Open thread: Sunday morning talking heads
4 minutes ago
People often joke that government-run health care will have the efficiency of the motor vehicle department, and the compassion of the Internal Revenue Service. This joke will become reality if present Democratic health restructuring proposals are enacted.
National Socialism is banned from the Right’s case against socialism, but is somehow acceptable when leftists use it as a smear or when the Left’s nuanced geniuses, after their very thoughtful consideration, decide its invocation is suitable for mature audiences? I don’t think so.
Joshua has been taking the bus to his local Whole Foods in New York City every five days for the past two years. This week, he said he'll go elsewhere to fulfill his fresh vegetable and organic produce needs.I'm sorry but I simply can not believe that people who go to the same grocery store nearly every day of the week because they believe it reinforces their (illogical and absurd) ideals are going to be able to quit cold-free-range-turkey.
"I will never shop there again," vowed Joshua, a 45-year-old blogger, who asked that his last name not be published.
Like many of his fellow health food fanatics, Joshua said he will no longer patronize the store after learning about Whole Foods Market Inc.'s CEO John Mackey's views on health care reform, which were made public this week in an op-ed piece he wrote for The Wall Street Journal.
Michael Lent, another Whole Foods enthusiast in Long Beach, Calif., told ABCNews.com that he, too, will turn to other organic groceries for his weekly shopping list.
"I'm boycotting [Whole Foods] because all Americans need health care," said Lent, 33, who used to visit his local Whole Foods "several times a week."
This is entertaining. Gibbs and President Obama are learning that they are not the only ones looking at the polls. No one wants to be aboard the Titanic.
After a series of unsuccessful requests to arrange a town hall over the August recess with Democratic Congresswoman Betsy Markey (CO-4), grassroots organizers opted instead to host their own health care town hall in the congresswoman’s absence – complete with an empty chair and placard for the reticent Markey.Go get 'em Angry Mob!
If you haven't read the story, it's the usual connect-the-dots to blame dishonest and crazy rightwingers piece gussied up as truth-squadding. My own question is why the Times couldn't bother to at least quote Obama's interview with ... The New York Times:Also from the New York Times magazine is this left-wing-jerk Peter Singer arguing for your grandmother to die. I loath that man.LEONHARDT: And it's going to be hard for people who don't have the option of paying for it.
THE PRESIDENT: So that's where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that's also a huge driver of cost, right? I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.
LEONHARDT: So how do you - how do we deal with it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that's part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It's not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that's part of what I suspect you'll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.
The Czar laughed at this one: Sec 133 (a) (2) Plain language requirement: that plan information be written in plain language; or “language that the intended audience, including individuals with limited English proficiency, can readily understand and use because that language is clean, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain language writing.” Too bad that wasn’t the case when they wrote this bill.Read the whole thing. They've only hit the first 100 pages and below is their conclusion.
This bill has no intention of saving Americans money on health care premiums. It reads like the administrative and operations manual of an insurance company because, in effect, that is exactly what it is!
This is an operations manual, in effect, for a new insurance company called America, Incorporated. And like new companies, the business model is not solid yet: so instead of specifics about how the company will make money, re-invest capital, or lower costs, it’s filled with SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), and detailed descriptions of jobs, roles, and tasks such as bill collection, arbitration, information technology, and so on.
Of course, this really isn’t a start-up company. It’s the federal government, so it will become a health benefits provider in exactly the same way the United States Armed Forces is a security service, the USPS is a private courier, or the FBI is a speed-trap cop.
And this is the incredible mistake of this legislation. The United States is not a competitive player: it becomes a monopoly. Yeah, the theory is pretty simple: the United States becomes an alternative to the big insurance providers. The problem is that by doing so, it squeezes out the competition, who could never muster the resources enough to counter the government muscle. Within a few years, the United States will become the largest health insurance provider in the country, with only a few niche players surviving (and even thriving).
In the next part, the Czar will review pages 101-200, and he will discuss the tax ramifications, why the bill’s proponents think this thing is so awesomely cool, and why they are completely wrong in their logic.
A friend e-mails to say that Texas A & M has an annual contest for the best definition of a contemporary expression. This year it was "political correctness." And here's the winner:Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
Even though four Democratic senators are so nervous about the electricity tax called cap-and-trade they are urging their leadership to drop it from the global-warming bill, no-one should count on that happening yet. More Senators need to wake up to the significant problems cap-and-trade has, and there is no better example of those than the European version of the scheme. With that in mind, my colleague Roger Abbott and I have written a piece for The American Spectator today that outlines just two of the problems the Europeans have encountered. We conclude:To sum up, the failure of the European ETS should give pause to Senators considering a similar system for the U.S. Cap-and-trade will not result in emissions cuts. It will, however, greatly enhance the power of the government to regulate the economy. And it will lead to higher energy costs, as the costs of trading permits add to utilities' cost of doing business.
Given these facts, why the strong push for cap-and-trade? The sad fact is that both President Obama and the Democratic Congress are misleading the public. Alternative measures such as a carbon tax have not been considered precisely because their costs are transparent and obvious to the public. By contrast, cap-and-trade allows the President and Congress to claim credit for "taking action" on global warming without acknowledging the real costs that entails — costs which the public, when informed of the facts, is rightly unwilling to accept.
Feel free to send a copy of our piece to your senator!
WaPo reports:Separately, a coalition of groups backing Obama's proposals launched a $12 million TV ad campaign Thursday, pitching health insurance reform in states where centrist Democratic House members or senators are under pressure on the issue. The campaign is intended to serve as a counterweight to critics who have shouted down Democratic lawmakers at town hall meetings, encounters that have received heavy news coverage.
The coalition distributing the ads, Americans for Stable Quality Care, is funded largely by the pharmaceutical industry and 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. PhRMA has promised to contribute as much as $150 million for advertising and grass-roots activity to help pass Obama's health-care reform package.
I hope the ads really stick it to the special interests who are obstructing reform.
Memo from the Boss:
As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barack Obama is our President, and that our Taxes and Government fees will increase in a BIG way. To compensate for these increases, our prices would have to increase by about 10%.
Since we can not increase our prices right now due to the dismal economy, we will have to lay off six employees instead. This has been really bothering me since I believe we are a family here and I didn’t know how to choose who would have to go.
So this is what I did. I walked through our parking lot and found six Obama bumper stickers on our employees’ cars and decided those folks will be the ones to go. I can’t think of a more fair way to approach this problem. They voted for change, I gave it to them.
I will see the rest of you at the annual Company picnic.
Nancy Snyder says she kept quiet when abortion was legalized and prayer in schools was eliminated. Not this time.Nancy makes a good point, if we are silent and passive we will continue to have our freedoms and our values steamrolled.
"They did it for prayer, they did it for abortion, and they're not going to do it for our health care," the 70-year-old nurse from Philipsburg, Pa., said Wednesday as she and her husband Robert, 74, a retired coal miner, waited in a long, snaking line for Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter's town hall meeting.
As a result, the deficit quadrupled from $459 billion in 2008 to $1.85 trillion this year. It has gone from 3.2% of gross domestic product to 13.1%, twice the post-World War II record of 6% in 1983 under President Reagan. What's more, the debt surge is unlike the one that accompanied WWII in that it will not be temporary.The above quote is from a New York Daily News Op-ed by Mort Zuckerman (here).
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reckons that the deficit will run for a decade and will still exceed $1.2 trillion in 2019. By that time, the United States will have virtually doubled its national debt, to over $17 trillion. Then, after 2019, we get another turn of the screw as the peak waves of baby boomers move into their retirement years and costs soar for the major entitlements, Social Security and Medicare.
At 41% of GDP in 2008, the accumulated federal debt will rise to 82% by 2019. One out of every six dollars spent then by the feds will go to interest, compared with 1 in 12 dollars last year. These out-year budgets will require an increase in everyone's income taxes, raising federal income taxes an average of $11,000 for families, a hike of 55% per household - a political impossibility.
Final post on this. Yesterday, I explained that it is ludicrous to argue that the NHS never gives quality care and that Prof. Hawking is a good example of when it does give world-class care. However, the mere fact that he received such care does not mean that the NHS is perfect I went on to give examples from personal experience of when it gives extremely sub-standard care (I could have included others, like the misdiagnosis of my mother's broken foot as a sprain, which has led to years of pain with no recourse) and tried to explain a) that the system, predicated as it is on restriction of choice, ensures that these examples of sub-standard care remain and b) that the idea that there is a Hobson's choice of NHS or no treatment at all is obviously false.
Somehow, these were interpreted by a Village Voice blogger as:At National Review, Iain Murray in a series of posts explained why Hawking was stupid and wrong to praise the British National Health Service for saving his life...
I should count my blessings; at least I'm not Daniel Hannan.
P.S. For yet more personal experiences of the NHS, check out Meghan Cox Gurdon's column today in the Examiner.
WASHINGTON — The raucous protests at congressional town-hall-style meetings have succeeded in fueling opposition to proposed health care bills among some Americans, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds — particularly among the independents who tend to be at the center of political debates.There is no need to be rude on either side of the debate but anger in the face of arrogant dismissal is a righteous anger indeed.
In a survey of 1,000 adults taken Tuesday, 34% say demonstrations at the hometown sessions have made them more sympathetic to the protesters' views; 21% say they are less sympathetic.
Independents by 2-to-1, 35%-16%, say they are more sympathetic to the protesters now.
The hospital had not been open long when representatives of a 1,000-bed government-run hospital located a short distance away approached us to borrow high-tech equipment and instruments. Because people were ill and needed procedures the government hospital could not provide, we provided that hospital with the help it needed. But that experience convinced me that under a single-payer system hospitals do not receive the money required to purchase advanced technology or provide quality care.
Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and his advisers have been quite active, sometimes negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president’s rhetoric.
This reeks of the Big Brother nightmare of oppressive government that the shrewd propagandists on the right are always blathering on about. Except that this time, they could not be more right.Lee Seigel has a post up on The Daily Beast talking, here, titled "Obama's Euthanasia Mistake" that admits the Right has a point.
The figure comes from Britain's National Institute for Clinical Evidence, which evaluates treatments in terms of the average increase in life expectancy. If the cost of prolonging someone's life for a year exceeds more than £30,000, then the NHS will not pay for that treatment. In other words, although there are no "death panels", the fundamental point is correct. The NHS does decide that some treatments are too expensive. And if that means you die? Our condolences, says the Government.
Despite the myths from the Left about the American system – that you have to take your credit card to the emergency room and if you can't pay you won't be treated – it is beyond dispute that treatment in the US is better. Diagnosed with prostate cancer and want to survive for the next five years? In Britain you have a 74 per cent chance. In the US, it is 98 per cent. For leukaemia, the American survival rate is close to half, while in Europe it is a third.
Following up on that silly IBD statement that Stephen Hawking wouldn't survive in the U.K., where of course he lives, I contacted Professor Hawking's office, and they sent me this statement he dictated yesterday:All respect to my husband but what he neglected to mention regarding his friend's child was that the baby was found to be in the breech position and the NHS doctor went ahead with a vaginal birth, causing the infant to suffer the lack of oxygen which lead to her brain being damaged.I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high quality treatment without which I would not have survived.This is undoubtedly true. Many brilliant doctors and surgeons work for the NHS. So yes, there are indeed centers of excellence in the NHS. David Cameron, leader of the British Conservatives, has a favorable view of the NHS because of the wonderful, world-class care it gave for many years to his severely handicapped son, who sadly died earlier this year. A close friend of mine would have lost his handicapped daughter at birth were it not for the efforts of his local NHS hospital, which again provided world-class care. And this isn't world-class in the sense of "the NHS is the envy of the world," it is world-class in the genuine sense.
However, all this is true in spite of rather than because the NHS is financed the way it is. Professor Hawking in Cambridge and David Cameron in Oxford are lucky enough that their hospitals are associated with world-class universities. The trouble is that for every child saved, there is one or more elderly people left to die or literally killed by the NHS. One family I know lost two grandparents as a result of NHS incompetence, one of them having a feeding tube set at the wrong rate, with the result that they were fed so much they died as a result of the complications brought on. Just as there are excellent hospitals in the NHS, there are others that any informed person would avoid like, or even because of, the plague.
And much of the reason for the dark side of the NHS is clearly its funding structure. A relative of mine, an award-winning doctor, resigned from her job as head of a certain department at her hospital because she couldn't take having to make decisions every day over who lived and who died as a result of granting or denying treatment. The NHS is predicated on this model. That is why Theodore Dalyrmple, a doctor working within the NHS at the time, wrote as far back as 2001:Just try going to the casualty department of an NHS hospital and telling them that you want to be operated on in another hospital! You will be lucky if they find you a bed in under 10 hours. Not far from Walsall, incidentally, is Kidderminster, whose hospital the Government closed down, despite the local appreciation of its care, its balanced budget, and the clearly expressed wishes of the town's population that it should be kept open. So much for consumer choice when it conflicts with the Government's plans.
I am far from supposing that all is well with the NHS. No one who works in the system could possibly suppose any such thing. It even seems to me likely that treatment in Walsall is not as good as at UCH.
But the real problem with the health-care services in Britain lies elsewhere, and we should not be diverted from recognising it by crude and sensational comparisons. What is needed is a subtle interplay of patient choice and professionalism, of the kind that can never now be achieved so long as health care in this country is funded solely by central taxation. It would take courage and honesty for a politician to recognise this, so it is extremely unlikely to happen.
Will that subtle interplay be encouraged or discouraged by Obamacare? All evidence points towards the latter, but that is the argument that has to be made.
Reportedly, Obama's top advisers gather every Wednesday night to discuss the latest polling on health-care reform and how to use the results to advance the president's agenda. And public sentiment is clear: People trust their doctors and are generally pleased with their medical care's quality -- but mostly distrust insurers. Most voters also care more about their own out-of-pocket medical costs and the portability of their coverage than about the uninsured.
• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).He ends with a teeny plug for healthier eating via vegetables but otherwise his entire column is a truthful, accurate, efficient and viable solution to the US healthcare system and I thoroughly endorse his views in this matter.
Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time.
• Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. (He's right! If car and life insurance is portable, why isn't health insurance? - me)
• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.
• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.
• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.
• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.
• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Having said that, I must confess my dismay bordering on horror at the amateurism of the White House apparatus for domestic policy.She continues here to proclaim her growing and deepening alarm at the entire Obamacare debacle. I don't always completely agree with her but I completely respect her views.
CNN/US president Jonathan Klein has directed his producers to avoid booking talk-radio hosts on CNN news programs. In a burst of arrogance remarkable even by mainstream media standards (especially given some of the dross that passes for news coverage at CNN), Klein is quoted in NewsBusters as saying, "Complex issues require world class reporting," and that talk-radio guys are all noise and "all too predictable." Would that there were anything on the planet more predictable than some of CNN's "world class reporting."
The NewsBusters report also indicates that the talk-radio hosts who are CNN regulars (e.g., Lou Dobbs and Bill Bennett) are exempt from the new policy.
I wonder if the folks at CNN ever actually listen to the in-depth coverage complicated issues get for hours at a time on Rush's show and Sean's show. I wonder how Mr. Klein's assessment of talk-radio dullards squares up with, say, Mark Levin — an authentic scholar of constitutional law and American history, a mega-bestselling author of books on those subjects, and a former chief of staff to an attorney-general of the United States. Or, say, Hugh Hewitt, a cum laude graduate of Harvard, Order of the Coif student at UMichigan Law School, veteran of two prestigious federal court clerkships, like Mark a former Reagan Justice Department official, and now a professor at Chapman Law School. I wonder if Mr. Klein has ever heard Laura Ingraham or Steve Malzberg or Dennis Praeger (and I could go on and on) mixing it up with advocates for every side of every important issue.
To disagree with them is fine — that's what makes an interesting debate. But to ban them because you find yourself unable to refute them? That's class-A cowardice.
There's a reason talk-radio's audience is growing while CNN's is evaporating.
I wish Mr. Klein would just come out and say he'd like to keep to a bare minimum the insights of effective conservative voices. At least that would be honest.
[Thanks to Lucianne.]
McCaskill said she was "proud of the people that showed up and I don't take that personally."No, sweetcheeks, we do not trust you. Because (and it is a shame I have to explain this to a sitting member of Congress) here in America our government is the People. The government is not some separate entity from Congress or the President or the Supreme Court (although the Supreme Court has the least direct connection to the People). Here in America, no "government" is too big to fail if the American People decide that government is no longer representing them.
"It's that they don't trust government right now," she said on NBC's "Today" show.
"I'm not going to complain about being organized. They have a right to speak," he said, "but I think we have to explain, they're not necessarily representative of America. I think they're vocal. I don't think they're representative."Clearly, Specter is so old that he has forgotten these things are recorded. I watched a fair portion of this townhall and there were supporters on both sides of the issue. It's just that the opponents of Obamacare were clearly in the majority. That seems pretty representational to me, Congressman Crypt-Keeper.
A close reading of the two main bills, one backed by Democrats in the House and the other issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy's Health committee, contradict the President's assurances. To be sure, it isn't easy to comb through their 2,000 pages of tortured legal language. But page by page, the bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines, and mandates that would radically change your health-care coverage.The above is from an article titled "5 freedoms you'd lose in health care reform" from Fortune Magazine here.
I'm a fan of Investors' Business Daily, and their editorials are normally top-notch, but I've no idea how they let this one get through:People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.
Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) is trying to win Senate support for the ruinously expensive cap-and-tax global-warming bill, claiming it will prevent threats to national security, according to the New York Times. He argues that global warming will destabilize the developing world, creating climate refugees and exacerbating conflict. The American military will need to respond to these problems through either humanitarian-relief missions or armed intervention. This argument is flawed for two reasons. First, there is no reason to believe the bill being debated will stop any of this. Second, there is every possibility that the bill might make things worse.
If global warming is as bad as Senator Kerry fears, this bill will do nothing to avert its effects. Most honest proponents of the bill admit that it will do nothing to reduce global temperatures. At most, according to climatologist Chip Knappenberger, the bill will reduce warming by about nine-hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit by 2050, a difference too small to be measured.
Could anything avert those supposed effects? Yes — much more stringent climate policies, which would have adverse effects of their own. The national-security establishment uses “futurist” scenarios to establish possible national-security risks. In that spirit, it should also look at scenarios in which more stringent policies are implemented. Consider the following such scenario.
Developed countries enact strong restraints on emissions, along with high taxes on gasoline and coal energy. The coal, oil and automobile industries collapse. In America, the Gulf Coast states suffer particularly badly. Old automobiles are crushed. The second-hand car market also collapses. Poor people cannot find affordable vehicles. Poor rural families cannot get to work. They and the populations of former oil and coal producing areas move to cities where there is transportation but there are fewer and fewer jobs, leading to widespread urban discontent. Illegal immigration increases as employers bring in thousands of workers whom they house in barracks near their farms and factories. The car once again becomes a symbol of the rich. Is this a recipe for domestic tranquility?
Europe could also be destabilized by carbon restrictions. European politicians call for a de facto reduction of household income so that people will be less tempted to buy frivolous things. Car ownership reaches the level of social stigma. The European Union increases trade barriers on goods from long distances to pay for the external costs of their shipping, with leads to soaring costs. Inflation becomes a serious problem, but politicians defend it as an indicator of social good. Populist politicians rail against immigrant populations, denouncing them as environmental criminals for leaving their home countries. “Economic migrant” becomes a new insult.
Yet, even worse can be imagined. The developed countries set up a World Carbon Organization, which would impose severe economic sanctions on any country that did not enact carbon restrictions. China and India call the organization’s bluff and continue to build coal-fired carbon plants to fuel what is rapidly becoming the world’s economic base. The WCO tries to blockade Chinese exports. Western militaries, however, have been depleted by their own governments’ carbon constraints, and prove inadequate to the job of blockading. A potential “trigger” for a disaster scenario is easy to imagine: A frustrated French captain accidentally sinks a Chinese vessel carrying MP3 players to Australia. What happens then?
This is the sort of scenario the Pentagon should be examining. If global warming can destabilize the globe, so can global-warming policies. That is one reason the world has not reached an international agreement on reducing emissions that binds everyone to reductions, and why we never shall with current technology.
Senator Kerry says that he wants a world free from the dangers of global warming. But the cap-and-tax bill he is promoting is more likely to give us a world with the dangers of global warming and the dangers of protectionist nationalism. That is a bad deal for the security of America — and the world.
P.S. My colleague Marlo Lewis examined the various supposed threats to national security in very great detail for the a hearing held by House Intelligence Committee. You can read his excellent testimony here. You can also see his documentary, Policy Peril, at CEI On Demand.
So far, the health care battle has not focused specifically on the proposed Medicare cuts. But older Americans are the most avid voters in the country, and the latest Gallup poll shows that just 48 percent of people age 65 or older approve of the job Obama is doing as president -- the lowest of any age group. Much of Obama's problem with them can be traced directly to the health care issue.Democrats aren't defending Medicare the way they did in the 90s and Senior Citizens are taking notice. This is politics on fire.