Monday, August 31, 2009 calls those opposing health care reform the "THE HEIRS OF, YES: BIN LADEN"

While taking a brief sojourn from work, I just came across a posting on the Gateway Pundit blog about a page at that calls me and all other opponents to the current version of "health care reform" the "THE HEIRS OF, YES: BIN LADEN." I have posted screen caps from the website below because they are just so stunning and frightening.

Here are some of the highlights, er, low lights from this page (emphasis mine):

2 PHONE CALLS ON 9/11 - Illinois! (Health Care Organizing Event)

---* The Event consists of ALL OF US Making Two Phone Calls on one particular, single day.

---* We call each of our State Senators (phone numbers are below) on that day.

What day? Our US Senators return to DC the Tues after Labor Day. That next FRIDAY, Sep 11, is Patriot Day, designated in memory of the nearly three thousand who died in the 9/11 attacks.

All 50 States are coordinating in this – as we fight back against our own Right-Wing Domestic Terrorists who are subverting the American Democratic Process, whipped to a frenzy by their Fox Propaganda Network ceaselessly re-seizing power for their treacherous leaders.

DO YOU WANT to ensure passage of the Public Plan? Since 75% of Americans support it, I guess it's time for us Seventy-Five Percenters to be heard [ed. - all current polling actually puts support for a public plan well below 50%]. Why Public Plan? = Because It’s American To Take Care Of Our Own!

And, according to a White House Advisor to the President with whom I spoke ten days ago at a DNC Panel, he said, "ON ONE DAY you 'burn-up' the Senate Switchboards - THE NEXT DAY you've got the Senator's attention". We will achieve that effect, on Friday, Patriot Day 9/11.




That's it – simple – all you need is a calendar, an armchair and a phone, for us to have a good strong voice.Ask your friends if they want to join our Public Plan Call-A-Thon on 9/11: Patriot's Day


In case you haven't seen it in the News: Republican Representatives, Senators, GOP Party Leader, GOP Political Machine top personnel (e.g., Gingritch), etc etc etc --- they're ALL every one of them applauding and encouraging their zealot-horde by merrily referring to them as "Proud Right-Wing Terrorists". Google it - I'm not pulling your leg.

But don't hate them: Misguided citizens are easy-pickings for demagogues, whom they blindly follow because they’ve been trained all their lives not to question the dogma of their religion, so it’s natural for them NOT TO QUESTION what’s being spoon-fed to them by their FALSE PROPHETS who, themselves, shamelessly seek Worldly Glory.

They don’t apply the simple Test: “Am I being led closer to God, when I do what these folks say? – Or, am I on a Bullet-Train to the Devil, and I’m just a pawn to make these folks richer and more powerful?” Because, you know: the Faith one has in God, is different from faith one should have in Man. And you need to be even MORE skeptical, when one of ‘em says that God picked them for something or another. You can bet whatever they’re doing is making them more powerful/ more wealthy, and certainly less pious, no? Ooops, and following them is making YOU less pious too, in thought, and in deed. Yesseree, it’s a real thing to chew on.

Just remember: We Are The Super-Heroes Who Yes WE DID, and YES, WE SHALL commence administering Super-Hero Karate Chops, beginning now.

This page appears on Organizing for America's official website. OFA is part of the Democratic National Committee and utilizes President Obama's former presidential campaign website. That a website directly related to and utilized by our President would compare a significant portion of the United States' population to the man responsible for the deaths of approximately 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11 and attempt to use that date for political gain is unconscionable and just sickening.

Moreover, it appears that this person does not truly understand the meaning of the term "demagogue." The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it, in part, as "1 : a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power." From my vantage point, this definition directly applies to what the individual or individuals who posted this page are trying to accomplish- using false claims about the opponents of "health care reform" to secure the passage of a "public plan" that will increase the power of the federal government.

Uh, oh.

Hitler just found out that Americans have resorted to calling people who disagree with their political views "Nazis," and he is not pleased with this development. He even uses some foul language when venting his frustrations on his senior staff:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy: traitor?

Well, the Senator Kennedy remembrances continue. Here is David Shuster of MSNBC saying talking about how Senator Kennedy "didn't dabble in small personal attacks" unlike so many of today's politicians:

As Mark Finkelstein at notes: "technically speaking, Shuster was right. Kennedy's leading of the assault on Robert Bork wasn't a 'petty' personal attack. It was a huge, and hugely unfair, one." You can find a clip of the Senator's attack here.

And Senator Kennedy had bigger fish to fry than engaging in simple "petty" personal attacks. For example, he attempted to work with Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov to unseat President Reagan in 1984. Peter Robinson reports the story at

Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.

"On 9-10 May of this year," the May 14 memorandum explained, "Sen. Edward Kennedy's close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow." (Tunney was Kennedy's law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) "The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov."

Kennedy's message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. "The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations," the memorandum stated. "These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign."


Kennedy proved eager to deal with Andropov--the leader of the Soviet Union, a former director of the KGB and a principal mover in both the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring--at least in part to advance his own political prospects.

In 1992, Tim Sebastian published a story about the memorandum in the London Times. Here in the U.S., Sebastian's story received no attention. In his 2006 book, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, historian Paul Kengor reprinted the memorandum in full. "The media," Kengor says, "ignored the revelation."

"The document," Kengor continues, "has stood the test of time. I scrutinized it more carefully than anything I've ever dealt with as a scholar. I showed the document to numerous authorities who deal with Soviet archival material. No one has debunked the memorandum or shown it to be a forgery. Kennedy's office did not deny it."

As the nation remembers Senator Kennedy, it should remember him in full.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The reason why tort reform is not part of health care reform

It is undisputed that tort reform would significantly lower medical costs in the United States. As it is now, doctors routinely order tests and procedures that are unnecessary because of concerns that they may have missed something and could face a future medical malpractice claim. So maybe your asking yourself, gee, if it would lower costs, why wouldn't tort reform be included in health care reform? Well, Howard Dean has now provided us with the answer, and it is pretty unseemly.

Update: Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer commented on Howard Dean's admission about the failure to make tort reform part of health care reform:

Ted Kennedy has passed away; Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable for comment

I'm sorry, is that headline a little tasteless? Yes, probably. I realize that you are not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but to me, Ted Kennedy represents the worst of American politics. He was a man who lived above the law and who had a pliant press that covered his misdeeds.

He was also a man who twisted the facts and sought to personally destroy people for his own political gain. Senator Kennedy did this most famously in 1987 when he gave this speech on the floor of the Senate in opposing Judge Robert Bork's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senator Kennedy could have employed reasoned arguments in objecting to Judge Bork's nomination. He chose, instead, to attack the man in a very personal and offensive manner. And yet, the mainstream media claim that it is only those on the right who engage in "the politics of personal destruction."

Carl Cannon, writing for Politics Daily, has a very good column about the mainstream media and its selective memory of Kennedy's misbehavior with respect to Mary Jo Kopechne and in other incidents:

The idea that Edward M. Kennedy could be a viable national politician – let alone a much-admired and lionized political figure – has convinced millions of everyday citizens and succeeding generations of conservative activists that among the elites of academia, politics, and the media two standards of behavior exist: One for liberal Democrats and another for conservative Republicans. Along with sweeping changes in immigration law, soaring oratory, and strengthening the nation's social safety net, this reservoir of class resentment is also part of Kennedy's legacy.

Liberals in the media pretend not to see this. Or rather, they blame those who feel aggrieved. This very morning, my old friend James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly employed the usual euphemisms about Kennedy's behavior in his post – and then launched a preemptive strike against anyone who might view Teddy's life with gimlet eyes. "A flawed man, who started unimpressively in life -- the college problems, the silver-spoon boy senator, everything involved with Chappaquiddick -- but redeemed himself, in the eyes of all but the committed haters, with his bravery and perseverance and commitment to the long haul," Fallows wrote.

I like Jim Fallows, and stand in awe of Kennedy's effectiveness as a politician myself. But hold on a minute: The "college problems" were serial cheating. The "silver-spoon" stuff, I suppose refers to, among other things, the speeding and reckless driving that ominously foreshadowed Chappaquiddick. And that phrase "redeeming himself in the eyes of all but the committed haters," well, the problem with that is that to many people, redemption implies that a sinner has come clean.


Not reporting a fatal traffic accident is a felony in most places. On Martha's Vineyard, if the driver is a Kennedy, it's not even a matter of official curiosity: The local police chief never even asked Kennedy why he waited nine hours to report what had happened. The state of Massachusetts, citing Kennedy's excessive speed on the bridge, suspended his license for six months. That was it.


In protesting Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, Kennedy thundered, "Is there one system of justice for the average citizen and another system for the high and mighty?" These words, uttered five years after Chappaquiddick, are ubiquitous on conservative websites where they are offered up as evidence, not only of Kennedy's hypocrisy, but the mainstream media's as well.

Similarly, to movement conservatives, Kennedy's attack on Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork is offered up as a case study in the press's historic double standard. Immediately after Bork's July 1, 1987, nomination, Kennedy took to the Senate floor.
"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions," he said. "Blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is -- and is often the only -- protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy...."

It is an article of faith among conservatives that if a Republican senator had launched an attack this personal and vitriolic – not to mention wildly exaggerated – against a nominee named by a Democratic president that liberals would have gone ape and that the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate would have made the intemperate conduct of the Republican senator the main issue. The point is that Ted Kennedy surely earned the accolades he is receiving today. He also earned the disapproval he is receiving among Americans who saw him only from a distance, who judged him by his words and deeds, and found him wanting.

If you would like to read what other ordinary Americans think of Ted Kennedy specifically and the Kennedys generally, you can go to where they have requested reader

Update: Uhh, after reading this from Mark Hemingway at National Review, I may try to revise my headline to make it more offensive. It's a partial transcription of former Newsweek foreign editor and Time editor-in-chief Ed Klein discussing Senator Kennedy on The Diane Rehm Show:
I don't know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, "have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?" That is just the most amazing thing. It's not that he didn't feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things.

Okay, I hate to sound like the "fun police," but there is no "ridiculous side" to killing someone. And that Mr. Kennedy apparently did not appreciate this fact speaks volumes. Here is a link to where you can find the audio; the relevant portion is at 30:15. It is pretty stunning.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

President Obama's Green Job Czars

A couple of interesting little video segements on Van Jones, President Obama's "Green Jobs Czar." I find them a little disconcerting, but maybe it's just me:

Bru's Omnibus Post on the CIA Inspector General's Report on Interrogation Techniques

Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday released this five-year old Inspector General report on the CIA's interrogation techniques with terrorist suspects. I have a lot of thoughts on the report. Maybe too many thoughts to put into one cogent post, but we'll see.

First, the philosophical. My favorite philosopher (yes, I have one; I majored in philosophy at DePauw University) John Stuart Mill once observed, "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is worse." I believe that his reasoning applies equally to torture. It is most definitely an ugly thing, a thing to be despised and hated. But if I thought that torturing a man like Khalid Shaykh Muhammad would provide me information that could potentially save thousands of innocents, I would do so without reservation. And I am heartened to know that there exist people who are or were willing to do the same on behalf of our country.

For those of you who may have forgotten, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks and several other terror attacks. Oh, and he also confessed to decapitating Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Some on the left are apoplectic about the fact that a CIA interrogator apparently threatened to kill Muhammad's wife and children (it is unclear to me whether they were actually in CIA custody) to get him to talk. Uh, the guy personally beheaded someone and planned the deaths of over 3,000 innocent people, so I doubt that this bluff did any long-term psychological damage to him. And even if it did, he masterminded the deaths of thousands of innocents and cut off a reporter's head.

Second, the practical. The report, while couched in very political terms, appears to indicate that the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques worked. Stephen Hayes, a fellow DePauw alum, provides a good summary over at the Weekly Standard's website about the effectiveness of the techniques:

Let’s review. Abu Zubaydah gave up some information before the use of EITs. But “since the use of the waterboard…Abu Zubaydah has appeared to be cooperative,” and gave up even more intelligence. Al Nashiri provided mostly historical information in the short time before EITs were employed. “However, following the use of EITs, he provided information about his most current operational planning…” And “accomplished resistor” Khalid Shaykh Muhammad provided mostly useless information before the application of EITs. Afterwards, he “provided information that helped lead to the arrests of terrorists” – so much information, in fact, that he was regarded as the “most prolific” intelligence source.

Reasonable people can – and do – disagree about the morality of using EITs. But only the most accomplished resister could continue to claim that they were not effective.

Third, the future. It seems to me that the next time we're attacked, we're going to have a significantly harder time getting people to come forward to do our necessary dirty work. Victoria Toensing, former Chief Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, agrees:

“All volunteers step forward. We have a person in custody who is high-ranking al-Qaeda. He taunts that an attack on United States soil is imminent but laughs mockingly when we ask for specifics. We need interrogators.” Such was the threat in the summer of 2002 when the CIA asked the Justice Department for guidance on what its personnel could do to get such information from captured al-Qaeda
lieutenant Abu Zubdayah.

Since then, the lawyers who stepped forward to provide carefully structured counsel have been criminally investigated and told that, even if they are not prosecuted, their conduct will be turned over to their state bars. The interrogators who stepped forward were promised in early spring by President Obama that, even if they erred in judgment while protecting our country, the president would rather “move forward.” However, in late summer, they are under criminal scrutiny.

Even though an earlier investigation by career prosecutors reviewed the same conduct and refused prosecution of all but one contract employee who was brought to trial in 2007. Even though congressional leaders had knowledge of the interrogation techniques and made no attempt to stop them. Even though the conduct is more than six years old. Even though the CIA has taken administrative action against some of the personnel involved in the interrogations. Even though being just a target of a criminal investigation costs thousands of dollars in legal fees. Even though being just a target of a criminal investigation takes a horrendous mental toll. Even though the morale of the CIA will plunge to the depths it did in the wake of the Church Committee attacks. Even though the release of the names of those being scrutinized will make them terrorist targets for the rest of their lives. Even if they are cleared.

The next time our government employees are asked to step forward to get information of a possible, even probable, imminent attack, no one will. Even though ...

Fourth, the politics. The decision to release this information is all politics. It is meant to distract ordinary Americans from the fact that our government currently thinks it will add an additional $9,000,000,000,000 (I think that writing $9 trillion does not do justice to the magnitude of this number) to its debt over the next 10 years. And it is meant to distract President Obama's left-wing base from the fact that health care reform may well go down in flames. As "Doctor Zero" at notes, there appears to be no thought about the long-term implications of the releasing this report:
The Obama Administration, aware that everyone outside of union bosses, and interest groups looking for billion-dollar ribeye steaks of taxpayer money, is having trouble remembering why they voted for Obama, has decided to drag CIA interrogators and Bush Administration officials into court, where they will be persecuted for their role in defending America from terrorist attacks. Apparently Obama and his accomplices decided to distract their liberal base from the fiery Hindenburg crash of socialized medicine, by offering them a relaxing cruise on the Titanic of leftist foreign policy. As with everything else the current Administration does, it’s a remarkably foolish move: dangerous for America, and self-destructive as a strategy.

President Reagan understood America in a way that President Obama does not

Foud Ajami had a very good column yesterday that sought to explain the underlying problem with President Obama's administration. In it, Mr. Ajami provides an interesting contrast between President Obama and President Reagan, a man who truly understood what American is:

In one of the revealing moments of the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama rightly observed that the Reagan presidency was a transformational presidency in a way Clinton's wasn't. And by that Reagan precedent, that Reagan standard, the faults of the Obama presidency are laid bare. Ronald Reagan, it should be recalled, had been swept into office by a wave of dissatisfaction with Jimmy Carter and his failures. At the core of the Reagan mission was the recovery of the nation's esteem and self-regard. Reagan was an optimist. He was Hollywood glamour to be sure, but he was also Peoria, Ill. His faith in the country was boundless, and when he said it was "morning in America" he meant it; he believed in America's miracle and had seen it in his own life, in his rise from a child of the Depression to the summit of political power.
The failure of the Carter years was, in Reagan's view, the failure of the man at the helm and the policies he had pursued at home and abroad. At no time had Ronald Reagan believed that the American covenant had failed, that America should apologize for itself in the world beyond its shores. There was no narcissism in Reagan. It was stirring that the man who headed into the sunset of his life would bid his country farewell by reminding it that its best days were yet to come.

In contrast, there is joylessness in Mr. Obama. He is a scold, the "Yes we can!" mantra is shallow, and at any rate, it is about the coming to power of a man, and a political class, invested in its own sense of smarts and wisdom, and its right to alter the social contract of the land. In this view, the country had lost its way and the new leader and the political class arrayed around him will bring it back to the right path.

Thus the moment of crisis would become an opportunity to push through a political economy of redistribution and a foreign policy of American penance. The independent voters were the first to break ranks. They hadn't underwritten this fundamental change in the American polity when they cast their votes for Mr. Obama.

American democracy has never been democracy by plebiscite, a process by which a leader is anointed, then the populace steps out of the way, and the anointed one puts his political program in place. In the American tradition, the "mandate of heaven" is gained and lost every day and people talk back to their leaders. They are not held in thrall by them. The leaders are not infallible or a breed apart. That way is the Third
World way, the way it plays out in Arab and Latin American politics.

Those protesters in those town-hall meetings have served notice that Mr. Obama's charismatic moment has passed. Once again, the belief in that American exception that set this nation apart from other lands is re-emerging. Health care is the tip of the iceberg. Beneath it is an unease with the way the verdict of the 2008 election was read by those who prevailed. It shall be seen whether the man swept into office in the moment of national panic will adjust to the nation's recovery of its self-confidence.

Man, I miss President Reagan. By the way, here is a little known fact about President Reagan- during his presidency, the first openly gay couple spent the night at the White House. He was a remarkably tolerant man when you consider that he was born in 1911, rose to political prominence in the 1960s, and started his presidential campaigning in the late 1970s:

In 1978, for example, Reagan vigorously opposed a California ballot initiative sponsored by religious conservatives that would have barred homosexuals from teaching in the public schools. The timing is significant because he was then preparing to run for president, a race in which he would need the support of conservatives and moderates very uncomfortable with homosexual teachers. As Cannon puts it, Reagan was “well aware that there were those who wanted him to duck the issue” but nevertheless “chose to state his convictions.”

Reagan penned an op-ed against the so-called Briggs Initiative in which he wrote,
“Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual's sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child's teachers do not really influence this.” This was a remarkably progressive thing for a politician, especially a conservative one about to run for president, to say in 1978. The Briggs Initiative was overwhelmingly defeated. Its sponsors blamed Reagan for the defeat.

I sometimes wonder why today's current Republican leaders seem to ignore this aspect of Reagan's legacy while attempting to invoke his legacy on every other matter.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The government's failure to learn from its past mistakes - a column about high-speed rail that applies to health care

Robert Samuelson has an op-ed in today's Washington Post about the Obama administration's proposals on high-speed rail, which he labels "a dispiriting example of government's inability to learn from past mistakes." I find the column interesting because of its applicability to the present discussion on health care reform.

Indeed, the column would still be spot on if one substituted Mr. Samuelson's references to the Obama administration's proposals for providing subsidies to fund high-speed rail with references to its proposal to create a public health-care plan and his references to Amtrak with references to Medicare (note the links in the quotation do not work):

The Obama administration's enthusiasm for high-speed rail is a dispiriting example of government's inability to learn from past mistakes. Since 1971, the federal government has poured almost $35 billion in subsidies into Amtrak with few public benefits. At most, we've gotten negligible reductions -- invisible and statistically insignificant -- in congestion, oil use or greenhouse gases. What's mainly being provided is subsidized transportation for a small sliver of the population. In a country where 140 million people go to work every day, Amtrak has 78,000 daily passengers. A typical trip is subsidized by about $50.

Given this, you'd think even the dullest politician wouldn't expand rail subsidies, especially considering the almost $11 trillion in projected federal budget deficits between now and 2019. But no, the administration has made high-speed rail a top priority.

The White House promises fabulous benefits. High-speed rail "will loosen the congestion suffocating our highways and skyways," says Vice President Biden. A high-speed rail system would eliminate carbon dioxide emissions "equal to removing 1 million cars from our roads," adds the president. Relieve congestion. Fight global warming. Reduce oil imports. The vision is seductive. The audience is willing. Many Americans love trains and regard other countries' systems (say, Spain's rapid trains between Madrid and Barcelona, running at about 150 mph) as evidence of U.S. technological inferiority.

There's only one catch: The vision is a mirage. The costs of high-speed rail would be huge, and the public benefits meager. President Obama's network may never be built. It's doubtful private investors will advance the money, and once government officials acknowledge the full costs, they'll retreat. In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office cited a range of construction costs, from $22 million a mile to $132 million a mile. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser figures $50 million a mile might be a plausible average. A 250-mile system would cost $12.5 billion and 10 systems, $125 billion.

In a blog-posted analysis, Glaeser made generous assumptions for trains ("Personally, I almost always prefer trains to driving") and still found that costs vastly outweigh benefits. Consider Obama's claim about removing the equivalent of 1 million cars. Even if it came true (doubtful), it would represent less than one-half of 1 percent of the 254 million registered vehicles in 2007.

What works in Europe and Asia won't in the United States. Even abroad, passenger trains are subsidized. But the subsidies are more justifiable because geography and energy policies differ.

The mythology of high-speed rail is not just misinformed; it's antisocial. Governments at all levels are already overburdened. Compounding the burdens with new wasteful subsidies would squeeze spending for more vital needs -- schools, police and (ironically) mass transit. High-speed rail could divert funds from mass-transit systems that, according to a study by Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute, have huge maintenance backlogs: $16 billion in Chicago; $17 billion in New York; $12.2 billion in Washington; $5.8 billion in San Francisco. Any high-speed rail system should be financed locally; states should decide their transportation priorities. All this seems familiar, because it's Amtrak writ large: the triumph of fantasy over fact. The same false arguments used to justify Amtrak (less congestion, pollution, etc.) are recycled. Evidence and experience count for little. Obama and Biden pander to popular prejudices instead of recognizing past failure. Boondoggles become respectable. A White House so frivolous in embracing dubious spending cannot be believed when it professes concern about future taxes and budget deficits.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Health care reform complications and contradictions - Updated

Okay, I realize that I am beating health care reform (or health insurance reform or whatever else President Obama is calling it right now) to death. But this is the big policy dust up right now, so I will likely continue beating on reform until it either goes down in flames (as it looks like it might) or gets passed. So deal with it. Like the title says, I write about stuff that interests me and likely no one else. And given my limited readership, the title is probably more apt than I would like.

With that, back to the health care reform, Peggy Noonan has a column today that addresses the main problem with President Obama's attempt to pass it. In a nutshell, Obamacare is just too darn complicated for normal people to understand, and when normal people can't understand a government program, they won't ever trust it:

Every big idea that works is marked by simplicity, by clarity. You can understand it when you hear it, and you can explain it to people. Social Security: Retired workers receive a public pension to help them through old age. Medicare: People over 65 can receive taxpayer-funded health care. Welfare: If you have no money and cannot support yourself, we will help as you get back on your feet.

These things are clear. I understand them. You understand them. The president's health-care plan is not clear, and I mean that not only in the sense of "he hasn't told us his plan." I mean it in terms of the voodoo phrases, this gobbledygook, this secret language of government that no one understands—"single payer," "public option," "insurance marketplace exchange." No one understands what this stuff means, nobody normal.

And when normal people don't know what the words mean, they don't say to themselves, "I may not understand, but my trusty government surely does, and will treat me and mine with respect." They think, "I can't get what these people are talking about. They must be trying to get one past me. So I'll vote no."

I don't believe this explains every objection that "normal people" have with the current proposals on health care reform, but it surely explains a good number of them. And I think such complaints are legitimate.

I also believe, as I mentioned before, that a lot of the objections that "normal people" have with Obamacare are the inherent contradictions contained within his sales pitch. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal has noticed these contradictions as well:

So the health-care status quo needs top-to-bottom reform, except for the parts that "you" happen to like. Government won't interfere with patients and their physicians, considering that the new panel of experts who will make decisions intended to reduce tests and treatments doesn't count as government. But Medicare shows that government involvement isn't so bad, aside from the fact that spending is out of control—and that program needs top-to-bottom reform too.

Voters aren't stupid. The true reason ObamaCare is in trouble isn't because "folks aren't listening," but because they are.

Update- Well, someone was nice enough to leave a comment on this post last night, and I thought I should respond to it. Here is the comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bru

How is this going to affect you and why are you so worried my dear boy? Are not there many in our great land who do not have access to coverage? You wanker!

August 21, 2009 11:12 PM

First, thanks for calling me a "wanker." That is such an underused term in the United States, much to my chagrin.

Second, I can think of several ways in which the proposed health care reforms will adversely affect me; here are two of the most critical impacts:
  1. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that H.R. 3200, which the House of Representatives will likely vote on this fall, would add approximately $239,000,000,000 to the federal government's budget deficit over the next 10 years. I really think that our law makers should focus on ways to cut, not increase, federal spending given that the Obama Administration just announced a 10-year budget deficit $9,000,000,000,000 late on Friday and the Chinese are becoming increasing skittish about our government's ability to repay its debts.

  2. In addition to the increased federal spending, several provisions in H.R. 3200 will raise the costs of health insurance coverage, not lower them as the President has repeatedly claimed. For example, this proposed legislation has provisions that require community rating (i.e., the insurer must determine its risks based upon the community in which you live rather than your actual health condition or the health condition of your employer's group), mandate that every health insurance policy provide certain types of coverage, place limits on deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, and co-pays, prohibit cost-sharing for preventative care, and prohibit annual or lifetime caps on coverage. Except for the community rating requirement, all of these provisions will necessarily increase the costs of health insurance coverage, and if you are young and healthy, the community rating provision will increase your costs as well.
Third, in answer to your question about whether there exist many in our great land without access to health insurance, no, not really. President Obama and his supporters claim that their exist 47 million who lack access to health insurance, but here is a graphic portrayal of how that number actually breaks down:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Organizing for America sends out a health care reform email

So I received an email today from Organizing for America about health care reform. In it, President Obama's community organizing group claims that the opponents of the current health care reform proposals are spreading lies and falsehoods:
It feels like a new lie about health insurance reform crops up each day. Government taking over all health care? Not true. Euthanasia for seniors? Couldn't be more false. Rationing of care? Reform will stop rationing, not
increase it.
But these purported "lies" don't really look like lies once you investigate them. For example, the President and his advisers have repeatedly said that they view the proposed government-run health plan as the means to eventually implement a single payer system through which the federal government will effectively control health care.
On euthanasia and rationing, while the current proposals will not actively kill sick, elderly citizens, they will limit their treatment options and ration care to them. Indeed, Nat Hentoff, a left-leaning, libertarian and renowned author, had a column today in which he wrote that he is "finally scared of a White House administration" because of these two issues:

President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

The members of that ultimate federal board will themselves not have examined or seen the patient in question. For another example of the growing, tumultuous resistance to "Dr. Obama," particularly among seniors, there is a July 29 Washington Times editorial citing a line from a report written by a key adviser to Obama on cost-efficient health care, prominent bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).

Emanuel writes about rationing health care for older Americans that "allocation (of medical care) by age is not invidious discrimination." (The Lancet, January 2009) He calls this form of rationing — which is fundamental to Obamacare goals — "the complete lives system." You see, at 65 or older, you've had more life years than a 25-year-old. As such, the latter can be more deserving of cost-efficient health care than older folks.

No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs.

This end-of-life consultation has been stripped from the Senate Finance Committee
bill because of democracy-in-action town-hall outcries but remains in three House bills.

A specific end-of-life proposal is in draft Section 1233 of H.R. 3200, a House Democratic health care bill that is echoed in two others that also call for versions of "advance care planning consultation" every five years — or sooner if the patient is diagnosed with a progressive or terminal illness.

As the Washington Post's Charles Lane penetratingly explains (“Undue influence," Aug. 8): the government would pay doctors to discuss with Medicare patients explanations of "living wills and durable powers of attorney … and (provide) a list of national and state-specific resources to assist consumers and their families" on making advance-care planning (read end-of-life) decisions.

Significantly, Lane adds that, "The doctor 'shall' (that's an order) explain that Medicare pays for hospice care (hint, hint)."

But the Obama administration claims these fateful consultations are "purely voluntary." In response, Lane — who learned a lot about reading between the lines while the Washington Post's Supreme Court reporter — advises us:

"To me, 'purely voluntary' means 'not unless the patient requests one.'"

But Obamas' doctors will initiate these chats. "Patients," notes Lane, "may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority." And who will these doctors be? What criteria will such Obama advisers as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel set for conductors of end-of-life services?

I was alerted to Lanes' crucial cautionary advice — for those of use who may be influenced to attend the Obamacare twilight consultations — by Wesley J. Smith, a continually invaluable reporter and analyst of, as he calls his most recent book, the "Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America" (Encounter Books).

As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama's cost-efficient health care regimen, Smith adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:

"Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.

"This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar. It is thus essential, as just one example, that any end-of-life counseling provision in the final bill be specified to be purely voluntary … and that the counseling be required by law to be neutral as to outcome. Otherwise, even if the legislation doesn't push in a specific direction — for instance, THE GOVERNMENT REFUSING TREATMENT — the regulations could."
(Emphasis added.)

Who'll let us know what's really being decided about our lives — and what is set into law? To begin with, Charles Lane, Wesley Smith and others whom I'll cite and add to as this chilling climax of the Obama presidency comes closer.

Condemning the furor at town-hall meetings around the country as "un-American," Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are blind to truly participatory democracy — as many individual Americans believe they are fighting, quite literally, for their lives.

Hmm, so who exactly is lying? The politicians and their cronies who talk in platitudes without reference to anything in the actual legislation? Or those who have read all or part of the proposed reforms and are expressing their concerns?

President Obama's advisors agree...

that creating a government-run health plan (i.e., the "public plan") will lead us down the path to a single payer health care system. Yes, I remember that just last Tuesday President Obama stated that he has "not said [he] was a single payer supporter," but, as I indicated then, the President may have been lying.

The President, members of his administration, and several of his advisers and supporters have also claimed that the government-run plan is only meant to break up the monopoly that private insurers currently have and to inject some competition into the system. In doing so, of course, they ignore the definition of a monopoly. But it also appears that many of them may, like the President last week, be lying about the true motivation for creating a government-run plan. Indeed, as the clip below indicates, a lot of the President's officials, advisers, and supporters have been taped saying that creating a government-run plan is the first step in a process that will eventually lead to a single payer health care system:

So at this point, there appear to be two options: (1) either the proponents of health care reform are currently lying to the general public about their actual goals and what they hope to accomplish; or (2) all of the above-quotes were taken out of context. I will let you decide for yourself, but my experience suggests that (1) is the more likely of the two. And if that is the actual goal, then have they should gonads to say that on television or during public town hall meetings. They shouldn't try to hide behind some smokescreen about "injecting competition into the system." Smokescreens make it hard to have that open and honest debate that they claim to want.

A couple of funny video clips

A couple of funny clips. The first is Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) talking down to his constituents at a town hall meeting. I'm not sure why, but that man is a walking sound bite machine:

And the second is Jon Stewart calling out President Obama for his apparent waffling on the public option. As Jon notes, say what you will about the Bush administration, at least they could stay on message:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Heal or No Heal - Medicine Brawl
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Portillo powder video to break up the health care debate.

While checking Facebook during my lunch hour, I came across a new video that was filmed last week in Portillo, Chile. Portillo is one of the great ski resorts in the world, let alone South America, and it has been hit by a couple of epic storms that have dumped about 6 feet of snow in the last few days. The video brought back wonderful memories of my stay there three years ago. If you ever have the chance to go, I recommend that you take it. As the man in the video says, words fail Portillo as it is like no other place on earth. Enjoy:

Big Powder day in Portillo Chile with the Vail Resorts Epic Tour from Rex Lint on Vimeo.

The Inherent Contradiction of Obamacare

There has been something that really bothered me about President Obama's sales job for Obamacare that I could not quite put my finger on. Now, with the help of the Internet, I have: it is the inherent contradiction of "if you like your doctor and your plan, you can keep them" vs. "the present system is unsustainable because your evil doctor does procedures purely for profit."

Umm, so what happens if everyone chooses to keep their doctor and their plan? I don't know the answer to that question, but I have a feeling it won't really be an issue if Obamacare passes because, eventually, you will have to drop your current coverage.

Below is the video that led me to my epiphany on the contradictions inherent in Obama's sales pitch:

Candor, Thuggery, and "Niceness"

An interesting opinion piece from David Warren on the difference between candor (or "candour" because he is Canadian) as they relate to our current political discourse in the United States:

Candour is when you tell a truth that is disturbing, in language so unambiguous that persons in polite company will not want to hear you. It is a way to lose the respect of the genteel -- of those who are "respectable" in the shallowest sense. Rude language is quite unnecessary to this end: the hard truth itself, spoken plainly and publicly, will give sufficient offence.

Thuggery is unrelated to this. It consists not of candid argument but of naked intimidation. It may be done crassly -- for instance, by the union thugs who have begun to appear at U.S. townhall meetings, to confront opponents of the Democrats'
health-care agenda. Or it may be done smoothly, with the politically correct gesture, that conveys the threat of later reprisal against anyone who utters the contrary, "incorrect" thought. A good example would be the "" e-mail address that was set up on the official White House website, to which Obama supporters across the country were invited to report "fishy" opposition to that health-care agenda.

And "niceness" is something else again, usually allied with hypocrisy. For one can be very selectively nice -- outraged, scandalized, breathtaken with surprise, when Richard Nixon was caught compiling an "enemies list." Yet perfectly indifferent when Barack Obama advertises for input to compile his.

How many "nice" people I know, who casually asserted that a certain George W. Bush was mentally retarded, resembled a monkey, and was guilty of war crimes. Suddenly the same people have "had it up to here" with squalid personal attacks on his successor.

Tell you the candid truth, I don't like "nice" people. Conversely, I have a sneaking regard for real political enemies who are prepared to state candidly what they are about. Which is why I mentioned Obama's long list of policy czars, above -- people like John Holdren (1970s advocate of forced abortions and mass sterilization) the new science czar, Van Jones (declared Communist) the new green jobs czar, Vivek Kundra (convicted shoplifter) the new infotech czar, Adolfo Carrion (pay-for-play scandals) the new urban subsidies czar, Nancy DePerle (lobbyist-to-regulator) the new health czar, Cass Sunstein (behaviourist and animal rights wacko) the new regulatory czar, and so on.

There are dozens of these, altogether. They are Obama's "shadow cabinet," with the advantage over his more presentable official cabinet that they can avoid congressional scrutiny in almost everything they do. They didn't need to face the Senate confirmation revelations that lost Obama so many of his earliest cabinet appointments. A mere Internet search for quotes reveals that many of them are capable of great candour, at least in the radical leftist environments from which most of them came.

The mainstream media focus is nevertheless not on them -- rich and easy pickings had they been Republican appointments -- but instead on Sarah Palin's appalling
characterization of Obama's health-care agenda as not merely "socialist" but "evil"; and on her use of the term "death panels" to describe proposed bureaucratic arrangements for deciding who should be entitled to medical treatment, and how to advise the old, seriously handicapped, and ill on euthanasia options.

Needless to say the proposals themselves had been couched in "feelgood" language, with public relations campaigns at the ready in case someone like Palin called a spade a spade. She did so in full knowledge of how that publicity machine would respond.

Hmm, maybe "Hope" and "Change" were just "nice" words meant to disguise President Obama's actual agenda.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Does President Obama understand that he is the President of all Americans?

I am beginning to think that he does not. On Sunday, the New York Times published an op-ed that President Obama ghost-wrote, er, penned on health care reform. In it, the President states that: "This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate." I agree.

Unfortunately, rather than engaging in debate, he proceeded to demagogue those whose only offense is to disagree with his positions on reform: "In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain. But for all the scare tactics out there, what’s truly scary — truly risky — is the prospect of doing nothing." To make matters worse, President Obama claimed that those who oppose his plans are making "wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed." Unfortunately, it is the President who has engaged in repeated misrepresentations while trying to sell his plans.

Peter Wehner, who writes for Commentary Magazine, takes President Obama to task for failure to lead:

The president is the Child of Light pitted against the Forces of Darkness. Here’s the thing, though: Obama, in possession of the largest megaphone in the world, is himself being simply dishonest and employing wild misrepresentations of the facts. By now the list is well known and seemingly grows by the week, to the point that it is getting difficult to track the assortment of false claims. But let’s try:

Obama promised his health-care overhaul would decrease costs; the CBO has shown how the various plans he has embraced would dramatically increase costs. Obama says that, under the plans he has blessed, everyone can keep their health-care plan; the CBO has shown us why that claim is untrue. Obama says preventive care saves money; once again, courtesy of the CBO, we know that assertion is false. The president says the AARP has endorsed ObamaCare; the AARP put out a statement to the effect that what Obama had said was “inaccurate” and that the White House had to issue a retraction. Obama claimed that after a meeting with representatives of insurance companies, drug companies, and hospitals, they committed to him that they would reduce costs by 1.5 percent per year; people who attended the meeting said that such a claim was untrue, which forced the White House to release a statement that the president “misspoke”—before it retracted its retraction, doing yet more damage to the truth.

Obama portrays his critics as tools of special interests—yet he has assembled as powerful a group of special interests on his behalf as you can imagine (the coalition that is supporting the White House’s health-care ad campaign includes the American Medical Association; Families USA; the Federation of American Hospitals; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA; and the Service Employees International Union).

In his Times op-ed, Obama—who promised to lead America in a civil and high-minded debate, one in which he would address respectfully those who have differences with him—also attacks the motivations of his critics, saying that “the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gains.” And then he informs us that this is a “complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.”

I agree, and like many other Americans, I wish the president would engage in such a debate. But he has chosen another path, one built largely on deception, and he is paying a very high political price for it. ObamaCare is being undone by a series of stubborn facts—facts the president can deny but cannot refute. The Congressional Budget Office, in an act of admirable courage and honesty, has ripped huge, gaping holes into the administration’s health-care hull. Yet Mr. Obama, rather than admitting the truth, is doubling down on his misinformation campaign. And in the process, he must cast himself in the role of the one honest man whom Diogenes went in search of. President Obama’s self-conceit is now edging toward self-parody.

Indeed, when those opposed to President Obama have attempted to engage in serious debate and offer alternative reform proposals, the left has not actually discussed or countered those proposals. Instead, it has simply discounted them as illegimate, pieces of right-wing propaganda.

For example, John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, wrote a reasoned op-ed for the Wall Street Journal last week that explained what that company had done with its health plan to counter rising medical costs. In it, he did not personally attack the President or those who are currently pushing reform. Instead, he offered potential proposals that he believes would lead to better medical care at lower costs.

The reaction on the left has been swift and personal. They denounce his proposals without discussion: "Of course his solutions are silly--they are simply right-wing talking points." And they attack him rather than addressing the substance of his argument: "I truly do not understand what is going through this cretin CEO's mind when he penned this op-ed. Does he not know that Americans are dying for lack of proper health care? Or does he not care?" Apparently, they did not get the President's message that this issue "deserves a serious debate."

White House realizes that encouraging snitching does not effectively advance its cause.

A couple of weeks ago the White House asked for citizens to forward "fishy" emails on health care reform to Apparently, the White House has now realized that many American's viewed this as a request for people to snitch on those who disagreed with the White House on health care reform that was damaging their efforts, and it has disabled this email address:

Following a furor over how the data would be used, the White House has shut down an electronic tip box — — that was set up to receive information on “fishy” claims about President Barack Obama’s health plan.

E-mails to that address now bounce back with the message: “The email address you just sent a message to is no longer in service. We are now accepting your feedback about health insurance reform via:”

Oddly, that website's contact form now contains the following instruction:
Please refrain from submitting any individual’s personal information, including
their email address, without their permission.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "misspoke" on health care reform

Kathleen Sebelius appeared on CNN's Sunday morning political show, State of the Union, and indicated that the so-called "public option" may not be an "essential part" of health care, er, health insurance reform. Of course, the White House, or at least one anonymous source within the White House, now says that Ms. Sebelius "misspoke" when she made this statement. Marc Ambinder reports:

An administration official said tonight that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "misspoke" when she told CNN this morning that a government run health insurance option "is not an essential part" of reform. This official asked not to be identified in exchange for providing clarity about the intentions of the President. The official said that the White House did not intend to change its messaging and that Sebelius simply meant to echo the president, who has acknowledged that the public option is a tough sell in the Senate and is, at the same time, a must-pass for House Democrats, and is not, in the president's view, the most important element of the reform package.

A second official, Linda Douglass, director of health reform communications for the administration, said that President Obama believed that a public option was the best way to reduce costs and promote competition among insurance companies, that he had not backed away from that belief, and that he still wanted to see a public option in the final bill."Nothing has changed," she said. "The President has always said that what is essential that health insurance reform lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes that the public option is the best way to achieve these goals."

A third White House official, via e-mail, said that Sebelius didn't misspeak. "The media misplayed it," the third official said.

I talked to my White House "source" about this story, and he said that Sec. Sebelius may have become confused on the public option's status after she met Joe Biden for breakfast briefly before her television appearance yesterday morning. Apparently, the White House has now implemented certain protective measures to make sure that Joey does not have any further access to cabinet members.

Okay, I really don't have a White House source, but is there really another plausible explanation for how the Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services could have "misspoke" on such a fundamental issue? Seriously, say what you will about President Bush's administration, but at least it did not have to repeatedly walk back statements that its officials made while attempting to advance President Bush's policy positions.

And I have a question for Mr. Ambinder's third White House source, who claimed that the media "misplayed" Sec. Sebelius's statement: um, how does accurately reporting Sec. Sebilius's own statement count as a "misplay?"

Cash for Clunkers, or why I don't want more federal government involvement in health care

Shockingly, our federal government cannot handle the administrative burden caused by all of the claims that auto dealers have submitted under the Cash for Clunkers program. And apparently, some right-wing nut job, er, Democratic member of Congress, is not happy about it:

The federal government has only reimbursed auto dealers for 2 percent of the claims they've submitted through the popular "cash for clunkers" program, a Pennsylvania congressman said, calling on the Obama administration to help speed up the process.

Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., called for "immediate action" to address the problem in a statement Sunday, after writing a letter to President Obama Saturday expressing his concerns.

In the letter, Sestak said only 2 percent of claims have been paid and that four of every five applications have been "rejected for minor oversight."

In recent days, auto dealers across the country have been complaining that the reimbursement payments are slow to process. And they said some of their applications were being rejected because of apparent procedural issues. The statistics Sestak cited suggest those complaints are not based on isolated incidents.

Staffing could be one problem. According to sales data summarized by Transportation Department officials, dealers have submitted requests for rebates on 338,659 vehicles sold.

But while Congress just expanded the $1 billion program by $2 billion, the Department of Transportation says a staff of just 225 people is reviewing those claims.

Sestak wrote that he thinks 1,000 processors should be assigned to handle the claims. Sestak, who is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in his state's Senate primary, wrote that auto dealers have contacted him to express their concern and ask for help.

"Failure to address delays with the cash for clunkers program will adversely harm auto dealers in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and around the country -- undoubtedly forcing many out of business," he said in a statement.

So the federal government cannot properly staff and administer a new program that is limited in scope (by federal standards), but President Obama thinks it would be a good idea to create a government-run "public option" to handle the medical coverage of potentially millions of individuals. And he wonders why people are skeptical of his plans?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nancy Pelosi on Disruptive Protestors - Then and Now is currently playing a funny little video clip on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It shows her in 2006 telling anti-war protestors that she is "a fan of disruptors" and that their "advocacy is very American and very important" and contrasts that statement with her and Rep. Steny Hoyer's USA Today op-ed from earlier this week that called people making disruptive comments at town hall meetings "un-American." It's almost like these people don't know that digital recordings and the Internet exist.

Here is the video:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Website Similarities between the White House, Organizing for America, and SEIU

I wrote on Monday about my concerns on the similarities shared by the official White House website's Reality Check page and health care reform advocacy sites of Organizing for America and the Service Employees International Union. I have now learned that the Democratic National Committee, which runs Organizing for American, Obama for American, which was candidate Obama's presidential campaign organization, and the SEIU are all clients of Blue State Digital. According to Blue State Digital, these organizations "have put the BSD Online Tools and BSD's design, technology, and strategy services at the center of their online constituency-building programs."

So while the White House, DNC, and SEIU each employ BSD to help run their websites, it is not clear whether these three groups are truly coordinating their web-based activities or whether their websites just have similar looks because they all separately work with BSD.

On an interesting related note, Major Garrett of Fox News had a dust up with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today on whether the White House is sending out spam emails advocating for health care reform.

Note that Gibbs is quick to state that Organizing for America (or "OFA" as he calls it) and are separate and that he does not want Garrett to conflate the two so that someone might get the impression that White House employees are engaging in illegal political activities.

As to why people would get what look like unsolicited emails from the White House, there is an innocent explanation: the emails are simply being forwarded by someone outside of the White House. Allahpundit of and Ace of Spades have both offered this as a potential explanation on their sites. Allah has also offered the following updates to his post:

Update: A reader just forwarded me an e-mail her brother got Monday night. It is indeed the Axelrod post at the White House site that I linked to; it has a White House heading and a White House “from” e-mail address. It doesn’t appear to have been forwarded to her brother from any third party. He claims he doesn’t remember signing up for any WH e-mails. For what it’s worth.

Update: A second reader just e-mailed to say that he got the Axelrod e-mail too — and it’s not the first one he’s gotten:

I received this email this morning. This is the second email I received from this address. I started receiving these after I sent an email to the address……

Is that what’s happening here? Conservatives are spamming the White House snitch line, only to find themselves signed up for White House e-mails? I thought Gibbsy told us they’re not collecting names or other identifying information from that account. Has anyone else who spammed the snitch line gotten any Axelrod e-mails?

Update: A third reader e-mails to say he’s spammed the snitch line half a dozen times and hasn’t gotten anything from Axelrod. Curiouser and curiouser. A third reader e-mails to say he’s spammed the snitch line half a dozen times and hasn’t gotten anything from Axelrod. Curiouser and curiouser.

I have also reported myself to the White House for spreading what it calls "disinformation" on health care reform but have not received any emails from Axelrod. The most innocent explanation that I can think of is that multiple White House employees have access to the address, and one or more of them did not know the proper protocol and recorded some of the senders’ email addresses. While innocent, this would still be incompetent, but I have come to expect nothing less from this gang.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

President Obama flubs his facts again

President Obama awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom to tennis legend and women's rights advocate Billie Jean King today. As with his discussion of medical practices at yesterday's town hall, President Obama had a little trouble with his facts when highlighting Ms. King's tennis accomplishments:

Before presenting tennis legend Billie Jean King with the Medal of Freedom Wednesday, President Obama ticked off some ...

... of her accomplishments: 12 Grand Slam titles, 101 doubles titles, 67 singles titles.

“Pretty good, Billie Jean,” he quipped.

But he didn’t get any of it right, according to King herself.

“They didn’t get any of my facts right,” King lightheartedly noted afterward.

“Did you see all the – how many titles I won? I was cracking up.”

“Not even in the ballpark,” she continued.

Nope, not even close. Wikipedia states that Ms. King won a total of a 129 singles titles, not 67 as the President stated. And it only took me all of 5 seconds to find this information on the Internet. Surely, there is someone in President Obama's employ who has access to the Internet.

Like Camille Paglia, "I must confess my dismay bordering on horror at the amateurism of the White House apparatus ." Indeed, if you cannot get your facts straight when awarding someone the HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONOR in the United States, then I do not feel comfortable trusting your promises on what is and is not in your health care reform plan. Please understand that it is nothing personal. It's just that you have shown a lot of incompetence over the past few months.

President Obama is articulate and, well, ill-informed

Okay, I think we all can agree that President Obama's performance at yesterday's town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire did not win over any new converts to his cause of health care reform. Besides implying that his vaunted public option will work as well as the U.S. Postal Service and engaging in a bald-face lie about his prior support of a single payer system, President Obama accused doctors of amputating diabetics' limbs so that they could make more money:

Is it just me, or does President Obama seem to have a hard-on for doctors? I mean, he did previously accuse pediatricians of unnecessarily removing kids tonsils to make more money.

It appears that the American College of Surgeons might agree with this assessment. Here is what they had to say about President Obama's pontifications:

The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.

-- Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation
plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

-- Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon's decision to remove a child's tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what's right for the patient.

We agree with the President that the best thing for patients with diabetes is to manage the disease proactively to avoid the bad consequences that can occur, including blindness, stroke, and amputation. But as is the case for a person who has been treated for cancer and still needs to have a tumor removed, or a person who is in a terrible car crash and needs access to a trauma surgeon, there are times when even a perfectly managed diabetic patient needs a surgeon. The President's remarks are truly alarming and run the risk of damaging the all-important trust between surgeons and their patients.

We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we
would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and
incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.

I really am not comforted when an organization made up of surgeons states that the President, whose biggest goal is to reform health care, is making "uninformed comments" about health care and has "got[ten] his facts completely wrong." Seriously, I used to worry that President Obama would lead us back to the days of President Carter. Now, I hope that is all the damage he does.

Obama - Hitler comparisons

I keep hearing that those expressing their concerns about health care reform, er, health insurance reform are carrying swastikas and making nasty comparisons between Obama and Hitler. Indeed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) even said that protesters showing up at town hall meetings were doing this:

The implied assertion in these statements is that those crazy people who are protesting the proposed reforms cannot be taken seriously because they are making outrageous comparisons.

First, while I don't doubt that there may be some fringe, nut jobs who are making this comparison, other than Democrats, like Rep. Pelosi, making unsubstantiated charges, I have not actually seen any health care protesters carrying swastikas outside of town hall meetings. If you have, please let me know.

Second, I do recall lots of folks on the left spending a good portion of the last administration making Bush-Hitler comparisons. And to the best of my knowledge, no one on the left complained about these comparisons or worried that their concerns about President Bush might be discounted because of the outrageous conduct of others on their side. To me, the failure of any Democrats or those with left-leaning beliefs to denounce Bush-Hitler comparisons makes their current protestations illegitimate. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. By allowing the Bush-Hitler comparisons a pass, Democrats cannot now complain that people on the right are making a similar complaint about President Obama.

On a personal level, I don't agree with the alleged Obama-Hitler comparison. Instead, Obama strikes me more as a modern day Woodrow Wilson. But the fact that someone might make the comparison does not truly offend me. Just like it really did not offend me when the Bush-Hitler comparisons were made. While the comparisons are demonstrably false and distasteful, people have the right to engage in political speech.

For what it is worth, here are some Youtube clips of my favorite Bush-Hitler Comparisons. And by favorite, I mean the most outlandish:

This one attempts to make historical comparisons between Bush and Hitler as it relates to terrorism and defending the "Homeland." It also talks about "Bin Laden" and "Al Queda's" "alleged demolition of the WTC towers:"

Here is Keith Olbermann ranting about President Bush. Seriously, does anyone take this man seriously:

Here is a Bush-Hitler comparison done by a 9/11 Truther. It shares some similarities with the first video, and all I can say to both of them is, "you're nuts."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

President Obama may have lied today

Today, President Obama said, "I have not said I was a single payer supporter."

Previously, President Obama said, "I happen to be a proponent of a single payer health care system."

Hmm, someone ought to email the White House because I think President Obama might be spreading some disinformation on health care reform.

Huh?? Did President Obama just invoke the U.S. Postal Service to sell his public health insurance option?

Seriously??? Unfortunately, yes:

As an opponent to the current health care proposals, I ask that President Obama please repeat this statement as often as possible because I really don't think the public is clamoring for yet another federal program "that's always having problems."

Moreover, Ace of Spades notes that President Obama's analogy is flawed since UPS and FedEx are not allowed to compete against U.S.P.S. in the delivery of regular mail under U.S. law:

Um, that's part of the problem.

Even taking his quote for the claim it's meant to stand for: UPS and FedEx would be doing better. The trouble is, they're not permitted, by law, to compete with the Post Office regarding regular (that is, non-overnight) mail.

They are specifically excluded from that market.

They are "doing fine" in the market segment they're permitted to compete in.

However, if the law were changed and they were permitted to compete for regular mail delivery, they might not be "doing fine" in that market if the government competed unfairly in that arena, such as imposing general taxes on everyone to reduce the cost of postage, etc.

The government, on the other hand, continues to exist in this business at all only because the government grants itself a monopoly in the delivery of regular mail.

That's the only reason we still have a Post Office. Government fiat.

What a boneheaded remark. Yes, let's remind everyone of the shocking difference in
experience between the Post Office and FedEx or UPS.