THE SAPIENT SPARROW: conservatism for commoners

"What has always made the State a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."–Holderlin


Yesterday, Representative Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA), offered a resolution on the House floor aimed at eliminating the threat of a “lame duck” Congress passing yet more unpopular legislation prior to the 112th Congress being seated.  Unsurprisingly, House Democrats chose to delay a vote on the resolution of Rep. Price.

Watch the video below, then consider doing what I did.  Contact Representative Price to thank and support him in his efforts.  Without shackling a lame duck 111th Congress, the 112th Congress could find itself occupied for months in the task of trying to undo the additional shackles that the lame duck could force upon the Nation.

Filed under: lame duck congress, , ,

Nonproliferation? How Quaint! – Mark Steyn – National Review Online

Nonproliferation? How Quaint! – Mark Steyn – National Review Online.

Filed under: national defense, , ,


Yesterday, Mr. Greenspan testified that, “It was the global proliferation of securitized U.S. subprime mortgages that was the immediate trigger of the current [financial] crisis”.  He went on to say that Congress and U.S. Government Sponsored Agencies (GSEs) were responsible for this proliferation.  Curiously enough, there was no mention of Wall Street—no Goldman, no AIG, no Lehman.  An excerpt from his testimony follows:

“Of far greater importance to the surge in demand, the major U.S. government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, pressed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(1) and the Congress to expand “affordable housing commitments,” chose to meet them in a wholesale fashion by investing heavily in subprime mortgage-backed securities. The firms purchased an estimated 40% of all private-label subprime mortgage securities (almost all adjustable rate), newly purchased,

1 In October 2000, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finalized a rule “significantly increasing the GSEs’ affordable housing goals” for each year 2001 to 2004. In November 2004, the annual housing goals for 2005 and beyond were raised still further. (Office of Policy Development and Research, Issue Brief No. V and others).

and retained on investors’ balance sheets during 2003 and 2004.(2) That was an estimated
five times their share of newly purchased and retained in 2002, implying that a significant
proportion of the increased demand for subprime mortgage backed securities during the
years 2003-2004 was effectively politically mandated, and hence driven by highly inelastic demand. The enormous size of purchases by the GSEs in 2003-2004 was not revealed until Fannie Mae in September 2009 reclassified a large part of its securities portfolio of prime mortgages as subprime.
To purchase these mortgage-backed securities, Fannie and Freddie paid whatever
price was necessary to reach their affordable housing goals. The effect was to preempt
40% of the market upfront, leaving the remaining 60% to fill other domestic and foreign
investor demand. Mortgage yields fell relative to 10-year Treasury notes, exacerbating
the house price rise which, in those years, was driven by interest rates on long-term
In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee in February 2004, the Federal
Reserve expressed concern “about the growth and the scale of the GSEs’ mortgage
portfolios, which concentrate interest rate and prepayment risks at these two institutions.
Unlike many well-capitalized savings and loans and commercial banks, Fannie and
Freddie have chosen not to manage that risk by holding greater capital. Instead, they have
chosen heightened leverage, which raises interest rate risk but enables them to multiply
the profitability of subsidized debt in direct proportion to their degree of leverage.” The
testimony goes on to say that, “[t]hus, GSEs need to be limited in the issuance of GSE

2 FHFA Annual Report to Congress 2008, (Revised) Historical Data Tables 5b Part 2 and 14b Part 2.  (Originally published May 18, 2009, updated to include a significant reclassification effective September 3, 2009.)

debt and in the purchase of assets, both mortgages and nonmortgages, that they hold.” I
still hold to that view.”

Simply put, the massive tentacles of Big Government invaded the private sector with the intent of engineering a “socially just” housing market.

Of course, the housing market is only one private sector that the tumor of Government has, over time, penetrated.  Like a spinal cancer, Big Government has woven itself tightly into the very nervous system of the country.  Reducing it, let alone removing it, will take deft and steady hands relentlessly wielding a honed scalpel.  But as difficult and time-consuming as such an operation is, the alternative, i.e., to allow the tumor to grow, is crippling and, finally, deadly.

Paul Volker is not a huge fan of such an operation.  His solution is to bleed the patient in the hope of shrinking the tumor as a result.  Indeed, we have come to expect such a solution from the Social Democrats presently in power.  The VAT that Mr. Volker mentioned yesterday, (the same VAT that we can expect the Obama Deficit Reduction Panel to recommend), is the leech with which the patient is to be bled.

Fortunately, not all economists subscribe to this magical cure.  They point out that a VAT will further increase the size of Government, while concurrently reducing consumption and more deeply crippling our economy.  These economists agree that the deficit cannot be taxed away.  Instead, spending must be cut.  We in the real world know this is true.  However, we do not trust that Big Government politicians of either party will embrace such an operation.  It is a given that the Social Democrats reject spending cuts.  But, there are certain Republicans who also reject cuts, at least any that are meaningful.  Their message is, “trust us to manage Big Government more effectively”.  These do not want to surgically remove the tumor, they just want to monitor it and possibly excise a bit around its edges.  The patient is well beyond these measures.

Enter Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) with his economic “Roadmap”.  It has the potential to shrink Big Government without causing major chaos.  For it to be workable, however, true Conservatives who believe in smaller government must be elected in 2010.  In the interim it is important for Conservatives to educate the voting public about the differences between a “benefit” and an “entitlement” program.  Furthermore, they need to continue to hammer de-funding and/or refusing to fund the newest entitlement program, the ACA, until such time as it can be repealed.  Finally, Conservatives need to communicate not only the content of Ryan’s “Roadmap”, but also why it is superior to the redistribution policies of the Social Democrats.

Malignant tumors are both serious and dangerous.  They strangle life, they paralyze and they kill.  Big Government is a malignant tumor, one that should not be treated with leeching, palliative care and life support equipment.

Filed under: U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , , , ,

Should America Bid Farewell to Exceptional Freedom?

Should America Bid Farewell to Exceptional Freedom?.

Filed under: U.S. GOVERNMENT, , ,


Now, here is something to laugh (or at least smile) about.  Enjoy!

Filed under: congress, U.S. GOVERNMENT,

COMING SOON, ARMAGEDDON! (And it’s no laughing matter)

“I’m not exaggerating. Leaders of the Republican Party called the passage of this bill Armageddon. Armageddon! End of freedom as we know it.”

“So after I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling, some cracks opening up in the earth? Turned out it was a nice day. Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall.” –President Obama, March 25, 2010, Iowa

It was so uplifting to hear the POTUS using opposition to the new Healthcare Law as the punch-line for a joke.  He is just so cool!  Of course, the very next day, Mr. Obama and his cronies seemed to have lost some of their comedic ebullience when, among others, 3M, Deere, AT&T and Caterpillar all announced substantial non-cash charges in the first quarter as a result of provisions in the new Healthcare Law.

Oops!  Armageddon seems to have a sneaky sense of humor, although Henry Waxman, (D-CA), doesn’t seem to be laughing.  A grumpy Mr. Waxman has ordered these evil companies to Congress to be questioned.  He demands that they document how any negative impact from the beneficent new Healthcare Law could have possibly been calculated.  How dare they!

But the real kill-joys last Friday were the Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee.  They released a “Timeline of Major Provisions in the Democrats’ Health Care Package.”

Here are some of the “pre-Armageddon” bits.  The entire timeline is here.

States and Federal officials review premium increases
Impose 10% tax on indoor UV tanning (7/1/10)
Medicare cuts to inpatient psychiatric hospitals (7/1/10)
Requires plans to cover, at no charge, most preventive care (plan years beginning 9/23/10)

Medicare Advantage cuts begin
No longer allowed to use FSA, HSA, HRA, Archer MSA distributions for over-the-counter medicines
Medicare cuts to home health begin
Wealthier seniors ($85K/$170K) begin paying higher Part D premiums (not indexed for inflation in Parts B/D)
Medicare reimbursement cuts when seniors use diagnostic imaging like MRIs, CT scans, etc.
Medicare cuts begin to ambulance services, ASCs, diagnostic labs, and durable medical equipment
Impose new annual tax on brand name pharmaceutical companies
Americans begin paying premiums for federal long-term care insurance (CLASS Act)
Health plans required to spend a minimum of 80% of premiums on medical claims.
Prohibition on Medicare payments to new physician-owned hospitals
Penalties for non-qualified HAS and Archer MSA distribution double (to 20%)
Seniors prohibited from purchasing power wheelchairs unless they first rent for 13 months
Employers required to report value of health benefits on W-2
New Medicare cuts to long-term care hospitals begin (7/1/11)
Additional Medicare cuts to hospitals and cuts to nursing homes and inpatient rehab facilities begin (FY12)
New tax on all private health insurance policies to pay for Comparative Effectiveness Research (plan years beginning FY12)

Medicare cuts to dialysis treatment begins
New Medicare cuts to inpatient psychiatric hospitals
Hospital pay-for-quality program begins (FY13)
Medicare cuts to hospitals with high re-admission rates begin (FY13)
Medicare cuts to hospice being (FY13)

By 2013, the provisions of the “Democrats’ Health Care Package” is looking very “Armageddonish”.  Despite this, Mr. Obama repeated a shortened form of his Armageddon joke to Matt Lauer on the Today Show on Monday.  Look around, Mr. President, no one is laughing.

Filed under: congress, POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , ,


Video below is from yesterday.  Note that Senator Baucus not only judges that some people are “too wealthy”, (and this is a bad thing?), but that health care has now become a “right” through the passage of this bill into law.  (And here I thought that new “rights” could only be delineated through the Constitutional amendment process, silly me.)

Filed under: U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , ,


It was just announced that the Healthcare Reconciliation Bill has passed the Senate and is being sent back to the House for its vote.  The Republicans offered 40 consecutive amendments during the reconciliation “vote-a-rama” process.  All of them were defeated by the Democrats.  In total, 13 hours of voting occurred in the Senate.

We who remain adamantly opposed to Obamacare, owe the Republican Senators our gratitude.  Far from the way it was depicted in the mainstream media, the Republican amendments were neither futile nor simple obstructionism.  The votes forced by the Senate Republicans have put the Senate Democrats on the record as not only authoring these unpopular measures, but also continuing to support them.  Following is a partial list of the Republican amendments, from “The Corner” blog at NRO, that were defeated:

—Senator Gregg: Protect Medicare Savings

—Senator McCain: Remove Sweetheart Deals

—Senator Crapo: No Tax Hikes for Families Earning Under $250,000

—Senator Enzi: Strike the Employer Mandate

—Senator Barrasso: Requires Legislation Not Increase Premiums

—Senator Grassley: Requires President, Congress Enroll in Exchange

—Senator Alexander: Reduce Student Loan Interest Rate

—Senator LeMieux: Members On Medicaid

—Senator Coburn: Bars Sex Offenders from Receiving E.D. Drugs

—Senator Hutchison: State Opt Out

—Senator Hatch: Block Medicare Advantage Cuts

—Senator Collins: Waive Employer Mandate Tax

—Senator Thune: Strike CLASS Act

—Senator Cornyn: Remove New Taxes on Investments

—Senator Hatch: Protect Wounded Soldiers from Medical Device Tax

—Senator Inhofe: Protect Pediatrics and Disabled from Medical Device Tax

—Senator Crapo: Protect Cancer Patients from Medical Device Tax

—Senators Roberts, Inhofe, Brown, Crapo: Strike Medical Device Tax

—Senator Burr: Tricare and Veterans Health Programs

—Senator Roberts: Rationing

—Senator Roberts: Critical Access Hospitals

—Senator Vitter: Repeals Democrats’ Health Care Bill

It seems to me that the Republican Senators have laid a strong foundation for building successful campaigns in November by exposing some of the most egregious parts of the new Healthcare Law.  For their part, the Democrats, by opposing each and every one of these “fixes” have also helped our cause—so kudos to them too.  Give all these folks a hand for a job well done!

As for the POTUS’ grand PR tour—he continues to preach to his choir.  The rest of us sit safely outside  the real world where there are no walls to contain our voices.


Filed under: U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , ,


Dennis Prager succinctly explains in the video below the foundation that needs to underlie our ongoing battle.  Watch it thoughtfully, then watch it again.

Filed under: constitution, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , ,


Cartoon by Erin Bonsteel

On National Review online, Jeffrey H. Anderson has written a piece called, “The Battle Is Lost, and the War Has Begun”.  His views are worthwhile to read on this day after our hard fought battle against Obamacare has ended in defeat.  Mr. Anderson is right, I believe, concerning the conflicts to come over this Bill that was narrowly passed in the House last night. Obamacare is not the last word on our health care system.  It will not stand, but neither will it have its legs cut off in quick fashion.  And, let us not lose sight of the fact that this is only the opening gambit in a war against the American people and their Constitution.  Obama and his soldiers will not long linger on this victory.  They have immigration “reform”, Cap and Trade, card check, regulation of the airwaves and internet, among other things, still to accomplish.

It is important for us to ensure that the passage of this Bill is simply a “Pyrrhic Victory”.  Read its definition:

The phrase is named after King Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War. After the latter battle, Plutarch  relates in a report by Dionysius:

The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.-Wikipedia

Obama has expended tremendous political capital, as well as financial capital, to pass this very unpopular Bill—the thing that will define his Presidency.  We, on the other hand, are like the Romans that Pyrrhus describes, “not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war”.

Ben Stein offers these words of comfort and encouragement in the aftermath of this exhausting contest:

For those of us who still believe in the Constitution, I offer the words of the great civil rights anthem, “We shall overcome, ” and “We are not afraid.” In that spirit, we continue the fight for the return to Constitutional government. Loyal to the nation and the Constitution, but most certainly opposed to the subversion or either.

As Churchill said, “In war, resolution. In defeat, defiance.” And this is a war for Constitutional government. A war of words, to be sure, but a war we must win.

For those of you who have read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, (or have at least seen the movies), remember that the Balrog did not pass Gandalf on the bridge, but took him into the void using one last desperate lunge.  However, even then Gandalf did not stop fighting it, and in the end the Balrog was defeated.  May this be a parable for our own circumstances and give us true hope.

Hang on until November, and during the ensuing 7 months let our battle cry be, “Resist.  Roll back. Repeal.”

God bless you.  God bless our beloved America.

Filed under: healthcare, LEGISLATION, liberal activism, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , ,

"His eye is on the sparrow, and He surely watches me." --Mrs. Doolittle, 1905