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Thursday, December 24, 2009

 

Christmas Present From Hell

This morning at 7 AM EST, when many of us were still asleep enjoying Christmas Eve off from work, 99 US Senators and Vice President Biden gathered to put the final wrappings on their version of the Health Care bill, and then 60 Dems who voted for it left town to face the music in their home states where an average of 60% of the people now feel this is a bad idea. First, leadership gathered for a self congratulatory victory lap before the press, and for the umpteenth time, tried to sound confident that Americans will like the bill once they come to know it better. Of course, all evidence so far is that the more Americans find out about the bill, the more they hate it.

The only Senator who skipped the vote was lame duck Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning, a solid Conservative who unfortunately doesn't speak so coherently anymore, and may not be thinking all that much more clearly. To give the benefit of the doubt, the Hall of Fame right hander may have been trying to make a statement about the futility and absurdity of it all, especially where Dems only needed 50 votes this morning. There were some who were thinking that with the cloture vote behind them, Majority Leader Reid might have allowed up to ten of the Blue Dogs to cast a no vote for show, but apparently, he decided it was not safe to open up that possibility and have more of them wanting to vote no than he could handle. So the Dems instead enforced party discipline, a signal I guess, that they will be able to pass this thing once it comes out of conference.

And what comes out of conference is very likely to be...the Senate bill. That's because there is no margin for flips in the Senate, so substituting a House provision, even on abortion spending, is considered too risky. This dynamic has the interesting result of putting the burden on Speaker Pelosi to enforce party discipline, and it may be a bit of a challenge. On the left, there are many in the House who are objecting to the absence of anything that even looks like a public option. On the right, the Senate's abortion spending prohibition is not as strong as the one that passed the House (no matter what Ben Nelson says) and it may not keep pro life members in line. Given that the vote was measured off on the House bill (I think it was about 220-215), Pelosi has some maneuvering room - she allowed as many Blue Dogs as she could to vote "no" last time while still keeping a majority. It will be interesting to watch as she balances the left and right forces within her party on the final vote.

A new development today is that the AG's office in Texas and nine other states are considering a court challenge regarding the bill's constitutionality. Apparently, these states are upset about the sweetheart provisions obtained by Nebraska and certain other states. And in New York, there is consternation that loudmouth Sen Schumer, number two in the leadership ranks in the Senate, could not get any kind of reasonable deal for NY given the pounding the state will take via Medicaid unfunded mandates. As for hapless Senator Gillibrand, she is a waste of space.

These folks are really going to get an earful when they get home now, and of course, that is why Reid made sure he got the vote in before the Christmas recess. Wait til they hear that so many of their constituents have already begun the countdown to November, when many of these bozo's will be voted out of their seats. We've already had one blue dog cross the aisle in the House, seeing the 2010 handwriting on the wall. Prediction here is quite a few others will follow.

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While Obama care staggered over the goal line, no amount of oratory can cover up the fact that Copenhagen was an unmitigated disaster for anti-development, climate change alarmists. It wasn't so good for the third world politicians either. Though a deal was announced to transfer some wealth to the third world, they got no specific commitment from anyone to follow through, the conference was shown to be nothing but a transparent money grab, merely using climate change as an excuse, and there was not even a set of Kyoto type greenhouse gas targets agreed to (should be noted that no one honored their Kyoto commitments anyway).

On the other hand, the conference was a great victory for the planet's people and for capitalism. There are so many better ways to help the world's indigent than to give them funds to repair climate change damage. Most would prefer running water, indoor plumbing, and a reliable power supply as opposed to tradeable CO2 credits. In this country, cap and tax probably won't arrive in Congress at all. The Gore/Greenpeace crowd poo-poohed climategate, but I believe these results became inevitable when those fabulous hackers exposed the politics of climate science to the world.

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Despite the lack of any meaningful public support from the Obama Administration, the Iranian opposition continues to build momentum, and I would be surprised if the current regime is still in place by year end 2010. Of course, we don't really have any good idea how chaotic things could get once all hell breaks loose. Let's just hope it happens before the clerics finish leaning how to assemble a nuke.

Taking down the Iranian regime will have beneficial impact in far-flung areas of the world. One of them is Latin America, where it will remove one of the foundational elements propping up the Chavez regime in Venezuela.

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I am in dithering mode concerning investments. My feeling is that final passage of the health bill will make it less attractive to play with stocks. Question is, do we initiate the escape now, when final passage seems all but certain, or wait until the actual event. It's one of my weekend ponders, quite frankly. For the time being, it's business as usual. On 12/17, I bought 100 shares of Flir Systems (FLIR), a zero buy at 30.28. On 12/21, my IRA bought 25 shares of Con Ed preferred (ED.PR.A)at 88.10. Wednesday, the IRA bought 300 shares of Gencor (GENC) at
7.32.

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