The Republicans in Congress haven't done a lot right in the last six years

But they did this much, at least.

Power Line: SCHIP veto override fails in House


Why don't we just tax the poor and give it to the middle class?

If a republican came up with that gem of an idea, he'd get the kind of press that... republicans usually get. But when a democratic congress comes up with it, they're courageous for standing up for the underprivileged. Yeah, right.

S-CHIP is the supposedly state-funded children's health insurance program. But the fact is it's supported very heavily by the federal government, and - I believe - administered by the states. The program is used to pay for health care for children whose families are above the poverty level but still have trouble buying insurance. The program has been around since 1997, and was authorized by Congress then as a 10-year program. But it's a program designed to make the states - and the citizens - increasingly dependent on Washington.

States receive a 2:1 (or better) match in federal funds for every dollar spent, encouraging them to spend the maximum in fat years and making it extremely painful to cut in lean years. This is a reasonable compromise for most people, when you consider two details:
  • S-CHIP is capped by law, unlike Medicaid
  • The program is meant to protect those left outside the safety net of Medicaid. Currently limited to children in families making 2x the federal poverty level
I don't mean to oversimplify. There's plenty to make everyone uncomfortable with the existing S-CHIP program. And certain provisions are just a joke. But the bill the President vetoed would raise the cap which makes the program palatable and expand the program beyond the group for whom it was intended. There's no doubt that this is the opening legislative salvo in the democrats' war for universal health coverage, and President Bush was right to take a stand here - for a host of reasons.

First, the bill more than doubles the federal budget for the program over ten years, to $60 billion. At the same time, it raises the income cap to 4x the federal poverty level, which would make a family of 4 making $82,500 eligible for government assistance.

That's not even the kicker. The plan is to add a 61-cent tax to a pack of cigarettes to pay for the increase, and the cost of that tax will be disproportionately borne by the poor. So the idea here - as I understand it - is to expand the program by making it available to people who are less needy and by raising taxes on the poor. I guess you can justify anything with the phrase "but it's for the children".

So a veto for this bill is exactly what it deserved as a matter of good fiscal policy and good politics. But as I said earlier, this is just the opening salvo in the war. The House vote was 15 republican votes short of overriding the veto, virtually guaranteeing that it will die - in which case the spin will be that the evil republicans killed a bill to give health care to people who don't have it, regardless of the details. And they will take that spin straight into the election season. If enough republicans cave to the pressure to pass the bill, then the narrative will be that The People overwhelmingly want government-provided health care, without regard for cost or quality.

Now is the time for the leading republican presidential candidates to begin laying down their specific plans as to how health care can be reformed without nationalizing more of it or over-regulating it. If they're not ready to do that, they might as well save their campaign money for 2012.


Some pet peeves:

  1. Seeing their, there, and they're used interchangeably.
  2. Ditto your, you're (and yore?, well maybe not)

  3. and this one, I noticed today:
  4. People who don't know the difference between "ten times more than" and "ten times as much as".
And yet when people say nuklear, it doesn't bug me at all. Go figure.

My wife suggests Christmas letters which don't include spell-check. And newscasters who refer to the police as cops, or refuse to refer to POTUS by his title.



Took the older kids to see Order of the Phoenix last night. The movies always let me down to a certain extent. Few of the actors carry the roles as well as I hope, and there just isn't time in a commercial feature to give proper attention to the details that make the books worth reading. But that's just me nitpicking. The books are still perceived, I think, primarily as children's literature. The movies are made to keep children's attention. They mostly underestimate the audience.

Regarding the books, my wife scored tickets to the local library's release party for Book 7. I think everyone there got a copy of the book to take home for an unheard of 4 week loan on a new book. I brought the older two, who've been reading them with me for about four years now. (They go back and reread them independently after we've finished each book together. I think our daughter has read the first book a half dozen times.) It was a good time, and the library did a great job building up the mood.

I came down with strep the weekend the book came out, though, and took several days off after the second chapter. Then we had a cousin visiting for several days, so I haven't gotten the book out again yet. I know from history that limiting our reading of a 700-page book to nights when we don't have any other family obligations tends to make it drag on and on. There's no way we'll be finishing that book before it's due. Probably lucky if it's done by Christmas. But yes, I know who dies and who Dumbledore was right to trust. I had to know, and on my own terms, so I went looking for it rather than endure months of having to walk out of the room whenever it came up, only to have it spoiled by someone in the week before I was to finish the book. For the sake of those of you who may still be holding out, I'll respect your choice, and I ask that any readers do the same.


Eight things

I was tagged by Scott over at Ah, Shoot!. And I don't usually do these at all, but for as infrequently as I post it was nice to be remembered at all, so in no particular order:

I am

1. something of a technophile. I like more of those things than I can afford. The ones that cost money and the ones that waste time.

2. a formerly avid comic book collector/reader. Never bought them for value, just for entertainment. I still have about three big boxes in the basement, I think, for when the kids show some kind of interest (and are old enough).

3. a major math geek. Probably not so different from Defiant Infidel, but my tool of choice is Mathcad.

4. an insufferable procrastinator (which you know if you've been here twice in a month and seen that I haven't posted in between).

5. a huge political and economics junkie. I believe firmly that the American experiment has been as successful as it has due to the unique combination of laissez-faire economics, democratic thought, plus belief in a divine Creator.

6. stubborn. Wow. Yes, I am.

7. at a new employer as of last month. Twelve years at the old place, but I got an opportunity that was too good to pass on.

8. going on vacation in a few weeks, but don't worry. Irregular posting will not be noticeably affected.


My personal favorite suggestion:

So Nancy Pelosi apparently has asked people to submit alternative neutral connotation words which could be substituted for earmarks.

Over at Captains Quarters, Ed Morrissey held a poll to determine the best word to convey the meaning, though something tells me Madam Speaker wouldn't have liked any of the alternatives the CQ readers had put forward.

The winner was Congressional Resource Allocation Protection (CRAP), but my vote went to Timely House Endorsed Payments Hidden from Taxpayers (THEPHT).

Whaddya know!

The other night I got the all-too-rare opportunity to spend a little time with the older son: lobbing some pitches to him and helping him work on his swing. He's in coach-pitch this year, and he's spent a few games now feeling like he'll never be able to hit the ball. I know, because I've been there.

We spent about the first half-hour working off a tee, practicing good swing mechanics and showing how a good stance can make a big difference in the swing. We kept working on his swing until I thought he looked comfortable and appeared to know what he was doing. Turns out he knew better than I'd given him credit for.

After I started lobbing him some pitches, he asked if he could switch hands. I was a little bit reluctant, since we had spent all that time on the right side, but we had time, and it couldn't hurt.

So I helped him line up with the "plate" and quickly reviewed the stance and mechanics of the swing. He swung the bat a couple times, and we were ready to go. Not only was he suddenly connecting with the ball , but he was now hitting it further after a couple swings on the left side than he had after a month of (admittedly sporadic) practice on the right side!

He said he felt more comfortable on the left, so I told him to go ahead and try that side during the next game. Last night, he had three at-bats.

His first time up, the coach told him to go back to the right side, but at seven years old he didn't have any problem telling the coach he knew what he was doing. He struck out, but he got a surprised compliment from the coach on his form.

Second time up to bat, he actually connected with the ball! It was short, and went foul on the first base side, but he made it to base before letting them send him back. For the third at-bat he managed a foul tip.

I don't know if he'll end up still batting left at the end of the season. But he did get a taste of what it will feel like when he finally gets his first hit. And something tells me, he believes he can do it.



For my wife, who asked for a site which would recommend books based on other books she's liked.

I know LibraryThing's Suggester does that, based on the author or title, using the database of its member's collections.

Another page I liked on the same site is their tag cloud, which is a pretty interesting way to whittle down a wide variety of books.

Anyone else have other suggestions? Thanks!


I don't blog reality TV

...because it's not my thing. But who's ever watched a Tuesday night episode of American Idol and not known that Melinda Doolittle would win?



Somebody else's kids

Faith is a strange thing.We say we have it, and that we believe in things we've never seen. But saying it doesn't make it so, and there are things we'll never see until we truly have faith.

Last year my wife and I felt a call to become foster parents. I'd never felt something like that before, and if someone had told me it would happen, I'd have said they were crazy. I didn't see myself as a foster parent, ever. But we went to the training classes for nine weeks, and I found myself convinced that this was something I wanted to do - something we were equipped to do.

And when we started, last summer, I believed maybe it was God's plan for us to take children in and give them love while their families got straightened out or until an appropriate adoptive home could be found. After all, we've got four kids of our own, and that's a pretty big family by most people's standards. Since then, we've had the blessing of parenting a toddler for two months, a newborn for the last six, and recently a second infant.

You expect it to be a strange thing, welcoming these children into your home. He doesn't look like you, or have any natural claim on you. You just aren't going to experience that out-of-the-blue blown away falling-in-love sensation that you had the first time you gently cradled your firstborn in your arms.

At first, it is strange. He cries to be comforted because he's lonely or hungry or frightened or confused about this strange place you've brought him to. He resents you a little for not being his parent, while you admit that you resent his parents a little for not being there for their child. But you feed him, bathe him, and hold him because the people who should be doing it aren't there. You're something more than the babysitter, but something less than his parent.

Maybe you weren't blown away when you first held him, even if he was a newborn. So you were right not to expect it. But it is also strange in a way you did not expect, and can scarcely explain.

At some point you started telling him "I love you" without believing it, because he's a child and entitled to be loved. Before you know it, you find yourself in the emergency room at midnight and the doctor is informing you that he needs to be admitted for a respiratory infection. You understand that this means you're going to have to miss at least one day of work, and that you probably won't see much of your wife in the next day or two. But you realize that he needs you there with him, and somehow you know - know - that that's where you want to be.

Somewhere along the way, he stopped being just somebody else's kid and you started thinking of him (or her, or them) as yours. And you don't know the full scope of what God had in mind when he put them in your life, but the part he had revealed to you has already happened: they've had a warm, loving family for the months they've spent with us. And it's a blessing to know that you've been a part of giving them that love. But there's a second blessing you didn't expect: you know that you have been changed for the better. And you do know that it might not last, but you're so thankful and so awed that He has made use of you this way.


15-diaper day

We had seven kids in our house all week. We've had one foster baby for four months, who's nearly part of our family, plus two we watched for a week while their foster family was out of town. The three of them are in diapers, plus our youngest who is mostly potty-trained. The title of this post was probably typical of the week, but it was actually spoken by my wife as an assessment of her day so far when I came home for dinner one night.

Someone commented last Sunday that we must be crazy. I responded then that it's the good kind of crazy. That was after one night. Seven nights later, we're exhausted, but somehow we've been shown that we can handle this. We're continually astounded to discover the ways that God has prepared us for this work, and that He has prepared this work for us.


Reader help

Since I added labels to posts, there have been problems with some browsers displaying error messages when the page gets loaded. I use Firefox, so I haven't noticed the problem, but I know a number of my readers use other browsers.

It would be a big help if you leave me a comment or an e-mail letting me know what browser you use and whether you noticed any problems.



So just in case you're interested...

Congress is trying to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine (which ended by Presidential veto in 1987) this week. Why? Maybe because they're in the majority again and can't figure out how to compete economically with the strength of conservative talk radio.

On the face of it, that's bad enough. But the thing many people have found alarming is that there was an attempt to apply the rule to bloggers above a certain level of readership. So what's the big deal, right?

According to wikipedia, in 1969:

Although similar laws had been deemed unconstitutional when applied to newspapers, the Court ruled that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of the limited nature of the public airwave spectrum.
Is the blogosphere more limited than newspapers? On the contrary, most anyone who can use a computer can start a blog, and people are open to comment on whatever they wish. As long as the Fairness Doctrine remains a liberal fantasy, that is. So would that make the Fairness Doctrine supportive of the First Amendment or would it be more restrictive of our rights? You be the judge.

So as I said, there was an attempt to apply a resurrected Fairness Doctrine to bloggers. How did the vote go? The results are here. But how was the split?

Yea (favoring the amendment to scuttle the inclusion of bloggers) 55 (48 R, 7 D)
Nay (opposing the amendment) 43 (43 D, 2 Ind.)

So, which one would be the party of individual rights? And stepping on those rights helps whom? Just checking.

H/T: The Liberty Papers


Nothing to see here.

Well, maybe that's not the best title for a post when you get a sudden traffic surge. Most traffic I've had in months, and it seems to be because I've been adding labels to the existing posts.

Glad you stopped by, though. Please look around!



As I may have mentioned before, our youngest son is something of a challenge most of the time.

The terrible twos was something of a mystery to us when our older two children were in that age range. But we truly got introduced to the concept by our younger daughter, who seemed at the time to be making up for the good behavior of her older brother and sister. She was, and remains at times, an extremely willful child. However, she's become positively delightful over time.

Our youngest seems to have followed in his sister's footsteps. He's probably more difficult in some ways than she was, but we're starting to see (we hope) the light at the end of that tunnel.

Earlier this afternoon, I'm working at the computer when he rushes up the steps from the basement to the kitchen. It's clear that he's on a mission.

"I'm sneaking your candy."

What are you doing?

"I'm sneaking your candy." He gets a chair and slides it up to the kitchen counter. It's obvious he knows where the good Christmas-stocking candy is kept.

Nearly incapacitated with laughter, I glance at my wife in disbelief. At her urging, I compose myself to rein him in.

So I correct him over violent protest. I let him know he isn't allowed to take what's not his without permission, and further that he isn't allowed to climb on the counter. I wouldn't need to tell the older kids this, but since he's only a day away from his third birthday, I tell him also that it technically isn't sneaking if he announces it.

For my trouble, I get a swat on the side of my head. He gets a brief time-out until he's prepared to apologize, which invariably comes, but not yet. He sulks, cries, and stops to return briefly to the basement.

"Guys," he hollers down to his siblings, the Instigators, "Dad says no candy." He climbs all the way down the steps, and I'm still listening, wondering what he's going to do next.

He returns in a moment, and enters the living room to talk to his mom. He sees me out of the corner of his eye and says with a hint (perhaps) of remorse, "Sorry, Dad."

"What are you sorry for?" she asks.

"Sorry I took the candy."

He turns three tomorrow, and the terrible twos... Well, I'm sure they're not gone, but their time is running short.