Sunday, August 30, 2009

Manufactured Consent

Democrats have accused opponents of Obamacare of being "astroturf," but if you want to see what astroturf looks like, check out this post.

The behavior of the pro-Obamacare thugs is outrageous. People were forced to give their names and addresses to enter and hear their own representatives speak. The names were then used on a petition supporting Obamacare. Talk about a bait and switch. I imagine many of the people there would have been surprised to hear that the cost of admission was to support a government program that they were wanting to gather information about.

Note the positioning of the photographers for the event. I saw this kind of staging firsthand in 1984 when Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro came to my university to speak. Staffers positioned those with pro-Mondale signs right up by the stage. The rabble--that is, normal students--were forced to the back where their signs would go unnoticed by the photogs. It's sad to note that little has changed in 25 years and Democrats are still lying about who attends their events.

Why Obama Won't Release His College and Law School Papers

He's afraid he'll be expected to explain himself like GOP Virginia governor candidate Robert F. McDonnell.

At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples...

In his run for governor, McDonnell, 55, makes little mention of his conservative beliefs and has said throughout his campaign that he should be judged by what he has done in office, including efforts to lower taxes, stiffen criminal penalties and reform mental health laws. He reiterated that position Saturday in a statement responding to questions about his thesis.

"Virginians will judge me on my 18-year record as a legislator and Attorney General and the specific plans I have laid out for our future -- not on a decades-old academic paper I wrote as a student during the Reagan era and haven't thought about in years."

McDonnell added: "Like everybody, my views on many issues have changed as I have gotten older." He said that his views on family policy were best represented by his 1995 welfare reform legislation and that he "worked to include child day care in the bill so women would have greater freedom to work." What he wrote in the thesis on women in the workplace, he said, "was simply an academic exercise and clearly does not reflect my views."

He needn't worry. The press won't even hold Teh One accountable for the things he said during the campaign. Why would they ask him about radical views from law school?

Kook Fringe Protest Unsurprisingly Draws Few Attendees

But read this article, and you'll be inclined to think that (a) Rick Perry is responsible for secessionist kooks and (b) this group is a huge part of the GOP.

Back in April, Perry flirted with the idea of secession when he told reporters after a Tax Day tea party event: “There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve [the Union]. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”

Even for a governor who frequently plays to the more extreme elements in the Texas GOP, it was a gobsmackingly ‘out there’ remark. But it certainly did wonders for the secession crowd—long a totally marginal and ridiculed group with about as much chance of capturing the mainstream imagination as the LaRouche cult.

The turnout for the rally wasn’t huge—200 would be a generous estimate—but it was enough to show how much Perry has helped galvanize and embolden the right wing “hate America” fringe. After all, the governor of the second most populous state in the nation had suggested that secession was a possible solution to federal over-reach. Republican political leaders have helped bring “death panels” and the Obama birth certificate nonsense into acceptable discourse; Perry’s contribution has been bringing secession into the mix.

Perry's remark that "who knew" what might come of politicians ignoring the will of the people is neither "gobsmackingly 'out there'" nor was it an endorsement of secession. When Perry noted that Texas supposedly retained the right to secede, he was stating a view quite common here, not issuing a rally cry to secessionists.

But that's not how such words have been portrayed by the hysterical left. I can still recall when talk of secession was cool to the left. Certainly not "gobsmackingly 'out there.'" But I guess that was soooo 2004.

No Terrorist for Oil?

Lockerbie Bomber Set Free for Oil

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

I wonder if Obama will find it "disturbing."

Torture Works

How a Detainee Became an Asset

It was through waterboarding.

Great points from Allahpundit:

In another universe it’d be a narrative-shatterer but in this one it’s noise, for the simple reason that nothing — nothing — will dent the absolutism of the anti-”torture” side. Any fair-minded supporter of enhanced interrogation would concede that it’s morally problematic, that the info extracted may be unreliable, that it’s susceptible to abuse; opponents concede nothing, up to and including (or especially) the fact that sometimes it might just work. They can’t. If they did, they’d have to join the rest of us in honestly struggling with whether the ends of possibly saving innocent lives is justified by the means of inflicting suffering on someone in custody. And given how most Americans would resolve that dilemma — and how Obama’s interrogation team will surely resolve it if, god forbid, the situation ever presents itself — that’s not something they have any incentive to do.

Torture works. Sometimes. And sometimes interrogation techniques that aren't torture work. The trick is figuring out how far you have to go to get information that is useful and still be able to sleep at night. But as Allahpundit notes, this is not a dilemma liberals have; they are safe and secure in their philosophy, not because it makes them safe, but because there are people who struggle with this problem and sometimes do unpleasant things to prisoners to get information that makes us all safe.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stolen from Chuck

Liberal Boogeymen

Robert Stacy McCain has a nice piece in the American Spectator discussing the liberal need for "boogeymen" to explain any rejection of liberals or liberal ideas.

All this watchdogging indicates a paranoid tendency among soi-disant "progressives," a fear that has its source in their own ideology. To the liberal True Believer, "rugged individualism" is not a lifestyle nor an attitude, but rather a false myth propagated by Republicans for political purposes. The liberal cannot admit that ballets and operas would exist without taxpayer support from the National Endowment of the Arts, nor that a family could provide for its health-care needs without government subsidies and bureaucratic superintendence.

Therefore, it never occurs to liberals that their political antagonists are capable of independent thought and action in the field of communications. If Mark Levin, Michael Reagan, Glenn Reynolds and Ann Coulter say similar things about any particular phenomenon -- e.g., the media's absurdly hagiographic tributes to Ted Kennedy -- this can only reflect a purposeful coordination of effort. Somewhere, there must be some right-wing Gepetto pulling the strings...

Instead of considering the role of individual responsibility, the liberal habitually attributes all human misery to nebulous forces of evil -- greed, discrimination, "Corporate America" and so forth -- which serve as ready-made scapegoats in liberal demonology. Occasionally, when these reliable bogeymen lose their power to terrify the gullible, liberals will conjure up new demons -- global warming, suburban sprawl, Halliburton -- representing the evils from which liberals courageously offer to rescue the helpless citizenry.

The refocus of blame from individuals for their behavior to "society" (or some segment thereof) is liberal gold and very attractive. We've heard the siren call of victimhood on a variety of fronts: poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, unemployment, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and so on. In every case, the individual is not a victim of his own bad choices, but a victim of some evil Other.

No doubt, there are individuals who are poor through no fault of their own. But much of poverty is attributable to behaviors that the individual can control (dropping out of school, for instance, or becoming pregnant). It is the failure to recognize the power individuals should and do hold over their own lives that allows liberals to blame anyone and everyone for "societal" ills than the person who is that ill.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Looking Down on Dixie

Interesting piece defending Southerners against Northern snobbery and ignorance. Suzie explains why Northern pride over the Civil War is misplaced.

Some people don’t understand the extent of slavery in the North, or how white Northerners benefited from Southern slavery, even after it had been abolished in their own region. Some think opposing slavery was the same as supporting equal rights and opportunities for African Americans. Perhaps they think that economics played no part in abolition in the North. If so, they should read this.

Righteous Northerners could have invaded, liberated all enslaved people, invited them north and then let the South secede. Or, they could have refused to buy anything from the South, or transport its goods, until slavery ended. But that would have hurt their industries, which needed the South’s resources, made cheaper by the forced labor of slaves. To some degree, it parallels the situation today in which a lot of people hate to hear about bad labor conditions, including human trafficking (i.e., slavery), but not all of them are willing to part with cheap goods.

As a white Northerner, if you want to feel superior because of slavery, check the complicity of your family. (If you want to know about my family: My parents were Yankees who moved to Texas for my father’s job a year before I was born.

Slavery was a national disgrace, not a regional one. Black people in the North were hardly treated as equals. They were frequently little more than slaves. To look down on Southerners as racists and idiots is both foolish and unproductive.

Why Isn't Health Care a Right?

Kate Southwood asks that question in this HuffPo puff piece.

The Norwegian health care system is not the best in the world. It was ranked 11th by the World Health Organization in its last poll conducted in 2000. The current American health care system came in 37th. Not only that, WHO found that America pays more, lots more, than any other country: "The U.S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance."

So if America is already spending more on health care than anyone else and if America's health care technology is second-to-none, why isn't health care a fundamental right?

Liberals think health care is a right. More to the point, they think the best health care is a right, regardless of cost. This is different from anyone's thinking about any other issue. Does everyone have "a right" to the best food? No. When we talk about food kitchens or church pantries, we think of food that keeps people from starving, not the best food in the world.

What about housing? Should "a right" to housing include having a huge house with A/C, heating and all the comforts of modern life? It's one thing for Habitat for Humanity to want to build houses like that people, but we don't consider a "right to shelter" to mean a right to 3,00 square feet and ceramic tile.

The problem with this "health care as right" mantra is cost. We simply can't afford for every person in America to have the same level of health care. Exra Klein is right: we do ration.
We ration health care the way we ration other goods: We make it too expensive for everyone to afford.

We don't seem to think it's wrong to use this system for food; if you can afford steak or seafood, you can buy it. If you can't, you buy chicken or hamburger. Nobody's screaming that we need to provide the poor with tilapia on a weekly basis, because we accept that those with more money have more choices. Food pantries usually give clients inexpensive foods: dry milk, canned goods, beans, rice.

But this standard is somehow wrong when we talk about health care. Regardless of what people say, when the doctor comes to them and says, "You have 'X,'" people want to be told that they have the most effective options available for next to nothing. They don't usually admit this, but most people know what they think any given procedure, such as an X-ray, sonogram, or brain surgery, is worth. And that's what they think they should get to pay. It doesn't really matter if that's the real cost of the procedure; this is based on "fairness."

But we know that a "fair price" isn't what most of the procedures we want cost. They can cost much, much more. Liberals will tell you this is just because greedy CEOs want bigger bonuses. But the reality is that the costs of medicine are affected by the markets just like anything else. And if the government gets involved and tells doctors and hospitals and pharmaceutical companies how much they can charge, then that maximum is going to be what will be charged. And since we all don't have money trees growing in the backyard, when the government runs out of cash for medicine, there will be rationing, and that rationing will still be based on what we can afford.

Look, even liberals acknowledge that the rich will always get better health care than the rest of us. The problem is that they want the rest of us to get some minimum care without the ability to have more based on our individual incomes. I'm sorry the uninsured aren't getting optimum care, are going without procedures or medicines or foregoing tests because they find them expensive. But you don't get to complain to the grocer that steak is too expensive and you have a right to it, either.

To answer Southwood's question, health care isn't a right because we can't afford to give everyone the health care they demand for the price they want, and no one wants the stripped down model.

Alexander Muse makes the same point.

Another Suggestion for Health Care Reform (Without Obamacare)

Here. And it doesn't even talk about tort reform, so Democrats shouldn't be scared of it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oldie but a Goodie, Still Describes 'Em Accurately

Ted Kennedy Loved Telling and Hearing Chappaquiddick Jokes

You have to understand. Kennedy loved humor, and, as Ed Klein tells it, couldn't wait to hear the latest Chappaquiddick joke. From Jules Crittenden:

How the late senator loved to hear and tell Chappaquiddick jokes, and was always eager to know if anyone had heard any new ones. Not that Kennedy lacked remorse, Klein quickly added, seeming to intuit that my jaw and perhaps those of other listeners had just hit the floorboards. I gather it was a self-deprecating maneuver on Kennedy’s part, exercised with the famous Kennedy charm, though it sounds like one of those “I guess you had to have been there” things.

Bet you won't see liberals quoting that bit about Kennedy in their nauseating eulogies. But Mary Jo Kopechne couldn't be reached for comment.

As Advertisers Shun Glenn Beck...

Viewers flock to his show.

An advertising boycott against Fox News host Glenn Beck has succeeded in keeping most major sponsors from running commercials on his show even as the controversial commentator's viewership has grown.

Beck attracted 2.81 million viewers Monday, his third-largest audience since his show launched on Fox News in January, according to Nielsen Media Research data provided by the network.

If Fox News doesn't drop Beck, and hopefully, they won't, advertisers will come back.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

There's No Such Thing As a Free Lunch, Including Cash for Clunkers

Some Surprised by "Clunker" Tax

But many of those cashing in on the clunkers program are surprised when they get to the treasurer's office windows. That's because the government's rebate of up to $4500 dollars for every clunker is taxable.

"They didn't realize that would be taxable. A lot of people don't realize that. So they're not happy and kind of surprised when they find that out," (Minnehaha County Treasurer Pam) Nelson said.

They didn't think the money was free, did they?

Ted Kennedy Dies


The classy reaction.

Put aside your ideological differences for an appropriate moment and mark this passing with solemnity.

There is a time and place for political analysis and criticism. Not now.

Yes, there will be a nauseating excess of MSM hagiographies and lionizations — and crass calls to pass the health care takeover to memorialize his death.

That’s no excuse to demonstrate the same lack of restraint in the other direction. Not now.

And the not so classy reaction (in the comments) to the classy reaction:
Next she’ll be “reporting” on what type of “cadillac” coffin he has at his funeral and how that is damning to the health care issue somehow.

His body is still warm and she’s already starting this shit.

That bitch is using oxygen that could be being absorbed by people with souls.

Which leads me to say Mary Jo Kopechne couldn't be reached for comment.

But cheer up! Ted Kennedy made us Americans. Who knew? I thought I was an American before then.

Oh, and Rush was right that Dems won't let a good death go to waste without using it for political purposes.

And those awful, uncouth Republicans. Thank goodness liberals were so civilized when Ronald Reagan died.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tax Cuts = Taking Over 10% of the Economy

That's the argument made here.

This afternoon in his town hall, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he is “unalterably opposed” to using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform. “It would be a drastic change in the way that the United States Senate does business.” Fox News’ Shep Smith fact-checked McCain’s claim immediately upon the conclusion of the town hall. “The truth is Republicans used this in 2001, 2003, and 2005 to pass then-President George Bush’s tax cuts,”

I hardly think taking over a large section of the economy compares to tax cuts.

Maybe We Should Have Taken Detainees to the Local Haunted House Instead

Since much of the supposed torture sounds like stuff I've seen (or heard) at Cutting Edge Haunted House.

Threats of torture, threats of execution of spouses and children, threats to rape, threats, threats, threats...

So, now torture is yelling at someone? And making threats? You need more for a domestic violence claim, usually. Now we're classifying threatening someone as torture?

Stolen from Dana: John Stossel Reports on Health Care in Canada

Monday, August 24, 2009

Misdirection: Holder to Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate CIA Terrorist Investigations

It seems like only yesterday President Obama said that he wasn't going to prosecute CIA investigators from the GWB Era. Oh, but that was soooo January.

Now, with his poll numbers dropping like a rock and Americans rejecting Obamacare, it's time for the misdirection: investigate the CIA.

Holder's decision could complicate the Justice Department's relationship with the White House, where President Obama has repeatedly expressed a desire to move forward from the national security controversies of the Bush administration. Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton told reporters Monday that the president had complete faith in Holder and that the decision whether to launch an investigation was the attorney general's sole prerogative.

Don't believe for an instant that Teh One isn't behind the sudden urge to prosecute Bush-era investigators. Obama needs red meat for the rabid left, and since he agrees with renditions, and continues the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, throwing over the Central Intelligence Agency probably seems like a no-brainer (perfect for this president). But don't think any of this is as important as the public option in health care. This is simply an attempt to take the heat off the administration while they ram through the public option behind taxpayers' backs.

Don't expect the CIA to roll over, though. It has good grounds to fight any prosecutions.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

796 Is the New 16,000

Remember how the stimulus bill was going to "create or save" 600,000 jobs by the end of August? For New Hampshire, that would have meant 16,000 new jobs. How many have they "created or saved"?


That’s how many jobs measured in full time equivalents were paid for with stimulus dollars as of the end of June. Just about all of them, 700, are government workers who otherwise would have been laid off.

In other words, more taxpayer-paid-for employees got to keep their jobs because...taxpayers paid additional funds for them.

Yeah, that stimulus bill is workin' good!

Of Course They Want to Change the Rules

Senator Ted Kennedy, recognizing that he could die any time and that, politically, it would cause Democrats to lose their super-majority, is asking Massachusetts' Democrat governor Deval Patrick and Democrat-controlled legislature to change the rules of succession for his seat to keep it safely in Democrats' hands.

In his letter, which was obtained by the Globe, Kennedy said that he backs the current succession law, enacted in 2004, which gives voters the power to fill a US Senate vacancy. But he said the state and country need two Massachusetts senators...

Under the 2004 law, if Kennedy were to die or step down, voters would select his successor in a special election to be held within five months of the vacancy.

The law was enacted to prevent then Republican governor Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican to replace Kennedy. But now that a Democrat holds that position, it's imperative that Massachusetts have two senators every. single. minute.

Hypocrisy? Nah.

It's Democrisy.

Thanks to Chuck Serio for the tip.

White House E-Mail Address Was Used to Collect Info on People

Via Red State, we find out that the White House was collecting info on people at the site.

Hilariously, Greg Sargent tries to compare this to Senator John Cornyn, who allows people to voluntarily give their own information to his office.

Can someone be more obtuse?

Let's say this s-l-o-w-l-y for those who are having a hard time keeping up. There's a big difference between giving your own information to a political website and giving someone else's information to a government website. And given this administration's penchant for retribution, it's not paranoid to dislike someone giving the Obama police your info.

Embracing the Culture of Death

Jim Towey discusses the way the federal government has embraced the Culture of Death through an end-of-life planning document called "Your Life, Your Choices."

"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."

I know of no one (although, I'm sure there are people out there) who want to be burdens to their families or suck up all their kids' inheritance in long and costly nursing home stays. But most of us might think one thing about end-of-life choices at 40 and an entirely different one at 70. While thinking about how you want your life to end is a good idea, temporary depression or a disability shouldn't push someone into accepting choices to end their lives so they "aren't a burden."

Easier to Call Your Adversary Crazy Than Understand the Debate

This article does a good job of bringing together all the leftwing disinformation regarding Republicans in one place. Namely,

1. Republicans are racist.

2. Republicans all think Barack Obama is a Muslim/racist/not eligible to be president.

3. Republicans lie about health care reform and "death panels" because they are both stupid and evil liars.

4. Republicans are evil money-grubbers in the pocket of corporations.

5. Republicans don't care about the poor.

This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon phenomenon, but that doesn't make it any less outrageous or disgusting. Consider this section on why racist Republicans didn't want Obama as president.
The election of Obama – a black man with an anti-conservative message – as a successor to George W. Bush has scrambled the core American right's view of their country. In their gut, they saw the US as a white-skinned, right-wing nation forever shaped like Sarah Palin.

When this image was repudiated by a majority of Americans in a massive landslide, it simply didn't compute. How could this have happened? How could the cry of "Drill, baby, drill" have been beaten by a supposedly big government black guy? So a streak that has always been there in the American right's world-view – to deny reality, and argue against a demonic phantasm of their own creation – has swollen. Now it is all they can see.

See, Republicans didn't oppose Obama because the policies he proposed sounded harmful to the American economy and an affront to American independence (not to mention his hopelessly naive and dangerous foreign policy). It was because they are white and he is black. Who could have missed it?

Then there's this:
This trend has reached its apotheosis this summer with the Republican Party now claiming en masse that Obama wants to set up "death panels" to euthanise the old and disabled. Yes: Sarah Palin really has claimed – with a straight face – that Barack Obama wants to kill her baby.

Barack Obama has championed the idea of expert panels to determine "best practices" and help control costs for health care. It's not paranoid for a person with a disabled child to be concerned that "controlling health care costs" and regulating which treatments and procedures will be covered will end up in health care rationing. Those with special needs children know better than anyone what it's like to argue and wrestle to get the best care for one's child. The idea that an impersonal government bureaucrat will have the final say is something we should be concerned about. It's not like this doesn't happen in other countries.

But then, there's this:
You have to admire the audacity of the right. Here's what's actually happening. The US is the only major industrialised country that does not provide regular healthcare to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves – and 50 million people can't afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 US citizens die every year needlessly, because they can't access the care they require. That's equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year. Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending healthcare of being "killers" – and they have successfully managed to put them on the defensive.

This paragraph is so packed with lies and disinformation as to be breathtaking. There's nothing wrong with adults taking care of their own health care needs, as opposed to some government entity doing it. Individuals know better what will work for them, and governmental one-size-fits-all plans won't fit all.

And then there's that bizarre 50 million figure, one not used by anyone anywhere. Where did the author get it? Probably from his fertile imagination, right next to the "they think America is white-skinned and that's why they didn't want a black man as president" fantasy. The figure that usually gets bandied about is 46 million, and even that includes a lot of people who are here illegally (10 million), people who make enough to buy their own care (about 20 million) as well as people who aren't eligible for government medical programs and can't get insurance through other channels.

Besides the fallacious 50 million number, there's the 18 million number this author uses. Where does that come from? I found this site which uses the 18 million figure from the Institute of Medicine. But that figure doesn't just include people who died because a disease was not diagnosed until it was too late to treat. They are including people with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These people argue that preventative screening such as mammography and pap smears are not available to the uninsured, but that's not true. Free or low cost pap smears are available at local county health departments and at women's clinics (such as Planned Parenthood). And low cost or free mammograms are available as well.

Demonizing your political opponents, calling them crazy, smearing them as uneducated and racist are all part of the playbook of the Left. Unfortunately, too many people are buying these arguments.

UPDATE: At least Johann Hari has a more nuanced take than Amanda Marcotte, who thinks it's all just white people afraid a black president is going to use health care reform to steal from white people to give to black people. H/T: Chuck Serio.
The nutty white people grasp that non-white Americans are more likely to be uninsured than white Americans. Put this information into a paranoid brain that believes in a zero sum game and what you get is this conclusion: In order to pay for more non-white people to get health care, some white people are going to have to die to save money. And that’s why they’re scared. But if they weren’t so f*cking racist, they wouldn’t be scared.

This is about the dumbest (and most racist) thing I've seen lately. But then, I haven't been over to Pandagon in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't Oppose Obamacare...

Or Democrats will investigate you.

House Democrats are probing the nation’s largest insurance companies
for lavish spending, demanding reams of compensation data and schedules of retreats and conferences.

Letters sent to 52 insurance companies by Democratic leaders demand extensive documents for an examination of ‘extensive compensation and other business practices in the health insurance industry.” The letters set a deadline of Sept. 14 for the documents...

By Sept. 4, the firms are supposed to supply detailed compensation data for board members and top executives, as well as a “table listing all conferences, retreats, or other events held outside company facilities from January 1, 2007, to the present that were paid for, reimbursed, or subsidized in whole or in part by your company.”

For employees or officers making $500,000 or more, the committee wants information on salary, bonus, options and pension.

And by Sept. 14, the firms are supposed to provide copies of reports from compensation consultants, plus board drafts of compensation plans and information about market share.

The only reasons Democrats would be making these demands is (a) to blackmail health insurance companies into going along with Obamacare or (b) smearing the same companies as greedy, evil bastages in haughty statements for the adoring media.

This government doesn't miss a trick on intimidation.

The Boycott That Backfired

As I noted here, the leftwing organization, headed by an Obama administration official, has been promoting a boycott of Glenn Beck's television show on Fox News.

Liberals hailed the dropping of ads by Best Buy, Wal-Mart and CVS (plus several other advertisers) that their celebration of free speech by trying to silence speech with which they disagree was working. But is it really? Well, not exactly.

In other words, the claim here was about half true. It was completely false regarding Best Buy, and CVS didn’t request ads for Beck before requesting to avoid him. Only Wal-Mart actually pulled ads from the show, and even at that may still be redirecting its ad money to other shows.

It seems that several major advertisers are now choosing to avoid commentary shows as a way to avoid this sort of harassment by kooks.

As William Jacobson notes, boycotts rarely ever work. And, in this case, is probably backfiring because advertiser avoidance of commentary shows is more likely to affect left-leaning shows like Rachel Maddow and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Actions do have consequences.

About Reconciliation...

And why Democrats would be foolish to use it to push through Obamacare here.

Escallating the Rhetoric: When You Can't Win the Argument, Say the Other Side Wants Your Man Dead

That's what Howard Dean says.

Here's the transcript:

STEPHANIE MILLER (1:29): I saw you (Howard Dean) on Keith Olbermann last night. You really do believe we’re going to have a public option.

HOWARD DEAN: At the end of the day, I think we will. First of all, the president is a very smart guy and he knows very well this can’t work without a public option. Secondly, you know he’s run into a rough patch in the Senate, mostly because of Democrats, honestly.

The Republicans, they have no interest in this Bill. They’re using the 1994 playbook. Let’s kill the bill and kill the president...... or, kill the president’s term. Although there are sort of angry people out there I get very nervous about this stuff. I don’t like it at all.

DEAN (5:02): I’m an optimist. I think the president is gonna get a bill on his desk. I think it is going to have a public option in it. He’s going to sign it in December, his numbers are gonna turn around and we’re not going to lose a lot of seats. In fact I think we’ll pick up seats in the Senate and lose just a couple of seats in the House.

Frankly, it's disgusting stuff when you have someone saying that political opposition wants to kill the president. I'm not sure that even qualifies as free speech, but it certainly follows the plan to demonize opposition.

Notice how he walked back from "kill the president" to "or kill the president's term." There's a big difference between those two statements, and Dean knows it. To have even uttered the accusation of assassination discredits him, but how much more discredited can Dean get?

More at Hot Air.

They Own the White House and Congress, but It's Still Republicans' Fault

Lesson here: even if you control both the executive and legislative branches of government--and have a "super-majority" in the Senate--you still can't pass legislation because it's all those mean ol' Republicans' fault.

Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks.

Baucus, and the Debate on Health Care, Go West (August 19, 2009)
Times Topics: Republican PartyTop Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans’ purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month’s Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the heated opposition was evidence that Republicans had made a political calculation to draw a line against any health care changes, the latest in a string of major administration proposals that Republicans have opposed.

Rahm Emanuel is a liar. Republicans don't oppose any health care changes. In fact, they have released their own health care plan, but Democrats have stiff-armed that.

As usual, Democrats don't consider Republicans' ideas useful. They just want GOPers to shut up and vote with Dems. Now, they're trying to blame their disarray on a minority that has absolutely no power in this government. How pathetic is that?

Barney Frank: Why Are You Yelling at Me?

Frank would have been better off trying to answer the shouted questions, as opposed to talking down to his constituents. Why are they yelling? Maybe they're tired of being treated like children who can be fooled one more time about Santa Claus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

About The High Cost of Medicine

The argument is deceptive.

It's true that the United States spends more on health care than anyone else, and it's true that we rank below a lot of other advanced countries in life expectancy. The juxtaposition of the two facts, however, doesn't prove we are wasting our money or doing the wrong things.

It only proves that lots of things affect mortality besides medical treatment. Heath Ledger didn't die at age 28 because the American health care system failed him.

One big reason our life expectancy lags is that Americans have an unusual tendency to perish in homicides or accidents. We are 12 times more likely than the Japanese to be murdered and nearly twice as likely to be killed in auto wrecks.

In their 2006 book, "The Business of Health," economists Robert L. Ohsfeldt and John E. Schneider set out to determine where the U.S. would rank in life span among developed nations if homicides and accidents are factored out. Their answer? First place.

That discovery indicates our health care system is doing a poor job of preventing shootouts and drunk driving but a good job of healing the sick. All those universal-care systems in Canada and Europe may sound like Health Heaven, but they fall short of our model when it comes to combating life-threatening diseases.

What Government Motors Is Planning

Interesting article on GM's upcoming models for 2011 and beyond.

Right now, we have a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe and a 2005 Ford Focus. The Santa Fe has been a trouper and has probably close to 200k on it. The Ford Focus we got a year old and has about 140k on it (yes, I drive a lot).

A lot has changed since we bought the Santa Fe. For one thing, we no longer have to fit 2 car seats in the backseat and still have room for a third child. OTOH, we now have a nearly adult daughter with her own car, an almost teenage son and a fourth grade daughter who will be wanting to bring friends with them wherever they go. I won't tell you how we do this now, as it's probably illegal.

But reading through Chevrolet's options, I do find myself fantasizing about getting a new car. The Volt's mileage would be great, since I drive to Dallas 4-5 times a week (66 miles roundtrip). But a car with 3 rows of seats would be very convenient now, too.

Truthfully, though, it's all fantasizing. The Ford is nearly paid for and the Santa Fe still runs. We won't be turning either of 'em in for the Cash for Clunkers program, which is probably the greenest (and cheapest) thing we can do, anyway.

Why Color of Change Is Really Mad at Glenn Beck

H/T: the Patriot Room.

Why Do Successful Female Stars Have to be Sluts?

This column on the sluttification of Miley Cyrus brought to mind that old joke by Bob Greene from the 1980s about women being genetically inclined to strip for cameras.

The joke was part of a column that came out after Vanessa Williams was decrowned Miss America for having posed nude for a photographer. Greene commented that it wasn't the first time a woman had fallen from grace for having nude pics, but that this was something that didn't happen to men. I'm reciting it from memory, but Greene said something like, "You'll never hear Ronald Reagan or Tip O'Neill have to say, 'I was young and impressionable.' Because men don't have a pathological need to strip off their clothes for the camera."

I was furious when Greene originally wrote that, with all the fury that a 20-year-old know-better can muster. But as I've aged, I've sadly grown to agree with Greene more and more. Do women have a pathological need to strip for the camera? And why do so many women do it willingly and for fame?

In Miley Cyrus's case, it's not like she's not making a gazillion bucks because of the pole dance. She was already a gazillionaire because of the Hannah Montana television show and her various merchandising endeavors.

I guess the explanation may be simpler: she's 16 and boy, nothing screams "I'm an adult!" more than showing off your sexuality.

Unlike Rebecca Hagelin, who seems indignant that yet another tween girl idol has gone the way of the tramp, I'm not surprised at all. As difficult as it is to keep one's daughters from glorifying TV and music stars, that's what responsible parents have to do. Because regardless of what the culture is telling your daughters, you still don't want them pole 16 or 26, for that matter.

Nearly Half Oppose Public Option

Liberals can't complain that it's a Rasmussen poll this time, either, but nearly half of all Americans oppose the public option.

And according to a brand-new NBC News poll, 47% of Americans -- a plurality -- oppose the public plan, versus 43% who support it. That's a shift from last month's NBC/WSJ poll, when 46% said they backed it and 44% were opposed.

In a follow-up question explaining the benefits and disadvantages associated with a public plan, 45% said they agreed with the description -- by supporters -- that it would help lower health-care costs and provide coverage for uninsured Americans.

But 48% sided with opponents who say a public option would reduce access to their choice of doctors, and would lower costs by limiting medical treatment options.

It's precisely because of the way costs will be lowered that more Americans oppose the public option. That and the idea that it won't be an option for them.

What John Mackey Said to Start the WholeFoods Boycott

For those not in-the-know (I, of course, am), liberals are boycotting WholeFoods, their grocery store of choice, because co-founder and CEO John Mackey had the audacity to say we don't need a massive new government entitlement for health care.

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment.

Health care costs are only going to go down when people decide using less is in their own best interest. Or someone else decides it's in their best interest for you to use less health care. The first is making your own decisions. The second is rationing.

War's Just No Fun When They Don't Have GWB to Blame

Liberals have seemingly forgotten their opposition to these "illegal" wars.

The news that emerged is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have virtually fallen off the liberal radar screen. Kossacks (as fans of DailyKos like to call themselves) who were consumed by the Iraq war when George W. Bush was president are now, with Barack Obama in the White House, not so consumed, either with Iraq or with Obama's escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. In fact, they barely seem to care.

As part of a straw poll done at the convention, the Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg presented participants with a list of policy priorities like health care and the environment. He asked people to list the two priorities they believed "progressive activists should be focusing their attention and efforts on the most." The winner, by far, was "passing comprehensive health care reform." In second place was enacting "green energy policies that address environmental concerns."

And what about "working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan"? It was way down the list, in eighth place.

Liberals are uncomfortable demonizing Barack Obama for following the same policies as his predecessor because he is their guy. Better to focus on issues they think he agrees with them on.

AARP Loses Members Over Health Care Stance

H/T: Chuck Serio

About 60,000 people have quit AARP since July 1 because of the group's support for Obamacare. Seniors know that "cuts in cost" will equal less care for them, and AARP is seemingly willing to push some members closer to the end-of-life panel discussion.

“I hate to say it in public, but many of [his] stories were not even close to the standards we expect at 60 Minutes.”

That's according to 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, speaking of Dan Rather in a piece for the Los Angeles Times. (Via Media Research Center)

Rather's suit to save his dwindling credibility is bringing out some of the ugliest stuff on both sides. Rather is attacking CBS as trying to " string it out, wear me out, suck the will from me, and make it so painful on the pocketbook that I want to give up," but, honestly, that's a common legal strategy not necessarily reserved for Dan Rather.

Rather's claims, though, that he was unlawfully terminated (not that the fake documents used to smear George W. Bush weren't fake, as Amanda Marcotte and the Pandagonistas have bizarrely tried to claim) forces CBS to bring up painful truths about Rather.

"It's hard to watch," said Jeff Fager, executive producer of "60 Minutes." "It's like he is in some paranoid nightmare where everybody is out to get him. We're all witnessing the poor guy thrashing around, tormented.

"I can't for the life of me understand why he's doing this, how he could turn such a storied career into this train wreck," he added....

Plenty of people with big egos have a hard time realizing when they've lost the argument, the fight, the divorce, and that continuing to howl at the moon merely embarrasses their once friends further. In this case, Rather should have accepted his termination (it sounds like there were other grounds for it, but, because of his longevity with the company, they were going to let him work out his contract) and moved on with his life. In five years, most people wouldn't have worried about the fake documents story and Rather could have done other work to make up for it. Instead, we are left with the spectacle of a washed-up pseudo-journalist crying for "justice" when justice has already been served. Kicked to the curb, Rather is just joining the other bums with the "Will Work for Revenge" signs.

Quote of the Day

"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, 1820

Jefferson never read Rules for Radicals or he'd know that he should disparage and attack anyone who disagrees.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hillary Clinton and Hissy Fits

I must admit that I haven't been paying as much attention to international affairs of late, what with the health care reform "riots" being so much more entertaining (and enlightening. I had no idea we were all still evil-mongering, Nazi mobs). In fact, I completely missed Clinton's it's not all about Bill moment, but, frankly, I can't blame her for being more than a little annoyed at the rude question about what her husband thought regarding international affairs.

Liz at Echidne of the Snakes notes the various characterizations of Clinton's statement as "fatigue," "a temper tantrum," and--my favorite--"a hissy fit."

How often does the media describe a man's behavior as a hissy fit?...

Around the globe, women are fighting for equal rights. The more privileged among us are struggling for workplace equality: fair pay and a shot at the corner office. The less fortunate are fighting for the most basic rights: for their safety and the safety of their children. Hillary Clinton sees these struggles every day. So when asked what appeared to be a sexist question in a country where women are in grave danger, I think a temper tantrum, an eruption or an outburst would have been perfectly justified. In fact, when you view Clinton's reaction through a broader lense, when you look at all of the experiences that framed her answer, I think her response was calm, cool and collected.

Clinton's experience--being glossed over for the opinions of her husband--are similar to any woman who has gone car-shopping with her spouse, then looked at appliances at Best Buy. Amazingly, according to sales clerks, women do not drive but do spend a remarkable amount of time in front of the stove or washing machine.

As luck would have it, I do most of the cooking and the laundry in our house. But I also do a significant amount of driving. So, I guess, choosing the car is as much a woman's responsibility as buying a washing machine or a stove.

In a similar vein, Hillary Clinton is the Secretary of State, not her popular (in more ways than one) husband. She has a right to be indignant when snubbed, and not have it called a "hissy fit." This isn't the old days. Welcome to the 21st century, Democratic Republic of Congo!

OTOH, what does President Obama think about his Secretary of State having to stand up for herself this way?

Short Trip in the Wilderness

Conservatives Now Outnumber Liberals in All 50 States, Says Gallup Poll

Self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals in all 50 states of the union, according to the Gallup Poll.

At the same time, more Americans nationwide are saying this year that they are conservative than have made that claim in any of the last four years.

It's still a center-right country.

More to the point, the issues favor Republicans.
"The issue mix right now could not be better for us, with the public worried about big spending, high taxes and big government. If ever there was a mixture of issues that could benefit Republicans it would be that, just like in 2008 we probably had the worst issue mix we could have ever had," GOPAC chairman and longtime GOP insider Frank Donatelli said in an interview.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

They Can't Hate Everybody, Can They?

Andrew Breitbart analyzes BDS-by-proxy, which is the left's determination to demonize every person who opposes any part of their agenda. The list keeps getting longer: Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, Tea Party goers, now townhall "mobs."

"Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)"

That's from Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, and the Democrats have followed it word for word over the last eight years. They've perfected the technique with a rapidity that is frightening. If you have the audacity to question any part of Teh One's agenda, you will be attacked with "personalized criticism" and "ridicule works."

Perhaps castigating those questioning Obamacare as "un-patriotic" and "evil-mongering" are the straws breaking the camel's back here. I can't imagine that most of the people asking blunt questions appreciate being ridiculed for their dress, particularly after being accused of participating in Brooks Brothers riots. No one ever accused the Left of consistency.

Hopefully, Americans are waking up to the utter contempt Democrats and the American left hold them in. Certainly, they've been given enough notice.

Religious Tolerance in the U.K.: Only Burkinis May Swim

In yet another example of religious tolerance in the U.K., some swimming pools are becoming burkini only for women.

British swimming pools are imposing Muslim dress codes in a move described as divisive by Labour MPs.

Under the rules, swimmers – including non-Muslims – are barred from entering the pool in normal swimming attire.

Instead they are told that they must comply with the "modest" code of dress required by Islamic custom, with women covered from the neck to the ankles and men, who swim separately, covered from the navel to the knees.

In the interest of tolerating strict Muslim dress codes, everyone else is encouraged to either (a) stay away or (b) wear the restrictive clothing.

LOL of the Day

But it's a sad, cynical LOL from none other than the President of All of Us:

In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain. But for all the scare tactics out there, what’s truly scary — truly risky — is the prospect of doing nothing. If we maintain the status quo, we will continue to see 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day. Premiums will continue to skyrocket. Our deficit will continue to grow. And insurance companies will continue to profit by discriminating against sick people.

That is not a future I want for my children, or for yours. And that is not a future I want for the United States of America.

In the end, this isn’t about politics.

As Ed Morrissey notes, this is all about politics. When the government gets involved in some area, it becomes political. More to the point, Barack Obama used health care reform as a political point during his campaign last year. If that doesn't make the debate political, what does?

Obama makes no new points in this op-ed, because he doesn't have any more ammunition for the fight. Every point he makes has been rebutted and debunked by ordinary Americans using common sense. Why would your employer keep offering you insurance if it's cheaper for him/her to dump you in a public plan? And if a "panel of experts" is going to be determining which treatments are "best practices," what doctor is going to face penalties or bureaucratic red tape for ordering different treatments?

We are not the health care consumers of the 1970s, who went to their doctors and took whatever treatments and medicatiosn were prescribed. Today's citizen can go on the internet and find a variety of opinions (including many doctors' opinions) on what the best treatment for any particular ailment is. Doctors don't always like this because patients may become unnecessarily worried about the risks of any procedure, but being more informed allows patients to have a greater voice in their own care.

Similarly, Democrats should be giving patients more power to determine their own care, but encouraging HSAs and consumer-driven health plans. Instead as usual, Democrats want more control for the government in your care. This is what people don't want.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Crazies Are All on the Right

According to Rick Perlstein.

So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests.

Perlstein goes on to attach every crazy, evil, racist conspiracy group to the right. Conveniently, he forgets about every nutjob group the left has ever produced. But fortunately for him, Steve Bainbridge makes a short list for him, including the Weathermen, Code Pink, Act Up and the eco-terrorists ALF and ELF. I had a short discussion (I left) with a friend where I also included the nuclear winter believers of the 1980s, the winter soldier liars of the Vietnam era, and the actual communists who supported overthrowing the American government.

The stunning part about Perlstein's argument is that so many people want desperately to believe that there are no crazies on their side of the political spectrum. But there are always extremists in each party. They don't represent the vast majority of Americans.

But what's worse is Perlstein's (and many Democrats') attempts to paint normal, everyday Americans who are concerned about Obamacare as Nazis, thugs, astroturfers, mobs, un-patriotic and downright evil people. They aren't any of these things. What they are is involved.

Who Is Barack Obama?

Now that the monster known as Obamacare is dead and liberals are crying and gnashing their teeth, there's a bigger question out there: who is Barack Obama?

That last part may be a little too harsh, because it’s clear that there’s at least one thing Barack Obama is fully and fixatedly convinced of: himself. The “opportunity of a lifetime” in health care is, of course, two-fold, because while there’s an ideological opportunity here for the Left to remake the health system — and like it or not, they think for the better — there also emerged a likely divergent political opportunity for Barack Obama to lasso a powerful interest group in the process. Two roads, one leading to Chicago-style politics, with a choice making all the difference.
And that’s the problem for everyone, Right and Left. It’s not “pragmatism” that drives Barack Obama’s agenda. It’s personal, political opportunism, cloaked and advanced in Leftist ideology insofar as it advances the President’s perpetual cult of personality. I don’t doubt that as a disciple of Saul Alinsky, follower of Jeremiah Wright, and colleague of Bill Ayres and Bernadine Dohrn, Obama holds the values of the finge Left. We see that clearly enough in his voting record and rhetoric. But when it comes to the hard choices, Obama is out for Number One, and if that takes saving a piddly 2% on drugs to reward pharmaceuticals for their ObamaCare support and indenture them to an Obama re-election bid, then that’s exactly what he’s going to do — even if he has to bankrupt America in the process, which the bills being contemplated in the House and Senate no doubt would do even without the pharma deal. With a true statesman missing at 1600 Pennsylvania, the health care bill has floundered badly, bearing with it a poisonous and destructive backlash against the American people among Obama hardliners in Congress — a reaction perhaps unparalleled in recent history in its contempt for the American people. It’s a tone fully of the President’s making and against which the President has spent little, if any, political capital to tamp down.

Like many of us tried to say during the campaign, Barack Obama's primary interest is Barack Obama. Where he is pushed to present ideas and positions, he will lean to the left. But he will always try to get someone else to do the heavy lifting. That means that Democrats in Congress will always take the fall for bad policies (such as the stimulus bill) that Americans don't want and are afraid of paying for.

More Joys of Socialized Medicine

'Quarter of a million people waiting more than 18 weeks for NHS treatment'

What Happened to Public Discussion of Health Care?

From Yorkshire at Common Sense Political Thought.

The Status Quo Usually Appears Better

54% Say Passing No Healthcare Reform Better Than Passing Congressional Plan

Thirty-five percent (35%) of American voters say passage of the bill currently working its way through Congress would be better than not passing any health care reform legislation this year. However, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that most voters (54%) say no health care reform passed by Congress this year would be the better option.

As various provisions from the Democrat bills have come to light, Americans are becoming more skeptical about buying this pig in the poke--the one no one has bothered even attempting to look at.

Americans don't like many policies of insurers, from bans on pre-existing conditions, to (non)portability, to lack of variety. But they know that the care they currently receive from their doctors, nurses, and other providers is top notch, and they don't want to risk losing that in a debate about insuring a lot of people who are deciding not to get their own insurance for one reason or another.

Instead of tackling the problems with health insurance that Americans are concerned about, Democrats saw the health care "debate" (one they have not wanted to have) about how to best set America on the road to a single payer system. As Rahm Emmanuel has said, Democrats didn't want to let a good crisis go to waste, and, in the process, they have managed to alert the majority of Americans to their overreaching. But it's ok, because they think you're just a bunch of crazy, racist, commie-hating mobsters anyway.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Economy Is Turning Around...

Bankruptcy Filings Up 35 Percent Over Last Year

Individuals and businesses filed 1.3 million bankruptcy cases in the year ended June 30, an increase of 35 percent over the previous year, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said Thursday.

It is the third consecutive annual increase, as the recession has forced thousands of businesses to close shop and as job losses and rising debt have caused individuals to seek protection from creditors. Business filings increased 63 percent, while individual filings were up 34 percent.

We're a long way from any recovery feeling like a recovery.

Now for a Little Levity

Consumer-Driven Health Care

I've turned into all healthcare--all the time, but bear with me. The debate about this issue is so important, but most of the options aren't really on the table.

Here is an excellent article that discusses what we should be doing about health care reform. The bottom line: consumers should be responsible for their care. If you are poor, the government should be subsidizing it, but everyone else should be required to have health savings accounts and catastrophic health insurance.

It's ridiculous what insurance will and won't pay for these days. Why does an insurance plan pay for your office visits? Does your car insurance pay for your oil changes? Does your home insurance pay for mowing your grass?

It's inefficient the way we expect health costs to be free or nearly free, and it is part of the reason Americans expect the best health care on earth for a song. As the article notes, areas not covered by insurance, such as LASIK procedures or most plastic surgery, are consumer-driven and prices tend to drop over time as a procedure becomes more common. And doctors also add new "features" to attract customers and/or keep their prices up.

But with insurance, you don't know how much office visits, treatments and procedures cost. Often times, the facilities can't tell you, either. This was something that truly puzzled me about the way health care and insurance works in this country.

When my oldest daughter was born, the hospital had a "special" of sorts for people with our HMO. The total cost for labor and delivery was $25. But I got a bill for about $500 (I think; bear with me, it was a long time ago). I called the hospital to find out why my friends got the $25 deal but I was charged so much more. After much haggling, the clerk said, "Ok, just forget it. We won't charge you anything." So, I got my daughter for "free."

But how does that work? I mean, the insurance paid for most of it, obviously. But what about the $25 special? And why should I get my child for "free" just because I questioned my bill? What happened to the $475 that I wasn't expecting to pay?

Fast forward 16 years to this situation I discussed in a post last year, where my doctor waived his office fee for me out of compassion (I'd just lost my father and I was self-pay). As a self-pay, I usually paid $70 for an office visit. Who paid the 70 bucks for my doctor's compassion?

Then there was the $700 ultrasound I was supposed to get last year. I told the hospital "no," that I couldn't afford it. The clerk was stunned that anyone would simply refuse to get diagnostic treatment. But that was my choice, wasn't it? And why was the hospital quick to talk about payment plans or reducing the cost just to get me to get the procedure.

These are the sorts of questions we ask when we don't have insurance, but we should also be asking when we do. And it doesn't matter if you have private insurance or use Medicare or Medicaid. Medicare paid for my father to get his toenails clipped by a podiatrist every three months. Why is that?

If consumers were truly in charge of their health care decisions, like we make decisions about cars, houses, education, and so on, then they would probably opt not to have so many (unnecessary) tests and procedures. Or if they decided to get them done, then patients would be choosing how to spend their own dollars as opposed to someone else's. My fear is that most people advocating a new government system simply don't want to have to make those decisions, partly because it can be complicated and scary, but also because when someone else makes the decisions and you get stuck with something you didn't want, you can blame someone else. After all, who likes admitting that they bought a sucky car because they thought they were so smart? Most people just want to blame the salesman.

It seems to me that if consumers were responsible for their own care and providers were required to give the proper information, then many of the problems with our current system would be solved.

Three More Years of This Kind of Whining

From Nobel laureate Paul Krugman:

“I am in this race because I don’t want to see us spend the next year re-fighting the Washington battles of the 1990s. I don’t want to pit Blue America against Red America; I want to lead a United States of America.” So declared Barack Obama in November 2007, making the case that Democrats should nominate him, rather than one of his rivals, because he could free the nation from the bitter partisanship of the past couple of months after Mr. Obama gave that speech, I warned that his vision of a “different kind of politics” was a vain hope, that any Democrat who made it to the White House would face “an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false.”

So, how’s it going?

Sure enough, President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex.

This opposition cannot be appeased. Some pundits claim that Mr. Obama has polarized the country by following too liberal an agenda. But the truth is that the attacks on the president have no relationship to anything he is actually doing or proposing.

As Jules Crittenden notes,
Ha ha. Obviously this is just more distorted partisan claptrap from Krugman, whose big problem with Obama is that he isn’t socialist enough. What’s great is how well it works if you sub in “Bush,” ”1999,” ”Republican” and “enraged left” for “Obama,” ”2007,” ”Democrat” and “enraged right.” The difference is Bush actually did engage in extensive bipartisanship and didn’t attempt to ice out the opposition, right up to the end.

President Bush's experience with the Texas legislature had given him hope that he could bring bipartisanship to Washington, because he had seen it work firsthand. But Democrats in Congress knew that they would be in town long after Bush had gone back to Texas, and so vilifying him became first priority. Despite GWB's attempts to reach across the aisle (such as with No Child Left Behind), Democrats were determined to fight him and lie about him as long as they possibly could. And they still do it.

But they expect Republicans to shut up and allow Democrats to blame them for every problem in the universe, and not criticize the disasters the D's have planned for us? What's next? Gonna try to pull our sponsors if we keep announcing the emperor has no clothes?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Obama Official Linked to Glenn Beck Boycott

Put this in the creepy government censorship file.

A racially charged activist group called “Color of Change” founded by Van Jones, a special advisor to the Obama Administration, is trying to silence popular radio and Fox News personality Glenn Beck by calling for a boycott of Beck’s TV advertisers...

Now “Color of Change” has bullied at least five of Beck’s big advertisers -- SC Johnson, Progressive Insurance, Geico, Procter & Gamble and Nexus Lexis -- to pull their ads from Beck’s national cable program. Jones, the founder of “Color of Change,” was named Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality -- a key administrative post -- this past March.

White House officials using their non-profits to silence critics? Can't imagine if George W. Bush had done this.

"End of Life" Provisions Dropped from Obamacare Bill

It's a small concession, IMO, but expect more classy name-calling from the smart bunch over it.

Oh, and there's the hypocrisy claims that Sarah Palin was for death panels before she was against them. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. There's a big difference between favoring information being available and mandating that people be told things, as Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion notes. I don't mind a doctor asking me if I have a living will but I'm not sure I want him telling me approved sources for the information.

From Ann Althouse:

Why didn't the congressional Democrats defend their own bill? If it was so terribly wrong to say "death panels" — and what indignation was expressed! — then why wasn't it easy to crush stupid, crazy Sarah for what she so outrageously said? By backing down and removing the language she leveraged, they not only seem to admit she had a point, they sacrifice credibility that they need to promote what's left of the bill.

Tide Is Turning?

Voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on health care.

Democrats Don't Like Their Constituents

If Sheila Jackson-Lee is any indication.

Maybe this is why Democrats don't want to discuss health care reform at their townhalls. It's just not as important as whatever else they have going on.

And when the Democrats aren't insulting voters with their behavior at the townhalls, we have Democrat plants who are
lying at them. And worse, the plant gets all cheeky when she's revealed to be a liar.

Here's her bloviation:

I guess since Obama didn't need credentials, we shouldn't expect supporters to be honest, either.

We've been told that the plants are those opposed to Obamacare. Yet, it seems like the types and number of plants at the townhalls are more closely allied with proponents of the plan than those who don't like it or are, at least, skeptical about it.

Check out Lone Star Times for more on this.

UPDATE: A friend let me know that the Houston Chronicle has corrected the story. Here's the salient part:

One supporter, Roxana Mayer, praised the reform plan for overhauling a broken system.

“I don't know what there is in the bill that creates such panic,” she said.

Mayer identified herself as a physician who does not live in Jackson Lee's district. However, her name does not appear in the database maintained by the Texas Medical Board, which licenses all doctors in Texas.

In an e-mail to the Chronicle on Thursday morning, Mayer confirmed she is not a licensed physician.

"I have been advised to refrain from making any further statements," she said.

In the initial story about the event, the Chronicle reported that she was a doctor based on her claim at the meeting.

Today, Jackson Lee denied knowing Mayer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Facts and Myths About Obamacare

Good post on the misinformation the Obama administration and Democrats are putting out about Obamacare.

Good Question


Poll: 49% disapprove of Obama's handling of healthcare policy

"...then what are the 43%? Or is this America whereof the President speaks not governed by consent of the people?"
We've been told that democracy worked in November. Do we not get democracy between elections? Or does the opinion of Americans not matter in non-election years?

Man Jailed for Yawning

This is one of those stories that probably has some explanation missing.

Clifton Williams, 33, of Richton Park, is facing six months in jail for making what court documents call a yawn-like sound in Will County Judge Daniel Rozak's court last month.

The yawn happened as Williams' cousin, Jason Mayfield, was being sentenced for a drug charge on July 23.

Rozak found Williams in contempt of court and sentenced him to six months in jail. However, Rozak could free Williams after a status hearing Thursday, if Williams apologizes and the judge accepts. By then, Williams will have served 21 days.

There seems to be some dispute as to the sound Williams made. It's described as a yawn, but could it really be so loud as to warrant a 6-month jail term?

Why We Don't Want Socialism Here

Michael Moore and others extoll the virtues of Cuba-style medicine, but there are good reasons to oppose it.

As these examples of Cuban progress roll in, CNN is presenting Cuba's socialized health care system as "a model for health care reform in the United States," according to a report on the cable network last week. The report credits low cost and universal coverage.

"How does Cuba do it?" gushed the CNN anchor. "First of all, the government dictates salaries. Doctors earn less than $30 per month — very little compared to doctors elsewhere. And priority is given to avoiding expensive procedures, says Gail Reed (a contributor to the Cuban communist party propaganda organ Granma), who's lived and worked in Cuba for decades."

But instead of pluses, these features are at the root of why the Cuban system is not a model. Government-dictated salaries — like Medicare payments here — reduce incentives for doctors to provide quality care. And when cheap procedures are a priority — as they are, say, in the U.K. — teeth get pulled instead of filled. But the basic problem with socialism is that there's literally nothing there.

CNN gives little attention to the fact that hospitals in Cuba have no Band-Aids and are short on aspirin and actual medicine. Photos from show hospitals strewn with filthy mattresses, infested with cockroaches and full of bony patients nursing ugly bedsores. The only plenty within Cuba's universal coverage system is one of want.

Paying doctors next to nothing sounds great...if you aren't a doctor.

Obama Busses in Supporters

For all the complaints about "astroturfing" and Republican groups bussing in supporters, Democrats don't mind busing in a few of their own when necessary.

Via Gateway Pundit.

Remember: IOKIYAD.

Just like the ordinary citizens asking Obama questions about health care reform aren't plants or anything. Hey, who was it who complained about people paying for a seat at the table? Oh, yeah. Democrats. But that was before they were in charge of things. Now, they just can't get enough.

Psst, Perry. Before you make some stupid "Nuh-uh, they didn't do that!" statement, do a Google search. Save us both some effort. And while you're at it, take a look at Hitler posters at the townhalls. I'm shocked! Shocked! That Democrats would actually try to make it look like Republicans did this.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama Plants

You have to love the Obama administration. When they're losing the argument, they plant some kids.

Girl gets chance to ask Teh One a "great question," i.e., one that allows Obama to discuss people's "underlying fear" that Obamacare will result in rationing and defacto euthanasia. Only problem? The girl's mother donated thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign, and her law firm did, too. Just ordinary citizens, right?

And these people have the audacity to complain about "plants" at townhalls. Disgusting.


A friend of mine sent me this piece of propaganda regarding Obamacare. Let's look at it point by point.

Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!!

The truth: These accusations—of "death panels" and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: "No 'death panel' in health care bill." What's the real deal? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.

These claims are all properly footnoted with quotes from liberal sites. But they don't address the question: why would people be concerned that Obamacare will "euthanize your grandma"? The reason stems from Obama's promises to cut costs. Since the elderly spend a disproportionate amount of the health care dollars, cost cuts will come from the elderly. And that means rationing of treatments and options and implied or overt calls for the elderly to die and get over it. Critics are correct that Obamacare advocates some sort of euthenasia, whether that's a Logan's Run style offing people (of course not) or simply by reducing options for living for the elderly. It's simply impossible to believe allowing old people to die rather than trying to save them is an element of this plan.

Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!!

The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama's reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options. Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down. If you're happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them.5 But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can't afford health care now.

This statement is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't ask the big question: what happens next? Do they genuinely believe that businesses won't drop insurance coverage once a "public option" exists? Why would most businesses keep their insurance, when they can foist this obligation off on the government? Since we know business isn't benevolent, after all. This statement is horribly naive and fairly refuses to look at real life, rather than fantasy Obamaland.
Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!!

The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.

Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage. And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation.

This is a bizarre Alice-in-Wonderland claim. We're now experiencing rationing because insurance companies can deny claims or refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions. But, somehow, government bureaucrats won't be rationing your care when they make you wait inordinately long amounts of time to treat you, or give you inferior treatments because your Quality Life Years isn't worth spending more on you. Do Democrats actually buy these arguments?

If your insurance company denies your claim, you can appeal the decision, and, surprisingly, many claims are accepted when customers pursue them. And if the insurance company's behavior is egregious, you can report it to the state board of insurance regulation. It's not like in the government, which will determine which procedures and treatments should be available to you and you must accept them.
Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens' Medicare benefits!!!

The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits. Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.

Health care reform will cut senior citizens' access to health care because cost-savings will have to come from somewhere, and electronic medical files will only save so much. This means that cost savings will be found in reduced payments to doctors, which will incentivize doctors to not treat patients (or treat no more patients than required). Plus, as I stated before, the elderly use a disproportionate amount of health care dollars. If we are going to cover everyone, someone will have to get less health care to cover the others. Guess who that someone will be?

Lie #5: Obama's health care plan will bankrupt America!!!

The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy. Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care. The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses. Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama's reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.

This is the most idiotic claim yet. We need to spend $1 trillion setting up a brand new health care system because individuals may face hardship dealing with medical bills. Only Democrats could believe this logic. Bankrupt the country because some small percentage of people have problems with medical bills.

What struck me most about this propaganda piece is how naive it sounds. These are the same people who apply healthy doses of skepticism to every claim by the military or by the business sector. Yet, because the left is so desperate to get a single payer system (and they know this plan is a step that direction), they are willing to swallow whatever deceptions are offered up to justify it.