Thursday, December 31, 2009

Price to be paid by Senator Nelson of Nebraska for health care vote?

Polling suggests that US Senator Nelson (D, NE) has already seen his approval numbers in Nebraska plummet. A Rasmussen Poll suggest his approval numbers are down 30 points and he'd lose to current Republican Governor 61% to 30% if the election was held today.

The reason for the rapid decline is the highly prominently role he's played in the health care debate. He initially opposed the bill for its allowance of abortion coverage and its cost. Then quickly reversed course after cosmetic changes were made. Now he's going public to defend his vote to Nebraskans. That will only deepen the opposition to him by many Nebraskans who are already upset with him.

Will it cost him eventual re-election in 2012? That's hard to say because three years is a long time away in political terms. However, if the problems only grow for the party in power - the Democrats in this case - and I think they will for both things within and outside their control, he should be in trouble in 2012 as well.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is Al Franken starting to show his true colors?

There was an interesting article on Al Franken in "The Hill" entitled, "After quiet first months, Franken's sharp tongue emerges in Senate."

Franken efforts to reinvent himself as a hard working, bipartisan sort of senator have been dropped in his reversion to the behaviors he exhibited as a
comic, author and liberal radio talk show host -- sharp-tongued, anger and arrogance .
Al Franken, the Democrat from Minnesota who won election to the Senate after a successful career as a comic and author, has begun to show the sharp-tongued side of his personality by ripping into GOP staffers behind the scenes.

Franken has worked diligently to keep a low public profile in Congress while focusing on wonky policy debates. But he has been unable to completely repress the fiery passion that made him a hero of the Democratic Party’s liberal base.Franken has teamed up with GOP colleagues to introduce a variety of legislation, something that may surprise fans who read his books, such as Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.

But he has also pummeled Republican senators and their aides, showing a glimpse of the pugilistic style of his best-seller, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations.
I was somewhat surprised by the amount of self discipline he exercised during the campaign in his efforts to persuade Minnesota voters that he wasn't the mean spirited liberal author and talk show host. I started to wonder if he in deed had really reinvented himself for his new career as a US Senator, especially if he had national political ambitions. (Those ambitions seem to present in some of the books he previously wrote on policy issues and him picturing himself as president.)

"The Hill" article notes some of his recent activities.
Franken has surprised some of his colleagues behind the scenes by getting into heated tangles with GOP staffers.

One such exchange took place in Franken’s office during a recent meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and his aides.

Franken invited Corker to his office to discuss an op-ed that Corker penned in a Tennessee newspaper opposing an amendment Franken offered to a defense bill. The measure gave the employees of defense contractors who suffer rape or sexual assault at the workplace the right to sue in court.

The meeting quickly deteriorated when Franken began berating one of Corker’s aides, according to GOP aides familiar with the incident. Franken’s sally was so harsh that Corker told Franken to lay off his aide and direct the comments at him instead.

Franken’s tough approach came as a surprise because Corker scheduled the meeting to mend fences after Franken confronted him about the op-ed during an angry exchange on the Senate floor.

Another GOP staffer, an aide to a Senate Republican leader, found herself at the sharp end of Franken’s wit at a recent reception in the Senate’s Mansfield Room. The tongue-lashing took place at an event to celebrate the swearing-in of GOP Sen. George LeMieux (Fla.).

After the conversation began ordinarily, Franken started to grill the aide about what he sees as the failings of the GOP. Franken demanded to know why it had become the "Party of No" and had exaggerated facts in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, according to another GOP leadership aide....

In addition to chewing out Corker over the op-ed, earlier this month Franken clashed loudly with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) on the Senate floor. The dust-up was spurred by Thune’s claim that Democratic healthcare legislation would impose new taxes immediately but fail to implement benefits for several years.

Franken derided Thune’s floor presentation and implied that he had fabricated some of his facts, a more personal confrontation than usual in the clubby Senate. An irate Thune walked off the Senate floor after Franken revealed a private conversation they had on the topic.

“I asked if he mentioned any of the benefits that do kick in [immediately] and he said, ‘Uh no,’ ” Franken said in front of C-SPAN television cameras.

“We are entitled to our own opinions; we’re not entitled to our own facts,” Franken said, raising his voice. “Benefits kick in right away, and if you’re going to hold up a chart that says when taxes kick in and when benefits kick in … you better include the benefits that do kick in right away.”

Franken later apologized to Thune.

And last week, Franken cut off Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) during his speech on the Senate floor. Lieberman, who has drawn the ire of liberals over his opposition to the public health insurance option, asked for an additional moment to finish remarks about amendments he planned to offer, but Franken, who was presiding over the Senate, refused to grant the routine request.

"In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object," Franken said.

"Really?" replied Lieberman.

A spokeswoman for Franken said that the senator was just trying to move along with the legislation, but at a press conference late last week, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed disgust with Franken, saying that Lieberman's request for more time to extend his remarks was "objected to by the newest member of the United States Senate in a most brusque way ... We've got to stop this kind of behavior. I have never seen anything like that and I hope that I don't see it again."

I think the quote from Minnesota political observer, Professor Larry Jacobs probably hits the nail on the head.
“There is a war within Al Franken,” said Lawrence Jacobs, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. “The Al Franken head tells him to steer away from the limelight and build his reputation. Then there is his heart, which is quite fiery."

Jacobs said Franken must be careful not to engage in too many political brawls, or it could “reinforce for independent voters what they feared about him, that he’s a hot-headed partisan.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Messing with nature. Designer babies. Baby selling. Surrogacy.

Here's an interesting New York Times article on the practice of surrogacy. Surrogacy is where an individual or couple contracts with another woman who agrees to carry a embryo to term for them. the child maybe created with their genetic material or somebody else's.

Because money is transferred and the baby can be created from third party sperm and eggs, it raises the specter of baby selling and designer babies.

I oppose the practice for these reasons and others. Ultimately, it messes with God's design for family and procreation. When one does that problems invariably result as the article points out.

The article also points out who it encourages to become parents.
The shift from traditional surrogacy, in which women carry their own biological children after artificial insemination, to gestational surrogacy, as well as the wide availability of donor eggs, has opened the possibility of parenthood to a variety of people who cannot have children of their own.

In Manhattan, the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Centersponsors monthly seminars on having families through surrogacy. The well-attended sessions often feature speakers with children born through surrogacy arrangements.

In many of those cases, one of the male partners donates sperm that is used, along with a donor egg, to impregnate a surrogate.

Many of the people who have children through surrogates would have had difficulty adopting because of sexual orientation, marital status or age. Some foreign countries place upper age limits on adoptive parents. And birth mothers giving up their children in the United States often hand-pick the adoptive parents of their children.

“The default position for young birth moms tends to be a mother and a father in a stable relationship and a white picket fence around the yard,” said David C. Cole, a Dallas lawyer with Little Flower Adoptions, which also handles surrogacy arrangements.

The article points out that the practice is especially of interest to gays and lesbians who by definition deny the child a mother or a father and certain individuals based marital status and age who for various reasons wouldn't ordinarily have children. Interesting. Nature says at a certain age you can't have children. And that's good. Having a person who is likely to only be around for a short period of the child's life isn't a good idea. As for marital status. Society has, until recently, encouraged children be raised by a married couple. And that's good. Kids need their mother and father. Surrogacy allows for an end run around these appropriate expectations for raising a child.

One lesson I take away is just because something is technologically possible doesn't make it ethically right or good.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"It's completely reckless, completely irresponsible." -- Throwing together and passing a health care bill affecting 16% of our nation's economy.

Those are the words of Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell regarding the debate over the Senate health care bill. Senator Harry Reid is fashioning a bill which will significantly impact 16% of our nation's economy and will receive only a few days of public review before it's expected to pass.

What else did Senator McConnell say about the bill?
‘And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen. That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private’....

“Senators on both sides acknowledge that the health care bill we’re considering is among the most significant pieces of legislation any of us will ever consider.

“So it stands to reason that we’d devote significant time and attention to it.

“Indeed, some would argue that we should spend more time and attention on this bill than most — if not every — previous bill we’ve considered.

“The Majority disagrees.

“Why? Because this bill has become a political nightmare for them.

“They know Americans overwhelmingly oppose it, so they want to get it over with.

“Americans are already outraged at the fact that Democrat leaders took their eyes off the ball. Rushing the process on a partisan line makes the situation even worse.

“Americans were told the purpose of reform was to reduce the cost of health care.

“Instead, Democrat leaders produced a $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page monstrosity that vastly expands government, raises taxes, raises premiums, and wrecks Medicare.

“And they want to rush this bill through by Christmas — one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history. They want to rush it.

“And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen.

“That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private.

“That’s what they intend to bring to the floor and force a vote on before Christmas.

“So this entire process is essentially a charade.

“But let’s just compare the process so far with previous legislation for some perspective. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve done and where we stand:

• The Majority Leader intends to bring this debate to a close as early as this weekend — four days from now, on this $2.5 trillion dollar mistake

• No American who hasn’t been invited into the Majority Leader’s conference room knows what will be in that bill

• This bill has been the pending business of the Senate since the last week of November — less than four weeks ago.

• We started the amendment process two weeks ago.

• We’ve had 21 amendments and motions — less than two a day.

How's this compare to other significant pieces of legislation?

“Now let’s look at how the Senate has dealt with previous legislation.

“No Child Left Behind (2001):

• 21 session days or 7 weeks.

• Roll Call votes: 44

• Number of Amendments offered: 157

“9/11 Commission/Homeland Security Act (2002):

• 19 session days over 7 weeks.

• Roll Call votes: 20

• Number of Amendments offered: 30

“Energy Bill (2002):

• 21 session days over 8 weeks

• Number of Roll Call votes: 36

• Number of Amendments offered: 158

“This isn’t an energy bill. This is an attempt by a majority to take over one sixth of the U.S. economy — to vastly expand the reach and the role of government into the health care decisions of every single American — and they want to be done after one substantive amendment. This is absolutely inexcusable.

He concludes with

“There is no justification for this blind rush — except a political one, and that’s not good enough for the American people.

“And there’s no justification for forcing the Senate to vote on a bill none of us has seen.

“Americans already oppose this bill. The process is just as bad.

“It’s completely reckless, completely irresponsible.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rahm Emmanuel takes no prisoners. Reportedly threatens Sen. Nelson who objects to health care bill's authorization of taxpayer funding of abortion.

It's reported that Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel is playing Chicago hard ball with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson who hasn't signed off on Senate health care bill because it allows taxpayer funding of abortion.

According to a Weekly Standard blog post:

While the Democrats appease Senator Lieberman, they still have to worry about other recalcitrant Democrats including Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. Though Lieberman has been out front in the fight against the public option and the Medicare buy-in, Nelson was critical of both. Now that those provisions appear to have been stripped from the bill, Lieberman may get on board, but Nelson's demand that taxpayer money not be used to fund abortion has still not been met. According to a Senate aide, the White House is now threatening to put Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list if Nelson doesn't fall into line.

Offutt Air Force Base employs some 10,000 military and federal employees in Southeastern Nebraska. As our source put it, this is a "naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson's vote." They are "threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?" asked the Senate staffer.

Indeed, Offutt is the headquarters for US Strategic Command, the successor to Strategic Air Command, and not by accident. STRATCOM was located in the middle of the country for strategic reasons. Its closure would be a massive blow to the economy of the state of Nebraska, but it would also be another example of this administration playing politics with our national security.

I wonder if this heavy handed approach will backfire with Senator Nelson, especially since it's now been publicized.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger Woods, adultery, and public outcry. Why liberal elites don't get it.

I was interviewed by Pat Kessler for WCCO for a story on Minnesota's adultery statute and the Tiger Woods situation last week.

The story poked fun at Minnesota's adultery statute because it applies to a married woman who has sexual relations with another man but not a married man who has sex with an unmarried woman. (Tiger could have been tried under our state's fornication statute.)

The story highlights the liberal mindset of elites in Minnesota society. Senator Ellen Anderson, DFL'er from Minneapolis, was also interviewed for the story and was incredulous that we have a law on the books against adultery. She compared it to countries which stone people to death for things like adultery. She, therefore, thinks putting a person in jail for adultery is also ridiculous. We're a much too enlightened society for that.

That's interesting. I suspect she supports child support penalties, which include jail time for parents who fail to make child support payments. Yet adultery can be just as devastating to a marriage and child as a parent's failure to make child support payments. Why is adultery not that big a deal to her?

One has to look at her worldview. There's something unique about sex for Senator Anderson, I believe. Her record at the legislature shows she's more than willing to pass laws governing behavior in most areas of life, to social engineer. Yet sex is off limits for her.
(Her thoughts on adultery are consistent with her previous efforts to repeal our state's anti-sodomy several years ago. She tried to do it through ridicule - lumping it in with other laws she considered archaic like a ban on Sunday auto sales and restrictions on traveling carnivals. The only problem was she couldn't get the support of other legislators. She said that "Anything which has to do with sex becomes a political football around the Capitol." )

Why is the area of sexual behaviors off limits for her? I think because she's a child of the sexual revolution and thus has an ideological commitment to the notion that anything goes sexually as long as it's consensual. Yet she and others have a blind spot for the enormous damage and harm to society, families, parents and children resulting from embracing the sexual mores of the sexual revolution. In fact, she and others at the legislature spend a good bit of their time attempting to deal with the fallout from marriage and family breakdown.

The decline of the family and marriage have enormous negative social consequences for every area of society: Poverty. Personal emotional, physical and psychological damage to spouses and children. Economic decline. Expanding size and cost of government. Epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. Over a million abortions nationally. Yet marriage and family are treated in a cavalier manner by sexual liberationists. Why? Because their worldview centers around a radical individualism. It's all about me - my pleasure, my personal satisfaction, my wants, my desires. The only transcendent law governing society is what satisfies the individual. I should be able to do anything I want, sexual or otherwise, as long as it's consensual.

In addition, they believe the state should make an effort to mitigate the consequences of one's poor choices. Have a kid of wedlock? Receive welfare support. Engage in promiscuous sexual behavior? Receive free contraceptives. Or maybe have your HPV vaccination paid for by the state. Get pregnant because your contraceptive failed and you don't want the child? Receive a abortion paid for by the state.

Yet this begs the question, why the public uproar about Tiger Woods and his apparent multiple adulteries? Isn't his behavior none of our concern? Isn't it a private matter? No. People know there is a moral law out there where some things are right and wrong and Tiger flagrantly violated this law. Tiger wasn't the poster child of the pro-family movement, so people were not upset with his hypocrisy. They know what he did was wrong and are concerned about the public message this public figure and his behavior sends to the rest of society.

Certainly, Tiger deserves our encouragement and prayers as he attempts to get his marriage and family life back in order. But we shouldn't say his adulteries are not a big deal.

Department of Education's safe school director is unsafe for our kids.

If the moral bearings of President Obama's Department of Education are represented by Kevin Jennings, his safe school director, we're in big trouble.

As we know Kevin Jennings was the head of GLSEN, the group which promotes homosexuality and its acceptance in our public schools. Now he's heading up the President's safe schools office at the US Department of Education.

Well, some of the things he promoted through GLSEN before he went to the Dept. of Ed. were anything but safe - "fisting" and other bizarre, perverse, and unhealthy sexual behaviors.

Here's a link to an article which describes the outrageous practices promoted at a seminar put by Jennings' GLSEN group while he headed it up.

Here's a Hannity piece on Mr. Jennings previous activities.

Mr. Jennings' presence in the safe school position at Obama's Department of Education speaks volumes about the values and moral framework, or lack thereof, his Administration is operating from.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Here we have it again, population control, abortion key to stopping global warming.

Here's another example of the linkage being made between population control advocates and global warming. If we just had fewer people we'd be OK. In other words, we need more abortions and condoms.

This time it's from the Chinese who are seeking to justify their ridiculous and dangerous one child per family policy.

Although China's family planning policy has received criticism over the past three decades, Zhao said that China's population program has made a great historic contribution to the well-being of society.

As a result of the family planning policy, China has seen 400 million fewer births, which has resulted in 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions a year, Zhao said.

The UN report projected that if the global population would remain 8 billion by the year 2050 instead of a little more than 9 billion according to medium-growth scenario, "it might result in 1 billion to 2 billion fewer tons of carbon emissions".

Meanwhile, she said studies have also shown that family planning programs are more efficient in helping cut emissions, citing research by Thomas Wire of London School of Economics that states: "Each $7 spent on basic family planning would reduce CO2 emissions by more than one ton" whereas it would cost $13 for reduced deforestation, $24 to use wind technology, $51 for solar power, $93 for introducing hybrid cars and $131 electric vehicles.

She admitted that China's population program is not without consequences, as the country is entering the aging society fast and facing the problem of gender imbalance.

China is facing a demographics mess with it's one child policy. Many more males than females - the females are more likely to get aborted if you can have only one child to support you. And a future demographics will be a royal mess.

Again misguided government policies and faulty ideology. We see the fruit of the materialist mindset - the problem is people so let's get rid of them and make sure we don't have many more.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The "cold heart" of rationed health care and what we can expect from Obamacare.

Here's a description of what the health care bill in Congress would do to real life health care decisions, resulting in bureaucrats coming between doctors and their patients and resulting in the "premature ending of many Americans' lives for being too costly."

Nat Hentoff of the Cato Institute points out that:

Much of the press coverage of the Democrats' health-care legislation, now fiercely embattled in Congress, focuses on the public option, the actual long-term costs and tax increases, and the amendment barring funding for abortions, but the cold heart of Obamacare is its overpowering of the doctor-patient relationship — eventually resulting in the premature ending of many Americans' lives for being too costly.

To call the dangers of this legislation "death panels" obscures the real-life consequences to Americans, not only the elderly, of a federal government-run health-care bureaucracy. In the Senate bill, for instance, Medicare doctors whose treatments of certain, mostly elderly, patients costs more than a set government figure each year, will be punished by losing part of their own incomes.

Not only Medicare doctors will be monitored for their cost effectiveness. In the House bill, as Cato Institute's health-care specialist Michael Tanner explains (New York Post, Nov. 8), "111 government agencies, boards, commissions and other bureaucracies — all overseen by a new health-care czar," the commissioner of Health Care Choices, will keep watch on what the president has called excessive, wasteful health-care expenditures.

Moreover, President Obama has made clear that eventually he desires a U.S. equivalent of the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), a commission that decides which drugs and procedures for patients are within the national budget for health care. The current baseline expenditure for each Briton, according to Michael Tanner, is $44,305 per year.

In this country, bureaucrats keeping tabs on patients — without actually seeing them and their condition — will mean, as Tanner notes, that "every time a doctor decides on a treatment, he or she would have to ask: 'Does the government think I'm doing this too much? Will I be penalized if I order this test?'"....

Hentoff points to Harvard Medical School faculty who likewise believe that government control of treatment means bureaucrats will be directing health care decisions for all of us.

Harvard Medical School faculty members Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband bring the individual back into this crucial debate in "Sorting Fact From Fiction on Health Care" (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 31):...."If doctors and hospitals are rewarded for complying with government-mandated treatment measures or penalized if they do not comply, clearly federal bureaucrats are directing health decisions."

Also remember that these functionaries making decisions about your treatment and, in some cases, about the extent of your life span, have never met you. They do not know your name, have not spoken directly to your doctor and, of course, haven't the slightest idea of what your wishes are. Is this America?

And then another medical voice from NYU Medical Center:

Another doctor whose byline in the New York Post I try never to miss is Mark K. Siegel, a practicing internist and an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. In "Destroying the Doctor-Patient Bond" (New York Post, Aug. 3), he points to Section 123 of the House bill that "establishes a Health Benefits dvisory Committee, chaired by the surgeon general, which makes recommendations to the HHS secretary on what should be covered and what shouldn't.

"These rulings from on high," Dr. Siegel warns, "are problematic, since useful treatments or tests for one patient are not appropriate for another. Appeals are bound to be time consuming and largely ineffective. This is the government interfering directly with the practice of medicine."

While advocates of the health care legislation say they just want to give more people health care insurance, certainly a compassionate motivation, the way they do it will mean less care for those who really need it and ever rising health care costs for all of us. Of course, that's the necessary outcome of the socialist impulse. "We through the government can create a better world. Just trust us." The reality is something much different.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Good news: Planned Parenthood is having some problems.

Harvard Business Review recently had an extensive article on the Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is the in the vanguard of the sexual revolution which means it's the chief proponent of sexual license and abortion. Of course this is all done under the meaningless euphemism, "Family Planning".

In a story written by Maricio Roman on the website Inside Catholic:
Despite profits of $85 million in 2008, Planned Parenthood is facing serious financial difficulties...Internally, Planned Parenthood's difficulties stem from the uneven strength of its affiliates, and President Cecile Richards is worried.

According to the Harvard case, her organization faces "tough economic times, a hostile political environment, and limited ability to raise philanthropic dollars in a resource constrained area of the country."

The "hostile political environment" involves competition from crisis pregnancy groups.

For one thing, past government funding of crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-only sex education programs. No industry likes a product that can become a substitute for the one it sells. From this perspective, abstinence is a substitute for contraception, and adoption is a substitute for abortion. Unable to grasp that these are morally superior options to abortion, Planned Parenthood sees them only as threats to their established position.

It's not difficult to understand why: Young women seeking contraception account for 60 percent of Planned Parenthood's total clientele, while abortion is provided to 10 percent of its female customers. Even allowing for overlap, that's 60 to 70 percent of Planned Parenthood's customer base.

Happily, in some regions, Planned Parenthood is failing badly at its goal of countering the "hostile political environment."

The Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates (FAPPA) laments that "while we worked hard this session to zero-fund the $2 million appropriation for so-called crisis pregnancy centers in Florida, we were not successful in its defunding."

Difficulties such as these are driving down the number of Planned Parenthood affiliates, from 163 15 years ago to 91 in late 2009. And according to the Harvard case study, this consolidation is expected to continue with several of the remaining affiliates discussing mergers.

What does Planned Parenthood see as the answer to their problems? Expanding the number of women seeking their "services".

Yet Richards hopes to dramatically increase Planned Parenthood's client base. As she told the Harvard researchers, "If we see three million women and there are ten million more that need our services then our question is how do we get to them."

One obstacle to such expansion is the simple fact that most potential clients have low incomes and cannot pay for Planned Parenthood's services. Take, for instance, emergency contraception, a highly profitable new product line.

As a national organization, Planned Parenthood can negotiate a low price for such pills -- less than $5 -- and sell them for $25 on average, according to the American Life League. But even at this price, sales to low-income customers will be limited. In 2003, Planned Parenthood sold 750,000 emergency contraception kits. By 2006, sales had climbed to 1.4 million units. Yet the numbers remained largely unchanged in 2007, indicating that the market was saturated. If the organization wants to break that ceiling by expanding to lower-income women, they'll need government subsidies to do so.

Additionally, despite Planned Parenthood's strength as a drug distributor, the pharmaceutical industry is itself consolidating, which gives the remaining companies more power to set higher prices on new drugs. The Harvard case also reports that the number of generic contraceptives is increasing. As a result, Planned Parenthood faces both more competition and less per-unit profit.

Abortion remains a big deal for Planned Parenthood because it brings in lots of money.

The organization performed 305,310 abortions in 2007 -- at $400 each, that yields $122 million. So even though abortions account for only 3 percent of the services performed by Planned Parenthood, they provide 33 percent of the income from "health center" operations. Sales of emergency contraceptive kits add another $35 million to the top line.

Any business facing tough economic times needs to do three things to survive: retain customers, reduce costs, and increase sales of profitable products.

To ensure customer loyalty, Planned Parenthood has worked hard to enhance its brand awareness and confidence from actual customers -- most recently through its Web site, which dispenses "sexual advice" to 900,000 monthly visitors. To reduce costs, Planned Parenthood's affiliates have been pooling resources, merging their organizations, and closing less profitable clinics. Additionally, the organization has been aggressively promoting two of its most profitable products: "emergency contraception" and medical abortion (both kill unborn children).

Medical abortions -- which involve delivering the dead baby at home -- are promoted as cost-effective alternative to surgical abortions, which is especially appealing to financially fragile affiliates.

Take, for example, the Springfield, Illinois, location. In 2008, all of Planned Parenthood's affiliates in Illinois consolidated into a single affiliate and pooled their resources. This enabled the Springfield clinic to offer medical abortions -- something they were unable to do before, owing to lack of expertise.

Steve Trombley, CEO of Chicago Planned Parenthood, stated that the organization "will provide medication abortions in Springfield, rather than surgical abortions, because the medication approach requires less space, expense and other resources" -- while still fetching $400 in revenues for each abortion.

Such changes are expected to enhance the financial viability of the consolidated affiliate: Planned Parenthood of Illinois posted annual revenues of $24 million and a net loss of $2.5 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, Trombley said...

In the meantime, Planned Parenthood's financial difficulties are driving both its affiliate consolidation and its transformation into a tightly integrated chemical- and medical-abortion provider. With the expected financial backing of the U.S. government, they will continue to be a formidable foe to pro-life advocates.

Even though it's been going on for years, I still find the drive for abortion surreal, the intentional killing of innocent human life to simply make more money. This story points out why including abortion and contraceptives in the health care bill is so important. It would be a potentially huge cash cow. With abortion and contraceptive services part of the mandated benefits in medical plans, Planned Parenthood would have a steady stream of income for years to come.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stories and op/eds in Monday issue of Star Tribune show why it's leftward political agenda is out of touch with people.

I was perusing today's Star Tribune and was struck by the leftward agenda and sensibilities of the paper.

This is clear not only on their op/ed page but also in their general news coverage.

Among Monday's op/ed pieces we find:
  • The editorial page editors push for passage of the health care takeover bill in Congress. "Status quo is risky health care strategy." The attitude is we have to pass the health care bill in Congress because of cost concerns. They of course don't consider whether the proposed changes are worse than the status quo. (I believe the status quo is unsustainable but what they're proposing is only more of the same.)
  • They run a gun control related op/ed piece from the Los Angeles Times.
  • Then there are two stories on animal rights. "Saving our pets must be a team effort".
  • Then a mislabeled piece "One of the species endangered is man" which has nothing to do with man being an endangered species. It's only about animal species.
  • And then a opinion piece by liberal columnist EJ Dionne we heard again a call for passage of the health care bill in Congress.
  • Then there's a cartoon attacking Obama for his surge efforts in Afghanistan.
In the "news" part of the paper there's a big spread on the climate conference. "'Time is up 'for climate treaty" a big pro-climate treaty piece. And then a story "Dirty little eco-secrets tarnish Denmark" which attacks Denmark for not being green enough, because it produces more garbage than other European countries. Of course there's no discussion of the growing controversy over whether global warming is actually a problem.

No wonder the Star Tribune is in such bad shape financially. People can and are getting their news from other sources; sources without such a leftward perspective.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Higher cancer death rates in US if Obamacare gets passed in Congress?

There's an article pointing out that the cancer death rate in the UK is 38% higher than the the cancer death rate in the US. If health care reform is passed by Congress, the cancer death rate will no doubt increase because of increased state regulation of health care services.
As the Congress prepared to vote to let us enter the world of waits for doctors, waits for specialists, waits for testing and waits for surgery, radiation and chemo, we should pause to consider the relative records of the private medical care system in the United States with the socialized system in the U.K.

In 2008, Britain had a cancer death rate 0.25% while the United States had a rate of only 0.18%. The UK cancer death rate was 38% higher than in the United States.

The Guardian, the UK’s left wing daily, estimated that “up to 10,000 people” are dying each year of cancer “because their condition is diagnosed too late, according to research by the government’s director of cancer services.” While many people die because of late detection due to their own negligence, there is no reason to believe this self-neglect is more common in the UK than in the US.

In Canada, the cancer death rate is 16% higher than in the United States.

I recollect reading an article where heart and cancer treatments are areas already targeted for regulation under the health care reform bill.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Minnesota state government faces growing budget deficit -- opportunity to change the way it does business or kick the can down the street.

The Minnesota state government is facing a growing budget deficit even in the current biennium which is only a quarter over. It ends June 30, 2011.

State officials are now projecting another $1.2 billion deficit which have to be dealt with in the next year and half. However, there's an even bigger storm cloud on the horiz0n. A $5.2 billion deficit is being forecast for 2012-13, the following biennium.

The answer? Pawlenty will no doubt resolve it through spending cuts while House Speaker Anderson-Kelliher, who's now running for governor, wants cuts and tax increases. According to the Star Tribune,
Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the state must take a more holistic approach to restoring the state's financial health. She favors blending spending cuts and with revenue increases, but also wants to ensure the state is doing all it can to spur job growth.

"It's important to have balance in the way we solve these deficits," she said before the release of the forecast.

Like other Democrats, she criticized the governor's refusal to raise taxes, instead relying on deep cuts and one-time accounting maneuvers.

"Quick fixes and band aids are not doing it," she said.

Perhaps House Finance Committee Chairman Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, captured the outlook best: "All expectations are that this will be a very difficult biennium."

Pawlenty will no doubt accept no tax increases especially as he considers a run for president, and I'm sure Democrats realize that although. They'll push for tax increases to send a message to their constituencies that it's not "our fault we're having to cut more than we want".

I think we've simply postponed making the necessary structural reductions in the size of government. Pawlenty's probably done as much as he could to address the size of government, given his narrow veto proof minority in the House. He's kept tax increases at bay but he hasn't been able to force deeper structural changes in the way government does business. The result is deficits keep coming back and the way and what government does hasn't changed. The result is another enormous deficit looming on the horizon, a year and a half away.

Frankly, I see the deficits as an opportunity to change how the government does business. Voucherize government programs and empower local governments to take more responsibility. Unfortunately, nobody who receives government monies wants any of that. As a result, the problem keeps getting kicked down the street.

The 2010 elections will be enormously significant. If Democrats keep control of both the state House and Senate and gain control of the governorship we will start seeing enormous tax increases in 2011. In the multiple billions of dollars. That would no doubt further harm any economic recovery which is critical for the return of jobs. It will be interesting to see whether Minnesotans will have similar concerns and vote accordingly when they go to the polls in 2010.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My old camp director - retired NFL official.

Many moons ago, when in my early teens, I attended month long wilderness camps near Ely, Minnesota. The camp called Camp Easton, was owned by Bernie Kukar. Bernie gained greater notoriety as an NFL official for 22 years until he retired a couple of years ago. It was always fun hearing him call out penalties on TV.

In this Jim Klobachur column on, Bernie discusses the Vikings Super Bowl prospects and makes the right call on an Adrian Peterson fumble during the recent Bears' game.

Bernie Kukar retired from officiating a few years ago to the less chaotic arbors of life in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina and on the North Shore of Lake Superior. In his last two years as an NFL official he was the Super Bowl referee, meaning he was recognized by the NFL as the best in the business. While we watched the Vikings' 36-10 destruction of the Chicago Bears Sunday. Kukar looked on with the repose of a man no longer threatened by a lynch mob of 60,000 as the price throwing a yellow flag on Sunday afternoons.

Somewhere in the second half when Peterson, battling for extra yards, lost control of the ball to the Bears' Hunter Hillenmeyer, the still-athletic old football warden didn't wait for the Vikings to demand a replay. "The Bear guy was obviously out of bounds when he covered the ball," Kukar said. "The Vikings will challenge and win."

Bernie Kukar
REUTERS/Mark WallheiserBernie Kukar

Kukar also had some interesting things to say about Brett Favre.

Around here (the Vikings played and lost four Super Bowls in the 1970s) older folks say Super Bowl and still roll their eyes. But the peaking saga of Brett Favre, his remarkable blending with the Viking cast and his performance in the 19th season of an unparalleled career, captivates not only the NFL crowds but his peers and the platoons of media analysts who played against him.

To these add the name of Bernie Kukar, who officiated Favre's games for nearly two decades.

"I found that the greatest players, almost without exception," he said, "were the ones who played the game with respect from start to finish. Brett Favre is one of them and I think he's the toughest guy I ever saw in football. The blitzers would pound him and sometimes they came in high, but as the years went by you'd see some of the best of the rushers pull up after he released the ball, rather then follow through in a way that might have been legal but also might have hurt Favre. That's the respect they gave him. He never bellyached about a hit that I can remember."

Then there are his thoughts about Chicago great, Walter Payton.

Kukar remembers only one other player as fondly in his 22 years in pro football, the late Walter Payton, the Bears great running back. "Everybody who played with or against him loved him," Kukar said. "He played every down to the hilt. But he also was mischievous. I was un-piling five or six guys after one play, and there at the bottom was Walter Payton, untying my shoelaces. 'Walter,' I said, 'you've got to stop doing that.' But Walter, bless him, never changed his habits."

Neither, obviously, has Brett Favre.