Psalm 27: a psalm for “interesting times”

The ancient Chinese curse went: “may you live in interesting times”. We truly are living in such times — in “times that try man’s souls”, as Thomas Paine so memorably put it.

Psalm 27 was King David’s way of responding to such times. The Hebrew words deeply move me every time I recite it. Below is my translation — trying to retain as much of the meaning of the original as I can manage. Some of the Hebrew words have multiple meanings that can fit the context — this creates some room for creativity in interpretation and translation.

Never forget: “G-d listens to all who sincerely call upon him.”

27:1 A Song of David. The L-rd is my light and my salvation; by whom would I be overawed? The L-rd is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
27:2 When evil-doers will come upon me to eat up my flesh — my adversaries and my foes — they will stumble and fall.
27:3 If an army will encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; even if war will break out against me, in this I shall trust.
27:4 One thing have I asked of the L-rd, and that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the L-rd all the days of my life, to envision the pleasantness of the L-rd, and to inquire in His palace.
27:5 For He will conceal me in His pavilion in the day of evil; He will hide me in the secrecy of His tent; and He will lift me up onto a rock.
27:6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; and I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices with shofar blasts; I will chant and will sing unto the L-rd.
27:7 Hear, O L-rd, when my voice will call out — be gracious unto me, and answer me.
27:8 Unto Thee my heart said: ‘Seek ye My face’; Thy face, the L-rd, will I seek.
27:9 Do not hide Thy face from me; do not rebuff Thy servant in anger. My succor hast Thou been. Do not cast me off, nor forsake me, O G-d of my salvation.
27:10 For even if my father and my mother were to forsake me, the L-rd would pick me up.
27:11 Teach me Thy way, O L-rd; and lead me in an even path, because of those lying in wait for me.
27:12 Do not hand me over unto the will of my pursuers; for false witnesses stood up against me, breathing out violence.
27:13 If I had not believed to look upon the goodness of the L-rd in the land of the living!
27:14 Set your hopes onto the L-rd, and your heart will be strong and find courage — Set your hopes onto the L-rd.

ClimateGate roundup: last calls for 2009

I’ve stopped daily updates, hut there’s some good stuff I should blog. (Several hat tips to Pi Guy, JCM, and other C2 people.)

  • ClimateAudit discusses here and here the ridiculous claim (parroted by Nature, a scientific journal that has become increasingly politicized in recent years, including over the Arab-Israeli conflict) that Freedom of Information requests to scientists about their raw data represent an undue burden or some sort of harassment or ‘spamming’ by ‘deniers’ (a word that, as a Jew, makes my blood boil). Well, if you’re insisting that we have to cripple our economy and spend trillions of dollars to ‘save Gaia’, you’d better get your act together folks…
  • “Screaming protest” against AGW canceled due to snow and ice
  • Watts Up With That is posting “G. P. Bear goes to Washington” in 12 installments (one on each of the “12 days of Xmas”): here are part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4part 5, and part 6.
  • noted Pastafarian “snork”, my favorite Blogmocracy poster, has several good ones up: Willis Eschenbach on complexity. Nature magazine against open science, and you too can be an eco-nazi. I personally avoid Godwinizing by terms like “eco-Nazi” (as much as their use of ‘denier’ begs for retaliation in kind) and prefer ‘enviropsycho’ or buzzsawmonkey’s priceless ‘environmentalcase’.
  • CO2 levels in the last 150 years — Hmmm
  • ClimateGate interview at
  • As posted below, French court declares carbon tax/cap and trade/krep and tax unconstitutional. In related news, Senate Democrats to White House: dump cap and trade. This issue is creating some mighty strange bedfellows.
  • And not strictly speaking AGW-related, but: San Francisco newspaper admonishes hunters to stop killling animals, and buy their meat at a store instead, “where no animals were harmed”. UPDATE: Zombie (see comments) points out that it’s actually from the Kankakee, IL Daily Journal, in a “Readers, have your say” type sections. Still wondering if somebody was “taking the p*ss”  there, as no-one can possibly be this cartoonishly shtoopid — then again, we see refutations of this latter statement every day…
  • Paying people to grow trees instead of food — what could go wrong? (H/t: Robomonkey.) Somehow I am reminded of the parents of Major Major in “catch-22”, who were paid by the government not to grow food, and kept increasing the supply of land on which not to grow…
  • More updates will follow if I see anything else before “Das alte Jahr vergangen ist

<– Link to last ClimateGate roundup, Dec. 23 —

— ClimateGate: are we approaching a tipping point? –>

Looking around, Dec. 31 edition

  1. 13 AGs threaten suit over health care | KOMO News – Breaking News, Sports, Traffic and Weather – Seattle, Washington…

  2. Victor Davis Hanson » President Humpty-Dumpty and his Humpty-Dumpty View of the World –

  3. Fouad Ajami: A Cold-Blooded Foreign Policy – –

  4. And I Thought I Was a Comedian: “Dems claim 0bama tougher on alQaeda than Bush 43” « Robomonkey’s Blog – about

  5. Facebook as a narcissist’s best friend? Rachel Marsden: Technology and the New ‘Me’ Generation – –

  6. Terror Crackdown … On Bloggers –

  7. Shelby Steele: Obama and Our Post-Modern Race Problem – –

  8. This is so over the top, it almost has to be a hoax: To All You Hunters « Joy, Nikki, Sue, Laura & Pam~Our Views –

  9. The Green Religion and ClimateGate: Interview With Steven Mosher – Big Government –

  10. | BlogCentral | Rosner’s Domain | Saying no to Obama is no drama [while Bush was crazy like a fox?] –

  11. [What is she smoking?!] Napolitano wants to unionize TSA employees despite safety concerns | Washington Examiner –

  12. iowahawk: Man, Do I Hate Holiday Travel by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [satire alert] –

  13. The Volokh Conspiracy: $150K Settlement for Black Public School Students Harassed by Other Blacks for “Acting White” …

  14. | Shmuel Rosner | Hannah Rosenthal’s new problem –

  15. Sen. Dodd, D-Conn., slashed aviation security funding for pet constituency | Washington Examiner –

  16. Thomas Sowell: “Unhealthy Arrogance” (RealClearPolitics)

  17. First case of highly drug-resistant TB found in US (H/T: Syrah) – Yahoo! News –

  18. Rosner’s Domain | “Anti-antisemitism czar” Hannah Rosenthal is officially more burden than help –

  19. Paying people to grow trees instead of food — gee, what could go wrong? (H/t Robomonkey) – Washington Times –

  20. (H/t Insty) Medical tourism — the new growth industry?

  21. Last but not least (H/t: “goddessoftheclassroom”): in Close to the Edge, Christopher Johnson administers a well-deserved fisking to an anti-Israel Anglican “theologian” moonbat

Rush Limbaugh: SSC wishes you well

Pundits like Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck aren’t my cup of tea, although the way they drive some parts of the blogosphere batty has always greatly amused me.

Rush Limbaugh is often lumped in with these two and their imitators, but I admit to the guilty pleasure of reading his site. He’s a much sharper analyst than many people give him credit for, and has his finger very much on the pulse of Middle America. It’s possible to disagree with him on some issues and still learn something.

Now he has been admitted to a hospital in Hawaii with chest pain and, as expected, the loonbats and pond scum at DU et al. have been sending the expected “die mother[bleep]ing pig!” type of civilized discourse. (H/t: Pi Guy) Ann Althouse notes that these are the very same people who want to control your healthcare.

Contrast this with the story of how Rush reached out to a (compared to him fairly obscure) blogger to help him avoid painkiller addiction.

The latest rumor is that it was the side effect of a painkiller he is taking for his back. I wish you well, Rush, and may you drive loonbats and worshippers of 0baal crazy for many years to come. Meanwhile, Walter Williams is filling in as guest host. Free audio stream here (h/t: JCM).

Neologism: “nom de bloguerre”

Over at C2, we had a discussion about Facebook, and I blurted out in passing that I did not do Facebook, neither under my real name nor under my “nom de bloguerre”.

“kenneth” and “Lucius Septimius” on the thread seemed to like this spur-of-the-moment neologism. It is really a portmanteau word of “nom de blog” (an established derivative of “nom de plume”, i.e., pen name) and “nom de guerre” (battle name). The main reason why the portmanteau works so well in this case is that “bloguerre” sounds like how a Frenchman would mispronounce “blogger” 🙂

I was sure many others had beaten me to it, but a Google search only revealed three hits on “nom de bloguerre”….

In case you are wondering why I have two “noms de bloguerre”: on C2 I registered as Finally Free, which I picked after joining the Lizard Diaspora. But after I registered this blog, it turned out there already was a “Finally Free” on, with a Christian-themed blog. Thus I became “New Class Traitor”, itself a portmanteau of “New Class” and “class traitor“.

Flight 253 bomber led “antiwar” seminars?!

Department of Whiskey Tango Echo Foxtrot (“what the everloving …”): It has been reported (H/t: Running Bare) that the “underpants bomber” (a.k.a. “great balls of fire”) led “antiwar” seminars  in London:

Keying off an article in the UK Times Online about Northwest Airlines flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab organizing an antiwar seminar called “War on Terror Week”, I did some quick research before the links get scrubbed.

According to, an online magazine for Muslim students, War on Terror Week at University College London was one of the events of the year in 2007. There was a slick video advertisement for the event, an eye-catching poster and packed lecture theatres for five days of discussions about Guantánamo Bay, allegations of torture and the subject of “Jihad v Terrorism”.

The website reported the week of talks as “informative, relevant and always entertaining — the audience got involved with a good mixture of Muslim and non-Muslim attendees asking tough questions of the speakers”. In a corner of the poster, the event is declared to have been “approved by Umar Farook, president of UCLU Islamic Society”. The speakers advertised included George Galloway, the Respect MP; Geoffrey Bindman, the human rights lawyer; and former Guantánamo Bay detainees.

The Nigerian student who organised “War on Terror Week” in January 2007 is now better known as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be suicide bomber who tried to blow up a transatlantic airliner last week.

Mr Galloway said last night that he did not attend any of the events in War on Terror Week and had no record in his parliamentary diary of any contact with UCL Islamic Society. Mr Bindman, a visiting professor at UCL, said that he could not recall the event or meeting Mr Abdulmutallab.

Go read the whole thing. My main reservation: “Umar Farooq” is a pretty common Arabic name combination, and I would want to see evidence that the London Times has done its homework. Still, it’s generally pretty careful at least by Legacy Media standards….

UPDATE: More here (H/t: Naomi Ragen)

Airline security: why is El Al different from all others?

In the wake of the failed Xmas bombing on Northwest Airlines flight 253 to Detroit, some people wonder why El Al (Israel’s national airline) is succeeding where the TSA is making a pig’s breakfast of things. (Instapundit has never hidden his opinion that the TSA is a make-work program that may incidentally provide some security benefits, rather than the other way around.)

As a frequent long-haul business traveler, I obviously have a vested interest in airlines getting their act together on this one.  Here are some impromptu observations on El Al security (in part based on my own experiences):

  • El Al openly and unapologetically profiles. (Passengers reportedly get “presorted” in risk level categories: Israeli Jews the lowest, non-Israeli Arab Muslims the highest.) [BTW, as by clockwork, the usual suspects are calling on the TSA not to adopt profiling in the wake of the latest incident. (H/t: C2) This perhaps for the same reason that certain organization keep trying to pressure Israel into dismantling the security fence: because something that actually works cannot be suffered to live ;-)]
  • Every passenger gets interrogated in person: the depth depends on the assigned risk level, but also on one’s response and body language during interrogation (cfr.: microexpression). If interrogation switches from routine to in-depth, repeating questions several times (in different wordings) in order to trip up the person is common, as is cross-checking versions of different family members traveling together.
  • An Israeli citizen will be expected to produce his/her national ID card (compulsory to carry at all times, like in many European countries) as well as his/her passport. Commonly, the security guy will pull out the slip that lists your place of residence and family members and ask some questions about those — including some details only somebody actually living in that town would be likely to know.
  • The people doing screening are generally smart and well motivated. El Al security staff abroad, in particular, are quite unlike your typical TSA drone — for them it’s generally the first rung on a career ladder in the country’s security establishment. This aside from the fact that terrorism has been a living reality in Israel for all of its existence. (What did Samuel Johnson say again: “Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”)
  • The security section in the Wikipedia article on El Al, which is fairly objective, has additional details on in-flight security. Not only does El Al keep armed plainclothes security staff on all its flights, but the in-flight staff is trained in both weapon use and hand-to-hand combat, and almost all El Al pilots are former air force flyers capable of handling their planes under… “unusual” circumstances.

Overall, the three things that set El Al security apart from everybody else’s are:

  1. reliance on human elements first and technology second, and — analogously — on common sense first and procedures second
  2. smart and motivated staff
  3. disregard for political correctness

A few older articles that may be of interest for further reading:

  • Interview with former El Al security chief
  • This pilot clearly has a liberal political perspective, but has some interesting observations, specifically on issues in “scaling up” the El Al security approach to the vast US air transit network. I definitely take issue with his calling Israel a “full-blown security state” though — many things Americans perceive as “intrusive” (like compulsory national ID cards, a centralized population registry,…) are common currency in continental Europe, not just Israel. [And, perversely, I feel a lot freer to speak my mind in Israel than on a US college campus 😉 ]
  • Jeff Jacoby in 2006 on airline security
  • This piece on a recent kerfuffle involving the El Al route to Johannesburg has some interesting details buried in it. Notably, that El Al’s security staff abroad carry diplomatic passports, with their concomitant diplomatic immunity.

UPDATE: The businessman blogging at Coyote Blog explains why he cut his airline travel by 75%, even as his business kept expanding. “Security Theater” indeed. Or perhaps “Keeping Up Appearances“, starring Janet Napolitano as Hyacinth Bucket.

ABC video of Dutch hero who stopped plane bomber

ABC video (sorry, no embed): Jasper Schuringa: ‘We Heard Bang’.

In related news, the bomber was no lone wolf but an al-Qaeda operative trained in Yemen, and a failed detonator prevented a disaster. The explosive used was reportedly PETN (pentaerythritol nitrate).

PowerLine asks the hard questions why the bomber — one Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who apparently had beem on a watch list of people with suspected terrorist connections for two years — was even allowed to fly at all.

And Mark Steyn. “The men eager to self-detonate on infidel airliners are not goatherds from the caves of Waziristan but educated middle-class Muslims who have had the most exposure to the western world and could be pulling down six-figure salaries almost anywhere on the planet. And don’t look to “assimilation” to work its magic, either. We’re witnessing a process of generational de-assimilation: In this family, yet again, the dad is an entirely assimilated member of the transnational elite. His son wants a global caliphate run on Wahhabist lines.”

Liberty or “social justice”: pick one?

“Neo-neocon” has a thoughtful article up on Pajamas Media on which she discusses the intrinsic conflict between liberty and equality-of-outcome (so-called “social justice”) policies. Go read the whole thing.

Thomas Sowell’s book “The quest for cosmic justice” of course makes a similar point at greater length.

But in fact it is not even a choice between “social justice” and liberty. Equality of opportunity policies, and liberty, can be implemented in the real world. So-called “social justice” in practice cannot be wrought even by benevolent tyrannies — except as “make everybody equally miserable, with the exception of  the oligarchy implementing it, and its designated mascots”.

It is therefore more of a Benjamin Franklin dilemma — allow me to paraphrase him: “Those who give up essential liberty and equality of opportunity for the sake of illusory ‘social justice’ will end up with neither.”

New restrictions are imposed on US air passengers

The NYTimes reports (behind registration firewall) that in the wake of yesterday’s attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit by a militant Vlaams Belang supporter Amish activist, new restrictions will be imposed on airline passengers entering the USA.

The government was vague about the steps it was taking, saying that it wanted the security experience to be “unpredictable” and that passengers would not find the same measures at every airport — a prospect that may upset airlines and travelers alike.

But several airlines released detailed information about the restrictions, saying that passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. It was not clear how often the rule would affect domestic flights.

Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item, and domestic passengers will probably face longer security lines. That was already the case in some airports Saturday, in the United States and overseas.

Two foreign airlines, Air Canada and British Airways, disclosed the steps in notices on their Web sites. The airlines said the rules had been implemented by government security agencies including the T.S.A.

“Among other things,” the statement on Air Canada’s Web site read, “during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”

The suspect in the Friday attempt, identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [NCT: looks like a typical Amish name, no? ;-)], 23, tried to ignite his incendiary device in the final hour of the flight while the plane was descending into Detroit.

The new restrictions began to be instituted Saturday on flights from Canada and Europe to the United States. Air Canada said it was waiving fees for the first checked bag, and it told passengers to be prepared for delays, cancellations and missed connections because of the new limits.

Airline bomber: Dutch hero did not hesitate

(Attempted airline bombing on Detroit-bound plane is top meme on Memeorandum. Presumably the perpetrator is a radical Amish or a militant Vlaams Belang supporter 😉 😉 )

The New York Post has this story on the unsung hero of the day:

A Dutch airline passenger told The Post how he leapt into action when an alleged Muslim terrorist tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner packed with 300 people just moments before landing.

Chaos erupted as alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, 23, tried to set off a sophisticated explosive device strapped to his body.

“Suddenly, we hear a bang. It sounded like a firecracker went off,” said Jasper Schuringa, a film director who was traveling to the US to visit friends.

“When [it] went off, everybody panicked … Then someone screamed, ‘Fire! Fire!’”

Schuringa, sitting in seat 20J, in the right-most section of the Airbus 330, looked to his left. “I saw smoke rising from a seat … I didn’t hesitate. I just jumped,” he said.

Schuringa dove over four passengers to reach Abdul Mutallab’s seat. The suspect had a blanket on his lap. “It was smoking and there were flames coming from beneath his legs.”

“I searched on his body parts and he had his pants open. He had something strapped to his legs.”

The unassuming hero ripped the flaming, molten object — which resembled a small, white shampoo bottle — off Abdul Mutallab’s left leg, near his crotch. He said he put out the fire with his bare hands.

Schuringa yelled for water, and members of the flight crew soon appeared with fire extinguishers. Then, he said, he hauled the suspect out of the seat.

“I took him in a choke to the first class and all the people were like, ‘What’s going on?!”

“I don’t feel like a hero,” Schuringa told the Post as he recuperated with pals. “It was something that came completely natural … It was something where I had to do something or it was too late.”

Waarde Jasper, vliegtuigpassagiers in de hele wereld salueren U.
Esteemed Jasper, airline passengers around the world salute you.

Earth-Friendly Elements, Mined Destructively

The Law of Unintended Consequences in action, part 12,358: the NYT reports on how the push for “green technology” has led to a surge in demand for a group of metals known as the rare earth elements (a.k.a. lanthanides, a.k.a. “f-block elements”: elements 57-73 in the Periodic Table).

Over 99% of world production of the more critical elements comes from sites in China, which are being operated in extremely environment-unfriendly ways and often run by crime syndicates.

Here in Guyun Village, a small community in southeastern China fringed by lush bamboo groves and banana trees, the environmental damage can be seen in the red-brown scars of barren clay that run down narrow valleys and the dead lands below, where emerald rice fields once grew.

Miners scrape off the topsoil and shovel golden-flecked clay into dirt pits, using acids to extract the rare earths. The acids ultimately wash into streams and rivers, destroying rice paddies and fish farms and tainting water supplies.

On a recent rainy afternoon, Zeng Guohui, a 41-year-old laborer, walked to an abandoned mine where he used to shovel ore, and pointed out still-barren expanses of dirt and mud. The mine exhausted the local deposit of heavy rare earths in three years, but a decade after the mine closed, no one has tried to revive the downstream rice fields.

Small mines producing heavy rare earths like dysprosium and terbium still operate on nearby hills. “There are constant protests because it damages the farmland — people are always demanding compensation,” Mr. Zeng said.

“In many places, the mining is abused,” said Wang Caifeng, the top rare-earths industry regulator at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China.

“This has caused great harm to the ecology and environment.”

There are 17 rare-earth elements — some of which, despite the name, are not particularly rare — but two heavy rare earths, dysprosium and terbium, are in especially short supply, mainly because they have emerged as the miracle ingredients of green energy products. Tiny quantities of dysprosium can make magnets in electric motors lighter by 90 percent, while terbium can help cut the electricity usage of lights by 80 percent. Dysprosium prices have climbed nearly sevenfold since 2003, to $53 a pound. Terbium prices quadrupled from 2003 to 2008, peaking at $407 a pound, before slumping in the global economic crisis to $205 a pound.

China mines more than 99 percent of the world’s dysprosium and terbium. Most of China’s production comes from about 200 mines here in northern Guangdong and in neighboring Jiangxi Province.[…] Half the heavy rare earth mines have licenses and the other half are illegal, industry executives said. […] A close-knit group of mainland Chinese gangs with a capacity for murder dominates much of the mining and has ties to local officials, said Stephen G. Vickers, the former head of criminal intelligence for the Hong Kong police who is now the chief executive of International Risk, a global security company.

[…]The biggest user of heavy rare earths in the years ahead could be large wind turbines, which need much lighter magnets for the five-ton generators at the top of ever-taller towers. Vestas, a Danish company that has become the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, said that prototypes for its next generation used dysprosium, and that the company was studying the sustainability of the supply. Goldwind, the biggest Chinese turbine maker, has switched from conventional magnets to rare-earth magnets.

A cynic would ask: do we have to kill the environment in order to save it?

State health insurance: a catalog of failed experiments

Peter Suderman (H/t: Insty) gives a very nice survey of state-level experiments with socialized medicine in the USA.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously envisioned the states serving as laboratories, trying “novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” On health care, that’s just what they’ve done.

Like participants in a national science fair, state governments have tested variants on most of the major health care reforms Congress is considering. The results include dramatically higher premiums in the individual market, spiraling public costs, and reduced access to care. In other words, the reforms have failed.

New York is Exhibit A. In 1993 the state prohibited insurers from declining to cover individuals with pre-existing health conditions, a policy called “guaranteed issue.” New York also required insurers to charge everyone enrolled in their plans the same premium, regardless of health status, age, or sex, an idea known as “community rating.” The goal was to reduce the number of uninsured by making medical coverage more accessible, particularly to those who don’t have employer-provided insurance.

What happened? Just 0.2% of the population is now insured. The “community rating” drove insurance premiums up, leading to more young and healthy people dropping coverage, leading to a further increase in premiums, rinse and repeat. Eventually the system stabilized with a small pool of mostly high-risk patients.

In 1996 similar reforms in Washington state preceded massive premium spikes in the individual market. Some premiums increased as much as 78 percent in the first three years of the reforms—10 times the rate of medical inflation—according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Health Services Research in 1999. Other results included a 25 percent drop in enrollment in the individual market and a reduction in services offered. Within four years, for example, none of the state’s major carriers offered individual insurance plans that included maternity coverage.

The seemingly obvious solution is an “individual mandate”, i.e., requiring everybody to purchase insurance. This too has been tried. So how did that work out?

The experience of Massachusetts, which imposed an individual mandate in 2007, suggests otherwise. Health insurance premiums in the Bay State have risen significantly faster than the national average, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit health foundation. At an average of $13,788, the state’s family plans are now the nation’s most expensive. The Boston Globe reports that insurance companies are planning additional double-digit hikes, “prompting many employers to reduce benefits and shift additional costs to workers.”

Meanwhile, Massachusetts health care costs have continued to grow rapidly. According to a 2009 RAND Corporation study, health care spending is “projected to increase about 8 percent faster than the state’s GDP over the next decade.” The Globe recently reported that state health insurance commissioners are worried that medical spending could push both employers and patients into bankruptcy and may even threaten the continued existence of the state’s universal coverage system.

On top of that, survey data from the Massachusetts Medical Society indicate that the state’s primary care providers are being squeezed. Family doctors say they are taking fewer new patients and seeing increases in wait time.

And that isn’t all:

Reform measures in other states have proven to be expensive duds. Maine’s 2003 reform plan, Dirigo Health, included a government insurance option resembling the public option supported by many House Democrats. This public plan, DirigoChoice, was supposed to expand care to all 128,000 of Maine’s uninsured by 2009. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2007 uninsured rate was roughly 10 percent—essentially unchanged. DirigoChoice’s individual insurance premiums increased by 74 percent during its first four years—to $499 a month from $287 a month—according to an analysis of Dirigo data by the Maine Heritage Policy Center. The cost of DirigoHealth to taxpayers so far has been $155 million.

Tennessee’s plan for universal coverage, dubbed TennCare, fared even worse after it was launched in the 1990s. The goal of the state-run public insurance plan was to expand coverage to the uninsured by reducing waste. But the costs of expanding coverage quickly ballooned. In 2005, with the government bankruptcy, the state was forced to cut 170,000 individuals from its insurance rolls.

As W.C. Fields put it so aptly: “If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again. Then give up — there’s no use being a damn fool about it.”

Xmas video: George Winston, “December”

With best wishes from this Jew to his Christian readers. George Winston is often pigeonholed as a “New Age” pianist, but he himself rejects the label, preferring to call his style “rural folk piano”. Technically, he’s head and shoulders about any “New Age” pianist, it must be said.

The video below couples some seasonal imagery with two tunes from the “December” album. “Joy” is mostly a fantasy arrangement of the tune of Bach’s “Jesu meine Freude” (known to English-speakers as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”), the final movement of cantata BWV147 — you’ll recognize the melody coming in at 0:52. “The holly and the ivy” is a very Winstonian arrangement of a traditional Xmas carol. Both tracks are transposed to Ab major: having absolute pitch, I freely admit to being a sucker for anything in that key (or its relative F minor).

Have a wonderful holiday! And for an eloquent statement on how a Jew views Xmas in America, read this nice post by “Ayatollah Ghilmeini”.

0bamacare/hellcare: not final yet

As more or less expected, Dingy Harry got his 60 miserable Senate votes as an Xmas “present” to you all. (More like a “cadeau empoisonné”/poisoned gift.)

However, despite that, Emperor Buck Naked has just announced his “hard pivot” from hellcare to “job creation”.

What gives? Cold feet from the hard left? More bribe money to be gotten in job “creation”? (More like “creation/annihilation operator pairs” if you’ll forgive me the physics in-joke.) Realization that he can’t get the Senate version passed in the House, and conversely, without more time to bribe? (This article seems to suggest as much)

DC@C2 points out that several state attorney generals are examining whether the health bill is constitutional. At the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin weighs in.

BTW, the Mayo Clinic — hailed by 0bama as a model —  says basically the same thing about not wanting Medicare expansion that got Joe Lieberman pilloried.

Iowahawk has a side-splitting satire “It’s a wonderful bill“.But leave it to master punster “buzzsawmonkey” to offer a unique perspective on the situation: “Unenumerated powers playing to the lowest common denominator results in a fractured society.

Megan McArdle (via Insty): Process of passing health care a debacle. “Congressional Democrats started out with a CBO score they wanted, and worked backward to the bill. They’ve been pretty explicit about the fact that no one wants this actual bill; rather, the plan is to pass basically anything, and then go and totally rewrite it when the budget spotlight is off. I’m not aware of any other piece of legislation that was passed this way. Essentially, the Democrats have finished the process of gaming the CBO scores. They’re now meaningless. You don’t pass a piece of legislation that bears any resemblance to what you intend to end up with; you pass a piece of legislation that gets a good CBO score, and then go and alter it piece by piece. . . . At every step, the bill is probably more likely to get worse than to get better. At any rate, passing a bill based on either a meaningless CBO score, or the notion that it can be rewritten to spec at some later date, is not a process for generating good legislation.”

Peter Wehner in Commentay Magazine: “When it comes to the public outrage that will emerge based on the deals that took place to secure passage of the Senate health-care bill, the degree of tone-deafness among Democrats is nothing short of startling. . . . These people strike me as hermetically sealed off from how most of the rest of the country view this subject. As these backroom deals become more and more widely known, anger will swell up among voters. It is bad enough to jam through a bill on a strict party-line-vote against overwhelming opposition from the public; for it to have happened only because various Members of Congress were (legally) bribed will magnify the intensity of the opposition. And for politicians to take such obvious pride in the pay-off will make things even worse. The populist, anti-Washington wave out there, which is already quite large, will only grow, and grow, and grow.”

Finally, Day by Day offers this cartoon:

Note that anybody who lived in the (thank G-d) former Soviet Union has stories about having “free” healthcare that needed to be tipped/bribed under the table. Or, for example, the physician or dentist might decide that you didn’t really need anesthesia…

UPDATE: Matt Welch asks: Can Obama Open His Mouth Without Lying About Health Care? Fixed that for ya!

UPDATE 2: Informative comparison of House and Senate hellcare plans. (H/t: DC@C2)

UPDATE 3: Michelle Malkin wonders whether a tipping point has been reached in terms of corruption.

UPDATE 4: Did Jim DeMint kill the healthcare bill?