Sunday, October 19, 2008

A message below from the "Our Country Deserves Better" PAC

If you were watching The O'Reilly Factor the night before the final presidential debate, you saw our TV ad "Obama's Wrong Values" shown in its entirety. National media have picked up on the dramatic impact our organization is now having on this presidential election in the key battleground states that will determine who wins this election: Barack Obama or John McCain.

The Our Country Deserves Better Committee has already placed TV ad buys totaling several hundred thousand dollars in key swing states, and are expanding the size of this TV ad buy with each day.

Perhaps this is why Barack Obama's supporters are so concerned that they are making wild accusations against us - the latest: they say that the "Obama's Wrong Values" TV ad calls for the assasination of Barack Obama, simply because we highlight Obama's refusal to put his hand on his heart during the national anthem.

Daily Kos, which endorsed Obama's campaign back in the Democratic primaries and continues to carry his water, made these shameful accusations online for all to see. Their supporters have contacted the Secret Service and are now harrassing TV stations, pressuring them not to run our ad.

Here's the TV ad that has Obama's supporters so concerned:

Friends, Obama's campaign knows they are in trouble if the truth about Barack Obama is presented to the American people. That's exactly what we are doing at the Our Country Deserves Better Committee.

We ask for your continued support to get this ad up on the TV airwaves in battleground states all across America. You can contribute $5 to $5,000 to this effort. To do so, go HERE

We'll also be posting an update on the first few stops of our national "Stop Obama Tour" - we ask that you check out the schedule for our upcoming rallies. Please come out and support us. Tell others to come out and attend one of our rallies. Full details and our tour schedule - HERE.

Help us continue the momentum we're building and get the word out through our TV ad campaigns, our upcoming 35 rallies with the "Stop Obama Tour" and the "free" media coverage we're receiving. Make a donation of between $5 and $5,000 to the Our Country Deserves Better Committee.

OBAMA TANKS-- McCain Pulls Within 2 Points of Obama

Obama Tanks: GALLUP's 'traditional' likely voter model shows Obama with a two-point advantage over McCain on Thursday, 49% to 47%, this is within poll's margin of error, via Drudge Report.

Investor's Business Daily- the most accurate poll in the last election says Karl Rove, also has Obama's lead slipping to just 2 over John McCain with 13 percent still undecided. It's going to be a long 20 days for Obama. He'd better pray the markets collapse- again.

Meanwhile... The Obamedia is running a headline on Yahoo that voters are souring on McCain as Obama stays steady(?) It's funny how things work out that way.

More... The AP-Yahoo poll (pdf) also has a two point race with Obama at 44 and McCain at 42. Oh my... They even over-polled dems and still got this result! *Gulp*

Flopping Aces described the McCain strategy behind the gains.

Source (See the original for links)

The Patrick precedent

A couple Januaries ago, the first African-American governor of Massachusetts took the oath of office on the State House steps. "Change is not always comfortable or convenient or welcome," he declared. "But it is what we hoped for, what we have worked for, what you voted for, and what you shall have." The swearing-in ended an improbable journey for Deval Patrick -- and started a painful lesson in political realities for a rookie executive.

His story provides a useful prism to view the current presidential race. The Patrick campaign is the model for Barack Obama's effort, down to the messages of "hope" and "change" and the unofficial Patrick slogan of "Yes, We Can!" The men are friends with similar backgrounds (raised by single mothers, educated at Harvard Law) and electoral appeal (unconventional, "historic" candidacies built around an inspiring personal story). More importantly perhaps, they share an image-maker and political guru in David Axelrod, the strategist who told the New York Times Magazine last year that Obama presidential campaign themes were field tested in Massachusetts....

That crusading optimism, so critical to his election victory, fast bumped up against established Democratic interests such as the police unions and powerbrokers on Beacon Hill. They didn't know Mr. Patrick, didn't appreciate him jumping the queue to the governor's chair, didn't buy his reformist outsider message, and frankly liked things as they were. Great speeches or popular support were insufficient for Mr. Patrick to get his way.

Gov. Patrick's bigger challenge was to turn an autobiographical, pseudo-postideological campaign into a mandate for governing. The transition proved hard and, today, remains incomplete. Having made himself the focus of the election, Mr. Patrick could not easily point to a particular policy agenda of his own. "He won a mandate for a governing style," says Byron Rushing, a House Democrat. "That presents a problem because everyone in their mind has an agenda to go with that style." Jay Kaufman, another representative, adds, "Each decision disappointed someone."

At the same time, the committee chairs, and in particular House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, had their own ideas. They'd also won elections, after all. Many of them supported the insider candidate, Tom Reilly, in the primary. "I think Patrick thought that the election was the end of the tensions between him and Democrats who didn't support him," says Mr. Rushing. "Of course all was not forgiven."

The breaking point came with Mr. Patrick's push to allow three casinos in the state, designed to create jobs and billions in tax revenues. As Secretary of State William Galvin recalls, the governor merely informed the members about his controversial plan. Like the business executive he was, the new governor "expected everyone to fall in line," says Mr. Galvin. That didn't go over well. Mr. DiMasi dug his heels in and got the votes to reject the plan by a wide margin. Ms. Murray, the Senate president, says Mr. Patrick "took on a big dog, the dog growled, and he lost." On the day his most ambitious legislative proposal went down in defeat, the governor was off in New York to sign a $1.35 million book deal. "It was a definitional time," says Mr. Galvin.

Plans to cut property taxes, a highlight of his campaign advertising, were shelved. He softened the commitment to teacher testing and expanded state-funded health-care coverage. He moved to fulfill a major campaign promise this month by mandating that flagmen, not policemen, direct traffic; the police unions will fight him on this decision, which deprives their members easy overtime pay. It took him nearly two years to act and it's far from certain he'll win.

More here

Where Patrick's promises have ended up:

Bay State residents should brace for less day care, shuttered museums and libraries, dirtier parks and beaches, fewer cops and cuts to AIDS funding and other crucial health care programs as Gov. Deval Patrick implements sweeping cuts in a desperate bid to close a $1.4 billion budget gap. In addition to chopping 1,000 jobs from the state's 45,000-strong workforce, the governor plans to ax more than $1 billion from the budget, including:

$368,000 for a beach preservation program; $1 million for Head Start pre-school programs; $1.5 million for AIDS prevention and treatment services; $611,000 for suicide prevention; $5 million for opiate addiction treatment facilities; $285,000 for a teen pregnancy program; $5 million for infant immunization programs; $9 million for workforce training; $24 million for the University of Massachusetts system and between $500,000 and $1.9 million for the state's other colleges; and $3.9 million for senior home care.

"People will feel these cuts," Patrick said. "(These) cuts will affect services . . . There is real cause for concern but not panic."Also among the cuts are $9 million for law enforcement, which at least temporarily derails Patrick's bid to put 2,000 additional police officers on the streets.

Another area that will be hit hard is the mental health field. The governor's plan calls for a $27 million cut to adult mental health services, $3 million for state facilities for the mentally retarded and $1.9 million for the Department of Mental Retardation.

The fiscal fiasco won't do any favors for the state's crumbling infrastructure either. There are cuts to public works projects including a $390,000 dam safety program put in place after a spate of failures that caused massive flooding. "It's a sad day for the Commonwealth," said state Rep. Martin Walsh (D-Dorchester). "I feel terrible that we're in this economic crisis because people are going to lose their jobs."

Republicans lamented the cuts but said the governor and the heavily Democratic Legislature ignored warning signs and spent freely on pork projects, which exacerbated the crisis. "We knew there were going to be problems a long time ago," said Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth). "We were sounding alarms during the budget debate last spring. We built a house of cards and now we're being reactive."


Another Obama deception

In Wednesday night's debate with John McCain, Barack Obama defended his opposition to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement this way: "The history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination, on a fairly consistent basis, and there have not been any prosecutions." Among the many falsehoods in this Presidential campaign, this is one of the worst.

It is true that Colombia has a history of violence. But since President Alvaro Uribe took office in 2002, that violence has been substantially reduced. The homicide rate through the end of 2007 was down by 40.4% and the rate among union members was down almost 87%. There is nothing "consistent" about a drop to 26 union member murders in 2007 from 155 in 2000.

As for prosecutions: In union-member killings, there were zero convictions from 1991-2000 and one in 2001. But from 2002-2007, there were 80. According to the Colombian attorney general's office, 29% of those murders were "found to have been results of theft, petty crime and random violence unrelated to union activity." Mr. Uribe has nonetheless created a special investigative unit for crimes against union members, and he expanded a special government protection program for unions. More broadly, in 2004 Mr. Uribe pushed through congress a judicial reform that has reduced the average time needed to issue an indictment for a homicide to 50 days from 493. He also increased the budget for the attorney general's office to $598 million in 2008, from $346 million in 2002 -- a 73% increase.

If Colombia hopes to keep spending on judicial improvements and better law enforcement, it needs an expanding economy. In addition to misrepresenting the country's progress on reducing violence, Mr. Obama has never explained how denying Colombians the FTA will help the country reduce violence. Maybe this is because he knows he's merely repeating union distortions.


Evidence Mounts: Ayers Co-Wrote Obama's Dreams

Evidence continues to mount that Barack Obama had substantial help from Bill Ayers in the creation of his 1995 book, Dreams From My Father, a book that Time Magazine has called "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician." The evidence falls into five general categories, here summarized.

The discovery of new matching nautical metaphors from both Ayers and Obama that almost assuredly came from the same source: Ayers, a former merchant seaman.

The discovery of a Bill Ayers' essay on memoir writing, whose postmodern themes and phrases are echoed throughout Dreams.

A newly discovered book chapter from 1990 that shows clearly and painfully the limits of Obama's prose style the year he received a contract to write Dreams.

The revelation by radical Islamicist Rashid Khalidi that Ayers made his "dining room table" available for neighborhood writers who needed help.

A refined timeline that shows Ayers had the means, the motive and the time to help Obama when he needed it most.

The timeline

A 1990 New York Times profile on Obama's election as the Harvard Law Review's first black president in 1990 caught the eye of agent Jane Dystel. She persuaded Poseidon, a small imprint of Simon & Schuster, to authorize a roughly $125,000 advance for Obama's proposed memoir.

Obama repaired to Chicago with advance in hand and dithered. At one point, in order to finish the book without interruption, he and wife Michelle decamped to Bali. Obama was supposed to have finished the book within a year. Bali or not, advance or no, he could not. Simon & Schuster canceled the contract. His agent hustled him a new, smaller contract.

Ayers published his book To Teach in 1993. Between 1993 and 1996, he had no other formal authorial assignment than to co-edit a collection of essays. This was an unusual hole in his very busy publishing career.

Obama's memoir was published in June 1995. Earlier that year, Ayers helped Obama, then a junior lawyer at a minor law firm, get appointed chairman of the multi-million dollar Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant. In the fall of that same year, 1995, Ayers and his wife, Weatherwoman Bernardine Dohrn, helped blaze Obama's path to political power with a fundraiser in their Chicago home.

In short, Ayers had the means, the motive, the time, the place and the literary ability to jumpstart Obama's career. And, as Ayers had to know, a lovely memoir under Obama's belt made for a much better resume than an unfulfilled contract over his head.

Neighborhood assistance

Allow me to reconstruct how Obama transformed himself into what the New York Times has called "that rare politician who can write . . . and write movingly and genuinely about himself." There is an element of speculation in this, but new evidence continues to narrow the gap between the speculative and the conclusive. One clue comes from an unexpected source, Rashid Khalidi, the radical Arab-American friend of Obama's and reputed ally of the PLO.

In the acknowledgment section of his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, Khalidi writes of Ayers, "Bill was particularly generous in letting me use his family's dining room table to do some writing for the project." Khalidi did not need the table. He had one of his own. He needed the help.

Khalidi had spent several years at Chicago University's Center for International Studies. At a 2003 farewell dinner on the occasion of his departure from Chicago, Obama toasted him, thanking him and his wife for the many dinners that they had shared as well as for his "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases."

Chicago's Hyde Park was home to a tight, influential radical community at whose center were Ayers and Dohrn. In this world, the Ayers' terrorist rap sheet only heightened their reputation. Obama had to know. The couple had given up revolution in 1980 for the long slow march through the institutions. By 1994, if not earlier, Ayers saw a way to quicken that march.

I believe that after failing to finish his book on time, and after forfeiting his advance from Simon & Schuster, Obama brought a sprawling, messy, sophomoric manuscript to the famed dining room table of Bill Ayers and said, "Help."

Much more here

How Obama Would Stifle Drug Innovation

If you want cutting-edge health care, don't make it a cost-controlled commodity

Pfizer recently said it's exiting the development of drugs for common conditions like heart disease. This is part of a shift underway in the pharmaceutical industry to give up on routine medical problems in favor of discovering "specialty" drugs for rare diseases and unmet medical needs like cancer.

The shift is driven in part by the industry's critics in Washington, who have long maligned drug companies for targeting too many routine medical problems with drugs that were "merely" tweaks on existing medicines. Now these same detractors, led by House Democrats, are proposing controls on access to and eventually pricing of the specialty drugs as well. Under a Barack Obama presidency, this is one way they'll pay for the candidate's plan to create a Medicare-like program for the under-65 crowd. These new controls -- based on a view of medical care as a commodity to be purchased at the lowest price, with little allowance for innovation -- could push drug development over a tipping point.

Specialty drugs offer significant health benefits but for a high price, reflecting the difficulty of developing them. The regulatory process for getting them approved is more uncertain, since the diseases are poorly understood or haven't been tackled before in clinical trials. Enrolling patients with rare conditions is also expensive; they are harder to recruit and often need to undergo more extensive testing to monitor the progress in trials. It can cost less than $5,000 to enroll a single patient in a trial for a primary care drug such as a blood pressure pill, but up to $70,000 for a big cancer study and more than $100,000 for some very rare diseases. Specialty drugs that were once tested on hundreds of patients are now often required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be tested on thousands.

Success rates are low. On average, a drug stands an 11% chance of making it through clinical trials and reaching patients. Cancer drugs only have a 5% chance of clearing these hurdles. Specialty drugs are also harder to distribute and by definition have a much smaller market for sales.

The big drug makers' shift into these markets isn't a measure of their strength, but a symptom of their decline, as they grope for a profitable niche amid increasing regulation. Mobilizing capital to take on these medical problems requires the promise of big returns for the few drugs that succeed. When a new drug mitigates -- and sometimes cures -- a previously untreatable problem, innovators can often "re-price" the initial treatment of a disease, charging very high prices for the administration of a drug. The initial intervention becomes more costly -- but the new benefits should reduce long-term costs, extend life, or ease suffering.

This ability to re-price provides the economic incentives to pursue a lot of practical innovations. Take cancer, which now accounts for a third of all drugs in development. Cancers that once cost thousands of dollars to treat when there weren't effective options now cost tens of thousands with drugs that are dramatically better. One study estimated that the lifetime costs of treating breast cancer in 1984 were about $37,000 on average. A more recent study of older cancer patients found that just the first 12 months of therapy for earlier-stage breast cancer can top $18,000. But the bigger difference is that today -- thanks to more effective medicines such as Taxol and Herceptin, coupled with better clinical research -- most women live longer and many with early cancer can expect a cure.

Similarly, a little more than a decade ago the initial treatment for advanced colon cancer involved a drug regimen that cost hundreds of dollars. Now initial care -- which incorporates three new drugs and two biologic drugs (those grown in living cells) -- costs more than $20,000. But over that time period median survival has doubled; and more people with earlier stage tumors can use some of the same drugs to be cured.

Of course, high drug costs and re-pricing are deeply unfashionable in Washington, where the political focus is on cutting the cost of delivering care in order to extend government-financed coverage to more people. To pay for a Medicare-like program for younger Americans, Sen. Obama promises to cut up to $290 billion from the cost of health insurance, according to an analysis by my colleague Joe Antos. While some of this is supposed to come from "efficiency" and deploying information technology, the only proposals with budget teeth are Mr. Obama's "pay or play" tax on employers, controls on access to new drugs and medical devices, and his party's proposals to control drug pricing.

Congressional Democrats want to give Medicare the ability to "negotiate" specialty drug prices (they are referred to as "single source" drugs in some bills) or simply fix their price by forcing companies to give Medicare drug plans the same deep rebates that are mandated under Medicaid. Mr. Obama has also championed a "comparative effectiveness" agency -- styled after England's National Institute for Clinical Evidence (NICE) -- that conducts reviews and studies on the clinical and cost effectiveness of drugs to inform central rulings on which patients should be eligible for a new treatment.

NICE's real mission is to protect the British health-care budget. Since 2000 it has denied patients the ability to use the newest cancer drugs -- by my count, in 226 different indications where American insurers, and Medicare, currently pay, and where the National Comprehensive Cancer Network says there is "high-level evidence" or "uniform consensus" of clinical benefit. Cancer survival rates in the U.K. are substantially lower than in the U.S. and the gap continues to widen.

The most economically pernicious effect of price and access controls isn't the impact on revenue from existing drugs -- but how they distort future investment decisions. They will lower expectations that untreated diseases can continue to be re-priced, even with very effective new drugs. I work with health-care investors and companies first hand. They can reallocate capital in the face of protracted political uncertainty. They can also forego traditional discovery altogether, in favor of less socially useful but lucrative areas like lifestyle meds or prescription cosmetics. The last time policy makers waged a concerted effort to control the price of and the access to the most innovative, but expensive new drugs as part of broader health-care reform in the mid 1990s, the percent of venture capital going into biotech fell by almost half in a single year. A lot of that money shifted into Internet companies.

Of course, re-pricing diseases doesn't help people struggling to get basic health care, or those burdened by high co-pays. But there are policy options to address these troubling issues without preying on medical innovation and its health contributions.

Specialty drugs typically appear on the "fourth tier" of health plans, and have expensive co-pays. Drug companies need to explore alternative pricing mechanisms, including approaches that tie their reimbursement to evidence that an individual patient is benefiting. Health insurers need to provide new policy holders with clear, up-front disclosures on co-pays and not stick patients with unbearable bills only after sickness strikes. The FDA can also help lower overall drug spending by adopting reasonable regulatory pathways for diagnostic tests that would enable doctors to target drugs more efficiently to patients most likely to benefit.

Mr. Obama's policies on drug access and his party's plans to control pricing will distort the financial incentives that inspire innovations. This will shortchange the contributions innovations provide.


(For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . For readers in China or for when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)


BurrDeming said...

The accusations against Obama do not address the issues of the moment, but they do address the more lasting issue of Presidential character.

oliviaharis said...

The ad, "Obama's Wrong Values," began running Sunday night in Reno, Nevada and has since expanded across the state. The group plans to air the spot in Colorado starting tomorrow and run it in Michigan where McCain has pulled his advertising by the end of the week.