Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

The beginning of the End for the Euro

March 31, 2012

Bundesbank has announced that it’s killing the Euro.  No, they didn’t put it that way, they said the following:

The central bank of Germany will no longer accept bank bonds backed by Ireland, Greece and Portugal as collateral, becoming the first euro-zone central bank to exercise a new privilege to protect its balance sheet from the region’s debt crisis. The decision signals the determination of the Deutsche Bundesbank to limit risks from the nonstandard measures the European Central Bank has taken to combat market stress during the crisis.

the reason why Germany has been trying to keep Greece et. al from crashing is because German banks hold a lot of Greek, Spanish, etc. bonds.  This move by the Bundesbank makes no sense unless it’s only the start (or maybe even the middle).  Expect to see German banks doing their best to get rid of their exposure to “Club Med” bonds, because if they’re not good enough for the Bundesbank, clearly they’re not good enough for German banks that aren’t backed by the taxpayers.

Possibility 1: German banks significantly reduce their exposure to Club Med debt: At which point Germany tells the Greeks to stuff it, and either the Greeks get booted out of the Euro, or German leaves (sorry, but the idea that the Greeks will actually get their house in order is too silly to consider).

Possibility 2: This causes a run on Club Med debt, as everyone else decides that if it’s not good enough for the Bundesbank, it’s not good enough for them.  At which point the cost of new debt goes so high for the Greeks and other Club Med countries that they can no longer roll over their existing debt, let alone continue running their normal deficits.  At which point, the Club med countries get kicked out of the Euro, or else Germany goes back on the Deutsche Mark.

In any event, the German political class has accepted that their voters won’t let them subsidize the Euro any more.  Now that they’ve accepted that, the Euro in its present form is toast.

I wonder how much this has to do with Sarkozy’s upcoming defeat in the French elections?  My guess is “a lot”.  I think the German political class thought that with Sarkozy, they could get a deal that the German voters would accept.  With the Socialist, they know this isn’t the case, so now it’s time to mend fences with the German voters (who’ve been nothing but pissed about the bailouts), and let the rest of Europe go hang.

WWII is now over.  The Germans no longer feel guilty enough about it to pay to keep the Euro going.

Wait for commentary by William Russel Mead in 3 … 2 … 1 …

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Obama Reneged when Negotiating w/ Boehner, WaPo

March 19, 2012

The Washington Post has a very revealing article about the failed debt negotiations last year:

Obama, nervous about how to defend the emerging agreement to his own Democratic base, upped the ante in a way that made it more difficult for Boehner — already facing long odds — to sell it to his party. Eventually, the president tried to put the original framework back in play, but by then it was too late. The moment of making history had passed.

In other words, they had a deal, then Obama tried to unilaterally change it in his favor, and killed the whole process by his bad faith.  What a shock.

The Healthy Eating Act of 2013

March 10, 2012

Over at Volokh, Randy Barnet posted a link to his 2010 article on why the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional, and then commented upon it.  The response by ObamaCare defenders has been quite interesting.  Essentially, they seem to be claiming the following:

  1. Congress has the power to regulate the health insurance industry, therefore
  2. Congress has the right to order the industry to do anything that Congress wishes to order, and therefore
  3. It is within Congress’ Constitutional powers to give the rest of us any order that Congress chooses, so long as that order is necessary in order to make the regulation work

Now, assuming 1 to be true, I think that 2 follows.  But I strongly disagree with 3.

If Congress had tried to pass ObamaCare with Community Rating and no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, it would have been a bad law, and it would have destroyed the health insurance industry, but it would not have been unconstitutional (at least, it would have been within Congress’ recognized Commerce Clause powers).

Or, Congress could have done the above, and included funding for the insurance companies to make sure they didn’t go bankrupt because of those rules.  That would also have been constitutional.

However, neither was politically possible.  So the ObamaCare supporters are forced to claim that Congress is free to chose any means that it wants to back up its regulatory schemes, and that any choice Congress makes is therefore “Necessary and Proper”.

Call it the “(politically) Necessary (is therefore) Proper” theory of the Constitution.

Following in their footsteps, I now propose the “Healthy Eating Act of 2013” (as proposed by Michelle Obama, once her husband doesn’t have to worry about getting re-elected):

  1. Congress hereby orders every person growing food (your private garden is, after all, part of interstate commerce via Wickard) to devote at least 50% of their growing space to Broccoli (we’ll call it the Healthy Eating Act of 2013).
  2. Because all the farmers will go bankrupt growing that much Broccoli, Congress therefore also orders every American to spend at least 40% of their food budget on Broccoli (they’re not being forced to eat it, they’re just being forced to buy it).

Given the claims by ObamaCare supporters, I don’t see how it could fail to pass muster.

Words to live by

February 22, 2012

Megan McArdle wrote the following when discussing the fake Heartland memo:

After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.
Precisely.  That would be my primary filter when choosing who to listen to, and who to associate with.  If you believe it’s ok to lie to advance your cause, then nothing you say, do, believe, or think will ever have any positive value.
She also wrote
in truth, it’s hard to feel too sorry for Heartland, given how gleefully they embraced the ClimateGate leaks.
That is mostly true.  The ClimateGate leakers were decent human beings, so they xxx’ed out personal information before posting the emails.  Peter Gleick and the 15 people he sent the information to, OTOH, didn’t do that.  Because, after all, instead of being decent human beings, they’re righteous warriors for the truth of global warming climate change, and those who disagree with them, or work for someone who disagrees with them, don’t deserve privacy or basic human respect.

Walker’s ObamaCare

March 13, 2011

A lot of lefties have been babbling about how the Republicans supposedly overreached in WI, and this will be Walker’s “ObamaCare” (a legislative act that pisses off teh public , and sparks a tremendous backlash).

While it’s a lovely fantasy for them, it misses out on reality.

1: ObamaCare harms most voters.  If you like your health savings account, if you like your current insurance, if you liked your Medicare Advantage, if you don’t want the government screwing up health care even more than it already is, then you are directly, personally, negatively affected by ObamaCare, and the harm will simply get worse as time goes on.

2: Repealing Government Union collective bargaining, and cutting off union access to workers paychecks, harms very few people, and hte vast majority of hte people it harms were consistent Democrat voters anyway.

Who’s harmed by the WI Republicans move?

  1. The unions that got to take money from the workers and spend it on Democrat campaigns have definitely been harmed.  However, these were enemies of the Republicans anyway, so it’s not like this is going to encourage them to be more anti-Republican.  And the law immediately costs them money, so they will have fewer resources to care out their anti-Republican jihads.
  2. The Democrat politicians who were on teh Union gravy train are harmed.  But it’s not like this will make them more eager to win elections.
  3. Union members will probably be getting worse deals now that they don’t have the union there.

So, we’ve got one group of people who are harmed by the Republican law, some of whom in the past have probably voted Republican.

However, those same union members now no long have the union taking $1,000+ out of their paychecks every year, and now get to re-certify the union every year, which means if the union isn’t responsive to their needs, they can get rid of it.

So, how many votes will this actually cost the Republicans?  Consider the characteristics of the voters they will lose:

  1. Strongly pro union (not necessarily a gov’t union worker), or a gov’t union member who feels like the changes in bargaining will hurt her or him
  2. Someone who routinely voted for Republicans in the past (if they were an automatic Democrat vote, there’s nothing they can change), or else didn’t vote at all
  3. Someone who values the union more than they value the money the union will no longer be able to take from them

How many votes is that?  My gues is “not many”.  And when you look at the cost to the Democrats of all those forced union dues they’re losing, I think that this will turn out to be a net positive for the Republicans.

Here’s the lazy man’s no science needed guide to why the anthropogenic global warming crowd is not worth listening to

February 27, 2011

Ken at PopeHat wrote the following:

As a result of my laziness, I am willfully ignorant — practically innumerate and scientifically demi-literate. Thus, when I evaluate the scientific issues of the day — from global warming to evolution — I am, on some level, succumbing to an argument from authority. Which people spouting science I barely grasp, using methodology I can’t follow past the Sunday-supplement level, do I believe?

As it happens, I find the evidence (as I understand it) of evolution to be very substantially more convincing than the criticisms levied against it. Similarly, I find the evidence of a global warming trend more convincing than the evidence and arguments to the contrary. The weight of consensus on one side or the other is one factor, though by no means a deciding factor. The whys and wherefores of that are far beyond the scope of this post.

I offered the following comment, reproduced here in case it gets lost in moderation:

Here’s the lazy man’s unscientific guide to why the anthropogenic global warming (human caused global warming) crowd is not worth listening to.

1: If the people who claimed they believe in it actually did believe in it, it would affect their actions, and their lives.

Al Gore, nevertheless, had a house in Nashville TN that used 20x the average amount of energy. Further, he had a swimming pool, and did not have a solar heater for teh swimming pool, even though solar heaters are cost effective. Would he act that way if he actually thought there was a problem?

Or, consider this. As a logical matter it is simply not possible to believe all four of the following things. Nevertheless, those trumpeting that “we must do something” tend to hold all four beliefs:

A: The world is warming up
B: This warming is caused by human activity
C: This warming is a bad thing, will lead to disaster, it’s a serious crisis, we must cut down on carbon emissions right now!
D: We should not make it easier, cheaper, and faster to build nuclear power plants, despite the fact that replacing coal, oil, and gas fired power plants with nuclear plants would lead to a significant and near immediate decrease in carbon emissions.

2: ClimateGate. Real science is reproducible. If you publish a paper claiming that you got certain results, and no one else can get those same results doing what you said you did, the immediate assumption in scientific circles is that you have committed fraud. This is why, when you publish a scientific paper, you have to give pretty much anyone who asks everything they need to re-create your work.

This is non-negotiable in pretty much every area of science (and pretty much every area of research. Remember Michael Bellesiles and Arming America”? His fraud was discovered when those who disagreed with him tried to replicate his research, and couldn’t).

Except for Climate “Science”. ClimateGate happened because the people at CRU fought tooth and nail to avoid having to release the data, tools, and methods behind their published papers. Post release, they’ve admitted that they can not replicate the data behind their papers.

None of the “scientific” groups that claim to release historical temperature records have ever given a full release of the data, tools, and methods behind their claims. None of them have ever said “here’s the data we used, here’s what we did to clean up and organize the data, here’s the programs (with source code) we used to do it.”

If they were not perpetrating fraud, they would have done that. It’s what any real scientist would do after publishing a paper based on a data set that they’d worked on. But if they did that, then people who do understand the science would be able to examine their assumptions. Would be able to point out how other, perfectly reasonable, ways of adjusting the data would lead to results that totally contradict the “scientists” preferred results.

How do I know that’s true? Because if it wasn’t true, there would be no reason not to release the data.

3: When last I checked the numbers, there was a heating trend of 1 degree C from 1900 to 1950, a cooling trend of 0.5 degrees C from 1950 to 1970, a warming trend of 0.3 degrees C from 1970 to 1998, and a flat to cooling trend since then. Going from that to “Human industrial activity is warming the planet, oh woe is us” requires a great ability to ignore any data that contradicts your preferred fantasy.

Kudos to DougJ for drawing the line just right so he could ignore all the inconvenient data.

State worker pay and the value of a college education

February 27, 2011

By way of the MinuteMan I came across this article in the NY Times comparing the pay of State workers to private sector workers.  Key grafs:

The clearest pattern to emerge is an educational divide: workers without college degrees tend to do better on state payrolls, while workers with college degrees tend to do worse. That divide has grown more pronounced in recent decades. Since 1990, the median wage of state workers without college degrees has come to surpass that of workers in the private sector. During the same period, though, college-educated state workers have seen their median pay lag further behind their peers in the private sector.

At the local level, the phenomenon is similar: the median wage for college-educated workers trails that of their private-sector counterparts by about 20 percent, while local workers without college degrees earn 10 percent more than their private-sector peers.

This is a clear example of “people unclear on the concept” (and I’m sad to say Tom appears to have missed this as well).  Allow me to break some new for the NY Times:

All college degrees are not equal.

Consider the folowing fields of “study”:

Sociology, Ethnic studies, Queer studies, History, Literature, Education, History of Consciousness, Political Science, Women’s Studies

What percentage of government employees have degrees in those fields?  What is the actual, real world value of the “education” received while attaining those degrees?  0?  Something negative?

higher education bubble, meet overpaid government workers.

Because while the private sector certainly suffers from too much credentialitis, it’s not nearly as bad there as it is in government, where people often get raises based solely on the fact that they’ve received a degree, no matter what that degree is.

You want to compare public and private sector?  Great, compare apples to apples.  Compare public school teacher salaries to private school teacher salaries.  Leave out the seniority, and whether they have an advanced degree, because that is irrelevant.  The only thing that is relevant is “how good is the teacher at teaching her / his students?”  And the “Teacher’s Unions” fight tooth and nail against any attempt to figure that out, let alone reward people based on it.

“Because the public sector is much more likely to be highly educated, we would fully expect them to earn more on average because of that, just like we would expect somebody with a master’s degree to earn more than somebody with a high school education,” said Keith A. Bender, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who has studied compensation in the public and private sectors.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  I would hope and expect that the average mechanic makes far more than does the average person with a Racist or Sexists Studies degree, be it BA, MA, or PH. D.  Certainly the mechanic has learned far more of value, and provides far more value, than does anyone with such a degree.

What would actually be interesting, valuable, and never actually happen, is a comparison of degrees.  Federal / State / Local Government Employees / Private sector workers v. actual degrees attained (Field and whether it’s a BA / BS / MA / MS / Ph. D.).  It will never happen, because the results would show that the “college educated” goverment “workers”, by and large, have a much higher percentage of joke degress than do people in the private sector.

Which would quite adequately explain why they “make less”.

Al Gore’s “massage”

June 25, 2010

Our favorite tree, former Vice President Al “Forrest” Gore is in the news, as a Portland Oregon massage therapist has accused him of soliciting sex during his massage.  (Note, I’ve been getting a lot of my information on this from Tom Maguire, and posted part of this as a comment on his site.)  In our latest twist, Gore’s defenders have admitted that he paid $540 (including a 20% tip) for a massage while at the Hotel Lucia.

This, IMHO, is a “game over” admission.

A $540 bill with a 20% gratuity is $450 for the massage, and a $90 tip.

This was at the Hotel Lucia, which has an associated spa, the Portland Spa and Boutique.

Looking at their price list, the most expensive massage they offer is $140 (90 minutes of either “warm stone” or “Table Thai” massage). Al paid over 3x that, plus a 20% tip.

Now, if you have someone coming to your room to give you a massage, you should expect to pay more than you would pay to go to their place.  But you don’t expect to pay an extra $310.

So, there are a couple of possibilities here:

  1. The Hotel told him that’s how much it would be.  In that case, the Hotel was pimping out the massage therapist, because for that kind of money, you’re expecting a medium to high class prostitute, not  massage therapist.  (It would be great for some enterprising reporter to try to find out if that is the price the Hotel routinely give to its customers.)  But, if Gore asked for a “massage” at that price, he was looking for a prostitute, not a massage therapist.
  2. The Hotel quoted a lower price, Gore paid more as hush money, or because they really did have sex.  If that’s the case, I do wonder why she submitted the bill through the Hotel, rather than just getting cash from Gore.

In either event, unless it was a four hour massage, there’s no way that Gore paid that much for just a massage.

I don’t know whether or not former Vice President Al Gore had sex with a massage therapist in Portland Oregon.  But I do know that that is what he intended to have happen.  Nothing else justifies the amount he paid for his “massage”.

TSA to stop abusing us?

May 6, 2010

President Obama let loose this brain-dead statement today:

“We can’t turn law-abiding American citizens, and law-abiding immigrants, into subjects of suspicion and abuse.”

Hey, Mr. President, dealt with the TSA recently?  Had to take off your shoes, your belt, while shuffling through a line?  Had to walk through a full body scanner that will let a TSA employee practically see you naked?

No?

Then don’t talk to us about “turning American citizens into subjects of suspicion and abuse”, because it happens to us every time we try to fly commercial.

Barack Obama, enemy of the environment

May 5, 2010

Got to love this bit of news

During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

Barack Obama, handmaiden of the destroyers of the Gulf Coast.

What is the First Amendment For?

February 3, 2010

Stanley Fish, and left wing law professor and NY Times columnist, writes a column today that attempts to give a principled justification for the votes of the four left wing “Justices” in the “Citizens United” free speech case (that’s the one where the government claimed it could block companies from publishing books that advocated for or against a political candidate).  In his article, he claimed that Stevens (the author of the losing side) was engaging in “consequentialist” reasoning

Stevens also values robust intellectual commerce, but he believes that allowing corporate voices to have their full and unregulated say “can distort the ‘free trade in ideas’ crucial to candidate elections.” In his view free trade doesn’t take care of itself, but must be engineered by the kind of restrictions the majority strikes down. The marketplace of ideas can become congealed and frozen; the free flow can be impeded, and when that happens the only way to preserve free speech values is to curtail or restrict some forms of speech, just as you might remove noxious weeds so that your garden can begin to grow again. Prohibitions on speech, Stevens says, can operate “to facilitate First Amendment values,” and he openly scorns the majority’s insistence that enlightened self-government “can arise only in the absence of regulation.”

The idea that you may have to regulate speech in order to preserve its First Amendment value is called consequentialism. For a consequentialist like Stevens, freedom of speech is not a stand-alone value to be cherished for its own sake, but a policy that is adhered to because of the benign consequences it is thought to produce, consequences that are catalogued in the usual answers to the question, what is the First Amendment for?

What Fish ignores, because it would completely destroy his point, is that the same left wingers who are perfectly happy having the government block political speech that they don’t like, are utterly opposed to letting the government ban books, or movies, or nude dancing, that others dislike, but that the lefties are ok with.

The idea that there are strong public policy reasons to keep Boston from banning pornographic books or magazines, but there are also strong public policy reasons to allow Congress to ban political speech by people who’ve joined together into a corporation for teh purpose of getting their political views out, is an idea so wrethedly lame that not even an “intellectual” could be stupid enough to believe it.

Stevens didn’t vote the way he did out of principle.  He voted that way because he has no principles.  Because the only thing that matters to him is getting what he wants, and the Constitution, the law, and reason can all go to hell if they get in the way of that.

ht: Tom Maguire

Defining Racism

January 12, 2010

Ann Althouse says

If by “racist” you mean somebody who would use other people’s feelings about race in a purely instrumental way to amass political power, then Harry Reid is a racist.

Eugene Volokh responds

My question: Does the term “racist” indeed normally mean “somebody who would use other people’s feelings about race in a purely instrumental way to amass political power”? I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used this way; and while I certainly recognize that words can have multiple standard meanings, I’m skeptical that the second meaning Prof. Althouse suggests is indeed standard.

He’s wrong.

Consider a Southern politician who routinely played on the racist feelings of his constituents in order to win re-election.  Using “code words” and “dog whistles” in his ads to get racists to come out and vote for him.  We most certainly do consider such a person a racist, regardless of how he feels about blacks.  And if that’s not “somebody who would use other people’s feelings about race in a purely instrumental way to amass political power”, then words have no meaning.

If you want to argue that the description doesn’t apply to Harry Reid, go right ahead.  But you can’t honestly claim that it’s an invalid use of the word “racist”.

Iraq was not a “distraction”

December 1, 2009

Megan McArdle has a post up complaining about Dick Cheney schooling Obama. In it she compares Cheney to former President Jimmy Carter.  This comparison is as mindless as it is wrong-headed.

If President Reagan had gone around whining about the problems he had “inherited” from President Carter, she would have a valid point.  But he didn’t and she doesn’t.  When President Buttercup Obama decides to man up, face the fact the he really is President of the United States of America, and do his job, rather than whining about the problems he “inherited” (he didn’t inherit them, he lied, cheated, and stole in order to become President, and thus get to deal with those problems.  If he didn’t want to deal with the problems, he damn well shouldn’t have run for the office), then it might be reasonable to call for Cheney to stand down.

But so long as Obama is blaming everything on the previous Administration, members of the previous Administration have not just the right, but the duty to point out he’s full of sh!t.

One of her commenters gave the following whine:

Of course if the previous administration had done the job right and not turned their attention to Iraq President Obama would not have to worry about Afghanistan now would he?

My response:

Do you ever think for yourself? Or are you merely capable of spouting leftie talking points that have no actual connection to reality?

The US Military is logistically “heavy”. To put it another way: we like to burn through a lot of material, instead of burning through people.

Afghanistan is a lousy place to try to do that. Iraq was not (nearby seaports are wonderful things for heavy logistics). When we invaded Iraq, the Islamist nutjobs followed, and fought us on turf that was well designed for our style of fighting.  As such, we slaughtered them in droves, and their terrorist attacks against the Iraqi people turned the Iraqis against “global jihad”.

That’s called “win win”.  Or, at least it is if you actually want to see the US win.

Afghanistan was and is a generation long struggle.  If you don’t want to deal with it, don’t run for President of the US.

Megan McArdle gets stuck on stupid

September 17, 2009

Wow, Megan McArdle is really on a roll. First she told us that the polls are showing that Obama got a significant bounce from his speech. Too bad (for her) she told us this one day before the polls unequivocally showed that no, he had not gotten any significant bounce from his speech, and was back down to as low as he’s been this year. Then she got suckered by Rod Dreher into attacking Rush Limbaugh for something that, to any even moderately self aware individual, is an obvious satire that she simply missed.

Then, apparently feeling permanently stuck on stupid, she decided to double down with this little gem. Which, the more I look at it, the more stupid it is. A fisking is therefore in order:

A number of you are arguing that Rush Limbaugh is actually putting together a high-flown satire that I missed. Umm, okay, maybe. The problem is, if so many missed it, it’s not a very good satire.

Or, maybe, you’re a humorless twit who thinks that no one living outside NYC and the BosWash corridor could ever be as sophisticated and clever as you, and this bigotry caused you to miss what is obvious to everyone else.

I know, I know–I’m a humorless west coast liberal who doesn’t get an obvious joke. No offense, but Limbaugh’s listeners are not known for their ability to appreciate maybe-sort-of-satire.

Wow, bigoted much? “Everybody at the parties I go to knows that mouth breathing rednecks are just to stupid to understand satire.” And I do love the “No offense”, the sure sign that you know you’re about to say something highly offensive.

I don’t think it’s ridiculous to say that for Rush Limbaugh, racism isn’t a big problem in this country, but anti-racism is one of the greatest threats facing America today.

And what is the “anti-racism” you speck of, oh mighty one? Would that be the racism practiced by those who hate white and Asian people? Which is to say, is that behavior that anyone who isn’t delusional just calls by it’s proper name: racism? State sponsored racism is a great problem, even when they call it “Affirmative Action”. Its supporter’s assaults on the English language are one of its more minor sins, but it is still a problem.

So when he does a “satire” that comes perilously close to his normal rants against feminazis and raice[sic]-baiters, well, I don’t really think you can expect the rest of America to get the joke.

Well, we clearly can’t expect people who seriously believe in “bad racism” v. “good racism” to get the joke when their “good racism” is being mocked (leftists being notoriously humorless when it comes to their sacred beliefs being targets). It’s too bad you’re one of those twisted people. I thought better of you.

Update: Okay, perhaps I am unfairly tarring Rush Limbaugh’s viewers with his own behavior. But I have, in fact, listened to Rush Limbaugh quite a bit, though not recently, and at least back then, he was a humorless jerk who really didn’t find, say, Michael Moore or Jon Stewart funny. His main product is outrage at the vast conspiracy against him and his people. Sound familiar?

No, actually, it doesn’t. I’ve been listening to Rush Limbaugh for years, and that’s not what I’ve ever heard from him. Rush doesn’t sell outrage, or anger. He sells humor. Mockery of the Left. He also sells affirmation: “Oh, good, there are other people out there who think like I do.” He sells love of America, and love of achievement. If you really did “listen to Rush Limbaugh quite a bit”, and are unaware that his main selling point is humor, then you really are a humorless twit. Look, I’m not a huge fan of Rush’s humor, and I’d rather get my information from reading than from listening, so I rarely tune in any more. But it doesn’t have to be my cup of tea in order for me to know it’s there.

Death Panels

August 19, 2009

There’s been a lot of blathering about this, so I want to throw my two cents in:

Short version:

It is not possible to have a government run / controlled / funded /managed health care system without having death panels. That is one of the many reasons why government health care is a bad idea.

Longer version:

Any and every health care system must have ways of deciding who will get what care. In a totally private system, it’s decided by money: if you’re willing and able to pay, you get the service, if you aren’t / can’t, you don’t. In our current system, if you have health insurance, your insurance company makes decisions about what it’s willing to cover, and may you have to fight with it / jump through its hoops in order to get the treatment you want. Or you can sue it, or you can just pay for it yourself, or you can not get the treatment, and continue to suffer through the problem (or just die).

As someone (who I can’t remember) pointed out: in this system , the government serves as “umpire”, deciding who should win each argument. The other “umpire” is “the market”: if a company’s insurance provider is routinely stiffing its employees, the company is likely to drop that provider, and switch to a different one.

In a government health care system, the government will have to decide what treatments are covered, and what aren’t. Which conditions justify the expensive red pill, which ones only get the cheaper (but less effective) blue pill, and which ones get you a trip to the hospice, or an aspirin and a call back in two weeks (if you’re still alive then). And since our political representatives are chickenshits who do their best to avoid having to make decisions, there will be a “panel” to decide what gets covered, and what doesn’t. In Britain, that panel is called NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence: “NICE is an independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health”) President Obama is pushing for IMAC, (“Yesterday, a group of some of the most distinguished health economists in the country sent a letter to the President and Congress in support of the Administration’s proposal for the establishment of an independent board of doctors and health experts to guide Medicare policy. This Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC) would make recommendations on Medicare reimbursement policy and other reforms – playing a critical role in allowing health care policy to adjust flexibly to a dynamic health care market, thereby helping contain costs and improve quality over time. As the authors note, ‘a properly structured Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC), with a congressional mandate and authority to do so, can reduce the rate of growth of health expenditures substantially.‘”) He already had the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research added to Porkulus. Both of those, by any reasonale definition of the term, are “death panels”. Panels that will decide whether you are worth treating, or if you should be left to die.

Will they decide it for you, personally? No. Will they “send death squads out to round up Trig Palin“? No. Might they decide it’s not worth the effort to fund “extreme” health care for people with Down’s Syndrome? Yes. Might they decide that your grandma doesn’t need that hip replacement, or pacemaker? Oh Hell yes!

Now, if you’re really rich, you can fly someplace else and get treatment, or, if your government allows it, you can pay for it yourself in your country (if, of course, your country has the ability to provide what you want. After all, the main way of government rationing will be to simply not provide the capability, or not provide enough of it, in the first place). But for the rest of us, those government panels will be deciding whether or not we get treated. Not the market, not an insurance company that can be dumped if we don’t like it’s choices, the government.

You know, the same government that has to pay for the care if it decides it’s “appropriate”.

Would you like to play baseball when all the umpires have been hired, and paid, by the other team? If not, then you don’t want those government death panels deciding when it’s not longer “cost effective” to keep you alive.

President Obama’s Inability to understand Ethics

August 2, 2009

This bit of news has been making the rounds on the right wing blogs, but as of yet I haven’t seen anyone make the right point about it:

Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office.

But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.

The White House defended the unusual move as a way to avoid conflicts of interest.

Excuse me? If the President went to a corporate event, and insisted on reimbursing the company for the cost of his visit, that would be “avoiding a conflict of interest.” That’s why there are rules about lobbyists buying things for Members of Congress. But, to the best of my knowledge, there’s no law preventing a politician from buying things <b>for</b> a lobbyist.

What is mainly on display here is “class”, as in “complete lack of”. But their explanations show something even worse than their complete lack of class:

The fact that no one in the Obama Administration even understand what ethics is. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that a Chicago politician backed by the Daley Machine isn’t really clear on the requirements of ethical behavior, but I do find it disappointing.

Jim Geraghty has a near constant refrain (“near constant” because President Obama gives him some many opportunities to use it): “All promises from Obama come with an expiration date.” A fish rots from the head down. So do Administrations. The Obama Administration starts with the liar in chief. Below him we have tax cheats, crooks, political hacks who care about nothing besides winning elections, and inexperienced, clueless losers.

“A” people hire “A” people, “B” people hire “C” people. By the (poor) quality of the people around him, we can judge President Obama.

HT: Slublog posting at Ace’s site, Fausta

Will Wilkinson gets his wish

June 23, 2009

Jonah Goldberg brought this babble to our attention

Will Wilkinson on why he won’t color his Twitter avatar green in solidarity with the opposition:

…Here’s what I do worry about. When people feel pressure to signal, and it’s free, they’ll signal. But sending the signal creates a small emotional investment in the overt message of the signal — solidarity with opponents of the ruling Iranian regime. As every salesman knows, getting someone to make a big, costly commitment is best achieved by getting them to first make a tiny, costless commitment. The tiny, costless commitment of turning Twitter avatars green is thin edge of the persuasive edge for the neocons who would like to sell the public a war in Iran. Since I would rather not be Bill Kristol’s useful idiot, I will conspicuously leave my avatar as is, and continue hoping for the best.

Shorter Will: Hey, I like to pretend that I care about the iranians, but when push comes to shove I’d much rather see them beaten, murdered, and enslaved, than have to reassess all the idiocies I’ve spewed over the last 8 years.

Here’s a clue, Will: When violent thugs want to keep you down, either you have to use violence against them, or you have to get someone else to use it, or at least threaten to use it.

Wishing doesn’t work.  Neither do words.  Little Rock schools didn’t get integrated because the Supreme Court said they had to be, they got integrated because President Eisenhower sent in the Army.

If you want the Iranian people to only have as much freedom as the “Supreme Leader” is willing to give them, then you want them to be slaves.

At least be man enough to stop lying about what you support.

In any event, congratulations: You’re not a useful idiot.

Too bad it’s because you’re not the least bit useful for anyone who cares about freedom.

Judge Arthur Gonzalez is Criminal Scum

May 6, 2009

This is utterly disgusting news

The White House said Wednesday that a US court ruling clearing the way for the sale of Chrysler , likely to Fiat, cleared the way for a quick and orderly bankruptcy for the collapsing auto giant.

…Gonzales told a packed federal courtroom in New York on Tuesday that the plan was “a fair and ordinary process,” stressing the “urgent need for the sale to be consummated.”

Dear “Judge” Gonzalez:

I don’t think that phrase “a fair and ordinary process,” means what you think it means.  Giving secured creditors < 35 cents on the dollar, while giving unsecured, politically connected creditors > 50 cents on the dollar, isn’t “fair and ordinary”, it’s political corruption,  Your willingness to spit on bankruptcy law and allow this political theft is arguably criminal.  You are a contemptible and worthless human being.  Given a chance to do your job, you violated your oath of office, and allowed political thugs to steal from a group of politically unpopular people in order to give the money to their campaign donors.

This is the kind of corrupt behavior we expect from Third World hellholes, not the United States of America.

I don’t know what kind of payoff you expect to get for this behavior, but whatever it is, understand it has cost you your honor, and your reputation.

Senate Dems to Collins and Snowe: We don’t want you

May 6, 2009

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has a lovely little article titled Senate Dems to Specter: Hello, rookie. I think he has the wrong title. First, the news:

The Senate dealt a blow tonight to Sen. Arlen Specter’s hold on seniority in several key committees, a week after the Pennsylvanian’s party switch placed Democrats on the precipice of a 60-seat majority.

But Democrats placed Specter in one of the two most junior slots on each of the five committees for the remainder of this Congress, which goes through December 2010. Democrats have suggested that they will consider revisiting Specter’s seniority claim at the committee level only after the midterm elections next year.

Definitely worthy of a laugh.  But it’s worth more than that.  Ed swerves near the point here:

If Reid really did make a similar deal with Specter, then his caucus just sent him a message as well, a humiliation that will make Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins think twice before following Specter into rookie status.

And that, to my mind, is the big point.  The just told any other Republicans considering jumping that they can’t trust anything Reid says, and that the Senate Dems really don’t want them to cross over.

Specter, Collins, and Snowe used their official “Republican” status to posture, preen, and suck up media attention before voting for the Porkulus.  All the other Senate Democrats had to just sit down, shut up, and do what they’re told.  Not a position any Senator likes to be in.  This is their repayment: “we don’t need you, so you can go get stuffed.”

The Republican Senate leadership should be laughing their asses off right now.  Because they can go to Snowe, Collins, Graham and say “look, you have a choice: you can start voting like a Republican, and backing the Republican Party positions, or we can strip you of your committee positions, and you can go beg the Democrats for some scraps.”  (“You can see how well that worked for Specter” can be left unsaid. 🙂 )

This move by the Democrat Caucus was a great blow for Republican Party unity.  I extend the Democrats who made this happen my sincere thanks.

The Joys of Socialized Medicine

May 3, 2009

From England comes the following heart warming story

YouTube helped father deliver baby

A proud father has explained how watching video clips on YouTube helped him deliver his baby son.

Marc Stephens said he had to act quickly when his wife Jo went into labour three weeks early as she had a history of fast births with her previous three children.

The 28-year-old Royal Navy air engineer, from Redruth, Cornwall, searched “how to deliver a baby” on the internet and after viewing a few clips said he was ready to help deliver healthy baby Gabriel.

Mr Stephens said: “I didn’t even have time to panic. She started complaining of pain around 10.30pm. I went on Google and watched a couple of clips on YouTube.

“At 2.30am she woke me up, but when I rang the midwife to come out she said they were busy at the hospital.

Woman with a history of fast births goes into labor three weeks early.  She started having pains, and four hours later labor began.  What would an American do with those four hours?  Go to the hospital.  What did the Brits do?  Stay at home, because going to the hospital wasn’t worth it.  Instead the husband went on YouTube to find some clips on how to deliver a baby.

Labor starts.  They call the midwife.  Sorry, too busy.  So he delivers the baby.

Try to imagine this happening to someone in the US who has health insurance.  Because in Great Britain, they all have health insurance.  That have “Universal Coverage.”  Which means, the care they got is the care that everyone gets (unless they’re politically connected, or rich enough to be able to avoid the system).  (Note: this guy’s a Royal Navy air engineer.  His equvalent in the US would certainly have health insurance.  And I don’t believe that even the VA is this bad).