The MSM, Gosnell and Planned Parenthood

The MSM, Gosnell and Planned Parenthood all come together in a single post at The Anchoress’ place.  Do read it.  The MSM has many obsessions — that is, stories it covers relentlessly and obviously — but the moral collapse that so often circles around abortion is not one of those subjects.

I continue to want to be pro-choice because I was raised to be that way — to believe in a woman’s right to choose. I keep thinking “what would I do if my daughter, at 15, came home and announced she was pregnant?” My life-long pro-choice brain says “I don’t want her life to be ruined at such a young age.” (Don’t hate me now; there’s more.)

But what I’m beginning to realize is that abortion is the poisonous tree and that there is no fruit that can be sampled without moral, cultural, and societal risk. An honest person has to acknowledge that there’s a life in there, something that I finally figured out thanks to my own pregnancies and sonograms, followed by live births and growing children. Likewise, an honest person has to recognize the moral corruption that has followed in abortion’s wake. Women are no more free. Instead, they’ve become cultural sex slaves, as they have no reason any more to hold out “until marriage.” Men like Gosnell operate with impunity. And organizations such as Planned Parenthood corrupt the communities within which they operate:

On a semi-related subject (media obsessions), I learned from a friend that the MSM has been remiss in ignoring H1N1 this past flu season.  As you may recall, last flu season, the MSM was hysterical about it.  This flu season, the media has wiped it from the radar.  Except that H1N1 is still out there and, when it hits, it’s extremely virulent.  My friend reminded me of this because she came within a whisker of death.  She’s recovering now, thank God, but it’s a slow and painful process.

One doesn’t need to get as hysterical as the media does, but one does need to get that shot.  I didn’t get the shot in October 2010, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I will get it in October 2011 (and, with luck, I’ll stay well until then).

Good news for those who trust the government

Bad news for the rest of us, at least when it comes to medical care.  Let us hope, therefore, that AJ Strata is right about the wave, because we need a countervailing tsunami to stop the wave Obama and the Democrats put into motion.

By the way, let me add my voice to the voices of other conservatives who are warning that, if the Republicans own the House, they cannot reverse ObamaCare.  If the Republicans own the House and manage, by the skin of their teeth, to grab the Senate, the still cannot reverse ObamaCare.  As I’ve been saying for a long time now, Obama is not a Clinton.  He will not pivot.  As long as he has the veto, the fact that Republicans will lack a veto-proof majority means that he will block any efforts to repeal ObamaCare.  The most that Republicans can do — and this is what we must demand of them — is to slow Obama’s projects, refuse to enact new ones and, whenever possible, lower taxes and cut spending.

Just remember, though, that Obama is the troll under the bridge, stopping all who pass.

Death through bureaucratic perfection *UPDATED*

I was speaking the other day with a friend who is contemplating a different type cancer treatment, one that is neither chemo, nor radiation.  She has reacted badly to both, so they simply aren’t an option for her. Her doctor highly recommends this third type of treatment, which he believes will provide an optimal outcome, with the lowest level of stress to her body.  The treatment has been used successfully all over the world — except in the U.S.  The problem is, the FDA won’t approve it.  If my friend wants this treatment, she’ll have to leave the US for Mexico or India.

I have a real problem with the FDA.  As originally formed, it was intended to provide baselines for Food and Drugs, below which the consumer was imminently at risk.  This was a reasonable mandate.  As you may or may not know, one of the triggers for the FDA’s formation was the occasion when a pharmacist, back in the days when pharmacists made their own medicines, mixed ethylene glycol, aka antifreeze, into a children’s medicine to make the flavor more palatable. Large numbers of children sickened, with way too many dying.

Somewhere along the line, however, the FDA changed its own mandate.  It went from trying to provide minimal safeguards for consumers to trying to ensure that every product placed on the market is perfect and risk free.  Of course, that’s not possible, and the FDA knows it, but it keeps trying with ever greater demands.  The result is that medicines and treatments that could work never make it to the consumer.

The FDA will say that these medicines and treatments carry risks, but so do all the medicines and treatments.  Heck, have you ever gotten a prescription recently that didn’t have thousands of words of fine print detailing every possible side effect that could ever happen?  In fact, these things are usually so chock full of information, they’re unintelligible.  A nice example is the info sheet for Ambien, a quite innocuous and very helpful sleeping pill.

I bet that, if you’re having trouble sleeping, you’ll wade through all that Ambien info and decide that it’s worth trying out.  If you’re unlucky, and sensitive, you’ll get the side effects.  If you’re lucky, not only won’t you get side effects, but you’ll sleep well for the first time in forever.  The important thing is that, armed with the information and your doctor’s recommendation, you made a choice.

The FDA not only bars drugs, it also bars treatments (especially cancer treatments) that might not work.  How about allowing the treatment, but mandating that the provider clearly explain to the patient that the FDA thinks it won’t work or spelling out clearly what the risks are?  This would be similar to the warnings on cigarette packages — you know, the ones that say, it’s a free society, and you can buy cigarettes if you want, but you should know that they’ll probably end up killing you.  People still smoke in America, but many fewer than when I was growing up.  Freely available information changed people’s behaviors.

Imagine a cancer patient who, for whatever reason, is not a candidate for either chemo or radiation because his reaction to them is so severe it’s likely to kill him before the cancer does.  There is a third option available, one that has fewer side effects, but is also less likely to cure him.  Because, in this hypothetical, information is readily available about the treatment, he knows it is not a miracle cure with no risks.  Still, it might cure him, and he’s willing to pay the price for that chance.  Unfortunately for our sufferer, the FDA won’t approve it, because it’s less effective than chemo or radiation.  (I.e., it’s not perfect.)  That leaves the patient with only one other option:  no treatment and certain death. I’ve framed this as a hypothetical but, if you circle back to the top of this post, you’ll see that’s precisely what my friend is facing.

You see the exact same pattern — the bureaucrat’s ceaseless pursuit of perfection — when it comes to building codes.  They’ve gone from minimal safety requirements to known risks (fire, earthquake, collapse from rotten wood, etc.), to dreams of glory that often make new buildings and remodels impossibly costly.  We were thinking of adding a small stand-alone studio to our property, but gave it up when we learned that the building code required, among a hundred other things, that we make large parts of the studio wheelchair accessible — never mind that we don’t need wheelchair accessibility.  Yes, we might later require wheelchairs, but if that need arises we can spend the extra money at that time.  Or a prospective purchaser might demand wheelchair access, at which point we could, if we so desired, drop our sales price as part of closing the sale.  The big question, though, is why am I being forced to include those expensive and, to me, unnecessary amenities now?  Faced with the prohibitive cost, we abandoned our plan.  That was too bad, since it would have improved our property, and have provided employment to a bunch of people during a recession.

This is not an aimless rant.  It’s a rant that’s connected to government controlled health care.  One of the things that’s been worrying all of us is the accountant’s mentality that will gradually constrict the identity of patients who are entitled to care:  “It’s not cost effective for the government to pay for this cancer treatment for people over 70.”  “It’s not cost effective for the government to maintain medicine for hemophiliacs.”  “It’s not cost effective to provide intensive care for a newborn given a less than 50% chance of survival.”  We’ve already seen this happening in other countries that have government run medicine, so we know it will happen here.

But what we haven’t thought about is that the bureaucrats’ penchant for perfection will also affect the way government care is managed from within, never mind the patients who qualify for treatment.  That is, the government won’t just cut patients who might not have perfect outcomes.  The government will also cut medicines and treatments that might not have perfect outcomes.

This treatment and drug cutting won’t come about with the announcement that the government is henceforth refusing to pay for Drug A or Treatment B because they’re imperfect.  Nope.  This will be a backdoor one.  The government will promulgate more and more complex regulations, written in the abstract, regarding its expectations for drugs and treatments that will make the cut.  Superficially, these regulations will make it look as if the bureaucrats in charge care deeply for us, because they want only the best, the most optimal, the most perfect drugs and treatments to touch the precious body of each American citizen.  In reality, though, the bureaucratic quest for perfection, easy enough to achieve on paper, will prohibit entirely whole branches of treatment and medicine, since they will fail to meet the regulatory standards.

Voila!  Death through bureaucratic perfection.

Incidentally, if you want to read more on the subject of impossible bureaucratic hurdles, I highly recommend an old, but not out-dated book, called The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America.

One more thing:  one of these days, this bureaucratic perfection is going to spread to the world of eugenics based, not on race, but on freedom from imperfections — with the imperfections being mapped out by the same bureaucrats.  This isn’t going to be ugly, with mean spirited words about destroying the imperfect.  It’s going to be dry legalize that carefully spells out the perfect babies the government wants to ensure its citizens have.

UPDATE:  Right on time, there comes an article in my local paper about a rash of broken arms at brand new — meaning “totally up to code” — school playgrounds.

It turns out there is a way to repeal ObamaCare

Heritage for America explains that there is a legislative procedure for repealing ObamaCare — but we need 218 House votes to make it happen.  That means that Americans have to rally at the polls this November.  It’s not going to happen in Marin County, but maybe you can make it happen in your Congressional District.

Personality and health care *UPDATED*

I was thinking about government care today, not in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of the human factor.  Government health care imagines that all people will respond to situations in the same way, both physically and emotionally.  But that’s not how people are.

The medicine that makes one person feel wonderful has another person retching miserably — yet government health care usually comes complete with a limited list of available medications.  While one person responds fabulously to a procedure, another may get no benefit at all — yet government health care, in the interests of efficiency, always ends up dialing down the available range of health care options.

And then there are the personalities.  I’m not even talking about the bad habits, whether smoking, drug abuse, too much chocolate, etc.  I’m talking about people’s fundamental beliefs about their own health.

One sweet old lady I know is a true hypochondriac, constantly searching for the next illness.  Bundled in with that emotional baggage are genuine health problems, so that the doctors always have to take her complaints seriously.  She costs her insurance company a staggering fortunate.

Another sweet old lady I know is in complete denial, and that’s true despite her genuine health problems.  Because she refuses to deal with symptoms as they arise, everything with her is serious by the time she gets to the emergency room.  She also costs her insurance company a staggering fortune.

I don’t see how government health care which, in the absence of competition, inevitably boils down to one-size-fits-all treatments, fixes the problems inherent with these (and so many other) personality types.  This is going to be especially true with an aging population, when there are going to be increasing numbers of charmingly eccentrinc sweet old ladies and dear old men.

As you have probably guessed, today I had a run in with the health care system and a sweet little old person.  The health care provided was humane, thoughtful — and, but for the personalities involved, should have been unnecessary.

I’m tired, grumpy, and treating myself to my own drug of choice:  chocolate ice cream and the love of a good dog.

UPDATEThis article about Donald Berwick, whom Obama chose to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services perfectly describes how America is being pushed into the “patients as cogs” model.  The premise is that Berwick is completely in love with Britain’s National Health Service (something with which those enrolled in and suffer from the NHS might disagree):

Berwick has called NHS a “global treasure,” saying he is “a romantic about NHS. I love it.” It’s no coincidence that this centrally planned, government-run health care system appeals to a Harvard-educated pediatrician who views patients not as individuals, but as members of collective “units of concern” defined by age, disease or socioeconomic status. Berwick has criticized the use of new life-saving technologies and wants non-physician “primary care providers” to ration care by controlling access to specialists and diagnostic tests to reduce each “unit’s” per-capita costs. He has also characterized aggressive interventions in terminally ill patients as “assaults,” not heroic attempts to extend their lives.

This is a radical departure from the focus on individual patients and their private relationship with doctors of their choice that have made American medicine the best in the world. And while Berwick was among the first to introduce industrial-style quality controls in 3,000 American hospitals, which by all accounts has been a huge success in improving patient care, his rigidly ideological view that America’s health system should mimic Britain’s NHS is inimical to the preservation of individual freedom and high-quality care. His nomination should be decisively rejected by the Senate. Americans live longer, healthier lives than Brits precisely because government bureaucrats have not been in charge of their health care for the past 60 years. If confirmed by the Senate, Berwick will define that quality down to British standards. That would not be choosing well.

The problem, of course, as my experiences yesterday showed — and as every socialist experiment in the world proves — individuals are not cogs.  The only way to treat them as such is to dehumanize them to the point at which the unthinkable — mass murder — eventually becomes thinkable.  That is, I don’t think any socialist regime every starts out intending to commit mass murder.  It just eventually makes sense when the cogs won’t cooperate.

Britain’s NHS to suffer drastic cuts

In a market economy, the marketplace drives the availability of goods and services.  If there’s a big demand, the market will create a big supply; if the demand dries up, so does supply, as the market sends its resources elsewhere.

Supply and demand, however, have no place in government controlled sectors of the economy.  Although Britons are getting sick in the same numbers they have in past years, because the government is broke, so is the National Health Service, and the supply of medical care is swiftly vanishing:

Thousands of doctors and nurses face being made redundant or not replaced if they leave, while many hospitals have cut treatments, the British Medical Association has found.

Despite ministers’ assurances that the health service would not face the same cuts as other departments, many hospitals are feeling the strain, according to the BMA.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has boasted that frontline services would be protected. But it emerged yesterday that in his Cambridge constituency, Addenbrooke’s Hospital is planning to sack 170 nurses and up to 500 staff in total over the next year.

Read the rest here.

Unless ObamaCare can be stopped — and that’s a big “unless” — reading the preceding paragraph means that you’re looking at America’s future, one in which goods and services are made available to the public, not on the basis of the public’s need, but on the basis of the government’s efficiency and solvency.  If you’re not worried, you are very optimistic person or a fool.

Maggie Thatcher got it:  “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess.  They always run out of other people’s money.”

People are wising up, but the damage is already done *UPDATED*

Last night, I was speaking with a liberal friend who actually works in the insurance business. During the run up to the health care vote, she and I had politely vigorous conversations in which I explained, over and over again, that, if penalties are lower than the cost of insurance, and if insurers must provide insurance to sick people, insurance no longer exists. Instead, one just has cost shifting that will destroy the insurance industry. She of all people, after all, should realize that the industry only makes money on healthy people who are planning ahead in case they get sick. (Here’s an example of the type of conversation I had with her.)

In last night’s conversation, my friend seemed a bit disturbed by things, and asked me how I thought health care was going now that the bill was passed.  Since I understand how liberals think, I didn’t answer her question directly.  Instead, I mentioned the recent Boston Globe article that suddenly informed us that citizens in Massachusetts are doing precisely what I predicted would happen under the Obama Care bill:

Thousands of consumers are gaming Massachusetts’ 2006 health insurance law by buying insurance when they need to cover pricey medical care, such as fertility treatments and knee surgery, and then swiftly dropping coverage, a practice that insurance executives say is driving up costs for other people and small businesses.

I also threw in the fact that the New York Times is suddenly writing a series of articles about the unsustainable costs of medical care.  In other words, I went to sources my friend trusts, since they have good liberal bona fides.

My friend was shocked:  “Why didn’t anyone tell us about this before?”  I replied, quite mildly, “I did.”  She had the grace to fall silent.

It turns out that my friend didn’t raise the issue randomly.  The people in her insurance office are getting panicky because they’ve suddenly realized that they’ve entered the insurance Twilight Zone, where all the rules are upside down.

What’s truly ironic is that the executives in her office, like my friend herself, backed the bill.  The guys and gals with MDs and MBAs and Obama bumper stickers boldly affixed to the back of their cars had their heads up their collective butts for the past year. How else to explain their inability to see the patently obvious? In 1992, insurers fought back with “Harry and Louise;” in 2010, those same insurers tucked their heads between their legs and sought the darkness.

UPDATE:  This video, describing the already known costs of Obama Care, is perfect:

Liberals were not only not listening, they had their hand on their ears, their eyes closed, and they were hollering, “Nyah, nyah!  I caaaaan’t hear you.”

What happens when medicine sinks in pay and status

As the Soviet Union showed, by the time medicine is fully nationalized, careers in medicine have been reduced to the lowest status level, somewhere around street cleaning.  Learning medicine and practicing medicine (including nursing, pharmacy, technical jobs, etc.), is incredibly time-consuming and, in a society that still has the gloss of being capitalist, costly.  The jobs themselves are incredibly tough, both physically and emotionally.  Aside from the undoubted pleasure many find in helping sick people, the real remuneration for all the time and energy involved in working in medicine is money.  Government, of course, takes that incentive away.  And, absent the incentive, that’s how you end up with this:

An NHS hospital has staff from a staggering 70 countries on its payroll.

The huge number of overseas nurses, cleaners and porters has forced health chiefs to send them on ten-week English courses because many do not understand basic medical phrases.

Among the terms some workers from countries such as Burma, the Philippines and Poland can’t follow are ‘nil by mouth’, ‘doing the rounds’ and ‘bleeping a doctor’.

They highlight the language problems throughout the Health Service, which critics say are putting patients’ lives at risk.

The lessons follow several ‘near-disaster’ cases, including one where a meal was delivered to a patient because a member of staff did not understand that ‘nil by mouth’ meant the man could not eat or drink.

Although all doctors from outside the EU must pass an English language test set by the General Medical Council before they can practise, the same rules do not apply for other hospital workers.

Instead, they are usually assessed on their grasp of the language at interview.

The problem has become so acute at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals that foreign workers are being encouraged to attend ten-week, taxpayer-funded ‘English For Speakers Of Other Languages’ courses, which are run by a nearby college.

Research has found that up to a quarter of nurses  –  more than 60,000  –  working in London are foreign, with the largest number coming from the Philippines.

Read more here.

While the above report makes clear that the language problem in the NHS involves nurses, not doctors (who must be minimally competent in England), reading the British papers makes it clear that foreign educated doctors carry their own problems.  Training isn’t standardized, many of them commute from overseas and are perpetually jet lagged, and practice values are different.  In a country that makes being a physician worthwhile — which is what America has done for so long — you get the best and the brightest.  Once practicing medicine or being a nurse is about as high status (and high paying) as being a clerk in a government office, you’re going to see the best and the brightest gravitate elsewhere.

Another example of how liberals teach our children — even when they’re unclear on the concepts themselves

Readers of my blog know that one of my personal bête noires is liberal indoctrination in public schools.  I blog about it frequently.  My last outing on that subject was here, and I’ll get back to that in a little bit.  First, though, I’d like you to see how one public school teacher saw fit to educate American children about America’s involvement in WWII, as well as the response of one politely appalled man who was actually involved in the historic moment at issue.

Not only is this kind of indoctrination par for the course, it’s produced at least one generation of people who can throw out conclusions to their heart’s content, but are incapable of backing them up with common sense or actual knowledge.  And that’s how we wrap around to that post of mine that I mentioned earlier.  If you link over to it, you’ll see that I spoke with my daughter about a teacher’s facile and ill-educated assertion that “all civilized countries” have socialized medicine.

I carefully led my daughter through a few fairly uncomplicated facts.  A lot of uncivilized countries (North Korea, Cuba, the former Soviet Union) have socialized medicine.  I also pointed out what is undoubtedly true, which is that those countries with socialized medicine cannot maintain them.  They work well initially when a big chunk of taxpayer money is poured into them, but that they then go downhill:  they don’t generate revenue themselves and, since they suck up wealth, they leave the taxpayer pool less wealthy and therefore less able to pay for them.  This isn’t rocket science and, more importantly, it’s not ivory tower theory — it’s actual real world fact, as proven by real world, actual events.

What’s interesting is what happened with my post when it got picked up on a liberal thread at reddit.com (the thread is entitled “libertarian” but it’s clearly not, as the tenor of the comments indicates).  The liberals are very angry at what I wrote, but they don’t have substance to back up their anger.  Lots of insults, lots of conclusions, but no facts and no coherent, sustained argument.  Here are a few comments, plus my replies:

Wow, there is actually book that describes why the mother is an idiot, it is called Economics 101 – look in to it.  [Insult, conclusion; no argument.]

Also, dear mother: You do realize you already pay for the uninsured, right? You just pay 20 times as much as you should. Why is this not considered a tax?  [Boy is s/he unclear on free market concepts.  If the market wasn’t stultified by thousands of government regulations, not to mention the perverse incentives of mass buying by employers, there shouldn’t be uninsured.  Also, I don’t think I should be for the 30% of uninsured who are illegal aliens under any circumstances.]

***

Unfortunately, this kind of overly simplistic thinking is exactly why the tea party has no credibility. As cutesy as the exchange is, “Momma” didn’t address the fact that universal health care is working in many countries in Europe (not that it’s sustainable, but that’s not that point).  [I’m delighted this person thinks I’m cute, but the fact is that if universal health care is unsustainable, it’s not working in Europe, no matter how much you wish it was.  As it sucks money out of the economy, the initial benefit vanishes, with the health care system in Britain the perfect example.   You don’t need a Harvard PhD to figure that one out.]

Not only that, but the link that was posted at the end about the girl getting the abortion:

a) has absolutely nothing to do with the exchange about health care. b) I don’t see why the girl should be forced to tell her parents…we should be expanding the rights of the youth, not restricting them.  [Had the person read my post, s/he would have realized that it was relevant, as I explained, because it goes to the way in which public high schools indoctrinate students, right to the point where they bypass parents entirely when it comes to political hot topics such as abortion.]

tl;dr? As a hardcore libertarian, I think this article reeks of sensationalist neocon.  [Uh, I don’t read hardcore libertarian here.  I read Progressive troll.]

***

That was a lot of stupid in one place. Too bad the teacher did not point out that the CBO said that the bill saves money, not costs money. [Where to begin.  Here, perhaps.  The person also doesn’t understand that the CBO was forced to work with the numbers that Congress used as predicates for the bill, rather than actual real world costs.  Even with that, as Paul Ryan carefully explained, the bill is affordable only because of accounting jiggery-pokery and because of deferred costs.] Perhaps they are wrong, but that mom had better go over the figures and say where they are wrong. Then the teacher could point out how the bill helps small businesses get health care for employees. Then there was that deep dishonesty that North Korea having universal health care, both false and distracting from Europe and Canada and all that.  [All communist countries have universal health care because they have no private enterprise.  To the extent there is any health care, it comes from the government.  Of course, perhaps what this person meant is that North Korea has no health care at all, because the government has run out of money and the people are eating dirt.]

Insults, conclusions, false facts, ignorance — what are they teaching young people nowadays?

UPDATE:  If you’ve come this far in the post, you’ll know that the history teacher who put a unique spin on WWII history had edited the iconic Iwo Jima photograph to turn the flag into a McDonald’s arch with Arabic writing.  Perhaps that teacher was educated at the same schools as our president who managed, in his Easter message, to edit Jesus Christ out entirely, including the part in which he quoted from a WWII pastor.  (See also Flopping Aces, which tipped me off to this one, and which adds some more information.)

I understand that the president of a multicultural United States must be careful not to speak in such overtly religious terms that he sounds more as if he’s giving a sermon, than a speech.  One cannot avoid, however, the fact that Easter is a Christ centered religion.  (Unless, of course, Obama is actually celebrating the Pagan rite of spring which involved fertility goddesses and suchlike.)  For Obama, who professes to be a Christian to edit Christ out entirely from a message that should, in theory, resonate personally with Obama, is somewhat surprising.

They’ve got to be pretending, because even reporters can’t be this stupid

Howard Fineman was going along all right in a column admitting that the health care bill was politically dangerous for the Democrats and that Americans really don’t like it.  Then he got stupid — and it’s the kind of stupid that either proves he has minimal gray matter in his cranial cage, or that he’s deliberately obfuscating (emphasis mine):

In Gallup’s new poll, Americans by narrow margins agree that the new health-care law will improve coverage (44–40 percent) and the “overall health of Americans” (40–35 percent).  In a way, it’s astonishing that sizable minorities could disagree with those two statements, since everyone agrees the law will provide medical coverage to 32 million more Americans.

Uh, Mr. Fineman, is it just conceivably possible that Americans understand that everyone getting medical coverage is not the same as everyone getting good medical coverage?  Perhaps Americans have figured out that a government will inevitably ration, and that it will ration on the basis of who contributes to the government.  Young person with treatable cancer?  Yes, you get treatment because you’ll probably recover to become a tax payer.  Old person with treatable cancer?  Nah.  Even if you recover, you’re a parasite.  Young or old person with untreatable cancer?  Very, very out of luck.  No government benefit in saving your lives.

Old people with Alzheimers who happen to get sick?  Definitely jettison them.  They won’t be putting any benefits back in the system.  In fact, the best and highest thing those Alzheimer sufferers can do is to sacrifice themselves to the God of government.  In the world of government care, the only good Alzheimer suffer is a dead one.

Americans intuitively understand that a $2 (plus) trillion dollar bill is a ridiculously huge price to pay to cover 32 million more people, especially since many of those 32 million snuck into this country illegally, or could have, but chose not to, buy insurance.  They also understand intuitively — and by peeking at other countries’ government-run health care — that the government is a lousy manager.  Compare standing in line at Nordstrom to standing in line at the DMV.  Compare a system that sucks up taxes no matter how lousy a job it does to one that rises or falls based on consumer satisfaction.

Mr. Fineman is either incredibly dumb or duplicitous when he implies that American medical care will remain precisely the same under the new regime, only with more people benefiting from its glories.  This is the MSM at its poisonous worst — when it presents as fact ludicrous, ill-thought out opinions that are often entirely unrelated to reality.

Obama and socialism

I warned people close to me (mother, sister, etc.) that Obama was a socialist and they laughed at me and (quite lovingly, because they’re my mom and my sister) called me “extreme.”  I wonder if they would have laughed at Al Sharpton too, now that he’s finally let the cat out of the bag:

Al Sharpton isn’t the only one coming out of the woodwork.  David Leonhardt, writing with the New York Times’ approving imprimatur, spells out precisely what’s going on:

For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.

Read the rest of Leonhardt’s euphoric socialist economic polemic here.

Stop me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the liberal media and the pundits go ballistic when all of us said that Obama’s statement to Joe the Plumber about “spreading the wealth” was a purely socialist notion?  They just think it’s a good thing that it should be the government’s responsibility to, hmm, let me see if I’ve got this right: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”  Quiz those pundits and media-crities and they might suggest some authors for that famous expression.  Was that Adam Smith who said that?  No.  Reagan?  No.  Jefferson?  No.  Tell me that it was Karl Marx, the founder of modern socialism, and I bet they’d be surprised.

Finally, all the pieces have come together, and the MSM is still urging us to avert our heads and not to listen.

I’m sorry this post is incoherent, but I’m irritated, and still trying to get my thoughts organized right now.

Educating the indoctrinated public school child *UPDATED*

My daughter’s history teacher, when pressed by her students about Sunday’s health care vote, couldn’t keep her mouth shut.  (Keeping her mouth shut would have involved saying, “This is a history class, not a politics class.  You should ask your parents these questions.”)  Instead, she blithely opined that “all civilized societies have universal health care.”

Fortunately, despite years in the public school system, my daughter is still amenable to logic.  In the face of her teacher’s certitude, I challenged my daughter with a few facts and asked a few questions.

Her: We live in a really rich place, don’t we. [I should add here that our family doesn’t live in great wealth, but, living in Marin, we are definitely part of a very wealthy community.]

Me: Yes, we do, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to stay wealthy.

Her: Why?

Me: Because that new health care plan has to be paid for. How do you think they’ll pay for it?

Her: They’ll get money from somewhere.

Me: Yeah, but where will they get the money?

Her: [Blank silence.]

Me: Taxes. They have to tax people. And look around you — these are the people they’re going to tax. Also, they’re going to tax these people’s businesses. So here’s a question for you. If the government takes more money from a business in the form of taxes, that means the business has less money, right?

Her: Right.

Me: And what happens when a business has less money?

Her: It can’t pay people.

Me: Bingo. And people who don’t get paid, don’t pay taxes — so you have to tax the reach rich people and businesses even more, since they’re the ones that still have money. But you tax them enough, and they stop having money too.

Her: Oh. I hope we don’t become poor.

Me: I hope so too. By the way, your teacher said “all civilized countries” have this kind of universal health care, right?

Her:  Yes.

Me:  Did she mention some of the countries that have it?

Her:  No.

Me:  Did she tell you about North Korea?

Her:  No.

Me:  North Korea is possibly the most repressive country on earth.  They have universal health care because everything comes from the government.  Also, do you remember when Daddy and I told you about Cuba, a country that’s like an island prison?  People get on rafts on shark-invested oceans to escape it.  Cuba has universal health care.  So did the Soviet Union, another country that was a giant prison that people tried to escape.  Under their universal health care, doctors were at the bottom of the pecking order.  Patients were in rooms with 20 or 30 other patients.  The beds were filthy and had no sheets.  People’s relatives had to bring linens and clean and take care of them.  That was also universal health care.

Her:  I didn’t know that.

Me:  I bet your teacher didn’t either.  In Canada, it’s not so bad. They have clean beds and good medical practices. The problem is the waiting. Take a hip replacement (which her grandmother had, twice). In America, once they decide you need one, you can have the operation in a few weeks. In Canada, it can take years. Also, if someone is really old, even though that person is in good health, like your grandmother, they might be refused the operation entirely, because it’s a “waste” to do it on an old person.

Her: That’s so unfair.

Me: Well, that’s the kind of decision a government has to make when it has to provide health care for everyone, and the citizens are running out of tax dollars. Right now, a lot of Canadians have been coming to America for these operations, because they can’t or don’t want to wait.

Her: Oh.

Me: In England, they also have “universal health care.” They also have one of the highest cancer death rates in the Western world, endless waits, hospitals that are death traps, and a pretty unhealthy population that the government keeps trying to bully when it comes to eating and exercise (since the government is paying for everyone’s health care). Healthy people don’t mind the system, because they don’t use it. People with emergencies sometimes get good care and sometimes get bad care, so they’re kind of neutral. Sick and old people, the ones who get told by the government that they are using up too many resources, hate it.

Her: That’s awful. How can they do that?

Me: Let me ask you yet another question:  If you get bad service at Nordstrom, what do you do?

Her:  Go to Target.

Me:  That’s right.  Or you go to Macy’s or Gap, or a hundred other stores.  Here’s the next question:  If you get bad service from the government, what to do you do?

Her:  Nothing.  There’s no place to go.

Me:  Right.  And if the government is the only provider of something, and has no competition, do you think it has an incentive to do a good job?

Her:  No.

Me:  Do you think it’s its employees have an incentive to try hard or give you good service?

Her:  No.

Me:  Okay, here’s another question:  Do you think people spend years and years, and work incredibly hard, go hugely into debt at medical school to make lots of money or little money?

Her:  Lots of money.

Me:  What do you think is going to happen if the government says “We’re not going to allow you to make lots of money?”

Her:  People won’t become doctors.

Me:  Right.

Her:  Stupid Obama!

UPDATEThis story, of a public high school arranging for a girl’s abortion entirely behind her mother’s back, seems entirely appropriate for the above post.  Also, I’m not the only one struggling to stem the indoctrination tide.

Fortunately, despite years in the public school system, my daughter is still amenable to logic.  I mentioned a few facts and asked a few questions.

Me:  Your teacher said all civilized countries have this kind of universal health care, right?
Her:  Yes.
Me:  Did she mention some of the countries that have it?
Her:  No.
Me:  Did she tell you about North Korea?
Her:  No.
Me:  North Korea is possibly the most repressive country on earth.  They have universal health care because everything comes from the government.  Also, do you remember when Daddy and I told you about Cuba, a country that’s like an island prison?  People get on rafts on shark-invested oceans to escape it.  Cuba has universal health care.  So did the Soviet Union.  Under their universal health care, doctors were at the bottom of the pecking order.  Patients were in rooms with 20 or 30 other patients.  The beds were filthy and had no sheets.  People’s relatives had to bring linens and clean and take care of them.  That was also universal health care.
Her:  I didn’t know that.
Me:  I bet your teacher didn’t either.  Let me ask you a different question:  If you get bad service at Nordstrom, what do you do?
Her:  Go to Target.
Me:  That’s right.  Or you go to Macy’s or Gap, or a hundred other stores.  Here’s the next question:  If you get bad service from the government, which is the only provider around, what to do you do?
Her:  Nothing.  There’s no place to go.
Me:  Right.  And if the government is the only provider, and has no competition, do you think it has an incentive to do a good job?
Her:  No.
Me:  Do you think it’s employees have an incentive to try hard or give you good service?
Her:  No.
Me:  Let me ask you another question:  Do you think people spend years and years, and work incredibly hard, at medical school to make lots of money or little money?
Her:  Lots of money.
Me:  What do you think is going to happen if the government says “We’re not going to allow you to make lots of money?”
Her:  People won’t become doctors.
Me:  Right.
Her:  Stupid Obama.

Health care reform — or, when smart people go stupid *UPDATED*

I had an illuminating conversation with a neighbor this morning.  She’s very pleased that health care reform passed, because “we’ll all have insurance coverage now.”  This is an Ivy League educated woman, and that was her sole understanding of the monstrosity that just cleared Congress:  “We’ll all have insurance coverage now.”  The conversation got really strange after that.

I said, “Well, it’s not really insurance anymore, you know.”  A politely phrased “Huh?” was her response.  I explained:  “The new plan forces people to buy insurance or pay a penalty.  However, the penalty is significantly less than the cost of insurance, especially because it’s been predicted that the health care plan will cause an immediate 13%-15% increase in insurance rates.  Further, insurance companies are now required by law to provide insurance to anyone who asks, no matter how sick they are.  This means that people will choose to pay the fine, rather than to buy insurance while they’re healthy.  They will only buy insurance once their they’re sick — and that’s not insurance any more.  That’s just passing the cost to an entity that no longer has a necessary income stream from healthy people.  In 5-10 years, therefore (maybe less), all insurance companies will be bankrupt.”

Her response?  “You’re just too sophisticated.  I think most people will want to have insurance.  They’ve always wanted insurance and now they can buy it.  And anyway, most of the uninsured are healthy.”  (Oy, vey.  My brain is actually melting at this point.)

“Dear neighbor, People who wanted insurance could always buy insurance — and they did. Eighty-five percent of Americans are insured.   The ‘uninsured’ are composed of about a third illegal immigrants, a third people who don’t want insurance and never did, and a third people who genuinely can’t afford insurance.  Now they’re all being forced to buy insurance, except that the insurance is going to be even more expensive than before.  Or all these people can pay a cheaper fine on an ongoing basis and just buy ‘insurance’ when they need it.  I think even unsophisticated people are going to figure out that it’s not in their interest to buy insurance unless they’re sick — and in that case, it’s not insurance.”

“Yeah, but this will stop costs from going up,” she said.  (At this point I think I can actually feel my melted brains oozing out my ears.)

“Dear neighbor, we already know costs are going to go up.  Now taxes will too.  The best way to keep costs down would have been to increase competition.  Right now, your 70 year old husband, if he wants to buy insurance, is paying for a policy that provides him with fertility treatments.  Opening the market would drive down costs, because people could buy only what they need, and not what the government mandates.”

“Well,” she said.  “I think it’s going to be a good thing.”

I said a polite good-bye, and hauled myself uphill, leave a snail-like trail of melted brain matter behind me.  If she’s an example of the best of brightest, we truly have gotten the government we deserve.

UPDATE:  This just floated across my facebook screen:

Majority Rules! Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, President Obama. Our children and grandchildren will see true liberty and welfare. True economic justice begins with one’s own well being and health. Coverage for all.

Where to begin?  “Majority rules?”  Well, yes, if by “majority rules” you mean going against the will of the majority of the American people.  What a very “newspeak-ish” construction of the phrase.  And how about “true liberty and welfare.”  I guess that works if you’re idea of liberty is to be totally dependent on an all-controlling government.  And can anyone translate for me “true economic justice begins with one’s own well being and health?”  That sounds just like gibberish.  I mean, really, I can’t even run that through the Orwellian Newspeak filter and translate it.

UPDATE II:  Patrick has been having his own incredibly frustrating interactions with a pro-health care liberal.

End of the world as we know it Open Thread

I indulged myself today by staying assiduously away from the computer.  If there was going to be a train crash, I didn’t want to see it happen.  What’s really irksome isn’t that Stupak is the usual Demo ho (pardon my language), but that he was willing to sell his soul for the political equivalent of Monopoly money.  Here’s Andrew MacCarthy on just how bad Stupak’s deal is:

But now Democrats are going to abide not a mere signing statement but an executive order that purports to have the effect of legislation — in fact, has the effect of nullifying legislation that Congress is simultaneously enacting?

The Susan B. Anthony List observation that EOs can be rescinded at the president’s whim is of course true. This particuar EO is also a nullity — presidents cannot enact laws, the Supreme Court has said they cannot impound funds that Congress allocates, and (as a friend points out) the line-item veto has been held unconstitutional, so they can’t use executive orders to strike provisions in a bill. So this anti-abortion EO is blatant chicanery: if the pro-lifers purport to be satisfied by it, they are participating in a transparent fraud and selling out the pro-life cause.

But even if all that weren’t true, how do we go from congressional Democrats claiming that signing statements were a shredding of the Constitution to congressional Democrats acquiescing in a claim that the president can enact or cancel out statutory law by diktat?

One begins to suspect that there’s little difference between this Bart and this Bart when it comes to either intelligence or decency.

Wondering whether Stupak will be a vertebrate or an invertebrate — and Open Thread

Stupak’s going to make his much awaited statement while I’m off working out.  So far, he’s had a spine and has distinguished himself from other Democrats by actually letting a principle guide him.  I suspect, though, that his 11:00 press conference will be a weasely explanation of why he’s caved completely on his pro-Life stance.  I hope time proves me wrong.

Victor Davis Hanson on the President’s and the Dem’s conduct with regard to the health care vote

Victor Davis Hanson sums everything up in one paragraph:

The president is pushing legislation that a clear majority of the people dislike, and whose details neither he nor his supporters can explain in simple language. Its ends-justify-the-means passage will require legislative gymnastics that border on the unconstitutional, and in Orwellian fashion are designed to reassure its sheepish supporters that they can appear not to be voting for the bill they vote for. And to achieve a House majority, Obama must offer an array of personal favors, political payoffs, federal stipends, and open threats, which, if done in the private sector, would be actionable acts of felonious bribery or racketeering.

Well, yes, there is all that….

UPDATE:  And a truly powerful Wall Street Journal editorial on the tremendous threat to American liberty if health care gets passed this Sunday.

Beware the Ides of March– at least under a Democratic administration

Family commitments meant that I spent, perhaps, 5 minutes at my computer this weekend.  That wasn’t what I’d planned, but that was what I ended up with.  In today’s news cycle, of course, two days can be the equivalent of two decades.  Certainly, when I turned the computer on this morning and checked out the news, the headlines were grim:

The U.S. and England (the only two Western nations that significantly increased, rather than decreased, government spending during the recession) are failing.

Our great Leader, the one who was supp0sed to ingratiate us with the Muslim world, is the subject of protests . . . in the Muslim world.

The Obama administration is putting crude, thuggish pressure on Israel, America’s only true friend in the Middle East.  And I am very, very sad to report that this nastiness may be because the U.S. Military, acting through CENTCOM, which is linked to this blog, said that the Obama administration’s inability to control Israel is hurting America’s interests with Arab nations.  Invective, of course, is not the same as control or a game plan.  It’s tragic, though, that the weakest administration ever (and I do think Obama has easily overtaken Carter in that department) decides that, in lieu of getting responsible, it’s going to get vicious and fundamentally immoral.  Of course, that’s entirely consistent with Leftist “pragmatism,” which is always drawn to the bully coalition and which, historically, is antisemitic, to boot.

Pelosi pushes forward with a shell game aimed at putting 1/6 of the economy under government control and pretty much destroying medicine as we know it.  Although the Daily Caller writes that it’s possible that it won’t happen, I’m not optimistic because we’ve seen before that, once Pelosi goes into bribery/threat mode, Democrats fall like ninepins.  This is where you come in.  If you live in a district with a wavering Democrat, you must contact your representative.  People like me are useless.  Rep. Lynn Woolsey, my representative, has been a “head of the line” yes vote since day one.  People like me — a very unhappy Independent — are completely irrelevant to her.  You, however, may live in a district where your opinions actually counts.  If that’s the case DO SOMETHING! Call, and then call again, and call again.  And then, once you’ve had a nice hot cup of tea and rested a little, call again.

I think I need some chocolate.  Lots of chocolate.

In fact, though, after I finish with some actual work, I’ve had two posts which I’ve been trying to get finished for days now.  I’ve got them all lined up, but I haven’t had a serious minute within which to do something about them.

Wondering about the Blue Dogs’ pride *UPDATED*

Pride can make us do very stupid things.  Once we’ve committed to something (a job, a marriage, a principle, whatever), and once we’ve touted that commitment to the world as the most wonderful thing evah, it is extremely difficult to stand up to that same world and admit “I made a mistake.”

I’ve been thinking about this very human aversion to admitting major errors in judgment whenever I think of the Blue Dog Democrats.  I find it almost impossible to believe that the Blue Dog Dems aren’t perturbed by Obama’s radicalism and Pelosi’s insanity.  I believe that these men and women understand that the Obama/Reid/Pelosi triumvirate is advancing a political agenda that, while it may play beautifully on liberal White Papers, will destroy America’s economy.  While these Blue Dogs like liberalism, I don’t believe any really want to see America simultaneously remade and destroyed.

The question, then, is whether any of the Blue Dogs will have the courage to stand up and say “This isn’t right.  Back in November 2008, I thought it was, but the reality is playing out differently from what I imagined.  I’m going to accept that I erred, and place love of country ahead of ego-driven party loyalty.”  The alternative is to do what they’re doing now, which is to cower behind Democratic party loyalty, as if that’s some sort of moral pass for helping to be an engineer of America’s destruction.

Of course, if these people lack the courage to stand up and admit that things are not going as planned, but they still don’t want to buy into the insanity, they can always take Carol Perrachio’s advice (advice I also give my own children) and use the Senate Republicans as their shield:

When my daughter was a teenager, her friends would occasionally phone with an invitation  to a party or outing which she was reluctant to attend. I’d hear her say, “Let me ask my mom.” She’d cover the phone receiver and tell me about the invitation. I’d take one look at her face and ask, “Do you want to go?” She’d shake her head no. So I would give her some mom-cover. “Tell them I said no.”

My daughter would then tell her friend, “Sorry, my mom says I can’t go…yeah, you know how parents are.”

By the way, I don’t think Peracchio knew when she wrote the above that the Senate Republicans, all 41 of them (thank you Scott Brown and Massachusetts voters), had signed a letter assuring the House that Republicans will prevent the Senate from using Reconciliation to “fix” those clauses in the Senate bill that the House finds problematic.  The Blue Dogs can, with absolute certainty, state that they cannot vote for the Senate’s Obama Care Blue because the mean Republicans won’t let them fix it.  It’s not a noble way out, but it’s a way out.

UPDATE: Even as I was writing the above post, jj was writing an answer as a comment to another post, with both of us unloading our opinions simultaneously. Here’s jj weighing in on my post about things we can do to stop Obama Care:

You can’t do anything about Obamacrae, because they aren’t going to actually vote on it at all. The charming Louise Slaughter has come up with a way (it’s solid BS, of course, but there you go: democrats) “deeming” it passed, so there it’ll be – and no one will have to be held to account for a vote because there won’t be one.

But here’s an opportunity for everybody else to wake up. What would be called a “teachable moment.” The lesson to be learned is: There is no such thing as a “blue dog” democrat. There are no “sleeping dog” democrats, no “hound dog” democrats, “no “lap dog” democrats, and no “Siberian Malemute” democrats: there are only democrats. Under any (every) and all circumstances, they are democrats first, and they will vote democrat every single time, despite whatever line of crap they put out. When it comes down to it, they will fall into lockstep and vote democrat. Period!

It would be very nice if the republicans would learn that, and stop thinking they can work with these people, and stop allowing so much as a second’s complacency to creep in when dealing with these alleged people. Get over it: when democrats are in the room there are no rules (as this Slaughter deal ought to amply demonstrate); and they are democrats first, last, and always.

What you can do about Obama Care

Nancy is boasting that she’s got the votes.  We thought last fall that this was an empty boast, but it wasn’t.  We should, therefore, be very concerned that she makes this boast.  The Tea Party Patriots have put together an action email, telling you what you can do to help.  Here is the email in its entirety (h/t Radio Patriot):

Code Red, Red Alert, OPERATION URGENT CARE

Dear Fellow Tea Party Patriots,

National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin just got off the phone with 2 reliable sources in Washington DC who have told us that the Blue Dog Democrats are caving on health care and will be voting for it.  Many Blue Dogs are saying that Speaker Pelosi will have the votes before or by next Thursday and they are saying this very confidently.  The important thing to note is that as soon as Speaker Pelosi thinks she has the votes, she will immediately call for the vote on the House Floor.  That means it the vote could come as early as tomorrow, or it could be later.

It is up to each and every one of us to stop this health care bill. Over 60% of Americans do NOT want this bill yet that does not matter to the Democrats in Congress.  Sen. Coburn said on Tea Party Patriots’

Hot Tea Radio program today, that current polling shows 48% of Americans want the entire health care bill scrapped and to start over.  Only 25% of Americans even want this bill, and polling shows jobs is the top priority for Americans and health care reform ranks well down the list at number six.  Yet Speaker Pelosi and the Democrat leadership in the House and the Senate are prepared to shove this bill down our throats, regardless of what the American people want.

We cannot let our liberty go without fighting for it with everything we have. In the battle to prevent the government from taking over our health care, Tea Party Patriots across the country have left no stone unturned.  Right now we must keep the pressure up!!! The Blue Dog Democrats must feel as much pressure from the “Tea Party folks” as they are feeling from Speaker Pelosi and the Democrat House Leadership.

The absolute most effective thing that you can do is to go to the office of the Congressmen who are on the fence and still undecided on this government takeover of health care bill.  Let the Undecided Congressmen see the live faces of the people who do not want this health care bill shoved down our throats.  Make them look in your eyes.

In addition to the action items emailed late last night, we need you right now to plan an event and have car loads of people visiting the local district offices in a constant stream this week.

Here is how to do it:

Dems may not have votes, but they’ve got constitutional disregard down to an art

Perhaps it really is true that Pelosi doesn’t have the votes for Obama Care.  After all, if she did, why would the Democrats be considering the “Slaughter Option” something that involves bypassing votes altogether:

The Slaughter Solution is a plan by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Democratic chair of the powerful House Rules Committee and a key ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), to get the health care legislation through the House without an actual vote on the Senate-passed health care bill.  You see, Democratic leaders currently lack the votes needed to pass the Senate health care bill through the House.  Under Slaughter’s scheme, Democratic leaders will overcome this problem by simply “deeming” the Senate bill passed in the House – without an actual vote by members of the House.

An article in this morning’s edition of National Journal’s CongressDaily breaks the story, starting with the headline: “SLAUGHTER PREPS RULE TO AVOID DIRECT VOTE ON SENATE BILL.”  Excerpts:

House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday.

Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.

I mean, really, the whole concept of democracy is so out-dated. Tyranny is faster, easier and so much more efficient.

Friends, I feel tired.  Really.  Fatigue is my dominant emotion at this moment.

In the face of this overwhelming barrage of lies, doublespeak (“A bill can be bipartisan without bipartisan votes”), inanities (““But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it….”), and corruption (think Cornhusker kickbacks, union deals, etc.), it’s hard to keep ones energy burning bright.  This whole thing has felt like death by a thousand, not cuts, ’cause this is bigger than cuts, but death by a thousands assaults each of which, alone, isn’t quite fatal.

This doesn’t mean I’m giving up.  I’m just whining a bit.  Pardon me — or feel free to chime in.

Hat tip: Kim Priestap

Health care may well pass, and what will happen if it does

The American Thinker spells it out:

Richard Baehr, ace political watcher, thinks the odds are that Nancy Pelosi, through brute force, will get Obama Care through.  Once that happens, of course, it’s the law, and “reconciliation,” which is ostensibly meant to smooth away any lingering roughness, will die a’bornin’

Christopher Chantrill explains what government will look like once it passes — and that’s regardless of any efforts, successful or not, not repeal it:

There are a number of reasons why the outcome of Obamacare would be a lot less enjoyable than this rosy scenario.

First of all, in the period between passage and repeal, many damaging events will have taken place. Taxes will have gone up. Many employers will have terminated their health plans and accepted a tax that costs them less than their employee health plan. Seniors will have lost their Medicare Advantage. Doctors will have retired rather than deal with the hassle of Obamacare. Already the curtain will have rung up on a meaner, nastier America.

And we know today what that looks like. It looks like Greece, where the government is teetering on the edge of default and workers from a bloated public sector are rioting in the streets over the possibility of any reduction in their pay and benefits. It looks like Iceland, where the voters just voted by 93 percent to 1.5 percent against the government’s proposal to pay back losses suffered by British and Dutch depositors after its bank meltdown in 2008. And let’s not forget Argentina, which has lumbered from inflation to default and back again numerous times since it opted for the empty promises of Juan Perón and the lovely Evita back in 1946.

The squalor of this kind of government is dreadful. It is government that lurches from crisis to crisis, resorting to loans, IMF bailouts, and defaults on debt, followed by “restructurings” that deliver a 60- to 70-percent loss to bondholders. In the Argentine crisis of 1999-2002, the government blithely seized dollar deposits in personal checking accounts and replaced them with pesos worth about 25 percent as much.

Under government like that, you can’t be an independent soul. You have to work for the government, join a union, pay your dues to the local party boss. Otherwise, you will get run over. The glory of America is that most of the time, it has avoided this misery.

This is one of those cases where Obama and the Democrats break it, but we, the citizens, end up owning it.

Risks and strategies re health care *UPDATED*

Here’s what I see going on and, please, correct me if I’m wrong:

Reconciliation is a red herring.  Right now, the House is being promised that, if it votes on the Senate bill, the Senate will fix differences between the two bills through reconciliation.  So everyone is focusing on whether the Senate will indeed have the votes for reconciliation.  That is irrelevant.  Once the House, with that carrot dangling before it, votes on the Senate bill that bill will become law.  Reconciliation will vanish!  Poof.  Gone.  The thing we need to do is stop worrying about reconciliation in the Senate and start focusing on the House itself.

If you live in a District with a liberal House member, as I do, my suggestion for derailing that Representative’s vote is to taunt that person for selling out to the insurance companies.  After all, while government is taking over providing health care, each and every one of us will still be forced to pay big bucks to an “evil insurance company” to pay for that health care.  This is a twofer, in other words:  a government takeover and an unprecedented corporate boondoggle.  Your liberal representative is excited about the government takeover, but the base can still be inflamed over that corporate giveaway.

In any event, that’s the tactic I tried with my Representative, telling her that a “yes” vote on the Senate bill would mean that she’s now owned by the insurance companies.  My thinking was that you have to argue with people in terms they understand.

UPDATE:  Rush corrects the flaw in my thinking and explains precisely why Lynn Woolsey and others of her stripe are all for this bill, one that ostensibly forces people to buy insurance.  Two things:  First, the penalty for failing to buy insurance is hugely cheaper than the cost of buying insurance.  Second, insurance companies are no longer going to be allowed to play the odds of calculating whether some will get costly illnesses and others won’t.  Instead, under the Senate bill, they must sell insurance to people after they get sick.  Meaning, as Rush said, it’s not insurance at all.  Under this scheme, the only ones who will get insurance are people who are already sick, which will quickly bankrupt the insurance system.  Once that happens . . . voila! Public option.

My prediction, if the House Democrats swallow the reconciliation bait

I believe more and more strongly that reconciliation is a red herring, meant to induce the House to pass the Senate bill.  Once that’s done, this so called “reconciliation,” an alleged second bill that will smooth away the differences between the two chambers (especially the House’s demand that abortion, which is part of the Senate bill, be excluded from taxpayer funding), will vanish.  Instead, Obama will proclaim that Obama care is a done deal, with the outrageous, huge, convoluted, corruption-riddled Senate bill as the law, and let his Democratic House die in November.  End of story.

Scorching logic and hard facts from Paul Ryan

Obama is so insulated behind his compliant media and his worshipful staff, I wonder if he’s ever heard before the facts Ryan spells out so clearly here:

My favorite line:  “Hiding spending does not reduce spending.”  Brilliant core statement about the myriad flaws in the bill.  Also, he drills in on the core difference between the two parties:  whether people or government should control their access to health care.

No one at Bookworm Room is surprised that Obama doubled-down on health care

Many pundits opined that Obama, being a bright guy, would learn from his myriad failures in 2009.  Over here at Bookworm Room, however, I repeatedly said that Obama is the type of malignant narcissist who will never learn from experience.  Unlike a social narcissist — that would be Clinton — who desperately craves approval and will do anything, including sleeping with thousands of women and changing his whole political ideology, to get that approval, Obama is the kind of narcissist who looks around him and sees two classes of people:  (1) those who agree with him and (2) a whole bunch of idiots.  The only way to deal with the latter, of course, is to continue to bully, hector and try to control them.  The American people are getting the full court press of a malignant narcissist who has been crossed.

It’s not pretty:

President Barack Obama is putting forward a nearly $1 trillion, 10-year health care plan that would allow the government to deny or roll back egregious insurance premium increases that infuriated consumers.

It doesn’t seem to occur to the president that the best way to deal with health care plans that mess with prices is to open the marketplace so that insured people can turn their back on those companies.

In other words, Obama is bribing Americans:  I’ll fix prices, if you’ll buy a $1 trillion addition to the American debt load, and total federal control over your health care and, by extension, your lives.  Does he really think we’re that stupid?  Forget I asked that question.  As I said in my first paragraph, of course he does.

Thinking it through, the whole premium increase thing is an issue because there is really no true marketplace for health insurance.  Because of the fact that insurers, not individuals, buy insurance, so people are tied to their policies because of their jobs; and because of the pre-existing condition problem (which also ties people to jobs), insurers don’t have true marketplace competition.  Instead, on a state by state, and employer by employer basis, they have monopolies — which is why they can raise prices with impunity.

Severing insurance from employment, and treating it like auto or life or home insurance, is one way to increase market forces, thereby decreasing the impunity with which insurer’s manipulate prices.  To date, the more vexing question has been how to deal with pre-existing conditions, since it seems unfair to force an insurer voluntarily to take on someone who will manifestly cost more than any premiums he will provide.  I realized, however, when I sat down and thought about things, that this issue can be dealt with simply by stating that, if a person with a pre-existing condition is currently insured, and can find comparable insurance with another company, that second company must provide coverage.

In a huge, open market, no one insurance company is going to be terribly hurt by this.  In a truly competitive system, one in which individuals, not their employers, buy insurance; and where people can buy basic policies, instead of premium policies only; and one in which people can cross state lines to buy cheaper policies (and assume the risks of less regulation); and where there is infinitely less government paperwork; people’s freedom to move from one policy to another will help sooth the economic hurt of forcing any one company to take on a person with a pre-existing condition.  For example, if Steve, with colitis, leaves insurance company X for insurance company Y (because the latter offers him a better deal), you can pretty much bet that Sally, with disc problems, will leave insurance company Y for insurance company X, because she likes the latter’s coverage better. In other words, the whole pre-existing condition issue is a problem in significant part because there’s too much government involvement, making movement within the market impossible.  Insurance companies are just as trapped as consumers are.

I hope that people are not fooled, but are, instead, offended, by the way in which president Obama is selling mutton dressed as lamb.  This is not a better deal, despite the way in which Obama has built in yet another bribe.  It is the same old, same old:  government will officially take over health care; government will use the full weight of its punitive powers to force citizens to buy a third party product that they may neither need nor want; physicians will be bullied in a way no other private citizens are when it comes to the nature of their work; and our nation will collapse under a completely unnecessary debt load.

Will no one rid me of this turbulent Democratic Congress? *UPDATED*

James Taranto makes an interesting suggestion:  In the coming months, Obama is going to try to make Republicans look good so that, in November, one-party rule ends and he can tack to the center, more or less guaranteeing himself a second term.

What do you think?  Does Taranto make a good case for this strategy or is Taranto reading to much into a sop Obama is throwing to Republicans to justify further intransigence on his part?

UPDATEPower Line has a different and, I think, better approach to the whole thing, beginning with an accurate understanding of what Obama means by the word “compromise”:

At yesterday’s press conference, Obama explained what he means by “compromise” legislation: he will insist on adherence to his goals regarding health care reform, but will entertain Republican suggestions on how to accomplish them. The president will not “start from scratch,” as Republican leaders have asked him to do.

[snip]

I doubt, however, that Obama’s proposed meeting is really about finding a compromise. Instead, I think it’s an attempt by the president to shift some of the focus away from the Democrats’ behavior and onto that of the Republicans. The health care debate has been a significant loser for Dems, not just on the merits but also in terms of process. By publicizing, holding, and televising a meeting, Obama hopes not that he will appear more reasonable in terms of process, but also that Republicans will cast themselves in a bad light. This would occur, Obama probably hopes, if Republicans refuse to attend or if they attend and either (a) behave badly or (b) are out-argued.

This isn’t a bad strategy on Obama’s part, but it’s unlikely to be much of a winner, ether. Given the unpopularity of the Democrats’ substantive approach to health reform, the Republicans can avoid the meeting without much political cost by forcing Obama to say, as he did yesterday, that he is unwilling to start over. Alternatively, they can attend, behave decorously (as they did when they met with Obama in Baltimore), and hold their own or better in the discussion of the merits.

Incidentally, to understand why “adopt my strategy, but with your tactics” is not a feasible approach for any honest Republican dealing with Obama, you have to understand that conservatives and Progressives are pulling in two irreconcilable directions.  Conservatives want less government involvement in health care, to free the power of the market place; while Progressives want complete government control over health care, destroying the marketplace.  The only middle position is the mess we have now and, while ideologues on the Left and the Right don’t like it very much, the public has made it clear that they’re willing to deal a bit longer with the Devil they know, than to have D.C. introduce a Devil, possibly socialist, that they don’t know.

American health care is better than socialized medicine

One of the bludgeons used to beat opponents of socialized medicine is the claim that everybody in Canada/England/Northern Europe/Etc., is soooo much happier with health care than we are.  A doctor friend of mine has been scouring the literature, and she’s discovered that this isn’t true.  Polls show that people in countries with socialized medicine are quite unhappy and, given the patient outcomes, this isn’t a surprise:

What progressives won’t admit is that people reliant on nationalized health care are unhappy. Recent polls show that more than 70 percent of Germans, Australians, Britons, Canadians and New Zealanders think their systems need “complete rebuilding” or “fundamental change.”

These polls reflect the poor outcomes those systems provide. In countries with nationalized care, outcomes for some of the most common diseases are catastrophically worse than in the United States. Compared to the U.S., Germany’s breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher, the U.K.’s is 88 percent higher and Canada’s is 9 percent higher.

For prostate cancer, the U.K.’s mortality rate is 604 percent higher, Norway’s is 457 percent higher and Canada’s is 184 percent higher. Colorectal cancer outcomes are no better with the U.K.’s mortality rate 40 percent higher and Canada’s 10 percent higher than here.

The United States does particularly well with breast cancer, in part because of aggressive screening policies.

Please read the whole op-ed my friend wrote.  Not only is it interesting on its own terms, but a large readership will push it onto the “Most viewed” category on the online edition of the paper, encouraging even greater reader numbers.  People ought to be exposed to as much information as possible about health care options, and Callen’s opinion piece is chock full ‘o info.

Lynn Woolsey turns on the Senate health care bill

Rep. Lynn Woolsey is a liberal among liberals, a Leftist who calls affluent Marin County her home (and Marin voters have sent her back to D.C. over and over again, with about 70% of the vote).  She’s not a very bright woman, but I give her credit for focusing unerringly on what’s wrong with the Senate health care bill:

Rep. Lynn Woolsey said Friday she would not vote for the Senate version of the Democrat’s health care reform bill without substantial changes, even though that is the only clear path toward passage of the legislation.

“The House bill was compromise enough for the people I represent,” said Woolsey, D-Petaluma. “The Senate bill would go beyond that to the point where we would just hand the insurance companies the gift of 40 million new customers with little or no controls on premiums and no competition from a public option.”

She’s even figured out that Paul Krugman, one of the people I credit with inadvertently helping me see how dysfunctional liberalism is, gets it completely wrong when he says to the Dems “Damn the torpedoes.  Full speed ahead!”  Reconciliation just won’t work because, even though it will turn the health care system economically over to the government, it still won’t fix those vexing liberal problems of how to make every citizen pay for every other citizen’s abortion (something even principled pro-choicers admit is wrong) or how to ensure that every illegal alien gets full medical coverage:

She said, for example, the Senate bill fails to prohibit insurance companies from rejecting customers due to pre-existing health conditions or to ban annual and lifetime caps on coverage.

“Even in reconciliation, we can’t fix that because reconciliation covers only budget issues,” Woolsey said.

The reconciliation process Woolsey referred to is a tactic that would allow Democrats to modify parts of the health care reform bill with just a 51-vote majority in the Senate. Under such an approach, Democrats in the House would first pass the Senate version of the health care bill, then pass a reconciliation bill containing the changes. Republicans have used this so-called “nuclear option” in the past to enact tax cuts.

But changes contained in a reconciliation bill may only deal with taxes and spending to bring the legislation in line with the budget. It would be difficult if not impossible to use reconciliation to address issues such as abortion funding and health care for immigrants.

Woolsey wants to follow Obama’s new suggestion of passing bite-size pieces of reform. The question now, is whether the American people will understand that insurance companies can’t stay in business if people are allowed to hold off on paying for insurance until they actually get sick. It’s really not insurance anymore, with the companies taking actuarial risks. In that case, it’s simply companies getting no benefit whatsoever to pay for our health care. It may be a good deal for the public, but that’s only until the insurance companies go out of business. Of course, then the government steps in and, voila — single payer health care. So I guess this is the start towards a backdoor government takeover.

As many have said, when it comes to liberals and their goals, it never ends.

Charles Krauthammer on the fundamental corruption of the health care bill (and Obama, too) *UPDATED*

From Fox New’s Sunday Roundtable, this is Charles Krauthammer’s take on the profoundly corrupt process behind the health care bill, and the way this process reflects on Obama:

It is a bribe, and that’s why it is so unpopular. Look, it’s not just a question of it depriving the Treasury of revenue. It’s question of equity.

You’ve got two workers, same type of job, same plan, same income, one of whom is a member of a union. And the guy who isn’t [a union member] is going to end up having a tax of 40 percent on his plan, and the other guy is not. And that’s simply incredibly unfair. And obviously, it’s a corrupt bargain.

What’s really hurting the bill here isn’t only the opposition on the substance, the half a trillion in cuts in … Medicare, and half a trillion in taxes. It’s the process.

That deals are [being] made corruptly and so openly is astonishing: the “Louisiana Purchase,” a cool $300 million for the Landrieu vote; the — what happened in Nebraska, this eternal exemption that Nebraska would have on paying for the extra Medicaid cost; and now the unions.

The reason it’s hurting Obama is he ran on the idea that he would change our politics. It would not be driven by special interest. There would not be the secret deals.

And he’s done it with the unions, with the pharmaceutical companies, with the doctors, with the hospitals, all in a way that everybody can see. And that’s why he’s hurting so much in the [personal] polls and on the health care issue itself.

UPDATEThe New York Times is much more sanguine about this whole process.  (So sanguine, in fact, that the reader who sent me the link to this article told me that his wife, an Independent Democrat, conceded for the first time that the Times is the Pravda of the Democratic party.)  Thus, rather than seeing the union deal as an offensively corrupt piece of horsetrading that buys votes at the expensive of other citizens, the Times assures us that it’s a great piece of statesmanship that will shower government beneficence on all citizens:

The agreement between the White House, Congressional leaders and labor unions over taxing high-priced health insurance policies is a reasonable solution to an issue that was threatening to derail health care reform. The agreement treats unionized workers far more favorably than nonunion workers, the price for the support of important Democratic constituencies. But it would preserve the tax’s crucial role in slowing the rise in health care costs for decades to come.

After explaining how it works, the Times assures those being reamed by the tax (as opposed to their tax-free next-door neighbor, the union man), that they are making a worthy sacrifice for the greater good (as opposed to their tax-free next-door neighbor, the union man):

A vast majority of economists agree that the tax would be a valuable cost-control feature. In our largely fee-for-service system, doctors have an economic incentive to provide more services. With insurance covering most of the bill, neither patients nor doctors worry much about costs. Requiring workers to pay more out of pocket would force them and their doctors to think a lot more carefully about whether an expensive test or treatment is really necessary.

And if you’re worrying that these inequities will screw up the system, don’t worry — the government is here to help:

There is some risk — nobody knows how large — that higher deductibles and co-payments would discourage some people, especially the chronically ill, from seeking medical care that they need. Congress can avoid this tragic outcome by setting up a monitoring system to detect any emergence of harm and making a midcourse correction to protect the health of any groups that suffer adverse consequences.

Do you feel better now?

My correspondent remarked that the editorial, which is published anonymously, of course, has no comment feature.  It’s obvious that the editors are afraid that just about anyone with half a brain will point out to the opiated liberal masses the myriad and ugly flaws in the editorial’s argument.

Liberals laugh at business — even when they concede that it functions better than government

Last night, I went to hear Atul Gawande give a talk promoting his new book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.  The book’s premise is a simple one:  In an increasingly complex world, even experts benefit from a routine checklist that requires them to focus on the essentials necessary to their task.  The best checklists are not too detailed, and leave room for individual or team autonomy.  Gawande, a surgeon, came up with the idea when the World Health Organization asked him to investigate how to decrease unnecessary deaths associated with surgery.  After investigating similar complex situations (building tall buildings or airplanes), Gawande concluded that checklists that force people to remember what should be obvious (but nevertheless gets forgotten or overlooked), and that enable teams actually to function as teams, were the way to go.  Boeing was a huge inspiration for this.

I came away from the talk convinced that Gawande has a point (perhaps because I’m a checklist and outline person myself).  I was also impressed much less favorably by his devotion to the notion of government controlled health care (he’s all for the Frankenstein monstrosity wending its way through Congress).  Aside from my own prejudices, his manifest delight in the health care bill made no sense as he told anecdote after anecdote demonstrating that it’s the business sector, not the government, that is best able to adapt to his recommendations.  This became most clear when he talked about Hurricane Katrina.

Gawande noted that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA descended on New Orleans with the Checklists from Hell.  They were overly detailed, denied any personal responsibility, and prevented FEMA employees from adapting to the situation on the ground.  These government generated checklists, rather than heightening efficiency, rendered government employees ineffectual.

Gawande paused after this description.  Around me, all the people in this liberal, elite San Francisco audience nodded their heads wisely.  “That dumb Bush and his corrupt administration,” you could practically see them thinking.

By contrast, said Gawande, you could see the effective use of checklists from . . . long pause . . . “Wal-Mart, of all things.”  He paused for the obvious laugh line, and the audience obliged.  What a joke that the fascist Wal-Mart commercial dictatorship would function better than government.  Gawande clearly agreed, yet he went on to describe a Walmart behaving efficiently and humanely during the disaster.

Because its checklists weren’t rigid or overly long, Wal-Mart employees had a certain degree of latitude in the face of an enormous crisis.  Ultimately, Wal-Mart asked only that the managers check in with headquarters daily so that they could pool information and exchange ideas.  Within one day, while FEMA was still turning away supplies because they weren’t on a given employee’s checklist, Wal-Mart had arranged for free medicine to be handed out to be people who were dependent on their medicine (diabetics, for example). They were also providing essential supplies to FEMA, which was incapable of accessing its own resources.

What neither Gawande nor the audience seemed to comprehend was that this outcome wasn’t surprising, it was obvious.  Government is a bureaucratic entity ultimately responsible only for more government.  It is driven by fear, not by outcome.  The fear each employee has that he or she might get downgraded on the civil service list, the collective entity’s fear of a funding cut, its leadership’s fear that each member will fail to ascend in the government ranks, and so on.  It has no responsibility beyond its own bureaucratic survival.  If it goes through the motions, and sort of gets the job done, it will continue to exist.

Business, however, must be infinitely adaptable in the Darwinian world of the marketplace.  It cannot afford complacency or rigidity.  It cannot afford the risk of litigation for failure.  It can react with incredible speed, since management doesn’t have to go through a bureaucratic or legislative process in order to change a checklist or procedure.  If Gawande really believes in his lists, the last thing he’ll want is for them to be government controlled, because they will never improve.  Instead, they will stagnate in bureaucratic limbo, good enough, but never better.

Gawande’s talk left me more certain than ever that, while our health care system needs reform, handing the details over to the government is a sure recipe for a FEMA-level disaster.

Another no-fly list failure

This no-fly failure didn’t make the headlines because it wasn’t a terrorist, but it is just as revealing of the failures in our system.  Instead, of bomber, this no-fly failure involved someone engaged in germ warfare.  A person with drug resistant TB decided that his desire to fly trumped the safety of several hundred people trapped in the air with him, and the system only caught him halfway through his dangerous little journey:

A man with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis boarded a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco last weekend despite a public health order to keep him off the plane, officials said Tuesday.

The man was intercepted at San Francisco International Airport when the US Airways plane landed on Saturday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was quarantined and taken to a Bay Area hospital for treatment. He had been scheduled to transfer to another flight overseas.

[snip]

The patient, who is not being identified, was added to a federal “do not board” list on Friday. It’s unclear how the man managed to get on the US Airways flight the next day. An investigation is under way.

The federal “do not board” list was created in June 2007 to prevent the spread of contagious diseases like tuberculosis. Since then, 88 people have made the list, all of them infected with tuberculosis, Cetron said.

[snip]

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that usually attacks the lungs. Most people infected with tuberculosis are not actively sick with it. In active cases, symptoms include a persistent, long-lasting cough, fever and night sweats.

Drug-resistant cases of tuberculosis, which are more challenging to treat than nonresistant TB, are becoming more common worldwide. San Francisco public health officials said the man on Saturday’s flight has a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.

“If someone is untreated and they’re coughing, they are putting the infectious organisms in the air. They shouldn’t be going into enclosed environments,” said Dr. L. Masae Kawamura, director of San Francisco’s TB Control Section. “Going on a plane, that’s not OK until you’re safe to be back in the public.”

Until the government manages to do right the things it is already responsible for doing, I don’t want to give it increasing power and authority over me or my money.  I struggle constantly watching the idiocy of the Left, which assures constantly assures us that, despite the government’s repeated failures to do anything efficient, this time will be different.

Mark Steyn summarizes the end result of the Democrats’ health care “reforms”

You can’t summarize the whole fiasco better than Mark Steyn did:

We were told we had to do it because of the however many millions of uninsured, yet this bill will leave some 25 million Americans uninsured. On the other hand, millions of young fit healthy Americans in their first jobs who currently take the entirely reasonable view that they do not require health insurance at this stage in their lives will be forced to pay for coverage they neither want nor need. On the other other hand, those Americans who’ve done the boring responsible grown-up thing and have health plans Harry Reid determines to be excessively “generous” will be subject to punitive taxes up to 40 percent. On the other other other hand, if you’re the member of a union which enjoys privileged relations with Commissar Reid you’ll be exempt from that 40 percent shakedown. On the other other other other hand, if you’re already enjoying government health care, well, you’re 83 years old and, let’s face it, it’s hardly worth us giving you that surgery for the minimal contribution you make to society, so in the cause of extending government health care to millions of people who don’t currently get it we’re going to ration it for those currently entitled to it.

Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care. Adding up the zillions of new taxes and bureaucracies and regulations it imposes on the citizenry, one might almost think that was the only point of the exercise.

[snip]

As I’ve been saying for over a year now, “health care” is the fast-track to a permanent left-of-center political culture. The unlovely Democrats on public display in the week before Christmas may seem like just a bunch of jelly-spined opportunists, grubby wardheelers and rapacious kleptocrats, but the smarter ones are showing great strategic clarity. Alas for the rest of us, Euro-style government on a Harry Reid/Chris Dodd/Ben Nelson scale will lead to ruin.

It’s no wonder that Steyn describes the bill as a “monstrous mountain of toxic pustules sprouting from greasy boils metastasizing from malign carbuncles.”

The line of the night

Christmas dinner (which was lovely), included in a brief foray into discussing the Senate’s health care bill.  A liberal friend let loose with this terrific line after I said that the Senate had raided Medicare and Medicare Advantage to make the bill ostensibly revenue neutral:  “I don’t know anything about the bill, but I know that you’re wrong.”