled faintly next to him.

Instead of denying the gesture, an administration official defended it, telling Politico.com that Obama “observes protocol” and that the greeting “enhanced both the position and the status of the U.S. relative to Japan” — where a bow is just another version of a handshake.

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Cost of Health Care Reform a Top Concern

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

I just hope you folks can actually remember all the things your representative and senator have done to you when it comes time to re-elect or fire them.

WASHINGTON — Americans are worried about the fine print in the health care overhaul, an Associated Press poll says, and those concerns are creating new challenges for President Barack Obama as he tries to overcome doubts in Congress.

Despite a widely shared conviction that major health care changes are needed, Democratic bills that aim to extend coverage to the uninsured and hold down medical costs get no better than a lukewarm reception in the latest results.

The poll found that 43 percent of Americans oppose the health care plans being discussed in Congress, while 41 percent are in support. An additional 15 percent remain neutral or undecided.

There has been little change in that broad public sentiment about the overhaul plan from a 40-40 split in an AP poll last month, but not everyone’s opinion is at the same intensity. Opponents have stronger feelings on the issue than do supporters. Seniors remain more skeptical than younger generations.

The latest survey was conducted by Stanford University with the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The United States is the only developed nation that does not have a comprehensive national health care plan for all its citizens, leaving about 50 million of America’s roughly 300 million people uninsured. Obama, who took office in January, campaigned on a promise of offering affordable health care to all Americans.

When the AP poll questions were framed broadly, the answers seemed to indicate ample support for Obama’s goals. When required trade-offs were brought into the equation, opinions shifted — sometimes dramatically.

In one particularly striking finding, the poll indicated that public support for banning insurance practices that discriminate against those in poor health may not be as solid as it seems.

A ban on denial of coverage because of pre-existing medical problems has long been one of the most popular consumer protections in the health care debate. Some 82 percent said they favored the ban, according to a Pew Research Center poll in October.

In the AP poll, when told that such a ban would probably cause most people to pay more for their health insurance, 43 percent said they would still support doing away with pre-existing condition denials but 31 percent said they would oppose it.

Costs for those with coverage could go up because people in poor health who’d been shut out of the insurance pool would now be included, and they would get medical care they could not access before.

“I’m thinking we’d probably pay more because we would probably be paying for those that are not paying. So they got to get the money from somewhere. Basically I see our taxes going up,” said Antoinette Gates, 57, of Atlanta.

The health care debate is full of such trade-offs. For example, limiting the premiums that insurance companies can charge 50-year-olds means that 20-year-olds have to pay more for coverage.

“These trade-offs really matter,” says Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who follows opinion trends. “The legislation contains a number of features that polls have shown to be popular, but support for the overall legislation is less than might be expected because people are worried there are details about these bills that could raise their families’ costs.”

If the added costs — spread over tens of millions of people — turn out to be small, it probably won’t make much difference, Blendon said. But if they’re significant, Obama could be on shaky ground in the final stretch of his drive to deliver access to health insurance to most Americans.

More than 4 in 5 Americans now have health insurance, and their perceptions about costs will be critical as Obama tries to close the deal. Democrats in the House came together to pass a bill, but in the Senate, Democratic liberals and moderates disagree on core questions.

The poll suggests the public is becoming more attuned to the fact that when it comes to health care, details often make all the difference.

For example, asked if everyone should be required to have at least some health insurance, 67 percent agreed and 27 percent said no.

The responses flipped when people were asked about requiring everybody to carry insurance or face a federal penalty: 64 percent said they would be opposed, while 28 percent favored that.

Both the House and Senate bills would require all Americans to get health insurance, either through an employer, a government program or by buying their own coverage. Subsidies would be provided for low-income people, as well as many middle-class households.

And there would also be a stick — a penalty collected through the income tax system to enforce the coverage mandate.

“I think it’s crazy. I think it infringes on our rights as a citizen, forcing us to do these things,” said Eli Fuchs, 26, of Marietta, Georgia.

The poll was based on land line and cell phone interviews with 1,502 adults from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The interviews were conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media. Stanford University’s participation was made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that conducts research on the health care system.

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Illegals Could be Legal as Quickly as Next Year

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Despite the publics opposition to this, as with all things, Obama and his ilk are going to exactly what they want to do, no matter what.

Obama’s senior advisor said today that a plan to grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is in the works and could be made law as early as next year.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” with John King, the White House’s David Axelrod dodged a question asking him to commit to pushing immigration reform regardless of the political climate, but nonetheless confirmed earlier hints by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano that Democrats and Republicans are working behind the scenes to pass major new legislation.

“I think some good work is being done on both sides of the aisle to achieve that,” Axelrod said, “and Secretary Napolitano is getting that done.”

Axelrod added, “If we can get a group together to give it the momentum to pass in Congress, then we’re going to push forward with it.”

But while some attempt at addressing immigration law is widely anticipated, Axelrod went further, tipping the White House’s hand on the more contentious question surrounding immigration reform: if and how the estimated millions of illegal aliens in the U.S. today can become American citizens.

“We have to hold accountable and responsible the 12 million people who are here illegally,” Axelrod explained. “And they have to pay a fine and a penalty and have to meet certain requirements in order to get in the line to earn citizenship. And if they don’t want to do that, they need to leave.”

Axelrod also affirmed, “We want a system that holds everybody responsible and everyone accountable. We have to have better security at our borders and we are developing that, thanks to Secretary Napolitano. We have to have better enforcement on employers who abuse the system by hiring undocumented workers in order to undercut the labor market.”

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U.N. Nuclear Chief in Secret Talks With Iran Over Deal to End Sanctions, Keep Nukes

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The murders of 14 people at Ft. Hood, Texas this month should have taught us a great deal about Muslims. What people still don’t seem to be able to understand is that Muslims are Muslims first and foremost, above all other things.
We saw this with Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Ft. Hood Muslim Jihadist, who placed Islam above his oath to the United Stated, above his dedication to his position as psychiatrist, his rank as a Major in the United States Army and his responsibility to his fellow soldiers.
I believe that the same is true of Mohamed ElBaradei, the president of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency and his dealings with Iran.

United Nations and Iranian officials have been secretly negotiating a deal to persuade world powers to lift sanctions and allow Tehran to retain the bulk of its nuclear program in return for cooperation with U.N. inspectors.

According to a draft document seen by The Times of London, the 13-point agreement was drawn up in September by Mohamed ElBaradei, the directorgeneral of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in an effort to break the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program before he stands down at the end of this month.

The IAEA denied the existence of the document, which was leaked to The Times by one of the parties alarmed at the contents. Its disclosure was made as the agency warned that Iran could be hiding multiple secret nuclear sites.

Despite the assessment, diplomats believed that ElBaradei was hoping to agree the outline of a deal with Tehran that he could present to the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany as a solution to the impasse.

It was thought that ElBaradei was anxious to secure his legacy after infighting over his perceived weakness in dealing with Iran.

The plan would require the U.N. Security Council to revoke the three existing sanctions and five resolutions ordering Iran to halt its uranium enrichment — an unthinkable development at a time when the West is focused on how to impose more, not fewer, sanctions on Iran.

Original Link.