Friday, August 7, 2009

Robin's Journey

Robin, a psychotherapist living in Berkeley, explains how she (I think she's a she) seemingly journeyed from the progressive left to conservatism in a relative twinkling of an eye. Actually, she tells us, it was a conversion that had been brewing all her life:

Now that I look back, I had the seeds of both a conservative and a liberal in me all along. On the liberal side: I was raised a secular Jew, and, for some God forsaken reason, most of us are Democrats. My upbringing lacked meaning and substance, which propelled my devotion to social causes. Of course, arriving in Berkeley in my 20's only hardened my liberal propensity.

I became a therapist, made friends with therapists, and spent tons of money having shrinks dissect my psyche. So my life was focused on problems, complaints, and kvetches. As Milton said, our minds can make a hell of heaven or a heaven of hell. My preoccupation with the darkness put me in a liberal state of mind.

But the conservative was alive and well in me too: My grandparents came from Russia with only the shirts on their backs. Yet they never complained about the hardships or expected any government help. My parents, in their own wacky way, were devoted, dutiful, and fiercely patriotic.

I was also victimized early on by do-gooder liberal politics (though I didn't put two and two together until last year). I attended public schools with forced busing that ignited tremendous animosity and racial violence. As an adult, I've been harassed and molested innumerable times on urban streets both east coast and west, and was mugged several years ago in broad daylight.

Unlike most liberals, I never blamed myself or the dominant culture. I placed culpability directly on the thugs and on those in authority who remained silent. Whenever my friends excused immoral behavior, I would get seriously ticked off.

Lastly, my personality has always had elements both left and right. Now that I think about it, it's been dizzying living in my brain. I'm a straight shooter and detest phoniness (conservative), though I wanted to be liked (liberal). I've never been a group think person and don't like to be controlled (right), but at the same time, I wanted to fit in (left).

Read the rest of her story at the link.

I'm sure there are lots of Robins out there, not just ideological Robins but also religious Robins. They're people who've abandoned the beliefs and principles of their parents and grandparents but who feel the aching emptiness that's left inside when God is expelled and one ersatz philosophy after another is stuffed into the bottomless pit that's left by His absence.

They know where their home is but they want to be liked, they want to fit in, they want to seem sophisticated, and the best way to achieve all that, they think, perhaps subliminally, is to be liberal both in their politics and in their religious views. Like Robin, some of them may eventually come to a point in their life where they realize it just doesn't work. Neither the political ideology nor the secularism can serve as a substitute for the Real Thing.


One Woman Stimulus Package

When President Obama talks about all the jobs his administration has created he's missing a good bet if he doesn't include the entourage his wife has amassed in the White House. Indeed, she may have created more jobs than he has.

According to Canada Free Press our first lady has employed an army of attendants, at your expense, far in excess of anything needed by any of her predecessors:

Michele Obama does not get paid to serve as the First Lady and she doesn't perform any official duties. But this hasn't deterred her from hiring an unprecedented number of staffers to cater to her every whim and to satisfy her every request in the midst of the Great Recession. Just think, Mary Lincoln was taken to task for purchasing china for the White House during the Civil War, and Mamie Eisenhower had to shell out the salary for her personal secretary.

How things have changed! If you're one of the tens of millions of Americans facing destitution, earning less than subsistence wages stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart or serving up McDonald cheeseburgers, you might want to keep in mind that the benefit package for these servants of Ms Obama are the same as members of the national security and defense departments and the bill for these assorted lackeys is paid by you:

  • $172,000 - Sher, Susan (Chief of Staff)
  • $140,000 - Frye, Jocelyn C. (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director or Policy and Projects for the First Lady)
  • $113,000 - Rogers, Desiree G. (Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary)
  • $102,000 - Johnston, Camille Y. (Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady)
  • Winter, Melissa E. (Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to the First Lady)
  • $90,000 - Medina, David S. (Deputy Chief of Staff to the First Lady)
  • $84,000 - Lelyveld, Catherine M. (Director and Press Secretary to the First Lady)
  • $75,000 - Starkey, Frances M. (Director of Scheduling and Advance for the First Lady)
  • $70,000 - Sanders, Trooper (Deputy Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady)
  • $65,000 - Burnough, Erinn J. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)
  • Reinstein, Joseph B. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)
  • $62,000 - Goodman, Jennifer R. (Deputy Director of Scheduling and Events Coordinator for the First Lady)
  • $60,000 - Fitts, Alan O. (Deputy Director of Advance and Trip Director for the First Lady)
  • Lewis, Dana M. (Special Assistant and Personal Aide to the First Lady)
  • $52,500 - Mustaphi, Semonti M. (Associate Director and Deputy Press Secretary to the First Lady)
  • $50,000 - Jarvis, Kristen E. (Special assistant for Scheduling and Traveling Aide to the First Lady)
  • $45,000 - Lechtenberg, Tyler A. (Associate Director of Correspondence for the First Lady)
  • Tubman, Samantha (Deputy Associate Director, Social Office)
  • $40,000 - Boswell, Joseph J. (Executive Asistant to the Chief of Staff to the First Lady)
  • $36,000 - Armbruster, Sally M. (Staff Assistant to the Social Secretary)
  • Bookey, Natalie (Staff Assistant)
  • Jackson, Deilia A. (Deputy Associate Director of Correspondence for the First Lady)

The person who sent the link notes that this list doesn't include makeup artist Ingrid Grimes-Miles, 49, and "First Hairstylist" Johnny Wright, 31, both of whom traveled aboard Air Force One to Europe. He also asks why Ms Obama needs so much help, at taxpayer expense, when even Hillary, had only three employees, Jackie Kennedy one, Laura Bush one, and,prior to Mamie Eisenhower,social help was paid out of the President's own pocket.

Good question. Meanwhile, how are you making out with your mortgage payments this year?


Counter-Proposal (Pt. II)

The other day I mentioned Keith Hennessey's counter-proposal to the President's plan for health care reform. Here are the basics:


1. Repeal the current law tax exclusion for employer provided health insurance, and replace it with a $7,500 (single) / $15K (family) flat deduction for buying health insurance.

  • The deduction is independent of the premium cost. If you buy a $5,000 individual policy, you get a $7,500 deduction. If you buy a $10,000 individual policy, you get the same $7,500 deduction.
  • The overwhelming majority of premiums fall under these threshholds, so 100m+ people would pay lower taxes.
  • The minority with premiums above these thresholds would pay higher taxes.
  • In total the government does not collect more revenue, although the tax burden shifts to those with high-cost policies.
  • Index the thresholds to inflation (CPI). This bites more tightly over time. I'd funnel the long-term increased revenues into some broad-based tax relief to stay revenue-neutral over time.

2. Allow the purchase of health insurance sold anywhere in the U.S.This would force States to compete for the right regulatory balance of consumer protection and premium cost. Rep. John Shadegg has a bill that does this.

3. Make health insurance portable. This requires relatively small tweaks to law, but insurers would need to develop new portable insurance plans that you could take with you from one job to the next. The policy change is easy. Getting employers and insurers to change their long-standing business models is hard.

4. Expand Health Savings Accounts. Allow higher contribution limits, and allow financially equivalent coinsurance structures driven by market demand. Continue to mandate an initial deductible and catastrophic protection. No benefit-specific exemptions as advocated by some.

5. Aggressively reform medical liability, aka "medical tort reform." Details TBD.

6. Aggressively slow Medicare and Medicaid spending growth, and use the savings for long-term deficit reduction. Details TBD.

Assume that my package would be significantly more aggressive ("deeper cuts," in the terms of opponents) than anything being discussed in Congress today.


  • Raise taxes
  • Create a new government health entitlement
  • Mandate the purchase of health insurance
  • Mandate that employers provide health insurance to their employees
  • Have government set private premiums
  • Create a government-run health plan option
  • Have the government mandate benefits
  • Expand Medicaid


  • Lower premiums, higher wages
  • Portable health insurance reduces "job lock"
  • +5 million insured (net)
  • 100 million people will pay lower taxes
  • 30m with expensive health plans pay higher taxes
  • No net tax increase overall
  • Reduces short-term and long-term deficit
  • Fair to small business employees & self-employed
  • Incentives and individual decisions "bend the cost curve down"
  • More individual control & responsibility for medical decisions

Whether all of these measures could be done or not I don't know, but it does seem a little disingenuous for supporters of the Democrats' bills to say that the opposition offers no alternatives. Keep in mind, too, that this is just one of several proposals which have been offered as counters to the plans currently in committee.

Let us tip our hats to liberal Democrats for impressing upon us the need for action on health care, and for forcing the national conversation, but when it comes to actually concocting a remedy, let's leave that to people who know how to do it without destroying the system and bankrupting the country.


Fears Confirmed

It was bound to happen. Violence broke out at a town hall meeting yesterday, a black man was beaten by a group of thugs, and racist epithets filled the air. The talking heads have been fretting about this for days and exactly what they feared would happen has happened. Patterico has the details.

The only part of this ugly episode that did not conform to the expectations of the commentators is that the thugs were Obama supporters wearing SEIU shirts, the black man was a conservative selling "Don't Tread on Me" flags, and the racial epithets were employed by a black man who was among the attackers.

Somebody videoed part of the proceedings including the arrest of one of the union muggers:

I guess events don't always go according to the way our stereotypes would have them.