Monthly Archives: June 2010

Getting Your Obamacare MRI


From the

There are two things that can ruin an MRI scan.   One of them is metal.  The other is Obamacare.

The MRI machine was first used on a human being on July 3, 1977.  Three doctors, Dr. Raymond Damadian, Dr. Larry Minkoff and Dr. Michael Goldsmith, worked for 7 years on their machine, which they called the “Indomitable”.

The MRI’s most important component is a huge magnet, which is why it is pretty dangerous to bring any kind of metal object into a room where a MRI is being used.

If you are holding a paper clip or a screw driver, when the MRI switch is flipped on, the paper clip or screw driver could fly out of your hand and through the air, towards the magnet, where the patient is usually laying down.  That paper clip or screwdriver then could become a flying missile, heading right for the poor sucker who just wants to find out what is going on inside his or her body.  That is one way to really screw up an MRI.

Basically, an MRI machine uses the huge magnet to create electromagnetic waves that create photons that are then turned into images, which are then read by radiologists.

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Dems Score Meaningless Points


 Reprinted from the

  My father, a rabid White Sox fan if there ever was one, would always talk derisively about Cubs third baseman Ron Santo as Mr. Clutch. 

 “If you ever needed a guy that would hit a completely meaningless home run when it didn’t matter and strike out when it did matter, Ron Santo is your guy,” he would say with a laugh.  I was thinking about Ron Santo when I heard that the conference committee on the Wall Street reform package had just concluded.  

 The Democrats were very proud of themselves, with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd exchanging hi-fives and getting standing ovations from their colleagues.

 Some commentators have said that with the health care package that passed earlier this year and with this financial services package that will pass next week, theoretically, the President is really putting “points on the board.”

 But in my mind, those points are kind of like the points that the reserves get in garbage time, when the game is already over.  They aren’t going to help the Democrats win any elections, and more importantly, these legislative victories aren’t going to create any new jobs.

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Cleaning Up a Gusher of Debt


            When tiny globs of gooey brown oil began washing up on Gulf shores, it foreshadowed a more ominous environmental calamity lurking just over the horizon.  These first signs were troubling enough. But they also revealed a more daunting threat riding incoming tides that might prove impossible to fix.

            The Gulf disaster is a metaphor for our federal spending and debt crisis.   Globs of budgetary red ink have been washing up in Washington for some time now.  Cleaning up the immediate problem is hard enough. But the difficulty policymakers face addressing the current fiscal mess only underscores a larger challenge.

            The Senate’s efforts over the past month, trying to enact a state aid/unemployment/tax extender bill are illustrative. The Democrats’ original plan exemplified politics as usual.  These initiatives all cost the federal government money.  But instead of making the tough choices necessary to pay for these benefits, they proposed just adding more to the deficit.

            But with an election looming and nervous voters increasingly cranky about unsustainable debt, the original Senate plan, which increased the federal debt because it offset less than a third of the  $190 billion in spending, ran into a buzz saw of opposition.  Democratic leaders continue to ameliorate concerns by scaling back the package or finding other offsets.

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We Don’t Need No Stinking Budget


 Reprinted from the Feehery Theory

 The president’s top budget guy announced today that he’s leaving.

That should come as no surprise. After all, congressional Democrats announced that they weren’t going to do a budget this year anyway.

Who needs a budget?

Our country is doing fine financially.

Sure, we’ve got historically high debt to deal with. Sure, we have tax policy that is about to get a lot more interesting at the end of the year, when a bunch of tax provisions expire. Sure, we have Social Security starting to go broke quicker than anybody anticipated. Sure, we have a huge problem with chronic unemployment in the private sector and bursting employment in the public sector. Sure, almost every state seems like it is ready to belly-up financially.

Sure, we have all of those problems, problems that are all budget-related. But that doesn’t mean we should do a budget.

We don’t need no stinking budget. 
Budgets require tough choices. Budgets require (at least notionally) that the numbers all add up. Budgets require leadership. 

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Toy Soldiers and Stupid Teachers


When I was growing up, I was obsessed with toy soldiers.

I had armies of little Army guys and little German soldiers, who I would array in various little battles.  Unlike a howitzer, a well-shot rubber band would often serve as the artillery, and proved the temporary death of a many a little German dude.

One of my earliest memories was getting a Fort Apache set for Christmas.  It had little U.S. cavalry soldiers and little Indians, and it provided me with hours of fun.

I once used my revolutionary war toy soldiers to build a model of the Battle of Lexington and Concord for my seventh grade class.

These toy soldiers help me imagine history in ways that books just couldn’t match.

Toy soldiers are making a comeback, chiefly because of the great kids’ movies in the Toy Story movie series.  My son is going to catch the opening of Toy Story 3 this weekend with a few of his classmates.

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Secret Sauce of Politics


Reprinted from Weekly Standard

Political enthusiasm is the secret sauce of American politics.  When it comes to producing calories for winning elections, it’s the difference between a Big Mac and Lean Cuisine.

But what stimulates this vote-producing electoral flavoring?  One party sometimes gets an energy jolt through a combination of forces.

This year Republicans received the extra dollop of zeal on the political menu.  Predictable historical conditions explain part of the equation.  The “out” party normally enjoys an enthusiasm gap because the “outs” want to become the “ins.”

But Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress also contribute to the GOP’s edge. Their policies and performance – since January 2009 — engender emotions that will create additional GOP electoral punch in November.

At one level, the Republicans enjoy an expected enthusiasm gap. History provides some insights here. In November 1994, with Bill Clinton in the White House and his party in control of Congress, a Gallup survey asked voters if they were “more enthusiastic” or “less enthusiastic” about voting compared to previous elections. Self-identified Republicans said they were more excited by an 11-percentage point margin.

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Reprinted from the Feehery Theory

This may sound counter-intuitive, but I kind of feel sorry for Bobby Etheridge.

He is the North Carolina Congressman who is the new YouTube hero.  He is the guy who attacked some college kids who had the nerve to ask him if he supported the Obama agenda on camera.
The flip-cam is becoming the bane of every elected official.

Flip-cams are small little cameras that often have high-definition quality, don’t require lights, and pick up every utterance on tape.

Both Republicans and Democrats and their campaign committees use college age kids to harass vulnerable politicians into saying something stupid or doing something stupid on a flip camera, and then having those clips from the flip cam uploaded virally on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc.

The first politician to be YouTubed was George Allen, the former Virginia Senator who was expected to run for President.  Legend has it that Allen lost his reelection campaign in 2006 because, in small part, he was caught calling a college kid a Macaaca, which apparently is some sort of racial slur on camera.  That video was uploaded on YouTube, it made its way onto to CNN and the rest is history.

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Random Thoughts and Quotations

By Michael S. Johnson

 Foreign Dignitaries Who Should Brush up on Their Manners

            Mexican President Felipe Calderon came to the United states on May 21st, stepped up to the podium on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and condemned the people of Arizona.         

            It is one thing for the President of the United States to criticize the Arizonans.  It is yet another for a foreign head of state.  It is yet another for a foreign head of state to do it in the United States.  It is yet another for a foreign head of state to do it while exercising a rare privilege afforded to only a very few Americans, let alone foreigners–to speak before the Congress of the United States from the podium of  the people’s House.

            Rock legend Paul McCartney was awarded the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Award at the White House a week or so ago.  Standing in our White House, accepting an award from our President McCartney, I guess emboldened by Calderon, took the opportunity to insult former President Bush, saying at least he was getting the award from a President who knew what a library was. He could have at least waited until he got outside.

More on Arizona

            President Calderon’s impertinence paled in comparison to the impenitence of Assistant Secretary of State Mike Posner, who repeatedly described the Arizona legislation as a “troubling trend in our society” to none other than the Chinese, at none other than a human rights conference. Why does he still have his job? 

Joe Biden

Our Vice President continued the slaps at the U.S. in Belgium a couple of weeks ago. He said in prepared remarks that “Brussels probably now qualified for the capital of the free world,” a title Americans have assumed and taken pride in for a long time.  Prepared remarks.  Think about it.

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Government Is No Business


Reprinted from

            In California, two women who have risen to the top ranks of the business world have positioned themselves for entry into the top ranks of government as well, as California’s governor and one of its two United States Senators. Another has positioned herself to become a United States Senator from Connecticut.

            All three — Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in California and Linda McMahon in Connecticut — still face large hurdles in November’s general elections, but they are serious candidates with reasonable prospects. And all three have based their campaigns on a common attribute. No, not the fact that they are women — after all, Connecticut has a woman governor and both of California’s current U.S. Senators are women. What Fiorina, Whitman, and McMahon all tout as the credential that proves their superior qualification for high office is the fact that all three are highly successful in … business.

            I have no serious problem with any of the three: in California, in particular, the women, Fiorina and Whitman, face Democratic candidates (Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown) whose loss would do no great harm to the nation. I do have a problem, however, with the continued promotion of business success as a qualifier for public office.

            Success in the market is not an automatic disqualifier for public service, but it is a far different undertaking with different purposes and different values. And to suggest that government needs people experienced in business reminds me of the old feminist saw that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. In fact, business and government — while there may be skills involved that are translatable and useful as one moves from one sphere to another — are in some ways polar opposite undertakings.

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Democrat Volunteers Peddling the President


reprinted from Weekly Standard

Zoila, Liam, and Alena were strangers with a shared goal.  They met in Evanston, Illinois, last Saturday for the first time, telling other strangers they encountered as they walked door-to-door, “We’re here for the president.”

Actually, they were encouraging Illinois residents to vote for Democrats in November. But as Liam told Elizabeth Chan, a writer for the Vote 2010 blog, his group decided saying they were there for Barack Obama was a “great ice-breaking” line as they engaged in this partisan canvassing campaign.

These three volunteers joined thousands of others across the country last weekend, kicking off the Democratic Party’s Vote 2010 campaign.  The initiative hopes to contact many of the 15 million Americans who registered to vote after 2006, and then cast ballots for the first time in the 2008 election.

Why are these voters so pivotal? First, about 70 percent of them supported Barack Obama.  Second, research shows turnout falls off on average of about 20 percent in midterm elections compared to presidential contests; and first time voters are among those most likely not to show up in off-years.

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America Speaking Out


Reprinted from Weekly Standard

 The day Abraham Lincoln delivered his electrifying speech at New York City’s Cooper Union in 1860, he sat for a now famous photograph by Mathew Brady. Lincoln’s stem-winding perorations that night won him high praise from political elites, but the picture – widely used and reproduced in the campaign that year — contributed as much, or more, to his presidential victory.

 Reprinted in newspapers in the days and weeks that followed, the photograph created many Americans’ first impression of the next president.  Instead of an awkward, gangly, thin-faced man with dark eyes, Brady’s photograph made the future president look learned, proportional, and statesman-like.

 Historian Harold Holzer, who wrote Lincoln at Cooper Union, notes that when the president-elect encountered the photographer in Washington a year later, he said, “Brady and Cooper Union made me President.”

Fashioning the “new Lincoln” constituted the first major use of photography in American politics. It was a triumph of that epoch’s new media.

 The pace and content of media use in governing and politics is always in flux. But the velocity of progress is escalating.

Today’s new media evolution progresses like Darwinism on steroids – change happens in weeks and months, not millennia.

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Tax Mess Cometh, So Does Blame


      At the end of this calendar year, the so-called Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003 expire.  In order for any of the cuts to continue, Congress must pass a bill the President will sign.  So far, so simple. 

      President Obama proposed in his budget that all Bush tax cuts for filers over $200,000 (single) or $250,000 (joint) be allowed to expire as in current law.  He also proposed that all of the rest of the tax cuts for middle class earners and other workers be continued.  By all accounts, his party faithful in Congress by and large agree with this approach, both as policy and as good politics.

      The questions that political and legislative analysts must answer are three-fold:  1)  how will any of these tax cuts continue, with the adversarial atmosphere in both the House and Senate; 2)  what procedure will allow Democrats to pick and choose which tax cuts continue and which expire; 3)  who will get the blame when the tax mess hits the political fan.

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Sestak Saga Not Easily Dismissed


The White House, in one form or another, offered Joe Sestak some sort of political deal to get him to refrain from running against Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.  The first time I heard this, I thought to myself, why would this surprise or upset anyone?  Yet, the longer the story stuck around, the more I have come to conclude it is both a story and worthy of being harshly criticized.  Inasmuch as most of my adult life has been spent in politics, in the abstract, it bothers me not that politics are involved in solving a political problem.  However, what this White House has done is wrong pure and simple.  There are four big reasons I am now upset.

 President Obama promised during the course of his campaign that, if elected, everything would suddenly be different in Washington, D.C.  Politics as usual would come to a screeching halt.  Political deals would become a thing of the past.  After all, stopping the seas from rising was not the sort of thing that ever would be associated with tawdry and ordinary politics.  No matter what else can be said about the Sestak affair, it seems to me that you have to acknowledge this is, indeed, politics as usual.  That accounts for the giant yawn we see on the part of most of the media and many Americans.  When a conservative is caught engaging in behavior inconsistent with adherence to family values, we are told that is news because it not only shows hypocrisy, but because it also is contrary to the basic candidacy of the individual.  How is what Obama has done and tolerated any less hypocritical or less central to his candidacy?  Why isn’t it news that, after promising to be so very different, that Obama (and those around him) truly represent old style Chicago politics?

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Bike Riding With Big Brother


 My Democratic friends and one very close relative often ask me why I’m a Republican.  Another of the many reasons revealed itself to me recently from the window of a cab.  I was traveling down historic Pennsylvania Avenue on my way to Capitol Hill.

             Pennsylvania Avenue is America’s Avenue.  It is a great corridor of history linking the nation’s Capitol and the White House, and then winding its way westward into Georgetown, the village on the Potomac River that predates Washington.  On either side are the Treasury and Commerce departments, District of Columbia city hall, the Old Post Office and Evening Star buildings, the Canadian Embassy, the FBI, the Newseum, the Navy Memorial and the majestic Willard Hotel where Ulysses S Grant used to go for a cigar and brandy in the afternoons.

 Pennsylvania Avenue is wide, four lanes going each way with a blacktop boulevard in the middle, where the trolley car tracks used to be.

             The avenue is a sight to behold, an American treasure, especially in the golden hour of early evening when the orange and yellow hews of the setting sun turn the Capitol dome into one of the most beautiful American portraits you’ll ever see.

 But I digress.

             Part of Pennsylvania Avenue’s character was its lack of urban congestion.  The only traffic jams on the avenue were those created by Presidential motorcades, the movement of important international visitors and Washington’s occasional snowstorms.   Not so anymore.

             That was until earlier this year when the Washington D.C. City Government, one of the most liberal, exclusively Democratic, and–dare I use the word–socialist-leaning in the country, decided to close off two lanes and restrict them to bikes only. The former  motor vehicle lanes are now bike lanes going in each direction, complete with their own turn lanes and those brightly painted turn arrows and go-straight arrows. 

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